Panchkosha – The 5 layers of a human being

If you rummage through manuscripts and texts on the human energy field – Eastern or Western, ancient or contemporary – sooner or later you will come across the subject of our auric field and its layers. While it is common for us to think of our soul or energy as an undifferentiated blob, it actually exists as a space of shifting vibrations, densities, and purposes. These layers may vary slightly in their nomenclature and description from one source to another, the basic concepts behind their constitution and differentiation are very similar.

Whether you peruse ancient Vedic texts or refer to modern bibles about the human energy field, the human energy field is seen as a domain moving outward from the human body, increasing in vibration and decreasing in density. The more subtle the energy, the more connected it is to the divine and the universe as a whole and therefore the more aware, awake and intuitively informed it is. The lower the vibration, the more grounded it is in third dimensional reality and in our life here on Earth.

The Vedic thought system differentiated the human energy field into five distinct layers. Seen as part of the human ‘being’, these five layers or kosha (literally meaning sheaths) are as follows:

Annamaya Kosha: Literally translated as ‘food sheath’, this layer is said to rise from the earth element as it is nourished by the grain it offers us. Composed of our physical body and our senses, this is the densest layer of the human being in relation to the earth element.

Pranamaya Kosha: This sheath is understood as our prana or energy in relation to the human body, that is, the seven chakras, our kundalini energy and the energy channels of our body: sushmana, ida and pingala. Responsible for the energetic functioning of our body on a subconscious and conscious level, this layer of energy surrounds the annamaya kosha.

Manomaya Kosha: The domain of the mind, this sheath drives the processes of logic and reasoning by managing and building on the information assimilated by the physical senses. Therefore, this layer is made up of three sub-layers: the subconscious mind, the conscious mind, and the superconscious mind.

Vigyanmaya Kosha: The next layer in human energy is Vigyanmaya Kosha, which is the seat of human wisdom. Connected to both the ego and the intellect, this layer contains our awareness, intuitive knowledge, and acquired knowledge that allows us to be discriminating and authentic in our choices and actions.

Anandmaya Kosha: The realm of spiritual ecstasy, the outermost layer of the human energy field vibrates at the highest frequency and remains in connection with the divine on some level. Therefore, it co-creates with the divine and carries the core intention of the soul: to experience and manifest joy. This is a layer that exists in bliss as its energy is free from encouragement or reason, and its trappings.

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