Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 18 Oct 2020


Pranamaya Kosha as Energy

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

[Shri Nikhil asked: This question is with reference to the discussion on the five systems of the human being in the discourse titled “The Knowledge of the Embodied One”, dated July 06, 2020. Since the basic components of creation are inert energy, awareness and matter, will it not be better to have a place for inert energy in the discussion of the five systems of the human being (pañca kośa)? Since prāṇa also means life-energy, vitality or power, it is better to interpret prāṇamaya kośa as inert energy. Matter or the material body is already covered by the first kośa (annamaya). The material body consists of all the material systems like the digestive system, respiratory system and the brain and nervous system. The last three kośas cover awareness. So, it would be better if the prāṇamaya is interpreted to be inert energy released in the body. Of course, there is no doubt that the various materialized physical systems are essential for producing even the inert energy and awareness in the body. Besides, the Veda also uses the word prāṇa in the sense of inert energy when it says that the individual soul covered by an energetic body travels to the upper worlds (Manomayaḥ prāṇaśarīranetā…).]

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! This is very good suggestion to create place for inert energy among the five systems of the human being (pañca kośas). That way, all the three basic components of creation—energy, matter and awareness—find their place in the five systems. In fact, energy is most important since it has been mentioned as the first item created by God. It is indicated by the words ākāśaḥ and tejaḥ in the Veda (Ātmanaḥ ākāśaḥ sambhūtaḥ; tat tejo’sṛjata). Energy is the causal material for both matter and awareness. Both ākāśaḥ and tejaḥ mean inert energy alone. Ākāśaḥ means space, which is very subtle energy. Tejaḥ means gross energy like fire. As mentioned in the question, there is also a reference in the Veda where the word prāṇa is used to mean inert energy (manomayaḥ prāṇa śarīra netā). The individual soul is the bundle of thoughts that are specific to every individual, which itself is called mind. At the time of death, this individual soul leaves the gross physical body and travels to the upper worlds, enveloped in an energetic body.

The energetic body is made out of energy. It is not a physical body that is made of the food consumed by the body. The energetic body directly consumes cosmic energy as its ‘food’. There is no necessity of a materialized respiratory system and digestive system in such an energetic body. The digestive and respiratory systems are responsible for releasing inert energy in the physical body of a human being. The digestive system converts the consumed food into simpler compounds, which reach cells through the circulatory system. The respiratory system supplies oxygen to the cells with the help of the circulatory system. The simple compounds derived from food such as glucose are oxidized with the help of oxygen in the mitochondria to release energy in the cells. This released energy is used to power all processes within the human body. But in an energetic being, the required energy for the activities of the body is directly consumed from cosmic energy. If one says that prāṇa can only mean oxygen in the respiratory system, it is ruled out, at least in the case of an energetic body. Moreover, when the energetic body containing a soul travels to the upper worlds, it has to travel through space, which is vacuum. There is no air or oxygen available in space. Air is present only up to a short distance above the surface of the earth.

But in a human being, when we discuss about the five systems, both food and oxygen are required to release inert energy in the body. It is this energy, which alone transforms into awareness in the brain and the nervous system. Hence, in the case of a human being, we cannot neglect the meaning of prāṇa as oxygen and hence, the dictionary gives this meaning also. In that case, we have to consider both food and oxygen i.e., the digestive and respiratory systems as the annamaya and prāṇamaya kośas respectively. Since both of them are matter alone, it leaves no place for inert energy. Oxygen gas is also matter, after all since since matter exists in the solid, liquid and gaseous states. Hence, if we take the respiratory system and oxygen to constitute the prāṇamaya kośa, we cannot do justice to inert energy and give it a place in the five systems of the human being. But prāṇa also means inert energy and hence, it must be given a place in the human being as well as in an energetic being.

To solve this problem, let the prāṇamaya kośa represent both the respiratory system with oxygen as well as the mechanism in the mitochondria that releases inert energy by the oxidation of the processed food. In this way, we can give a place to inert energy in the five systems of the human being too. Alternatively, since the respiratory system is material and it contains oxygen which also is matter, we can club it with the material digestive system. The food in the digestive system is also matter. Thus, both the digestive and the respiratory systems, which are totally material, can be included in the annamaya kośa itself. Prāṇamaya kośa can then be taken to exclusively mean the energy-releasing mechanism in the mitochondria. This suggestion creates an important and unique place for inert energy, which is the root cause of the creation. In the Sāṅkhya philosophy, inert energy is called pradhānam. This suggestion can also give full satisfaction to Dr. Nikhil.


| Shri Datta Swami |Pranamaya kosha as energy | pañca kośa prāṇamaya Manomayaḥ prāṇaśarīranetā Ātmanaḥ ākāśaḥ sambhūtaḥ tat tejo’sṛjata ākāśaḥ manomayaḥ prāṇa śarīra netā prāṇa pradhānam