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Mind Beyond Mind: [16.01] The need to know the Body (1)

Published: 29.05.2007
Updated: 02.07.2015


Diwali is a festival of lamps in India. Disc shaped earthen cups are filled with oil and cotton wicks are placed in them, which are lighted to produce flames. In popular idiom the earthen cups are also called Dipas or lamps. Thus a lamp is composed of an earthen cup, oil and wick. The human body is like the cup and consciousness is like the flame. Just as the earthen cup is called the Dipa in the same way the body is also called the Atma or soul. This is so because the body is associated with the soul in the same way in which the cup is associated with the flame. In ancient times the term Atma was used for consciousness. It was also used for the body. Atma was also called Pudgala. In other words the body composed of Pudgalas (material particles) was called Atma. Atma and Paramatma are one and the same thing, but they have been conceived as separate entities. There is a reason for conceiving the Atma and the body as one entity. It is because the energy of the body and that of the Atma are closely connected with each other. The soul cannot be effective without its association with physical energy and vice versa. The lamp cannot produce light without oil and the wick. Light needs a medium to manifest itself. The light of the soul cannot shine except through the medium of the body. You cannot see objects unless the pupils of the eyes function properly. It is not the eye, which sees. It is only a medium of perception.

In the history of Sadhana the body has been an object to be detested. It has been taken to be an object not deserving any serious consideration. But the fact is that we cannot exist without the body. It is the medium of spiritual life. It needs serious consideration even from the point of view of Sadhana because it is indispensable for Sadhana. The visible form of the body is not the whole of the body. What is visible is the gross body. This gross body is undoubtedly very powerful, but as compared with the finer or subtle body it is less powerful. Those who do not believe in the independent existence of the soul have often tried to locate it in the body. It is narrated that king Pradesi cut the body of a thief into pieces in order to know where his soul was. But he could not trace it. Scientists are seriously engaged in a search for the soul. The human body has been weighed before and after death in order to find out if there is any difference in the weights in the two conditions of the body. If the body after death shows a decrease in weight, we may infer that something has gone out of it. This something causing a decrease in the weight is the soul, which has left the body on the latter's death. Such experiments are still continuing. However, they are concerned only with the gross body. Apart from the gross body, we have subtle bodies also. They are called the Vaikriya Body and the Aharaka Body. The gross body functions uniformly, but the other two functions in diverse ways. They can assume various forms. The gross body does not change its form. It remains identical throughout its lifetime. The subtle bodies can assume the forms of animals and birds if need be.

The Aharaka body is the carrier of thoughts. It can traverse long distances in the fraction of a second. As it is subtle, it commands tremendous speed. You can contact anybody situated at a distance of thousands of miles away from you in no time through the medium of the Aharaka body. It can assume any form at will through a mere act of imagination. It is capable of leaving the gross body, reaching any destination, and returning back to the gross body. The time taken by it in this is so small that you cannot have any idea of it.

There are two more subtle bodies besides the Vaikriya and Aharaka bodies. They are called the Taijasa body and the Karmana body. They are the subtlest. Thus the human body contains three groups:

The gross body


Audarika body

bones, flesh, etc

The subtle body



The Vaikriya body

capable of assuming various forms


The Aharaka body

the carrier of thoughts

The subtlest body



.The Taijasa body

produces heat


The Karmana body

instrument of activity

The Taijasa body is the source of heat. It directs and controls the heat of the body, physical activity, and energy. The heat it produces helps the digestive process and circulates the blood. It propels the gross body by virtue of its being the source of organic energy. The pace of the activities of the gross body depends upon the heat generated by the Taijasa body. The more the heat, the more active we are, and the lesser the heat, the less active we are. We are told that the energy we receive from the sun is complementary to the energy we receive from food. It is interesting to note in this connection and experiment conducted on rats. Twelve rats were isolated for this purpose. They were given a diet which did not contain calcium, phosphorus etc. This deficient diet caused the rats to fall ill. They had been kept in a dark room. Then they were transferred into the light of the sun. They soon recovered from illness although the same deficient diet continued to be given to them. Another six rats were also given deficient diet. They too were kept in a dark room. Deficient diet caused them also to fall ill. They were, however, not removed into the light of the sun. But the food they were given was kept in the light of the sun for quite some time. After some days they recovered from the illness. Scientists conducting this experiment came to the conclusion that the energy of the sun not only accelerates the digestive system, but also has itself food value. It is complementary to the diet we eat. Plants cannot grow without the light of the sun. The human body cannot develop without it. The digestive system cannot work without the solar energy.


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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Atma
  2. Body
  3. Consciousness
  4. Diwali
  5. Paramatma
  6. Pudgala
  7. Sadhana
  8. Soul
  9. Taijasa body
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