(Sanskrit कोश, kośa) Literally, "body, sheath, vessel, container, treasure, collection." Equivalent to sharira, "body," or "easily dissolved." In Vedanta and the Upanishads, kosha is translated as "sheath" and refers to coverings or layers within which Atman dwells. Five sheaths are described:
- Annamaya kosha: the physical body
- Pranamaya kosha: the vital body
- Manomaya kosha: the astral body
- Vijnanamaya kosha: the mental body
- Anandamaya kosha: the causal body
The middle three are sometimes considered as one "subtle body," as written in Atma Bodha:
14. Avidya [ignorance], indescribable and beginningless, is the cause, which is an upadhi superimposed on Atman. Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three conditioning bodies (the upadhis or physical body, subtle body, causal body).
15. In its identification with the five-sheaths the Immaculate Atman appears to have borrowed their qualities upon Itself; as in the case of a crystal which appears to gather unto itself colour of its vicinity (blue cloth, etc.,).
16. Through discriminative self-analysis and logical thinking one should separate the Pure self within from the sheaths as one separates the rice from the husk, bran, etc., that are covering it.
17. The Atman does not shine in everything although He is All-pervading. He is manifest only in the inner equipment, Buddhi: just as the reflection in a clean mirror.
18. One should understand that the Atman is always like the King, distinct from the body, senses, mind and intellect, all of which constitute the matter (Prakriti); and is the witness of their functions.