The 5 Koshas and Their Meanings in Eastern Philosophy

“Kosha” means casing, and belongs to the Sanskrit language. It gives the concept of layers of the human body. According to Vedantic Philosophy, it renders the meaning of 5 layers covering the body. Eastern Philosophy explains the concept of the 5 Koshas, by delineating the specific layers that surround or encapsulate human beings, such layers or sheaths are meant for five different aspects of the self, from the outermost to the innermost, in a hierarchical order.

 Understanding the Concept of Koshas

Kosha has different meanings in different languages. If you want to understand the concept of the five koshas, you must try to understand a clear meaning of this concept found in other regional or religious languages. Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Sanskrit, Prakrati, Jainism, and Biology all have different conceptual studies about the 5 Koshas. The 5 Kosha are;

  • Annamaya Kosha ( The Physical Body)
  • Pranamaya ( The Energy Body)
  • Manomaya Kosha ( The Mental Body)
  • Vijnanamaya ( The Wisdom Body)
  • Anandamaya ( The Bliss Body)

Definition of Koshas: According to the Vedanta, everyone has an inner soul or Atman, and like a sword, your inner self also needs a covering or casing. Kosha is a casing or covering of your inner self. According to a Religious Law, Kosha( kosa) refers to the treasury. An epic history of the school of philosophy describes that Kosha and Kosa means a River, flowed in ancient Bharata. Jayotisha has added to its meaning and concluded with a comprehensive statement that is the documented and the most accepted theory about the 5 Koshas.

Significance in Eastern Philosophy: The most authentic definition of Kosa is found in Eastern Philosophy. This philosophy clears the concept of the 5 Kosha by giving them the names of the five layers surrounding your inner soul. These layers or sheaths have specific wavelengths of energy and are encased within each other. These are interlinked like the outermost energetic layer that surrounds your external physical body but the next layers are concerned with your sense of bliss and soul.

Studies have explained that Koshas are the source of learning about your inner self. It is the way to get knowledge about the innermost layer of your soul. The five koshas direct you to develop a strong connection between your spirit, mind, and body. These koshas enhance your awareness of spiritual practices.

The Physical Body: Annamaya Kosha

The 5 Koshas help you to upgrade your spiritual practices and allow you to go to your inner self to bring positive changes in yourself and the world around you. You take a start from physical and mental Koshas then continue your journey towards more inner layers to get into the deeper layers of wisdom and bliss.Exploring the Annamaya Kosha

This is the outermost layer of the 5 Koshas considered as food casing. It is composed of your body weight and size. Your physical disorders and ailments are also concerned with this layer. This layer compels you to focus on the type of food that you take and its impacts on your body.

Definition and Characteristics: The first layer of the 5 Koshas is Annamaya which refers to Food Sheath. It is concerned with the matter of your body composition consisting of cells, tissues, organs, bones and muscles. The Annamaya Kosha is responsible for your bodily needs such as shelter, food and water. This Kosha assists you in being connected with your physical world and its material things including natural factors.

Role in Physical Health: This layer maintains your physical health and plays a significant role in your existence i.e. it concerns your ability to perceive, think, move and interact with other physical aspects of your  surroundings. Being the health concerning layer, Annamaya is also responsible for the health of inner Koshas. You can better understand this concept with this example. If you have a strong body this will influence your mental health. A healthy body supports your mental approach and saves you from depression or stress. To strengthen the Annamaya Kosha, you need to have a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and a balanced circadian Rhythm along with a healthy routine of doing exercise or workouts for physical fitness.

 The Energy Body: Pranamaya Kosha

This energy sheath is under the Annamaya Sheath( body sheath). Prana, a Sanskrit word, means force of life. You can refer to it as breath because life exists due to the breathing process. So this is a vital kosha sheath. By understanding this kosha, you can discover your stagnant energy to experience an energetic connection to yourself. It also provides you with greater vitality to get connected with other natural factors.Understanding the Pranamaya Kosha

Paranamaya kosha helps to flow force in your body systems. It is responsible for maintaining the major life- sustaining body functions such as blood circulation, breathing, digestion and locomotion.

Definition and Characteristics: It is the second layer of Pancha Kosha. According to Eastern philosophy, it is the energy sheath of the body and is composed of Prana. This covering or layer is considered as the sheath of the body having life in it and it is the only sheath of the 5 Koshas, which differentiates the living from the non-living. It is the layer that is under the protection of the physical body and pervades the whole body. According to another philosophy of “Yogis”,  the Parana moves through specific energy channels, found in the physical body.

Role in Energy Flow: Pranamaya Kosha is the energy layer and synchronizes your body with your mind. Parana gets into your body through breathing and taking nutrition(food). So to strengthen this kosha, you may add breathing exercises into your daily routine and take a balanced diet because these two processes are considered the major energy-producing processes in your body.

The Mental Body: Manomaya Kosha

Manomaya Kosha belongs to your mind. This sheath covers the thought energy and mental body. In Sanskrit, it is believed that Parana is a positive energy with Mind refers to negative energy. It controls the level of processing thoughts and has direct control over oppression. It involves the functions related to motor and sensory neurons when they function automatically for everyday awareness.Delving into the Manomaya Kosha

After taking your physical body and your energy levels towards positivism, the next phase is to take your mind level towards positivism. Eastern philosophy recommends the yoga practice or meditation routine to get in your Manomaya Kosha. According to studies your mind expresses the high energy commands through the physical body but by meditating regularly, you can explore the Manomaya Kosha and go deep inside this kosha to understand it. 

Definition and Characteristics: According to Eastern Philosophy, mind energy has a close relation with casualty, time and space. Mind travels so fast and has three states known present, past and future. Your mind has the most powerful imagination power and when it goes to the subconscious world, it finds many incidents of the unknown past. This kosha can bring the three closer, casualty, time and space. In normal routine, the gap between time, space and causality is very broad but during meditation, this distance shrinks and the gap becomes shortest even if the mind stops, the time will automatically stop.

Role in Mental Health: The mind belongs to thoughts and nervous system functions. The human mind is related to the cosmic mind and many minds can be interconnected through some specific meditation practices. Mantra meditation is the most popular and very useful for your mental health. This kosha improves your cognitive function and helps your physical body to maintain your inner and outer energy environments, to remove blockages from your mind.

The Wisdom Body: Vijnanamaya Kosha

Vijnanamaya Kosha refers to your wisdom or awareness. Eastern philosophy strengthened the idea of a close relation between Manomaya and Vijnanamaya Koshas. This sheath allows you to get aware of the realities of life and is connected strongly with your inner thoughts and deeper feelings of vision. Its boundaries are beyond the mind.Unveiling the Vijnanamaya Kosha

The Vijnanamaya Kosha, the fourth layer, enables you to delve into yourself and to observe your own life. Occasionally, this sheath is referred to as a wisdom body due to its power of judgment. This wisdom body teaches how to love, choose, forgive, and learn. It means this body or sheath gives us sensitivity to life. In the absence of this layer, you just act like a machine that may be influenced by environmental stimuli and respond accordingly. By adding this layer to your body, you become more subtle than the former three.

Definition and Characteristics: This layer gives you an inner vision to see from a broader perspective. Many Life matters need such wisdom. Manomaya kosha supports Vijnanamaya kosha, because the former manages time and space while the latter one helps you to see the truth. This concept will be understood more easily through this example. When you zoom out, you see roadblocks and shortcuts with eventualities which help you to map out a perfect and functional path that is directly connected with your inner values. But when you can’t delve into this layer, you lose the ability to see the actual truth, you just find a small piece of the reality of the whole truth. In the recent era, you observe the people of modern society have lost connections because nowadays the preferences have been shifted from speech to snap, patience to performance and simplicity to pump and show. So you should try to add this wisdom layer into your 5 Koshas to become more wise.Role in Spiritual Growth: Self-study and enough time are required to build this layer to contemplate the spiritual truth. By exploring your spiritual path you can refine your moral compass and as you use this compass it works more correctly and quickly. You feel it easy to go through the path of wisdom by responding to love and affection in the present. Everyone has been sent to this world with some gifts for others and with the help of  this 4th Kosha, you will become able to identify these gifts and the clear pathway to deliver them. This layer strengthens your inner values and makes you more than a thinking body.

 The Bliss Body: Anandamaya Kosha

Anandamaya Kosha is the fifth and last sheath of the 5 Koshas. This layer is the most important of these five Koshas because this supports the bliss in your life. It is the most spiritual and subtle of the other four layers because in Eastern philosophy it is the innermost covering of “Atman” or “inner self”. It is linked with a Samadhi or Dreamless sleep.Experiencing the Anandamaya Kosha

The Indian philosopher, T. Subba Row, has explained this layer that this is the only layer that correlates the all five layers due to its close connection with the soul. You can refer to it as the original soul itself because this layer has evolved through all incarnations and finally merges to form the body of “Siva”. According to Eastern Philosophers, Anandamaya Kosha is the Divine in individualized form that has emerged by the actualization of the plane of Ananda and suppresses the supra-mental state of evolution.

Definition and Characteristics: Anandamaya Kosha is your actual inner or Soul. It is the deepest layer where everything emerges and all the layers become a single layer. Due to this sheath, bliss, unity and you too become one unit with the use of cosmic consciousness. You need a hard notion to grasp and dive into the all Koshas to reach the core of all the 5 Koshas. Then you become ready to meet yourself. Your inner is the best place for your hospitality.

Role in Emotional Well-Being: It is very difficult to describe this layer in words because this is the experience and can be felt only. This layer requires a timeless disciplined meditation over a long time. This prolonged self-assessment develops some incompatible qualities in you and brings you close to perfection by increasing the essence of yourself.


In conclusion, these sheaths are a pathway to self-empowerment through a deeper study of your inner self. The 5 Koshas make it easy for you to understand your true nature, because of your evolution and your position in the world. These amazing understandings make you adaptable to different circumstances and you can upgrade your physical, mental and social patterns. These 5 Koshas help you to discover yourself by making connections to the entire world instead of being alone. So start a journey towards the 5 Koshas for bringing positive changes in your life through spiritual practices and get awareness about your body, breath, energy, thoughts and soul.

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Hira Shabbir

Hey, I'm Hira shabbir. An experienced content writer who is providing quality SEO content to clients, from the past 2 years. I have been a biology and English teacher from the past 20 years, which gives me an edge in providing quality content.

Hey, I'm Hira shabbir. An experienced content writer who is providing quality SEO content to clients, from the past 2 years. I have been a biology and English teacher from the past 20 years, which gives me an edge in providing quality content.