body in discussions of the soul

Dean Anderson dean_anderson at SACARI.ORG
Wed Apr 13 23:50:24 UTC 2005

I haven't had a chance to look through the Upanishads but a few modern
Vedanta web sites talk of a body, mind, atma triad which seem to match what
I remember from Shankara. These are not as satisfying as if I could come up
with references from the classical texts but the idea does seem to be part
of the traditional Vedantic doctrine. I also seem to remember reading in
Shankara about the five koshas and that the first two were the body and the
last three the mind ('antahkarana' as distinct from the more limited term
'manas') but I can't remember if that division was in the main text or the

"we tend to mistake the thoughts and actions of the body mind complex to be
the operations of the atma."

"That which glows [i.e., the sun] is Om," says the ancient Aitareya-Brahmana
(5.32). The life-producing energies of the sun are the energies of Om. Om is
the sun of body, mind, and spirit,

Teachings of the Katha Upanishad: 
The Atma is pure unwavering awareness. It is agitationless,: it is
Consciousness, infinite and full. Our innermost essence is Atma. We are not
the body, mind or senses.

Prajapati said, "O Indra, please listen to me. This body is perishable. It
is enveloped and overwhelmed by death from every side. How could this be the
[commentary by Swami Krishnananda]:
       The physical body is subject to death and transformation, a matter
known to everyone. So is the state of the psychic individuality also. The
mind is not in any way better than the body in that it is equally finite,
limited, and conditioned in the same way as the body is.

Mind is the most important Tattva of Linga Sarira. Linga Sarira is the
astral body or Sukshma Sarira that is linked to the physical body through
physical Prana.
...Just as the physical body is composed of solid, liquid and gaseous
matter, so also the mind is made up of subtle matter of various grades of
density with different rates of vibration.

There is also this translation from the Aitareya Upanishad which I haven't
checked for accuracy:
So we see that which is the heart and mind cannot also be the soul,
perception, discrimination, intelligence, wisdom, insight, steadfastness,
thought, thoughtfulness, impulse, memory, conception, purpose, life, desire,
and control - all these are attributes of the entity within the body whose
nature is Brahman, but they are not He, nor He, they.


Dean Anderson

>> >>I'm out on a limb here, but I'm not convinced that body/soul is a 
>> >>fundamental binary pair in Sanskritic culture.  In New Age
>> >thought, the
>> >>triad "body, mind, spirit" is a commonplace, and this is often 
>> >>projected onto Indian thought.  Once again, I currently think this 
>> >>triad is not a particularly fundamental one from the Sanskrit 
>> >>sources themselves.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>Dominik

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