annamaya kosha (food-apparent-sheath) is translated as food sheath, corresponds roughly to the sthula-sharira (coarse body, physical body). This is the sheath of the physical self, named from the fact that it is nourished by food. Living through this layer man identifies himself with a mass of skin, flesh, fat, bones, and filth, while the man of viveka (discrimination) knows his own Self, the only reality that there is, as distinct from the body. It has the most dense and slow vibrational frequency. This body cannot exist without contact with the other koshas (subtle sheaths) or bodies (the pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya, and anandamaya koshas), yet for the most part it remains barely activated in regards to its highest evolutionary potential. The physical or odic body, coarsest of sheaths in comparison to the faculties of the atma (the Self), yet indispensable for evolution and Self Realization, because only within it can all fourteen chakras fully function.
Anna means rasa of prithvi and this is the source of life on earth. Annamaya kosha is the controller, cause, producer and consumer (sanchalaka, kaarana, utpadaka, and upabhokta) of physical body but is still different than physical body.
Annamaya kosha as the name suggests is made of anna. The satwik meaning of anna is “the essence of earth”. Water, food grains, fruits and vegetables are all the products of earth; from this, milk, ghee and flesh is made and all of this is considered anna. The human body is made up of anna and it grows and gets strengthened with anna and later after the death of physical body gets merged in the earth. Thus the physical body, which is produced and later gets dissolved in the Earth, is generally known as annamaya kosha. We must understand that the physical body made of flesh and blood is under the control of annamaya kosha. At the time of death, when physical body disintegrates annamaya kosha remains intact and along with the soul leaves the body to reach heaven or hell. That is why, it is said that the desire for food is there in ghosts also. Thus it is clear that annamaya kosha is the cause, producer and consumer of physical body but still different than the physical body.
Importance of Annamayakosha
Personality of the individual i.e., physique as well as traits depend on the condition of annamaya kosha, the formation of which continues life after life. The physique in the next birth is decided by the state of annamaya kosha of earlier births. All the individual differences existing in men are attributed to the genes in the body, which are acquired from parents. On contrary to this, ancient Hindu wisdom proves that man, his personality and destiny are decided by his subtle bodies, which he brings from previous births.
Modern man, who is ignorant of this ultimate truth is inviting all sorts of deformities in his annamaya kosha and thereby damaging not only this birth but the births to come.
There are three koshas within annamaya kosha:-
- sthula (Physical) — In which taste and weight of food is realized.
- sukshma (Subtle) — In which properties and impact of food are felt.
- kaaran (Causal) — In which samskaras of food are preserved. Roots of many physical deformities lie in annamaya kosha.
Refinement and development of annamaya kosha is possible through the following methods:
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