Gross body (स्थूलशरीर)

Basics of vedanta part 4 1Basics of vedanta part 4 2

Characteristics of the Gross body/ स्थूल शरीर

A. Gross body is made up of the five great elements which have undergone the process of grossification.( we will learn the process of grossification in details later) Five great elements are called ‘ पंचमहाभूत’ in sanskrit.  These are space/आकाश, air/वायु, fire/अग्नी,water/ जल(आप) and earth/पृथ्वी.    In fact, the entire gross world that we perceive is made up of the five great elements.

Basics of vedanta part 4 3Basics of vedanta part 4 4

These percentage of elements may or may not be exact as mentioned but it is true that they are there. Just listen- Each and every part of the gross body e.g. skin, bone, organs like heart, liver, blood,etc is made up of a particular group of cells. Every cell is composed of water, inorganic ions ( sodium,  potassium,  magnesium, calcium, phosphorus,  etc. and organic ( carbon containing) molecules -carbohydrates,  lipids,proteins, nucleic acids)

Basics of vedanta part 4 5

1. You will notice, that these various elements are part of the earth. Thus gross body has the earth element/ पृथ्वीतत्व.

We can also understand this fact in another way. We usually hear or read the phrase ‘पंचतत्वमे विलीन हो गए।’  whenever someone dies, What does it mean?   At death the body disintegrates to merge with the five elements from which it is formed. Notice the changes- body cools( heat/fire/agni loss), gets dehydrated(water starts coming out of orifices), breathing stops/ air element loss,  the bones and flesh disintegrate , decomposed and all organic/ inorganic elements merge back in the earth, thus all cavities collapse and 5×6 ft space which was occupied by a living man remains as it is / unoccupied. Thus after death, each element at individual level  leaves to merge with total respective elements and no evidence of gross body remains.

2. Our body contains 70% of water in the form of various types of  fluids like blood, lymph,ventricular fluid, urine, sweat, tears, saliva, etc. This indicates the presence of the water element/जलतत्व.

3. All of you know  about normal body  temperature . Various metabolisms are continuously going on in the body to keep it alive. Every activity needs energy. The fire element / अग्नीतत्व is behind all.  e.g. food gets digested when fire element in stomach/ जठराग्नी is well  balanced.

4. Exchange of gases -inhalation and exhalation of air through lungs, and gases present in the intestines, etc indicates the air element/ वायु तत्व. 

5. Whole human body is divided in to different cavities, in which  particular group of organs are secured  for proper functioning . E.g. skull cavity contains brain, abdominal cavity contains intestines,  stomach, liver etc,  plural, spinal, pelvic cavity etc . This is the space element/ आकाशतत्व.

Basics of vedanta part 4 6

B. Human birth is surely the result of good actions done in the past. We are endowed with a subtle intellect that can discriminate between right and wrong, real and unreal. We have the choice to evolve or devolve unlike other species.  Thus as this body is the result of actions done in past, we should use it to achieve the purpose for which we have gained it. It is a vehicle that we use to transact with the world, for performing good actions. We should maintain it but need not get too attached to it or falsely identify with it.

C. This body is the counter through which we reap our experiences of joy and sorrow. Just like transactions take place at a counter of shop.  e.g we eat through mouth. Transaction took place through mouth. But who enjoyed it? The Mind and not the mouth. Experience of joy or sorrow is reaped through the mouth/ the counter.(Gross body)   

The body is also called ‘ a city with nine gates’ ( नवद्वारपुरम्). Because body has nine orifices through which transactions of life happens.

These gates/ orifices are – Two eyes, Two ears, Two nostrils, one mouth, one orifice for excretion and one orifice for procreation/ generation.

When counter of the shop closes, transactions stop. In the same way, the transactions through this body/ nine gates cease temporarily when we sleep, and permanently,  at death.

D. The gross body undergoes six modifications: 1. Existence/अस्ति-( doctor confirms the presence of the fetus in the mothers womb.) 2. Is born/जायते- ( after nine months, a baby is born) 3. Grows/वर्धते-( with nourishment, body grows) 4. Matures/विपरिन्मते-( child- youth-adult) 5. Decays/अपक्क्षियते-( limbs weaken, skin loosens, etc) 6. Dies/विनश्यति- ( finally it disintegrates to mearge with the five elements- so called death)

Basics of vedanta part 4 7

E. The gross body is called ‘ food sheath/अन्नमयकोश. The body is the result of modification of food. It is born by the essence of food and grows by the essence of food.( the very essence of the food  eaten, becomes sperm in man and ovum in woman.) They combine to form a seed from which foetus is born. It grows, develops with the food eaten. Finally  we die to merge into earth/food.  Earth itself becomes food to be eaten.- soil gives rise to plants/food. When we are alive body gets eaten by many viruses and bacteria. And when we die, it is eaten by other worms and beings. This is how, gross body is called food sheath/ अन्नमयकोश.

Thus, you have learnt everything about the gross body/ स्थूलशरीर. It is your covering. It is the counter  for you to transact with the world. It is given to you as a reward of past good karma/actions. It is as if your vehicle for the journey. Journey towards the goal. In the race of worldly goals , let’s  not forget the  Ultimate goal of human life _ Self-experience/ Complete Bliss. So, maintain your Gross body just like you maintain a vehicle for safe, obstaclefree and long journey. To know about subtle body( 2nd,3rd,4th kosh) stay connected……

Reference.  Tatvabodh by Adi Shankaracharya. Few points from Commentary by pujya Guruji, CIF.

Pay Anything You Like

Dr. Varsha

Avatar of dr. Varsha

Total Amount: $0.00