What is Gross and Subtle body?

.....continue from 8 April 2018

Gross body is the field of experience

This gross body is a dwelling place for experience pleasure or pain, or can be just object of indifference. These experiences are the fruits of the karma we have done in previous life which need to fructified in this life, and need to be experienced in this particular physical body.


Gross body is endowed with six-modification (sadvikāra)

1. Jāyate, born. First it has to be born then only there will be other things followed.

2. Āsti, exist. After born, it lives.

3. Vardhate, grows. From a baby, the growing process is drastic towards adulthood.

4. Viparinamate, changes. There is changes everyday in our body which we might not aware of.

5. Apaksīyate, decline. Then we might started to aware we are not as young.

6. Vinasyati, perishes. Where one become a history.


After seeing the definitions of our gross body, we are kind of more ascertained that these are what we are experienced, it is Me only. But sastra also said, what you are experienced is not you. Am I the same Me who was born in certain year, who was a baby, who went trough all the changes till now? The body is changes, but I am the indweller of this body is different from it. The gross body is not separate from me the ātma, but I am not the gross body.


Q: How about if we lost our gross body, am I still exist?

To answer this question, we need to the analysis on our subtle body sūksma-śarīra.


What is Subtle body (sūksma-śarīra)?

Subtle body provides an important link between me ātma and the gross body.

Without the subtle body, there is no connection at all between me and this physical body. Subtle body it self made our physical body alive. Just like an electric fan, only can be functional if there is electrical energy which moving it. And that energy is invisible, that is why called subtle. This subtle body is in keeping with our gross body and provides functions consists of 17 divisions:

- 5 organs of perception (jnānendriya), which is born from the satva (pure) aspect of 5 basic elements. It consists of faculty of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell.

- 5 organs of action (karmendriya), which is born from rajas (active) aspect of 5 basic elements. It consist of faculty of speech, grasp, locomotion, evacuation, and procreation.

- 5 energy, also born from rajas (active) aspect of 5 basic elements. It consist of prāna (respiration), apāna (elimination), vyāna (circulation), udāna (evacuation) and samāna (digestion).

- mind (mānas), which is born from the satva (pure) aspect of 5 basic elements.

- intellect (buddha), which is born from the satva (pure) aspect of 5 basic elements.


Subtle body is also result of our pass karma, therefore there is difference between individual's health, brain power, emotions etc.


Subtle body is means for experience

Our organs of action are the means for us to express ourselves to the world, and our organs of perception is the gateway for the world to walk in to us. Pleasant and unpleasant towards the objects of experience are all back up by the mind. The knowledge with ascertainment is there because of buddhi, and the sense of individuality ahankara is also our subtle body.


This subtle body is not separate from me ātma, but I am not them.

When a person loses any of the organs, he is still the same person. When sometimes he is happy and sometimes he is sad, he is still the same person who goes through this emotional up and down. When he is brilliant in certain subject or dull in others, he is still the same person who is operate this intellect. Even the ahankara is suspended during deep sleep and samadhi.

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