Very often etymological understanding of words and terms reveal the larger concept and the true intent behind.It helps to realise, the reason and the intent of the word better. And as a result a deeper understanding of the subject and appreciation of the thought process automatically sets in.
One such term that caught my attention was ‘Annamaya-kosa’, a term used as a synonym for ‘sthula-sarira’ (‘sthula’ – meaning gross, one that can be perceived by sense organs and ‘sarira’ – meaning one that disintegrates). The term ‘Annamaya-kosa’ means literally food sheath. And this term conveys much more than being just another synonym for our human body.
‘Annamaya’ is used because the body is created from the generative liquids provided by the parents, which is a result of the food they have consumed; the body is then sustained by the food that is consumed during one’s life; and on death, the body becomes food for other beings. Since the body is created by, maintained and disintegrates as food, it is referred to as ‘annamaya’.
The word ‘kosa’ means sheath. It is significant because it reflects what the gross body actually does. It provides a sheath for the jiva or the self. Ignorance leads us to get attached to the ‘annamaya-kosa’. And in the preoccupation of this attachment we never look into the ‘jiva’ that is waiting to be discovered. Very much like those infants who attracted more by the colourful packaging, forget all about the actual gift that is inside.
The funny thing about all of us is despite living upto the term ‘Social Animal’ we seek to differentiate ourselves constantly. Not actually in our inner qualities but in the external fluff. The fuss made over our external appearance and the importance given to it far exceeds what this subject deserves. Irrespective of where one is from – which corner of the world, the sthula-sarira or the gross body goes through the following same six stages:
1. It exists (asti) – This refers to the body’s existence in foetal form. This emphatically asserts the fact that potential body exists even before birth.
2. It is born (‘jayate’): The foetus develops and is born after the gestation period in the mother’s womb. And we are so attached to this stage that we continue to celebrate this for years; forgetting it is over and done!
3. It grows (‘vardhate’): The body grows as it consumes food and water. There is remarkable attachment and indulgence that we show in this stage
4. It changes (‘viparinamate’): Even after growth the body undergoes changes. After the body grows to its full size, disease and other factors constantly keeps the body in a state of change. This is often a source of great botheration to few people
5. It decays (‘apaksiyate’): Over time, the body loses its strength and vitality. It is said to become old. Most of us are in a state of complete denial when it comes to this stage
6. It dies(‘vinasyati’): Finally the body dies and disintegrates back into the gross elements from which it was initially created. And all of us universally fear this stage
Whether we like it or not, on an auto mode our gross body will traverse the six stages. Trying to stop or control any of these stages from happening or interfering with it to slow, hasten or stop it is but futile. Understanding this and then accepting this actually brings in a calmness. And equanimity subsequently sets in, which allows you to go through these stages with ease. Like a river that flows merrily from the smallest spring, knowing in the end it is going to merge with the ocean – and nothing belongs to it in this journey – neither the form nor the content!