I heard three Sharira mentioned in some texts viz.

  1. स्थूल शरिर (Sthula Sharira)
  2. सूक्ष्म शरिर (Sukshma Sharira)
  3. कारन शरिर (Karan Sharira)

Let me ask some questions about them.

  • What are these three Sharira? and What are they made of?
  • What is the significance and the concept behind them?
  • What is the relation of them with five Kosha?

2 Answers 2


Sthula Sarira

Sthula sarira or the gross body is the material physical mortal body that eats, breathes and moves (acts). It is composed of many diverse components, produced by one’s karmas (actions) in past life out of the elements which have undergone panchikarana i.e. combining of the five primordial subtle elements.

Suksma Sarira

Suksma sarira or the subtle body is the body of the mind and the vital energies, which keep the physical body alive. Together with the causal body it is the transmigrating soul or jiva, separating from the gross body upon death.

Karana Sarira

Karana sarira or the causal body is merely the cause or seed of the subtle body and the gross body. It has no other function than being the seed of the subtle and the gross body. It is nirvikalpa rupam, "undifferentiated form". It originates with avidya, "ignorance" or "nescience" of the real identity of the atman, instead giving birth to the notion of jiva.


कारण शरीर ”प्रकृति” का नाम है। सत्त्वगुण, रजोगुण और तमोगुण, इन तीनों के समुदाय का नाम प्रकृति है। ये सूक्ष्मतम कण हैं। उसी का नाम ‘कारण-शरीर’ है। स अब उस प्रकृति रूपी कारण शरीर से दूसरा जो शरीर उत्पन्न हुआ, उसका नाम ‘सूक्ष्म शरीर’ है। आपने शरीर पर सूती कुर्ता (कपड़ा( पहन रखा है। इसका कारण है धागा। और धागे का कारण है- रूई। रूई, धागा और कॉटन-कुर्ता ये तीन वस्तु हो गयीं। कुर्ता, धागा और रूई, तो ऐसे तीन शरीर हैं- स्थूल शरीर, सूक्ष्म शरीर और कारण शरीर। स्थूल शरीर है कुर्ता, सूक्ष्म शरीर है धागा, और कारण शरीर है- रूई। स जो संबंध कुर्ते, धागे और रूई में है, वो ही संबंध इन तीनों शरीर में है। क्या रूई के बिना धागा बन जायेगा, और क्या धागे के बिना कुर्ता बनेगा? कारण शरीर के बिना सूक्ष्म शरीर नहीं बनेगा। सूक्ष्म शरीर के बिना स्थूल शरीर नहीं बनेगा। कहा हैः- कारण शरीर प्रकृति सत्त्वरजसतमः। सत्त्व, रज और तम से अठारह चीजें बनी। उसका नाम है- सूक्ष्म शरीर।



To the answer up here (so good answer about 3 shariras), you can add to read this another answer about 5 koshas.

  • Annamay Kosha : Meaning 'Food Sheath', is the physical body, with hands, eyes, the body which has a name and dies. This is the gross, physical body. This is the sheath of the physical self, named from the fact that it is nourished by food.

  • Pranamaya Kosha : Meaning 'Life Air Sheath', contains the word Prana, which holds together the mind and body, its one physical manifestation is the breath.

  • Manomaya Kosha : Meaining 'Mind Sheath', the mind with five sesory organs are the physical manifestation of this Kosha.

  • Vijnanamaya Kosha : Meaning 'Intellect Kosha',composed of Vijnana, or intellect, the faculty which discriminates, determines or wills.

  • Anandamaya Kosha : Meaning 'Bliss Sheath', composed of ananda, or bliss,In deep sleep, when the mind and senses cease functioning, it still stands between the finite world and the self. Anandamaya, or that which is composed of Supreme bliss, is regarded as the innermost of all.

So, Stula Sharira should be equivalent to Annamaya Kosha, plus most gross part of Pranomaya kosha related to air and breathing. Then Sukshma Sharira should be the more sublte prana of Pranomaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha and a very big part of Vijñanamaya Kosha, all together

There is a part of Vijñana (most subtle part), where there is karmaShaya, were samskaras are stored, providing cause to rebirth and having pendent experiences (off topic, same karmashaya Patanjali says Ishvara has not). That subtle part, together with Ananandamaya Kosha, should be equivalent to Karana Sharira

All this is like comparing kilometer with miles, just different ways of measure how human is made about. Good question

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