I posted a similar question here before but didn't recieve any answer. So i'll just post this again.

In which holy text is there mention of sookshma sharira being a product of Prakriti's Tanmatras?

This source text (that i wish to go through) should be either Sruti or Smriti ... OR it should have explanations, interpretations, commentaries on this particular topic by saints and scholars of philosophical schools such as that of Advaita, Dvaita, Samkhya or Patanjali's Yoga.

4 Answers 4


Short Answer

Yes. Subtle body is made of five tanmatras and Prakriti's 3 antaHkaraNas(the psychic apparatus).

Long Answer

In Shiva Sutras, Section III, Sutra 2nd, Bhagwan Shiva says,

ज्ञानं बन्ध:
Of the limited knowledge, empirical self, mind-born knowledge is a source of bondage.

Further in commentary section the author adds up verse 17-18 from Spandakarika:

"Being bound up by the Puryastaka that arises from tanmatras and by the modes of mind, the I-making principle and the determinative faculty, the empirical self experiences as a subservient creature pleasure and pain that result from the ideas which origi- nate from the puryaṣṭaka and so he becomes subject to transmigratory existence because of the existence of that puryastaka. I shall, therefore, clearly explain what brings about the dissolution of the transmigratory existence of such an individual." (III, 17-18). The Spandaśästra proposes the means for the annulment of this transmigratory existence.

Here Puryastaka is nothing but synonym for subtle body/sukshma sharira. Further in notes section of the same verse the author adds up:

Puryastaka: Lit., the city of the group of eight i.e. the five tanmatras-five subtle forms of matter, viz., Sabdatanmatra sound-in-itself, sparsa tanmatra touch-in-itself, rupa-tan-matra form in-itself, rasa-tanmotra-taste-in-itself, gandha-tanmatra smell-in-itself, and three psychic factors, viz., buddhi, manas, and ahamkara. It is a synonym for suksma-sarira or subtle body.


From the Summary of Vivekachudamani by Sri SN Saastri

Jnanendriyas (subtle organs of perception) namely hearing,touch, sight, taste and smell are produced from the sattva part of space, air, fire, water and earth respectively.The presiding deities of these five indriyas are, respectively, the deities of the quarters, air, the sun, Varuna (the god of the waters) and the two Asvini devas. (See also Panchadasi.1.19).

The subtle counterparts of the vocal organ, hands, feet, anus and genitals are known as karmendriyas , are produced from the rajas part of the five subtle elements of space, air, fire, water and earth respectively.The presiding deities of these organs are, in order, the deity are Fire, Indra, Vishnu, Yama and Prajaapati.

From combination of the sattva aspect of all the five subtle elements together is produced the antahkaranam or internal organ which is known by four different names according to the different functions performed by it. The four names are-manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaara. (Sometimes only two names, manas and buddhi, are mentioned, as in Panchadasi.1.20, the other two being included in them). These four functions are explained in Vivekachudamani, verses 95 and 96 thus.

From a combination of the rajas aspect of the five subtle elements, is produced praana, or vital air. This has five divisions, according to the function performed. These are described in the Shankaras Commentary on Prasna upanishad, 3.5, thus:--- He (praana) places apaana, a division of himself, in the two lower apertures, as engaged in the work of ejecting the excreta. Praana himself, who occupies the position of the sovereign, resides in the eyes and the ears and issues out through the mouth and nostrils. In the navel is samaana, which is so called because it assimilates all that is eaten or drunk, distributes them equally in all parts of the body and effects digestion. Udaana, another division of praana, moves throughout the body and functions upwards. It leads the soul out of the body at the time of death and takes it to other worlds according to ones punya and paapa. Vyaana regulates praana and apaana and is the cause of actions requiring strength. (See also Br.up.1.5.3.Shankaras commentary).

PS - Almost many of the Advaita Prakarana granthas (tattva bodha , Panchadashi, vivekachudamani, vedanta Sara , commentary of Brahma Sutra ) concisely sums up the idea , and gives a succinct account of the same.

By quintiplication of Tamasic aspect of Panchatanmatras, Gross organs are formed.


Quoting from Devi Bhagwatam Canto 7 Chapter 32 also known as Devi Gita Chapter 2

  1. sarvātmakaṃ tat saṃproktaṃ sūkṣmadeho'yamātmanaḥ / avyaktaṃ kāraṇo dehaḥ sa coktaḥ pūrvameva hi //"

The last element—earth—has five guṇas—śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa and gandha. From these five tanmātrās is born the liṅga-śarīra or sūkṣma-śarīra.


Shukshma sarira (mind, intellect, egoity and chitta or mind-stuff) is not made of Tanmatras. It is made of Sattvika-ahamkara.I have given below Swami Tapasyananda's commentary that shows the whole scheme.

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Srimad Bhagavad Gita commentary by Swami Tapasyananda

  • Sorry for the late reply. I've read in a few Advaita articles, that when a jivan mukta dies, his subtle body returns to the elements of Prakriti and all that is left is the infinite Atma/Brahman. If this claim by the advaitins is true, then how can this subtle body not be a product of prakriti's tanmatras? Commented May 31, 2023 at 3:44
  • 1
    Subtle body can return to Prakrti via Sattvika Ahamkara also. Commented May 31, 2023 at 4:47
  • Thank you Pradip ji :) Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 7:57

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