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Sarira, this Sanskrit word, denotes the body, the physical self. According to the "Doctrine of the Three bodies" in the Vedanta, the human being comprises three Sariras or "bodies" – 1) Sthula sarira, the Gross body; 2) Suksma sarira, the Subtle body, and 3) Karana sarira, the Causal body. The Sthula sarira is the Annamaya Kosha, the Suksma sarira comprises Pranamaya Kosha (Vital breath or Energy), Manomaya Kosha (Mind) and the Vijnanamaya Kosha (Intellect) and the Karana sarira is the Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss). Karana sarira is the cause of Sthula sarira and Suksma sarira. The later Theosophists speak of seven bodies or levels of existence that include Sthula sarira and Linga sarira.
 Sathula 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. It is not the atman but the instrument of Jiva’s experience for which the Jiva, attached to the body and dominated by Ahamkara (ego, I-ness or the Antakarana in which the Citta or the atman is reflected), uses its body’s external and internal organs of sense and action. The Jiva, identifying itself with the body, in its waking state enjoys gross objects. On its body rests man’s contact with the external world. The Sthula sarira’s main features are Sambhava (birth), Jara (old age or ageing) and Maranam (death), and the "Waking State". The Sthula sarira is the anatman. The gross bodies, the subtle bodies and the causal worlds make one vast universe.
 Suksma sarira
Suksma sarira or the subtle body is an eight-fold aggregate, because it is what is produced and composed of a number of things, it does not have the form of the eternal atman and therefore, it is not the atman. Its "eight-foldness" is owing to vagadipanchakam (the five made up of speech etc.), sravanadipanchakam (the five made up of hearing etc.), pranapanchakam (the five-fold breath), bhutapanchakam (the five subtle elements, buddhyadicatustayam (buddhi, manas, ahamkrti and citta), avidya (adhyasa, super-imposition), kamah (desire) and karma (action of the nature of dharma and adharma). It arises from the subtle elements which have not been split into five parts.
It is also known as the Lingasarira, for it puts one in the mind of the atman, it reminds one of the atman, the controller. It is the beginningless limitation of the atman, it has no beginning like the Sthula sarira. Its components do not differ till the time of release thereby even though it is not anadi there is a permanent identity of the Suksma sarira. The "Dream state" is a distinct state of Suksma sarira where the buddhi shines itself owing to memory of deeds done in the waking state. It is the indispensable operative cause of all the activities of the individual self.
 Karana sarira
Karana sarira or the causal body is the vehicle of the higher mind. It is the cause of Sthula sarira and Suksma sarira. Shankara explains that Karanam is "Cause" and Karayam is "Effect", the Karanam and the Karyam are essentially the same but different in condition. Karyam (savikalpa) contains Karanam (nirvikalpa). Karana sarira is Nirvikalpasvarupa. "Deep sleep state" is identified with it, where buddhi becomes dormant and all concepts of time fail.
Karana sarira too is not the atman because it also has a beginning and an end and is subject to modification. The Anandamaya Kosha, the beatific sheath, is the Ishvara or God of the Upanishads. Whereas Ramanuja concludes that it is at this stage consummation of the atman with the Paramatman is reached and the search of the highest Purusa i.e. of Ishvara, ends, Shankara, not seeking a personal god, goes beyond Anandamaya Kosha in search of the transcendent Brahman. Shankara adopting Kasakrtsna’s view that Jiva and Brahman are identical, explains that non-difference of Jiva from Brahman is primary, their difference is secondary.
All these three sariras belong to the class of the anatman mainly because they are an effect, they are known and not the knower, they are ruled and not the ruler and they are dependent and not self-subsistent. The Panchakoshas are not the atman and have to be thought away in order to determine the nature of the tvam and the tat padarthas of the mahavakya, tat tvam asi, though not different the apparent distinction owing to their respective conjunction with the upadhis cause the universal atman to be circumscribed as a Jiva and Brahman to take on the vestments of Ishvara.
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