Shiva Gita (study and summary)

by K. V. Anantharaman | 2010 | 35,332 words

Shiva-gita Chapter 14 (English summary), entitled “five bodily vestures or sheaths (pancakosha-upapadana)” as included in the critical study by K. V. Anantharaman. The Shiva-gita is a philosophical text from the Padma-purana in the form of a dialogue between Lord Shiva and Shri Rama. It deals with topics such as Advaita metaphysics and Bhakti and consists of 768 verses.

Chapter 14 - Five Bodily Vestures or Sheaths (pañcakośa-upapādana)

[Full title: Demonstration of Five Bodily Vestures or Sheaths (pañcakośa-upapādana)]

14.1 Untying the Knot.

Śrī Rāma submits to the Lord that if He is of the form of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss, partless, actionless and blemishless, unattached, devoid of any attributes, abiding everywhere and all pervasive, how can the Lord be grasped at all. He was stricken with this doubt and wanted the knot to be untied.

2.14.2 Sthūlasaurāmbhikā nyāya.

Lord Śiva out of compassion replied to Rāma that by meditating on a personal God and getting one-pointed mind, one should engage the mind towards the supreme, by the principle of sthūla-saurāmbhikā-nyāya (pointing the real water source after showing a mirage).

14.3 Understanding the sheaths.

The self is not born, it is eternal, does not die by any means. But man out of ignorance identifies himself with the body or annamaya kośa, the first sheath, which is affected by ṣaḍ-bhāva-vikāra, like Jāyate, asti, vipariṇamate, vardhate, apakṣīyate and naśyati.[1] The next sheath or vesture is made of vital airs called prāṇamaya kośa; comparable to the mould where in molten gold is poured. This sheath is affected by old age and death. Both of them are not Self but inert. Subtler than the sheath of vital airs, there is, indeed, the sheath of mind, manomaya kośa. Its nature is to reflect and is associated with intellect and the senses. It is affected by śoka or grief and moha or delusion. Subtler still is the sheath of intellect ie. Vijñānamaya-kośa and its field of action is determined by the Vedas and the allied scriptures along with senses of knowledge. This intellect is also not the Self since it is committed to taking decision and is absent during sleep. (see: chart in the end of chapter )

14.4 Experiencer of Fruits of Meditation.

The five sense organs of knowledge, the five organs of action, the five vital airs, mind and intellect are the seventeen components constituting the subtle body and by a process mutual confusion becomes associated with the witness -consciousness Abhijñāna Śākuntala in the case of red-hot iron. The sheath of Bliss or ānandamaya-kośa, assumes enjoyership. He is known Abhijñāna Śākuntala undistinguished mass of nescience alone manifested by it Abhijñāna Śākuntala sleep, then the Witnessself appears. Witness-self is a constant presence the experiencer of the fruits of meditation, ritual action etc. both here and in the other world.

14.5. The Witness-self.

When the super-imposition of the subtle body is abandoned and when Self stands in its own nature with the in all the activities. The shadow of burning sun is manifested by that sun itself. Similarly one Self feeds and other soul eats the fruits of its own deeds.[2] cf. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad .

14.6. Ratha-kalpanā.

Lord Śiva presents the Ratha-kalpanā. Owner of the chariot is the knower of the field or body; the body is the chariot, intellect Abhijñāna Śākuntala the charioteer and mind Abhijñāna Śākuntala reins. The senses are horses and the sense objects Abhijñāna Śākuntala roads. Owner is the enjoyer united with mind and senses.

14.7 Neti-neti nyāya.

By the neti-neti nyāya, one should transcend the sheaths one by one and the mind grasps well the supreme self which is understood by the upaniṣadic declarations like “It is unseen, ungraspable, not gross etc.”[3]

14.8 Query on Śiva’s Māyā.

Rāma makes a valid question Abhijñāna Śākuntala to why people do not engage in listening to the scriptural teachings and even after listening, some do not realize self and do all these constitute the Māyā of Śiva.

14.9 Māyā difficult to cross.

Lord Śiva asserts that no enquiry need be made in the matter Abhijñāna Śākuntala to the effect of divine Māyā. It is His divine power and difficult to cross. Only those who unconditionally surrender to God get over this Māyā.[4] cf. Bhagavad Gītā. Others have no recourse but to take repeated births.

14.10 Knowledge through Faith.

Out of millions of souls born in variety of wombs, there arises someone devoted towards the Lord, by dint of merits earned in millions of earlier births.[5] Only a devotee endowed with faith attains true knowledge, not attending to anything else, even in millions of births.

14.11 Nothing higher than Devotion.

Surrender unto the Lord abandoning all other obligations and the Lord will liberate one from all sins and there will be no grief on this account.[6] Lord advises Rāma that whatever one gives or observes Abhijñāna Śākuntala penance, do that Abhijñāna Śākuntala an offering to the Lord.[7] There is nothing higher than devotion towards the Almighty.

Thus ends the fourteenth chapter of Śiva-gītā.

Footnotes and references:


Ibid XIV-8


Vide Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad III-1-1

Two birds, bound one to the other in close friendship, perch on the self-same tree. One of them eats the fruits of the tree with relish, while the other looks on with out eating.


Vide Śiva Gītā XIV-28, 29& 30


Ibid Śiva Gītā XIV-36 and 37;—Cf. Bhagavad Gītā perfect echo of VII-14.


Vide Śiva Gītā XIV-40


Ibid XIV-43


Ibid XIV-44

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