Progegomena – Science of the Soul

Science of Soul
A practical exposition of ancient method of
visualisation of Soul (Atma Vijnana)
Swami Vyas Dev Ji
Swami Yogeshwarananda Saraswati
Published by Yoga Niketan Trust, Bharat, India

This is the introduction to Science of the Soul order from
Nataraj Books

How is Jivatman, the individual soul which is concealed by the combination of three bodies, to be realised? That is the subject of this book. Therefore it is necessary to describe the body in all its aspects and the possessor of the body.

That which is termed “I” or “Me” is, in fact, made up of the aggregate of two Tattwa’s (principles) …Jada or inert matter, and Chetan or consciousness. Consciousness abides in, and is hidden in the matter. The abode of the conscious Atman (soul) is this body made up of material elements, and is likened to a castle. There are three parts of this castle the physical body, the astral body and the causal body.

The physical or gross body is the main gate for approaching the soul; we have to enter by this main gate. This physical body is made up of five material elements and is born of past actions. It has two parts……the grosser part is Annamaya Kosha. (Food Sheath) and the other is Pranamaya Kosha (Vital Air Sheath), Together, they offer gross services to Jivatman, Lord of this castle. But this physical body does not have its own strength to serve the soul. This strength or energy comes from another body that abides in the physical body. This is Sukshma Sharira (subtle or astral body). This astral body is devoid of nerves, veins, arteries or flesh and bones : it is made up of extremely subtle vapour-like element, it is even devoid of limbs but pervades the whole physical body. It is the conductor of the physical body; in other words, all actions of the physical body take place by the energy and the prompting of the astral body alone. But in this prompting two types of energy knowledge and action are blended. By the blending of these two forms of energy there arises a force known as life. It is because of this life that the physical body remains alive and performs all its functions.

The astral body also has two parts: Manomaya Kosha (Mind Sheath), the action predominating part, and Vijnanamaya Kosha (Intellect Sheath), the knowledge predominating part. It is a wonder that this life force too does not animate the astral body, and there is yet another body that pervades the astral body and gives life to it. This is Karana Sharira, the causal body (also known as Linga Sharira or Avyakta Sharira).

This causal body is much subtler than the astral body. Although it gives energy to the astral body, its own vitality has a different abode Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Sheath). This is like a mass of light, yet it is inert; it too does not have its own faculty to generate life-force.

Thus these three pairs of the castle of the soul arc completely inert as compared to the conscious Jivatman. We see this clearly in our day to day life. When a living and moving body suddenly becomes actionless and lifeless, we say in common parlance that the Jivatman, the individual soul, has gone out of this body. It directly proves that it is by the association of this conscious Jivatman that the aggregate of the five sheaths appears to be conscious. It is because of the contact of this conscious soul that energy in the form of Jnana or knowledge, and Kirya or activity, arises from the Chitta Sattwa, the pure mind stuff of the Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Sheath).

Chitta is the knowledge predominating part of the Anandamaya Kosha. Ahamkara or ego which is the action predominating part of the Bliss Sheath, spreads both the types of energy and brings them out of Anandamaya Kosha in the form of Sukshma Prana or subtle vital force. This force enters the astral body with a jerk or push. The astral body becomes alive by this life force and in turn makes the physical body alive and active. This process continues throughout the life of an individual.

The method by which one enters into this castle of the body and gains knowledge of conscious spirit (soul), veiled by unconscious matter is known as Atma Vijnana, the science of soul, or self-realisation. The present book gives a detailed exposition of this science.

In this very castle (the body) Ishwara, the Lord who controls the entire universe, is also present. That is the experience of all saints and sages. Yet the greater portion of aspiring humanity seeks God outside in temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras, at Kashi, Jagannath Puri, Kedarnath, Badrinath and other places of pilgrimage. This confusion of God being inside and outside is a great problem and it is at first difficult to discover the truth. Let us consider this problem.

The most authoritative texts, the Upanishad s, declare:


Samtyajya Hridayaguheshana Devamanyam Prayanti ye, Te Ratnamabhivanchhanti tyaktahasta Kaustubhah (Mahopanishad, 6, 20)

The man who having renounced the Lord seated in the cave of the heart, searches for other gods (i.e., goes to other places to find him) is seeking broken glass pieces having thrown away the pearl that was in his very hand. Atman and Paramatman (Individual Self and Supreme Self) are very close, yet man is unable to realise them, Why is it so? Because both are extremely subtle. According to Upanishad s

Anoraniyan Mahatomahiyan Atmasya Jantoh Nihito, Guhayam, (Kathi 1,2,20)

“Jivatma (Individual Self), that is subtle and minute, and Ishwara (Supreme Self), who is greatest of all, both dwell in the cave of the heart.”

According to these declarations of the Upanishad s this much is evident that (1) Jivatma is minute, (2) Brahrnan or God is great. They you can decide for yourself which is the right path.

In Kathopanishad the teacher Yama (Lord of death) States

Tam Durdarsham gudhamanupravishtam Guhahitam Gahwareshtham. (Kathh 1,2,12)

Jivatman and Paramatman are both so subtle that they cannot be seen by normal vision; they are hidden in the cave of the innermost heart chamber and they are without beginning or end. How beautifully the great teacher presented this truth in a few words. He goes on to describe the fruit of the vision of Jivatman and Paramatmanone who realises the divinity knowable by Adhyatma Yoga (the Yoga of Atman) becomes free from all the pairs of opposites such as Harsha and Shoka (elation and grief), Raga and Dwesha (desire and aversion), etc.


Adhyatmayogadhigamen Devam Matva Dhiro Harshasokao Jahati (Kath 1,2,12)

Thus the conscious principles abide in the heart Jivatman, subtle and minute, and Ishwara, God, the great who is omnipresent. These are hidden in the treasure-chest of the heart in this body the castle.

Although we see nine gates (eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, organs of evacuation and reproduction), in this castle made up of five gross elements yet these gates close after a short distance. We do not see any other gate by which we can enter, and without entry we do not succeed in our purpose of self realisation. Even the main gate is not apparent from the outside; it is secret and hidden, yet we must enter the castle by this gate only. Hence our Sadhana (spiritual discipline) commences with the Annamaya Kosha (Food Sheath). This outer veil has become the main cause of the soul’s bondage. Until we acquire the science of the internal and external nature of this sheath we cannot proceed further. Then, having understood its true nature, one should develop Vairt~gya (dispassion) to wards it. In this way the gross body becomes also an aid in the path of liberation; by realising its unholy and transitory nature one destroys his attachment or infatuation for it. It is because of infatuation born of attachment to the body that one suffers innumerable afflictions, ground by the wheel of birth and death. Our forefathers realised this truth after years of Yoga-Sadhana, and developed the science of soul to save mankind from intense misery due to ignorance. Without Yoga-Sadhana one cannot know the secret of life, nor can one understand the nature of Atman or experience the reality of God in whose governance the entire world exists.


Yoganganushthanat Ashuddhikshaye Jnana Deeptrravivek Khyateh.

(Yoga Sutra of Patanjal 11-28)

By practicing limbs of Yoga one destroys the impurities in him, gains effulgence of knowledge, thereby attaining the power of discriminating Prakriti (matter) and One’s essential nature.

From this point of view Raja Yoga is the best of all methods because it is a straight path. Raja Yoga is the synthesis of the Yoga of eight limbs Yania, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. By practice of the last four limbs Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (super consciousn ess)a Yogi gradually masters the Annamaya Kosha (Food Sheath) and Pranmaya Kosha (Vital Air Sheath), then one controls the astral body made up of five Tanmatra s (subtle elements) and the Divya Vishaya s (subtle enjoyments of divine objects by the astral body). Having perfected Sadhana of these four parts by the power of Samyama (firm concentration) thus developed, a Yogi becomes able to use divine senses. Taj jayat Prajnalokah …”By victory over Samyama one attains the light of intuition” (Patanjal 111-5). Out of the divine senses the divine eye becomes able to realise all the internal functions ceaselessly performed by Manomaya Kosha, Vijnanamaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha. Human life is based on these functions. The great Yogi Pdtanjal instructs us:


Tasya Bhumishu Viniyogaya “Samyama is to be practised by stages” (Patanjal 111-6).

A Yogi should direct the power of his Samyama towards higher states of Yoga; in other words, he should go on realising the divine objects, divine functions and enjoyments of the three sheaths (Manomaya, Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya). He should continue until he attains Swaroopasthihi (establishment in essential nature) through discriminative understanding of Purusha and Prakriti (The Absolute and Matter) which is the highest state of Yoga.

We follow Ashtanga Yoga (the yoga of eight steps or limbs); therefore we give a brief description of the first four and a clear and detailed description of the other four so that Sadhaka s can proceed towards self realisation*. This Patanjal eightfold Yoga is a universally accepted system, endorsed in many scriptures as the best means of attaining discrimination of Purusha and Prakriti.

There are three main grades of aspirants. For the best and the medium type, the first section of Patanjal Yoga Darshana is quite sufficient. For such aspirants:

Abhyasa Vairagyabhyam Tannirodhah “Practice and dispassion are the main two means for the highest attainment.”

The entire Yoga is summed up by such Sutra s as: Yogashchitta Vriti Nirodhah (Yoga 12)

* For a lucid description of the eight limbs of Yoga and allied subjects please see the author’s book Bahiranga Yoga (First Steps to Higher Yoga).

“Yoga is the cessation of all the modifications of Chitta or Mind”, and
Tadadrashtuh Swarupe Avasthanam (Yoga: I, 3)
“Then the seer rests in his own nature”

But in order that even those who have their hearts tainted by Samskara s and Vasana s (impressions and subtle tendencies) of painful Karma s (acts) should not remain without self realisation, the sages, inspired by compassion for all beings, discovered the method of Ashtanga Yoga, the eightfold Yoga of Patanjal. By this method Samadhi manifests gradually and the Klesha s (afflictions) are destroyed. Avidya (ignorance) is the root cause of the Klesha s. When A (man develops the feeling of identification with the internal organ (the feeling that the internal organ is “mine”) this, is known as Avidya or ignorance, and the destruction of such wrong feeling is the function of Vidya …knowledge or discrimination. The internal organ (Antahkarana) is the purest and subtlest effect of Prakriti (matter). When the soul realises its distinction from Prakriti and consequently establishes itself in its own essential nature, the sages call this Apavarga or release. Apavarga has been described thus:

Purushartha Shunyanam Gunanam Pratiprasavah Kaivalyam, Swaroop Pratishtha Va Chitishaktiriti Yoga IV – 34)

“When the Guna s (the three qualities of matterPassion, Inertia and Purity) become devoid of any purpose involved in their cause or power of consciousness, this is establishment of the soul in its own nature. This is Kaivalya or Apavarga.” Kanad Rishi has also defined Liberation likewise.

Tadabhawe Samyoga bhavo pradurbhavashcha Mokshah


When the Karma s, pious as well as wicked, come to an end and the soul is free from the association of Antahkarana then it is not born again.

Yoganganusthanat Ashuddhikshaye Jnana Deeptiravivek khyateh, Yoga, 11-28).

This Sutra clearly states that by the proper practice of the various limbs of Yoga, impurities are destroyed and the light of knowledge shines more and more until one attains self realisation in the form of discrimination between Purusha and Prakriti. This discrimination is attained by the last of the Samadhi s. But in order to attain the different phases of Samadhi the first four limbs of Yoga are indispensable: Yama (ethical restraints), Niyarna (moral observances), Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (breath control). These four are the firm foundation on the basis of which Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses is perfected. When Pratyahara matures, one starts getting Siddhi in the constituents of Samyama, the power of Samayama (firm concentration). Samyama itself has three limbs: Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (super consciousness). By the practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama,, the gross impurities of Chitta (mind stuff) are washed away; Chitta is able to perceive the subtle form of Klesha s (afflictions) due to Avidya (ignorance etc.). Having perceived the subtle forms according to the Sutra:

Dhyana Heyah Tadvrittayah (Their Modifications are to be destroyed by meditation”),

one should try to destroy the subtle Vasana s and Vritti s (tendencies and functions) of the Klesha-s. These afflictions, which have renounced their Udara or expanded nature are hidden in the heart in the form of Tanu (thinned-out state) and Prasupta (latent state), and are destroyed by fire of discrimination between Purusha and Prakriti; they are then turned into parched up seeds (Dagdha Bija).

Go to:

The chapter on the description of the Heart as the Center of Consciousness
The description of the elements of the
Heart Center
The description of the meeting of
“The Preceptor”..the source of Science of the Soul.

Introduction Chapter of Science of Soul