Panchakosha Vikas (Five-fold Development) – A keystone in Indian tradition

This is a sequel to the earlier posts wherein I had compared the pramanas with the current pedagogical techniques. In this post I shall be dealing with the panchakoshas and the overall development of an individual. I have compared the Panchakoshas to the development in early childhood.

The koshas are perceived as the energetic layers of your body that surround your soul. Sometimes, they’re referred to as “sheaths” or “casings.”

The five koshas exist together and are nested, within each other. The physical body composes the outermost layer, and the innermost layer contains your soul. The Panchakoshas were first described in the Taitiriya Upanishad which was written during the sixth century B.C.

This was the first ancient text to discuss the koshas.This Upanishad also explains how to develop character and correctly conduct yourself. These ways of living are guidelines on the path that leads to attaining brahma-jnana, which is the knowledge of your supreme self.

To put it simply, Panchakosha is an ancient school of thought dealing with the importance of the body-mind complex in human experience and understanding. This approach to human development gives clear direction towards a more holistic education.

The child is a whole being with panchakoshas or five sheaths. The layers are annamaya kosha (physical layer), pranamaya kosha (life force energy layer), manomaya kosha (mind layer), vijnanamaya kosha (intellectual layer) and anandamaya kosha (inner self).

Each layer exhibits certain distinct characteristics. The holistic development of a child takes into account the nurturing and nourishment of these five layers.

The Panchakosha concept and imagination also maps into the different domains of development envisaged in the Early Childhood Education.

For the well being of an individual all five sheaths are to be integrated and balanced

  • Physical Development (Sharirik Vikas) is related to Annamaya kosha : Age-specific balanced physical development, physical fitness, flexibility, strength, and endurance etc. activities dealing with gross motor control and finer muscle control are included in the curriculum. The physical activities can also include playing on the jungle Gym, exercises that involve eye hand co-ordination like catch the ball activities.
  • Development of Life Energy (Pranik Vikas) is related to Pranamaya Kosha: Balance and retention of energy, positive energy and enthusiasm, by activation of the systems. Also leads to self-awareness. Yoga is introduced to imbue discipline and breathing,
  • Emotional/Mental Development (Manasik Vikas) is related to Manomaya Kosha – Concentration, peace, will and will power, developing virtues (maulyavardhan). Life skills relating to values are introduce ed through stories, anecdotes and role play. Help to reflect when something not right is done. Simple words like sorry, thank you , please etc are practised in class till they become second nature.
  • Intellectual Development (Bauddhik Vikas) is cognitive space. Observation, experimentation, analytical ability, abstract and divergent thinking, synthesis, logical reasoning, linguistic skills, imagination, creativity, power of discrimination, generalization, and abstraction are all a part of this segment.
  • Spiritual Development (Chaitik Vikas): Anandamaya Kosha. Happiness, love and compassion, spontaneity, freedom, aesthetic sense, the journey of ‘turning the awareness inwards.’ This is difficult to achieve.

Ancient Indian thoughts on Education are relevant even today. It is easier to practice them when you know the  connection between modern pedagogy and the Ancient Indian thoughts. Good luck in your practice.

Published by Dr. Pramila Kudva

I am a teacher educator currently worrking as a Principal of a reputed school in North Mumbai, have more than 30 years of experience, with several publications to my credit and have authored a book -"From chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.

Leave a Reply