In this whole world names and forms are nothing but that one essential existence appearing as many. The Atma Bodha by Sri Adi Sankaracharya describes the different aspects of our personality that is visible to our sense organs of perception.
At first comes the physical body. It is called sthula shariram or the gross body. It is formed by a combination of the five great elements—earth, water, fire, air and space. The five elements mix up in a scientific manner described as panchikaranam or quintuplification. In this process the elements divide themselves into two parts each.
One part retains its natural state—ie the half of space remains as space. The other half divides itself into four parts and lend themselves to the other elements. Space lends one quarter each to air, fire, water and earth. The same happens with all the five elements.
To be born in this world, get a gross body that we have and take so much for granted is the result of actions. When the individual being performs actions that are divine and selfish in equal proportion, the human body is created. When actions are predominantly divine, the body is also divine. When actions are predominantly selfish, then the birth is asuric in nature.
It is action that yields this human body. It is sustained by action and it is dissolved when the effect of the actions ceases. Sanchi means bag and sanchika means a file. The body is a bag or a file that contains genetic data about everything that includes our height, weight, life span in which surroundings it will be born, and the kind of experiences it will gain in the current lifetime.
The body is like a machine or a fan. It is switched on at birth and it continues to function until the time when the engine is on and there is power supply. At the allotted time when the power is turned off, the body ceases to function.
What is the purpose for this body? It is an abode for receiving experiences that give joy and sorrow. Just as a postman delivers letters that are addressed only to us, the world of situations and circumstances are sending couriers that reach this body which is the home.
The letter may be addressed to that particular house but the house is not its recipient. The person living in the house receives the letter. The body’s role stops with positioning itself and carrying the person to
whom the experiences of joy and sorrow go to.