The Upanishadic Concept Of Human Personality
   Date :19-Nov-2023

The Upanishadic 
The Upanishads are the culmination of the Vedic knowledge. They contain the superfine postulates, axioms and conclusions about the Supreme Reality, consciousness and the material world. The famous Nobel laureate and great Danish physicist, Neils Bohr had once remarked, “ I go to the Upanishad to ask questions.” According to Schrodinger, the multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind. This is the doctrine of Upanishads. Almost all the Upanishads are in the form of dialogue between the preceptor and the disciple. In tradition there are 108 Upanishads, but twelve are more important which are commented upon by Acharya Shankara. The Taittiriya Upanishad is known for the dialogue between Varuna and Bhrigu about Pancha Kosha - five sheaths of human personality. They include Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya. The Annamaya is the physical body made of food. The Pranamaya is the sheath nourished by the cosmic energy. The Manomaya is the mental part of human personality. The Vijnanamaya is the intellectual sheath.
The Anandamaya is the innermost blissful core of human personality. In other words, it can be said that the Panchakosha is the physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and spiritual aspects of human personality. They are interconnected and impact one another. The Ayurveda and Yoga talk of various means and techniques including food, postures, breathing exercises and meditational practices to achieve the best interconnectedness of all the aspects of personality. The concept of Pancha Kosha is the holistic description of human personality. In the modern time the famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow has propounded the five tier hierarchy of human needs. According to Maslow, first, physical needs are to be fulfilled. The fulfilment of physical needs necessitates the fulfilment of safety needs. Then arise needs of love and binding followed by the needs of esteem and self actualisation. Maslow opines that after fulfilment of earlier needs, higher needs arise. Through the hierarchy of needs theory, Maslow has given a holistic spectrum of human personality including physical, emotional, cognitive, intellectual and spiritual layers of human personality.
A l ook at both the theories of Pancha Kosha and Hierarchy of Needs, we find some striking similarities. Both talk of holistic personality. Human personality is not complete unless it is actualised. By self actualisation he meant that the full potential of any individual should be manifested. A person realises the best what his personality is made of. But Maslow treats motivation as forming a hierarchy. He moves from bottom to upwards on the scale of needs. According to Maslow, higher needs arise only if lower needs are fulfilled. But according to the concept of Pancha Kosha, each layer of human existence resides in the higher level . The Upanishad treats human existence as one structure comprising both material and spiritual. According to the Upanishads, human personality can be understood at concentric levels starting from material to spiritual. But both the theories are based upon the humanistic approach pointing to the realisation of highest human potential. It is interesting to note that the concept of holistic human personality has been visualised in Indian culture thousands of years ago. (The writer is DG Police & CG, Homeguards, Maharashtra)