The human being is composed of three “bodies” emanating from Soul(The Higher Self) by “ignorance” or “False knowledge or awareness”. They are often equated with the five sheaths( Soul is wrapped inside five layers), which cover the Soul. The soul, which is different from the body, resides in the three bodies of the Human Beings and utilizes as a medium for the various experiences in this physical world. The moment we understand that the soul is different from these three bodies, we are awake and on the path of liberation.
They three bodies are,
Subtle Body or Astral Body
The Gross body is the physical body that is made up of the 5 fundamental elements i.e., space, air, fire, water and earth and is subject to a sixfold change( birth, subsistence, growth, maturity, decay, and death). This is the dense physical body. The Gross body is simply the vehicle of all the other Principles (bodies) during physical incarnation. Physical manifestation resides in the Gross (physical) body. The Gross body needs gross food, drink and air which it gets from Vital air sheath. At death the physical body perishes and its five constituent elements are dissolved.
Subtle Body or Astral Body
The Subtle or astral body is where lives mind and intellect. The mental body or the mind is the seat of our feelings, emotions and desires. It carries in it countless impressions from this life and previous lives. It is made up of three parts, The conscious, Subconscious and Unconscious mind. The conscious mind is that part of our thoughts and feelings that we are aware of. The subconscious mind contains all the impressions required to complete our destiny in our current lifetime. The unconscious mind is that we are completely unaware of. This contains all the impressions that are associated with our past Karma. The subtle body surrounds the Gross Body ( physical body) as an aura of energy. The energy channels exist in this subtle medium through a fine merger into the physical medium. This is the “vital body” and the prototype and reflection of the physical body. It comes into existence before the physical body as the latter is built and formed upon and around it and it only fully fades out and dies when the very last remaining particle of the deceased physical body disappears and disintegrates. In the internal astral body, there are counterparts of organs outside. They are called astral senses. A yogi hears through astral ears and sees through astral eyes. Thus he can hear sounds from distant lands, he can see objects in distant localities. This is called clairaudience(the power to hear sounds said to exist beyond the reach of ordinary experience or capacity, as the voices of the dead.). After the death of a being, the soul cannot quit the gross body without a vehicle of some kind. This vehicle is the subtle body.
There are two Mind types of Astral Bodies,
Astral Body’s Lower Mind: This sheath is the also energy of action. This mental sheath is composed of two qualities, mind and intellect. Mind is the rational, linear, sequential, thoughtful mind. Intellect is the quality of discrimination which comes after knowledge, after the removal or the absence of ignorance.
Astral Body’s Higher Mind: The Intellect Sheath is the sheath of the intellect and intuitive knowledge/wisdom which gives us the discriminative capability that helps to differentiate between virtues & vice, good & bad, right and wrong, truth & untruth. It controls the mind, the senses, the fructifying all activities of the body. The ego-driven intellect can lead to actions which result in pain and suffering. Its knowledge is affected by the moods of the mind and other factors. Through the practices of meditation, regular self-study & enrichment of knowledge through libraries & discourses could lead towards devotion. Our mind becomes purified and the intellect can then begin to depend more and more on the pure intuitive wisdom rather than be influenced by the ego. As you begin to experience this aspect of existence, you discover that this sheath is merely an illusion covering over the eternal self.