This is part IX of our series on understanding our physical body. So far we have discussed about three sheaths viz. physical body, sheath of air and mental sheath. Now let us discuss on sheath of knowledge, which is called vijnanamaya kosha. We have seen in the earlier part that mind needs knowledge. This knowledge is called buddhi or vijnana in Sanskrit. Though knowledge and intelligence are broadly the same there is a subtle difference between the two. Knowledge is about knowing something. You know that a pen can write. Knowing about the pen is knowledge. Knowing about how the pen can be utilized is intellect. Pen can be used for drawings, writing articles, scribbling or any such purpose. Those who have knowledge about pen can utilize it but how it is utilized is intellect. There is huge difference between scribbling and writing a scholarly article. Knowledge functions on the basis of information received from the organs of knowledge. Organs of knowledge are eyes, ears, mouth, nose and skin. These sensory organs convert the information they gather into subtle forms viz. light, sound, taste, smell and touch respectively. These subtle forms are called tanmatras. These tanmatras are transmitted to the brain. We know that buddhi one of the components of anthakkaranam, the other three being manas, Chitam and ahankaram or ego. This buddhi along with tanmatras form the sheath of knowledge. The supreme self is covered by these five sheaths. If you want to reach out to the atman or Brahman we have to cross these sheaths.
Sheath of knowledge is closer to atman as we have already crossed three, presently discussing about the fourth and yet to cross one more which is called bliss. Being closer to the atman, the effect of atman is being felt by the sheath of knowledge. This is like seeing the rays of light when you are nearing the end of a tunnel. Buddhi is controlled by mind and the sensory organs. When this is the situation, we have no salvation as mind functions on the inputs received from the sensory organs. The inputs from the sensory organs are only desires, anger, attachment etc. On the other hand if you control your mind and sensory organs with buddhi, salvation is waiting for you. Since buddhi is closer to atman, it will not provide worldly inputs to the mind. Buddhi is more subtle than mind, because of its closeness to atman. Therefore, intellect becomes more powerful than thought. If we make our buddhi as the guiding factor for self realisation, instead of mind, emancipation is much faster. However, buddhi cannot act independently. In the divine system rules and regulations are laid down very clearly and also strictly followed. Unless these laws are understood and followed meticulously, you can attain the desired result. The law of divinity is that buddhi cannot overlook mind and act through the sensory organs directly. Yet another important law of divinity to be remembered is that we are bound by our karmas and karmas are accumulated as per Newton’s third law. The knowledge of sheath is also superimposed on our physical body, like the other two, sheath of air and mental sheath. Atma starts its first connection with intellect. But please remember that atman will never act on its own as atman is only a witness. It neither commands nor acts. When ego is identified with intellect, it is called jiva. It is in this jiva our karmic account is placed. Karma is like a heart to a man. Jiva is the cause for all our activities and jiva acts as per our karmic account. Karmic account is like a bank account. All good things will happen if it is in credit balance. You will suffer from miseries if it is in debit balance. If the balance is zero, your duty in this earth is over. You have no more rebirths.