This is part IV of our series on understanding our physical body. We have discussed about the five sheaths or coverings which are called as kosha in Sanskrit. They are gross or physical body followed by sheaths of air, mind, intellect and bliss. For the sake of convenience we will use the terms gross, air, mind, intellect and bliss representing the respective sheaths or kosha. It is interesting to note in Hindu mythology the numeric five attains great importance. This is because every activity in this universe is associated with the five basic elements ether or akash, air, fire, water and earth. Therefore these sheaths are also identified as five. In Lalitha Sahasranamam nama 428 is pancha-kosha-nthrasthita meaning Lalithai is in the form of these five sheaths. Lalithai is prakasha vimarsha maha maya swarupini and She is in charge of every action that takes place in this universe. Therefore, She is said to be the cause of these five sheaths as She is the cause of everything that is existing in this universe. Our body is not an exception to that. Even the Supreme creator Shiva is identified with the numeric five. Shiva mantra consists of five Sanskrit alphabets - Na-ma-shi-va-ya. The whole universe is controlled by the numeric five. Upanishads say that first akash was created, from akash air was created, from air fire was created, from fire water was created and from water earth was created. So, the first of divine creations is akash and in our human form mind is represented by akash. Therefore we can understand the greatness of mind both in creation and destruction.
Now, let us first take up our gross body. The five organs of action called karmaenthriams are in the gross body. These organs are mouth, hands, legs, organs of excretion and organ of procreation. Apart from these five organs of action, five sensory organs are also in the gross body and they are called jnanaendriyams. They are ears, nose, eyes, mouth and skin. Physical actions are performed by the organs of action and intellect is gained from the sensory organs. Organs of actions are responsible for the activities of sensory organs. Unless you walk to a temple, your eyes cannot see the deity there. Unless you go to a music hall, you cannot listen to the music. The five organs of actions and five sensory organs are placed in the gross body. Without their help we cannot understand anything. Without seeing an elephant, you cannot know an elephant. Without smelling the rose, you cannot understand the pleasant smell of a rose flower. Mouth is classified under both because it has dual function. Through the mouth we eat and we know food is responsible for keeping our gross body alive. Through the same mouth speech comes out. The organs of actions and senses either work in unison or function one after another. If you clap with both hands, you hear the sound of clapping. Both the action of clapping and the knowledge of sound realised by the ears are in unison. In the case of walking to temple to see the deity, first you walk and then only you see the deity. This is the case of sensory organ functioning after the functioning of the organ of action. Therefore without gross body nothing works and we cease to exist. Without the gross body other four sheaths do not have any work to do. Gross body is nourished by food and water we consume. That is why the gross body is called annamaya kosha. Annam is food. Since gross body is associated with earthly matters, it is identified with the element of earth.