This is part VI of our series on understanding our physical body. Next to the sheath of air, there is mental sheath or manomaya kosha. Mind and prana are interconnected. We can control our mind with the help of pranayama. Mental sheath is beneath the sheath of air. Again this has to depend upon the gross body for its function. As we have discussed in the series on mind, mind receives inputs through the sensory organs, which are placed in the gross body. We gain knowledge only through our sense organs. Since there is a very close relationship between mind and sense organs, mind is called the sixth sense organ. The sixth sense does not function effectively in other living beings. Birds and animals cannot think like us as their sixth sense is not fully developed. Ego starts from mental sheath. Only because of mind we are able to identify persons and things. Mind unless properly trained considers everything as its own. It takes credit for our achievements. Illusion or maya enters at this stage. Mind feels very comfortable in the company of maya. Mind and maya joining together starts creating havoc for us. Our sufferings begin from this point. The first two sheaths, physical body and sheath of air did not differentiate between Rama and Krishna. Rama and Krishna are identified by our sensory organs but not differentiated. Identification is different from differentiation. Sun and moon are identified as planets. Identifying Sun as a hot planet and moon as a cool planet is differentiation. Differentiation talks about quality. Sensory organs can identify but they do not have capacity to differentiate. Only by conjoining with mind they can differentiate and discriminate. So mind is the cause for such discrimination. Knowledge is gained from the mental sheath, which is subtler than sheath of air. Always subtler forms permeate the gross forms. For subtle mental sheath, sheath of air is gross. So, mental sheath which is subtler than the sheath of air permeates the sheath of air.
Any disturbance in the mental sheath causes serious mental aberrations. When the mental sheath is weak, our gross body becomes weak. Differentiation and discrimination are the main components of knowledge. Through the gain of knowledge we are able to establish communication with each other. Only because of the mind you are able to communicate and the necessary inputs are provided by sensory organs. Your eyes see the sun as bright and your skin feels the heat of the sun. Our desires are generated by our mind with the help of the sensory organs. As long as mind generates desires our sensory organs are very active. Mind, desire and sensory organs are interrelated. You see a beautiful piece of art. You see the art through your eyes. Your eyes give necessary inputs to the mind and mind in turn creates desires. You develop a desire to buy that piece of art. You have to speak to the seller. Your mouth, another sense organ is used to negotiate with the seller. Therefore the traffic between mind and sensory organs is always a two way traffic. As you grow old, the sensory organs gradually lose their power which in turn produces fewer desires or no desires. You acquire knowledge about worldly things when you are young. There is nothing wrong in acquiring worldly knowledge as this is required for our existence. In the process of acquiring worldly knowledge you fail to recognize the provider of the knowledge. You get addicted to worldly pleasures and worldly knowledge and you do not have time and mind to think about the Supreme intellect. By the time you decide to know about Brahman, your physical and mental sheath fail to cooperate with your mind.