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Foundation Vedanta Course ‘The Atman, or the supreme Self, is represented in the diagram by the sacred, mystic symbol “&’ (Om). The five concentric layers of matter enveloping the Atman (Self) are called ‘kosas’ or sheaths. The term ‘sheath’ indicates that it is a mere covering having something within itself which is ‘more vital than the covering, Just as the sheath of a sword remains separate from the sword so, too, no real contact exists between the divine spark of life and the matter vestures covering it. {¢000 Shear (Note: The terms microcosm and macrocost will be explained in a subsequent lesson.) There are thus five distinct sheaths called parica-kosa (five sheaths). They are: (1) Food Sheath (annamaya-kosa) (2) Vita-air Sheath (prinamaya-kosa) (3) Mental Sheath (manomaya-kosa) (4) Intellectual Sheath (vijnanamaya-kosa) (6) Bliss Sheath (4nandamaya-kosa) 9.2 Food Sheath ‘The physical body, the outermost layer of our personality beyond which we do not physically exist, is called the food sheath. It derives the name ‘food sheath’ from the fact that it has arisen from the essence of food assimilated by Lesson 9 the father and is nourished in the womb by the food taken by the mother; it continues to exist because of food eaten by the individual and, ultimately, after death it goes back to fertilize the earth and becomes food for other creatures like worms and plants. This physical structure, arising out of food existing in food, and going back to be food, is thus termed ‘food sheath’, 9.3 Vital-air Sheath ‘The fivefold faculties (paftca-prana), which correspond to the five physiological systems detailed by the biologists, represent the vital-air sheath. The five faculties (pranas) comprising this sheath are: (1) Faculty of respiration (prana): controls the inhalation and exhalation of breath. (2) Faculty of excretion (apana): controls the evacuation and rejection of ‘wastes from the body. (3) Faculty of circulation (vyana): this controls the circulation of blood ml thereby the nourishment of body cells and organs (4) Faculty governing reverse processes (udana): this prana controls reverse actions like vomiting, burping and such others. It also facilitates the movement of the subtle body out of the gross body at the time of death. (8 Faculty of digestion (samana): this prana is in charge of digestion and the assimilation of food and liquids that we take in. ‘These functions (prinas) manifest as long as the person is breathing hence together they are called as the pranamaya-kosa (vital-air sheath). The vita-air sheath controls and regulates the food sheath, and it can be assumed that the physical body becomes adversely affected when the pranas (faculties) do not function properly. Physiological activities determine the health and beauty of the anatomical structure. All the five physiological functions gradually weaken as one advances in age. This explains why an old person has to rely on medicines so as to help these faculties function normally. Foundation Vedanta Course 9.4 Mental and Intellectual Sheaths ‘The mental and intellectual sheaths consist of the mind and the intellect, respectively. The intellectual sheath controls the mental sheath, which in tum, regulates and orders the vital-air sheath and the food sheath. This is evident because when the mind is upset due to some shocking news, the physiological functions (pranas) and the physical body are affected. 9.5 Comparative Study of Mind and Intellect A more elaborate analysis of the mind and the intellect is drawn here than it was in Lesson 3. This analysis will help us to obtain a comprehensive idea of the exact functions and differences between the two faculties. (1) In Vedanta, the mind is the equipment which receives the extemal stimuli through the sense organs and communicates the responses to the organs of action. Though the stimuli received through the five sense organs are distinct and different from one another, an integeated experience of all of them is brought about by the mind. The intellect, being the discriminating faculty, examines and judges the stimuli received by the mind and communicates back to the mind its decision on the type of responses to be sent out, ° ‘The mind may be compared to a receiving and dispatching clerk of an organization, who ‘meclamically receives and organizes the mail for disposal according to the instructions of the offcer-in-charge. In this comparison, the intellect would be the officer sitting in judgement over the disposal of papers given by the clerk and also directing the clerk as to the type of action tobe taken. ‘The part played by the mind and the intellect in the ‘action-system’ of human beings is further elucidated by the following illustration: Consider wohat happens wien an individual's “finger touches a hotplate, Upon contact, the hand is quickly taken aueny, but before this is done a series of reactions take place imperceptibly. As soon as the finger comes in contact ‘with heat, the skin caries the stimulus of hen tothe mind tohich in turn forwards it fo the intellect. The intellect has as its guiding fater a storehouse of memories of past experience