We take many things for granted. However, a little thought and learning will show how much we are connected to this world even for simple functions of our sense organs of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching, which make our existence so colourful.
Adi Sankaracharya ji in the Tatwa Bodha describes that due to the very existence of space, the sense organ of the ears functions by hearing sounds that are the essence of space. Due to the presence of air in the atmospheric space, the sense organ of touch gets its ability to function. Due to the presence of heat in the atmosphere as the essence of the fire element, the eyes get the power to see forms and colours. Due to the presence of water in the atmosphere, the tongue gets its power of taste and due to the very presence of the earth, the nose gets the power to smell different fragrances which are the essence of the earth.
Owing to the collective existential power of the five elements—the internal sense organs called the Antah Karana—Mind, Intellect, Memory and Ego get their ability to function. The task of the mind is to want or not want something, some person or situation. The nature of the intellect is to choose between the choices preferred and offered by the mind, and make a firm decision.
The nature of the chitta or memory is to draw from its data bank and constantly keep ruminating about past experiences. The ahamkara or ego is one of the four types of thoughts. It associates itself with the body, vital energy, mind, intellect, memory and experiences and keeps saying—I am tall, I feel hungry or thirsty, I like this, I don’t like this, I am brilliant (or not so!) I don’t know anything.
The presiding deity for the mind, the point up to where it can contemplate and penetrate is the Moon. The presiding deity of the intellect is Brahma or the creative power within. Rudra, the deity of anger, presides over the ahamkara and the god who administers the memory bank in us is Vasudeva or the guardian deity.
The dynamic aspects of the five elements give the power of the functioning for the organs of action.
Speech is powered by space, hands are powered by air, legs are powered by fire, organ of excretion is powered by the earth and the organ of reproduction is empowered by the dynamic aspect of water. From the collective rajas aspect of the five elements, the five vital airs in the system—prana (perception), apana (excretion), vyana (circulation), samana (digestion), and udana (the upward thrust)—are formed.