Theory of Five Elements.
My last blog was about the four aspects of life. Among those four aspects, the last one is Sharira or physical body. If we look it in proper perspective, the body is nothing less then a surprise., a complicated instrument which has the capacity to support unlimited possibilities for a human. modern medical science sees the body as an instrument or object composed of tiny objects, organs, cells, atoms, and sub-atomic particles.
Ayurveda has a different view for the body, rather than giving more importance to the material matter of the body, Ayurveda says it is more important to understand the underlying principles that control their functions. The imaginary model that Ayurveda uses to understand the principle of nature’s functioning is called Panchamahabhutas or the theory of five elements. This theory serves as the foundation for all of Ayurveda’s diagnostic and treatment and has allowed physicians for thousands of years.to detect and treat imbalances in human life. Charaka Samhita one of the Ayurvedic text states that one must have proper knowledge of the elements in order to be a physician. very well training and well experience required to use this great knowledge into clinical application. This knowledge provides a therapeutical and practical knowledge between human and nature.
The basic concepts of the panchamahabhuta theory are that everything in the physical world is composed of five fundamental of nature called elements. In the west, most of us are familiar with four elements while Ayurveda recognizes the element of space as the first and the most basic and important. These elements are considered to be the most fundamental properties of the creation of the world. Ayurveda describes this universal organizing principle as mahabhutas or cosmic elements. They function with the specific qualities and characteristics those are unique to them. Mahabhutas do not have dimensions, they are infinite, and they do not have physical properties. It is difficult to explain the nature of the creation without having good knowledge of mahabhutas principles.
According to Ayurveda, there are five elements ether, air fire, water, and earth. Here we need to understand that we are talking about mahabhutas, we will not compare them with their meaning. for example, when we talk about fire, it is not fire which we see in the material world, it is much more than it.
How these mahabhutas were manifested?
The five great elements originate from Pancha tanmatra. Tanmatra is a Sanskrit word meaning subtle essence. These tanmatras incarnate to form the 5 great elements. Each great element is a combination of all 5 tanmatras but shows a predominance of one tanmatra.
The 5 tanmatras are Sound (Shabda), Touch (Sparsha), Vision (Roopa), taste (Rasa), Smell (Gnadha). These tanmatras are related to each sense organ.
As I mentioned earlier, In Ayurveda, it is said that the components & functioning of nature is similar to our body components and its functions. Pancha Mahabhuta theory states that everything in the physical creation is composed of these 5 elements. The very first element that comes to existence is Akash (Ether). It is most expansive and least concrete of all. The next element derived is Vayu (Air) then comes Agni (Fire), then Jala (water) element is formed and lastly Prithvi (earth) element is formed.
Akasha(Ether) – The principle of space.
When we talk about space we imagine as vast or open or emptiness. but this emptiness has immense possibilities for the things to be present. This emptiness is the element of space and there is nothing in the universe can exist nor any process can take place.
The sound is the fundamental quality of Akasha. sound inseminate by space, actually, the sound is born out of the creation of the space. the ear is the sense organ for the subject sound. so the ear is the sense organ of the space element. The ear is a spacious structure with very thin bones. which transfers sound from the external world to the internal world.
Vayu(Air) The principle of movement
Ayurveda states that movement is the main principle behind this mahabhutas. movement always indicates directions. vayu originates and provides direction to all acts and because of this movement all acts functions in creation.
Touch is the fundamental quality of movement or air. The skin is the sense organ of the touch or skin is the sense organ of the Vayu mahabhuta. The skin has the capacity of noticing in the form of subtle or gross.changes in pressure, friction or vibrations. The movement to the skin can be collected as hard, soft, rough, smooth, fast or slow. This information is transmitted to the brain and it is being decided as a good or bad by the mind.
Agni(Fire) The principle of heat.
Agni is the third element to manifest. By the friction of the movement, heat is produced. This element is known as Teja or Agni. All forms of transformation including digestion is carried out by Fire. Vision is the sense of the fire element. Perception of light is carried out by this element. It supports conversion in both organic and inorganic process. Ayurveda has given more importance to digestive fire. There are no actual fire burns in the stomach but different kind of enzymes and hormones which are responsible for the digestive process are the form of the fire element.
The sense of sight is associated with the fire element. This makes us think why the sight is the sense of fire because if there is no fire then there will not be light and without light, we can not see so sight is the sense and eye is the sense organ of the fire element.
Jala (Water) The principle of liquidity.
Jala is the fourth element to arise. Jala has the nature of binding or holding together if we want to make a ball of dry soil it is hard for us to make a ball from dry soil but if we add little water we can easily make a ball so Jala has the quality to keep binding. It helps the cells binding body structure.
According to Ayurveda the sense of taste arises from the water element. The ability to taste depends on the amount of liquid in the mouth(saliva) Tongue is the sense organ of the Jala element. It has a maximum surface contact with the water element. Through the tongue, mind judges the taste and quantity of food to be taken. Thus it protects the body as well.
Prithvi (Earth) The principle of structure.
The manifestation of elements starts from subtlest to the gross and earth is the grossest and solid, so it comes last. Any substance which has shape indicates the presence of Prithvi. Trees, plants or human body has shape and they are the form of Prithvi.
Smell is the sense of the Prithvi and nose is the sense organ of the Prithvi mahabhutas.