The Pancha Tattwa: The Five Elements
The five great elements are present in all states of matter; in all beings, in every cell of every organism in the entire cosmos.
Akasha (ether), Vayu (Air), Agni (fire), Apas (water) and Prithvi (earth) are the five great elements of creation, and they are present in all states of matter; in all beings, in every cell of every organism in the entire cosmos. The pattern and quantity of each element determine the entire structure and quality of beings.
The only way to uncover our true potential as beings is by ensuring the cooperation of the elements within us, which can be achieved by their purification. The main practice for the purification of the element is called tattwa shuddhi or bhuta shuddi.
The earth characterises the solid state of matter. The qualities of the earth element are stability, rigidity, fixity, firmness, strength and might; it is the most stable of the substances.
Within the body, it governs the muscles, tissues, bones, hair, fat, skin, flesh, cells, nails, teeth and organs. In the mind it governs courage, composure, vigour and consistency.
Water characterises the liquid state of matter. The qualities of the water element are fluidity and liquidity.
Within the body, it governs bile, phlegm, plasma, saliva, pus, blood, sweat, tears, mucus, urine, etc. The consumption of water enhances flexibility, coolness, smoothness and moisture. In the mind, it governs the qualities of compassion, gentleness and kindness.
Fire is characterised by heat and holds the power of transformation. Fire can convert a substance from solid to liquid, liquid to gas and vice versa. The qualities of the fire element are warmth and transformation.
Within the body, it governs mechanisms which produce warmth such as digestion, ageing, perspiration, temperature regulation, etc. In the mind, it governs the qualities of intelligence, astuteness, will power and the ability to “digest” or withstand challenges and difficulties.
Air characterises the gaseous state of matter. The qualities of the air element are vitality, motion, lightness, penetration and expansion.
Within the body, it governs the breathing and the pulmonary system, the heart, intestines and the joints. In the mind, it governs vitality, activeness, optimism, enthusiasm, inspiration and creativity.
Ether is the prime element, from which all is manifested and into which all eventually returns. It has no material existence; essentially, it is the distances between matter.
Within the body, it governs the internal space elements or cavities, such as the ears, nostrils, mouth, etc. In the mind, it governs communication, boundlessness, purity and truthfulness.