Namaste! I offer my obeisance to the divine in you.
The basis of all creation, including you and me, are the five elements called the “Panchabhutas” or “Panchtatvas.”
In the Yogic Culture, the overall wellbeing of the body and the mind is primarily associated with the right balance of these five elements. Imbalance in one or more elements can create significant issues in areas ruled by those elements.
Notice how maintaining your body or your mind is a huge task today. This is because we are rarely exposed to the five elements completely. Once you are exposed to these five elements, and they come into balance, there will be nothing more to fix about your wellbeing.
How well organized these five elements are in your system decides how stable and organically strong your mind and body are.
Krishna, in Chapter 7 of the Bhagavad Gita, describes the Panchtatvas as:
भूमिरापोऽनलो वायु: खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च |
अहङ्कार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा || 4||
bhūmir-āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva cha
ahankāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛitir aṣhṭadhā
“Earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect, and ego are the eight components of my material energy.”
Out of the eight components, the five elements are Earth (bhumi), Fire (agni), Water (neer), Air (vayu), and Space/Ether (akasha).
As per Yogic Anatomy, 72% of your body is water, 12% is Earth, 6% is Air, 4% is Fire, and the remaining is Akasha. Let us explore how they manifest in our creation.
Fun Fact: Note that the sounds in the word “Bhagavan” represent these five elements.
Bh – Bhumi, Ag – Agni, Va– Vayu, Aa – Akasha, Na – Neer
The Five Elements in Manifestation
Each of the five elements represents a state of matter. Earth is all-solid, Water is all-liquid, and Air is all-gas. What transforms one form of matter into the other is Fire and what keeps all matter together is Space or Ether. This is how they manifest in nature.
Since Fire has a transformational factor to it, most Yogic rituals include fire because they can use this element to purify, empower and modify other states of matter.
Understanding the natural order of these elements in the body is also essential. Earth and Water are always below the navel (urine and stool), and Fire is in the middle of the torso (digestion) while Air and Space dominate the upper body (breath and consciousness).
The reason I’ve included this section is to identify the physical properties of these elements. When we explore each element individually, we’ll use much simpler, daily examples for a better understanding.
Let us explore each element in its entirety and what happens when one of them loses the right balance.
First Element: Earth or Bhumi
What we are in a physical body is soil. Ever since we are born to the day we die, all of us consume the resources of the Earth. Your body is entirely the making of all the different things you’ve consumed over the years.
Over the last two decades, a significant shift has been witnessed from organic to processed foods. Processed food simply means it has gone through a process where it lost its originality and became something else.
It’s not as nutritious to your body anymore as it was when organic. Therefore, a Sattvic diet is of utmost importance because what you consume, you ultimately become.
This is a profound statement because it points to the significance of the Earth element in our making. It shapes our very being.
The Earth element governs grounding, stability, patience, permanence, and security. In our body, it manifests as solid structures of our bones, muscles, teeth, etc.
When Earth is out of balance: You may feel fatigue, insecurity, fear, possessiveness, greed, lack of energy, or loss of appetite. This can also bring issues with our skin, teeth, hair, and bones.
Second Element: Fire or Agni
Our body is alive because of a certain fire within us. If our bodies were cold, we’d have died by now. Even the planet itself is powered by solar energy, indicating the need for fire in the sustenance of life. Fire is also death as it destroys everything. This is why Agni Dev (fire god) is often represented as a two-faced god.
The element of fire is dynamic, strengthening, and stimulating. This governs passion, ambition, desire, creative thinking, and leadership. In our bodies, it regulates metabolism, energy, and body temperature.
When Fire is out of balance: You may feel a lack of motivation, concentration, inflammation, fever, and digestive issues.
Third Element: Water or Neer
Water is the basis of all life. All lives, including plants, animals, and humans, flourish because they’re sufficiently hydrated. Water represents movement.
Any water source that is not in motion does not remain potable. The idea of embracing this element is to turn your body into a river.
A river is constantly in motion, and it stays fresh due to that process. Similarly, our body needs to gather and dispose of sufficient water in a cyclical approach to keep the Water element fresh and active.
Note that a body that mirrors Nature’s natural movements is the healthiest body you’ll ever find. This is because we may sit in a room away from nature, but nature is our whole body, so we can never be separated from it.
The element of water governs purification, nourishment, movement, and fluidity in the physical body. It also regulates feelings and emotions since the movement of the mind is also a fundamental reality.
When Water is out of balance: You may experience issues with addiction, emotional expression, creativity, and thoughts. Problems with digestion, sexual function, or menstruation can also arise.
Fourth Element: Air or Vayu
The five vayus (prana, apana, vyana, udana, and samana) are subtle energies that balance the human body. If we look at Air, the first thing that comes to our mind is the breath.
Breath is our first connection with the world. Its only because of breath that we’re alive and are experiencing the creation. Without breath, there is just death. The air element governs all types of movement in the body, as well as breathing, thinking, and circulation. Most importantly, it regulates life itself.
When Air is out of balance: You may become impatient, fearful, angry, anxious, indecisive, and flighty. You may also experience a lack of energy and breathlessness.
Fifth Element: Ether or Akasha
Out of all five, Akasha is the most mysterious element. It is neither visible nor audible, it also cannot be touched or experienced directly, yet it permeates and connects everything together. It is the most subtle of all elements, yet it is throughout the expanse of creation.
The Space element is calming, soothing, receptive, intuitive, spiritual, infinite, and boundless. It represents pure, untouched consciousness that includes all things spiritual. This element governs communication, speech, hearing, intuition, dreams, spiritual awareness, and growth, and it is the only element that is motionless.
When Space is out of balance: You may feel a lack of connection, security, and universal love. You may feel you’re not being understood or accepted in the universe.
Even though there are specific ways, such as Bhuta Shuddhi or Panchabhuta Kriyas, in my personal experience, living a natural, organic life is the best way to balance all elements without active involvement.
Hope you liked this article. I’ve shared all that I knew about these five elements; I’d love for you to share anything you can on this topic. Thank you
Jai Shri Hari!
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