Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
There is a lot of resemblance between the construction of a human body, its functioning and the surrounding nature. The whole nature is made up of 5 basic elements. – Earth, water, fire, air and vacuum (or ether). 

Ayurveda calls these elements as ‘Pancha Maha Bhuta’. Ayurveda medical science also believes that the whole human body and its composition are also made up of these 5 basic elements of nature.

इह हि द्रव्यं पञ्च महा भूतात्मकम्।(अ.सं.सू.१७/३)
Iha hi dravyam pancha mahaa bhootaatmakam (Ref – Ashtanga Sangraha Sutra 17/3)

These Mahabhuta’s are present in all the moving and inert objects, materials and substances of the universe, including human beings, animals and plants. Since they encroach all through the universe and its components and show their presence, they are called Maha Bhutas (Maha – Larger, Bhuta’s – elements).

They can be called as Mahabhuta’s due to their larger size in comparison to their precursors Bhuta’s (minute forms of Mahabhuta’s) or due to their extensive presence. The baseline is that everything in the creation is made up of these Pancha Mahabhuta’s and nothing is devoid of these 5 elements.

When these 5 basic elements making up the composition of the human body gets impregnated with Atma or soul (life element), the life gets manifested in the mass of 5 elements which we call as physical body.

Pancha mahabhuta

Death to the physical form of the body occurs when the Atma or soul gets detached from these 5 elements after a destined amount of time of association has been completed, i.e. after the completion of life-span.

Imbalances occurring with respect to one or more elements in the body would lead to the diseases pertaining to that particular element or elements which have undergone imbalance.

Example, Asthi or bone tissue is made up predominantly of Prithvi or Earth element (one among the 5 elements forming the body). When this Prithvi element undergoes imbalance, it leads to bone related diseases like osteoarthritis etc.

Ayurveda treatment principles also are based on correcting the imbalances of Pancha Maha Bhuta’s in the body.
Thus it becomes very important for us to understand the concept of Panchamahabhuta, especially with an approach of treatment perspective.

In this article we shall try to learn about Panchamahabhuta’s their contribution towards the formation of physical self, the imbalances occurring in them and the role of Ayurveda in correcting the imbalances related to the imbalanced element (or elements) as a part of comprehensive treatment approach towards healing psychosomatic disorders.

Bhuta

The term Bhuta is made up of 2 root words i.e. Bhoo and Kta (Bhoo+Kta=Bhoota or Bhuta).

न जायते अन्यतो यत्तु यस्मात् अन्यत् प्रजायते।
सगुणानां उपादानं तद् भूतम् इति कथ्यते॥(पञ्चभूत विज्ञान)
Na Jaayate anyato yattu yasmaat anyat prajaayate
Sagunaanaam upaadaanam tad bhootam iti kathyate (Ref – Panchabhuta vijgnanam)

The meaning of the word Bhuta is ‘that which has its identity and existence’. Bhuta’s are not formed or created by any other things or elements. Bhuta’s are 5 in number and they further give origin to Panchamahabhuta’s or 5 greater Bhuta’s i.e. Basic elements of nature. This gives us an idea that the Bhuta’s are earlier forms or precursors (micro-form) of Mahabhuta’s.

महान्ति भूतानि महाभूतानि
Mahaanti bhootaani mahaabhootaani

The larger forms of Bhuta’s are called Mahabhuta’s

Bhuta’s are said to be Karana Dravya’s (causal factors) and ever-existing (Nitya). They cannot be destroyed. They are also said to be Su-sukshma (very minute) and indriya ateeta (beyond the perception of sense organs.

On the contrary, Mahabhuta’s are Karya Dravya’s (effects of Bhuta’s). This explains the cause (Bhuta) and effect (Mahabhuta) relationship between Bhuta and Mahabhuta.

Panchamahabhutas

The Names of the Pancha Maha Bhuta’s are as mentioned below:
Prithvi – Earth, Soil or Mud
Ap or Jala – Water
Teja or Agni – Fire
Vayu – Air
Akasha – Space or Ether

Naming a material on the basis of its Panchamahabhuta composition –
Everything in the creation is made up of Panchamahabhuta’s or 5 basic elements of nature. Every material or object is made up of these 5 elements. But that particular material shall be called by the name of the predominant Mahabhuta.

This means to tell that, though all materials are made up of 5 Mahabhuta’s, they will have the predominance of only one Mahabhuta and they will be called by that name.

Example, a stone will be made up of all the 5 elements but it will still be called Parthiva (predominantly Earth) because of having the Earth element in excess in comparison to the other elements. Similarly we can think of bone tissue in the body as Parthiva. The other elements in these materials will be dormant and will not manifest themselves.

The classification of all the things and materials in the universe (and all tissues and organs in the body) has been classified on this concept.

Thus all the worldly articles and materials are classified into one of the below said categories –
Parthiva – Those predominant in Prithvi or Earth element
Aapya or Jaleeya – Those predominant in Jala or Water element
Taijasa or Agneya – Those predominant in Agni or Fire element
Vayaveeya – Those predominant in Vayu or Air element
Aakaasheeya or Naabhasa – Those predominant in Akasha or Ether (Space) element

This clarifies our doubts and makes things clear that no substance or material is made up of single Mahabhuta.
The weight or mass of each and every material is due to the presence of Prithvi Mahabhuta or Earth element
The integrity and adherence of the particles or cells is brought about by the Jala Mahabhuta or Water component in that material

The temperature of each and every material is a contribution of Agni Mahabhuta or Fire element contained in it
The movement of particles contained in each and every material is brought about by Vayu Mahabhuta or Air element
The space between each and every particle (space within also) of a material is caused by the Akasha Mahabhuta or Ether (Space) element

Mahabhuta qualities

Guna’s (qualities) of Mahabhuta’s –
Shabda (sound) – quality of Akasha or Ether element
Sparsha (touch, feel) – quality of Vayu or Wind element
Rupa (sight) – quality of Agni or Fire element
Rasa (taste) – quality of Jala or Water element
Gandha (smell) – quality of Prithvi or Earth element

The above said qualities of Pancha Mahabhuta’s are called Swabhavika Guna’s (basic phenomenal qualities) or Vaisheshika (specific quality) Guna’s.

Guna’s (qualities) and Karma’s (functions) of the materials predominant with specific Mahabhuta’s –

Parthiva Dravya

Parthiva Dravya (Substances predominant in Earth element) –
Qualities:
Guru – Heaviness
Kathina – Hard
Vishada – Clear
Manda – Slow
Saandra – Dense
Sthula – Fat / Stout / Thick
Sthira – Stable
Gandha guna bahulya – Predominance of smell sensation

Functions rendered by Parthiva Dravya’s in the body:
Upachaya – Nourishment of tissues
Gourava – Provides heaviness
Sanghaata – Provides hardness and compactness
Sthairya – Provides stability

Aapya Dravya

Aapya Dravya (Substances predominant in Water element) –
Qualities:
Drava – Liquidity
Snigdha – unctuousness or oiliness
Sheeta – cold
Guru – Heavy
Manda – Slow
Saandra – Dense
Sara – Flow
Mrudu – Soft
Pichchila – Slimy, sticky
Rasa guna bahula – Predominance of taste sensation

Functions rendered by Aapya Dravya’s in the body:
Upakleda – Moistness / wetness / dampness
Sneha – Provides Unctousness and lubrication
Bandha – Binds the cells and tissues with each other, provides compactness and integrity
Vishyanda – Produces discharges in and from the Srotas’s (channels and duct systems in the body, transport passages)
Maardava – Provides smoothness and cushioning / buffer
Prahlada – Provides satisfaction and contentment

Taijasa Dravya

Taijasa or Agneya Dravya (Substances predominant in Fire element) –
Qualities:
Teekshna – Intense
Ushna – Hot
Ruksha – Dry
Sukshma – Minute, micro-fine, deep penetrating
Laghu – Light
Vishada – Clear
Rupa Guna Bahula – Predominance of Sight sensation

Functions rendered by Agneya Dravya’s in the body:
Daha – Burning sensation
Paka – Suppuration (Digestion, metabolism)
Prakasha – Provides glow and glitter
Prabha – Provides complexion
Varnya – Provides good colour

Vaayavya Dravya

Vaayavya Dravya (Substances predominant in Air / Wind element) –
Qualities:
Ruksha – Dry
Sukshma – Minute, deep penetrating
Laghu – Light
Vishada – Clear
Vikasi – Quick spreading
Vyavayi –
Sheeta – Cold
Sparsha Guna Bahula – Predominance of Touch sensation

Functions rendered by Vaayavya Dravya’s in the body:
Rookshata – Provides dryness
Laghuta – Provides lightness
Vishadata – Provides clarity
Glani – Provides tiredness (fatigue)
Vicharaka – Promotes and monitors different activities

Naabhasa Dravya

Naabhasa or Aaakasheeya Dravya (Substances predominant in Ether or Space element) –
Qualities:
Mrudu – Soft
Sukshma – Minute, deep penetrating
Laghu – Light
Vishada – Clear
Shlakshna – Smooth
Vyavaayi –
Sheeta – Cold
Khara – Rough
Shabda Guna Bahula – Predominance of Sound sensation

Functions rendered by Naabhasa Dravya’s in the body:
Mruduta – Provides smoothness
Soushirya – Provides hollowness
Laghuta – Provides lightness

Paraspara Anupravesha

Paraspara Anupravesha of The Mahabhuta’s (Interrelationship and mutual entry of Mahabhuta’s) –
महा भूतानि खं वायुः अग्निः आपः क्षितिः तथा।
शब्दः स्पर्शः च रूपं च रसो गन्धः च तद् गुणाः॥
तेषां एक गुणः पूर्वो गुण वृद्धि परे परे।
पूर्वः पूर्व गुणः च एव क्रमशो गुणिषु स्मृतः॥(च.शा.१/२७-२८)
Maha bhootaani kham vaayuhu agnihi aapaha kshitihi tathaa
Shabdaha sparshaha cha roopam cha raso gandhaha cha tad gunaaha
Teshaam eka gunaha poorvo guna vruddhi pare pare
Poorvaha poorva gunaha cha eva kramasho gunishu smrutaha (Ref – Charaka Shaareera 1/27-28)
Acharya Charaka (Ancient Ayurveda teacher, practitioner and author) enumerates the Mahabhuta’s as Kha (Akasha or Ether), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Aap (Water) and Kshiti (Prithvi or Earth) and tells that Shabda (sound), Sparsha (touch), Rupa (Sight or vision), Rasa (taste) and Gandha (smell) are their qualities respectively.

Charaka further tells that –
Akasha Mahabhuta has one Guna (quality) i.e. Shabda

The next Mahabhuta’s in queue (chronology mentioned in the above paragraph) will have one Guna more than its predecessor.

Vayu will have its quality i.e. Sparsha along with the quality of Akasha i.e. Shabda. Thus Vayu Mahabhuta has 2 qualities.

The next Mahabhuta i.e. Agni will have its quality i.e. Rupa along with the qualities of the previous 2 Mahabhuta’s i.e. Shabda from Akasha and Sparsha from Vayu. Thus Agni Mahabhuta will comprise 3 qualities.

The next one in the chronology is Aap or Jala Mahabhuta. Along with its Rasa quality, it will inherit the qualities of its predecessor Mahabhuta’s i.e. Shabda quality from Aakasha Mahabhuta, Sparsha quality from Vayu Mahabhuta and Rupa quality from Agni Mahabhuta. Thus Aap Mahabhuta will have 4 qualities.

The next Mahabhuta in the sequence is Prithvi Mahabhuta. Along with its Gandha quality, it will inherit the qualities of its predecessor Mahabhuta’s i.e. Shabda quality from Aakasha Mahabhuta, Sparsha quality from Vayu Mahabhuta, Rupa quality from Agni Mahabhuta and Rasa from Aap Mahabhuta. Thus Aap Mahabhuta will have all the 5 qualities.

Acharya Sushruta also explains the same concept and calls this process as Paraspara Anupravesha (Mutual entry of one element into the other) of Mahabhuta’s. According to him, when Vayu element gains Shabda quality from its precursor element Akasha (Ether), a part of Akasha enters into Vayu.

In this way, there is Paraspara Anupravesha (mutual entry of the elements into the successive elements) of each element into the other. Thus there is entry of Vayu into Agni, Agni into Jala and Jala into Prithvi. Thus Prithvi has all the components of other elements whereas the previous elements will have one element less.

There will be no retrograde or reverse entry of the Mahabhuta’s into their precursor elements. This is just one way traffic. Thus, the first element Aakasha will have only Shabda guna (sound quality) in it.

No Mahabhuta will enter Aakasha Mahabhuta. We can understand this concept as the entry of the quality of precursor Mahabhuta into the successive Mahabhuta, thus enhancing the quality of the successive elements.

When we understand this concept we draw some conclusions –
Aakasha or Space element will have only one quality, Shabda. This quality will be present in all the successive elements due to Paraspara Anupravesha. When Vayu is formed, it acquires the quality of its predecessor element Akasha, i.e. Vayu inherits Shabda quality which will be added to its own quality, Sparsha or touch. But the reverse will not take place. Therefore, Aakasha will be devoid of Sparsha quality present in Vayu.

When Agni is formed from Vayu, it inherits the quality of its immediate predecessor Vayu, i.e. Sparsha quality along with the quality of Aakasha i.e. Shabda quality. We know that the Shabda quality is already present in Vayu.

Thus when there is Paraspara Anupravesha of Vayu into Agni, it carries along with it the quality of Aakasha Mahabhuta i.e. Shabda also with it into the Agni.

Thus Agni is fortified with 2 extra qualities along with its own Rupa (Vision or sight) quality. Since the reverse process doesn’t happen, Vayu will be devoid of Rupa quality, so does Aakasha.

When Jala or water element is formed from Agni, it inherits the quality of its immediate predecessor Agni, i.e. Rupa quality along with the qualities of Vayu (Sparsha) and Aakasha (Shabda). We know that the Shabda and Sparsha qualities are already present in Agni along with Rupa.

Thus when there is Paraspara Anupravesha of Agni into Jala, it carries along with it the qualities of Vayu and Aakasha Mahabhuta’s i.e. Sparsha and Shabda also with it into the Jala.

Thus Jala is fortified with 3 extra qualities along with its own Rasa (Taste) quality. Since the reverse process doesn’t happen, Agni will be devoid of Rasa quality, so does Vayu and Aakasha.

When Prithvi or Earth element is formed from Jala, it inherits the quality of its immediate predecessor Jala, i.e. Rasa quality along with the qualities of Agni (Rupa), Vayu (Sparsha) and Aakasha (Shabda). We know that the Shabda, Sparsha and Rupa qualities are already present in Jala along with Rasa.

Thus when there is Paraspara Anupravesha of Jala into Prithvi, it carries along with it the qualities of Agni, Vayu and Aakasha Mahabhuta’s i.e. Rupa, Sparsha and Shabda also with it into the Prithvi.

Thus Prithvi is fortified with 4 extra qualities along with its own Gandha (Smell) quality. Since the reverse process doesn’t happen, Jala will be devoid of Gandha quality, so does Agni, Vayu and Aakasha.

Thus, the successive elements will have an added quality inherited from its predecessor Mahabhuta due to the phenomenon of Utkarsha (or quality of enhancing) and Paraspara Anupravesha.

The previous elements in the chain will have a quality less than their successors due to the phenomenon of Apakarsha (lessening of quality due to the absence of retrograde inheritance of qualities.

Thus, the qualities of Panchamahabhuta’s due to Paraspara Anupravesha (in chronological order) are –
Aakasha Mahabhuta – Shabda
Vayu Mahabhuta – Shabda, Sparsha
Agni Mahabhuta – Shabda, Sparsha and Rupa
Jala Mahabhuta – Shabda, Sparsha, Rupa and Rasa
Prithvi Mahabhuta – Shabda, Sparsha, Rupa, Rasa and Gandha

Satvadi Gunas of Mahabhutas

तत्र सत्त्व बहुलं आकाशं, रजो बहुलो वायुः, सत्त्व रजो बहुलो अग्निः, सत्त्व तमो बहुलो आपः, तमो बहुलो पृथ्वी इति।(सु.शा.१.२१)
Tatra sattva bahulam aakaasham, rajo bahulo vaayuhu, sattva rajo bahulo agnihi, sattva tamo bahulo aapaha, tamo bahulo prithvee iti (Ref – Sushruta Shareera 1/21)
According to Ayurveda, Sattva, Raja and Tamas are the Guna’s (qualities) of the mind. Since the body and mind components comprise 2 sides of the same coin, let us see if there is some relationship between these 3 Guna’s of mind and Panchamahabhuta’s!

According to Sushruta:
Aakasha Mahabhuta (Ether) – is predominant in Sattva quality
Vayu Mahabhuta (Air) – is rich in Raja quality
Agni Mahabhuta (Fire) – is predominant in Sattva and Raja qualities
Jala Mahabhuta (Water) – is predominant in Sattva and Tama qualities
Prithvi Mahabhuta (Earth) – is predominant in Tama quality

Panchamahabhuta Tridosha relation

Inter-relationship between the Panchamahabhuta’s and Tridosha’s –
We have already learnt that the human body constitutes a miniature nature and has the representation of the whole nature in it. We have also seen that the entire body is made up of Panchamahabhuta’s.

Thus Panchamahabhuta’s form the physical components and make up the anatomy of the body. But the body functions are rendered by 3 Dosha’s i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Since the Tri-Dosha’s are also components of the same body, they too should be formed by the Pancha Maha Bhuta’s as a rule.

Thus –
Vata Dosha – is formed by the combination of Vayu and Aakasha Mahabhuta’s (air and ether)
Pitta Dosha – is formed by the combination of Agni and Jala Mahabhuta’s (fire and water)
Kapha Dosha – is formed by the combination of Prithvi and Jala Mahabhuta’s (earth and water)

Asadharana Lakshana

Asadharana Lakshana’s (extraordinary characteristic features or signs of identification) of Mahabhuta’s –
खर द्रव चलो उष्णत्वं भू जल अनिल तेजसाम्।
आकाशस्य अप्रतिघातो दृष्टं लिङ्गं यथा क्रमम्॥(च.शा.१/२९)
Khara drava chalo ushnatvam bhoo jala anila tejasaam
Aakaashasya apratighato drushtam lingam yathaa kramam (Ref – Charaka Shaareera 1/29)
Below listed are the extraordinary characteristic features of Panchamahabhuta’s:
Prithvi – Kharatva (Roughness)
Jala – Dravatva (Liquidity, Fluidity)
Teja – Ushnatva (Heat)
Vayu – Chalatva (Movement)
Aakasha – Apratighata / Asparshatvam (Untouchable or Unbreakable)

Pancha Mahabhutas origin

At the time of Srushti or creation, firstly the Prakriti (nature) and Purusha (life element or soul) will get united in a cosmic union. Then there is a desire of creation in the nature. From this union, initially Mahat Tatva or Mahan (Cosmic intelligence) is created.

Mahaan will give rise to Ahankara, the cosmic egoism. Since Prakriti is made up of Tri-Gunas (3 qualities), the Mahaan and Ahankara getting originated from Prakriti also are embedded by these 3 qualities – Vaikarika, Taijasa and Bhutadi Gunas.

The Bhutadi Ahankara along with the help and association of Taijasa Ahankara will give origin to Pancha Tanmatras. These Pancha Tanmatras will give origin to Pancha Mahabhuta’s.

The Pancha Tanmatra’s (Avishesha or Sukshma Bhuta’s or Bhuta’s or Micro elements) are Shabda, Sparsha, Rupa, Rasa and Gandha, which become the specific qualities of Pancha Mahabhuta’s, Aakasha, Vayu, Agni, Jala and Prithvi in that order.

The Pancha Mahabhuta’s have their origin from Bhutadi Ahankara and therefore get their name as Bhuta’s or Mahabhuta’s. Aakasha gives rise to Vayu, Vayu gives origin to Agni, Agni gives rise to Jala and Jala gives origin to Prithvi Mahabhuta due to Paraspara Anupravesha.

Importance

Importance of Pancha Mahabhuta’s in Ayurveda –
Role of Panchamahabhuta’s in the formation and development of Garbha or foetus –
Vibhajana – The division of foetus into different fragments which further leads to the formation of head, limbs and trunk is carried over by Vayu (cell division and differentiation). This happens after the union of Prakriti or Shonita (ovum) and Purusha or Shukra (sperm).

Paka – The foetus is processed and moulded by the action of Agni Mahabhuta. The fire component also causes liquefaction whenever and wherever is needed, just like the fire liquefies the gold before getting it into any mould or shape.

Kledana – The liquidity / fluidity, cellular integration, adhesion between cells, moistness and lubrication to the foetus is provided by Jala or Aap Mahabhuta. It maintains the water component of the cells.

Sanghata or Samhanana – The integrity, solidity and shape of the body of the foetus is brought about by the Earth element or Prithvi Mahabhuta.

Vivardhana – Akasha or space creates spaces within the foetus and helps in development of the foetus. This happens following the Vibhajana Karma (division of foetus into different fragments or Cell division) of Vayu.

Akasha helps in differentiation of cells and helps in forming many organs and organ systems. The spaces within the cells, in between the cells, in the lumen of many hollow organs etc are created by Aakasha Mahabhuta.

We can tell that the cell division takes place by Aakasha. The Garbha or foetus grows due to the involvement of Aakasha Mahabhuta.
The colour and complexion of the foetus is also provided by Panchamahabhuta’s.

Relation to body entities

Panchamahabhuta’s and organs / entities of the body –
All the tissues and organs of our body are made up of PanchaMahaboota’s. Let us look at some of the organs formed by Panchamahabhoota’s.

Prithvi or Earth element forms the organs which are hard, structural, heavy and rough. Example, Nails, bones, teeth, flesh, skin, hairs, moustache, tendons, nose, etc

Aapya or Water elements form the organs which are liquid, unctuous, soft, cold and slimy. Example, Lymph, Blood, muscle fat, kapha, pitta, urine, sweat, semen, body fluids, tongue etc

Taijasa or Fire elements form the organs of functions which are hot and intense in nature. Example, Vision, Eye, temperature, heat, colour, glow, complexion, anger, courage, etc

Vaayaveeya or Wind elements form the organs or entities or functions which are dry and light in nature. They stimulate and motivate movements.

Example, Movements, pulsations, all the sensory and motor activities, production of tissues, inhalation, exhalation, opening and closing of eyes, flexion and extension of limbs, inspiration, activities like grasping, skin etc

Aakaasheeya or Ether elements form organs and entities which are light and intense in nature. Example, Akasha causes discrimination and spacing between blood vessels, muscle, tendons and soft tissues, the passages in the channels and ducts of the body, orifices and lumen, ear etc

Panchamahabhuta and Tridoshas

Vata dosha is formed by Vayu and Aakasha Mahabhuta’s
Pitta Dosha is formed by Agni and Jala Mahabhuta’s
Kapha dosha is formed by Jala and Prithvi Mahabhuta’s

In normal condition and when in equilibrium, the 3 dosha’s are responsible for all the functions of the body.

Panchamahabhuta and Prakriti

Panchamahabhuta’s and Prakriti (physical constitution) –
According to the predominance of Mahabhuta’s, Sushruta classifies the body constitution into 5 types. They are called Bhoutika Prakriti.

They are –
Parthiva Prakriti
Aapya Prakriti
Taijasa Prakriti
Vaayaveeya Prakriti
Aaakaasheeya Prakriti

Panchamahabhuta and Shadrasa

Panchamahabhuta and Shadrasa (6 tastes) –
Whatever food we take, it comprises one or more of the 6 tastes. When we take these 6 tastes in proper quantities and balanced quality, they balance and compensate the depleted elements in the body, thus establishing health.

This activity of the rasa’s is due to the Panchabhoutika components in them. Since the origin of various types of food is also from Panchabhuta’s the nutrition provided by them also has components of elements of nature. They in turn compensate the depleted elements of the body.

The Shadrasa’s and their Mahabhautik combination is as said below:
Madhura Rasa (Sweet taste) – made up of Prithvi and Jala elements (Earth and water)
Amla Rasa (Sour taste) – made up of Prithvi and Agni elements (Earth and fire)
Lavana Rasa (Salt or Saline taste) – made up of Jala and Agni elements (Water and fire)
Tikta Rasa (Bitter taste) – made up of Vayu and Aakasha elements (Wind and Space)
Katu Rasa (Pungent taste) – made up of Vayu and Agni elements (Wind and Fire)
Kashaya Rasa (Astringent taste) – made up of Vayu and Prithvi elements (Wind and Earth)

Panchamahabhuta and Bhutagni

Panchamahabhuta’s and Bhutagni (Fire components of Mahabhuta’s) –
Bhutagni’s means the fire which is located within each of the Mahabhuta’s. Fire component is present in the Agni or fire element, this is quite understandable. But, Ayurveda also has put forth a theory that each and every element has a fiery component in it and is called Bhutagni.

They are of 5 types, i.e. Parthiva Agni (fire in the Earth element), Aapya Agni (Fire in the Water element), Taijasa Agni (Fire in the Fire element), Vaayaveeya Agni (Fire in the Wind element) and Naabhasa or Aaakaasheeya Agni (Fire in the Space element).

When we take any type of food, it is initially subjected to digestion by the main fire or the Gut fire (Jataragni) and is broken into smaller and finer components to enable them to be absorbed, distributed, assimilated and utilised by the tissues.

Later, the 2nd part of digestion to further break down the components of food is undertaken by smaller Agni’s (fire components) located in the Dhatu’s or tissues (Dhatvagni’s) and in the Mahabhuta’s or basic elements forming the body (Bhutagni).

These smaller fires convert and transform the food so as to satisfy their needs and to nourish themselves. Example, the Parthiva Agni takes or selectively absorbs the Parthiva components from the food, digest them, and transform them into a form which is usable and assumable by the body.

This further supports and nourishes the tissues predominantly formed by Prithvi element. Similar explanation holds good with the other Bhutagni’s also.

Pancha Mahabhutas and Treatment

The treatment line-up of Ayurveda is also based on correction of Agni; the Pancha Mahabhutagni’s to be precise. Excessive or deficit functioning of Bhutagni’s can make them inefficient to absorb the useful components from the food and nourish the body tissues accordingly.

The treatments and medicines administered in such conditions will be to correct the fire components of these Bhutagni’s and enable them and their strength so as to absorb and utilise the food components.

The medicines will be chosen based on whether the Bhutagni is deficit or excessive. The aim will be to bring them to back to normal.

Just before finish…
All of us love the nature, we are created by the beautiful nature and the nature is represented within us. Thus we have a micro-nature embedded deep inside us. If we love that small nature, nurture and take care of it, the nature within us also will take good care of us. If we are compatible with our internal nature, we will be at the best of our health and happiness.
Consult Dr Raghuram By Email or Skype: [email protected]

7 thoughts on “Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment”

  1. Namaskaram.thanks for ur deep insightful article with references.we’d be indebted if u wrote about vata dosha and its cure.

    Reply
  2. Dear Sir,
    You have mentioned that
    Vata is formed by Vayu and Akash
    Pitta is formed by Jala and Agni
    Kaoha is formed by Jala and Prithvi

    I don,t find its reference in text can you please help me in this.

    Reply
    • I confirm that it is true. I think it is from Ashtanga Hrudaya. Not able to find the reference at the moment.

      Reply
  3. Sir, thank you for all the lucid, simple explanation. More such articles would make a better world. I would like to know whether is there any info available, regarding the diseases caused,( in terms of modern day nomenclatures) & their relation with respect to the variations in the proportions of panchmahabhootas? For ex. recently I suffered from URTI, wherein nose was completely blocked,body aching, all symptoms of fever but normal body temperature. I had resort to antibiotics, but no improvement of any sort.

    Thanks & regards
    Veeresh Kumar

    Reply

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