The Five Elements
Sanskrit ~ ‘Panchamabhutas’
Ether: also referred to as space. The qualities of ether are like that of space ~ expansive, light, gaseous, of no substance, clear, infinite. Ether relates to the sense of sound and the ears. Ether influences and is apparent in everything in life.
Air: this can be likened to the wind. Again there is no substance to air. The qualities of air are cold, gaseous, dry, changing, fluctuating, moving, rough and erratic. Air relates to the sense of touch, the nerves and the skin. An example would be feeling the wind brush against your skin.
Fire: we are all more aware of what fire is and its qualities. Interestingly this is because it is less subtle and more tangible the the above 2 elements. The qualities of fire are hot, gaseous, light, penetrating, sharp, and dry. Fire relates to the sense of sight and the eyes. We take in light through our eyes and focus this to perceive life.
Water: without water we cannot exist for very long. The qualities of water are damp, lquid, cohesive, lubricating and soft. Water relates to the sense of taste and the tongue. We taste flavours when the tongue is wet.
Earth: this is the most gross form of the elements. It is represented by our planet in the most obvious way. The qualities of earth are heavy, slow, dense, solid, warm, moist and stable. Earth relates to the sense of smell and the nose.
According to the ancient Vedic scriptures, there is an inextricable link between all species, the planet we live on and even beyond to the entire universe. This link is the 5 elements.
We are all comprised of varying combinations of the 5 Elements that make up our entire universe. Indeed, we are merely an extension of the universe in its elemental form. They are literally the building blocks of all life, all creation. They are in effect gaseous, liquids and solids.
To understand this principle is the cornerstone to understanding human nature, and human health and wellbeing.
When the 5 elements are balanced, the body is supported and healthy. When any one or more of these elements become out of balance, this can be either too much or too little, then this causes a build up of toxins in the affected areas of the body and ultimately disease. This applies equally to mother nature, our environment, our planet, the universe and so on,
By focussing on strengthening and balancing the most subtle levels of the human system, the 5 elements - the body automatically balances the more material levels of the system, being the physical body, skin, organs, mind etc.
So when treating an individual for any type of disease, mental or emotional imbalance, Ayurveda does not look at gross material aspects of the body parts displaying the symptoms. Instead it simply balances the elements in the body which in turn balances the physical, emotional and mental levels.
As everyone has their own unique amounts of the 5 elements that make up their body type, Ayurveda works on a very personalised individual level to redress the elemental imbalance. This is what makes it so effective.