Sanskrit: pancha = five, maha = great, buthas = elements
According to Vedic knowledge (ancient culture from India), everything in the cosmos is made up of five great elements.
- Jala (Water)
- Prthvi (Earth)
- Agni (Fire)
- Vayu (Air)
- Akash (Ether)
The five elements and the senses
We can experience the elements with our senses. The element Earth, which is made of all other elements, can be perceived with all five sensory organs (ears, skin, eyes, tongue, nose). We can only hear, feel, see and taste Water, but we cannot smell it. Fire can be heard, felt and seen. We can hear and feel Air, but we can only sense Akash (Ether) with our ears. We can only hear ether, for example when we open a can which was under pressure. The “tttss” is ether.
The five elements in our body
Everything in the universe consist of these five elements, so does our physical body. Our body is made up by approximately 72% water, 12% earth, 6% air, 4% fire and 6% ether. The first four elements are active parts, Akash (ether) is a catalyst. It builds the playground for the other elements. Whether you enjoy your body and experience it as a possibility or you experience it as a barrier depends on the cooperation between the elements in your body. When all elements are cleansed we realise how great it is to be a human.
Purification of the elements
This cleansing process is called Bhuthashuddhi (Sanskrit: bhutha = elements, shuddhi = purification) and forms the foundation of every other yogic practice. There are many ways of cleaning your elements. Here we will show you very simple practices which you can easily do by yourself. Every element must be cleaned individually.
Jala is the liquid state of matter. Water can bind substances and therefore also builds our body by binding cells together. Too much of it can cause excess mucus, swelling of glands, joint problems and edemas.
We have to take care which water we bring in our body. It should not only be free of dirt and bacteria, it should also carry good qualities. Water stores information, just like a computer. We can simply put information into the water by handling it with gratitude. That will change the molecular structure of this live-making material. The best way is to keep water is in a cooper jar. Further we should eat meals with a high-water content. Most western meals are very dry, so you have to drink water with it. It is better to eat vegetables (>70% water) and fruits (>90% water) than cooked meat (<50% water).
Prithvi is the solid state of matter. Earth consists of the other four elements (ether, air, fire, water) and give structure and strength to the body. Excess earth in the body can cause blockage of blood vessels, loss of appetite, heaviness of limbs and rigidity of joints. A shortage can lead to weak muscles.
To cleanse the element earth, we have to keep contact with the earth. Several so called “grounding exercises” show us how to do it. Walk barefoot in your garden, mosh around in the soil, do gardening. It is essential to our wellbeing that we keep in touch with the soil, with mother earth.
Vayu is the gaseous state of matter. Air is the most dynamic element of the five. It governs all the movement in the body (e.g. breathing, opening and closing of eyelids, extension and contraction of joints). An imbalance of Vayu leads to dryness, coldness and increased sensitivity in the body. Constipation, lethargy, dry cough, insomnia are related problems.
We can cleanse the elements air with our way of breathing and the quality of air we inhale. In big cities you may not get a very good quality of air, therefore it is important that you find ways to get some good air as well: Take a walk in the park or along a river and go out of the city on weekends. If it is not possible for you to get good air like this every day, you can practice Nadi Shuddhi (also called Nadi Shodhana). This is a yogic breathing technique, which will cleanse your nadis (energy channels) through which prana (life force) flows.
Agni is the power of transformation of matter. Fire can only be present in a space (Ether), where there is movement (Air). It causes heat and light. Excess fire can lead to fever, hyperacidity, inflammation and aggression. A lack of fire in the body results in low absorption of nutrients and building up of toxins.
To cleanse the element of fire you can take some sunlight every day. The best time for that is before 10am, when there is a high concentration of blue light. You can cleanse your fire element and your aura in a shamanic fire ceremony.
Akash is the space where matter exists. Ether is a hollow space in which one has the freedom to move around. It is the lightest element of all. It is said, that only God is lighter then Akash. This element is present in the hollow cavities of the body. Ether doesn’t mean emptiness, it is a special form of matter that fills the void. Akash is limitless. The more Akash one has in his body, the colder it is. Related problems are osteoporosis and other degenerative diseases.
For living a happy and healthy life you don’t have to bother about ether. By cleansing the four elements water, earth, air and fire you enable yourself for a healthy existence. Akash only become important if you want to explore higher and more vast phenomena, if you want to understand the mystical. To cleanse Akash, you acknowledge its existence and show gratitude for holding you and this planet in place.
Learn more about the elements and their functions in our courses.