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All About Ayurveda

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Ayurveda tells us about the Five Elements that Constitute Life!

In our previous post, we spoke about the simple-yet-effective principles of Ayurveda, which are extremely easy to decipher, understand, adopt and follow. We also spoke about the fact that Ayurveda believes that all living beings are the same - be it human beings, plants, animals, or any other living organism… simply because, we are all made up of the same Five Elements.

And what are these Five Elements?

Well, these Five Elements are Earth (Prithvi), Water (Jal), Air (Vayu), Fire (Agni) and Space (Akash). Ayurveda refers to these Five Elements as Panchabhootas. Each of these Five Elements has its own character, and together they combine to form life.

Let’s try and understand these Five Elements in detail:

1. Earth: This is the most tangible of all the Five Elements. One can touch, feel, see, taste and smell Earth. However, Ayurveda looks at Earth from two different aspects: 1. One that is eternal (Nitya) and 2. The other that is perishable (Anitya). Our body, sense organs and mind get the shape of life or Jiva, but are perishable. Once we cease to exist, our body is either burnt or buried and hence goes back to Earth. But the Nitya Elements or atoms are eternal and take up a new form or new life once our body ceases to exist. Earth is what gives us stability and keeps our body and organs together.

2. Water: Like Earth, even Water has two forms: perishable and eternal. When we cease to exist, the Water Element in our body disappears or perishes, but then Water from lakes, rivers and oceans evaporates and comes back to Earth in the form of rain. From a sensory perspective, Water can be seen, felt, touched and tasted. Though modern science considers Water to be tasteless, but it does have a taste that can quench our thirst, and our body knows and recognizes that very well.

3. Air: Same like Earth and Water, Air has two forms: Nitya and Anitya. We can feel the cool breeze and a wind storm. But the eternal element of Air continues to live in the form of an atom and Air is around us at all times, even though we may not feel it always.

4. Fire: Fire or Agni is the fourth element that we are made up of. Again it has two forms: perishable and eternal. We can see Fire on the outside, but there is also a Fire inside that cannot be seen. It is Agni or Fire that digests our food and transforms it from one form to another.

5. Space: The fifth and final Element is Space. Unlike Earth, Water, Air and Fire, Space has just once character. It is eternal. We can just hear it but can’t see it. Space is the carrier of sound.

So, these are the Five Elements that, according to Ayurveda, come together to constitute life. The forms – a human being, an animal, a plant etc change due to the change in composition of these Five Elements, but the essence of all remains the same.

Follow this series to know about the three principal energies that are operating in the universe.

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