Five Vital Elements of Ayurveda

The universe by itself is interrelated in some or the other way. Everything in this world is bound by five unique elements of life and has gradually become the five vital elements of Ayurveda, rightly known as the science of life. I often think that my 2 eyes are just not enough to admire the magnificence of nature and enjoy its excellence in each of its significant existence. One such immeasurable quantum of nature’s solace is the presence of the five essential elements namely Water, Earth, Space, Fire and Air in every survival of this globe. With such importance, the heavenly science of Ayurveda calls these elements as the building blocks of life, comprising human beings as the major part.

Every single thing in this world, be it a living being or a non-living object is exclusive and unique in its own because of a differing ratio of the five elements of life.  Even the Ayurvedic remedies like herbs, Ayurvedic essential oils, yoga, meditation and other natural remedies aim at nurturing the values of these five elements. Ayurveda identifies human body as a combination of the five vital elements in varying proportions, making an individual unique from his fellow being. Every object in nature follows an orderly mechanism that would make us speechless in awe. We rise on Earth and finally rest on Earth only. In between, all the five elements play a significant role in our daily lives, determining our physical, biological, psychological, social and environmental attributes. They are indivisible and together they are known as Panchamahabhutas in Sanskrit.

The theory of five vital elements and human system: Let’s now have a look at the way that these five elements lead, rule and influence the personality traits and attributes of mankind.

1. Water (Jala, Apa, and Neer): Most of us know that the Earth comprises of 70% of water and just 30% of land, similarly the human body is also made up of about 70% water, but for which the human system would stop functioning. The presence of water in our body is witnessed through trouble-free movement of various parts of the body and governs various fluids like blood, saliva, plasma, mucus etc.

In short, our body is supplied with the necessary energy only with the presence of this predominant element that regulates our body temperature as well. All the liquid items that we drink are all various forms of water and intake of water enhances suppleness, coolness, softness and the moisture of the skin. On an emotional perspective, water can be compared to a loving, gentle and compassionate personality with kindness and consideration.

2. Earth (Dhara and Prithvi): Anything that is stable and solid can be represented as a form of earth. The nourishing solid food items that we ingest are from earth. Earth represents strength, durability, firmness and might.  The muscles, tissues, bones, hair, fat, skin, cells, nails and teeth of the human body are governed by this dominant element. Mentally, earth stands for braveness, steadiness, vigor, constancy and the attributes of a warrior at heart, essential for a healthy and hearty life filled with challenges.

3. Space (Akash): The ever-present dominant force encircling the Globe is the space also known as ether. What comes to your mind when you just look at the clear sky in the early hours of the day? This sight brings utmost joy, humbleness, openness, liberty and an immaculate ray of hope and light to me. Space is everywhere and it is this space in the human heart that accepts and gives love without boundaries and in the body, it is considered as the container that accepts all kinds of impressions. This element is said to be present in the human system, wherever cavity and emptiness is present like stomach, intestines, nostrils, lungs, bladder, ears, throat, blood vessels and mouth. Light and hollow food items like wafers, corn flakes etc, are examples of foods with the presence of ether element.

4. Air (Vayu): This vital energy is forceful and itinerant. Without air the entire world would stop breathing and would look lifeless. The oxygen that helps us survive is just a part of air and acts as the foundation for all the positive reactions in the human body. The functioning of the major parts of the body like intestines, heart, lungs, joints and stomach are supported by air. The intake of air enhances circulation, coolness and movement. Physically, air is attributed to light, weightless, dry and movable characteristics and mentally, it is related to an active, vibrant, full-of-life and energetic personality that can influence and stay optimistic.

5. Fire (Agni): Fire grants the essential power that the body needs to digest and react to all metabolic, nervous, perspiring and challenging activities. It is only the fire in you that can help you withstand difficulties and win over the most critical situations in your life. This energy element converts food to fat and transfers the necessary energy to bones and muscles. The presence of fire determines your intelligence and the body temperature. It augments digestion, color and glow of the skin and metabolism. Hot, rough, sharp and clever traits are associated with fire.

Just like the five fingers in our palms, these five elements are highly important and form an integral part of every human being according to Ayurveda. Each of these building blocks play an imperative role in different phases of our life like Earth and Water elements are predominant during the childhood, when the body attains growth physically, whereas the element of Fire rules during adulthood when the body undergoes a drastic change. When we attain old age, the body tends to lose its flexibility and there is the predominance of Air and Space elements. I trust that this fundamental knowledge about the five vital elements of Ayurveda helps us realize that our body that is blended with nature, naturally.

Thought for the day:

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind and intellect and also ego-sense; these are the eight-fold division of my nature. This is inferior. Know my mother nature, the higher, Oh Mighty-Armed, the life-element by which the universe is upheld”. (7:4-5)                                                        – Bhagavad Gita

Suggested Reading:

  1. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity By Swami Sadashiva Tirtha
  2. The Subtle Energy Body: The Complete Guide By Maureen Lockhart Ph.D.
  3. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume One: Fundamental Principles By Vasant Lad

Reference Links:

  1. The Five Elements Part I: Ether by California College of Ayurveda
  2. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Comparative Overview by NCBI
  3. Ayurved, the science of life by Richfield

Ayurveda: The Ancient Treasure of India

Right from a peasant to a president, every one craves for some treasure. A commoner may view treasure as a worldly pleasure, whereas a sage considers it as becoming one with God!!! Do you want to acquire a treasure which serves both these purposes?!?! I’m sure you will certainly wish to!! If yes, then go ahead to equip yourself with one of the ancient treasures of INDIA. Known for its rich natural and cultural heritage, India is a land of spiritual values, which is ruled by the most celebrated emperor of all ages known as AYURVEDA. This holistic, spiritual and absolute healing medical practice is serving the humanity for nearly 5000 golden years and has attained great heights due to its incredible theories and attributes, for which it is rightly called as the Ancient Treasure of India.

Ayurveda – To Start With: The modern world where we survive is derailed with infinite incompatible agents most of which aim at impacting the health of humanity. Thus mankind is left with no option except for thriving in search of a spiritual healing practice that soothes the mind, strengthens the body and eventually enlightens the spirit!!! Mighty with its mythical roots, Ayurveda is what our ancestors have blessed us with to lead a charming life. This age old medical practice of Indian origin had been strengthened with the strenuous efforts of numerous sages and other skillful resources.

Inclusive Chattels of Ayurveda: With a sturdy base, Ayurveda has its branches wide-spread to deal with each single attribute of mankind.

  • The Eminent Disciplines of Ayurveda: There are eight eminent branches of Ayurveda. They are Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Ophthalmology and ENT, Psychiatry, Toxicology, Rejuvenating and Improving Immunity, Aphrodisiacs and Improving health of progeny. This spectacular medical science thus covers the entire life-cycle of a human being right from his/her birth.
  • Base of Ayurveda: As the universe is composed of five basic elements, Ayurveda considers mankind as one of the life forms of universe with an entity built up with the same natural base. Dealing with Prevention and Cure in a natural way, Ayurveda first analyses the unique constitution of each individual, which is the stepping stone to a holistic approach. Perfect understanding of Prakriti (Constitution of the human body), Dosha (Ayurvedic body types ruled by three biological energies namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and Guna (Nature of human character) forms the basis of an Ayurvedic treatment that aims at liberating mankind from all woes; be it physical, emotional or spiritual.
  • Healing Methodology of Ayurveda: With the systematic understanding of the physical and mental constitution of each individual, Ayurveda stands unique with its unique healing therapy. Holistic Healing Approach in striking poise between the mind, body and spirit is what makes Ayurveda to glow with glory. A complete Ayurvedic routine that includes ‘a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle, Ayurvedic diet, herbal products that are greatly utilized for medications and meditation, a stress-free physical exercise for the mind, body and soul – Yoga, Effective Usage of Ayurvedic essential oils that soothes the mind and the body’ is recommended for each individual based on their body types. This unique healing approach of Ayurveda makes one to feel special and unique and paves way to live in harmony with nature that results in eternal ecstasy.
  • Yoga and Meditation – Mind Tutors of Ayurveda: Human mind has the power to make/break the soul. Taking this into concern the Ayurvedic scholars have advised a powerful pack of physical and mental exercises that pacifies the soul and strengthens the body. Yoga – sister science of Ayurveda and Meditation – Mind healing tool, share the credit of bringing peace of mind to mankind. Incessant practice of yoga and meditation leads one to realize the true value of their purpose of life, leading to a meaningful existence with divine satisfaction.

Impact of Ayurveda in the field of Medicine: A detailed description of the healing techniques in various medical aspects is described in the mass Ayurvedic encyclopedias, namely Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya and Ashtanga Sangraha. These encyclopedias serve as the leading light to massive uplift mainly in the field of Plastic Surgery, Ophthalmology, Human anatomy and Embryology. Intensive care and concern was equally given to treating the diseases and the patients. Privacy of Patient’s Confidentiality was given high importance by the Ayurvedic practitioners of the ancient world who defined the ethical code for all medical practitioners.

Numerous scientific studies have been carried out to study the real essence of Ayurvedic treatments. Ayurveda can cure various diseases that include common cold, fever, toothache, insomnia etc. Based on the study by NCCAM (National center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), Meditation is found to be practiced by people to deal with anxiety, insomnia and various other health disorders.

Ayurveda at Present: The Ayurvedic encyclopedias were translated into many foreign languages including Arabic, Latin, German and English thus spreading the true knowledge in healing mankind. With its essence spread to the world, Ayurveda is now gaining global attention since this is the only holistic healing approach that alleviates ailments, prevents recurrence of diseases and treats humanity without leaving any traces behind in the form of side effects. Ayurveda acts as an effective stress-buster by calming the human mind, cultivating positive thoughts leading to a healthy living. It is for this reason this mind blowing curing therapy is being greatly acknowledged in the Western World!!!

Isn’t it fascinating to know that one single medical practice that came into existence nearly 5000 years ago covers the entire life of an individual in an innovative natural way? Ayurveda is indeed the ancient treasure of India of enormous wealth that nourishes the entire world with its holistic principles of medical practices. Let’s join together and enjoy the benefits of Ayurveda in a comprehensive way!

Thought for the day:

Anyone who believes that anything can be suited to everyone is a great fool, because medicine is practised not on mankind in general, but on every individual in particular.                                                       -Henri de Mondeville

Suggested Reading:

  1. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Ayurveda: The Ancient Indian Healing Tradition by Gopi Warrier
  2. Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health (Wisdoms of health) By Mark Bunn
  3. Ayurveda: The A-Z Guide to Healing Techniques From Ancient India (The Essential Healing Arts Series) By Nancy Bruning

Reference Links:

  1. Ayurveda by Wikipedia
  2. Brief History of Ayurveda by Healing Sphere
  3. Overview of Meditation by National center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Charaka Samhita: The Strongest Root of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a spiritual science with scintillating sources and is the ancient holistic healing methodology. It focuses on prevention and cure of all illnesses and is considered as the most realistic gifts of undying values to mankind. This spiritual science is believed to be of more than 5000 years of age with its attributes described in three major sources namely Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya & Ashtanga Sangraha. Good books are forever the best friends of mankind. For sure, encyclopedias are like eternal teachers to humanity with a great source of immense values. Charaka Samhita is one such Ayurvedic encyclopedia of age old holistic importance.

Charaka – The renowned physician: Charaka (also spelled Caraka) is a renowned physician of the court of Kanishka, a Kushana ruler. He is believed to have born in c. 300 BC. He himself was a living encyclopedia, who in addition to serving the human beings as a great medical preacher & practitioner also gave equal importance to human ethical values in treating the patients. Charaka is often referred to as the ‘Father of Medicine’.

Dawn of a divine Index: Although there is no much proof about the history of Charaka, according to legends he is believed to be a versatile student of Aatreya, who was the disciple of Bharadwaja who in turn was one of the students of Lord Indra. Aatreya’s request to pen down his teachings to his disciples led to the rise of 8 divine works of which Charaka’s Charaka Samhita was found to be the best & has survived for ages! His work was later revised by Dridhbala.

Contributions of Charaka to the world of Medicine: Charaka is the author of Charaka Samhita, the oldest of the existing three Ayurvedic encyclopedias. Being a man of mystical values, Charaka had numerous feathers added to his cap some of which are listed below.

  • First physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism & immunity
  • Knowledge of Genetics – You’ll be truly amazed to know that a man who lived before 2000 years had the knowledge of genetics and its factors, which is one of the top stories of the modern medical world. Charaka had a thorough understanding about the factors determining the sex of the fetus. He was able to study that the reason behind the genetic defect in a child is possibly due to the defect in the sperm or ovum of the parents rather than the parents themselves.
  • Study of Anatomy of the human body and its organs was done by Charaka, which served as a leading light of interest in this field for most of the medical scholars of the later decades.

Charaka Samhita – The truth of Ayurveda: Samhita is a Sanskrit word which means collection of rules. Charaka Samhita talks about the various aspects of Ayurvedic contexts in treating diseases and in preventing them. This ocean of medical principles constitutes of 8 parts with a total number of 120 chapters mainly focusing on ‘Kaya Chikitsa‘ – The diagnosis and healing of illnesses through internal and external use of medicine. This branch of Ayurveda aims at healing the mind & the body, thus striking a balance between the two great pillars of the human soul. Ethical conducts of a physician in treating the patients, which is now lacking in most parts of the world was given high importance by Charaka. One can even find the details regarding the attributes of various aspects of how a good physician, nurse, healing drugs, hospital and a patient should be.

Source of Medical aid in treating the whole world: Charaka Samhita was translated into many foreign languages, including Arabic and Latin. It remains as a valuable medicinal source that inspired countless medical practitioners in coming up with the most modern medical concepts to treat humanity.

I can now realize the strong reason behind the survival of Ayurveda, the science of life. Mere words are not just enough to appreciate the strenuous efforts put forth by some of the ancient legends in serving mankind in the form of texts of undying values like Charaka Samhita. Let each one of us take into the world, the efforts of such great people by inculcating a healthy life style, which would strengthen their values and our vows.

Thought for the day:

True heroism consists in being superior to the ills of life, in whatever shape they may challenge us to combat.  By Napoleon Bonaparte

Suggested Reading:

  1. Caraka Samhita (1949 Edition, 6 Volume Set) Hindu, Gujarati, English Translation (Caraka Samhita, 6 Volume Set) by Atreva Punarbasu, Great Sage Agnivesa
  2. The Roots of Ayurveda (Penguin Classics) by Various
  3. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume One: Fundamental Principles by Vasant Lad

Reference Links:

  1. Charaka by Wikipedia
  2. Charaka Samhita by Wikipedia
  3. History of Ayurveda by Professor Dr. P.H. Kulkarni