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The 5 Elements
The 5 basic earth elements of nature are ether/space, air, fire, water, earth. In Ayurveda the Panchamabuta Theory is the foundation of the holistic medical system and wellbeing practice. The sanskrit term is composed of three words, 'pancha' means five, 'maha' means great, and 'bhuta" means element. When put together it creates the meaning 'The five great elements of nature'. According to the science of Ayurveda, as an energetic system the universe and all living beings, including human beings are made up of the same five basic elements: ether/space, air, fire, water, earth. These elements compose the building blocks which everything within the material world is created from. It is these elements that create the three energetic forces or 'doshas'- Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
It is known in science that humans are made up of the same atoms and energy as everything else around us, we are all connected by the same energy to each other, the universe and the world we live in. The energies within and around us are always working in harmony together to create balance. Ayurveda recognises that we must learn to live in harmony with this energy, in sync with our environments and the cycles of nature in order to achieve this balance, which is what creates our health, vitality and well-being.
equivalent to - nuclear energy.
equivalent to - electrical energy
equivalent to - thermal energy
Water - 'Jala'
equivalent to - chemical energy
Earth - 'Prithivi'
equivalent to - mechanical energy
The 3 Doshas
In the science of Ayurveda the universal elements create the forces of the 'tridoshas'. In sanskrit the terms 'tri' means three, and 'dosha' means energy, forces, functions of the body. According to Ayurveda the five basic elements combine with each other to give rise to these three bio physical forces, energy types or doshas, known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The elements ether/space and air combine to constitute the dosha Vata (air). Fire and water combine to constitute the dosha Pitta (fire). Water and earth combine together to give rise to the dosha Kapha (earth).
The Vata doshas dominant principle is movement and is mainly responsible for all kinds of movements in a living being. The Pitta doshas principle is thermal dominant and is responsible for transformation and heat in the body. The Kapha doshas dominant principle is water, responsible for synthesis in the body and anabolic activities.
The 3 doshas, energy types or bio-physical forces govern all the physical, mental and psychological systems within the body and the environment. When these elements are in balance they protect us both physically and psychologically, however when there is imbalance is when disease begins to manifest. The energy types Vata, Pitta and Kapha govern all bodily functions from creation, maintenance, destruction of bodily tissues and elimination. They determine psychological responses and basic core emotions such as fear, joy and sadness, alongside higher human responses such as understanding, compassion and love.
Ether + Air
Fire + Water
Water + Earth
The Dosha Qualities
In Ayurveda each dosha has unique qualities, functions and locations in the body. These dominant principles and properties are the result of each doshas unique energy combination of the five basic elements.
Dry, cold, light, subtle, mobile, rough, not slimy.
Slightly oily, hot, penetrating, fluid, sour, pungent.
Heavy, cold, soft, oily, sweet, stable, slimy.
Movement, breathing, stimulation of digestive fire (Agni), excretion, sensory perception, speech, blinking, nerve impulses, muscle contraction, heart beat, enthusiasm and initiation of activities. Governs feelings of freshness, nervousness, fear, anxiety and pain.
Digestion, metabolism, vision, temperature, warmth, energy, skin tone, hunger, thirst, enzymes, hormone reactions, metabolic system and intelligence. Governs feelings of passion, anger and jealousy.
Strength, growth, nourishment, immunity, stability, potency, anabolism, lubrication of the joints, lustre and hydration of the skin, bodily fluids for cells and spinal cord. Governs feelings of calmness, kindness and forgiveness.
Large intestine (colon), brain, ears, sense organs, bones, thighs, lumbar region. Lymphatic system, nervous system and respiratory tract.
Small intestine, liver, heart, blood, navel region, lower part of stomach, sweat, vision.
Head, throat, tongue, chest, joints, upper part of stomach.