The Panchamahabhoutas theory - The Five Great Elements

According to Ayurveda the physical universe is made of the Panchamahabhoutas (the five great elements -being space, air, fire, water and earth). Earth forms the substance, water its origin and the other three are its parts. Any substance is determined by the elements predominant in that substance.

Akash (Space) – Vayu (Air) – Agni (Fire) – Jala (Water) – Prithwi (Earth)

Ayurvedic science interprets the physical universe as an elaborate array of vibrational frequencies originating from a unified field of intelligence. As frequencies become dense in their vibration, the more solid they appear through our organs of perception. Ultimately Ayurvedic science understands that there is no physical form, only sound and the illusion of form is the combination of vibrational frequencies and their relationship with the mind and sense organs.

Guna (Quality)

Of these 5 great elements, 20 main qualities have been defined as inherent in all organic and inorganic substance. These 20 universal qualities contain potential energy while their action expresses their kinetic energy. Charaka has categorized these 20 qualities into 10 antagonistic pairs. This concept forms one of the primary foundations in Ayurvedic treatments.

Guru/Heavy                 Laghu /Light

Manda /Slow               Tiksna/Sharp

Shita/Cold                   Ushna/Hot

Snigdha/Oily               Ruksha/Dry

Shlaksna/Smooth       Khara /Rough

Sandra/Solidity            Chala/Moving   

Mrdu/Soft                     Kathina/Hard

Sukshma/Minute         Shthula/Grossness

Vishada/Non Slimy      Pichila/Sliminess

Drava/Fluidity               Sthira /Firm​

The one which is a substratum of the qualities and actions, and which is a concomitant cause is the matter.

(Ca. Sutra 1:51)

Vata, which is rough, cool, light, subtle, mobile, non-slimey and coarse, is reconciled by medicines having opposite qualities. Pitta, which is unctuous, hot, sharp, liquid, sour, fluid and pungent, is soon overcome by medicines having opposite qualities. Qualities of kapha, which are heavy, cool, soft, unctuous, sweet, immobile and slimey are relieved by medicines of opposite qualities

(Ca. Sutra 1:59-61)

The curable diseases are cured by medicines possessing opposite qualities (when) administered with due regard to the place, dose and time. No medicine is to be prescribed for incurable diseases.

(Ca. Sutra 1:62-63)

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