Pancha Bhoota

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Pancha Bhoota or Pancha Maha-Bhoota (Sanskrit: पञ्चभूत, पञ्चमहाभूत; pañca-mahā-bhūta), five great elements, also five physical elements, is a group of five basic elements, which, according to Hinduism, is the basis of all cosmic creation.[1] These elements are: Prithvi/Bhudevi (Sanskrit: पृथ्वी:, Earth), Apas/Varuna/Jal (Sanskrit: अप:, Water), Agni (Sanskrit: अग्नि, Fire), Vayu (Sanskrit: वायु:, Air), Akasha/Dyaus (Sanskrit: आकाश, Space/Atmosphere/Ether). These elements have different characteristics and these also account for different faculties of human experience. In ayurveda and Indian philosophy, the human body is considered to be made of these five elements.[2] However, Cārvāka did not accept Akash as basic element as it is not tangible and according to them, there are only four basic elements.[3] Hinduism influenced Buddhism which accepts only four Mahābhūtas, viewing Akash as a derived (upādā) element. These five elements of Indian cosmological system are similar but not identical to five element theory used in East Asia.[4]


The pancha bhoota are the basic elements that make up any living organism on Earth or anywhere else in the Universe. Below table gives a reference on what component of the human body is associated with these elements. Each of the five finger in human beings is also associated with a particular element, so this means the energy associated with the appropriate element can be channelized through various hand mudras.[3]

Bhoota (Element) Human Body Component Associated Finger Associated consort Characteristic principle[5] Sense Organs
Akash/Dyaus (Space) Astral body Middle Finger Bhumi/Prithvi Sound Ears
Vayu (Air) Air Index Finger Lehari Touch Skin (tvac)
Agni (Fire) Body Heat Thumb Swaha Form-colour (Rupa) Eyes
Jal/Varuna (Water) Water (incl blood) Little Finger Varuni Taste (rasa) Tongue
Prithvi/Bhumi (Earth) Flesh, bones & organs Ring Finger Dyaus/Akasha or Varaha/Vishnu Smell Nose


According to ayurveda and Yoga, Pancha Bhoota are associated with overall health of human being. Any disorder in human body indicates imbalance of one or more of these elements. Yoga Tattva Mudra Vijnana relates these five elements to five fingers of human being. Different Mudra were developed to balance these[6] in human body which form the Hasta Mudra in yogic tradition and are used in Naturopathy.

The three dosha- three intrinsic tendencies, which, according to ayurveda are intrinsic in every human being, are representation of combination of these five elements in human body. The three Dosha have subtle positive essences which control the mind and body function.[7]

Dosha Bhoota Composition Characteristic
Vata Vayu, Akash Prana
Pitta Agni, Jal/Apas Tejas
Kapha Prithvi, Jal/Apas Ojas

Yogic view[edit]

According to Yoga, the aim of sadhana is to have mastery over oneself. This mastery can be achieved by mastering all the basic elements. The process of gaining mastery over these elements and purifying them is called Bhuta Shuddhi.

Pancha Bhoota Stalam is representation of pancha bhoota for yogic practice. People used to move from one temple to another and do sadhana on particular basic element.[8]

The seven Chakras in the human subtle body are associated with these five elements.[7]

Chakra Bhoota Characteristic
Muladhara Chakra Prithvi Stability, Support
Swadhishthan Chakra Jal Joy, Well-being
Manipura Chakra Agni Wisdom, Power
Anahata Chakra Vayu Compassion
Vishuddha Chakra Akash Trust, Creativity
Ajna Chakra Akash Knowledge, Intuition, Dignity
Sahasrara Chakra Akash Oneness

Hasta Mudras[edit]

Hasta Mudra or hand posture is based on the panch bhootas. The basic assumption is that all the five elements can be represented by five different fingers in human body as shown in the table below.[9]

Finger Name Bhoota
Kanishthika, Little Finger Jal/Apas
Anamika, Ring Finger Prithvi
Madhyama, Middle Finger Akash
Tarjani, Index Finger Vayu
Angustha, Thumb Agni


Vastu shastra emphasizes on the placement of five elements in specified direction and the balance of these elements determines the condition of the associated structure.[7]

Bhoota Associated Direction Characteristics
Akasha/Dyaus East Expansion, enhancement
Vayu/Pavan West Movements, joy, happiness
Agni South Power, confidence, fame
Jal/Apas/Varuna North Spirituality, ideas, thoughts, healing
Prithvi/Bhumi Center, Diagonal Stability, peace and harmony

These correlations are used to define an ideal home: The house itself is placed so that maximum load and weight is in the southwest area of the plot. Thus, there is maximum open space in the north and east sides of the plot, satisfying Vayu/air and Akasha/aether. The main gate, the verandah and the main door are in the northeast of the house; south of the verandah the main living room, and south of that one or two bedrooms. The kitchen is placed in the southeast corner of the house, to balance Akasha and Agni.


Pancha Bhoota is associated with six human tastes/Rasas as below.[7]

Taste/Rasa Associated Bhoota
Madhura/Sweet Jala, Prithvi (Earth and Water)
Amla/Sour Prithvi, Agni (Earth and Fire)
Lavana/Salty Jala, Agni (Water and Fire)
Katu/Pungent Vayu, Agni (Air and Fire)
Tikta/Bitter Akasha, Vayu (Aether and Air)
Kashaya/Astringent Vayu, Prithvi (Air and Earth)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 79.
  2. ^ Venkatesan, Satish (2013-03-01). Ayurvedic remedies: An introduction. ISBN 978-9881224149. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b Prasad Sinha, Harendra (2006). Bharatiya Darshan Ki Rooprekha. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. p. 86. ISBN 9788120821446. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  4. ^ Carroll, Cain (2012). Mudras of India. p. 18. ISBN 978-1848191099. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  5. ^ Motilal Bansaridas Publishers Bhagavata Purana Book 1 Skandha III Page 374-375
  6. ^ " Five Elements
  7. ^ a b c d "PANCHA BHOOTAS OR THE FIVE ELEMENTS". Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  8. ^ "pancha-bhutas-the-possibility-of-the-five-elements". 2012-01-23. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  9. ^ Sharma, Shiv (2003). Brilliance of Hinduism. p. 93. ISBN 978-8128800825. Retrieved 3 April 2015.