Panchatatva (panch + tatva) means five elements or the "panchamahabhutas". These are: Prithvi (Earth), Jal (Water), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Akash (Space).
The entire universe is created by these five elements.  The composition and mix of these elements in each form - animate or inanimate - varies in degrees depending upon the structure, nature and function of the created object. The variance of the mix is also what creates diversity in nature while the cycle of life perpetuates when all these five elements are present in a state of harmony.  Each element is individually rich with its own core embryonic energy. 
We, as human beings are also born with the combination of these five elements.  Understanding the fundamental attributes of these elements helps us in assessing our own latent power, inherent natural traits and character building.


Terra firma, with its tremendous magnetic fields and gravitational force, keeps everything grounded.  Earth's rotation on its axis and revolution around the Sun is completely Disciplined.  Imagine if this movement of the Earth became indisciplined, there will be total chaos.  


The source of life, water is an important element. More than seventy percent of the earth is water as is the human body. It appears in many forms - from rain drops to ponds, lakes, wells, brooks, streams, rivers and the mighty oceans. This very appearance of myriad forms tells us about the basic attribute of water -  that it Accommodates itself in every conceivable and imaginable shape. 


The source of heat and light, Fire makes everything visible to us. While controlled fire is instrumental in sustenance of life, an uncontrolled fire leads to destruction. Fire is Purity as anything when put into Fire gets transformed to its pristine form.


Air is a powerful source that is important to sustain life. It empowers all the other energies to function. The flow of air in the form of winds is free from the limitation of directions. Air flows in different directions thereby representing Freedom.


Space is the basis and essence of all things in the material world. It is the very first* element in creation, is Universal and is the 'holder' of everything. 

Since the 'panchatatva' directly relate to our "Self" isn't it time we probed deep and asked ourselves the following simple questions:

a) Are we disciplined in our work-a-day life or are we victims of our own procrastination and lethargy?
b) Are we accommodative in nature or are we hell bent with an argumentative attitude to settle scores?
c) Is our thought process pure leading to right morals and noble deeds or do we find ourselves in conflicting crossroads?
d) Do we cherish Freedom in real sense and thereby give due dignity and space to others or are we engrossed in leading a selfish life?
e) Are we universal in our approach or still engrossed in the gymnastics of secular and communal, caste and creed? 

Lastly, the brief understanding of the 'panchatatva' should also guide us towards a better awareness of our environment.

In Nasadiya - The Creation Hymn of Rig Veda the opening lines are: "There was neither non-existence nor existence then. There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.  What stirred?"

Image (c)

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More By  :  Rajender Krishan

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Easy greeting solutions
Easy to understand
Easy to reading

Bas eshwar Hatte
19-Jun-2022 10:33 AM

Comment Hi i am Sarthak garg. I read the the above lines. I waqnt a story on panchatava . I mean i want a dialouges between the five elements of the earth

sarthak garg
14-Jun-2016 02:25 AM

Comment effectively

08-Feb-2013 20:08 PM

In this well written article of Mr. Rajender Krishan , an interesting topic is covered. I myself feel the importance of the Panchabhuta theory.
The oriental philosophy believes in the five elements. But the western people do not have the space. this explains their materialistic bias. In classical thought the four elements Earth , Water , Air and Fire  frequently occur. In Greece and India only  the quint or the fifth exists as Aether. In Hinduism and Buddhism this fifh element makes the esoteric context . It is beyond the material world. According to Aristotle  in his On Generation  and Corruption , Air is primarily wet , Fire is hot, Earth is dry and water is cold. He doesnt mention the fifth. But in describing the heavenly bodies, he uses the aether or the fifth. The Egyptians in a Greek text Kore Kosmou( Virgin of the world ) ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus names only four elements. Five elements are linked to five senses but four elements are linked by Galen to four humours. The Chinese concept is totally different.  Thus Four elements vs Five elements is an old debate. Paracelsus reasoned Aristotle's four elements theory.
In Pope's The Rape of the Lock, there are four types of women spirits for four elements : Air- Sylphs, Water-Nymphs, Earth- Gnomes, and Fire- Salamanders....
Anyway the article written by Mr.Rajender Krishan is analytical and reflects innovative thoughts .. like it...want more like this on this page..

Dr.Ratan Bhattacharjee
27-Aug-2012 08:42 AM

Comment A very well thought out and written article...'of substance and wisdom' as Ramabrahmam has so accurately pointed out.

The introspective questions stir and awaken the 'Self'...

25-Aug-2012 12:55 PM

Comment Very true. Unfortunately, in today's world, the panchtatvas relate to 5 things one must have - without which he just doesn't exist - iPod, iPhone, Giant TV, Flashy Car and branded clothes.

These are important questions we should be asking ourselves daily. However, in todays materialistic world, all we are thinking is exact opposite. Selfishness, buying and accumulating stuff, desires and above all, the deadly mix of jan-charcha, dhan-charcha and ann-charcha, in short, gossip. Where are we leading to? From politicians to common man, everyone is after money.

I also second your thought about environment. With the current rise in population, pollution and global warming, we should instead be asking ourselves, where are we heading to? How long will the world survive? Alas!

Kapil Bamba
24-Aug-2012 00:24 AM

Comment The delineation of five virtuous traits from the five elements (tatvas) is done well, gracefully and passionately. It would be very useful if we cultivate these traits available in nature through these elements in us, who are made up of these. And thus these traits will be in us naturally and we should allow them to shine by removing the veil of ego and other mental coverages. The questions put at the end of the article help us to contemplate and try to imbibe the qualities delineated here for our welfare and well being and also of vast nature around us, in the form of various flora and fauna; together with mountains, rivers and the other animate and inanimate objects and things. Thank you Sri Rajender Krishan for sharing an article of substance and wisdom.

Varanasi Ramabrahmam
21-Aug-2012 01:32 AM

Comment  The Vedas are viewed generally as a scripture. In fact it is much more than that. This has been very effectively shown in this blog.

20-Aug-2012 22:56 PM

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