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Significance of Panchamahabhuta in Ayurveda

Let’s have a glimpse at what Panchmahabhuta is, and why does Ayurveda emphasis so much on it.

According to Indian philosophers, each and every object in this Universe is composed of five proto elements (Panchmahabhuta) i.e.

1) Akash (ether) 2) Vayu (air) 3) Agni (fire) 4) Jala (water) 5) Prithvi (earth)

Before the creation of Universe all these Bhuta (the elements) were in an inactive state, but due to initiation of inherent quality of guna, (universal energies such as Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) these Bhutas started itʼs process of creation. Even though all the Bhutas are embraced by Triguna (inherent energy), each of them have predominant and diminution of either of the gunas (universal energy).

What do we mean when we say all the substances in Universe is composed of Panchmahbhuta?! This means Prithvi(earth) is itʼs substratum and jala (water) is itʼs origin. Akash (ether), Vayu (air) and teja (fire) are its other supporting parts (see picture!).

The inseparable relationship of Prithvi (earth) and other Mahabhutas causes the origin of substance as well as peculiarities and differences among them.

In this way, the inseparable combination of all these 5 elements are responsible for the formation of all drugs and diet.

All these Mahabhutas have qualities of its own which are in terms of vishesha guna (specific qualities), bhautika guna (physical properties) and sattva guna (consciousness).


Tridosha : Three fundamental bio energies of our body responsible for function on physical and emotional levels. These three dosha are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

~ Vata dosha has predominance of Vayu (air) and Akash (ether)

~ Pitta dosha has predominance of Agni (fire)

~ Kapha dosha has predominance of Jala (water) and Prithvi (earth)

Now if we look at the properties of Tridosha and the functions it performs, it becomes easier for us to understand by the knowledge of predominance of Panchamahabhuta in each dosha.

For example, Pitta dosha has predominance of Agni (fire) Mahabhuta and it performs the function of metabolic and biochemical process which generates heat and energy. This is mainly responsible for regulation of our digestive fire. This is significant in understanding and treating the root causes of disease.

Now can you derive the importance of Panchamahabhuta in Tridosha?!


Triguna : the inherent energy or tendency with which prakriti (a person’s original constitution) is created & with which human mind functions

~ Akash Mahabhuta (ether) is predominant of Sattva guna (consciousness)  ~ Vayu Mahabhuta (air) is predominant of Raja guna (kinetic energy) ~ Agni Mahabhuta (fire) is predominant of Sattva (consciousness) and Raja guna (kinetic energy) ~ Jala Mahabhuta (water) is predominant of Sattva (consciousness) and Tama guna (inertia) ~ Prithvi Mahabhuta (earth) is predominant of Tama guna (inertia)

When you are born, your original constitution is your prikruti. As you get older, you are shaped and molded by the world through experience, your baseline constitution changes to vikruti.  The goal of Ayurveda is to get back to your prikruti, how you were originally birthed into the world.  The core understanding is that the inherent energy (triguna) that created you is structurally formulated with differing amounts of elements of all panchamahabhuta.


Since everything in Universe is made up of Panchamahabhuta, that means the human body and all the dravya (drugs or medicine) is also made up of Panchamahabhuta. This knowledge is of great significance in treatment.

Prakriti or constitution of a person depends upon the dominant Mahabhuta in the person.  Qualities of any Dravya depend upon itʼs constituent Mahabhuta.  The knowledge of predominant Mahabhuta in the involved Dosha causing a disease is essential in it’s diagnosis and treatment.

The harmony of Panchamahabhuta, the 5 big elements, is essential in understanding how we should practice Ayurveda and underlies the core concepts, discipline and Ayurvedic lifestyle.

Some definitions:

Bhuta– One that exists but is not created out of anything. It is Nitya (eternal), Sukshma (subtle), Indriyayita (imperceptible) Dravya- drugs and medicine Guna- universal energies such as Sattva, Rajas and Tamas MahabhutaBhuta after attaining grossness Prakriti- original constitution of a person Tridosha- Three fundamental bio energies of our body responsible for function on physical and emotional level. These three dosha are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Triguna : the inherent energy or tendency with which prakriti is created & with which human mind functions Panchamahabhuta – the 5 big elements, formation of the structural entity of the Universe

References: 1. PadarthVijnana by Gayatri Devi 2. Kriya Sharira by Chitranjan Das 3. Panchamahabhuta – The Concept and Explanation by Aithein Healing (video) 4. The Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles by Vasant Lad

Picture source: 1. Pinterest 2. Unsplash

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