The Five Elements
According to Ayurvedic texts, everything in nature is made up of a combination of the five elements. These elements are: air, space, fire, water, and earth. The elements are much more than the physical element itself, they are symbolic ideas to help us understand how the universe works. This week and next we’ll look at each of the elements and what they represent.
-Air in Sanskrit is Vayu. Air represents motion; everything that moves in nature, from a delicate butterfly to earthquake, is propelled by air, or wind. In our body, air is the movement of our nerves, our breath, and our limbs. And in our mind, air is what moves our thoughts. Air corresponds to our sense of touch.
-Space, or Ether, in Sanskrit is Akasha. This is the space between things; it connects everything together. This is a very subtle element; we can’t exactly see it, and yet we know it is there. In our body it is the empty space, and in our mind it is consciousness. Space corresponds to our sense of hearing, and it is also the tool with which we express our ideas.
-Fire in Sanskrit is Tejas. Fire is both hot and bright; heat and light. Fire represents transformation, it is powerful, and it changes things. In the body, fire is responsible for our digestion. In the mind, fire governs our perception. Fire corresponds to our sense of sight. It also is evident in our feet, propelling us forward with fiery determination.
-Water in Sanskrit is Apas. Water is representative of all liquids, it flows along the path of least resistance. In our body, water represents all of our bodily fluids. In the mind, water, like tears, represents our loving emotions. Water corresponds to our sense of taste.
-Earth in Sanskrit is Prithvi. Earth represents what is solid, and stable. This shows up as many solid things in nature, such as wood, or metal. In our body, earth is our bone structure. In our mind, earth is our mental stability. Earth corresponds to our sense of smell.