Have you ever been captivated by the natural environment that we interact with every day? An environment which provides us with the perfect conditions and surrounding to sustain life on Earth.
Our home, Earth, is the only scientifically known planet within our solar system that can harbour life. This means that the quantity and type of elements that form our Planet are in perfect harmony with each other.
These must be some pretty special Elements!
According to Hinduism, it is believed that everything within the universe is created from a combination of five elements. This applies to, not only Planet Earth, but all cosmic creations along with living and non-living things. Ayurveda philosophy also highlights that the human body, too, is composed of these five elements, and considered as a miniature representation of the universe itself.
So what are these elements you may wonder?
In Sanskrit the five elements are collectively referred to as the Pancha MahaBhuta. Pancha meaning ’five’ and MahaBhuta meaning ‘great elements’.
The Pancha MahaBhuta are made up of the following individual elements:
- Aakash (Ether/Space)
- Vayu (Air)
- Agni/ Tej (Fire)
- Jal (Water)
- Prithvi (Physical Land on Earth)
In the context of Mother Earth:
Is vacant space where all objects that exist, reside in. It is considered the greatest of the Pancha MahaBhuta as it supports and pervades the remaining four MahaBhuta’s, yet remains unaffected by them. There is not a single object in which there is no Aakash, even an atom has Aakash within it. This element also carries sound energy, therefore wherever there is sound, Aakash is present.
Vayu is not just air, as in a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases, but air as a dimension of movement. Air is an important aspect of everything in life. It has the ability to cause trees to shake, gather leaves and move small objects. Vayu can be soft, hard, hot or cold and can be felt through the sense of touch.
Agni is luminous, and a powerful light and heat source. It makes everything visible to us, and is the required element of the sense of sight. Fire is that part of nature that transforms one state of matter into another. It dries and burns wood, ghee and other sacrificial offerings, absorbs liquids and eliminates cold by creating warmth. While the controlled fire is critical to sustain life, uncontrolled fire can lead to destruction.
Jal is liquid matter, which hugs 71% of the Earth’s surface. It has the ability to bind soil and other substances and soften and moisten all objects. It also quenches thirst and supresses heat. Jal satisfies and sustains all life forms and is associated with the sense of taste.
Prithvi (Physical Land/Earth)
Prithvi separates the other 4 elements and provides a physical form to all life-forms. Life is possible on Earth because Prithvi holds all living and non-living substances to its solid surface. This element is responsible for expressing the sense of smell. Earth always gives off a smell, such as the smell generated from rain on dry land.
The importance of each element, for Planet Earth, is evident. Without all five, the earth and all that depends on it, would cease to exist. Fortunately for humankind, and all other living beings, these precious elements are here for the duration of Earths life.
However that does not give us a license to take them for granted. These have been gifted to us and it is the responsibility of everyone, who calls planet Earth home, to care for them.
Today, the health of Earth and the Pancha MahaBhuta are under serious threat. Many environmental issues have begun to noticeably cause changes to the quality of the MahaBhutas, resulting in imbalances within them. The fear being that some of the damaging effects may have already become irreversible!
Issue such as climate change, sea pollution and deforestation are making headlines, calling for humankind to take note of their impact on the environment. Let us pause to consider how we can make positive steps to care for the Pancha MahaBhuta. Small changes collectively can make a huge difference, and help our planet heal.
Ultimately we need to be kind to Earth and help the elements out, nature can live without humans but not the other way around.
Blog by Revti Halai
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