The significance of the pancha bhootas

I am
I am the fire
I am the water

I am the earth
I am the wind
I am ether
I am no longer "I"

I am and as a jiva I offer myself to the Lord

I am and through the path of fire I offer myself with prayer to the Lord

I am and through the path of water, I offer food to the Lord, I offer flowers and fragrance to the Lord

I am and as I sit, in the lap of the mother, mother earth cradles me on my journey to the Lord

I am and as I sing to the Lord, my breath is my path to awakening, sacred syllables fall like a garland of love for the Lord

I am not, I cease to exist, I have merged, I am one with the Lord, I am ether...I have but no form.

The elements, fire, water, earth and wind are but for me, a path to reach Lord Shiva. How then can I ignore this gift, how then can I be ignorant that I cannot see the path ahead, how then can I say I do not have the time?

The value of the pancha bhoota is as secretive as it is transparent. It’s as simple as it appears complex. Its as sacred as it is almost nonexistent. Yet, these are not my creation, these are gifts of nature, pure in themselves for me to clasp onto on my journey to the Lord, during worship, during puja.

I am torn between two worlds, one that I live in and that which saps my energy, the other I long to be in and I try hard to reach. Everything around me, my life, the people, the world and its problems, are these not all a making of my mind. It is an illusory world, one that would cease to exist, should I just not think about it? Yet, I churn in this ocean, yet I suffer karma, and yet Lord Shiva grants me the elixir to life, the path in to heaven hidden in this labyrinth of life.

I watch the fire, as it grows and climbs with each drop of ghee poured on it, my heart burns in this light of enlightenment as I imagine the Lord in ablution.

I offer fruit flower and a divine meal to the Lord, through the path of water, he accepts my offering, and takes in the essence of my offering blessing it as prasadam.

I offer my love, my adoration in the form of sacred syllables, syllables that are meant not to benefit my worldly existence but break my illusion and melt my heart into deep emotion towards divinity, each word expressing the purity of the Lord’s nature imbibing it within myself, I become He.

I offer myself, seated still in equilibrium, nothing shakes or moves as mother earth holds me still, my thought and mind reside in pure imagination of the Lord’s vision when I raise the Arti to view His divine presence.

I sink into my own, I leave this earthly self, I am just the mind, I am no body, I am just a power that merges with the supreme. I stay here in Samadhi, no time can control me, no force can destroy. I was, and now I do not exist.

I am the fire, I am the water, I am the earth, I am the wind, I am nothing. I am but a drop of imagination in the vast ocean of Lord Shiva's creation.

Related links:
A reflection on Lord Shiva
Expression in Abhinaya, the art of Bharata
Dip in the sacred river

Photo courtesy: Mellagi, flickr.com


Anonymous said...

Thank you. It is beautiful.

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

A very apt description of the relationhip between the 5 elements & the Human Beings.The blog reminded me of a very famous poem by Late Shri.G.D.Madgulkar,who is famous for his "Geet Ramayan" in Marathi.In one of his poems he likens God to the potter.Just as the potter brings together the earth.water.light & fire to create a pot with a space(ether)of it's own, the god creates the human beings.The poet calls god the mad potter because the destiny of each of these pots is different...some land up eating butter while the other has to eat fire!

kavitha said...


More than just a co-relation i was hoping this would become an action item for people in their lives. I have come to understand that what is needed is awareness and time to be set aside for oneself rather than just a contemplative thought in the mind that delights us and disappears the moment the mundane world takes over. We wouldnt get too far in that case. We need to actively spend time with ourselves in meditation, or yoga or puja or what ever... but that mind space and mind time is needed to give this importance and get any tangible result out of it.

Its a beautiful thought and it remains that way otherwise.


JC said...

It is easier to understand that all vessels are composed of 'panchtatva' the 'five basic elements' such that all humans could be imagined to get represented by the 'conception' and 'governor' vessels that hold the 'asht chakras'.

What is difficult for an average human being to comprehend is the apparent infinite varieties of behaviour related with time and place - in which 'Time' the 'Mahakal' plays the central role and is believed to apparently lie dormant (in 'yognidra' the super conscious state though) within all 'physical forms'!

kavitha said...

Hi Joshi Uncle

Really nice to have you back :) There were quite a few of us missing you!

Welcome back


JC said...

Hi Kavitha.

Thanks! I too felt cut off from the relatively larger 'spiritually inclined' world for a long time. Of course, everyone knows that in reality it appears thus on account of 'Maya' the illusion because of stretching of 'zero time' to infinity!

JC said...

Kavitha, The word, ‘Astrologer’ that is ‘Jyotishi’, which is derived from ‘jyoti’ that is light that believably ‘naturally’ emanates from the sole supplier of energy to earth from Sun - as the ruler of the sky during the day - and also from stars and reflected by planets too during the night carried forth through time immemorial itself indicates how the ancient Hindus (‘I’ believe derived from ‘Indu’ the moon) were exposed to the eternal ‘Truth’ despite passage of unending ‘Time’. For the ancient ‘Hindus’ believed that alone to be the ‘Truth’ that remained unaffected by Time, while the ‘real time’ was realized as ‘Shunya’ or Zero.

That is to say that creation of the apparently infinite physical universe as well as its destruction was realized to be instantaneous.

In view of the above, the conclusion reached by the wise ancients - called Vedantis - was that the physical universe is only a slow-motion projection of the events that happened within zero time in the long lost past! And that the observer and the observed are the different illusory images of the one and only supreme formless being that alone ever remains unending!

Thus the phenomenon perhaps can be visualized better with the help of the ‘present-day-make-believe-world-of-cinema’! That obviously involves major physical action related with creation is performed in the 'past', whereas the action related with observation is done in 'future' that also in fact is 'past'!

'Nature'also thus can be imagined as an open book having unlimited numbers of pages, and ourselves as readers concerned with some particular line on a certain particular page only!

JC said...

Kavitha, With the ancient 'Hindu concept of Yoga', that is creation of human form as an image of the one and only formless creator - Shiva - in your earlier post you had mentioned, "Lord Shiva awaits, he waits at our third eye, to be awoken by Shakti as she rises within us. Agni, Surya and Chandra are the trinetra, His three eyes, the light that brings things alive..."

The above thus indicates the ancient belief regarding location of the generally vacant house of Lord Shiva the one - who alone has three eyes that are activated - at the 'ajna chakra'. Whereas, in humans pertaining to the Kaliyuga, not only the Ajna Chakra remains dormant, the physically open eyes (representing Sun & Moon) too are rendered weaker by Time.

I thhink it was a character, perhaps named Aldous Huxley, who said, "All of us lying in the gutters, but some of us are looking at the stars."

kavitha said...

Hi Joshi Uncle

I think this break helped me a lot. I feel i have evolved spiritually a little more in the gap that you were not there.

The profound logic that you put forward, gives an entirely new perspective, though difficult to understand. It doesnt stand a chance to be disputed at all.

You have very clearly indicated the nature of creation, and i suppose only few will understand the depth from which you think.

You might have already referred to this in a lot of comments before... but strangely i seem to find ease in understanding it only now... i took a lot of trouble earlier.. but i still felt like a blind person.. as your thoughts bounced off...

You do add greater value that just comments on the site.

Warm regards

JC said...

Hi Kavitha, The only advantage 'I' apparently had in the 'spiritual field' was that 'I' came to realize the 'Truth' in the Eighties thanks to my wife's chronic illness and my the then location in a 'disturbed area in the northeast'. It was a situation described in Hindi as 'Karela, us per Neem chardha', that is, 'a bitter gourd coated with (bitter) Neem's paste'! The situation reminded me of Lord Rama and His consort Sita during the exile!

Since then 'I' have had the feeling,like that of a person who doesn't know swimming and yet is forcibly thrown into a deep river. The person then is oblliged to learn from a scratch how to swim or remain floating!

As 'I' said earlier elsehwere too is that the advantage of writing comments - and not owning one's own blog as some people suggested - is that 'I' personally can perform to a certain extent like a typical Yogi, that is, in a desired state of attachment yet with detachment!

My basic purpose is to know His purpose in the projection of images perpetually. And 'I' am also aware that a student has first to prove to Him/ Her my cpability and willingness to be told that.

The above was conveyed to 'me' through 'my' the then school going daughters' reply that as they didn't have any common subject to discuss with one of their cousins (who was older but apparently was 'mentally challenged'!) they wouldn't come and sit down with him when he visited us!

In comparison with the all knowing Shiva, even the 'most intelligen human being' could perhaps be considered mentally challenged!

Best wishes.

YOSEE said...

Elegantly put. Since human beings too are composed of those same 5 elements,it becomes quite natural for the soul,which is the light infusing the vessel, to seek the chetana permeating each element, so that light recognises light, elements befriend elements, in an act of nitya-pralaya ( the dissolving of Aham in the Poorna ) leading to nitya-udbhava ( dynamic juvenation of the cog to fulfill the viswam's kriya and karma ) - an eternal dance symbolised by the Nataraja thatva. So, from contemplation we may proceed to dynamism, performing on the knowledge/realisation: "Yad yad karma karomi tad tadakhilam Shambho tavaaradhanam."

JC said...

Shiva the Natraj that is literally the ‘Lord of tight-rope-walkers’ in ‘my view’ communicates unending animation in ‘Nature’ such that He - in the physical form of Earth alone - continues to perform perpetually through unending Time as the only perfect model out of His, that is, the formless energy or light’s infinite models. And although human forms are imperfect, and therefore are mortal, they too believably could experience a similarly balanced state of mind as that of the Supreme Being – although maybe for some time only during one life span in human form as believed by the wise ancients…maybe still not knowing His purpose, as it appears from the statement that even Brahma and Vishnu couldn’t reach either Shiva’s end or His beginning respectively!! However, Brahma and Vishnu are indicated to be integral parts of Trimurty – perhaps reflected by Earth and Sun & Moon in physical forms!

"Hari ananta, Hari katha ananta", etc indicates the realisation of infinite view-points possible - as the various Truths as part of the creation by the one and only Absolute Truth for His Own Purpose that is not made known to all and sundry physical forms...

JC said...

Hi Kavitha, The Hindus indicated every human marriage in reality to be union of two souls - one physical form representing Shiva after loss of His first consort, and the other Sati, the original consort of the Ardhanarishwar Shiva he androgynous God...

The Gita indicates all ‘wrong acts’ to result from lack of knowledge’. As it can be observed by everyone, despite our lack of overall knowledge, man apparently has liberty to express one’s views on any subject under the sun. However, like a ‘natural phenomenon' - on even the smallest of small issues - the human society gets divided into a maximum of three categories. That is some favour the issue, some are against and some remain undecided.

These could perhaps be said to be reflections of the believable three heads of the unique Creator, the Trimurty, generally referred as Brahma the creator, Vishnu the perpetrator, and Mahesha the destroyer. And thus each being at any given point of time might also be seen engaged in actions related with one of the above-stated functions…

Also, one could observe that each day - in human life on earth - gets broadly divided into three parts of 8 hours each, out of which 8 hours’ sleep and 8 hours of physical work are generally recommended…and so on.

With the given background knowledge one has, at any given point in time, one could try to understand or realize the ‘Supreme Formless Being’ that is ‘Paramatma’ the Supreme soul whose model in physical form, according to ‘wise ancients’, was considered represented by each human being.

The ‘Hindus’ generally believed the total energy to have been distributed in eight different forms of the selected members of the solar system, i.e., say from our Sun to planet Jupiter. That is to say, man was considered as the Yoga or fusion of some special form of energy, called soul - a component of the Supreme Soul itself - inside each different appearing physical form that is obtained by conversion of a negligible part of the total energy into matter that utilizes the essences of eight ‘grahas’ or members of the solar system, with Sun as the central figure (with its essence located at the Solar plexus). And ‘Grahas’ generally crudely are translated as ‘planets’. However, interestingly, in Sanskrit, the word also represents the crocodile, an animal that - by ‘natural design’ - has the most powerful jaws. It thus symbolically conveys the strong holding power of information/ energy in the essences of the grahas (located at different chakras or bandhas, that is, ‘locks’ whose keys believably are held by Vishnu the Perpetrator) that go into the formation of human form…and thus the importance of ‘Yogic exercises’ to activate the ‘Ajna Chakra’ that is lliterally the locked office of the Commander that is located at the meeting point of the nose and the forehead, which is generally understood as the ‘Third Eye’ of Shiva or His abode!

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

Hi Joshi Uncle,
Glad to have you back! As a person engrossed in thoughts only I have my limitations in understanding the depth of knowledge that you pass on & I admit it!Still I have a doubt..We say there are Navagrahas & not eight as you wrote...?
I liked the way you described the human tendency of belonging to either A yes, A no Or the fence sitting...which happens to be the most comfortable option of all most of the times!

JC said...

Hi Dr Anilji, 'I' can very well appreciate how the 'youth' today hardly find any time for 'spiritual' matter...a 16 year-old proudly said to me, "Uncle, I don't believe in God!"

Anilji, The 'ninth planet' is the ringed-planet Saturn, the physical representation of the 'sudershan chakra dhari Vishnu' of Hindu Mythology who remains ever in 'yognidra' that is the sleep in super conscious state. He plays the role of the Supreme Judge on behalf of the Formless...

Kavitha, Thanks for your saying in your comment, “You have very clearly indicated the nature of creation, and i suppose only few will understand the depth from which you think”, etc.

In this connection I would like to give below an extract of the basic thought expressed even through Erle Stanley Gardner - through the fictional character Perry Mason - even in his 1948 story, ‘The Case of the Lonely Heiress’, which ‘I’ reread recently.

“A murder case is simply a jigsaw puzzle, a lot of things to be put together. If you have the right solution, all of the parts fit into the picture. If some of the parts don’t seem to fit, it’s a pretty good indication you haven’t the right solution.”

JC said...

Kavitha, Although the exact quote isn’t available, ‘I’ might as well add here that a similar thought was expressed by the famous astronomer, Sir Fred Hoyle, to the effect that before a present day scientist can state a new finding he has enormous data available on hand which must fit into the new theory – unlike his predecessors in the beginning when enough data wasn’t available and one could very well float a hypothesis to be proved/ disproved by others later!

JC said...

Kavitha in one of your earlier posts you wrote,

”The fire of light
The fire of faith and hope
Is in the form of a lamp”…

Light that issues from a lamp is one of the forms of energy, viz. Heat, electricity, sound and magnetism that ‘scientists’ divide these into different categories today.

Call it because of the ‘fear of unknown’, like in the ancient days worshippers prayed directly to the formless ‘shakti’ (Say Ma Kali who resides in the heart of Shiva) that is energy also - besides the innumerable varieties of physical forms through ritualistic practices, in the ‘present day world’ also one finds ‘scientists’ engaged in ‘research’ of ‘energy’ for day-to-day use in human life for various purposes - from a variety of ‘natural’ sources. Thus although an average person mightn’t perhaps accept it as such today, exploitation of ‘Nature’ for energy - besides everything else, viz. the materials for fulfilling the overall basic needs - is one of the basic ‘Truths’.

Wise ancient Hindus, that is, the now non-existent characters in human form, have indicated Time and related events to move from Satyuga to Kaliyuga (through Tretayuga and Dwaperyuga in that order) in each cycle – totaling about 1000 times during one day in the life of Brahma – perhaps to cover the entire 360 degrees of space.

Also, generally speaking, it is understood that the ‘present’ is part of Kaliyuga, an era when human efficiency is the least, as it was in the beginning of evolution from a scratch or zero stage, till ‘perfection’ was achieved by Shiva (reflected by Earth in physical form and supported by Moon – expressed as Shiva & Parvati by the ancients) at the end of Satyuga that has the highest possible human efficiency, ranging between 75% to 100% over a period of 4x 432,000 years.

In view of the above the present day could be said to have almost reached the beginning stage – as reflected by the underground tests to reach the scenario at the beginning of the so-called ‘Big Bang’ that was expressed as Brahmanad by the Hindus!

JC said...

The Panchbhootas, therefore, appear to have started from a unique infinite energy source (originally at the centre of earth, the heart of ‘Shiva’ the Bhootnath the Lord of the Past) and disappearing back into it in zero time – a little like a Diwali cracker that in the illusory manner appears to explode and scatters innumerable small pieces of paper container - in which the explosive material was packed originally - around its original location on the surface of earth (representing the void of the universe) that restrains it from falling into the centre of earth.

In the drama in human life, each location on the surface of earth could therefore be imagined in reality to represent the centre of earth thanks to creation of apparent time with the help of apparent relative motions of heavenly bodies, viz. earth and sun…