Tattvas, The Elements and Nature's Healing
By Shambhavi Lorain Chopra
Om Shri Dhanvantaraye Namaha!
Salutations to the celestial healer!
The entire world is made up of the five great Tattvas or elements of
Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. A sixth factor is Mahat Tattva or
cosmic intelligence, though less talked about, changes the inner
dynamics of these elements through God Consciousness, bringing about
healing at an inner core. Everything in the manifest universe,
including we human beings, is a configuration of these five Elements.
The process of Tantra requires the purification of the five elements
in order to help the Kundalini Shakti ascend. The Kundalini can rise
only when the elements in our body are purified of their heavier
accretions. All sadhana, meditation and Yoga consists of different
processes to purify these elements, aiding their flow and
Since the human body consists of a certain combination of these
elements, they can be balanced in Ayurvedic medicine in order to
restore our health. Akash, ether or space is the subtlest of the
elements. It resembles the quantum mechanical concept of the field
from which all matter is created and into which all matter resolves.
Akash is the source of all the other elements, and interacts with
them through its vibrations. Sound is the quality of ether,
representing an entire spectrum of vibration: audible sound, cosmic
radiation, X-rays, gamma rays, ultraviolet and visible light. Ether
gives one the space in which to manifest and develop.
Fasting creates an inner space, a vacancy for the body to recuperate
and repair, rest and heal itself. Ayurveda has classified certain
vaigs, movements or nature calls including sleep, sneezing, coughing,
tears and perspiration to help us work with this space, emphasizing
never interfering with our natural impulses. Space has various forms
of manifestation, not just in the physical universe, but also the
space of the mind moving to higher levels, and the supreme space of
pure consciousness beyond every relative manifestation.
All space has its own energy. Space is the matrix of Shakti. The
Goddess Bhuvaneshvari, the infinite Mother in her manifestation as
the cosmic womb, is also the element of space, dwelling in the
microcosmic space within the heart.
Space creates healing. Through accepting the failures of my emotional
experiences, and the emptiness they created, I came to understand the
true power of love. Love creates a supporting space, giving the loved
one a freedom reaching far beyond the shackles of selfish desire.
This beautiful space is one that nurtures and manifests as divine
The Agni or fire element in Tantra is the origin and end of all
phenomena. The sacred fire has influenced spiritual rituals and
traditions since the most ancient times. Fire is both worldly and
transcendental. The Tantric texts explain the existence of both
an `inner' fire and an `outer' fire. The inner fire is the vital
principle focused at the navel center, which when stimulated by deep
breathing blazes upward in the body consuming the impurities of both
mind and body.
In Ayurveda, the fire in the navel is called Jatharagni, the gastric
fire that helps digest food and allows for the assimilation of life
sustaining nutrients. Fire gives one clarity and sharpness of
perception. One of the simplest ways to enhance the fire element in
the body is to sunbathe for fifteen to thirty minutes a day; but only
in the rays of the early morning rising Sun or late afternoon setting
Sun, when the sunrays fall on the body at an angle, and never
A half hour brisk daily walk has a salutary effect on the body. After
a meal one should also take a leisurely stroll. Never bathe after a
meal; it literally is like pouring water over a fire.
As an early morning ritual, after offering water to the Sun God, I
would gently drink three glasses of water, concentrating on the flow
moving through my being.
Jal tattva, the water element nourishes and sustains the spirit as
well as the physical body. We must allow its flow into the psyche.
The flow of water carries with it the Shakti energies and power of
life. Ganga is pure Shakti; her energies can heal one's being and
psyche. Shakti can not only be found in the freedom of space but also
in the free flow of water. Water nourishes the rasa in our being,
rejuvenating our inner essence as well as creating an outer glow.
Rainwater is purifying and therapeutic in its effect. Bathing in
rainwater washes away the body's negativities, bringing about a
sensual flow through the being. In our society, we must encourage
natural systems of rainwater harvesting, more so in rural areas, to
gain all of its benefits.
The worship of the air element can be done through the control of
Prana, the life force as in the practice of Pranayama. One should do
this with a certain amount of caution. Many instructors today
misguide the layman. One needs to be physically and mentally fit to
safely practice pranayama in today's world.
Our nervous system should be not be overly stressed by the practice.
Because we live in a heavily polluted environment, where the water
and air is unclean, and noise, radiation, and stress surround us, our
nervous system is weakened considerably. Pranayama done wrongly or
too forcefully can disturb us further. Pranayama must be deeply
understood by the teacher and by the student, considering the right
environmental influences for it to really work.
Without anubhava, personal experience, one will sink into a quagmire
of preachings and teachings. Accept guidance as prasada from the
Lord, through the teacher as His instrument and experience the
practice for yourself with a clear understanding. Realize that I am
responsible for my own growth and must experience every reality for
myself in order to reach the divine consciousness.