The Panchamahabhutas

According to Ayurveda everything in life is composed of the Panchamahabhutas – Akash (Space), Vayu (Air), Jal (Water), Agni (Fire) andPrithvi (Earth). Omnipresent, they are mixed in an infinite variety of relative proportions such that each form of matter is distinctly unique. Although each element has a range of attributes, only some get evident in particular situations. Constantly changing and interacting with each other, they create a situation of dynamic flux that keeps the world going.

Within a simple, single living cell for example the earth element predominates by giving structure to the cell. The water element is present in the cytoplasm or the liquid within the cell membrane. The fire element regulates the metabolic processes regulating the cell. While the air element predominates the gases therein. The space occupied by the cell denoting the last of the elements.

In the case of a complex, multi-cellular organism as a human being for instance, akash corresponds to spaces within the body (mouth, nostrils, abdomen etc.); vayu denotes the movement (essentially muscular); agni controls the functioning of enzymes (intelligence, digestive system, metabolism); jal is in all body fluids (as plasma, saliva, digestive juices); and prithvi manifests itself in the solid structure of the body (bones, teeth, flesh, hair et al).

The Panchmahabhutas therefore serve as the foundation of all diagnosis & treatment modalities in Ayurveda and has served as a most valuable theory for physicians to detect and treat illness of the body and mind successfully.

Panch Mahabhutas

Sense Organs

Sensory Faculty






*Creates natural void in the body

* No distinct taste

Produces softness, lightness and porosity




*Light, clear and dry.

*Governs inhalation, exhalation, opening and closing of eyelids, extension and contraction of joints, locomotion and other motor functions.

*slightly bitter taste

Creates dryness, lightness and emaciation.




*Rough & bright eyes

*Controls temperature and luster of body colour.

*Pungent taste

Helps in digestion, maturation, improves eye sight




*Heavy, immobile, compact & rough.

*Controls organs as teeth, nails, flesh, skin, tendons & muscles.

*Sweet taste.

*Increases firmness & strength of the body

*Acts as a nutrient, emollient and purgative




*Cold, heavy fluid

*Slimy, fat and sweat by nature

*Sweet & astringent, sour & saline taste.

*Imparts glossiness.

*Enhances fluid content & purgative

*Acts as nutrient, emollient and purgative.

Introduction | Panchamahabhutas | Tridoshas | Trigunas | Agni Dhatus | Malas