Weekly Food For Thought

Know Yourself – The Body & The Senses

Q. Why is this human body called pancha-bhauthikam?

A. Because it is a product of the five basic elements (pancha-bhuuthas).

Q. What exactly are the five elements?

A. Ether, air, fire, water, and earth (akasa, vayu, agni, jala, and prithvi).

Q. From where did these originate?

A. Each subsequent element originated from the previous one.

Q. What is the cause of the first and therefore of all five?

A. Brahman, the Supreme, the Unmodified, the Fixed, the total Basis.

Q. What is the relationship between these five elements and this human body?

A. From Brahman originated all universal cosmic principles; from these was born ether; from ether, air; from air, fire; from fire, water; and from water, earth. The human body is the result of the combination of all five.

Q. In what form do these basic elements persist in the body?

A. Each element has again become fivefold and has gone into the composition of the body.

Q. What five has the first, ether, become?

A. The cogniser, mind, intellect, ego, and subconscious mind (jnatha, manas, buddhi, ahamkara, chittha).

Q. Speaking of “in the body”, how are these indicated?

A. They are recognized as the “inner senses”.

Q. Now, what are the five forms of the next element, air (vayu)?

A. Digestive, circulating, upward-moving, life breath, and downward-moving (samana, vyana, udana, prana, apana).

Q. And in the body, what are they called?

A. The five vital airs.

Q. And the fire element (agni)?

A. That element became the sensory organs: the ear, skin, eye, tongue, and nose.

Q. And how are they demarcated?

A. As the organs of knowledge (jnanendriyas).

Q. Tell me, what five did the water element become?

A. Sound, touch, form, taste, and smell.

Q. Do they also have a special name?

A. They are known as the five subtle or rudimentary elements (thanmathras).

Q. The earth element remains out of the five. How does it appear in the body?

A. The vocal organs, hands, legs, genitals, and the excretory organs.

Q. And they are known as?

A. As the organs of action (karmendriyas).

 – Prashnottara Vahini

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