Ayurveda : Pancbhoutic Siddanth
To understand physiology, pathology and pharmacokinetics of ayurvedic therapeutics the concept of panchbhoutic siddanth is of vital importance. Phrithwi, Aapa, Teja, Vayu and Akasha are the five (Pancha) basic elements that are the constituents of all living matter. Together these five are called Panchamahabhoota. These five elements are the building units of every thing, including medicines and living beings. Depending on the majority of the content, the matter is classified as Parthiva, Apya, Taijasa, Vayaviya and Akashiya respectively. The permutation and combination of these elements and its quantum in a given matter decides its properties. Mahabhoota is the smallest divisible unit of any matter.
The space without which exixtence of any matter is impossible is called the Akashamahabhoota that was first evolved from the akasha-tanmatra (only Akasha element). The Sound (Shabda) is the main sense attribute and Apratighatatwa (Nonresistance?) is its main property. Next to evolve from Akashamahabhoota. Sparsha (touch) is Vayumahabhoota that inherits attribute of Shabda. Chalatwa as its main property. From Vayumahabhoota the next to evolve is Agnimahabhoota. The main sense attribute of Agni is Roopa (Vision) and the main property is Ushnatwa (heat). It also inherits the sense attributes of Shabda and Sparsha from the earlier Mahabhootas.The next in line to evolve from Agnimahabhoota is Aapamahabhoota (Jalamahabhoota). Rasa (taste) is its main sense attribute and Dravatwa (liquidity) is the main property, along with that inherited from earlier Mahabhoota.
The last to evolve is Prithwimahabhoota. Kharatwa (roughness) is the main property and Gandha (Smell) is the main sense of this Mahabhoota along with properties inherited from the earlier once.
All this ayurvedic knowledge of the panchamahabhoota can be summarized as:
Akasha Shabda Aapratighata
To understand the working of ayurveda as science, the knowledge about the concept of Panchamahabhoota is very vital. As known from the readings that aksha is the first element that came into existence was not a synonym of sky but it can be conceptually similar to the space. The perspective of Akasha to understand will need greater consciousness of the time-space universe.
These are the lines from the book "Music of the spheres " written by Guy Murchie:
" To understand what this fantastic world is all about - to see its basic pattern and meaning - I must crane my soul to examine it deeply and, in so far as is possible, independently. I must seek a perspective far beyond the traditional, beyond the safe and proper, even beyond the human. When I was a child, I used to think that little things were simpler than big things. One day wondering in the woods, I suddenly understood that the smallness off an acron (Oak seed) may not really make it any simpler than the oak, for it as surely contains oaks as the oak contains acrons. And ever since then, whenever space outside our world of sense seems more important or more impressive than the space within the atom, I can remind myself that the differences are only relative and almost certainly as illusionary."
it is believed in ayurveda that Akasha is Anadi and Anant i.e. it does not have any origin or end and it is sarvavyapi (omnipresent, ever existent). The only way we can understand Akasha is from its apratighatatwa guna, which allows very existence of the matter. As nothing can exist in the absence of space, even the human bodies, cells and organs have a space to exist. As the outer space is for our body, our body is for the billions of cells in it. It is believed that the outer space is made up of nothing but the inner space and thus proving the sarvavyapakatwa of this basic element Akasha. Aksha has shabda (sound) as the sense attribute. Shabda is the very basic form of energy, which is also ever existent as Akasha.
As the theory of Eienstine states that "The energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can be changed from one form to another and that matter is nothing but a form of energy (E= MC) energy can not exist without matter and vice verse. In the Akashamahabhoota energy exists in the form of Shabda.
According to Hindu philosophy, "AUM" was the first Shabda to exist and from it the Universe evolved. Together many shabda constitute a mantra, which is a repetition of group of shabda or a specific energy-field. Inspite of mantra, mani and aushadhi being the basic forms of treatment in ayurveda, mantra chikitsa is given first preference as it is believed that it is Daivi (divine) form of treatment. The Second being Mani Chikitsa (gems) and the third, which is most widely used is Aushadhi-Chikitsa (medicine).
Vayu Shabda, Sparsha Sparsha Chala
Vayu Mahabhoota stands next in the hierarchy of creation. The concept of this Vayu Mahabhoota makes us realize that the movement from apratighatatwa or nothingness of Akasha to sense of touch (sparsha) or feeling of something is the sense attribute of this Mahabhoota. Apart from this it also carries the sense attribute of sound (shabda) and thus the creation if felt but not seen.
The basic property of this mahabhoota is the movement or chalatwa logically anything that moves or transported does so because of this Mahabhoota. In living beings this Mahabhoota is a major constituent of Vata dosha which is responsible for movements like that of motor or sensory nerve impulses, food through G.I.T, movements of the joints etc.
Agni Shabda, Sparsha, Roopa,Sparsha, Roopa Ushna
Next is Agni Mahaboota after Vayu Mahabhoota, which has the vision (Roopa) as its sense attribute and warmth (Ushnatwa) as its main property. This helps in viewing the creation in life. In living beings Agni Mahabhoota is the major constituent of biological humor Pitta dosha. Agni provides the energy necessary for all activities in our body and can be utilized by our cells. As long as this Agni is proper, all the activities in body are carried out smoothly. Any disturbance in this Agni causes imbalance in the homeostasis (equilibrium) and disturbs physiology.
Entire Ayurvedic therapeutics is based on this concept of Agni. The branch of Ayurved which deals with internal medicine and treatment is called "Kayachikitsa", where Kaya means Agni and Chikitsa means treatment.
Aapa (Jala) Shabda, Sparsha, Roopa, Rasa Drava
Next to agni is Aapa (jala) Mahabhoota. Its main sense attribute is the sense of sense of taste (rasa). and liquidity (Dravatwa) is the basic property. Biological humors main constituent is aapa and bringing and keeping two or more things together is possible because of this Mahabhoota. Theoretically The cells of organs, particles of herbs and minerals are kept together by this Mahabhoota as all the biological, chemical and bio-chemical bonds are possible because of this Mahabhoota.
Prithwi Shabda, Sparsha, Roopa, Rasa, Gandha Khara
This mahabhoota evolves last in the series. Its main sense attrinute is the sense of smell and its main property is Kharatwa (roughness). All these are the basic building blocks of creation. With the help of these simple building blocks the entire complicated universe with its living and non-living matter is created.
In ayurveda besides these panchamahabhoota the Dik (disha, direction), Kala (time), Atma (Soul) and Mana (psyche) are also considered responsible for the creation of living beings.
Panchbhautic Chikitsa Siddhant
Ayurveda believes that all matter in the universe including medicines are made up of Panchmahabhoota, i.e. Akasha, Vayu, Agni, Jala and Prithvi. At the sam time ayurveda also believes in living beings are made up of Dosha, Dhatu and Mala also.
To maintain health the homeostasis of the constituent panchamahabhoota is important. Deviation from the basic constitution (prakruti) leads to disease (vikruti) and to bring back prakruti from vikruti what is required are active efforts in the form of chikitsa (medication).