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Summary of Question:5 Elements(Tats) of Living Body
Date Posted:Saturday, 6/19/1999 9:12 AM MDT

Gurbani mentions 5 "TATS" that a human body is made of. What are these 5 elements? Are these also applicable to animals? Plants and trees?

The 5 tattvas, or elements, are the subtle components of the human body, the mind, the entire universe and everything within. We can examine all life, that is, any thing or phenomenon in terms of its elemental makeup and thereby derive deeper insight into its nature. They are also the basis for ayurvedic medicine, Tibetan medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and this systematic point of view is currently enjoying great revival with traditional systems of healing being adopted in western, industrialized countries. In other words, the application of understanding the 5 elements is of tremendous practical benefit, not simply a philosophy or theory.

The 5 elements are:
Earth, which functions as the root, ground, or source within each phenomenon, solidity.
Water, which entails flow, continuity, penetration, etc.
Fire, entails life, heat, activity, clarity in the mind
Air, or Wind, entails change, movement, dryness, maturity, life supporting. It makes speech possible.
Akasha, Ether or Space, entails emptiness, communication, formlessness, creative potential and intelligence.

In the Slok of Japji Sahib, Guru Nanak speaks of 3 of the elements in a specific and special way: He says, "Pavan Guru, Pani Pita, Mata Dharata Mahata." It means, "Air is the Guru, Water is the Father, Earth is the Great Mother."

In the human body, all the energy of the physical and the psychological functions flow through functional centers called Chakras. There are 7 primary Chakras, which are, in order,
1 Root Chakra, focused in the rectum.
2 Generative Chakra, focused in the sexual organs
3 the Navel Chakra
4 the Heart Chackra
5 the Throat Chakra
6 the Brow Chakra, or <Third Eye> of Insight
7 the Crown Chakra, at the Top of the Head, also known as Tenth Gate.

The first five of these Chakras correspond directly with the 5 elements, Earth, Water, FIre (of digestion), Air and Akasha (ether, or space). In the practice of Meditation and Yoga, one learns to optimize and balance the flow of energy and function within the Chakras, so that we can achieve our greatest potential, intelligence and achieve maximum health as human beings. As Sikhs this is important, because the greater our health and capacity, the greater we can offer ourselves in serice and devotion as the life of Dharma unfolds within us.

All external phenomena can also be analyzed and understood with great insight, by looking at them interms of the Tattvas. However, it is also important to point out that ultimate Truth transcends the Tattvas. Ultimate Truth transcends the material realm. But as humans, we are in touch with both realms, the material and the non-material. It is our human destiny to master both realms, by Guru's grace.

Thank you for asking a wonderful question. These are teachings of ancient wisdom which modern humanity has much to learn from.

Krishna Singh Khalsa

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