The Five Tattvas

The five densest of the tatvas, which we experience as qualities in the body and in all matter, are: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. These are the same “elements” known to Hermetic science & Chinese medicine.

These five earthly tattvas are qualities in our senses and in the world. These five tattvas engage three types of behaviors or qualities, called “gunas”, that determine the altitude and attitude of your life. 

Nobody can get rid of the five elements of which he is composed. All he/she can do is channel his/her projections.

The first Tattva is Earth (Pritvi Tattva -- Greed):  Instead of being greedy to possess things, be greedy to spread truth to all people, to possess a high caliber, and to become a great saint or a great teacher.  The sense associated with the Pritvi Tattva is smell.  The Pritvi Tattva is the basic element of earth, and is an expression of dullness, unawareness, attachment, and functions only from need and instinct.  It mainly operates through our sense of smell.  The foundation of the physical structure of the body – bones, skin, flesh, teeth & marrow – originate from this physical element of earth. (First Chakra).

The second is Water (Apas Tattva – Lust):  Instead of being lustful to exploit another person or the earth, we can choose to see not an object of exploitation, but a mother/father or sister/brother image to be respected.  We maintain our dignity and respect for each other and the earth, and change our attitude from exploitation to service. The sense associated with the Apas Tattva is taste. The Apas Tattva  is a manifestation of the forces of both forcefulness and will,  and dullness and attachment.  Gland secretions, blood, and semen originate for this element. (Second chakra) The Apas Tattva manifest in the kidneys, sex glands & lymphatic system. 

The third is Fire (Agni Tattva – Anger): Instead of directing anger at others, be angry at your own negativity and self-destructive behaviors.  The sense is sight. The Agni Tattva is the main motive energy in the body and our personal power – digesting our food, producing blood and other fluids, and sustaining the body.  It is responsible for nourishment and growth of the body.  (Also creating prana thru food processing, it is associated with the third chakra.) The fire center (Agni) manifests through the spleen, liver, pancreas, and adrenal glands.  Just as the heat of the sun make life possible on Earth, the heat of the Angi Tattva sustains life in the body.

Fourth is Air (Aayu Tattva – Attachment): Instead of being attached to earthly possessions, be attached to the whole universe! Be attached to the idea of a healthy, happy, holy life; and wanting to not see people suffer. The sense is touch. The Vayu Tattva is the vital force or “prana” in the body.  It produces the cells and precious seeds. It keeps all of the bodily organs active and healthy, and circulates the blood and other fluids throughout the body. Though we cannot see Vayu, we feel its touch. The main center of operation for the Vayu Tattva is the chest region which includes five principal organs and glands: lungs, heart, thymus, cell producing glands and the subsidiaries. (Fourth chakra)

Fifth is Ether (Akasha Tattva – Negative Ego or Pride):  Instead of being an egomaniac, identify yourself with the Infinite. Have pride and gratitude that God made you a human.  The sense is sound. Our personality is dependent on which of the five elements predominates in our nature.  If the person has the Akasha Tattva (Ether) predominating, then he will be the happiest, most carefree being in the world. Yet, the operations of the Akasha Tattva are not perceptible to our sense organs. (It is associated with the fifth or throat chakra) The chief center of operation of the Akasha Tattva is the throat – the space between the collar-bone and the nape of the neck. This is the region which comprises the following principal glands: thyroid, parathyroid, salivary, and tonsils.  The essential secretions of these glands help mold our minds and keep them nourished.

“Saints and sages have taught mankind that whatever elements are found in the constitution of the Infinite Universe will also be found in the human body.  The Universe is the entire Cosmos; and we are a microcosm of the entire Cosmos.  If we were to take a thimble full of sea water and examine it closely, we would find by chemical qualitative analysis that the constituents of the sea water in the thimble are identical to those of the vast ocean. Similarly, the constituents of our individual bodies are identical to those of the Universe.  It would be a strange finding if some element were found inside the human body which differed from the elements of the Universe. For there is one Creator who has created this Creation, and all manifested things are born from the one source of all.”

 “For the spiritual person, it is not enough to just have a healthy body.  He/she realizes only too well that this body is a vehicle, which will be left behind when reaching the final destination.

Similarly, we must transcend the center of the body over which these essences or tattvas rule, to successfully relate our essence to the Essence of the Universe.  A seeker must not allow her/his consciousness to remain rooted at the lower center of earth, water & fire. For it is only when he raises his consciousness that he gets in tune with Divine Love (the heart center) and Universal Intuition (the throat center).  And beyond even this, the true seeker must raise himself.  He must merge totally with the Infinite.

It is not enough to simply relate our physical elements to the cosmic elements. That identification can be a first step. But after that, we must learn a technical know-how by which we mentally and spiritually tune into the Infinite Supreme Consciousness.  And that know-how is called yoga; the science of union with the Higher Consciousness.  Through Kundalini Yoga, the yoga of awareness, the yoga of the Aquarian Age, we can transcend our finite nature and merge with the Infinite.” 

The operations of a particular tattva comprise the entire body-system.  There are main centers as well as subsidiary centers of operation.

Taken from the Aquarian Teacher 

There is a most beautiful story about the interplay of these cosmic elements.  There was a meek and humble seeker who learned from every teacher he encountered.  His first five teachers were the five Tattvas.

He first learned from Mother Earth.  Just as a child’s first teacher is his mother. Mother earth taught the seeker.  She taught the lesson of forgiveness. For even though man heaps mountains of waste and pollution on Mother Earth, she gives in return valuable minerals & food without which man could not survive. He learned the lesson that for all the abuse, criticism and negativity the seeker receives from the outside world, he should give the benefit of his spiritual essence, knowledge of self, and loving forgiveness.

Water taught him to be cool and compassionate to others, and it taught him to wash clean and purify all who come into contact with him.  Just as water is always flowing, the seeker should be continuously flowing and progressive, never stagnant.

Fire was his third teacher.  Fire is bright. A seeker should burn with spiritual illumination to cleanse the impurities within him.  Fire drives away cold and gives warmth and heat.  Just so, the seeker should remove the people’s fear and dread of ignorance (as well as his own), and give them comfort.

Wind taught him to be unattached.  He should constantly be on the move to reach as many mature souls as possible. The wind is subtle, not perceptible to the eye. The seeker’s ways should be subtle, not an open book for all to read. He should be a mystic, living in the depths of the spirit, no on the surface of existence.

The sky, which is all-pervading, taught him to remain pure and unsullied, and it taught him subtlety.  For ether is the most subtle of the five gross elements.  Similarly, the Self is also subtle.  The clouds of the sky only appear to color it.  In reality it is forever blue. The dirt of this life only appears to soil the spirit. In reality, the spirit can never be soiled by anything.

He became one of the greatest teachers because he consciously related his unconscious essences – the powerful influence of his five elements – to these five corresponding teachers of the universe.