Panchabhutas (पञ्चभूत)

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The Universe of our experience i.e. Cosmos or जगत || jagat is composed of the five basic elements also known as पञ्चमहाभूताः || pancha mahabhutas or पञ्चभूताः || panchabhutas. These pancha mahabhutas (5 elements of nature) are present in subtle, as well as gross levels and with their varying levels of subtleness and grossness, they make the entire Cosmos or jagat. These elements are Akash, Vayu, Agni, Aapa & Prithvi. The Universe or the jagat being the aggregation of these five elements put together well is also called प्रपन्च || Prapanch.

Akash: Space
Vayu: Wind
Agni: Fire
Aapa: Water
Prithvi: Earth

The above elements are in order of their level of subtlety. Akash (Space) being the subtlest one among them. Prithvi (Earth) is the Grossest. Every thing in this world is made of just these five elements, starting from Sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, mountains, rivers & the human beings. Human beings experience these five elements as five तन्मात्र || tanmatras, which are Shabda, Sparsha, Rupa, Rasa & Gandha. The English synonyms of these tanmatras can be put as follows:-

Shabda: Sound
Sparsha: Touch
Rupa: Vision
Rasa: Taste
Gandha: Smell

God has given us five इन्द्रिय || indriyas (senses) to experience the cosmos through above tanmatras.

 References

  1. http://indianethos.com/what-is-this-cosmos-made-of-and-its-5-elements-of-nature/ By Rajneesh Chaturvedi