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Terms

Five Primary Elements

འབྱུང་བ་ལྔ།
jungwa nga
‘byung ba lnga
pañca mahā-bhūta

The five elements are: Earth (sa, Skt. pṛthivī, bhūmi), Water (chu; Skt. jala, āpa), Fire (me; Skt. teja, agni), Air or Wind (rlung; Skt. vāyu), Space (nam mkha’; Skt. ākāśa).


Doctrine of primary elements is the essential foundation of Tibetan Medicine Sowa Rigpa, (gso ba rig pa). According this doctrine five primary elements are the basis of all phenomena, both objective and subjective. In particular, they correlate with the various organs and tissues of the body, as well as the processes occurring in the body.


Qualities of the Earth primary element appear in the solid tissues of the body - muscles, bones, etc., of the the sense organs - the nose and sense of smell. Furthermore, the influence of this primary element connected with the fact that the human body has a shape, weight, density, etc.


Earth

Symbolic image
of the primary element earth
from the Atlas of Tibetan
medicine

Qualities of the Water primary element appear in the blood and other body fluids, among the sense organs it is the tongue, as well as sense of taste. Under the influence of this primary element the body is not divided into separate parts, but functions as a whole.

Water

Symbolic image
of the primary element water
from the Atlas of Tibetan
medicine

Qualities of Fire primary element are manifested in body temperature, color of organs and tissues, and among of the senses and their organs eyes and vision. Under the influence of this primary element it matures, i.e. maintenance of all systems and processes in the body at an optimum level.

Fire

Symbolic image
of the primary element fire
from the Atlas of Tibetan
medicine

Qualities of the Air primary element manifest in the respiratory system and all its functions. Among sense organ it is the skin, as well as sense of touch. Under the influence of this primary element growth and development occurs in whole body and its parts.

Wind

Symbolic image
of the primary element wind
from the Atlas of Tibetan
medicine

Finally, the qualities of the Space primary element manifest in the existence of internal and external openings and cavities. Among sense organ it is the ears, as well as sense of hearing. The effect of this primary element is the very possibility of the existence of things and phenomena.

Space

Symbolic image
of the primary element space
from the Atlas of Tibetan
medicine

The five primary elements form three nyepa (nyes pa) and their 17 qualities. This doctrine of primary elements pervades the pharmacology of Tibetan medicine: the origin and properties of the six tastes, 20 characteristics of medicines, etc.



ཁཁྲོ་རུ་ཚེ་རྣམ. “གསོ་རིག་རྒྱུད་བཞིའི་འགྲེལ་ཆེན་དྲང་སྲོང་ཞལ་ལུང་།” སི་ཁྲོན་མི་རིགས་དཔེ་སྐྲུན་ཁང, 2001, vv. 6 ISBN 7-5409-2535-3 (Tibetan) - A Great Comment on Four Tantras (Gyud Shi) written by Troru Tsenam.

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