Elements (Pancha Bhuta)
The common thread of thought in the religious beliefs
of the Indian subcontinent upholds a single Reality (as in absolute monoism) and holds in
reverence each of the several manifestation of the Ultimate Reality in the forms of
Gods. Every form of creation is regarded as nothing other
than a manifestation of this supreme reality Ishwara.
Every form of creation is manifested as a combination of one or
more of the five basic elements of wind, water, fire,
earth and space. (Vayu, jalam, agni, prithvi and Akasha).
temples in South India worship Shiva as the personified
as these elements wind, water, fire, earth and
space. These temples are the Shivastalams located at
in Andhra Pradesh,
Tiruvanaikkaval near Tiruchirappalli in Tamilnadu,
Tiruvannamalai in Tamilnadu,
Chidambaram in Tamilnadu.
The five mantras that
constitute Shiva's body are Sadyojaata, Vaamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Eesaana.
Eesaana is Shiva not visible to the human eye, Sadyojaata
is Shiva realized in his basic reality (as in the element earth, in the sense of smell, in
the power of procreation and in the mind). The Vishnudharmottara Purana
of the 6th century CE assigns a face and an element to each of the above mantras. (Sadyojaata
- earth, Vaamadeva - water, Aghora - fire, Tatpurusha
- air and Eesaana - space).
The names of the deified faces with their elements are
Mahadeva (earth), Bhairava (fire), Nandi
(air), Uma (water) and Sadasiva (space). Panchamukha
lingams have been seen from the 2nd century onwards. The Trimurthi Sadasiva
image of Shiva in the Elephanta Caves near
Mumbai is a portrayal in stone, of the five faces of Shiva. (See
All about Shiva).