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  • Dr. Sudha Gopinath

The Reality of Pancha Mahabhutas

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

The philosophical Heritage refers to the beginning of our civilization, viz, the Vedas, where importance was given to our environment by the Vedic seers. Vedic Aryans being dependent on Nature, deified all Nature forces, glorified and propitiated them. Starting with 'Mantras’ where they praised the gods (natural phenomena), they proceeded to perform rituals to please them. However, they did not stop at this. Noticing the uniformity of Nature, they became highly speculative, that led to Cosmology in this period. It is important to notice that their views are highly scientific.

The Vedic man was in awe of Nature being dependant on it. He both feared and had gratitude for all-natural phenomenon. The speculative spirit among the early thinkers was kindled by the uniformity of Nature, which they called Rta Dharma. Rta is the same as Supreme order of the Universe as realised by the modern scientists, Rta also included moral order. Recognising the uniformity in Nature the rishis found the operation of the cosmic law of Causation. This signifies a conviction that the visible world in itself is not final and there is a Reality which is its substratum. Further the seasons of the earth and the motion of the celestial bodies following an order of Nature was understood by the seers and this is just as is explained in science. Thus, we notice that there is no contradiction between Vedic religion and modern science.

Upanishads declared that the whole Universe has evolved from a single source, in Brahman, derived from the root Bru which means to Burst Forth- that which bursts forth spontaneously in the form of Nature as a whole. The order underlying the Universal manifestation from the Universal Energy is defined in the Taittriya Upanishad as from space to air, air to fire, fire to water, water to earth. This in turn is related to the human organs of ear (Sound/ hearing) of the skin (Touch/ heard and felt) of the eye (sight, so heard, felt and seen) of the tongue (taste and hence heard, felt, seen and tasted) finally the five elements as in the Earth and Man with his five senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.

Therefore, according to the Vedas, mastery over the senses in very important in order to take care of the five elements. As man’s greed can mean the exploitation of Nature, the control over the senses and in other words taking care of nature is of paramount importance which means that man cannot exist only to satiate his greed. Thus, we can say that the Vedas give a holistic vision of the Universe, according to which the cosmic order with its wondrous splendour is for the universal wellbeing of all living species, because the divine element is found in every aspect of nature. Dr. Radhakrishnan explains the nature of the immanence of the Divine that Brahman sleeps in Matter, breathes in plants, moves in animals, and thinks in man. Therefore, man has to endear himself to all beings, with a responsibility to take care of the universal Ecosystem by respecting and maintaining the Cosmic order without selfish greed. He has to shoulder the responsibility of protecting the environment. Further the changing seasons of the earth and the motion of the celestial bodies follows an order of Nature that was understood by the seers and also explained by science with no contradiction between Vedic religion and modern science concepts.

Vedas insist that we should protect, preserve, nurture and nourish the environment to make the world habitable to all Species which we have forgotten and paying in the price of a pandemic. Our primary goal should be an enhancement of welfare of all including conservation and preservation of our environment. Upanishads teaches that the pursuit of goals, dealings, endeavours and our commercial and business enterprises must be guided by Dharma- moral principles.

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