By Yogi Ashwini of Dhyan Ashram

The body is essentially the five elements — earth, water, fire, air and ether combined with the ego and certain other gross senses. These elements form the basis of the major chakras that govern the body — earth for Mooladhar, water for Swadhisthana, fire for Manipoorak, air for Anahad and ether for Vishuddhi.

The controls for the various elements in our body lie at the fingertips — the little, ring, middle and index fingers representing earth, water, ether and air respectively while the thumb represents fire. If you touch any element to the tip of the thumb, it expands and when you touch it to the base of the thumb it reduces. In this way, we can very easily increase or decrease the various elements in our body, depending on the need of the situation, using our fingers through the science of mudras. For example, in situations of extreme tension and anxiety, like in the case of appearing for an interview, or an exam, or an important meeting, the vayu tattva increases in the body leading to a feeling of uneasiness in the chest. If at that time, you place your index finger at the base of the thumb (where you will feel a pulsation), the air element will normalise and you will feel better. The science of mudras is a perfect and precise science, however, it is not taught en masse. It is given by the Guru to the shishya, individually, as per his/her individual needs and capacity.

Our body is a reflection of the entire creation with its five elements. Earth forms the core of the creation, similarly the muscles and bones comprise the earth element and form the core structure of our body. Above the earth surface, one finds water — rivers, oceans and other water bodies. Similarly, in our body, Mooladhar gives way to Swadhisthana, which represents the water element. There is absolute darkness at the bottom of the ocean. As one rises through water to the surface of the water body, there is light. As one rises up the Swadhisthana chakra in the body, there is Manipoorak, chakra of agni tattva. Agni is not just fire, it is also light (responsible for vision), the digestive fire (responsible for digestion) and sexual energy (responsible for procreation). In fact, the ability of door-drishti, which we call clairvoyance, also originates from the agni tattva. If jaap of Manipoorak chakra is done properly, then the eyesight can never deteriorate.

On the surface of water there is light, and above that winds blow, that is the air element. According to Ayurveda, two-third of the diseases of the body are caused by an imbalance in the vata dosha or the vayu. If you observe an air element in nature, you will notice that it moves swiftly traversing large distances in a matter of seconds. Of the three doshas of vata, pitta and kapha, vata is the most mobile. Diseases caused by it become severe in no time. That is why the air element needs to be handled with care and should not be increased arbitrarily by sitting in Gyan mudra. If it goes out of control, then a disease will manifest in the body. After the atmosphere, there is sky or ether.

As one moves up the elements, lower elements merge with the higher elements. That is, the element above holds the capacity to include the elements below. Ether contains within it air, fire, water and earth, air contains fire, water and earth elements, fire contains water and earth elements, and water contains the earth element. To effect a change in any of the elements one need not go to the level of the individual element. The elements can be easily controlled and modified by accessing the element that lies above the five elements, the partattva or Shiv, under the sanidhya of Guru.

All the elements can be controlled from top. That is why it is said ‘Omkar bindu samyuktam...’ which means, everything is there in omkar, it is a bindu, the partattva, nothing else. ‘....Nityam dhayanti yoginam’, which means, a yogi’s dhyan is always on that partattva and not on the elements below. A yogi has an association with the lower elements also but he controls them from the Agya.

While one can experience the five basic elements in the body through the science of mudras, how does one get the experience of the Shiv tattva?

The Shiv tattva is not experienced by an ordinary person because he does not need it. For a lay person the five senses and their experiences are enough. Shiv is beyond the five tattvas, the partattva, in which all the tattvas reside. Experience of Shiv requires the awakening of Agya through yog under a Guru. You may be given the experience a couple of times forcefully, but till you have control over your basic senses, till you elevate to the level of Agya, it will not happen to you naturally. Even the thought to find Shiv will not come to you.

Even though Shiv is right here, sakshat, to be able to see Shiv awakening is required, and that is the purpose of yog. When the awakening happens, all the pleasures of the five senses come within it. You can get anything you want just by accessing the Agya but for this yog needs to be done. The entire creation is right in front of you, the body is just this and this body is inside Shiv, which is making the body function. Shiv is at agya but where are you?