Sharir – Tattvas Part II:
Panch-bhuts and Panch-tanmatras
Panch-Bhuts: “Panch” means five. Panch-bhuts are five gross physical elements or tattvas, namely, Pruthvi, Jal, Tej, Vāyu, and Ākāsh. These elements are mentioned in Hinduism at different places with different meanings in different contexts using the same names. At places they are simply meant to be as natural substances, for example, earth, water, fire, air, and space or sky. At places, they are also meant to be, in esoteric context, five states-of-matter, namely, solid, liquid, radiation (or matter in the form of rays or waves, such as, in alpha, beta, and gamma irradiation), gas, and the fifth one vacuum state. At places they are also meant to be fundamental forces of nature, with the same names as mentioned above, of which we know four of them. They are gravitational force, weak force, electromagnetic force, strong force, and not yet known or defined, the fifth force.
Hinduism describes that, all of these five physical elements are ontologically evolved from each other as well as subtler than each other. Pruthvi is evolved from Jal, Jal is evolved from Tej, Tej is evolved from Vāyu, and Vāyu is evolved from Ākāsh. Jal is subtler than Pruthvi as well as cause of Pruthvi, Tej is subtler than as well as cause of Jal, Vāyu is cause of Jal as well as subtler than Jal, and Ākāsh is the most subtler as well as cause of Vāyu and all four elements. Hinduism also describes that all of these five physical elements as matter are successively 10 times more abundant than each other and as forces are successively 10 times stronger than each other. Akash as a force is ten times stronger and as an element ten times more abundant than Vayu, Vayu is ten times stronger and ten times more abundant than Tej, Tej as the electromagnetic force is ten times stronger and more abundant than Jal and Jal is ten times stronger and abundant than Pruthvi as the gravitational force. According to science, gravitational force or gravity is the weakest force of nature.
Panch-Vishays and Panch-Tanmātrās:
Panch-vishays or Panch Tanmatras are five subtle elements, namely, Shabda, Sparsh, Rup (Roop), Ras (Rasa), and Gandh. In English, they are translated as sound, touch, light or sight, taste, and smell. In the scriptures, both are used synonymously using the same names. As a type of sensation it is called “Vishay” and as a carrier of vishay in the form of tiny portion, measure, or unit it is called “Tanmātrā”. Five vishays are five types of sensations or vibrations that can be perceived or experienced pleasurably or painfully by five types of sensory organ systems. Five tanmatras are five kinds of disturbances, waves, objects of perceptions. Five tanmatras are five kinds of carriers of panch-vishays, just like kinds of force carriers of science, which can be propagated through the five types of gross elements and can be perceived by five types of sensory organs causing five kinds of pleasurable or painful sensations.
Just like five kinds of force carriers of the science, according to the philosophy of Hinduism, tanmatras carry panch-vishays. Sound is carried in space but not in vacuum. Sound or shabda is the tanmatra (tiny measure or unit) of akash (ether or space) and is perceived by the ears. Touch is carried by vayu. Touch or sparsh is the tanmatra of vayu element and is perceived by the skin. Sight is carried by light. One cannot see in darkness or in the absence of light. Sight or rup is the tanmatra of tej and is perceived by the eyes. Taste is carried by jal element. Taste or rasa is the tanmatra of jal and is perceived by the tongue. Smell is carried by pruthwi element. Smell or gandh is the tanmatra of pruthvi and is perceived by the nose.
In the scriptures, at places, five bhut, namely, pruthwi, jal, tej, vayu, and akash, are also mentioned as the forces of nature. If panch-bhuts (five gross elements) are mentioned in the scriptures as natural forces, then five tanmatras can be considered as force carriers. Tanmatra of Pruthvi (as the gravitational force or gravity) turns out to be Graviton, tanmatra of Jal (as the weak force) becomes W and Z particles, tanmatra of Tej (as the electromagnetic force) becomes Photon, tanmatra of Vayu (as the strong force) becomes Gluon, and tanmatra of Akash (as the unknown fifth force) becomes Ether (Aether).