Tanmatra (tan = that; matra = only) in sanskrit means “only that”. It is the basic, fundamental property of human beings – the five senses that corresponds directly to the five mahabhutas. The tanmatras are hearing, touch, taste, smell and sight.
In the case of all corporeal existences, the tanmatra is the basic building blocks.
|Element||Unicellular organism||Multi-cellular Organism(Human)|
|Space||Space occupied by the cell / the pores or channels through which nutrients or wastes travel||Spaces within body (Nose, mouth, abdomen)|
|Air||Gaseous exchange taking place||Impulses/movement and gases|
|Fire||Metabolic process||Functioning of enzymes (metabolism, digestion, Intelligence)|
|Water||Cytoplasm or liquid in the cell membrane||All body fluids|
|Earth||Structure of cell||Solid structures in body (bones, teeth, hair)|
Also each element has a predominant attribute that indicates our five senses. The five elements act with the five tanmatras with the specific organ to perceive the physical world. Since each mahabhuta is formed from the earlier one, the qualities of the former is present in the later along with its own unique quality.
Thus earth has all the five qualities. Indriyas are the sense organs that allow us to understand the outer world. They are like doors that connect us with the external universe. There are five entrance doors and five exit doors between our inner world and external universe.
- Jnanendriyas – These are entrance doors that allow us to sense and understand the world.
- Smelling (Nose) , tasting (tongue), seeing (eyes), touching(skin).
- Karmendriyas – They are means of expression, the exit doors from the self.
- Eliminating (anus), reproducing (genitals), moving (feet), grasping (hands), speaking (mouth).
Thus Ayurveda is not just a curative medicine, it connects our self to the cosmos. It defines health as a balance between all the basic elements. With the holistic approach, Ayurveda takes the symptoms and finds recovery that acts upon the whole body thereby finding a permanent solution.