The three elements

The Hindu, January 4, 2017
The three elements
The Chandogya Upanishad explains how all sentient and non-sentient objects came into existence. At first only Sat, the One and Only, that is the Paramatman existed. Sat then decided to become many and created tejas (fire). The fire then thought, “Let me become many,” and thus Ap (water) was born. But how can water come from fire? When a person grieves, tears are produced by the heat of the sorrow. In the same way did water come from fire, explained M.K. Srinivasan in a discourse. When the waters decided to become many, earth was created, from where anna (food) was produced, just as there is bountiful crop when it rains. These three, Tejas, Ap and food, are the three basic elements and entering into Tejas and Ap, the Supreme Brahman continued with creation.
Since these elements are non-sentient, they could not have become many on their own. It was the Supreme Brahman, who by entering Tejas and Ap made their division into further entities possible. Portions from the three — Tejas, Ap and anna — were combined when such a division took place. Half of Agni for instance comes from Tejas, one quarter from water and one quarter from earth. The red colour of Agni is attributable to Tejas, while its white colour is attributable to water and its dark form to earth.
It was such a combination that resulted in Aditya and the moon too, the red aspect of Aditya and the moon belonging to Tejas, the white aspect to water and the dark aspect to earth. All things in the Universe come from combinations of aspects of the three basic elements. All indriyas, mind, pranas are also the results of combinations of the three basic elements. Thus the Universe and the human body too owe their origin to these elements.


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