Mahābhūtas
(9,511 words)

The Sanskrit term mahābhūta (lit. great being) mostly occurs in the plural and is generally used as a noun with the neuter gender. It is commonly translated as “great element,” sometimes also as “material element,” or just as “element,” and in the classical period of South Asian thought it comprises the following:

1.
earth (pṛthivī);
2.
water (āpaḥ);
3.
fire (tejas);
4.
wind (vāyu); and
5.
space/ether (ākāśa). 

The Sanskrit terms given here are the most c…

Cite this page
Karin Preisendanz, “Mahābhūtas”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Edited by: Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 20 July 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2212-5019_beh_COM_2050180>
First published online: 2012



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