Definition - What does Pancha mean?
Pancha is a Sanskrit word that means “five.” In the context of Hinduism and yogic philosophy, the number five has significance in many key concepts and finds its way into religious symbolism as a sacred number. For example, the god, Shiva, is portrayed with five faces (panchamukha), each facing a different direction.
The list of pancha concepts is long, but one of the foundational ones is that of the five great elements, or pancha mahabhuta: akasha (ether), vayu (air), tejas (fire), jala (water) and prithvi (earth). These elements are believed to exist in everything in the universe. Ayurveda, the ancient medical system from India, manipulates and balances the elements to maintain health and cure disease.
Yogapedia explains Pancha
Some of the more significant pancha concepts include:
- Pancha jnanendriyas (five sensory organs) – nose, tongue, eyes, skin and ears.
- Pancha tanmatra (five subtle elements/energies) – smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing.
- Pancha klesha (five obstacles) – ignorance, egoism, craving, aversion and clinging to life. They block spiritual growth and cause suffering.
- Pancha karma indriyas (five organs of action) – genital organs, excretory organs, legs, hands and the organs of speech.
- Pancha kosha (five sheaths/layers of the soul) – food, air (vital force), mind-emotions, knowledge and blissful happiness.
- Panchakarma (five detoxification treatments) – vamana, virechana, basti, nasya and raktamokshana.