Modern Science and Ayurveda


“Āyurveda conceives life (āyu) as a four dimensional entity comprising of śārira (physical body), indriya (senses), satva or manas (mind/psyche) and the soul or ātma, i.e. the conscious element. Thus the individual life being a comprehensive psycho-physico-spiritual unit, which is highly dynamic, is in constant interplay with the cosmos. As stated earlier the gross human body is pañca bhautika i.e. it consists of a proportionate combination of five mahābhūtas. The pañca mahābhūta theory is essentially a theory of physics. The pañca mahābhūta represents the five essential aspects of the matter namely:

The mass as earth or pṛthvī;

The cohesion as water or āp (jala),

The radiant energy as fire or tejas,

The motion of vāyu, and

The space as the ether or ākāśa.

The five mahābhūtas can, at first glance, appear to be remote from science, in that they are translated as space, air, fire, water and earth. But a more careful examination shows that this classification has remarkable correspondences with the modern theories of quantum physics. The physicist Dr John Hagelin, noted that each of the five spin types in quantum physics corresponded very specifically to one of Ayurveda’s five mahābhūtas. For example, the spin-2 ‘graviton’, the highest spin type, which is responsible for curving space, corresponds to the highest mahābhūta, which happens also to be ‘space’ (ākāśa). The third in the series, the spin-1 force fields, includes electromagnetism, responsible for light, heat, and chemical transformations; it corresponds to the third mahābhūta, ‘fire’, which is responsible for the sense of sight (photons or light particles are spin-1 fields), for heat and for chemical transformations. The lowest spin type, Higgs Fields, is responsible for giving the other fields their mass; it corresponds to the lowest mahābhūta, the structure-giving ‘earth’. The other spin types and mahābhūtas corresponded as well.

The following table shows the mahābhūtas and the corresponding spin types of physics.


Spin types

Ākāśa (space)

Spin 2 = Graviton (gravity)

Vāyu (air)

Spin 3/2 = Gravitino

Tejas (fire)

Spin 1 = Force fields (electromagnetism)

Āp (water)

Spin 1⁄2 = Matter fields

Pṛthvī (earth)

Spin 0 = Higgs fields

This still seemed just an interesting coincidence. What suggested to Hagelin that there may be a real connection between the ancient and the modern conceptions was noticing that the five spin types combine in three unexpected ways to give what are called the three “superfields” – and that the five mahābhūtas combine in exactly the same patterns to give the three doṣās. (The concept of doṣās will be explained in the next chapter). According to Āyurveda, water and earth combine to form Kapha, while in modern physics, spin 1⁄2 and spin 0 combine to form the ‘matter’ superfield, which corresponds to Kapha. The combination that surprised Hagelin was Pitta doṣa: the ‘gauge’ superfield, which has properties that correspond to Pitta, is formed of spins 1 and 1⁄2, the equivalents of fire and water – but he assumed that Pitta would be composed of fire and air. When he learned that traditionally Pitta is indeed held to be formed of fire and water, it seemed to him a corroboration of the possibility that physics and Āyurveda were using two different languages to describe the same reality. If we go beyond the semantics, we can see an underlying unity between the thoughts of Āyurveda and modern science.

The table below shows the three doṣās (as combinations of the pañca mahābhūtas) and the three superfields (as combinations of the five spin types).

Ākāśa (space) and Vāyu (air)


Spin 2 and Spin 3/2


Tejas (fire) and Āp (water)


Spin 1 and Spin 1/2


Pṛthvī (earth) and Āp (water)


Spin 0 and Spin 1/2


The mind and body have generally been thought of as macroscopic and thus not reflecting any medically significant quantum physical properties. It is possible that these and other correspondences between modern physics and Āyurveda may help contribute to the development of a quantum mechanical understanding of the functioning of mind and body. If so, it would greatly extend our understanding of health and how to achieve it. The analogy between superfields and doṣas, should it prove to be more than an analogy, would certainly fit the traditional Āyurveda concept of doṣas as existing at a profound stratum of creation, rather than on the surface – as being among the first manifestations of the material world.”

Dharma wheel*

[Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda, Dr. Mauroof Athique, College of Ayurveda, London, Diploma in Ayurvedic Healthcare, pg 19]