The Fundamental Structure of Matter
written by Dr. Keith Wallace 


Maharishi Ayurveda is Maharishi’s restoration of India’s timeless health care system—the grandfather of natural medical systems. Maharishi Ayurveda contains highly refined techniques for both the diagnosis and treatment of disease. These techniques are based on an understanding of the physiology of consciousness and the physiology of matter that sees the body as an integrated whole, a network of intelligence, which is the microcosm of all of nature. The physician can enter this network through various means.


One of the central concepts described in classical Ayurvedic texts is known as Panchamahabhuta. This describes how matter arises from consciousness. What is particularly interesting in this theory is the description of the finer layers of our physiology of matter.


In this theory, the universe’s origin is avyakta, “unmanifest”—the unmanifest unified field of pure consciousness. Arising from this field (the Self) are the various levels of the physiology of consciousness: ego, intellect, mind, and senses. These levels form the “anatomy” of consciousness. They are broad principles and structures of natural law at the foundation of everything in creation—the basis for the physiology of matter of the entire universe, which includes the human body.


As the laws of nature sequentially unfold through the self-interacting dynamics of pure consciousness, Maharishi explains how eventually the structures of natural law take on a concrete form, and consciousness gives rise to matter:

“Through sequential development consciousness unfolds itself into the value of matter; consciousness becomes matter. The Self becomes mind, and mind becomes matter. We see this in modem physiology, when the DNA and RNA give rise to all the proteins, which in turn structure the body systems. This transformation of the field of pure knowledge rising from DNA as the impulse of information in RNA, to RNA becoming protein and protein becoming the whole material system is the description of consciousness becoming matter.”—Maharishi


There is thus a transition point in the sequential unfoldment of natural law, at which the subjective physiology of consciousness gives rise to the objective physiology of matter. Maharishi explains that this, too, is a self-referral process. He describes how this intimate and delicate connection between consciousness and matter takes place at the point when the subjective impulse of thought is becoming translated, through the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), into RNA (ribonucleic acid) and then into proteins, including neuropeptides, that comprise the biochemistry of thought.


“This transformation is sequential but always self-referral. It is like the airplane flying but always remaining self-referral to the ground station through the radio. All the activities of DNA, RNA, protein, and the whole system are always self-referral. When a mosquito comes and immediately the hand moves, it is the DNA that orders, “Look here! the danger is coming, you get up.” This performance is self-referral because consciousness, intelligence, is developing itself into different expressions of its own nature and there is a continuity between matter and pure consciousness—the Self, the mind, and the body.” –Maharishi


In this progression from Self to mind to body, we can look in finer detail at what happens at the transition point from subjectivity to objectivity. From the perspective of Panchamahabhuta theory in Maharishi Ayurveda, the finest level of matter in creation is described in terms of five basic constituents: akasha (space), vayu (air), agni (fire), jal (water), and prithivi (earth). (The term tejas is also sometimes used for fire, the term apas for water. Pancha means “five”; thus the term panchamahabhuta means “five elements.”) These five basic constituents have a subtle and a gross aspect. The subtle aspect is referred to as the five tanmatras and the gross aspect as the five mahabhutas. The five tanmatras are associated with the five senses. On the borderline between consciousness and matter, the senses are still within the subjective physiology of consciousness, and Maharishi explains that the tanmatras are the finest material expression of these five principles of nature.


“The tanmatras constitute the five basic realities, or essences, of the objects of the five senses of perception. They express themselves in the five elements which go to make up the objects of the senses and which provide the material basis of the entire objective universe. Thus the essence of sound (shabd tanmatra) expresses itself in space, the essence of touch (sparsh tanmatra) in air, the essence of form (rup tanmatra) in fire, the essence of taste (ras tanmatra) in water, and the essence of smell (gandh tanmatra) in earth. . . . The tanmatras mark the dividing line between the subjective and objective creation. In the process of evolution, . . . the subjective creation comes to an end and the objective creation begins. The tanmatras, forming as they do the basis of the five elements, lie in the grossest field of the subjective aspect of creation.”—Maharishi


The five mahabhutas (akasha, vayu, etc.) are the same principles, found at a slightly more concrete level of the physiology of matter. Maharishi explains that they are the “elements out of which material creation is constituted”; the entire material creation evolves from these five fundamental elements. They are considered the building blocks from which matter arises. In terms of our modem scientific understanding of the body, these concepts are perhaps more the concern of the most advanced and abstract areas of physics, having to do with the mechanics of nature that underlie biological functioning.


Dr. John Hagelin, director of the physics program at Maharishi University of Management and one of the world’s leading physicists in the area of unified quantum field theories, has interpreted the Panchamahabhuta theory in the terms of modern physics. Dr. Hagelin is also an expert in Maharishi’s Vedic Science and Technology, and in two articles, “Is Consciousness the Unified Field? A Field Theorist’s Perspective,” and “Restructuring Physics from its Foundation in Light of Maharishi’s Vedic Science,” he outlines the discovery of the unified field and its relationship to consciousness. In his discussion he makes use not only of the latest knowledge of modem quantum physics, but also of “the very complete description of the unified field and its self-interacting dynamics provided by Vedic Science as formulated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.” In discussing the elementary particles and forces of nature, Dr. Hagelin explains that Maharishi’s Vedic Science “provides a very natural and compact language of nature which is also based directly on the unified field.”


In Dr. Hagelin’s view, the transition from consciousness into matter in human life represents the junction point between the quantum mechanical and classical in the structure of the human physiology. He suggests that there is a distinct similarity between the five fundamental elements described in Maharishi’s Vedic Science and Technology, and the fundamental spin types of quantum physics (he refers to the five elements as tanmatras rather than mahabhutas to emphasize their subtlest value). He first describes how, from the perspective of Maharishi’s Vedic Science, the three-in-one dynamics of consciousness knowing itself (the Veda) generates “a rich spectrum of vibrational modes,” which appear as all the forms and phenomena of the universe. Among these “resonant modes of consciousness,” Dr. Hagelin points out, are the five fundamental categories of matter and energy—the tanmatras—responsible for the material universe. He further explains that:


“there is a striking correspondence between these five tanmatras and the five quantum-mechanical spin types of a unified quantum field theory: between the akasha or “space” tanmatra and the gravitational field; between the vayu or “air” tanmatra, which stands as a link between space and the other tanmatras, and the gravitino field; between the tejas or “fire” tanmatra, responsible for chemical transformations and the sense of sight, and the spin-1 force fields; and between the apas and prithivi (“water” and “earth”) tanmatras and the spin-1/2 and spin-0 matter fields, respectively”.


Dr. Hagelin’s recognition of the identity of the five elements described in Maharishi Ayurveda and in modern physics, as well as many other correspondences, is an important step in the growth of understanding of this knowledge in the scientific community. The process of connecting different fields of scientific knowledge to their source in the unified field of natural law is creating a bridge between modern science and Maharishi’s Vedic Science that will allow scientists a more detailed and quantifiable understanding of how consciousness gives rise to matter.


The passages quoted from Maharishi regarding DNA, RNA, and the transition from consciousness to matter at the beginning of this chapter are from Maharishi Vedic University Inauguration. Maharishi’s discussion of the tanmatras and mahabhutas is found in his translation and commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, pp. 482-483.

Dr. Hagelin’s two articles, from which his discussion of Panchamahabhuta theory in relation to modem physics is taken, are:

•Hagelin.J. S., (1987), Is Consciousness the Unified Field? A Field Theorist’s Perspective, Modem Science and Vedic Science 7(1): 29-87; and

• Hagelin.J. S. (1989), Restructuring Physics from its Foundation in Light of Maharishi’s Vedic Science, Modem Science and Vedic Science 3(): 3-72.


Excerpts from Physiology of Consciousness by Robert Keith Wallace, MUM Press, 1993 recently updated