I read recently in Srimad Bhagavatam (Canto 1 - Chapter 3 - Verse 1) about the creation of the sixteen principles of material action.
I am curious to know more about these but can't find any reference to any text about these sixteen principles.
Could somebody please refer me to a scripture which talks about these 16 principles?

1 Answer 1


They are as follows:

  • 10 Indriyas (senses) i.e 5 Jnanendriya and 5 Karmendriyas
  • Mana (Mind)
  • 5 Mahabhuta i.e Prithivi, Jala, Aakash, Agni & Vayu

Quoting English translation from Bhagvata.org:

Sûta said: "In the beginning the Supreme Lord assumed, for the creation of the worlds, the form of the Original Person[: the integrity of the material realm] composed of the sixteen elements [of the ten knowing and working senses, the mind and the five elements] and the cosmic intelligence

Elements (dhâtavah): the essential parts of existence; water, fire, earth, air and ether. Also the seven essential ingredients of the body are dhâtava: skin, flesh, sinew, marrow, bone blood and fat [mentioned in 2.6: 1]. In a broader sense one also speaks of sixteen elements together with the intelligence and the ten working and perceiving s e n s e s. There are also divisions with 24 or 25 elements: the material elements, the subtle elements (the five objects of the senses: odor, color, taste, touch and sound), the ten senses of perception and action, spirit, intelligence, ego and consciousness with the element of time as the twenty-fifth element (see also P r a d h â n a and S.B.: 3-26:11-15, 6.1:50). There is also the nine t a t t v a s.

You can also read the purpot from Vedabase which states:

Primarily this mahat-tattva is divided into sixteen parts, namely the five gross material elements and the eleven working instruments or senses.

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