As we have seen previously that Hinduism believes in the field-fielder (Kshetra–Kshetragna) theory. Prakruti is the field and Purusha is its fielder. Similarly, body is a field (kshetra) and the soul is its fielder (kshetragna). According to Sānkhya scriptures, Prakruti or the nature consists of 24 physical entities or elements (tattvas), whereas, Purush, also known as Ishwar, is a quite distinct eternal entity or ontological element (tattva). Are there any scriptural references viz from darshanas or smritis or other scriptures for these tattvas?

  • Mahabharata, Shanti parva.
    – user16581
    May 7, 2019 at 7:27

1 Answer 1



(11) That primary nature is known as the basis from which the five gross and five subtle elements, the ten senses of perception and action and the four internal sense departments [of mind, ego, consciousness and intelligence] evolved who together add up to a number of twenty-four [see also elements]. (12) The five gross elements are to be exact: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Of the subtle elements there are, to My notion, as many. They are the smell and so on [taste, color, touch and sound]. (13) The ten senses are the organs of [perception of] hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling, with the [organs of action known as the] mouth, the hands, the legs, the genitals and the organs of excretion as the tenth. (14) Mind, intelligence, ego and consciousness are the four aspects of the internal, subtle sense one distinguishes when one pays attention to the different characteristics of the [brain] functions. (15) Thus, with the classification I provided, the material qualities of the Absolute Truth of Brahman are summed up [called saguna brahman]. One speaks thereto of time as the twenty-fifth element.

There are differing opinions regarding number of elements. You may read more at http://srimadbhagavatam.org/canto11/chapter22.html

(1-3) S'rî Uddhava said: 'Oh Lord of the Universe, how many basic elements of creation [tattvas] have been enumerated by the seers? Oh Master, I heard You speak about the twenty-eight basic elements of this world [see also 11.19: 14]. Some say there are twenty-six, others speak of twenty-five or twenty-seven, some speak of nine, some of four and others of eleven elements, while others speak of sixteen, seventeen or thirteen elements. Oh Eternal Supreme One, could You please explain to us what the sages who so differently express themselves with the calculations of their divisions have in mind with them?'

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .