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Panchabutham: The Five Cosmic Elements (Part 2)

By Eesha Srinivasan




As the Shishya community has been preparing for the Panchabutham production with costumes and finishing touches for Annual Day, the individual elements each class has worked so hard to perfect are almost ready to come together!


The elements are signified by the following syllables: Na - Ma - Shi - Va - Ya. They are believed to be the foundation of creation, and each has a different significance and relationship to Shiva. Each element also has a special temple in five different places, referred to as Panchabutha Sthalams. Below is an introduction to these five elements, or Panchabutham:



Fire (Agni):

The element of fire is a representation of Lord Agni, the God of Fire in Hinduism. It is believed that Shiva became a massive column of fire in Arunachalam, a temple in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu dedicated to that form of Shiva. Arunachalam is the home of Ardhanareeshawaran, the form of Shiva that has both Shiva and Parvathi. The Senior Academy will be performing the Agni krithi, the Beginners 3 level Three class will be performing the chant, and the Performance Academies will be performing the elemental portion.




Water (Appu):

The element of water is a representation of Goddess Ganga. In the temple Jambukeshwar in Thiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu (commonly known as Trichy), Shiva and Parvathi are both worshiped as Jambukeshwar and Akhilandeshwari, respectively. The Shiva Lingam in Jambukeshwar is surrounded and partially submerged in water from the Kaaveri river. One special aspect of the Jambukeshwar temple is that despite any droughts, the area surrounding the Lingam always has water in it. The Advanced Academy will be performing the Appu krithi, Shishya Alumni will be performing the chant, and the Performance Academies will be performing the elemental portion.



Earth (Prthvi):

In the famous temple town of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, the Ekambareshwarar temple is dedicated to the earth form of Shiva, Ekambareshwarar. Ekambareshwarar is in the form of a Lingam made of mud, signifying Prthvi. It is said that Parvathi once sculpted a Lingam out of mud in this temple, and that very same Lingam still exists there. The Intermediate 1 level One class will be performing the Prthvi krithi, Shishya Alumni will be performing the chant, and the Advanced Academy will be performing the elemental portion.




Wind (Vaayu):

The element of wind is a representation of Lord Vaayu, the God of wind. In the temple Kaalahasteeshwar in Srikalahasti, Andra Prashesh, the Shiva Lingam is known as Vaayu Lingam. Shiva is worshiped as Srikalahasteeshwar, and Parvathi is worshiped as Gnanaprasunambika. The Performance 1 levelOne group will be performing the Vaayu krithi, the Adult and Beginners 2 level Two classes will be performing the chant, and the Senior Academy will be performing the elemental portion.




Space (Aagaayam):

The element of space is a representation of Lord Nataraja, the Lord of dance. In the temple in Chidhambaram, Tamil Nadu, Shiva is in the form of Nataraja, also known as the cosmic dancer. It is from Nataraja that Bharathnayam derives it’s key components, such as the Shiva pose or the components of abhinaya (parts of dance/performance). In the Chidhambaram temple, both Shiva and Vishnu are worshiped, but there isn’t a Lingam. Instead, Shiva is represented using an idol and open space. It has been proven that the Chidhambaram temple is at the center point of the earth’s magnetic equator, a special feature of the temple. The Performance 2 level Two group will be performing the Aagaayam krithi, the Beginners 1 level One class will be performing the chant, and the Intermediate 2 levelTwo group will be performing the elemental portion.



Shishya’s Annual Day Panchabutham will feature each of these elements in creative, innovative ways, with a custom choreography by Guru Sukanya Mahadevan. Don’t forget to come out and see the amazing final product of the Shishya School’s hard work! We hope to see you there!


Teaser Clip 1: https://www.facebook.com/ShishyaSchool/videos/929849664742895


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