Saturday, July 21, 2012

Symbolism & Significance of Number Five (PANCHA) - Hindu perspective

Om! Sri Raghavendraya Namaha!
Om! Gam! Ganapathaye! Namaha!
Om! Ham! Hanumathe! Sri Rama Doothaaya Namaha!
Om! Namo! Bhagavathe! Vaasudevaaya!

Number five (5) known as Pancha in Sanskrit has a unique significance in various tenets of Hinduism. It is widely used and associated with various concepts of Hindu philosophy, religion, spirituality, aayurveda, astrology etc. It is a divine and sacred number that represents various subtle elements of nature; the Pancha Maha Bhootaas the creation of all pervading supreme Lord Sri Maha Vishnu who is the Mahadbhuutah, the one and the only mega presence in this universe; He is Bhootaatma; one who dwells in all beings and is present every where. In Bhagawadgeeta we find Lord Sri Krishna elaborately explaining these concepts of subtle elements and their role. Mahabharatha the great epic composed by Sage Vedavyaasa is referred to as Panchama Veda as it contains various tenets from Upanishads the essence of Vedas.

In the symbolism of Lord Shiva we find Him portrayed as having five faces Panchamukha; These five faces are known as Eeshaana (facing skyward); Tatpurusha (facing east); Aghora (facing south); Vaamadeva (facing north) and Sadyojatha (facing west); Pancheshu is the name of Manmatha (Kaama) the god of love as he holds five arrows corresponding to the five senses. Panchatva refers to death or decease; human body is called Pancha-Bhoutika Sareera; a compound of five vital elements (Pancha-tattva) and after death the body merges with Pancha Bhootas. Panchama means fifth and Panchaka means group of five. Panchakona means Pentagon a two dimensional geometric figure formed of five sides and five angles.

Some of the terminologies (concepts) associated with Pancha are;

Panchamahaa-Bhoothas: Aakaasa (sky/ether); Vaayu (air); Jala (water); Agni (tejas/fire); and Pruthvi (earth); collectively are known as Panchamahaa-Bhoothaas; the five basic elements of nature.

Pancha-Gnaanendriyas: Nose (Ghruunam/smell), Tongue (Jihva/taste), Eyes (Chakshuh/sight), Skin (Twak/touch) and Ear (srothra/sound) are collectively known as Pancha Gnanendriyas or five sensory organs.

Pancha-Tanmatra: Gandha, Rasa, Roopa, Sparsha and Shabdha are the five subtle elements or root energies of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing.

Pancha Karmendriyas: Upastha (genital organs/organs of procreation); Paayuh (excretory organs); Paada (legs); Paani (hands); and Vaak (Vaageendriya/organs of speech) are collectively known as Pancha Karmendriyas or organs of action (karma).

Pancha-Praana (Vaayu): Praana (vital life force); Apaana (excretive); Vyaana (circulative); Udhaana (upward movement); Samaana (digestive) are the five vital energy forces required for the physiological functioning of the body.

PanchaKosha: Annamaya (food), Praanamaya (air the vital force), Manomaya (mind-emotions), Vignaanamaya (knowledge) and Aanandamaya (happiness/bliss) are the five sheaths (layers) the soul is covered with; collectively known as Pancha Kosha.

Panchamahaa-Yagnaas: In Hindu dharma several austerities (yagnas) are required to be performed out of which, five yagnas called Panchamahaa Yagnaas (five great sacrifices) are prescribed to be performed in the daily routine of a dedicated Hindu Gruhastha (householder). They are; Deva Yagna; Brahma Yagna (Rushi Yagna); Pithru Yagna; Bhootha Yagna and Manushya (Nara) Yagna;

Panchaniyaamaka Bhagavadrupa: Aniruddha, Pradhyumna, Sankarshana, Vaasudeva, and Naaraayana are the five strategic forms of Lord Sri Maha Vishnu.

Panchamukhi HanumanLord Hanuman in a unique form having five faces (pancha mukha) Varaaha, Garuda, Naarasimha, Hayagreeva and Aaanjaneya. Panchamukhi Kshethra is a famous pilgrim center near Mantralayam where Sri Raghavendra Swamy (Raayaru) had performed penance for 12 years; had the darshan of Lord Hanuman in a unique form of Panchamukhi (five headed)

PancharatraAgamaAagamas are the sacred Vedic scripts dealing with principles and methods of worship of God in various forms in temples, at home and various kinds of sacrifices etc. Of these, Pancharatraagama deals exclusively with the worship of Lord Vishnu. Exclusively we find this concept in Vaishnava sampradaya. Pancharatra means five nights and it is believed that Lord Vishnu himself revealed these doctrines to five Rishis for five nights.

Panchaakshari: “Na-mah-Si-vaa-ya” known as Panchaakshari (having five syllables) is revered as one of the most popular manthras dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Pancha-Paandavaas: Dharmaraja, Bheema Sena, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva; collectively are known as Pancha Paandavaas.

Pancha-Kanya: Group of five chaste women; Ahalya (w/o of Sage Goutama); Droupadi (w/o of Pandava brothers); Seeta (w/o Lord Sri Rama); Taara (w/o of Vaali); and Mandodari (w/o of Raavanaasura)

Pancha-Klehsa (Five sorrows/obstacles); Avidya (ignorance); Asmita (egoism); Raga (craving); Dvesha (aversion); Abhinivesha (clinging to life) are the five hindrances for spiritual growth and are the root cause of all human suffering.

Panchamahaa-Paatakaas: Five grave sins are; Brahmahatya (killing a Brahmin), consuming intoxicants (drinking alcohol/drugs), thieving (stealing gold), abusing or adultery with Gurupatni (preceptor) and association with these sinners.

Panchaanga: A Hindu lunar day is a composition of five limbs viz, Thithi, Vaara, Nakshathra, Yoga and Karana that is in simple known as Panchaanga (Almanac). In nithya karma (sankalpa) or for that matter at the beginning of any of Hindu rituals; reciting of Panchaanga is a must.

Panchami: Fifth day in a lunar month and festivals associated with are Naaga Panchami, Garuda Panchami, Rushi Panchami, Vasantha Panchami, and Lalitha Panchami.

Dhanishta-Panchaka: Group of five constellations (stars) starting from Dhanishta; Satabhisha, Poorvaabhaadra, Uttaraabhaadra and Revathi.  These five constellations are said and believed to be inauspicious for death.


Five products derived from a Cow viz. Gomoothra (cow urine), Gomaya (cow-dung), Goksheera (cow milk), Godadhi (cow-curd), and Goghrutha (cow ghee). Mixture of these five ingredients is known as Panchagavya. Since time immemorial Panchagavya is used in all the traditional Hindu rituals; considered as highly sacred and believed to provide spiritual purification. It is also used in Hindu families for purification of self as well as sprinkled across the house after asoucha. Lot of research is going on in Aayurvedic science on the healing properties of Panchagavya as a natural medicine for curing various diseases.  The ingredients are considered to have anti-septic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties; are used widely in preparation of Aayurvedic medicines.
Pancha-amrutham: It is a blend of five substances viz. cow milk, cow curd, cow ghee, honey, sugar (jaggery). Banana also is used as one of the five ingredients. These five items are used in the divine worship, while performing Abhishekam; known as Panchaamruthaabhishekam. In fact the mixture of these five ingredients is believed to have lot medicinal and healing properties.

Panchamukhi RudraakshaIn the concept of Rudraaksha, Panchamukhi (five faced) is very popular and commonly used. Lord Shiva himself is the presiding Deity of this Rudraaksha and Jupiter is the ruling planet. It is believed to bestow upon the wearer, peace and good health especially in monitoring the blood pressure and cardiac ailments. This is also used generally for making japa and said to be the symbol of auspiciousness.

Pancha Prayaga Kshethras (Five confluences of Ganga):

Vishnu Prayag (Dhauliganga joins Alaknanda), Nandaprayag (Nandakini joins), Karnaprayag (Pindar joins), Rudra Prayag (Mandakini joins) and Devaprayag (Where Bhagirathi joins Alaknanda to form Ganga or the Ganges River)


Chidambaram (Aakasa Linga), in Tamil Nadu
Kanchi (Prithvi Linga), in Tamil Nadu
Sri Kalahasthi (Vaayu Linga) in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh
Thiruvannaikkaval (Jala Linga) near Trichy in Tamil Nadu
Tiruvannamalai (Agni Linga) in Tamil Nadu
Above places are regarded as Pancha Bhootha-Linga (Shiva) Kshethras, most revered places for the worship of Lord Shiva.

PanchavatiSituated on the banks of river Godavari in Naasik of Maharashtra state; Panchavati is a historical place and pilgrimage centre dating back to the epic Ramayana. It is a must visit on a pilgrimage to Nasik-Tryambakeshwar. Panchavati means group of five Banyan (Vata) trees. It is a place where Lord Sri Rama built a cottage in Dandakaranya forest during his exile (vanavaasa) and stayed there along with Lakshmana and Goddess Sita Devi.
Panchanad - Theertha

In Dwaaraka kshethra (Gujarat) on the other banks of river Gomati there is a place called Panchanad Theertha established by five great Sages Marichi, Athri, Angirasa, Pulah, and Kratu. They established it by invoking five holy rivers viz. Gomati (Sage Marichi); Laxmana (Sage Athri); Chandrabhaga (Sage Angirasa); Kushawati (sage Pulah) and Jambavathi (sage Kratu). Today these five rivers are resembled as five sweet water wells surrounded by sea water.

Astrology & Number Five:

Astrologically 5th house (Panchama Sthana) is considered as a sacred house that has lot of significance.  It is known as Puthra Sthana (children), Mano Sthana (emotions and feelings), Divinity, Poorva Punya Sthana etc.  It also indicates the speculative tendencies. In the natural zodiac, Leo (Simha Raasi) a fiery sign is the Panchama Sthaana and Sun is the lord of fifth house.


In Hindu astrology there are certain combinations which when occurred results in a special yoga known as Panchamahaapurusha Yoga.  Only five planets; Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars and Mercury are capable of giving such yoga; when they are placed in their own or exalted signs in a birth chart and that should be a house of quadrant (Kendra). These Panchamahaapurusha Yogas are; Hamsa Yoga resulting from Jupiter, Sasha yoga from Saturn, Maalavya yoga from Venus, Ruchaka yoga from Mars and Bhadra yoga from Mercury. These yogas when present in a birth chart bestows upon the native special qualities and strengths.

Numerology & Number Five

Astro-numerological number (5) is ruled by fast moving planet Mercury.  Those born with number five as their birth number makes friends easily.  They can impress others with their charming and attractive personality.  They are very active; innovative; speculative, have good communication skills; good at academics. With proper channelization of their energy can make their mark in life.  Generally they are successful bankers.

Panchaloha: Literally it means combination of five metals; an alloy of gold, silver, copper, brass and iron that is generally used in the making of Hindu icons (moorthi).  It is also used in making rings used for wearing of gems for remedial purpose.

Panchakarma: It is a very popular Aayurvedic concept of treatment that involves five detoxification processes viz. Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Nasya and Raktamokshana.  It is a cleansing and rejuvenating therapy for the body and mind. In Aayurveda we also find some of the medicines associated with Pancha viz. Panchatikta, Pancha Kashayam etc.

Panchanaama: A document consisting of the statement of five juries; a statement signed in the presence of five witnesses.

Panchayat: Group of five members (juries) and Panchayiti is a body or a committee of five members to settle an issue or arbitration.

Sri Krushnaarpanamasthu

Above compilation is not exhaustive; readers views and suggestions are invited.

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1 comment:

  1. There are Twelve swara.A to aah.. again there are seven swara sa re ga ma pa dhani seven plus five equals twelve. Which five musical swara plus five twelve kundalini has twelve points.can youlink all this?