Bhuta Shuddhi – Rearranging Elemental Functioning
Sadhguru: Every yogic practice, whatever kind it may be, is essentially drawn from the process of bhuta shuddhi. If you do an asana, surya namaskar, surya kriya, pranayama or a kriya, in a way, you are doing bhuta shuddhi. In other words, you address life in its most fundamental form, which are the five elements. You can address life just as body. You can address life as prana or life energy. You can address life on the cellular level. You can even address life on the atomic level. Or you can address life on the elemental level, which is most fundamental. Yoga is an attempt towards that.
It is these five elements that make up this body, this planet, this solar system, and the universe. Each of these five elements has its own individual nature, and all of them are capable of absorbing and retaining information. The whole system of bhuta shuddhi has evolved from the knowledge that the five elements can take in and hold information. If information is properly put into anything, it also creates an intention. Depending upon what kind of information you hold about something, you naturally develop a certain intention towards that something. Once you have an intention, you start moving in that direction.
It is this basis that gives bhuta shuddhi its effectiveness and its ability to transform a human being in miraculous ways. The process that we do at Isha now is a simple form of bhuta shuddhi. Probably never before have so many women been initiated into bhuta shuddhi at once. The normal process of bhuta shuddhi always used to be male-oriented, not female-oriented. Generally, women have been kept out of it because in the female body, the play of the five elements is different than in the male body. In a woman’s body, fire and water are the most important elements. It is in the nature of the feminine system to alternate between fire and water.
To accommodate this difference, we have made a small adaptation of the practice for men and women. The intention behind bhuta shuddhi is that slowly, over a period of time, the elements within you should take instructions from you. Once you have the ability to make the elements within yourself function the way you want them to, it is not far away to impact the elements around you.
Performing Bhuta Shuddhi consciously
Often unconsciously, unknowingly, unintentionally, human beings are doing some kind of bhuta shuddhi. To give an example – there are leaders who, if they enter a space, change the atmosphere around them by their sheer presence. There are many people – not only spiritual ones – who, when they walk into a room, change the atmosphere there in an instant. This is a certain amount of bhuta shuddhi, performed unconsciously. If you can do it consciously, it is far more result-oriented. There are other aspects of energy that one can influence and thereby change the atmosphere, but this does not impact other people as profoundly as when the elements rearrange themselves because of a certain presence of energy and intention.
The idea of practicing bhuta shuddhi is to rearrange the way the elements function within you. You want to change the intention with which they function within you. If the elements within you function in the same way as they function in the earth or a tree, it is not useful to you. In the human system, the elements function in a particular way. We want them to function that way and to transform themselves into higher and higher possibilities.
In fact, in every individual, the elements function in a unique manner. The traditional medical systems in the East have always identified these individual differences. In this sense, these systems are designer medication. There is no common prescription for everyone. Unless the doctor is able to look at each individual and identify what is needed for this particular person, the treatment does not work as well as it should.
The diagnosis is not based on the disease or ailment that one has but on how each individual’s system is constructed. The diagnosis is not about the ailment – it is always about the individual. The treatment is according to how this particular body and human mechanism functions, and how it is arranged within itself – not based on the symptoms of a certain ailment. In other words, in Eastern systems, the treatment is never symptomatic, whereas the allopathic system is 100% about symptomatic treatment. If five of you have the same symptoms, all five of you will be given the same medicine. But in Siddha and Ayurveda, if five of you have the same symptoms, you will be given different types of medicine because the medication is for your particular system, not for the ailment.
When you chant the Bhuta Shuddhi mantra and take the elements – earth, water, air, and fire – into yourself, you try to influence how they function within you. It is important to be deeply focused towards that.
Bhuta shuddhi should not happen like an exercise but with absolute involvement, like a love affair. These five elements coming together and producing something so complex, so fantastic is a tremendous love affair. Your bhuta shuddhi should happen with a sense of devotion and love. Your mind, your emotions, your energy, your physical body – everything should be involved in this. Without this involvement, you still may get certain physical benefits, but you will not know the full depth and dimension of the process. If you give yourself totally to it, this simple process can change the fundamentals of your life.
Editor’s Note: The Bhuta Shuddhi process is taught by Isha Hatha Yoga teachers around the world. Find a teacher near you. The process is also part of the 21-day Isha Hatha Yoga program, that will be conducted between May 26 and Jun 15 at the Isha Yoga Center. More information at www.ishahatayoga.com & firstname.lastname@example.org.