Twenty-four elements

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Preface and Introduction

BG Introduction:

The complete whole, Personality of Godhead, has immense potencies (parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate (Cc. Madhya 13.65, purport). How Kṛṣṇa is acting in different potencies is also explained in Bhagavad-gītā. This phenomenal world or material world in which we are placed is also complete in itself because the twenty-four elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation, according to Sāṅkhya philosophy, are completely adjusted to produce complete resources which are necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. There is nothing extraneous, nor is there anything needed. This manifestation has its own time fixed by the energy of the supreme whole, and when its time is complete, these temporary manifestations will be annihilated by the complete arrangement of the complete. There is complete facility for the small complete units, namely the living entities, to realize the complete, and all sorts of incompleteness are experienced due to incomplete knowledge of the complete. So Bhagavad-gītā contains the complete knowledge of Vedic wisdom.

BG Chapters 7 - 12

BG 7.4, Purport:

In the material energy, the principal manifestations are eight, as above mentioned. Out of these, the first five manifestations, namely earth, water, fire, air and sky, are called the five gigantic creations or the gross creations, within which the five sense objects are included. They are the manifestations of physical sound, touch, form, taste and smell. Material science comprises these ten items and nothing more. But the other three items, namely mind, intelligence and false ego, are neglected by the materialists. Philosophers who deal with mental activities are also not perfect in knowledge because they do not know the ultimate source, Kṛṣṇa. The false ego—"I am," and "It is mine," which constitute the basic principle of material existence—includes ten sense organs for material activities. Intelligence refers to the total material creation, called the mahat-tattva. Therefore from the eight separated energies of the Lord are manifest the twenty-four elements of the material world, which are the subject matter of Sāṅkhya atheistic philosophy; they are originally offshoots from Kṛṣṇa's energies and are separated from Him, but atheistic Sāṅkhya philosophers with a poor fund of knowledge do not know Kṛṣṇa as the cause of all causes. The subject matter for discussion in the Sāṅkhya philosophy is only the manifestation of the external energy of Kṛṣṇa, as it is described in the Bhagavad-gītā.

BG Chapters 13 - 18

BG 13.6-7, Purport:

From all the authoritative statements of the great sages, the Vedic hymns and the aphorisms of the Vedānta-sūtra, the components of this world can be understood as follows. First there are earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are the five great elements (mahā-bhūta). Then there are false ego, intelligence and the unmanifested stage of the three modes of nature. Then there are five senses for acquiring knowledge: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. Then five working senses: voice, legs, hands, anus and genitals. Then, above the senses, there is the mind, which is within and which can be called the sense within. Therefore, including the mind, there are eleven senses altogether. Then there are the five objects of the senses: smell, taste, form, touch and sound. Now the aggregate of these twenty-four elements is called the field of activity. If one makes an analytical study of these twenty-four subjects, then he can very well understand the field of activity. Then there are desire, hatred, happiness and distress, which are interactions, representations of the five great elements in the gross body. The living symptoms, represented by consciousness and conviction, are the manifestation of the subtle body-mind, ego and intelligence. These subtle elements are included within the field of activities.

BG 13.6-7, Purport:

One who desires to know the twenty-four elements in detail along with their interactions should study the philosophy in more detail. In Bhagavad-gītā, a summary only is given.

BG 13.8-12, Purport:

This process of knowledge is sometimes misunderstood by less intelligent men as being the interaction of the field of activity. But actually this is the real process of knowledge. If one accepts this process, then the possibility of approaching the Absolute Truth exists. This is not the interaction of the twenty-four elements, as described before. This is actually the means to get out of the entanglement of those elements. The embodied soul is entrapped by the body, which is a casing made of the twenty-four elements, and the process of knowledge as described here is the means to get out of it. Of all the descriptions of the process of knowledge, the most important point is described in the first line of the eleventh verse. Mayi cānanya-yogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī: the process of knowledge terminates in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord. So if one does not approach, or is not able to approach, the transcendental service of the Lord, then the other nineteen items are of no particular value. But if one takes to devotional service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the other nineteen items automatically develop within him. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.18.12), yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ. All the good qualities of knowledge develop in one who has attained the stage of devotional service. The principle of accepting a spiritual master, as mentioned in the eighth verse, is essential. Even for one who takes to devotional service, it is most important. Transcendental life begins when one accepts a bona fide spiritual master. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, clearly states here that this process of knowledge is the actual path. Anything speculated beyond this is nonsense.

BG 13.25, Purport:

The Lord informs Arjuna that the conditioned souls can be divided into two classes as far as man's search for self-realization is concerned. Those who are atheists, agnostics and skeptics are beyond the sense of spiritual understanding. But there are others, who are faithful in their understanding of spiritual life, and they are called introspective devotees, philosophers, and workers who have renounced fruitive results. Those who always try to establish the doctrine of monism are also counted among the atheists and agnostics. In other words, only the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are best situated in spiritual understanding, because they understand that beyond this material nature are the spiritual world and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is expanded as the Paramātmā, the Supersoul in everyone, the all-pervading Godhead. Of course there are those who try to understand the Supreme Absolute Truth by cultivation of knowledge, and they can be counted in the class of the faithful. The Sāṅkhya philosophers analyze this material world into twenty-four elements, and they place the individual soul as the twenty-fifth item. When they are able to understand the nature of the individual soul to be transcendental to the material elements, they are able to understand also that above the individual soul there is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the twenty-sixth element. Thus gradually they also come to the standard of devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

BG 13.35, Purport:

One can understand that this body is matter; it can be analyzed with its twenty-four elements. The body is the gross manifestation. And the subtle manifestation is the mind and psychological effects. And the symptoms of life are the interaction of these features. But over and above this, there is the soul, and there is also the Supersoul. The soul and the Supersoul are two. This material world is working by the conjunction of the soul and the twenty-four material elements. One who can see the constitution of the whole material manifestation as this combination of the soul and material elements and can also see the situation of the Supreme Soul becomes eligible for transfer to the spiritual world. These things are meant for contemplation and for realization, and one should have a complete understanding of this chapter with the help of the spiritual master.

BG 14.3, Purport:

This is an explanation of the world: everything that takes place is due to the combination of kṣetra and kṣetra-jña, the body and the spirit soul. This combination of material nature and the living entity is made possible by the Supreme God Himself. The mahat-tattva is the total cause of the total cosmic manifestation; and that total substance of the material cause, in which there are three modes of nature, is sometimes called Brahman. The Supreme Personality impregnates that total substance, and thus innumerable universes become possible. This total material substance, the mahat-tattva, is described as Brahman in the Vedic literature (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.1.9): tasmād etad brahma nāma-rūpam annaṁ ca jāyate. The Supreme Person impregnates that Brahman with the seeds of the living entities. The twenty-four elements, beginning from earth, water, fire and air, are all material energy, and they constitute what is called mahad brahma, or the great Brahman, the material nature. As explained in the Seventh Chapter, beyond this there is another, superior nature—the living entity. Into material nature the superior nature is mixed by the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thereafter all living entities are born of this material nature.

BG 15.1, Purport:

This tree, being the reflection of the real tree, is an exact replica. Everything is there in the spiritual world. The impersonalists take Brahman to be the root of this material tree, and from the root, according to Sāṅkhya philosophy, come prakṛti, puruṣa, then the three guṇas, then the five gross elements (pañca-mahā-bhūta), then the ten senses (daśendriya), mind, etc. In this way they divide up the whole material world into twenty-four elements. If Brahman is the center of all manifestations, then this material world is a manifestation of the center by 180 degrees, and the other 180 degrees constitute the spiritual world. The material world is the perverted reflection, so the spiritual world must have the same variegatedness, but in reality. The prakṛti is the external energy of the Supreme Lord, and the puruṣa is the Supreme Lord Himself, and that is explained in Bhagavad-gītā. Since this manifestation is material, it is temporary. A reflection is temporary, for it is sometimes seen and sometimes not seen. But the origin from whence the reflection is reflected is eternal.


SB Canto 1

SB 1.3.10, Translation and Purport:

The fifth incarnation, named Lord Kapila, is foremost among perfected beings. He gave an exposition of the creative elements and metaphysics to Āsuri Brāhmaṇa, for in course of time this knowledge had been lost.

The sum total of the creative elements is twenty-four in all. Each and every one of them is explicitly explained in the system of Sāṅkhya philosophy. Sāṅkhya philosophy is generally called metaphysics by the European scholars. The etymological meaning of sāṅkhya is "that which explains very lucidly by analysis of the material elements." This was done for the first time by Lord Kapila, who is said herein to be the fifth in the line of incarnations.

SB Canto 3

SB 3.26.11, Purport:

According to Bhagavad-gītā, the sum total of the twenty-four elements described herein is called the yonir mahad brahma. The sum total of the living entities is impregnated into this yonir mahad brahma, and they are born in different forms, beginning from Brahmā down to the insignificant ant. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other Vedic literatures, the sum total of the twenty-four elements, pradhāna, is also described as yonir mahad brahma; it is the source of the birth and subsistence of all living entities.

SB 3.26.18, Purport:

Outside the body of the conditioned soul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead remains as the time factor. According to the Sāṅkhya system of philosophy, there are twenty-five elements. The twenty-four elements already described plus the time factor make twenty-five. According to some learned philosophers, the Supersoul is included to make a total of twenty-six elements.

SB 3.26.19, Purport:

After impregnation, material nature delivers all kinds of living entities, beginning from the greatest living creature, Lord Brahmā, down to the insignificant ant, in all varieties of form. In Bhagavad-gītā (14.4) material nature is clearly mentioned as sarva-yoniṣu. This means that of all varieties of species—demigods, human beings, animals, birds and beasts (whatever is manifested)—material nature is the mother, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the seed-giving father. Generally it is experienced that the father gives life to the child but the mother gives its body; although the seed of life is given by the father, the body develops within the womb of the mother. Similarly, the spiritual living entities are impregnated into the womb of material nature, but the body, being supplied by material nature, takes on many different species and forms of life. The theory that the symptoms of life are manifest by the interaction of the twenty-four material elements is not supported here. The living force comes directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is completely spiritual. Therefore, no material scientific advancement can produce life. The living force comes from the spiritual world and has nothing to do with the interaction of the material elements.

SB 3.27.14, Purport:

Real individuality is to understand oneself to be the eternal servitor of the Supreme Lord. This information is received from the mouth of Lord Caitanya. He said clearly, upon the inquiry of Sanātana Gosvāmī, that a living entity is the servitor of Kṛṣṇa eternally. Kṛṣṇa also confirms in Bhagavad-gītā that the living entity is eternally His part and parcel. The part and parcel is meant to serve the whole. This is individuality. It is so even in this material existence, when the living entity apparently merges in matter. His gross body is made up of five elements, his subtle body is made of mind, intelligence, false ego and contaminated consciousness, and he has five active senses and five knowledge-acquiring senses. In this way he merges in matter. But even while merged in the twenty-four elements of matter, he can keep his individuality as the eternal servitor of the Lord. Either in the spiritual nature or in the material nature, such a servitor is to be considered a liberated soul.

SB Canto 5

SB 5.18.33, Translation:

O my Lord, Your name, form and bodily features are expanded in countless forms. No one can determine exactly how many forms exist, yet You Yourself, in Your incarnation as the learned scholar Kapiladeva, have analyzed the cosmic manifestation as containing twenty-four elements. Therefore if one is interested in Sāṅkhya philosophy, by which one can enumerate the different truths, he must hear it from You. Unfortunately, nondevotees simply count the different elements and remain ignorant of Your actual form. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.

SB Canto 6

SB 6.12.11, Purport:

Only under the direction of the Lord, the Supreme Person, can prakṛti, which is manifested in twenty-four elements, create different situations for the living entity. In the Vedas the Lord says:

madīyaṁ mahimānaṁ ca
parabrahmeti śabditam
vetsyasy anugṛhītaṁ me
sampraśnair vivṛtaṁ hṛdi

"Since everything is a manifestation of My energy, I am known as Parabrahman. Therefore everyone should hear from Me about My glorious activities." The Lord also says in Bhagavad-gītā (10.2), aham ādir hi devānām: "I am the origin of all the demigods." Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the origin of everything, and no one is independent of Him. Śrīla Madhvācārya also says, anīśa jīva-rūpeṇa: the living entity is anīśa, never the controller, but is always controlled. Therefore when a living entity becomes proud of being an independent īśvara, or god, that is his foolishness.

SB Canto 7

SB 7.7.22, Purport:

The material energy is in fact divided into twenty-four elements. The individual soul, the owner of the individual body, is a twenty-fifth subject, and above everything is Lord Viṣṇu as Paramātmā, the supreme controller, who is the twenty-sixth subject. When one understands all of these twenty-six subjects, he becomes adhyātma-vit, an expert in understanding the distinction between matter and spirit. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (13.3), kṣetra-kṣetrajñayor jñānam: understanding of the kṣetra (the constitution of the body) and of the individual soul and the Supersoul constitutes real jñāna, or knowledge. Unless one ultimately understands that the Supreme Lord is eternally related with the individual soul, one's knowledge is imperfect.

SB 7.8.52, Translation:

The inhabitants of Yakṣaloka prayed: O controller of the twenty-four elements, we are considered the best servants of Your Lordship because of rendering services pleasing to You, yet we engaged as palanquin carriers by the order of Hiraṇyakaśipu, the son of Diti. O Lord in the form of Nṛsiṁhadeva, You know how this demon gave trouble to everyone, but now You have killed him, and his body is mixing with the five material elements.

SB Canto 8

SB 8.16.30, Translation:

I offer my respectful obeisances unto You, the Supreme Person. Being very subtle, You are never visible to material eyes. You are the knower of the twenty-four elements, and You are the inaugurator of the sāṅkhya-yoga system.

SB 8.16.30, Purport:

Catur-viṁśad-guṇa, the twenty-four elements, are the five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether), the three subtle elements (mind, intelligence and false ego), the ten senses (five for working and five for acquiring knowledge), the five sense objects, and contaminated consciousness. These are the subject matter of sāṅkhya-yoga, which was inaugurated by Lord Kapiladeva. This sāṅkhya-yoga was again propounded by another Kapila, but he was an atheist, and his system is not accepted as bona fide.

SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13

SB 10.13.52, Translation:

All the viṣṇu-mūrtis were surrounded by the opulences, headed by aṇimā-siddhi; by the mystic potencies, headed by Ajā; and by the twenty-four elements for the creation of the material world, headed by the mahat-tattva.

SB 10.13.52, Purport:

The twenty-four elements mentioned are the five working senses (pañca-karmendriya), the five senses for obtaining knowledge (pañca-jñānendriya), the five gross material elements (pañca-mahābhūta), the five sense objects (pañca-tanmātra), the mind (manas), the false ego (ahaṅkāra), the mahat-tattva, and material nature (prakṛti). All twenty-four of these elements are employed for the manifestation of this material world. The mahat-tattva is divided into different subtle categories, but originally it is called the mahat-tattva.

SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)

SB 11.19.33-35, Translation:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Nonviolence, truthfulness, not coveting or stealing the property of others, detachment, humility, freedom from possessiveness, trust in the principles of religion, celibacy, silence, steadiness, forgiveness and fearlessness are the twelve primary disciplinary principles. Internal cleanliness, external cleanliness, chanting the holy names of the Lord, austerity, sacrifice, faith, hospitality, worship of Me, visiting holy places, acting and desiring only for the supreme interest, satisfaction, and service to the spiritual master are the twelve elements of regular prescribed duties. These twenty-four elements bestow all desired benedictions upon those persons who devotedly cultivate them.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Adi-lila

CC Adi 2.18, Purport:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is by nature joyful. His enjoyments, or pastimes, are completely transcendental. He is in the fourth dimension of existence, for although the material world is measured by the limitations of length, breadth and height, the Supreme Lord is completely unlimited in His body, form and existence. He is not personally attached to any of the affairs within the material cosmos. The material world is created by the expansion of His puruṣa-avatāras, who direct the aggregate material energy and all the conditioned souls. By understanding the three expansions of the puruṣa, a living entity can transcend the position of knowing only the twenty-four elements of the material world.

CC Adi 5.14, Purport:

According to Sāṅkhya philosophy, the material cosmos is composed of twenty-four elements: the five gross material elements, the three subtle material elements, the five knowledge-acquiring senses, the five active senses, the five objects of sense pleasure, and the mahat-tattva (the total material energy). Empiric philosophers, unable to go beyond these elements, speculate that anything beyond them must be avyakta, or inexplicable. But the world beyond the twenty-four elements is not inexplicable, for it is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā as the eternal (sanātana) nature. Beyond the manifested and unmanifested existence of material nature (vyaktāvyakta) is the sanātana nature, which is called the paravyoma, or the spiritual sky. Since that nature is spiritual in quality, there are no qualitative differences there: everything there is spiritual, everything is good, and everything possesses the spiritual form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. That spiritual sky is the manifested internal potency of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; it is distinct from the material sky, manifested by His external potency.

CC Adi 6.14-15, Purport:

“The Sāṅkhya philosopher Kapila has connected the different elementary truths according to his own opinion. Material nature, according to him, consists of the equilibrium of the three material qualities—goodness, passion and ignorance. Material nature produces the material energy, known as mahat, and mahat produces the false ego. The ego produces the five objects of sense perception, which produce the ten senses (five for acquiring knowledge and five for working), the mind and the five gross elements. Counting the puruṣa, or the enjoyer, with these twenty-four elements, there are twenty-five different truths. The nonmanifested stage of these twenty-five elementary truths is called prakṛti, or material nature. The qualities of material nature can associate in three different stages, namely as the cause of happiness, the cause of distress and the cause of illusion. The quality of goodness is the cause of material happiness, the quality of passion is the cause of material distress, and the quality of ignorance is the cause of illusion. Our material experience lies within the boundaries of these three manifestations of happiness, distress and illusion. For example, a beautiful woman is certainly a cause of material happiness for one who possesses her as a wife, but the same beautiful woman is a cause of distress to a man whom she rejects or who is the cause of her anger, and if she leaves a man she becomes the cause of illusion.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Krsna Book 13:

After this manifestation of Lord Viṣṇu, Brahmā saw that many other Brahmās and Śivas and demigods and even insignificant living entities down to the ants and very small straws—movable and immovable living entities—were dancing, surrounding Lord Viṣṇu. Their dancing was accompanied by various kinds of music, and all of Them were worshiping Lord Viṣṇu. Brahmā realized that all those Viṣṇu forms were complete in mystic power, from the aṇimā perfection of becoming small like an atom up to becoming infinite like the cosmic manifestation. All the mystic powers of Brahmā, Śiva, all the demigods and the twenty-four elements of cosmic manifestation were fully represented in the person of Viṣṇu. By the influence of Lord Viṣṇu, all subordinate mystic powers were engaged in His worship. He was being worshiped by time, space, the cosmic manifestation, reformation, desire, activity and the three qualities of material nature. Lord Viṣṇu, Brahmā also realized, is the reservoir of all truth, knowledge and bliss. He is the combination of three transcendental features, namely eternity, knowledge and bliss, and He is the object of worship by the followers of the Upaniṣads. Brahmā realized that all the different forms of boys and calves transformed into Viṣṇu forms were not transformed by a mysticism of the type that a yogī or a demigod can display by specific powers invested in him. The calves and boys transformed into viṣṇu-mūrtis, or Viṣṇu forms, were not displays of viṣṇu-māyā, or Viṣṇu's energy, but were Viṣṇu Himself. The respective qualifications of Viṣṇu and viṣṇu-māyā are just like fire and heat.

Renunciation Through Wisdom

Renunciation Through Wisdom 2.2:

The famous atheist Kapila propagated the Sāṅkhya philosophy. He concluded that the material world consists of twenty-four material elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air, and ether; form, taste, smell, sound, and touch; eyes, tongue, nose, ears, and skin; mouth, hands, legs, anus, and genitals; mind, intelligence, and false ego; and the unmanifested state of the three modes of nature (pradhāna). When Kapila was unable to perceive the unmanifested soul after analyzing the twenty-four elements, he concluded that God does not exist. Thus the devotee community regards Kapila as an atheist.

Sri Isopanisad

Sri Isopanisad Invocation:

The Complete Whole, the Personality of Godhead, has immense potencies, all of which are as complete as He is. Thus this phenomenal world is also complete in itself. The twenty-four elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation are arranged to produce everything necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. No other unit in the universe need make an extraneous effort to try to maintain the universe. The universe functions on its own time scale, which is fixed by the energy of the Complete Whole, and when that schedule is completed, this temporary manifestation will be annihilated by the complete arrangement of the Complete Whole.

Sri Isopanisad 15, Purport:

This system of God realization is a great science. The materialistic sāṅkhya-yogīs can only analyze and meditate on the twenty-four factors of the material creation, for they have very little information of the puruṣa, the Lord. And the impersonal transcendentalists are simply bewildered by the glaring effulgence of the brahma-jyotir. If one wants to see the Absolute Truth in full, one has to penetrate beyond the twenty-four material elements and the glaring effulgence as well. Śrī Īśopaniṣad points toward this direction, praying for the removal of the hiraṇmaya-pātra, the dazzling covering of the Lord. Unless this covering is removed so one can perceive the real face of the Personality of Godhead, factual realization of the Absolute Truth can never be achieved.

Sri Isopanisad 15, Purport:

The Paramātmā feature of the Personality of Godhead is one of three plenary expansions, or viṣṇu-tattvas, collectively known as the puruṣa-avatāras. One of these viṣṇu-tattvas who is within the universe is known as Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. He is the Viṣṇu among the three principal deities—Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva—and He is the all-pervading Paramātmā in each and every individual living entity. The second viṣṇu-tattva within the universe is Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, the collective Supersoul of all living entities. Beyond these two is Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who lies in the Causal Ocean. He is the creator of all universes. The yoga system teaches the serious student to meet the viṣṇu-tattvas after going beyond the twenty-four material elements of the cosmic creation. The culture of empiric philosophy helps one realize the impersonal brahma-jyotir, which is the glaring effulgence of the transcendental body of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.


Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Lecture on BG 5.3-7 -- New York, August 26, 1966:

Now what is the use of analytical study of this material world? Simply understanding that this material world is working in twenty-four elements. The eleven senses, ten senses, five working senses and five knowledge-acquiring senses, and the mind. Eleven. Eleven elements. And pañca-mahā-bhūta. Pañca-mahā-bhūta means the material elements just like earth, water, fire, air and ether. Eleven and five, it becomes sixteen. Then subtle elements, just like manaḥ, buddhiḥ, ahaṅkāra: mind, intelligence and false ego. False ego. So sixteen and three. Nineteen. And five, I mean to say, sense objects. Sense objects means rūpa, form; rasa, taste; form, taste, rūpa, rasa, gandha, smell; then rūpa, rasa, gandha, śabda, sound, sound. You have got ear. You require sound to hear. In this way, the sāṅkhya-yoga, they have analyzed the whole material world into twenty-four elements. That is sāṅkhya-yoga.

Lecture on BG 5.3-7 -- New York, August 26, 1966:

Now suppose you study very analytically these twenty-four elements. And what is the idea of studying these elemental, analytical study of this material world? Because we have to find out what is the main principle which is working behind these twenty-four elements. What is the main principle? Now, suppose I have got these senses, and suppose there are material elements, earth, water, fire, all these things are there. But are they sufficient by themselves? No. They are not sufficient by themselves. Unless that spirit soul is there, so they are lying down. Just take for example this land of America. It was lying, oh, vast land. Still you have got many lands vacant. So they are lying vacant. And so when the Europeans came there, they gradually developed. Now they nice. So simply these material elements has no value. Unless there is spiritual touch, there is no value.

Lecture on BG 13.6-7 -- Montreal, October 25, 1968:

So we have to take it from authoritative scriptures like Bhagavad-gītā, the Vedic literatures, that soul is different from this body, and... Of course, according to the mentality of the soul, we develop different kinds of body. And that is being described by Lord Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna. Pradhānam indriyāṇi śrotrādīni pañca vagadini ca pañceti daśa bāhyāni rajasahaṅkārakarya(?). Now, we have got ten different kinds of senses: five senses, working senses, and five senses acquiring knowledge. But these senses are also products of the ahaṅkāra, false ego. Sukṣmaḥ śabdādi-tanmātraḥ khadi-viśeṣa-guṇatayā vyaktaḥ santaḥ sthulaḥ śrotrādi-pañcaka-grāhya-viṣaya.(?) So from the five senses which are acquiring knowledge, the sense organs acting, they are produced. In this way, this body is composition of twenty-four elements. That is the analytical study of Bhagavad-gītā. And the sāṅkhya philosophy, Kapila's sāṅkhya philosophy, their analytical... The same thing. Revealed scriptures teach the same thing. There is no difference. But above these twenty-four elements, there is time, kāla, time element. That is also representation of the Supreme Lord. And above this time, there is God.

Lecture on BG 13.6-7 -- Montreal, October 25, 1968:

So actually, there are twenty-six different elements which is conducting this material world. Etat kṣetraṁ samāsena sa-vikāram udāhṛtam. Kṣetra means this body. Either you take this body or this material world, they are interaction of these twenty-four elements. Either you take the gigantic body of this universe or you take the body of this planet or you take this your body, my body, or a cat's body, dog's body, all these bodies, they are formed of these twenty-four elements, sa-vikāram, by action and reaction. Just like chemically, if you mix one chemical with another chemical, a third element is produced, similarly, originally the reservation of all these elements is called mahat-tattva. It is called pradhāna, upadhāna. So gradually they manifest, they divide by three guṇas. Three guṇas means in the mahat-tattva, in the total material reservoir, three guṇas, three modes of nature, first of all appear and they act with one another, and then gradually, one after another, the twenty-four elements become manifested. Etat kṣetraṁ samāsena sa-vikāram udāhṛtam.

Lecture on BG 13.6-7 -- Montreal, October 25, 1968:

Now, of course, we can theoretically accept that this is the position, but actually to understand the position, to acquire the requisite knowledge, that requires many stages of development. And how that knowledge is developed, that is also described in the Bhagavad-gītā by Kṛṣṇa. What is that? The first principle of acquiring knowledge is described here: amānitvam. Amānitvam. Amānitvam means that we are very much proud of our material existence. That pride must be given up. That is the first principle of knowledge. Athoktaṁ kṣetrād vibhinnatvena jñeyaṁ kṣetrajña-dvayaṁ vistareṇa nirūpayiṣyan taj-jñāna-sādhanāny amānitvādini viṁśatim aha pañcābhiḥ.(?) Now, the body and the soul. Now, the body is analyzed. It is composition of twenty-four elements. Now, how to understand the soul as he is? We are now in the position of material consciousness, and we have to develop into spiritual consciousness or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. What are the stages? That are being described. That means this is the general way of acquiring real knowledge of the soul and the body.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Lecture on SB 1.8.48 -- Mayapura, October 28, 1974:

So real sanity is to understand that this body belongs to Kṛṣṇa. We are misunderstanding that this body belongs to my father, mother, or my master or to the cats and dogs or the vultures, in so many ways. That is material. Materially, we can understand that. But spiritually, this body belongs to Kṛṣṇa because the body is made of, I mean to say, prepared by the eight elements. We have got the five elements, bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ (BG 7.4). There is earth, water, air, fire, and the mind and the intelligence and the false ego. This is the eight combination of the matter. Then, the matter being agitated, there are ten senses and then sense objects. In this way this body is composition of twenty-four elements. But all these elements, Kṛṣṇa says, bhinnā me prakṛtir aṣṭadhā: (BG 7.4) "That is My energy." This body is made by Kṛṣṇa's property. Earth, water, air, fire—this is all Kṛṣṇa's property. You cannot create earth, or you cannot create water. You cannot create sky, nothing of the material elements. It is created by Kṛṣṇa, and this body is..., this external body is made of these eight elements.

Lecture on SB 1.15.45 -- Los Angeles, December 23, 1973:

So bhrama, pramāda, vipralipsā(?) and karaṇāpāṭava. Then if somebody says that "Why you are speaking that these men are cheaters and cheated and illusioned and in māyā?" Now, because the senses are imperfect. Because you are gathering knowledge by the senses. There are five senses, acquire knowledge, and the five senses act according to that knowledge. And these sense objects. There are sense objects. Just like you have got eyes, you have to see something objective, rūpa, form. The knowledge acquired by the eyes is to understand the form. Similarly, the knowledge acquired by the ears is to acquire knowledge from the sound. Because physical means the sound, light, form. These things are physical things. So we have got senses to acquire knowledge. So five knowledge-acquiring senses, five working senses, and five sense objects, and I am there. This is called sixteen elements. And then five material elements, earth, water, fire, air, and three subtle elements, eight. So in this way the whole world, this universe, cosmic manifestation, is a composition of these eight elements, er, twenty-four elements. And beyond these twenty-four elements, I am the soul, and beyond myself, there is the Supersoul. This is knowledge. This is knowledge.

Lecture on SB 2.1.6 -- Paris, June 14, 1974:

That is also referred here that etāvān sāṅkhya-yogābhyām. Big, big sannyāsīs, they are discussing sāṅkhya-yoga, metaphysics. Or analyzing what is spirit, what is matter. Neti neti: "Not this." This is called sāṅkhya-yoga. And sāṅkhya-yoga, original sāṅkhya-yoga means bhakti-yoga. Because the sāṅkhya-yoga system philosophy was spoken by Kapiladeva, the son of Devahūti. That is purely bhakti-yoga. Later on, one atheist, he also assumed the name of Kapila and discussed sāṅkhya-yoga. That is materialistic analysis. The sāṅkhya-yoga system of philosophy is very much liked in Europe and Western countries because it is a system of metaphysics, analyzing the whole cosmic manifestation. There are twenty-four tattvas. Just like these five tattvas, elements, material: earth, water, air, fire, ether. Then ten senses: five senses for acquiring knowledge and five senses for enjoying. And the five, five, ten. And five elements, fifteen. Then five principles of enjoyment. They are called talk, touching, smelling, like that. Anyway, there are twenty-four elements, and mind, intelligence, ego, and the principal, soul. In this way there are twenty-four elements. The sāṅkhya yogis, they very much analyze this study. They are of the opinion that besides these twenty-four elements, there is nothing more. No. There is. The twenty-four elements, one who is combining and annihilating, that is the Supreme Lord, pradhāna, Viṣṇu.

Lecture on SB 2.1.6 -- Paris, June 14, 1974:

So sāṅkhya-yoga, either you take this Kapiladeva's philosophical principle or that Kapiladeva, that's all right. But after analyzing, if you do not find out Nārāyaṇa, the creator of this material atmosphere, material elements, then it is useless laboring so much, hard, for analyzing. Just like the chemist or physicist, they are also analyzing the material elements within the laboratory. But that does not mean they are going to all be liberated at the end of life. No. Or if you want to be liberated... Because after all, you are spirit soul. You are entangled with these twenty-four elements. So your real business is how to get out of it. That is wanted. Suppose if you are a diseased fellow, or you analyze the disease. Just like in the, what is called, pathology. It is called pathology. The doctor examine your blood and he finds out, "This is infection, that is infection, this is this, this is this." That's all right. But simply by understanding the blood analysis, pathology, does not mean it is cured. The cure is different. Similarly, these sāṅkhya-yogī philosophers, they may analyze very critically. Even they can count the atoms which is composing this whole material atmosphere. But that does not mean you have understood the original force which has created all these things. That is discussed here. Etāvān sāṅkhya-yogābhyām. So you become a very big scientist, very big physicist, chemist. That is all right. But you must know how to remember Nārāyaṇa at the time of your death.

Lecture on SB 3.25.1 -- Bombay, November 1, 1974:

So we are reciting from our latest edition of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. This is Third Canto, Part Four. We have finished Third Canto, publishing. This is very important subject matter. The Kapila, the expounder of Sāṅkhya philosophy, he instructed to His mother, Devahūti. There are two Kapilas. Real Kapiladeva is Kapila. He expounded Sāṅkhya philosophy to instruct His mother. But later on, some imitation Kapiladeva also appeared—atheistic Sāṅkhya philosophy. He has simply dealt with the twenty-four different elements without information of God. Therefore there are two Kapilas. One Kapila is called the devahūti-putra Kapila; another is atheist Kapila.

Lecture on SB 3.25.32 -- Bombay, December 2, 1974:

So the perfection of these activities, of the soul, that he has got already indriyas... We are acting with our hands, legs, ears, eyes, nose, everything, karmendriya. Ten kinds of activities are being performed by the senses, and there are five kinds of sense objects, tanmātra, fifteen, and the eight elements material, earth, water, fire. So fifteen and eight, twenty-three, and the soul. This is twenty-four. That is the subject matter of Sāṅkhya philosophy, how these twenty-four different items are combined together and work. This is the study of Sāṅkhya philosophy. Yesterday we talked about sāṅkhyam. Tattvāmnāyaṁ yat pravadanti sāṅkhyam. So there is material Sāṅkhya philosophers. They (they're) simply satisfied, simply studying these twenty-four types of elements. But the real Sāṅkhya philosophy, as propounded by Kapiladeva, that is bhakti. That is... He has said, bhakti-vitāna-yogam. The activities of the spiritual field, that is Sāṅkhya philosophy, not of the material fields. In the material field you will find these twenty-four kinds of elements analyzed, but beyond these twenty-four there is soul, and the soul is acting. That is called spiritual activities, or bhakti-yoga.

Lecture on SB 3.26.11-14 -- Bombay, December 23, 1974:

So the total energy of material creation is called mahat-tattva or pradhāna. Then, when the mahat-tattva is agitated by the three guṇas, then they become divided into twenty-four elements, catur-viṁśatikaṁ gaṇam-originally one, but agitated by the guṇas. Because material existence means the three guṇas. When there is interaction of the three guṇas, then this one mahat-tattva becomes divided into twenty-four catur-viṁśati tattva. This is called Sāṅkhya philosophy, to analyze and to study the twenty-four elements which is controlling the activities of the whole material world. That is called catur-viṁśati tattva. What are they? Pañcabhiḥ . First the five elements, namely earth, water, fire, air, sky. This is pañcabhiḥ . Then next pañcabhiḥ , tan-mātra, means rūpa, rasa, gandha, śabda, sparśa. Form, rūpa. Rūpa means form; rasa means taste; śabda means sound; rūpa, rasa, śabda-sparśa means touch; and rūpa, rasa, śabda, sparśa, and...? Gandha.

Lecture on SB 3.26.11-14 -- Bombay, December 23, 1974:

So these four, twenty-four elements is covering the spirit soul. This body is made of these twenty-four elements. But above this, there is the soul. And above that, there is the Supersoul. So the atheists, they do not believe in the soul or Supersoul. But they have to believe in these twenty-four elements. Therefore European philosophers, they like this Sāṅkhya philosophy of another Kapila. Here is Kapiladeva. He is the incarnation of God. But another, there is imitation Kapila. He is atheist Kapila. The Sāṅkhya-kārikā, that is very much liked by the European philosophers, because in that Sāṅkhya-kārikā these twenty-four elements are studied very minutely, without any reference to the soul and the Supersoul. That is the difference between two, Sāṅkhya philosophy, atheist Sāṅkhya philosophy, and theist Sāṅkhya philosophy.

Lecture on SB 3.26.11-14 -- Bombay, December 23, 1974:

So the living entities, being enamored or illusioned by the activities of this material nature, they are studying the material nature as Sāṅkhya philosopher, as scientist, as mathematician, as chemist, as physist. They are all studying only these twenty-four elements, not beyond that. Beyond that is the soul, and beyond that is the Supersoul. When one can understand not only to study the material composition of the body but the moving spirit of the body, that is the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā lesson, beginning, that "Don't be simply misled by studying the material elements of the body, but within the body there is the living force, living entity." Just try to understand that. Dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā (BG 2.13). These twenty-four elements is changing the body from kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā. Our body is being developed. It is not development; it is changing. But because the, from one body to another... In medical science they also admit change of, what is called, blood corpuscle. It is changing every moment. But how it is changing and coming into different body, that we cannot understand. But it is changing. Actually, it is changing from one body to another. That boy, the same boy, when he is grown up, he speaks differently than childish way because the body has changed. The body has changed. That is understood. But because we have no very nice brain, we cannot understand that the body is changing. We say, "It is growing." You can say it is growing, but growing is also changing. The original form is changed. That is called growing.

Lecture on SB 3.26.11-14 -- Bombay, December 23, 1974:

So these elementary principles are there, but they are growing into, or changing into different body by the interaction of the guṇas. That is going on. That is called prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). Whatever is being done, that is by the interaction of the three modes of material nature. Actually, it is the prakṛti, or pradhāna. Pradhāna change, come into manifestation. That is called prakṛti. And there are twenty-four elements, and they are changing or growing, whatever you say. This is Sāṅkhya philosophy. Unfortunately, people are not given lesson about the Sāṅkhya philosophy in universities, in... If they are given in some philosophical classes—that atheistic philosophy of Kapila, Sāṅkhya philosophy, but not this Sāṅkhya philosophy, theistic Sāṅkhya philosophy. So etac catur-viṁśatikaṁ gaṇaṁ prādhānikaṁ viduḥ. So these are the description of the twenty-four elements.

Lecture on SB 3.26.11-14 -- Bombay, December 23, 1974:

So all this material scientific knowledge, they are simply interested with this body. But spiritual knowledge begins when you actually take seriously what Bhagavad-gītā says or Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says or what the Vedas says. Vedas says everything, both the material and the spiritual. But for human being we are not only, we should not only be interested with the material science, but we should be interested... That is our main interest. Athāto brahma jijñāsā. Material science is going on. But you study or not study, the nature is going on. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni (BG 3.27). Nature's work will go on, you study or not study. But because we are now entrapped with this material body, vāsāṁsi... We are just now dressed. Just like I am now covered with this dress, cotton dress, similarly, I am now covered by these twenty-four elements. And I am working under this conception, that "I am these twenty-four elements" or "I am this body." So if I continue in that way, then I remain in the animal kingdom. Because the dog is also thinking like that, that "I am this body." He may not be able to analyze the bodily construction. He may not be a medical man or psychologist. That doesn't matter. But he thinks that "I am this body," and he is working like that. So we human being, if I study all the science, physics, chemistry, psychology, and other material science, soil expert... Soil expert means studying the earth, that's all. There are so many. So in spite of all these things, if we remain in the darkness of my spiritual identity, then I am no better than the cats and dogs. This is conclusion.

Lecture on SB 3.26.11-14 -- Bombay, December 23, 1974:

Go-khara. Go-khara. Go means cow, and khara means ass. So in spite of all our educational advancement, if we remain in the darkness of bodily concept of life, then we are no better than go-khara. Go, go means cow, and... So we should not remain that. The human life is meant for above this. Athāto brahma jijñāsā. This human life is for inquiring about the soul. And the knowledge of the soul begins... That is the first instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā, that don't be simply enwrapped or encumbered with these twenty-four elements, bodily ele..., material, but you should understand that asmin dehe, there is the possessor, or occupier, of the body.

Lecture on SB 3.26.15 -- Bombay, December 24, 1974:

So twenty-four elements we have discussed yesterday: the five gross elements, and the five sense objects, and five knowledge gathering senses, and five working senses—twenty—and four internal senses—twenty-four—and then again, all under the control of time, the fifth, or twenty-fifth. And above these there is the soul and Supersoul. That is spiritual. These are all material, analytical study of the material composition of this cosmic manifestation. This is called Sāṅkhya philosophy.

Lecture on SB 3.26.16 -- Bombay, December 25, 1974:

So the time factor is the representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gītā, when Kṛṣṇa manifested His viśva-rūpa, Arjuna became very afraid of and inquired, "Who are You?" So at that time Kṛṣṇa said, "I am kāla. I have appeared to destroy." So kāla is representation, time. We have discussed twenty-five elements. The five mahā-bhūta and five sūkṣma-bhūta, ten senses, twenty-four internal senses, these twenty-four elements, and above that, the kāla, time factor. That's all. So kāla is destructive factor.

Lecture on SB 3.26.16 -- Bombay, December 25, 1974:

We may, however, defy the existence of God. Atheist class of men, demons, they always defy, "Who is God? I am God." But everyone is under the control of time factor. The time factor, in due course, will bring him death. So at that time, how one can deny the existence of God? Mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham (BG 10.34). Kṛṣṇa says that "I am death, and My business is to take away everything." Mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham. So time factor will take away everything, what we create with these twenty-four elements. So time is very strong, kāla. However we may defy the existence of God, the time factor is there. We have to accept it. And it is said, kālam eke yato bhayam. And because we are under the control of the time at the present moment in material existence, therefore there is bhayam. Bhayam means ultimately death. Bhayam. Bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syād īśād apetasya viparyayo 'smṛtiḥ.

Lecture on SB 3.26.16 -- Bombay, December 25, 1974:

So the spiritual life is very delicate. We have to conduct the spiritual life very cautiously. Little deviation may create great havoc. Great havoc means again material life. And material life means suffering, bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ, always in fearfulness. So long we are in this material life, there must be fearfulness. Bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syāt. That is described here. Kālam eke yato bhayam. So long you are wrapped up within these twenty-four elements, under the influence of time factor, then you will have to feel fearfulness, although actually by constitutional position, you have no fear. Every one of us, we know... Not everyone. At least, those who are little advanced in understanding Bhagavad-gītā, the A-B-C-D of spiritual knowledge, at least theoretically, one knows that he is not this body. But still, when the body is in danger, we become fearful because we are existing in this material environment. Bhayaṁ dvitīyābhiniveśataḥ syāt. So in order to get out of this fearful situation of life... That is material life. If we take shelter of the lotus feet of abhaya-caraṇāravinda re, Kṛṣṇa, then this bhayam element, fearfulness element, will be completely nil.

Lecture on SB 3.26.16 -- Bombay, December 25, 1974:

We have accepted the asat, these twenty-four elements as described before, as identification with me. Asat: they are not permanent: temporary situation, changing one after another. So asad-grahāt, sadā samudvigna-dhiyām, always full of anxiety, "What will happen next? What will happen next?" You will see even a small insect, birds, beasts, human being, animal, even elephants, tiger, lions—everyone is fearful. There cannot be any fearlessness in this material existence. Even big nation, American nation, they are also fearful of the Russian. And the Russians are fearful of the Americans. You can see. The whole political field... Our Indians are fearful of Pakistan. Pakistan is fearful... This is material existence. You cannot avoid it unless you take shelter at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.

Lecture on SB 3.26.17 -- Bombay, December 26, 1974:

Just like a girl, unmarried girl, is undeveloped stage. But when she comes in contact with a puruṣa, then she develops with so many children. So that beginning of motherly life is called time. The time is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Puruṣa. Now, prakṛti herself cannot produce anything. This material manifestation which we see, so beautiful cosmic manifestation, that is not alone by the prakṛti, as the materialistic scientists think, that "There was a chunk, and there became manifested." These are foolish theories. Real is that in contact... Sa aikṣata. That is the Vedic information. When the Supreme Personality of Godhead glanced over the prakṛti, mahat-tattva, then the three guṇas agitated, and she begins to give birth in so many varieties of the twenty-four elements. We have already discussed the twenty-four elements. The ingredients are there. That is prakṛti. And pradhāna means when they are not manifest, and prakṛti means when they are manifest. And prakṛti, pradhāna, and above them, there is the Puruṣa. That Puruṣa is Bhagavān, sa bhagavān. Ceṣṭā yataḥ sa bhagavān. Wherefrom the prakṛti begins to manifest, that is with the touch of Bhagavān. How touch? Sa aikṣata: by simply glancing over, the prakṛti becomes pregnant. Now we cannot understand how one can make his wife pregnant simply by glancing. That is possible by Bhagavān. Therefore He is called almighty.

Lecture on SB 5.5.2 -- Hyderabad, April 11, 1975:

First of all, we are interested with these senses. This body means the senses, different types of senses. Sense objects, the mind. They have twenty-four elements analyzed by the Sāṅkhya philosophy. So when we think of our body, means we are interested with sense gratification. Then, a little forward, we are interested with the mind. First of all body, this gross body made of five, earth, air, fire, water, and ether. Then we become interested with the mental speculation, psychology—thinking, feeling, willing. So indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur indriyebhyaḥ paraṁ manaḥ (BG 3.42). Mind. The mental speculators, the jñānīs, they are better than the karmīs. Karmīs means who are simply entrapped with this sensual gratification, that's all. So, jñānī, karmī, jñānī, and yogi, and then, when one is interested with the spirit soul and spirit soul's activities, then he is bhakta. That is... Actually the basic principle of activity is the soul. As soon as the soul is gone, there is no more activity, either mental activity or bodily activity. So if we want actually progress of life, then we must realize our constitutional position as the spirit soul, not as the mind, not as the body.

Lecture on SB 6.1.50 -- Detroit, June 16, 1976:

This is the analytical study of our material position. Very clear analysis. We, pañcabhiḥ, with five working senses, voice, vāk, pāṇi, pāyu, udāra, upastha... Voice, arms, legs, anus, and genital. There are twenty-four, the total material constituent parts are twenty-five, sometimes twenty-six they say. These seventeen and the five elements gross and three subtle elements, in this way, altogether twenty-five including the soul. The soul is pure spirit, and other twenty-four elements, they are different varieties of material covering. In this way we are entangled and we are desiring and nature is giving us facility to enjoy our desires. This is the material world.

Lecture on SB 6.1.50 -- Detroit, June 16, 1976:

So we have to follow this. If we are actually serious about Kṛṣṇa consciousness and going back to home, back to Godhead, make our lives successful in this very life, then... Life successful means mukti, to be not entangled again with this material body. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti (BG 4.9). That is success. That after giving up this body... This body means the combination of the so many, twenty-four elements. So long we'll be entangled within this network of twenty-four elements, it is called conditioned life. And mukti, liberated, means no more entanglement. Muktir hitvā anyathā rūpam. We are now entangled in these twenty-four elements, and mukti means we are not entangled. Muktir hitvā anyathā rūpam. Because we are entangled, we are thinking otherwise. "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am this," "I am that," "I am that," "I have got so many duties." These things. But when one understands that these so-called duties and entanglement of these twenty-four elements of matter, "I do not belong this. I am aloof, I aloof," this understanding is called brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā (BG 18.54). At least theoretically if we understand, then our duty changes. Prasannātmā, fixed up. That whatever I am doing now, I am doing with this material, for the benefit of this material, not for my personal benefit. I am not these twenty-four elements. This is called mukti.

Lecture on SB 6.1.51 -- Detroit, August 4, 1975:

So these are our knowledge-gathering senses, and there are working senses, just like hand, leg, the stomach, the rectum, the genital. These are working senses. In this way, ten senses and five sense objects. We have got eyes, so there must be object of seeing. Pañca-tanmātrā, rūpa, rasa. With eyes we can see the form. With tongue we can taste. Rūpa, rasa, śabda. With the ear we can hear the sound. In this way, five sense objects of three, five, means fifteen, and the mind. The mind is the center of directing the senses. Indriyāṇi parāṇy āhuḥ indriyebhyaḥ paraṁ manaḥ. The senses are there, sense objects are there, but without mind it cannot work. Therefore the mind is the sixteenth item. And everything is being used by whom? By the soul. Therefore seventeenth. And in this gross body there are five elements and three subtle elements. Bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca (BG 7.4). In this way there are twenty-four elements which is covering the twenty-fifth, living entity, and he is packed up in this way.

Lecture on SB 6.1.51 -- Detroit, August 4, 1975:

Just like we dream at night. It is no fact, but it works. Similarly, this material world is called māyā, means it is not factually in existence, but it is working, hallucination. So if we want to be really... Because we are within this entanglement, twenty-four elements, as we have analyzed, within this, the result is that, being influenced by this māyā or mahat-tattva, who is working with the three modes of material nature, and I am desiring, my basic principle of my material existence is my desire, and as soon as I desire, by the order of Kṛṣṇa, immediately the instruments and facilities are given to me. In this way, dhatte anusaṁsṛtiṁ puṁsi. As I desire, immediately the instrument... This body is instrument. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe arjuna tiṣṭhati (BG 18.61). (child making noise) (aside:) Stop this child. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati. Kṛṣṇa is situated everyone's heart, and as I am desiring, He has given us full freedom, not full freedom, but freedom. Kṛṣṇa is so kind that just like father, mother, gives the child little freedom and it moves here and there, but always looking after—may not catch up any fire, for may not fall down in the water, or some animal may not attack—so similarly, we are desiring and Kṛṣṇa is giving us facilities. But if we want to stop this repetition of birth and death and change of different atmosphere, as it is said, harṣa-śoka-bhaya ārti. This material existence means sometimes we are very jubilant: "Oh, I have got this. Now I have got in America, I have got so many cars." Now harṣa, jubilant. Then śoka. And you take birth in some other place, lamentation, scarcity: "This is not. This is not." And bhaya. So there are 8,400,000 species of forms of life, and by this process we are entering into different types of atmosphere and subjected to sometimes harṣa, jubilation, sometimes lamentation, sometimes fear. Even in this life we are undergoing such changes.

Lecture on SB 6.1.51 -- Detroit, August 4, 1975:

We have got so many desires under different consciousness. So one desire, that "I am eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa," this is called mukti, as soon as Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). This is mukti. If we give up all other desires and agree to accept Kṛṣṇa's desires, that mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja, "You surrender unto Me," that is mukti; that is liberation. Otherwise, under the influence of these twenty-four elements and the material nature and the three guṇas, infection, dhatte anusaṁsṛtiṁ puṁsi harṣa-śoka-bhayārtidām, you go on changing any body. The subject matter is very difficult, but we have to learn it from śāstra what is our position. Otherwise, to realize these things, it is not very easy. But if we accept the direction of the śāstra, that this is our position We cannot know what is my disease, but if I go to a doctor, physician, he can feel the pulse and he can recommend, "This is your disease. You do like this."

Lecture on SB 6.1.55 -- London, August 13, 1975:

Just like a male and female. That movement is very strong now in America. The female wants to become male, or equal rights. This is māyā. How woman can become in equal with man? Of course, we are not going to study the social welfare activities or something like that, but puruṣa and prakṛti, they are different. Purusa means enjoyer, and prakṛti means enjoyed. So here the prakṛti, this material nature—earth, water, air, fire, sky, mind, intelligence, and ego, egotism—these are eight material things. So in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca, bhinnā prakṛtiṁ me aṣṭadhā (BG 7.4). These are eight kinds of material energy. Material energy is one, mahat-tattva, but they have been divided. Mahat-tattva, when it is separated... Just like some philosopher says, "There was a chunk, and it became broken, and the creation took place." This can be applicable... The mahat-tattva, the total material energy, by, when the three guṇas break them, they become twenty-four elements, five material, and three material, subtle, and the ten senses, and the ten object of senses. In this way twenty-four elements is become.

Lecture on SB 7.6.8 -- Vrndavana, December 10, 1975:

The soul is beyond all these actions and reactions. But because this living entity's soul is covered by so many gross and subtle elements, he is unnecessarily suffering, although the suffering is temporary. All these sufferings are temporary. Nothing endures. But the suffering is there. Therefore it has been advised by Ṛṣabhadeva, na sādhu manye yata ātmanaḥ ayam asan api kleśada aśa dehaḥ. This whole world, people are suffering on account of these different circumstantial position, the three guṇas and the mind being polluted by these three stages, jāgriti, svapna, suṣupti, and so many things—they are described, twenty-four elements. On account of this packing of the soul, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, asmin dehe, dehi... Dehi asmin yathā dehe: the real spirit soul is packed up within the body in so many coverings. So our so-called pleasure and pains in this material world, they're artificial. They are not factual, on account of being packed in so many material things. Therefore it is called moha, illusion. It is not fact.

Lecture on SB 7.6.8 -- Vrndavana, December 10, 1975:

So if one is serious about spiritual advancement, then he should not... First of all he must know "What is my position? How I am packed up with all these twenty-four elements?" Of course, due to our habit we are sometimes subjected to these pains and pleasure. Still, Kṛṣṇa says, "You do not become disturbed by these so-called artificial pains and pleasures. Don't be disturbed." Śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ. Āgamāpāyino 'nityas tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata. Mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya, śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ (BG 2.14). Just like we are covering because it is cold, but actually as spirit soul, I am not affected. Asaṅgayaṁ puruṣa. In the Vedas it is said that the soul is unaffected with this material condition. I have several times given this example, that a person has got a good car, and it is somehow or another broken, and he becomes upset, because his car Although he knows that "I am not this car," but his thoughts being absorbed by the attraction of the car, when the car is broken somehow or other he becomes almost unconscious. So this is due to our attachment. So spiritual life means how to get out of this attachment. This is spiritual life.

Lecture on SB 7.7.19-20 -- Bombay, March 18, 1971:

The Sankhya philosophy here, the description is Sankhya philosophy. Twenty-four elements, twenty-four elements. Eight gross and subtle elements, and then their production, the ten indriya, senses, working senses, and knowledge acquiring senses. Eight, ten, eighteen. Then the sense objects, five. Eighteen plus five, twenty-three. And then the ātmā, the soul. Twenty-four elements, the Sankhya philosophy, they are analyzed. The Sankhya philosophy. The European philosophers they like very much this Sankhya philosophy system because in the Sankhya philosophy these twenty-four elements have been very much lucidly explained. Sankhya philosophy. Dehas tu sarva-saṅghāto jagat. So there are two kinds of bodies, jagat and tasthuḥ-moving and not moving. But they're all combination of these twenty-four elements. atraiva mṛgyaḥ puruṣo neti netīty, now, one has to find out the ātmā from these twenty-four elements by eliminating, "Where is ātmā, where is ātmā, where is ātmā." But one can find out in that way provided he follows the rules and regulations, and the process. That is possible.

Lecture on SB 7.7.22-26 -- San Francisco, March 10, 1967:

Just like trees, plants, they are also living entities. They are also living entities, and we, human beings, or animals... There are divisions. Several times we have discussed. There are 8,400,000 of species of life. Out of these, trees and plants they are two millions. And the aquatics, there are 900,000's. Similarly, the bacteria, worms and reptiles, they are sthāvarā lakṣa-viṁśati kṛmayo rudra-saṇkhayakāḥ, eleven..., 1,100,000's. There are analytical study in the Vedic knowledge. They are experimented, and if you like, can experiment yourself also. Just like the information is that there are 900,000's of aquatics. Now, if you have got power to study how many aquatics are there, you can corroborate. Or two millions of plants and trees and creepers—that also, you can corroborate. But we get from Vedic literature these informations. So these are the different manufactures, different presentation of this interaction of these twenty-four elements. Dehas tu sarva-saṅghāto jagat tasthur iti dvidhā. And this deha, this body, is divided into two classes of body: one class, moving, and one class, not moving, standing stationary.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.137 -- New York, November 28, 1966:

So by philosophical speculation this process is... Now, what is that philosophical speculation? What is this material world? They are divided into twenty-four parts, this material world. What are those? Now, the first thing is that what we see, the five material elements, the earth, water, fire, air, ether. These are material elements. These are studied. Then finer than the ether is the mind, then finer than the mind is the intelligence, and finer than the intelligence... Mana, buddhi, ahaṅkāra. Ahaṅkāra means ego, ego, false conception, that "I am this matter." These are eight elements. Then your senses, five working senses and five knowledge-acquiring senses... Just like our eyes, ears, tongue, hand—all these five senses, they are acquiring knowledge. And five senses just like hands, legs, and evacuating hole, genital—these are five senses by which we are enjoying or suffering. And the five objects of senses. What is that? Form, rūpa; rasa, taste; smell; and... Rūpa; rasa; gandha; śabda, sound; sparśā, touch. So these five. So five plus eleven, and mind. Five plus eleven equal to sixteen, and these eight elements, twenty-four. The whole material world is analyzed into twenty-four parts. That analytical study is called sāṅkhya. Samyak khyāpayati iti sāṅkhya: complete, full analysis of this, whatever we are experiencing. And above that, that spirit soul, above that. Because these twenty-four elements, they are combination. Whatever we are thinking, whatever we seeing in this material world, they are combination of these twenty-four elements. And above that, there is the soul. And above that, there is God.

Festival Lectures

Lecture-Day after Sri Gaura-Purnima -- Hawaii, March 5, 1969:

So our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to clear that covered sense or this colored consciousness or adulterated consciousness. Then everything will be there. You cannot kill consciousness. That is not possible. The Buddha philosophy is to stop consciousness, nirvāṇa. According to Buddha's philosophy, this consciousness is production by combination of this matter. This body is combination of matter: earth, water, fire, air, either, and, according to Bhagavad-gītā, further, mind, intelligence, ego. This is combination. They are very finely analyzed by the sāṅkhya philosophy system, by Vedic system, into twenty-four elements. And according to some, twenty-five, and according to some, twenty-six. According to our Vaiṣṇava philosophy, twenty-six. According to Māyāvāda philosophy, this is twenty-five. And according to impersonal philosophy or void philosophy, it is twenty-four. So originally, it is eight. So in this way... Buddha philosophy means that this whole existence of our body or our self is the combination of matter. That is the way of thinking of modern scientists also, that this body is a combination of matter.

Arrival Addresses and Talks

Arrival Conversation -- Los Angeles, June 20, 1975:

Prabhupāda: Yes. When they will read, then they will get. Nowadays in the Sixth Canto, Fourth Chapter, the soul and how the soul is covered, that is being described wonderfully. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam amalaṁ purāṇam. Vidvāṁś cakre sātvata-saṁhitām. It is written by the most learned Vyāsadeva, vidvāṁs, and sātvata-saṁhitām. How merciful he was. He is still living, Vyāsadeva. He is still existing.

anarthopaśamaṁ sākṣād
bhakti-yogam adhokṣaje
lokasya ajānataḥ vidvāṁś
cakre sātvata...
(SB 1.7.6)

Do you remember this verse? It is in the First Canto. Anartha. The soul has been embarrassed, the unnecessary things. Just like a man is within the huge garbage. What is his position? If... You have got your garbage car, so within that, (chuckles) if a man is pushed...

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Abominable.

Prabhupāda: It is like that. Twenty-four elements. Five material elements, three subtle elements, then five working senses and five all knowledge gathering senses—how many?

Jayatīrtha: Eighteen.

Prabhupāda: Eighteen? No.

Jayatīrtha: So far.

Prabhupāda: Twenty-three, I think. Five gross elements, five senses..., five knowledge gathering senses, and five working senses, fifteen,...

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Then the objects...

Jayatīrtha: Three subtle...

Prabhupāda: The mind, ego, and mahat-tattva, eighteen, yes. And then five sense objects, the rūpa, rasa, form, taste, like that. Then twenty-three.

General Lectures

Lecture Excerpt on Twenty-four Elements -- Los Angeles, November 14, 1968:

Prabhupāda: So what are these twenty-four elements? Can anyone say? If somebody asks you, "What are these twenty-four elements?" Yes? Go on, tell.

Viṣṇujana: I think I am only giving the gross ones: earth, air, fire, water, ether and intelligence, mind, intelligence and ego.

Prabhupāda: Eight, it comes to eight. Then?

Viṣṇujana: Then there's the senses, which are...

Prabhupāda: Ten. Ten knowledge-acquiring, five, and working senses, five. Ten. So eight, ten-eighteen. Then sense objects. Just like I have got eye, but I have to see something, dṛśya. So there are five sense objects. Eighteen and five-twenty-three. And mahat-tattva, the original stock of all material... In this way, they are called twenty-four elements. So this whole creation, whatever material creation we have got, they are made of these twenty-four el... Just like colors. Varieties of color means three colors: yellow, red and blue. Those who are expert in color mixing, they'll mix these three colors into eighty-one colors. Three into three equals nine; nine into nine equals eighty one. So expert colorists, they can display these three colors into eighty-one. Similarly, the material nature, of course, this is one, one energy, but within this energy there are three qualities: sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa. By interaction of these three qualities, the manaḥ, buddhi, ahaṅkāra—the subtle elements—are manufactured, and then from the subtle elements, the grosser elements are manufactured. Then their objectives. In this way, the creation is going on. But it requires so much time to create such huge cosmic manifestation, but God is so perfect, as soon as He desires, He says, "Let there be creation." Immediately the creation. That is God.

Philosophy Discussions

Philosophy Discussion on Immanuel Kant:

Śyāmasundara: The first antimony describes the quantity of the world. The second antimony deals with the quality of the world. The thesis is, "Every composite substance in the world is made up of simple parts, and nothing whatever exists but the simple, or that which is composed out of the simple." And the antithesis is, "No composite thing in the world is made up of simple parts, nor does anything simple exist anywhere in the world." On the one hand, everything is simple, made up of simple parts. On the other hand, nothing is simple; everything is complex.

Prabhupāda: Yes. The simple is, we say, the whole world is made of material energy. This is simple. Now, the component parts of material energy, there are so many things—mahat-tattva, then pradhāna, then puruṣa, then twenty-four elements, the five gross elements, eight subtle elements, the five senses, the objects of the senses—and in this way there are so many analytical complications.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

Room Conversation -- July 6, 1976, Washington, D.C.:

Prabhupāda: We can prove it that how by the sunshine everything is growing. How it is? Your molecule and so on, so on... You can describe. Actually, from the sunshine the trees are growing, leaves are coming. As soon as there is no sunshine, immediately they fall down, the leaves, and the tree becomes without any leaves. How this happens? The same process. The sunshine produces so many things. Similarly, by the glance of the Supreme, the material nature becomes agitated and the three guṇas become manifest. In this way these are described there. The same process. How from the sunshine the leaves are coming out, what are the molecular changes, if you can study the same process.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: (indistinct) ...with this hiraṇmaya, the relationship between mahat-tattva and the hiraṇmaya is clear, then I think we can have some idea. So we are little confused on this very point. It is also said pradhāna is the twenty-four elements that doesn't contain time.

Prabhupāda: Pradhāna is the ingredient.

Facts about "Twenty-four elements"
Compiled byMadhuGopaldas +, Serene + and Visnu Murti +
Completed sectionsALL +
Date of first entryApril 4, 0012 JL +
Date of last entryJuly 15, 0012 JL +
Total quotes71 +
Total quotes by sectionBG: 9 +, SB: 14 +, CC: 3 +, OB: 5 +, Lec: 39 +, Conv: 1 + and Let: 0 +