tanmātras

(‘only that’)

The five primordial elements that manifest from the Ātman associated with ajñāna or ignorance are called ‘tanmātras’ since each of them contains one quality and only that quality. For instance, the primordial element ākāśa has only śabda (sound or vibration) as its characteristic and hence called ‘śabda-tanmātra.’ The other elements are: sparśa-tanmātra or vāyu (air), rūpa-tanmātra or agni (fire), rasa-tanmātra or āpas (water), and gandha-tanmātra or pṛthvī (earth). These tanmātras are also called ‘sūkṣma-bhūtas’ (subtle elements) or ‘apañcīkṛta-bhūtas’ (uncompounded elements). Further creation takes place out of them, associated, of course, with the Ātman.