Pancha is a Sanskrit word that means “five.” In the context of Hinduism and yogic philosophy, the number five has significance in many key concepts and finds its way into religious symbolism as a sacred number. For example, the god, Shiva, is portrayed with five faces (panchamukha), each facing a different direction.
The list of pancha concepts is long, but one of the foundational ones is that of the five great elements, or pancha mahabhuta: akasha (ether), vayu (air), tejas (fire), jala (water) and prithvi (earth). These elements are believed to exist in everything in the universe. Ayurveda, the ancient medical system from India, manipulates and balances the elements to maintain health and cure disease.