Khandros of the Five Elements

Deities & Enlightened Teachers

Khandros of the Five Elements. Each of the five elements is associated with a khandro (Skt. dakini), or goddess. The khandros represent the pure, enlightened aspect of each of the elements.

The elements play a fundamental role in many ancient healing and spiritual traditions. The Tibetan traditions recognize five elements—space, air, fire, water and earth—which exist in both pure and impure forms, and make up all phenomenal existence. The elements are understood not just as physical properties but also as the underlying energies from which all experience—the physical world, our bodies, our emotions and our minds—arise.

The image shown here depicts the khandros of a practice called “Retrieval of the Elements.” The central figure is the white khandro of space, the great mother from which all the other elements arise. In her right hand she holds ornaments and jewels, and in her left hand she holds a skull cup filled with essential nectar. The khandros of air (green), fire (red), water (blue) and earth (yellow) surround the central figure. Among many other qualities, connecting to the khandro of space connects us with the quality of spaciousness, of having room enough for all of our life and experiences; the khandro of air, flexibility; the khandro of fire, joy and creativity; the khandro of water, calm and comfort; and the khandro of earth, stability and grounding.