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four elements (shidai 四大)

Literally "four" (shi 四) "greats" (dai 大); an abbreviation of "four great kinds" (shi dai shu 四大種), which translates the Sanskrit mahābhūta, "great elements." The four are: earth, water, fire, and wind. In Buddhist texts dating back to ancient India, one finds the notion that human beings are made up of the elements of earth (flesh and bones), water (blood and other fluids), fire (the warmth of a living body), and wind (breath); that the elements are only temporarily held in conjunction with each other; and that the person dies when they break apart.