Elements Numbers

To understand the world, cultures search for Essence, Principles, Causes, and Elements. Early versions include combinations of: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 Elements.

In India, there was a distinction between
Principles               Elements
Tattvas                    Dhatus
Vasus                     Bhutas
there was also a study of:
Principles, Essences                                           Vasus
Eternal Elements or Elementary Substances  NithyaDravyas or Dravyas
Principles, Elements                                            Tattvas
Subtle Elements                                                     mahAbhUta
Gross Elements                                                     tanmAtra
Constituent Elements                                            Dhatus, cf. Skandhas in Buddhism 

5 Elements (tattvas) become linked with the first 5 consonants of the alphabet:

1         2          3       4       5
Earth, Water, Fire, Air,   Space
ka        kha      ga    gha  na

This link between elements and alphabet explains why later lists have:

25 Elements = 25 Basic Consonants
36 Elements = 36 Consonants of Sanksrit

Elements also play a foundational role in other languages, e.g.:

Hebrew 3 Elements + 7 Planets + 12 Signs of Zodiac = 22 Letters
Greek 5 Elements + 7 Planets + 12 Signs of Zodiac = 24 Letters
Ogham: 5 Elements x 5 Spirits = 25 letters

This leads to basic combinations of numbers such as:

3 7 12
5 7 12

These Elements entail the three worlds ands three basic states:
kaya   vac          citta
Body, Speech,  Mind or
Body, Mind,       Soul.

As such, the elements are about a) the visible, physical world that we now associate with the natural sciences; b) the audible world ranging from thunder to speech that we now associate with acoustics and linguistics and c) the invisible world of life and the spirit that we now associate with medicine and religion. This third dimension led to two further quests to find:

5 Living Elements
5 Spirits of 5 Elements.

These quests entail the phenomenon of life and especially eternal life: the possibility of eternal youth, possibilities of life after death, resurrection from death and eternal life. The search for understanding thus leads beyond the understandable to visions of a method, a pill, an elixir, a potion, a drink, or simply a cup or beaker that leads to the eternal.

The early alphabets are about both elements and living elements or spirits of elements. As such they are both a description of how spirit became word, speech, body with death (the creation story), and also a prescription of how to regain eternal life (the salvation story).