Tattvabodha begins its discussion on the twenty four principles. It says, “atha caturviṁśati tattvotpatti-prakāraṁ vakṣyāmaḥ अथ चतुर्विंशति तत्त्वोत्पत्ति-प्रकारं वक्ष्यामः”, which means that the twenty four principles are now being discussed. From these twenty four principles, the universe originates. There are variations in the number of tattva-s. Sāṃkhya philosophy and Trika philosophy elaborately discusses on these tattva-s. Advaita philosophy has borrowed these tattva-s, primarily from the sāṃkhya philosophy. These twenty four tattva-s or principles are divided into two categories - bāhyakaraṇa or the external sense organs and antaḥkaraṇa or inner psychic organs. Bāhyakaraṇa consists of modification five basic elements ether, air, fire, water and earth. These are the grosser elements of nature and also known as pañcabhūta or the five elements. The creation always happens from the subtle to the gross. The subtlest of the five elements is ākāśa or the ether. From ākāśa arises air; from air, fire; from fire, water; and from water arises the earth. This is declared in Taittirīya Upaniṣad. If we look at these five elements, it is obvious that ākāśa is the subtlest of all the elements and earth is the grossest. Though each of these elements is separately mentioned, each one of them has the qualities of other elements inherent in them.

Bāhyakaraṇa or the external sense organs comprises of organs of perception and organs of action. They are known as jñānendriya-s and karmendriya-s. The subtler forms of jñānendriya-s and karmendriya-s are cognitive faculties and action faculties. When Tattvabodha says caturviṁśati or twenty four principles, it refers to five basic elements, five organs of perception or jñānendriya-s, five organs of action or karmendriya-s, five types of prāṇa-s and the four components of antaḥkaraṇa viz. mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. With this brief introduction, Tattvabodha proceeds with the description of māyā in the next verse.