ABOUT AYURVEDA

Mundada Ayurveda - About Ayurveda
  1. TRI DOSHA
  2. SAPTA DHATUS
  3. TRI MALAS
  4. AGNI
  5. THE PANCHA MAHABHUTAS

1) TRI DOSH

The Tridoshas (tri meaning three and doshas being the basic physical energies) are the primary and essential factors of the human body that govern our entire physical structure and function. Derived from the Panchmahabhutas, each dosha – which like the elements cannot be detected with our senses but their qualities can be – is a combination of any two of the five bhutas with the predominance of one. Called
  • Vata
  • Pitta
  • Kapha
These three are responsible for all the physiological and psychological processes within the body and mind – dynamic forces that determine growth and decay. Every physical characteristic, mental capacity and the emotional tendency of a human being can therefore be explained in terms of the Tridosha.

Most of the physical phenomena ascribed to the nervous system by modern physiology for example, can be identified with Vata.

Just as the entire chemical process operating in the human body can be attributed to Pitta, including enzymes, hormones and the complete nutritional system. The activities of the skeletal and the anabolic system, actually the entire physical volume of an organism, can be considered as Kapha

Vata
Vata
(Air and Space)
Pitta
Pitta
(Fire and Water)
Kapha
Kapha
(Water and Earth)
Light Light Heavy
Cloud Hot Cold
Dry Oily Oily
Rough Sharp Slow
Subtle Liquid Slimy
Mobile Sour Dense
Clear Pungent Soft
Dispersing    
Erratic    
Astringent    

Each dosha thus shares a quality with another (although there remain slight differences in the nature of shared quality), the third having just the opposite quality. Also, each has an inherent ability to regulate and balance itself, coming from the antagonistic qualities that arise from the doshas constituent elements.

When the doshas are in balance i.e. in a state of equilibrium, we remain healthy. As Charaka, the great ayurvedic sage, explained: "Vata, pitta and kapha maintain the integrity of the living human organism in their normal state and combine so as to make the man a complete being with his indriyas (sense organs) possessed of strength, good complexion and assured of longevity." It is only when that there is imbalance within the three that disease is caused. And since it is the strongest dosha in the constitution that usually has the greatest tendency to increase, one is most susceptible to illnesses associated with an increase of the same.

It is important to realise that these three are forces and not substances. Kapha is not mucus; it is the force that causes mucus to arise. Similarly pitta is not bile; but that which causes bile to be produced. And they are called doshas – literally meaning 'faults' or 'out of whack'- as they indicate the fault lines along which the system can become imbalanced.

It is equally important to understand that the three doshas within any person keep changing constantly, due to the doshic qualities of specific lifestyle and environment, such as time and season. And that these three are not separate energies but different aspects of the same energy, present together in an infinite variety of combinations, wherein their qualities overlap and interrelate.

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2) THE SAPTA DHATUS

The Sapta (seven) Dhatus (tissues) elements form the pillars of the body that form the means of nourishment and growth while providing support to the body as well as the mind.

Rasa (fluid) Dhatu - Derived from the digested food, it nourishes each and every tissue and cell of the body and is analogous to the plasma.

Rakta (blood) Dhatu - Regarded as the basic of life, it is analogous to the circulating blood cells. It not only nourishes the body tissues, but provides physical strength and colour to the body.

Masma Dhatu - The muscle tissue, its main function is to provide physical strength and support for the meda dhatu.

Meda (fat) Dhatu - Consists of adipose tissue providing support to ashti dhatu. It also lubricates the body.

Ashti Dhatu - Comprising of bone tissues, including cartilages, its main function is to give support to the majja dhatu and provide support to the masma dhatu.

Majja Dhatu - Denoting the yellow and red bone marrow tissue, its main function is to fill up the ashti and to oleate the body.

Shukra Dhatu - The main aim of this reproductive tissue is to help reproduction and strengthen the body.

Since the dhatus support and derive energy from each other, affecting one can influence others. For instance, interference in the manufacture of the plasma affects the quality of the blood, which in turn effects the muscle. Each tissue type has its own Agni, which determines metabolic changes in the tissues. And forms by-products, which are either used in the body or excreted. Menstural periods for example are a by-product of Rasa. The tissues are also governed by the three doshas, and any imbalance in them also causes imbalances in dhatus. Heavy periods therefore can also be caused by the effects of the excess of Kapha on plasma.

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3) THE MALAS

Malas are the various waste products of the dhatus produced during the normal metabolical process. The three primary malas being Purisa (faeces), Mutra (urine) and Sweda (sweat). Ayurveda clearly states that only a balanced condition of doshas, dhatus and malas is arogya (good health or disease free condition) and their imbalance is the cause of ill health or disease.

Purisa is the waste left back after nutrients of digested food have been absorbed in the small intestine. While water and salt absorbed in the large intestine, the residue now converted into solid faeces, leaves the body. The consistency of the faeces depending both on gastrointestinal mobility and nature of diet.

The tridoshas must be in balance to ensure normal evacuation. Pitta and kapha help digestion and vata governs the mobility throughout the process. Any discrepancy or imbalance between these can lead to various symptoms of abdominal heaviness or pain, flatulance, constipation or diarrohea. It may also give rise to diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, asthama, bronchitis as well as stomach ulcers and irritable bowels.

Mutra is derived during the course of biological processes within the human body. The first stage of urine formation begins in the large intestine where fluids are absorbed into the system. The entire urinary system (kidneys, uterus, bladder and urethra) takes part in the formation and elimination of urine, regulating the fluid balance in our body and also maintaining blood pressure. Any imbalance of increased or decreased urine, may result in disorders as kidney stones urinary infections, cystitis, abdominal pain and bladder disorders.

Sweda is the third primary mala, and it occurs as a waste product during the synthesis of meda dhatu (fatty tissue). Eliminated through skin pores, it controls body temperature and helps to regulate the electrolytic balance. The channels responsible for bringing the sweat to skin surface are known as sweda vaha srotas. It is essential that normal formation and flow of sweat takes place as otherwise it may lead to skin infections, itching/burning sensation over the body, loss of fluid balance and reduced body temperature.

                                                                             The Malas


Balanced Doshas , healthy Agni, a good state of tissues and their metabolic end- products lead to a balanced state of the senses, mind and spirit, all of which lead to health.


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4) AGNI

Being the biological fire that governs metabolism, agni encompasses all the changes in the body and mind from the dense to the more subtle. Such changes include the digestion and absorption of food, cellular transformations, assimilation of sensory perceptions and mental and emotional experiences. Agni therefore covers whole sequences of chemical interactions and changes in the body and mind. Digestive abilities being related to the strength of agni.

Agni and pitta are closely connected. While both are hot and light, agni is subtle and dry. The heat energy to help digestion contained by pitta is agni. Pitta is therefore the container and agni the content. Agni is acidic in nature and stimulates digestion. It is subtly related to the movement of vata. In every tissue and cell agni is present and is necessary for maintaining the nutrition and auto-immune mechanism. By destroying micro-organisms, foreign bacteria and toxins in the stomach and the intestines.

A balanced agni therefore is vital for health. The strength of the body to resist disease and also its physical strength are directly related to its heat energy determining the metabolic processes of the body. Disturbances to Agni are usually the chief causes of disease.

As per Ayurveda there are thirteen types of Agni in the body and mind according to the conversion and the transformation made. The most important of them is the Jatharagni, the gastric fire, responsible for digesting food eaten by correlating hydrochloric acid in the stomach and the digestive enzymes and juices secreted into the stomach, duodenum and the small intestines. If digestive agni is low and the capacity is impaired, one may experience pain, discomfort, feeling of heaviness or gases gurgling, constipation or loose stools.

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5) THE PANCHA MAHABHUTAS

According to Ayurveda everything in life is composed of the Panchamahabhutas

AKASH (Space), VAYU (Air), JAL (Water), AGNIi (Fire) and PRITHVI (Earth).

They are mixed in an infinite variety of relative proportions such that each form of matter is distinctly unique. Although each element has a range of attributes, only some get evident in particular situations. Constantly changing and interacting with each other, they create a situation of dynamic flux that keeps the world going.

Within a simple, single living cell for example the earth element predominates by giving structure to the cell. The water element is present in the cytoplasm or the liquid within the cell membrane. The fire element regulates the metabolic processes regulating the cell. While the air element predominates the gases therein. The space occupied by the cell denoting the last of the elements.

In the case of a complex, multi-cellular organism as a human being for instance, AKASH corresponds to spaces within the body (mouth, nostrils, abdomen etc.); VAYU denotes the movement (essentially muscular); AGNI controls the functioning of enzymes (intelligence, digestive system, metabolism); JAL is in all body fluids (as plasma, saliva, digestive juices); and PRITHVI manifests itself in the solid structure of the body (bones, teeth, flesh, hair et al).

The Panchmahabhutas therefore serve as the foundation of all diagnosis & treatment modalities in Ayurveda and has served as a most valuable theory for physicians to detect and treat illness of the body and mind successfully.

Panch Mahabhutas Sense Organ Sensory Faculty Properties Actions
Space
Space
Ears
Ears
Hearing
Hearing
  • Creates natural void in the body
  • No distinct taste
Produces softness, lightness and porosity
Air
Air
Skin
Skin
Touch
Touch
  • Light, clear and dry.
  • Governs inhalation, exhalation, opening and closing of eyelids, extension and contraction of joints, locomotion and other motor functions.
  • slightly bitter taste
Creates dryness, lightness and emaciation.
Fire
Fire
Eyes
Eyes
Visual
Visual
  • Rough & bright eyes
  • Controls temperature and luster of body colour.
  • Pungent taste
Helps in digestion, maturation, improves eye sight
Earth
Earth
Nose
Nose
Smell
Smell
  • Heavy, immobile, compact & rough.
  • Controls organs as teeth, nails, flesh, skin, tendons & muscles.
  • Sweet taste.
  • Increases firmness & strength of the body
  • Acts as a nutrient, emollient and purgative
Water
Water
Tounge
Tounge
Taste
Taste
  • Cold, heavy fluid
  • Slimy, fat and sweat by nature
  • Sweet & astringent, sour & saline taste.
  • Imparts glossiness.
  • Enhances fluid content & purgative
  • Acts as nutrient, emollient and purgative.

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