The normal (physiology) Dosha, in balanced condition, result in good health, Upachaya (body nourishment)
Bal – improvement of strength and immunity
Varna Prasad – improvement of skin health and complexion and in imbalanced state, cause illness.
Characteristics of Dosha
The major function of Vata in the body is mobility. The sites of Vata are the ones with mobility as a defining factor. Excretion is one of the important functions of Vata apart from the limb movement. Also the major diseases are the ones which blocks the mobility (constipation) or excess movement (joint pain).
Physiological sites of Dosha in the body: Place of Vata Dosha –
बस्तिः पुरीषाधानं कटिः सक्थिनी पादावस्थीनि पक्वाशयश्च वातस्थानानि, तत्रापि पक्वाशयो विशेषेण वातस्थानं;
bastiḥ purīṣādhānaṃ kaṭiḥ sakthinī pādāvasthīni pakvāśayaśca vātasthānāni, tatrāpi pakvāśayo viśeṣeṇa vātasthānaṃ;
Basti – Urinary bladder
Pureeshaadhaana – rectum,
Sakthi – waist,
Padau – thighs, legs,
Asthi – bones and
Pakvashaya – colon are the sites of Vata
Pakvashaya (colon) is the most important site.
The abode of Pitta is the sites of major biochemical reactions or transformations like the intestine, liver, pancreas etc. Pitta is basically related to conversions in the state or quality of matter. The sites of Pitta have a distinctive characteristic of high density of secretory glands. The secretions from these glands are sharp (acidic/basic) unlike the secretions of the Kapha, which are mainly protective in nature (mucus, ear wax etc.). These sites are also of very low mobility.
Place of Pitta Dosha – स्वेदो रसो लसीका रुधिरमामाशयश्च पित्तस्थानानि, तत्राप्यामाशयो विशेषेण पित्तस्थानम्;
svedo raso lasīkā rudhiramāmāśayaśca Pittasthānāni, tatrāpyāmāśayo viśeṣeṇa Pittasthānam;
The important sites of location of these three Dosha are as below:
Svedo – Sweat,
Rasa – Rasa Dhatu – end product of food digestion, contains all nutrients
Lasika – Lymph,
Rudhira – blood,
Amashaya – small intestine (site of food under digestion after stomach)
Small intestine (lower part of Amashaya) is the most important site of Pitta Dosha.
Let us consider the region around the clavicle or the neck collar as the example of Kapha region.
In this region, the only part with big movement ability is neck. This region is more about stability, protective coatings and shock absorbers, because it harbours the most important organs i.e. the brain, sense organs, spinal cord, lungs etc.. Higher amount of protective liquid resides as cerebrospinal fluid, fluids in eye balls, and nose secretions as compared to rest of the body. No high mobility like the limbs and no major chemical reactions like the stomach occur in this part. Because of such arrangements, stability is achieved, also this part remain cooler than rest of the body which enables better functioning of brain and other sense organs. Consequently the major diseases that can happen are due to blocking/ choking of Kapha channels (excess Kapha) like glaucoma, hydrocephaly, sinusitis or dryness(Kapha deficiency) like meningitis(Pitta excess),headache, dementia(Vata excess). As kapha decreases , other dosha increase , to maintain the energy balance.
Place of Kapha Dosha – उरः शिरो ग्रीवा पर्वाण्यामाशयो मेदश्च श्लेष्मस्थानानि, तत्राप्युरो विशेषेण श्लेष्मस्थानम्||८||
uraḥ śiro grīvā parvāṇyāmāśayo medaśca śleṣmasthānāni, tatrāpyuro viśeṣeṇa śleṣmasthānam||8||
Ura – Chest,
Shira – head,
Greeva – neck,
Parva – joint,
Amashaya – stomach (upper part of Amashaya) and
Meda – Adipose tissue
Chest is the most important site of Kapha Dosha.
Dosha is something which has tendency to malaise or spoil. It can be understood as a factor of catabolism (breaking down process in the body)
Also Dosha is a concept in itself.
According to Ayurveda, there are 3 kinds of Dosha or body temperaments – Vata, Pitta and Khapha.
It is said that as life resides in heart but no one can see it, similarly these temperaments guide the body physiology but no one can see them. In short, they are the 3 basic and distinguishable behaviour or metabolism patterns of the body.
Nature of Dosha
Let us understand this concept through an example of a wooden stick, which can endure pressure, force or weight up to a certain level. It has a yielding point after it will not be able to support the kinetic energy and will break. Similarly it will have a point of heat after which it will start burning. Same is with inertia. It will have a certain amount of inertia according to its weight, size etc. that gives the stability and opposes changes in its state of existence.
Same is with our body, in a more dynamic sense. Our body can hold certain amount of total kinetic energy, with specific channels of flow or function. This amount or holding capacity differs from person to person, just as volume differs from container to container. It also has different but definite capacities for heat and inertia.
The basis of Prakruti or natural body constitution lies in the different capacities of the individuals. Let us assume that the total energy (of all types) is 6X.One body will have capacity to hold 3X of kinetic energy, 2X of heat energy and X of inertia. This body will be of vata dominant prakruti, or VPK prakruti. Similarly if a body has capacity to hold more of heat energy – 3X, it will be Pitta dominant body.
VATA – It is the concept of kinetic energy in the body. All motion inside body or by the body is because of Vata. Vata is said to be made of Vayu (motion element) and Akash (space element).
PITTA – It is the concept of transformation energy, any chemical reactions, heat generation is considered to be under Pitta. It is made of fire (Heat element)
KAPHA – It is closer to the concept of inertia, mass, stability in the body. It is made of Jal (water element) and Prithvi (mass)
There is no single dosha at work at any point in time. One dosha might dominate or direct one process, but all 3 dosha contribute to it. There is natural tendency of Dosha or physiological patterns to spoil the body by either excess or deficiency of motion, transformation or inertia. When out of control, these become the negative forces in the body. They are balanced by Dhatu and Ooja (life force). Any imbalance tilting towards Dosha causes diseases.
Each of these behaviour pattern or syndrome has 3 aspects – Normal physiology, Excess and Deficiency.
Role of Dosha
Dosha are like different maintenance programs for different situations. They support a specific type of metabolism, have a set time and place of function and aim to produce specific results.
During any activity, entire body comes together and every part of the body contributes to produce a single result. Some parts contribute more, some contribute less. But there is no single isolated activity happening in the body at any point in time. Everything is connected. The organs of the body synchronize their activities under single command. It must be difficult for brain to communicate to each cell. The body parts communicate through their secretions or electric signals. But Dosha is like a pre-programmed code, triggering chain reaction in the entire body. Under a particular dosha and given a specific environment, each body cell will behave in a particular fashion, contributing towards a single result. Dosha are comprehensive platforms that define what each part will do to perform a particular activity. They align the body activities to produce a single desired effect.
We can compare it to the sympathetic and non-sympathetic nervous systems.
Let us take the example of digestion. Pitta dosha is the parent dosha for digestion. Complete digestion can be divided in 3 parts.
Kapha stage: Beginning of digestion
When the digestion of food begins, the blood supply to other parts of the body, like the limbs, brain etc. is reduced and diverted to the intestines for absorption (that is why we feel sleepy and lethargic immediately after a meal). It is advised that one should walk 100 steps to keep the kapha balanced during this time. So the hands, legs, brain etc are synchronized to the digestion in stomach because of Kapha dosha. This is a very simple example
Pitta stage: Complete breakdown
Various organs (gall bladder, pancreas) secrete their juices in the alimentary canal to aid digestion. Simultaneously, liver detoxifies the digested juices in the blood and produces the heat through digestion. This is time of chemical transformation and heat production. Blood gets fresh supply of nutrients. Body cells start assimilating the nutrition transported by the blood. Body becomes active. This is good time to sleep in summer, to keep the heat through activities, low and balance the heat of digestion.
Vata stage: Absorption and excretion
After complete digestion, the food gets absorbed though the small intestine (nutrients) and large intestine (water). Large intestine is the site of vata. This stage of digestion involves constant motion and absorption of water.
The important point is that with the beginning of digestion, other parts of the body, even the eyelids perform their function by getting drowsy or the legs by forfeiting extra blood supply, or the brain. And all this is orchestrated by the dosha. So we can appropriately evaluate what will be the condition of eyeballs or liver or legs when a particular dosha is active, vitiated or balanced.
Taking the same example forward, if the food is too heavy to digest; the Kapha dosha will get vitiated. This means that the Kapha program will not shut down at the correct time and will keep running in wrong condition and for wrong (longer) duration. The digestion of food will not reach the next stage properly and the errors in digestions will be carried forward in the form of toxins.
Best example is the process of sexual stimulation. Parent dosha for sex is vata, which is a kind of lord of all physical activity.
During sexual intercourse, the entire body activity is synchronized to achieve a single result. Eyes close to enhance the effect of skin receptors. Conscious brain activity is more imagination based (Pitta is associated with logic, Kapha with the memory and vata with imagination or creativity). Movements of hands, legs, penis / vagina are co-ordinated to achieve the desired outcome. Sperm friendly secretions lubricate the vagina to ensure safe and easy passage. This is a most elucidating example of perfect organ coordination on vata platform.
The key of health is in the balance of these Dosha.
Importance of Vata
Have you ever wondered why it is always Vata, Pitta and Kapha and not Kapha , Pitta , Vata or Pitta, Kapha and Vata.
It is because Vata is the most important and defining force among all three. After Vata comes Pitta and finally Kapha, most innocuous one.
This is because Kinetic energy is considered to be the most important here, which can affect other factors. Kinetic energy produces heat and can destroy inertia. Also Kinetic energy of the body is in direct control of the being. An Individual can use his kinetic energy at will and change or balance energy equation of the body. We can heat up the body by exercise and reduce inertia. Vata, because of its influence on other dosha, can cause maximum diseases. Hence Ayurveda chooses to establish Vata (Kinetic energy) as a greater force than the rest.
Sequence of Dosha
If we consider a lifespan or any natural phenomenon, Ayurveda has a rule that everything starts with stability (Kapha state), goes to the stage of transformation or maturity (Pitta state) and deterioration (Vata state).Same rule applies to human body as well. Child is in Kaphaj state, youth is in Pittaj state and elderly in Vataj state and interestingly all these are more prone to disease attributed to respective Dosha. For example, children are more prone to cold and coughs (Kaphaj disorders), youths are prone to acme, pimple according to their Prakruti (Pittaj disorders), and old people are prone to joint pain (Vataj disorders)
Similarly first 1/3rd of day is Kaphaj, second 1/3rd is Pittaj and third 1/3rd is Vataj. Again the symptoms of respective diseases exaggerate during the respective times, for example cold, sneezing etc. increases in the morning (Kaphaj), acidity is aggravates in daytime (Pittaj) and joint pain increases during the evening time.
The seasons come and go in a cycle but the cycle is considered from Hemant according to Ayurveda, which is the coldest season (Kaphaj state), then move towards summer (Pittaj state) and rains (Vataj state). In Sharad the effect of Vata subsides completely, to regain the Kaphaj state.
It is considered to be the end product of entire metabolism, or let us say, the fruit of it. Ooja is the protoplasm, life force or pure energy. According to Ayurveda, the food particles ingested in the body are converted to rasa or food juice, best part of rasa gets converted to Rakta (blood), best part of blood gets converted to Mansa(Muscles), best of which gets converted to Meda(Fatty tissue), Meda converts to form Asthi(Bone tissue),Asthi converts to Majja( Marrow) and marrow finally converts to Shukra(Sperms/semen), which is the essence of the body metabolism. Best part of Shukra gets converted to Ooja , which is the connection between the mind and the body.
The process of making Ooja reminds one of Geeta in which Krishna says that one in a millions has spiritual inclination; one among millions of such spiritually inclined people becomes a devotee, one among thousands of such devotees, tries to reach the ultimate and one among thousands of such devotees who are trying, finally reaches the destination and merges with the source of life.
It appears that our body is a process of continous progression from particle to energy. It feeds on the particle and converts it to energy, the life force, which gives vitality to the collection of organs and sets the mind and body to motion.
Ooja cannot be seen as only energy. But both its presence as well as the absence can be felt. Ooja influences mind as well as body.It is the basis of vitality in the body.
Ooja forms the aura of the body. Body can influence Ooja by external factors like attack of disease causing factors, but major influence comes from the mind. Habit of negative thinking and depression reduces Ooja or life force.
The health status of a person can be measured by the quantity of Ooja but body’s speed of making Ooja is more significant since if the speed is low then initial good amount of Ooja will gradually decrease with time.
Therefore the quality of food that we eat is very important as that provides the base for good or bad metabolism. According to Ayurveda, ideal food should be hot. The sequence of qualities of food is very significant, hot comes before fresh or well cooked, as hot food will be softer, help in maintaining good temperature for digestion and stimulate digestive juice secretion. Properties of ideal food are discussed under the topic – Qualities of an Ideal Meal.
The point is the food also should have prana (life factor), which signifies the ease with which it can be digested and converted to energy, creating minimum amount of toxins in the process.
Food that is rotten or stale is considered to be without prana or life energy, such food should not be consumed
Sam-Doshaha Sam Agni Shcha Sam Dhatu Malakriyah! Prasann Atma Indriya Manah Swasthya Ityabhidhiyate!!
Balanced state of Dosha, Agni (digestive fires), Dhatu (Metabolic essence) and Mal (Metabolic waste)
Happy soul, senses and mind constitute the (complete) health
Kshetra of Ayurveda and Importance of mind
Kshetra means field of Ayurveda, on which it acts. There are 2 fields – mind and body respectively.
Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge, Ayurveda signifies the knowledge of life. It is not only about the physical wellbeing but also mental and spiritual health.
Treating the body alone is like treating the shadow of the sick and expecting the results.
Like the way everything starts with the roots in a plant, everything starts with the mind in an individual. Soul is pure energy. Divergent tendencies start with the mind and therefore everything; peace or agony, health or diseases start with the mind. Ayurvedic approach is towards treating the human being, who is a sum total of soul, mind and body, with the focus on mind.
Ayurveda believes that diseases have 2 basic origins – Manas (psychological) and Sharir (Body based). Disease from mind can spread to body and vice versa.
Let us take an example:
You get a cold and you start thinking about work that you are not able to do because of it. You lower your immunity because of stress or might add headache to this cold. So the cold is body based but the headache is mind based.
If your cold gets worse than you might get a headache too, then both the problems are body based.
If you are under too much of stress, you reduce your immunity and thus get frequent cold and cough. This is mind generated.
In order to effectively cure or prevent this cold, treatment should start with finding the base or roots of the disease. It can be in mind or in the body.
According to scientific researches, 99% diseases can be traced to psychological problems! Also the role of placebo is unquestionable in getting cured. If a patient takes a sugar pill with sincere belief that it will cure her/his disease, then it might actually have equivalent or better results than the real medicine. The disease and the cure, both have their origin in the mind.
People with good diet and comfortable life develop diseases due to stress. On the other side, if one is calm or even better….happy, there are more chances of her/his getting cured soon or not falling sick at all.
This is a little too simple to believe!
No one is happy at all the times but you are happy when you are doing something that you like to do. What is more important is that your attention is towards something that you like doing. It is not possible to be able to do what you like all the time, but no one can stop you from keeping a focus on the things that you like. Happiness is more of a frame of mind and you can keep happy if you want to be happy, you will dig out things that will keep you happy.
Being happy is the very basic, most important and probably the only thing that we require for being healthy.
Be Happy with the book
There will be a lot of dos and don’ts in the coming chapters, which are meant to improve your health and longevity. But if you are not able to follow any of them because of unavoidable circumstances, do not get worried. If you are happy trying to follow them, you will stay healthy even if you are not strictly in the line.
There are many people who had routines and lifestyles which promised worst of heart attacks, diabetes, cancer etc… but they lived long and healthy, probably because they were too happy to worry about their bad lifestyle. Also there are people, who have very strict routine and healthy lifestyle, still they develop diseases and some die young, probably because they continuously worry about their health. Worrying is the most unhealthy habit. So lose it first, before you do anything else for your health.
So, the first rule is – be happy and don’t do anything that makes you unhappy….Best wishes !
Ayurveda instead of disease prevention, goes to the extent of making the human beings long lived to minimum 100 years (Jivem Shardah Shatam) and at the same time maintaining good health; to be able see properly for 100 years, to be able to walk etc. and most importantly …to be able to think wisely for 100 years (which is the most important yet the rarest thing to be seen). Ayurveda maintains that living long is not enough… we should live disease free, not turn into a miserable cripple after 60 years but be able to walk, to see , to hear properly and above all to think properly for 100 years.
Protect the health of the healthy and also treat disease of the sick
The subject or aim of Ayurveda is defined as “KEEPING THE BODY HEALTHY” and treating the ones who fall sick. Let us realize that treatment of diseases is defensive approach as compared to keeping the body strong and healthy, thereby eliminating the possibility of disease. Even after that, if any one falls sick, he should be treated.
There are so many disease causing factors among all of us but some succumb to them and fall sick, some recover and some do not. There are many people who will not fall sick at all in the similar circumstances. Diseases occur when there is suitable environment for them to occur, same is with various microorganisms. They can break the defence barrier of the body only if the body is too weak to prevent the attack or retaliate swiftly.
In order to understand the approach of Ayurveda towards health and disease prevention-
Let us imagine leaves falling from a tree of disease and our task is to keep the place clean. There are 3 ways to do it. 1) Either we can keep collecting the leaves 2) we can cut the weed down or 3) we can make the soil (environment) unsuitable for its growth. In this illustration collecting the leaves is maintenance of the disease, cutting the weed is killing the microbes or cancer cells etc., making soil infertile is turning the body environment hostile for the incubation of disease causing factors.
So Ayurveda works on mind and body, instead of killing external disease causing factors.
Following this logic, we should aim to have more preventive health centres than hospitals!
Human body is a very complicated machine that requires regular servicing. Only vitamin pills, exercise and annual health tests are not enough. It faces seasonal changes, stress, lifestyle changes and a lot more; it fights against in numerous infections, trying to keep us alive.
Swasthyavritta (Sphere of health) series celebrates the boon of a healthy mind and body. In this series, you will learn how to strengthen the fortress of your body and mind, prevent disease before their very onset, instead of falling sick and then getting cured.
Because life is too beautiful and time is too precious to waste on getting sick!
Ritucharya is the first book in this series. This series has Dinacharya (Healthy Daily Routine according to Ayurveda), Ritucharya part II (Seasonal regimen according to Ayurveda) and many more to come.
Ayu is the span of life as defined as the time or duration till the combination of soul, mind and body works together.
Ayurveda is not the science of human body and its treatment; it is the science of life. In its defining shloka
Hitahitam Sukham Dukhamayustasya hitahitam
Mansch tachch yatroktamayurvedh sa uchyate
The knowledge of beneficial and non-beneficial, comfortable and uncomfortable lives and what all is suitable for such lives is said to be the knowledge of Ayurveda.
Beneficial life is the one spent in righteous, benevolent and joyous pursuits. It is good for the soul, mind, body, community and nature. Non beneficial is opposite. Yet beneficial life might or might not be comfortable. Vice versa non beneficial life might be very comfortable on the material front. Ayurveda stresses on making life beneficial as well as comfortable.
Beauty of Ayurveda is that it provides space to all kinds of people – vegetarians, non-vegetarians, righteous or sinful and describes how their lives can be improved.
According to Ayurveda, mind creates and maintains the body; vice versa a healthy mind resides in a healthy body.
Life has 3 levels, soul or life force, mind or intellect and the body. It is said that soul lit up the mind and mind extends itself as the body. So, everything in the mind reflects in the body, whether it is health or disease.
In the body, the important elements are Ooja, 3 Dosha, 7 Dhatu and 3 Mala. These are the most basic ones.
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