Nature works on the base of different systems. Everything happens systematically, whether it is blooming of a bud, or death of a living being.
According to Ayurveda, the body also runs according to a set of systems. Different systems are working in deep synchrony inside the body, for example, excretory system, reproduction system, digestive system, nervous system, etc. There must be something that unites these systems, probably the nervous system.
In our system, we have two parts of the nervous system autonomic and somatic. The autonomic nervous system handles the involuntary functions of the body where is somatic nervous system processes the voluntary functions.
The autonomic nervous system is further divided into two parts-sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. These two systems are opposite to each other and help the body in different conditions.
The parasympathetic nervous system is dominant where the body is in a resting position, whereas the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for Fright-fight-flight response.
One single mode cannot help the body to survive in all the conditions, as it’s not complete. But a combination of these two systems works in perfect harmony and makes us ready for all possible situations.
Autonomic nervous system – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomic_nervous_system
Ayurveda proposes three kinds of control systems that govern the body while balancing each other – vata, pitta, and kapha. They have different characteristics and lead the body successfully in different conditions.
For example, vata dosha is mobile, light, and is comparable to the presence of air in the physical world. All kinds of movements, whether it is bating of the eyelids or running, is coordinated by vata dosha.
Pitta dosha is hot and sharp nature. Naturally, it presides over all the digestive processes chemical reactions or any transformational process across the body.
Kapha Dosha offers stability and coolness to the body. It initiates and supervises any creation, formation, or incubation in the body. Kapha dosha provides shape, protection, and structure to the body. For example, the formation of all the body tissues, including bones and fats deposits that form a protective layer around the abdominal organs is a part of kapha metabolism.
Another way we can understand it in the light of political systems. A country or a nation is also a body, and it can run under different systems – democracy, communism, aristocracy, etc. Now, these systems have physical manifestations, functions, and effects, but they are not physical entities themselves. We can see whatever happens in or because of the aristocracy. But we cannot see aristocracy itself as a physical entity.
Dosha in terms of admistrative systems
Similarly, we can see the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, but we cannot see the nervous system as a physical entity.
Let us take the example of an organization. There are some essential functions in all organizations, like sales, finance, and HR. These are also systems. One single function is not adequate can or can have an independent existence. For example, you cannot go selling something without an investment unless you are in a job. So, for a function like sales to exist, there has to be manufacturing/service and some investment (finance). All these functions exist as essential parts of a system and complement each other.
In Ayurveda, doshas are systems that run the body. They are comparable to different systems in an organization like marketing, HR, finance, operations, etc. These systems are not physical entities; however, no profit-making organization can function without them.
Similarly, vata, pitta and kapha are three systems that work in perfect harmony to produce a precise balance in body metabolism. These systems become dominant one by one in a natural cycle and run the metabolism. For example, while walking one foot goes ahead, whereas the other seems to go back, but the body as a whole, moves forward.
No human survival can live without air, water, and food. One single resource is not adequate for survival. Similarly, an individual dosha or system cannot run the body in all conditions.
Vata, pitta, and kapha are called dosha – something that maligns the body. All these three systems have a natural tendency to go wrong and produce adverse effects if left to themselves. This tendency is the defining characteristic of dosha.
The effect of these systems is visible everywhere. Consider the example of a bike. The bike runs on the right track because there is a control over it. But if you leave the handles, then the natural tenancy of the bike will be – to fall. And no matter how good the bike is, it will fall. Similarly, in the case of dosha, there is a natural tendency to get vitiated or imbalanced.
Dosha action is apparent on an inanimate object like a bike, on a stationary living creature like a plant, an animal as well as a human being.
According to Vedic sutra यथा पिंडे तथा ब्रह्मांडे (universe resembles the particle), principles of nature apply to all the objects entities in existence, whether living or nonliving. For example, a natural cycle of creation, life, aging, and death is applicable for a vehicle, house as well as any living person, even the planets.
Let us extend the example of the bike. The system that causes forward movement of the bike, and the internal movement of the parts in the bike, can be termed as the vata system.
As it is natural for a dosha to create imbalance, the bike can get imbalanced if you lose control of the handles. Also, the parts of the bike face wear and tear as it runs more and more. This over-activity is the effect of excess vata.
The primary quality of vata is dryness. Dryness causes necrosis(death of cells), friction, and deterioration. In the case of a bike, long term use without oiling, constant friction, excess wear, and tear and aging.
According to Ayurveda, oil is the best substance that can be used for all kinds of vata disorders, as oil prevents dryness and friction.
Therefore regular oiling the bike is imperative to prevent rapid wear and tear.
If we try to replicate this concept in the case of the human body, the primary organs of movement in a person are the Limbs. Let us take the example of joints. According to Ayurveda, joints are considered to be a site of vata dosha, because their primary function is movement.
Now dryness in Synovial sacs and resulting friction is the primary cause of all diseases that happen in joints, whether it is knee joint pain.
Now all doshas work together in all entities to produce a life-sustaining environment in the body. The engine of a bike processes petrol or any other fuel into the form of energy. This energy is the fundamental basis for all kinds of movement. Pitta Dosha governs this kind of chemical transformation and heat production that helps the bike as a system to run.
Fire or heat is the primary characteristic of pitta dosha. If pitta dosha is in excess, the bike will get overheated and might even catch fire.
In the context of the human body, stomach or amashaya is a site of pitta dosha. If the system for pitta gets vitiated, then acidity is one of the primary symptoms. General inflammation, redness, swelling, et cetera are some of the essential heat-borne features of imbalanced pitta dosha.
Cold and mild substances alleviate the fiery effect of pitta dosha and help in pitta imbalance.
Earlier many cars had carburetors with water that used to help in cooling the engine and prevent overheating.
Kapha Dosha The primary characteristics of kapha dosha are coolness and stability. A lack of activity or transformational heat produces inertia that is naturally cooling in nature. For example, if the bike is stationary, then it will not get heated due to combustion in the engine or change in its position continuously.
However, if the bike remains stationary for a very long time, especially in chilling weather, you might experience a lot of trouble while starting trying to start the engine. This difficulty in starting the engine is a result of excess kapha dosha, where probably the oil in the engine freezes.
In the context of the human body, a lazy(kapha)person has a higher tendency to develop obesity (mass). This happens due to lack of activity (vata) and heat (sweating, energy conversion, etc.) the fat consumed by the body is not used entirely. Obesity is a result of excess kapha.
However, regular exercise (vata increase) and fat to glucose metabolism (pitta increase) can help to remove excess fat (kapha decrease).
Dosha and Body metabolism
Kapha dosha is made of earth and water element. We can make anything when earth and water are mixed. Therefore, any formation or creation of stability in the body is related to Kapha dosha. Formation, nutrition, management and protection(stability) of tissues comes under kapha dosha.
Pitta dosha governs any heat-based transformation, chemical reactions, or digestive processes. Digestive processes are the main center of pitta activity.
Agni is a term used for fire. Pitta dosha is fire dominant. This term reflects the digestive/transformative capacity of pitta dosha. Autophagy or cell suicide is also a process lead by pitta dosha, where a cell digests itself. This process is called dhatu paka (dhatu – tissue, paka – digestion/destruction). Autoimmune disorders are examples of dhatu paka, vividly described in all classical Ayurvedic texts.
Vata dosha emerges from the space and air element. Any movement, small or big happens with the help of vata dosha.
Dosha and Prakrati or body types
If we come to the concept of body types, there are primarily three kinds of body types vat, pitta, and kapha dominant.
Let us revert to the example of an organization with three functions sales finance and HR.
All the organizations have all these three essential functions. The organization is Bank; then the finance will be the primary feature of the organization. Financial activities will dominate this organization.
if this organization is an advertising firm, then the dominant function of the organization will be marketing.
If this organization is an HR consultancy, the dominant feature of the organization will be HR based activities.
All three types of organizations have all three functions. However, one feature dominates all the others. This dominating function gives a unique organizational culture and characteristics to the organization.
Similarly, prakriti or body constitution is formed by tridosha. Three dosha are present in all the human body’s. However, one of them becomes the dominating feature of the metabolism. This dominant dosha defines the prakriti or body type of the individual.
Everything, living or non-living has a prakrati or character.
For example, we can say that.
bike or any vehicle is vata dominant(major characteristics, design, and function is movement),
Oven or a blast furnace is pitta dominant(primary nature, design, and purpose is around chemical transformation and heat) and
The lake is kapha dominant (primary features, design function is stability and coolness).
For detailed qualities of dosha
There are 3 basic types of prakrati – vata, pitta and kapha. Vata, pitta and kapha dominant people are similar to respectively; a vehicle(always on the move), an oven (high processing capacity), and lake(cool and stable).
Daily Dosha Cycle
The time of the day is also divided according to the dosha dominant in that part of the day. For example, kapha dosha controls first one-third part of the day. Another one-third of the day comes under the control of pitta dosha, and the last one-third of the day comes under vata dosha.
Similarly, the night also has 3 phases.
For this reason, Ayurveda considers morning to be the best time for studies as kapha is the factor for strong memory (stability).
The best time to have the biggest meal of the day is noon (pitta period) as the digestion at this time is at its best.
And you must avoid excess labor or heavy food in the evening, as vata dosha is the factor for tiredness and indigestion.
Also, you will find that most of the breathing and mucous related disorders, numbness, stiffness, etc. occur during the morning time.
Whereas acidity, inflammation, and other pitta related disorders flare-up during the midday.
And vata related disorders like joint pain, muscle cramps, headache, tiredness, etc. happen during the end of the day.
Dinacharya sutra according to daily dosha rhythm
Seasonal Dosha Cycle
Dosha has natural cyclic vitiation throughout the year. For example, kapha Dosha vitiation occurs during the spring. You will find that spring is the season where we can see maximum mucus related disorders.
Sharad or early winter is the time of pitta prakop or vitiation. Therefore early winter is the time where you will see aggravation in pitta related disorders like pimples, acidity, inflammatory diseases like psoriasis, etc.
Varsha or rainy season is the time dominated by vata dosha vitiation. Therefore in the rainy season, we all can observe that all kinds of body pain, headache, migraine, joint pains et cetera get aggravated in this season.
Dosha and Lifecycle
Dosha are everywhere in the body. According to Ayurveda, Lifespan of an individual has three parts – kapha-childhood, pitta-youth, and vata -old age.
Childhood is all about growing up. For any growth, you need nutrition, stability, and peace. Kapha dosha is the spring of all these qualities. Link qualities of kapha dosha. The period of kapha is the time of body formation and growth. Kapha is also the time when all mucus related problems like cough, cold etc. are very common. Therefore, children are more prone to all kinds of kapha related disorders like cough and cold.
Vitiation of kapha dosha in childhood is the primary reason for malnutrition or any kind of malformation in the body.
Pitta Dosha governs the young age. Youth is the transformational stage of life. The young person is called Vardhaman in Ayurveda. The word Vardhaman means the one who is growing or advancing. A young person is not growing anymore in structure, but he improves every day in his experience and knowledge. Medha or intellect is a quality bestowed by Pitta dosha. This intellectual growth is the real advancement for a human being.
Young people have excellent digestion, lots of energy and best immunity, thanks to dominating pitta dosha. However, youth are more prone to pitta related disorders like acne, acidity, inflammatory disorders. Most of the inflammatory autoimmune disorders are more likely to express themselves during this phase of life.
Vata dosha governs the last stage of the life old age. A mature person is called vriddha in Ayurveda. This word means the one who has reached complete advancement or growth. An older adult is like a ripened fruit that naturally dries up and breaks away from the branch. In this stage, the physical structure starts deterioration; however, the intellectual level has reached its zenith.
During the period of vata, the body undergoes rapid degeneration, like a withering leaf. The abode of vata – bones, joints etc are severely affected. For this reason, old people face maximum joint related disorders. They also have weakened digestion.
Vata phase is the time for diseases like dementia, arthritis, hypertension, and all kinds of pain related disorders to incubate or flare-up.
These three dosha are the Trinity of the body, they are like Brahma(creator), Vishnu (sustainer), and Shiva (destroyer)!
Dosha and Disease Susceptibility
According to the above dosha sequence in the lifecycle, you will find that most of the kapha related disorders like cough cold, etc. occur during childhood. Children are highly susceptible to mucus are respiratory system associated disorders as compared to youth or older adults.
Similarly, youth are most susceptible to pitta related disorders like pimples, hyperacidity, inflammation.
And in the end, the elderly are most susceptible to vata related disorders like dementia, hair fall, and all kinds of body pains.
Dryness is the primary quality of vata dosha. For this reason, we find that older people have excessively dry and wrinkled skin, dryness related problems like body pain joint pain. They also have weak digestion because of recessive pitta dosha.
Dosha and Body Parts
Dosha have specific regions, specially designated to their activity. For example, kapha dosha governs the area from head to the diaphragm.
Pitta dosha governs the region from the diaphragm to the pelvic region.
Vata dosha is dominant in part in the pelvic region and the limbs.
Dosha and Metabolism
Entire body metabolism follows the same dosha sequence. Let us take the example of digestion –
Carbs/sugars are the primary sources of energy and nutrition for the body.
Kapha Dosha governs the first part of digestion – sugar metabolism, as the sweetness is one of its central features. Sugar release in the blood creates a cooling effect and stimulate the satiety centers in the brain. Also, it causes drowsiness(stability-sleep) after meals.
The middle part of the digestive procedure focuses on digestion of proteins that are reduced to amino acids. Acidity or sourness is one of the primary features of Pitta dosha. Therefore this phase of digestion is governed by pitta dosha.
The last part of digestion focuses on fat digestion. Fat digestion produces bitter or katu rasa(fatty acids and glycerol are bitter) the effect of vata dosha in the body. And the digestion of fatty acids comes under vata dosha.
Digestion is just one example. All the metabolic Processes happen under the same sequence of dosha cycle. Even disease incubation and spread in the body occurs in the same dosha cycle, according to the range of imbalanced dosha.
Ayurveda focuses on the tridosha concept for body formation, structure, physiology, and pathology. Some classical Ayurvedic texts say that there is nothing else in the body metabolism except dosha. Everything that happens in the body is a function of the cyclic effect of the dosha accumulation, vitiation, and stabilization.
I am trying to understand Ayurveda myself. However, according to my current experience, the curative effects of Ayurveda are absolutely incredible. If you have a query or doubt, please let me know. It will help to improve my knowledge.
If you like my articles, please Become a Patron!
- Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
- Image parroegger de Pixabay