Fundamentals of Ayurveda, Pancha Bhoota, Sapta Dhatus,Tridosha

This article has been taken from main series, "Science of Human Wellness, The Complete Health Series", which is a step by step illustration on Health, Yoga and Ayurveda. We are all made up of unique proportions of Vata, Pitta and Kapha which are intern consolidation of Panch Tattwas (Five Elements) in different proportions in different individual. According to Ayurveda, “One whose Doshas, Agni and function of Dhatu and Malas are in the state of equilibrium and who has cheerful mind, intellect and sense organs is termed as healthy.” Ayurveda view man as a complex whole, including our external and internal environments, it also considers Sapta Dhatus (Seven Dhatus) as fundamental basis of human body. We affect and are affected by every other animate and inanimate thing in existence. Bringing all of this into balance i.e. reaching your unique state of balance in your whole being—body, mind, and spirit in whole existence is the key to living healthy.

According to Ayurveda

1. Health is not merely the sound body but an aggregate of the body, senses, mind and soul. Both body state and metal state are interdependent to each other. 2. Suffering mind will lead to suffering body and ill-health will lead to mental illness, therefore a person with positive mind will have stronger immune system and vice-versa. 3. Bliss is the natural state of our mind, health is natural state of body; when our life is balanced then we are healthy and blissful. 4. Physical Disease is the result of disequilibrium of Tridosha, Sapta-Dhatu,Chatush- Agni and Vayu. Mental-illness is caused due to dis-balance or disharmony of Pancha-Kosha, Tri-guna, Tri-Kaya and Dasa-Vayu.

Five Great Elements (Pancha Maha Bhoota or Panch Tattwa)

The elements are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth; their meaning is not just the interpretation we get from words, but have deep relevance and broad scientific basis. According to Yogic wisdom the five great elements are the building blocks of whole universe including the fundamental constituents of all life forms. By understanding the dominant and weak elements inside a person we can work out the influences exerted upon his body and mind, in this way finding a way to increase opposing elements and create good health as well as quality of life. Effect and Characteristics of Five Great Elements (Pancha Tattwa) in Ayurveda

Element or Tattwa Related Perception and Organs Adverse effect in result of impurity of Element Characteristic
Earth (Prithvi) Smell through Nostrils Disorders related to Skin, Flesh, Cartilage and Bones heavy, dull, constant, dense, hard and gross
Water (Jala) Taste through Tongue Disorders related to plasma and lymph, Urine, Semen, Stool, Blood, Marrow & Reproductive System Associated with chemical energy
Fire (Agni) Form, perceived through eyes High Blood Pressure, Metabolism, Restlessness and Hunger, body temperature, the absorption and assimilation of food and the transformative power of the liver Hot, Sharp, light, dry and subtle
Air (Vayu) Touch through Tactile organs Neurological Disorders, Laziness, Fatigue, Restlessness and Hunger, Nervous system, senses, Tissue movements and Cell functions Mobile, light and subtle
Ether (Akasha) Sound through Ears Greed, Fear, Extreme Attachment, Anger, Excessive desire & Lust Clear, Light, Subtle (almost vacuum) and Immeasurable, Mystical qualities

According to Yogic scholars there are also two root elements: Shiva Tattwa and Guru Tattwa Purification of five elements (called Bhuta Shuddhi) is a remarkable Tantric Practice and a very powerful way to end any disease.

Sapta Dhatus or Seven Tissues in Ayurveda

Dhatu means secretion or manufacturing, whatsoever we eat is broken down into different elements to further compose different type of tissues in the body. How the body accept different kind of food you consume directly determines your health quality. The gross undigested food is converted into urine and stool, the middle is converted in one of the tissues or Dhatus and the subtlest form gets converted into Ojas (extract of the seven dhatu) or the immunity. All the seven tissues of the body contain their own Agni or fire to metabolize the nutrients supplied to them through vascular or other circulatory system and these fires are called Rasagni, Raktagni, Mamsagni, Medagni, Asthyagni, Majjagni and Shukragni. Sapta Dhatu's (Seven Tissues) as per Ayurveda and their Constituents:

Sapta Dhatu or Tissue Constituent
Rasa (Chyle) This is the first stage of any food consumed i.e. in the form of water soluble food molecules.
Rakta (Blood) Not just Cells, platelets and haemoglobin but certain constituents that allow it to flow, nourish and clot and has the property of heat.
Mamsa (Muscel or Flesh) Constitutes the bulk of the body and contains smooth, cardiac and skeletan muscles
Meda (Fat) Viscid lubricating fluid in the joints, tendon sheaths and capsular ligaments surrounding joints. It also contains synovial fluid and helps our body to remain warmth
Asthi (Bones) Skeleton and Teeth
Majja (Marrow) Flexible tissue in the interior of bone cavities and constitues 4% of body mass. Anything that nourishes Marrow will also nourish brain, as brain is also inside bone cavity
Shukra Dhatu Reproductive and creative fluid; it is fertility in women and virility in men. Fluid has thermolytic effect (Soma Guna) in males and Thermogenic (Agni-guna) in females, it also means light bright and pure.

Tridoshas or Three Physical Humours in Ayurveda

Three Doshas are the three intrinsic tendencies and collective physical representation of combination of these five elements in human body in different ratios; each Dosha has different predominating element in it like Vata has Vayu and Ether, Pitta has Agni, and Kapha has water and earth elements. We can also say that Vata is kinetic energy, Pitta is magnetic energy and Kapha is Potential Energy. According to Ayurvedic Wisdom three Doshas have subtle positive essences which control the mind and body functions, therefore your body is at the peak of its health when doshas are in equilibrium and it will be vise-versa in opposite case. Tridoshas, their function and manifestations:

Name of Dosha Function In Balance Out of Balance Physical Manifestations of Imbalance
Vata Dosha (Wind & Ether) Mobility Prana, Creativity and Vitality Fear and anxiety Dandruff, Arthritis, Gas, Constipation, Coldness, Impaired Circulation, Stiffness, Numbness, Tremors, Spasms, or Intense Physical pain etc.
Pitta Dosha (Fire) Transformation Tejas, Contentment and Intelligence Anger and discontent Excessive Thirst, Heartburn, Acid indigestion, Ulcers, Diarrhea, Weight loss, Itching, Irritation of the eyes, Bleeding disorders and Jaundice
Kapha Dosha (Water & Earth) Consistency/Stability Ojas, Love and Forgiveness Insecurity, depression and envy Overindulging in sleep, disturbed metabolism, a sense of heaviness, Obesity, Loss of strength and power, Excess Mucus, and fatty accumulations in the arteries

There are seven properties of these three Doshas

Sr. No. Vata Dosha Pitta Dosha Kapha Dosha
1 Dry Smooth Oily
2 Cold Hot Cold
3 Light Buoyant Heavy
4 Subtle Fluidal Viscid
5 Kinetic Acidic Voluminous
6 Sublime Mobile Stable
7 Rought Pungent Sweet

By consuming substances which are opposite to dominating Dosha will give immediate relief from a disorder caused by that Dosha. One of the outstanding contribution of Ayurveda is its profound understanding that makes Ayurveda a complete science. Food that may be good for you may be catastrophic for another person. You may feel healthiest during summer season than winter, may have allergies during spring therefore unique constitution of each individual is the decisive factor in how he respond to the consumption of food and medicine.

Importance of Tridoshas in Ayurveda

Vata Dosha

Vata is called Rogaraja, the king of all diseases. You can understand it in this way-your all organs are fine, limbs are graceful and composed but blood circulation does not take place, then? Of Course you are no more. Interestingly it is not only about the flow of blood circulation but it regulate all six important flows: Blood Flow, Lymph Flow, Gastrointestinal Flow, Urine Flow and Energy Flow.

Pitta Dosha

In modern science Pitta represents Metabolism (Anabolism and Catabolism) in entirely and primary character of this element is heat. Along with Vata, Pitta creates and controls digestion and is responsible for maintaining body temperature. Have you ever noticed sudden shivering at the time you urinate. That’s because urine bladder was contributing to a particular temperature in body and due to urine's sudden discharge there is shift in whole body temperature, consequently, the brain sends a signal and Vata flows through Sympathetic Nervous System to produce shiver, so pitta may again be restored to perfect balance.

Kapha Dosha

When you can’t get up in the morning even after a long sound sleep this is due to the Kapha Dosha, the immune system and overall body strength is greatly influenced by over all balance in Kapha. In fact it governs body growth, body weight, joints, lungs, seven dhatus, lubrication of joints, suppleness of muscles and smoothness of internal organs. Different from Vata, Kapha disorders can’t be fixed instantly and need long time. For example; if you have gas and you drink a decoction or pop a pill then your gas is gone in few minutes but if you have bronchial congestion then it will take long time to get cured.

The three doshas determine the vital constitution of an individual. Though each person is born with different constitution which can rarely be altered or modified but by following the ayurvedic wisdom and thereby modifying your eating habits and lifestyle you can overcome the limitation and live a healthy and peaceful life.

This article has been taken from main series- "Science of Human Wellness, The Complete Health Series".

|Published on February 13, 2017