Physiology or Shareer Kriya in Ayurveda

HEALTH (Normal) v/s DISEASE (Abnormal)

While health is a state of harmony in bodily organs and vital functions, a disease is considered to be a state of chaos in physiology and / or psychosomatology. Disease is termed as `Dukha' (sorrow).The health is said to be a state of `Sukha' (happiness).

Biological components are divided into four categories, namely Doshas, Dhatus, Agnis and Malas.

DOSHAS (Vital Constituents)

They are those vital components (catalysts) which are responsible for natural catabolic, anabolic and other physiological functions. They influence the distinct and indistinct movements and activate physiological functions. When their levels are balanced, they maintain health, but when they are disturbed, they can vitiate other biologic components, hence named `Doshas'. They are three in number, viz.,

1. Vata- Factor behind the distinct movements and catabolic process.

2. Pitta- Factor behind enzymatic functions, body heat, vision, etc.

3. Kapha- Factor behind anabolic processes, defense mechanism, etc.

DHATUS (Tissue Components)

They are the tissue humoral systems of the body. They are seven in number. They always formed in a sequence of succession. In different permutations and combinations the Dhatus form various physical organs of the body according to the genetically coded information.

The 'Chemistry Of Formation Of Dhatus' has been discussed in full length in different text books of Ayurveda. Various theories in regard to the formation of one Dhatu from another have been postulated.The most popular theory is known as Kedari-KulyaNyaya. This Nyaya (theory) suggests that the formation and nourishment of different Dhatus is in a sequence of succession and is similar to the supplies provided by an irrigation line connected with the cultivation area in which the water first passes through the main pipe, then it goes in the secondaries and after nourishing the plants at second tunnel, the left out quantity of water proceeds in the other tributaries for irrigating the entire field. With this type of arrangement we know that the water is distributed one by one in all the tunnels and no area is left out without the water supply. Similar is the process of replenishment in regard to our tissue system (Dhatus).

MALAS (Excretory Materials)

The term Mala is derived from the root mri, which means 'to clear out', to purify, or to cleanse. This word is usually translated as the waste products of the body metabolism.

Wastes are also usual to refer to Mala as polluting agents. If these are not expelled from the body they would subject the body to an unhealthy or diseased stage. At the same time, it is significant to know that these wastes are actually nothing but the by-products of the digestive process, and if they are in proper proportion they help to maintain health.

The process of digestion is principally a matter of separating the essential tissue nutrients from the waste products. These waste products include discharges, secretions, excretions, some solid, some liquid in form, some gaseous and some hard.

Mala, usually refers to three major excretions

Produced in Kidneys
Produced in bowels
Produced in skin

AGNIS (Biochemical Transformers)

According to Ayurveda, some kind of heat / energy is required, for any type of chemical conversion, whether it is from the food to chyle; or, from one tissue to the other. The inbuilt sources of this energy are termed as Agnis. They take part in their respective biochemical transformational process. Agnis are thirteen in number and are of three types Viz. Jatharagni, Dhatvagni and Bhootagni.


Several theories of mind have been developed through the ages. The various concepts have been put forward by different systems of Indian philosophy.

These can be classified as

1) Mind as a material substance

2) Mind as an association of experience

3) Mind as an instrument of perception

4) Mind as a form of behavior

5) Mind as an immaterial substance

Ayurveda is largely indebted to Samkhya and VaisheshikaDarshanas(philosophies) for its metaphysical back - ground. According to these theories, mind is considered as a separate sensory organ (Indriya) An important point that needs to be mentioned here is that, Ayurveda and all other Indian philosophies consider Mind (Mana) to be a basic element. (Contextually, it would be worth mentioning that we believe in the existence of nine basic elements among which, five are material ones viz., Pruthvi, Aap, Teja, Vayu, Aakashand four are non-material in nature, viz., Aatma, Kaal, DikaandMana

It means, mind is a substance that lives/ stays in living being in the form of an invisible cosmic force. Its power/strength may be compared to that of other similar forces such as magnetism, electricity, sound waves and radio-active waves prevailing in outer world that could, though, be experienced but not perceived by our sensory organs.

It has been mentioned that when the nature (equilibrium of Satva, Raja and Tama) is disturbed the process of cosmic evolution comes into existence and ultimately it is manifested in the form of Buddhi(Intellect), Ahankar (Ego), Mana (Mind), Life and five eternal basic substances. (Panchamahabhuta). Modern Psychology too, believes in the theory of id, ego and superego. According to Samkhya system of philosophy, Buddhi, Ahankar and Mana constitute the psychic apparatus of living personality. They are also called three internal organs.


With the union of Aatma, Indriya (sensory organ) and Object (Arth), if mind is combined, then only perception of knowledge is possible. In other words, if mind is not combined with Aatma, Indriya and Artha, perception of knowledge is not possible. The Mana is the instrument for the experience of self. As mentioned in NyayaVaisheshika the Mana is the internal organ through which self recollects, infers, doubts and dreams.

The Mana is responsible for recollection of colour, taste, sound, smell and touch even when the external organs do not function. That means whenever Mana combines with particular Indriya (sensory or motor organ), knowledge of the particular object of that Indriya is perceived. When Manais not combined with a particular Indriya, its knowledge is not perceived.

In this way, the characteristic of Mana is perception of knowledge when it combines with Aatma (Soul), Indriya (Sensory organ), and Aarth(Object) and when Aatma, Indriya and Aartha do not combine with Mana, knowledge is not perceived.

According toNyayadarshan it has been explained that if Mana is not taken into consideration for the perception of knowledge, then whenever an Indriya is combined with its particular object, without Mana, many types of knowledge should be seen simultaneously, which is not seen in reality. Hence the factor of Mana comes into existence. More over it has been seen that even when a sensory organ is not combined with its particular object, knowledge may be perceived as it is seen in case of memory. That means some other important factor should be there in existence which in combination with Aatma, Indriya and object (Indriyarth) plays a significant role in perception of knowledge. This important factor is Mana.


Iccha(desire), Dvesh(hatred), Sukh(pleasure), Dukh(pain), Kalpana(imagination), Smruti(memory), Chetana(energy), Prayatna(efforts), Buddhi(intellect), Vichar (thought), Gnyana(scientific knowledge) etc.

It has been described in Charakasamhita that mind is very minute (Anu) and beyond the perception of external sense organs. Unit wise, it is only one in number in individual i.e. Anutvaand Ekatvaare the properties of Mana.

FurtherMana is omnipresence so it can receive various information at the same time due to always in contact with all the sense organs and therefore it can be mistaken as more than one by individuals, who do not know much about it.

If the mind is non-atomic and more than one, it will come in contact with all the sense organs at a particular time and will produce many perceptions of colour, taste, smell, etc simultaneously, which is not seen in our day-to- day life. According to Samkhyadarshan, mind is not all pervasive and atomic [SamkhyaPravachana Sutra Vol. 69-70]. However, the Manais atomic, for otherwise many different objects and functions could be performed by one and the same Mana at the same time.


Many ancient Ayurvedic scientists believe that Mana is located between the Shir(head) and Talu (Palate). It receives the object of sensory organs viz., taste, smell, vision, sound etc.

However the seat of mind in the body is also a disputed question according to many others, in Ayurveda. According to Charak, mind is dependent on Hrudaya. Sushrut also agrees with this view of Charakacharya, Kashyapa also mentions that all Indriyas, along with Mana are derived from Hrudaya.

Vedanta philosophy also regards that mind is situated within the heart. In Ayurvedic classics the word Hrudaya signifies both heart and brain.


The Mana is an instrument of all our experiences. It governs the activity of sensory organs, receives the sensory data and thus secures knowledge of its environment.

According to Charakacharya, the chief objects of Manaare :

1) Chintya ( to think)

2) Vicharya (to decide what is going to be beneficial or what is going to be a waste.)

3) Uhya (Analytical thinking)

4) Dhyeya (Aim)

5) Sankalpa (to discriminate between good and bad, right or wrong, action and inaction and rest all factors which can be perceived by mind.)

The chief functions of Mana are assimilation and discrimination.

According to Chakrapani, the chief functions of Mana are Iccha(desire), Dvesh(hatred), Sukha (pleasure), Dukha (pain), and Prayatna(effort)

According to Charakthe main functions of Manaare :

A) Directly associated with the sensory organs: Mana directs and controls them [Indriyabhigraha]

B) It guides how to control one's-self when one is getting away from right thinking and imagination.

C) To analyze the entire knowledge and

D) Cognition

Thus the Mana is the principal sense which synthesizes all experiences into a meaningful whole. Experience is an outcome of the integral acts of the external causes, Mana, Ahankar and Buddhi. The external sensory organs give us indeterminate data of perception; Ahankar has the important function of giving its determinate form and the Buddhi makes it definite knowledge.


Along with Mana, Indriya combines with its particular object. This part of knowledge is called NirvikarGyan. In this, only the form of the object is taken into consideration. After this Mana, Ahankar and Buddhi play an important role in gaining Vishesh(special) knowledge. Mana, then discriminates between good and bad, right or wrong, action and inaction. This analytical view ends up in grasping the knowledge i.e. a meaningful whole is created.


When Mana is influenced by SatvaGuna, it is termed as Normal, whereas when it is influenced by Raj and Tama Guna, it is considered as Abnormal.

PRAKRUTIS (Physical constitutions or Personal disposition)

According to Ayurveda, from birth to death, Doshasinfluence the health status and physical constitution of a man, either positively or negatively. In fact the predominance of a particular Dosha is decided right at the time of conception itself, hence the word Prakruti (Naturally endowed / inherited characteristics).The concentration levels and preponderance of each Dosha in an individual is believed to be genetically determined. Therefore, Doshas in different permutations and combinations constitute the very nature / disposition of a man. This is known as Prakruti / ShareerPrakruti.

SHAREER PRAKRUTI (Physical Constitution / Disposition)

It comprehends some important physical and mental characteristics and is a criterion in Indian system of medicine for evaluating an individual's status of physical constitution. This helps in deciding the therapeutic regimen. Prakruti means innate nature, character, physical constitution or disposition of a person.

Depending on the predominance of a single Dosha, or different permutations and combinations, Prakruticould be of seven types, viz., Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vatapitta, Vatakapha, PittakaphaandSama (balance of all three). Proper evaluation of the proportion of different Doshas while deciding on individual's Prakrutiholds a great importance, as it can give several clues in understanding the pathology of hidden factors causing diseases and the line of their management by correcting the internal milieu with the help of diet, deeds or drugs.

At this juncture, it is worth mentioning that the individuals who are dominated by a single Dosha in their overall physical disposition tend to fall sick more often than those others in whom the levels of all the three Doshas are in balanced proportions. This is basically due to the abnormally high level of one particular Dosha factor and abnormally low levels of other - making one an easy prey to external influences.

Management of a patient and success or failure of treatment is made possible by the knowledge of his constitution, because no two individuals are genetically similar. It is very rare to get a person totally predominant with one Dosha, and similarly, a person with fully balanced constitution (Sama-Prakruti). Most of the times, one or two Doshas are predominant and others are low. Based on the following profiles of physical and mental characteristics, a physician can judge the predominant Dosha in the body (Prakruti) and decide the line of treatment. It would at the same time provide clues in regard to an individual's response to the medication.

NOTE :AcharyaSushrut, the father of Indian surgery had a belief that at times, the blood (RaktaDhatu), also gets vitiated and acts as a Dosha; hence he included one more Prakruti in his list i.e. RaktaPrakruti. Most of the features of a RaktaPrakruti person are like that of a Pitta Prakruti only, except that a RaktaPrakruti person tends to be reddish in complexion; gets angry very fast and loses blood fast, when injured. But these persons are very courageous and great warriors.


It will not be out of the context to say that even other schools of medicines have reported such types of physical dispositions. Worth reporting are the classifications of Galen (138-200 A.D.) who reported Melancholic, Choleric, Phlegmatic and Sanguineous constituents. Sheldon, a modern scientist (1940 A.D.) had divided the constitution as Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph on the basis of Embryology. He further classified (on psychosomatic parameters) the human constitutions into Cerebrotonic, Somatotonic and Viscerotonic categories. On comparison, we find that vital components, directly or indirectly, still remain a criterion to evaluate the physiology and psycho-somatology of human beings.

Humoral doctrine, fluidism, humoralism, humorism; the ancient Greek theory of the four body humors (blood, yellow and black bile, and phlegm) did determine the health and disease. The humors were associated with the four elements (air, fire, earth and water), which in turn corresponded each to a pair of the qualities (hot, cold, dry and moist). A proper and evenly balanced mixture of the humors was characteristic of health of body and mind; and imperfect balance resulted in disease. Temperament of body or mind also was supposed to be determined. e.g., sanguine (blood), choleric (yellow bile), melancholic (black bile), or phlegmatic (phlegm).


It is always good for an intelligent person to know as to what type of food could be appropriate for his physical disposition, i.e., Prakruti. By a careful understanding about our own Prakruti and accordingly, maintaining our food and conduct we can avoid many diseases, hence this knowledge. Here we give brief information about the food materials / recipes that are suitable for different Prakruti.

1. Food for VataPrakruti individuals -

It is advisable to prefer warm, moderately heavy food (inclusions of high calories by way of butter or good quality fats). Food recipes should be relishing and soothing in nature. Vegetables like onions; cucumber; lady-fingers; beat root; asparagus; garlic; radish may be favoured. Among fruits : bananas; coconut; berries; cherries; melon; mango; papaya; pineapple; plum; grapes and oranges are good. Rice; wheat; oats; pink lentils beans; sesame oil and all milk products are right. Among non-vegetarian foods sea food and chicken are good.

A VataPrakruti person should avoid excess use of the following Vegetables like cabbage, celery, leafy vegetables, beans, peas, potatoes, tomatoes and sprouted seeds ii) fruits especially apples or pomegranates and all other fruits which are unripe or dried, iii) cereals which are of very low calories and which cause emaciation such as barley, maize, millet, etc. iv) Intake of red meat and spices like fenugreek, coriander, pepper, chillies and turmeric.

2. Food for a Pitta Prakruti individual -

It is advisable to prefer comfortably warm food which is not directly from the oven. It should be neither too light, nor too heavy to digest. Taste wise, Pitta prakruti. person should prefer the food stuffs which are bitter, sweet and astringent and which have less butter but which are rich in easily digestible oils. Vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, onion, lady-finger, potatoes, peas and mushrooms and fruits like Apples, figs, fresh grapes, mangoes, oranges, plum, pineapple, etc. are good. But while taking fruits it should be observed that they are well-ripened and not sour lest the unripe fruits may vitiate the Pitta. Major cereals such as wheat, rice, and barley oats are right. Milk and fresh butter are very good. Balanced intake of chicken and shrimps is okay. Among spices, limited quantities of cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel and cumin are permitted.

A Pitta Prakruti person should avoid -

i) Excess intake of tomatoes, garlic and chillies, ii) sour cherries, dried grapes, peach, papaya, iii) rye and millet, iv) any milk product which has got sour taste (like yoghurt or butter milk, v) red meat cooked with spices and heavy oils, vi) sesame oil, corn oil, honey and fermented strong alcoholic liquors, vii) pickles, vinegar, salad dressing and barbeque sauce.

3. Food for a KaphaPrakruti individual -

It is advisable to prefer onions, garlic, cauliflower, cabbage, leafy vegetables, beat roots, spinach, carrots and sprouted beans. Although potatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus are not contraindicated, their intake should be controlled. Fruits which are easy to digest such as apple, pomegranate, etc., are good. In cereals, low calorie ones like corn, barley and rye are suggested whereas in dairy products skimmed or toned milk is better. Boiled light meat is okay if one is accustomed. Among oils, safflower, sunflower, corn oils are advisable, but in very less quantities. Honey, ginger and lemon are best.

A KaphaPrakruti person should avoid -

i) Potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers, ii) heavy and high protein calorie fruits like bananas, dates, mangoes and coconut, iii) rice and oats, less quantities of wheat is okay if one is used to , iv) full cream milk, ice-cream and yogurt, v) heavily stuffed and cooked red meat, vi) chocolates, cakes, etc.


While the physical factors like Doshas influence greatly in deciding the physical constitution (ShareerPrakruti), the psychic factors named as Satva (Equanimity factor), Raja (Agitating factor)and Tama (Inertia factor) determine the Psyche of a person. Psychic factors are extremely indistinct and are manifested only through an individual's behaviour, moral character and his ability to tackle the circumstances. Satva is considered to be the balancer of the rest two Raja and Tama. While Raja tends to agitate the mind in adverse circumstances, Tama makes it dull and morose, hence the balance by Satva. One should always endeavor to maintain the psychological balance through the special psycho-spiritual exercises such as meditation to keep the Satva strong. In turn, this practice also helps in maintaining the balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Conclusions drawn by researchers on the basis of their experiences also suggest that the diet can also influence the balance of Satva, Raja and Tama in our psyche.


While the tasty, moderately cooked, easy to digest and not too extreme (in any taste) food strengthens the normal Satva, the spicy and pungent foods enhance the Raja whereas the heavy to digest, stale, or over cooked food abnormally increases the Tama factor.

ManasPrakruti (Personality - Psychic Prakruti)

Each one of us possesses in our physical make up, all three biological humors. (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), the same way we are influenced by the three Gunas (Satva, Raj, Tama). Indian system of medicine clearly recognises the distinctions in human temperament and individual differences in psychological and moral disposition, his reaction to socio-cultural and physical environment.

In Ayurveda, man has been classified into three types of personalities namely, Satvika, RajasikaandTamasika. The temperamental characteristics have been described in all the classics of Indian medicine.

Trigunas are the essential part of the Samkhya conception of personality. All three Gunas depend on each other, and help each other in the process of evolution and in the process of self-development as the gross evolves back towards the subtle. The Gunas try to dominate each other in turn. The Gunas never get separated from each other, they always exist as one unit and one pair. In the process of bringing each other out one Guna serves as the stepping stone for another.

The word Satva signifies whatever is pure, light and fine. Whatever creates activity and provides inspiration is called as Rajas, while Tamassignifies whatever is solid, heavy, and which gives stability, and forms the foundation stone which offers resistance.

Satva to Rajas and Rajas to Tamas is the natural course of evolution, yet that some Rajas can be used to convert Tamas back into Satva. With his five sense organs and five work organs man has the choice either to flow with gravity ever downward into Tamas or to create activity to move upwards into light.

Satva refers universal reality or consciousness. Rajas is responsible for activity while Tamas is responsible for inertia.

The individual temperament can also be explained as a trio of Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. The individual differences in the temperament and personality are mainly due to relative predominance of Satva, Raja and Tama.

Due to variation in the interaction of these three Gunas the persons differ in their cognitive, effective aspects. The human temperament has been divided in three major groups

  • Satvika
  • Rajas
  • Tamas

With a relative predominance of Satva, Raja and Tama, in their psyche, each of the three major temperamental groups are again subdivided into several subgroups, viz., seven of Satvika, six of Rajasika, and three of Tamasikaas per Sushrutsamhita.

Satvika Temperamental Groups

1. Brahma Satva - A person of Brahma Satva is sacred in nature, subdued (void of passion) righteous, retentive, hygienic, hospitable, atheist, clear in body and conduct. He can decide what is right or wrong, what is beneficial or harmful. He is away from desire, anger, avarice, ego, confusion, jealousy, impatience. He reads Vedas constantly, worships and venerates the elders and preceptors. He is impartial to people, he sees everybody with the same eye of judgement. He is a good orator. He is proficient and well conversant.

2. MahendraSatva - An individual of this type is recognised by his valour, command, constant discussion of Sashtras (sciences), maintenance of servants and dependants and magnanimity.

3. VarunSatva - Liking for cold exposures, forbearance, golden hair and sweetness of the speech are the characteristics of Varunkaya persons.

4. KouberaSatva - These persons are known by their capability for arbitration, endurance, earning, accumulation of wealth and fertility.

5. GandharvaSatva - These people are known by their love for garlands, perfumes, dance, music, and enjoyment.

6. YamyaSatva - These persons are free from anger, illusion, fear, and jealousy. They are just, firm, prompt in action, fearless, clean and retentive.

7. Rishi Satva - These persons are engaged in muttering prayers, observance of religious austerities, sexual abstinence, oblations and study. They are full of all kinds of knowledge.

Rajasika Temperamental Groups

1. AsuraSatva - Such men are abounding in wealth and power; are terrible, valorous, irascible, jealous, glutonous and eat alone without sharing with others.

2. SarpaSatva - Such individuals are irritable, laborious, cowardly, irascible, double dealer, and hasty in eating and behavior.

3. SakuniSatva - They are sexually intemperate, glutonous, impatient and fickle.

4. RakshasaSatva- They can comprehend only partially, they are jealous, irreligious, vain and ignorant.

5. PisachaSatva - Hot tempered, sexy, devoid of shyness, courageousness, are the characteristics of PisachaSatva.

6. PretaSatva- PretaSatva people are lazy, greedy, always lead miserable life. They never want to see rising persons.


There are three subgroups of TamasPrakruti viz., Pashu, Matsya, Vanaspatya

1. PashuSatva - The temperament of PashuSatva is characterised by dirty and dull mind. Such persons do not resist any obstruction. They perform sexual intercourse in dreams. Such persons behave like animals.

2. MatsyaSatva - The Matsya type people quarrel among themselves. They are unstable like fishes. They are coward and they perform foolish activity. They always like water. These are the temperamental characteristics of MatsyaSatva.

3. VanaspatyaSatva- Such people always like to remain at one place. They are also away from religious and good activities. They are always engaged in eating and drinking.

AATMA (The Soul)

In the philosophical context of Ayurveda, soul has been accepted as distinct from the psychological complex known as the body and as responsible for the feeling of 'I' (egoity), actions, experiencing the fruits of actions, passage from one body to another and memory in the individual. It is different from the Purusha, who is a conglomeration (Rasi) of twenty-four material categories of existence.

The soul that is relevant to the medicinal framework is an empirical one, namely as an agent of cognition when associated with the five faculties of sensation, mind and individual but undifferentiated consciousness. The soul that is devoid of the association with these factors is of no interest to the Ayurvedic physician, it simply does not exist. Though it is conceded that the soul by its nature is free from modification (devoid of pathogenicity), and is eternal, it becomes cause of consciousness when associated with the mind, specific properties of the primary forms of matter and the sense faculties.

The soul is the principle of consciousness that lights up the corpus, hence it is called as Kshetragnya, and is therefore the cause of all actions. The empirical soul (Bruhataatma) is unitary, but altogether beyond comprehension by the instrument of cognition. It is all-pervasive, but individualised owing to association with the sense organs which in turn are associated with phenomenal objects. It is a witness of all actions and modes of being.

According to Charak-samhita, the foetus is derived from the soul and gets the designation Jiva. It is owing to this that the individual takes birth in a particular womb, has specific life span, is aware of himself, has a mind and sense organs, inhales and exhales, can motivate and sustain the sensory functions, acquires a definite form and complexion, experiences pleasure and pain, has desires and aversiveness, consciousness, perseverance, intellect, memory, ego and can exert himself. The soul is located in the heart, along with the chyle, the three Doshas, intellect and mind.

When the series of Aatma with Mana, Mana with sensory organ (Indriya) and Indriya with the object, takes place then only perception of knowledge is possible by the person. Mana itself is Achetan(i.e. the sign of life is not seen), but when it combines with Aatma then only the sign of life is seen, since Aatma represents Chetana(life). Therefore when this combination of Aatma and Mana comes to an end, a person is considered to be dead.

There are several views regarding the origin of Aatma. According to one of them, during the process of conception, many Aatmas are formed from one Aatma. According to some other views all Aatmas are parts of the same Aatma. Whatever good or bad works are done by Aatma determines the nature of the fruits of Karma.


The basic causation of the physical disease according to Ayurveda is due to the vitiation of any of the three Doshas, i.e.,Vata, Pitta or Kapha, which in turn disturbs the physiologic rhythm and produces a disease.

Ayurveda believes that even physiologically, the levels of Doshas differ from time to time to a higher, middle or lower level. In below mentioned three main conditions, viz. i) Age, ii) Diurnal variations like day and night and iii) in relation to the food intake, the physiological level of theseDoshas vary within normal limits.

On the basis of the age : in childhood the Kapha (the anabolic factor) predominates; during adulthood it is the Pitta and in old age theVata is at its peak. Similarly, if we divide day and night separately in three parts each, in the first one third of day or night theKapha would be predominant, in the second one third phase the Pitta will be high and in the last one third part theVata would be at its peak. In relation to the food intake also, the same principle applies, i.e., while taking food or soon after taking the food Kapha would be touching its peak, during digestion the Pitta will be high and after the digestion is over the level of Vata rises.

Likewise, the levels of Doshas keep on fluctuating as per the habitat and climatic conditions also. During this, they tend to accumulate (Sanchaya), augment (Prakopa) and subdue (Prashama) spontaneously, if the rules of preventive health care (Swasthavritta) and good personal conduct are carefully observed.

But if we ignore our health, the disease process (Samprapati) sets in. This means, instead of three stages, six different stages are produced and a well-manifested disease known asRoga begins. These six stages are i) Sanchaya(Stage of accumulation or increased level), ii) Prakopa (Stage of Excitation), iii) Prasara (Stage of spread), iv) Sthana-Samsraya(Stage of Localisation), v) Vyakti ( Stage of Manifestation) and vi) Bheda (Stage of complication /differentiation).

It is said that the duty of a physician or an individual by himself is to control the doshic aggravation at earlier stages, in order to maintain / restore the good health.

Since the pathogenesis mainly depends on the altered Doshas, the treatment should be aimed at i) restoring the chemical constitution of a dosha if deranged, ii) subdue their levels if they are excited and, iii) stimulate their levels if they are subdued.

The state of equilibrium may be achieved by observing the precautions and following the directions given by a physician on the three Ds of HEALTH. These three Ds are - a) Aahar (Diet), b) Vihar(Deeds) and c) Aushadh (Drugs).

The three Ds suggested by ancient physicians matter a lot in maintaining the three dimensional structure of healthy human body.

SHAREERA POSHANA - ( Nourishment Of The Physical Body)

It is a complex process. Ayurveda believes that the nourishment of the body tissues depends basically on the digestive and metabolic processes that collectively take part in the maintenance, preservation, construction and repair mechanism of tissue - humoral components. The immune system (Ojas) also plays an important role in it.

AGNIS (Biochemical Transformers)

According to Ayurveda, some kind of heat / energy is required, for any type of chemical conversion, whether it is from the food to chyle; or, from one tissue to the other. The inbuilt sources of energy are termed asAgnis. They take part in their respective biochemical transformational process. Theoretically, Agnis are thirteen in number and are of three types.

Agni - Naturally existing bio-chemical transformers supporting the formation of Dhatus and converting the non-biological material into the biologically live tissues / humors / enzymes, etc.


For conversion of food to chyle (Rasa)
Digestive enzymes and hormones instigating the process of chemical disintegration of food
These are seven in number and assist in the conversion process of Dhatus i.e. from Rasa to Rakta, etc.
Subtle enzymes and hormones at tissue level
Five in number.   Essential for converting the non-biological form of elements into their biological form.
Factors responsible for acceptance and adaptability of ingested material

Depending on the physical constitution of individuals Jatharagni (the factor behind appetite) are of four types -

Inconsistent appetite therefore indigestion of an individual having this, may be occasionally normal and impaired.   Such people should take balanced and easily digestible diet.
Tikshna  Agni
Strong appetite, hence voracious food intake and digestion of even large quantities of food is possible in individuals endowed with this type of Agni.
Weak appetite,  hence less food intake and poor digestion is seen in such persons.  Such persons should take fresh, appetising and nutritionally balanced  food.
Individual with normal appetite are known to have `Samagni'.   Balanced food intake and proper digestion is observed in these people.   Unless there is a strong aberration in dietary habits,  no digestive upset is observed in them.

AGNIS (Their role in Digestive / Metabolic Process)

Agnis (Biochemical convertors) and Pittaare collectively responsible for digestion and metabolism. For an easier understanding, if we compare the gall bladder as the seat of Pitta, the pancreas may be considered to be the seat of Jatharagni, hence referred to as Agnyashaya. The breakdown of the food particles occurs due to the action of Pranavayu. The KledakKapha moistens the food, hence comparable with gastric mucus. The Pranavayu is also responsible for oesophageal peristalsis.

The final phase of digestion (Dhatvagnipaka) consists of metabolic transformations, as the digested food-juice (Anna-rasa) is transported through different channels, so as to nourish the seven primary constituents of the body. Responsible for this metabolism is the Pitta present in each of the constituents, which manifests itself as the `heat' (Ushna), resulting from burning fuels in the form of food. The heat in each constituents is responsible for converting the nutrient substance relevant to that particular constituent and food in the general food-juice (Anna-rasa), into the nourishing factor (Poshaka) for that constituent. This is necessary for the constituent to be built up. There is a channel (Srotas) appropriate to each constituent so that the nourishing factor is conveyed to the constituent. This has been discussed in detail in the foregoing in the `Chemistry of the formation of Dhatus'.

As a result of this metabolism, waste-products (Kitta) from each constituents are thrown up : Kapha-mala from chyle, Pitta-mala from blood, excretions from the ears, eyes, nostrils, mouth, roots of bodily hair and the genital organs from muscle, sweat from bone, the unctuous matter from the eyes, skin and faeces from bone marrow and as an exception, the omnipotent stabiliserOjas.

SROTAS (Channels of Circulation)

Channels of circulation or tracts within the body are called Srotas. They are named so because of their tendency of trickling or oozing (Sru : `to flow') of secretions through them. They are the pathways (Ayana) for the nutrient products; waste-products and Doshas during the process of metabolism. Srotas enable their products to reach their destination (viz. assimilation of nutrient substances by different parts of the body, or elimination of waste products from the body). They transport the Dhatuswhich are undergoing transformation. They are physical structures (murti-mantah), and specific in their functions. While the basic sites of Srotas with different functions are fixed depending on the biological material they are carrying, their openings are innumerable. The Srotas can be compared with the unicellular end structures like capillaries or alveoli of lungs.

The vitiation of any of these Srotas (channels) is caused by exaggeration or inhibition of normal functions; occurrence of tumours in different sites and the shifting of the effected components to different areas of operation, manifested in the form of metabolic disorders.

MALAS (Major Excretory Products)

Mala is considered to be an essential ingredient of the living organism. It denotes the products, which are not only to be excreted, but also which can be utilised to support the body. It is therefore termed as "Dhatu", along with the term Kitta (meaning to be excreted)

Such unusual characteristic of eliminable waste products is unique to Ayurvedic science alone. The Dhatus which are seven in number are said to generate seven groups of by-products which are required to be eliminated from the system.

They are as follows

1. Mucoid excretion of phlegm as waste product, from chyle.

2. Bile, from blood.

3. Waxy excretion of the ear, mucous excretion of the eye, nasal discharges, discharge from the mouth, excretion from hair follicles, and excretion from genitalia etc, from muscle tissue.

4. Sweat, from fat tissue.

5. Hair on the face, body-hair and keratin of nails etc. from bone.

6. Unctuous substances in the eye, in the stools and in the skin, from bone-marrow.

7. Secretion of genitalia, from sperm or semen.

Urine - It is the medium through which water soluble byproducts are eliminated from the body. A healthy person should pass urine about six-seven times in twenty four hours, and for this purpose it is recommended that one should consume sufficient quantity of water. Due to deficient formation of urine, aching pain in the bladder is seen, causing dribbling of urine or other symptoms of dysuria. If the formation is excessive, it results into frequent urge of micturition and distension of the bladder.

Faeces - It comprises of refused food and also substances eliminated from the tissue of the body. It also comprises of those solid substances which are not chemically digested by the body. Such substances require a solid media for excretion which is provided by the roughage present in our diet. For the normal evacuation of stools, as well as the metabolites attached with it, it is advisable to consume higher quantities of green vegetables and fiber rich diet. A healthy person should evacuate faecal matter twice in twenty-four hours, and it is recommended that one should not avoid the urge to defeacate. If the elimination is not proper, it may result in diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract and other parts of the body, like lumbago, rheumatism, sciatica, paralysis, bronchitis, asthma and different kinds of intestinal worms. Deficient formation of faeces leads to pain at the sides of the abdomen and in the region of the heart , and flatus accompanied by the rumbling sound around the region of liver and intestine. Excess formation of faeces leads to distension of the abdomen and colic pain in the loin and intestine.

Sweat - It is the release of by-products through the secretion of skin. It is the result of proper physical exercise, some therapies like fomentation, and the intake of some drugs. Good amount of sweating ensures lightness in body and alertness in action. Deficient perspiration leads to numbness around the hairpores and dry skin, whereas excessive perspiration leads to itching and bad odour of the skin.

PACHANA AND CHAYA - APACHAYA (Digestion And Metabolism)

In Ayurveda, the process of digestion is referred to as Pachan. Grammatically it means cooking. Pachan is a complex process which is said to be complete in three major portions of alimentary tract viz., Aamashaya, Pachyamanashaya and Pakwashaya. Although no specific anatomical details of digestive system are available in books, but the functional classification appears to be quite scientific and complete.

Roughly the digestive tract is considered to be twenty metres long. Its first part is named as Aamashaya. The word `Aam' refers to the semi-digested food material and structurally, perhaps limits at the stomach; but functionally we can include duodenum under this term. Next to this is the second part `Pachyamanashaya' which means the area where the food is under the process of digestion. This refers to duodenum and jejunum. Last is Pakwashaya, this is the area which stores the waste material after the digestion is over. This is because, the essence portion (Poshaka) of the food, i.e., the chyle automatically gets absorbed in the body through Srotas(channels) no sooner then food is properly digested, i.e., chemically disintegrated Pakwashayaalso arranges to reabsorb the necessary water levels in the body and expel theKitta / Pureesha (stools) or Mutra (urine) from the body. Pakwashaya therefore may be compared with colon.

Chemically also, the process of digestion is quite intricate. All the ingested material are said to break down in such a way that their molecular configuration (based on the six tastes) ultimately reduces to only three in order to facilitate the process of absorption (Madhur, Amla, Katu, Vipaka). This is known as Nishthapaka (the final out come). Besides this, the entire chemical medium of digestive and digested materials (starting from the level of saliva till succusentericus), keeps on changing in three phases i.e., sweetish, sourish and bitterish characteristics respectively. This conversion is known as Madhur, Amla andKatuVipaka. And since this process is mainly in consonance with the time factor at different stages, of digestion it is known as `Avasthapaka' . If we compare this with physiology of digestion we find that :

a)'undigested' phase, commencing soon after the food is ingested through the mouth, and before it gets into the stomach and duodenum; the prevailing taste-mode in this phase is 'sweet' (Madhura)

b) 'partly digested' phase, in the region of stomach and duodenum, where the emergent taste-mode would be 'sour' or 'acid' (Amla)

c) 'fully digested' phase in the large intestine, where the taste-mode is transformed into the 'pungent' or 'acrid' (Katu)

As the entire process of digestion requires some of heat, i.e., energy, some important factors comes into picture. They are :

a) Jatharangi : Those biochemical factors (enzymes) which promote hunger and also convert the outside food into a form which is acceptable to the body system.

b) PachakPitta : Those enzymatic agents which initiate and complete the process of digestion.

c) Bhutagnis and Dhatvagnis : Those biochemical converters which facilitate the assimilation of the essence portion of ingested food and activate the formation of individual's Dhatus (tissues / humoral components).

OJAS (The Basis Of Immunological Strength)

Ojas is the essence of the reproductive system. It is the only by-product which, contrary to all rules, is the essence, which needs continuos nourishment and enhancement and which is the factor behind the immuno response and all vital powers. In other words, the essential product of all the seven body constituents, especially of the seventh, vizShukra, is called Ojas. The word also means vigor, vitality or bodily strength. It is considered to be the principal factor responsible for the effective functioning of the body and the sense-organs.

Though present all over the body, its main seat is in the heart and it circulates all over the body through blood vessels. Heart is the most important vital organ, which is active throughout the life and hence it requires constant supply of easily utilisable form of energy. This energy is termed as ParaOja i.e. superior quality of Oja. It can be therefore said, that efficient functioning of the sense-organs, formation and growth of flesh, physical strength and nourishment are all due to this factor.

Character of Oja

It is white with yellowish and reddish tinge. It resembles ghee in colour, honey in taste and popcorn in smell. It's prevailing properties are oily, soft, smooth, steady, sweet, heavy, viscid and clear fluid.

Oja which is responsible for functions of heart measures six to eight drops. Decrease in Ojas, due to any cause leads to shortening of life.

Functions of Oja

Since Oja imparts energy and strength to all the tissues and organs of the body, all the cells, tissues and organs depend on it. Vata, Pitta and Kapha in well balanced state, require the presence of Oja for carrying out normal life processes.

Disorders of Oja

Trauma, exhaustion following exertion, psychological conditions like anger, sorrow etc., hunger and emaciation leads to disorders of Oja.

There are three disorders of Oja.

1. Ojavisrana

2. Oja-vyapat

3. Oja-kshaya

Ojavisrana - The symptoms of this are : Pain, loss of lustre, dislocation of joints, reluctance to move limbs, inactivity, disturbances of Dosha and exhaustion.

Oja-Vyapat - Emaciation, wasting, weak digestive power, exhaustion, oedema of Vata type, splitting pain, excessive sleep, drowsiness, giddiness and fainting are the symptoms of oja-vyapat.

Oja-kshaya - Weakness, exhaustion, loss of lustre, dryness of skin, weak digestive power, fears, disorders of sensory and motor systems, impaired thinking, blindness, wasting of muscles, delusion, delirium and loss of consciousness leading sometimes to death are the symptoms of Ojakshaya.