Doshas

Doshas

Ayurveda is a system of healing based on the five elements Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Ether. Three doshas, or constitutions, are made up from the unique combination of these elements — vata, pitta, and kapha. Various qualities associated with each dosha can be seen in the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of one’s life. There are aspects of each dosha in each of us, but one or two tend to dominate, affecting everything from digestion to emotions.

However, the main features of handling remain largely the same.  Ayurveda’s basic model is based upon a central theory called ‘tridosha tatwa’. ‘Tri-pollutant’ is the Sanskrit amalgamation of the two Sanskrit words, ‘tri’ meaning three and the Sanskrit word ‘dosh’ meaning pollutant; the English word ‘theory’ stands for the Sanskrit word ‘tatwa’ a translation of the same.  A substantial role is played by pollutants and vitiating factors in maintaining health and well-being.

Now let’s move forward with the 3 doshas which are

  • Vata
  • Kapha
  • Pitta    

In Ayurvedic medicine, the key idea is to generate or maintain conditions or environments where ‘tridoshi’ can operate harmoniously, or, if they have gone out of order or harmony, to restore the conditions or environments that will allow them to function properly.

‘Tridosh’ (all things) is composed of five fundamental elements, namely, earth, water, energy, air, and space; according to Indian scholars, all living beings, whether tiny or macroscopic in form, are made up of these elements, in different variations and combinations.  In the end, we are products of digestion and assimilation of foodstuff, just as we are made out of panchamahabhuta.  After digestion, food is generally divided into two portions – the ‘ahara-prosad’ or essential portion and the ‘kitta’ or non-essential portion.

In turn, the significant portion becomes seven ‘dhatu’ or elements, which include the ‘rasa’ (chyle), the ‘rakta’ (blood), the ‘mamsa’ (protein), the ‘meda’ (fat), the ‘ashthi’ (bone), the ‘majja’ (marrow) and the ‘sukra’ (reproductive elements).  Each of the seven elements contributes to the evolution and capability of the body, providing it with nutrition and supporting it.  Hence, they are collectively referred to as the ‘sapta-dhatu’ or the seven supporters (‘sapta’ is the number seven, while ‘dhatu’ is the supporter).  In successive steps, the generation and alteration of ‘sapta-dhatu’ take place from ‘rasa’ to ‘rakta’ to ‘mamsa’ to ‘meda’ to ‘ashthi’, to ‘majja’ and to ‘sukra’.  An individual’s presence is consistent from beginning to end with this process.

An important part of the ‘mala’ is vayu, pitta, and kapha.  They provide support and maintenance of the body if they exist in a desirable quantity and measure, and are described as ‘mala-dhatu,’ a waste product that sustains life.  While the ‘sapta-dhatu’ can provide nourishment, the ‘mala-dhatu’ cannot.  Additionally, ‘mala-dhatu’ – ‘vayu’, ‘pitta’ and ‘kapha’ vitiate or pollute the effects of sapta-dhatu, and lead to illness or disease. Therefore, they are referred to as ‘doshas’ or vitiating factors, or pollutants; and collectively, as the ‘tridasa’.

Susruta maintained that vayu dominates primarily in the pelvic capacity, between the anus and hipbone; pitta is located between the heart and the navel; and kapha resides primarily in the intestines.  Located in the upper region of the heart, pitta is held by Caraka.  At all times, Tridosh exists and prevails, but it changes with the passage of time.  There is a variation of vayu, pitta, and kapha at the end, middle, and initial phases of the age of an individual human being, and of the day and night, and of the intake of food.

While eating, one can see that kapha predominates at the beginning, pitta at the middle, and vayu at the end.  In a similar manner, tridosh is related to age, day, and night, i.e. kapha dominates in the infancy phase, pitta in the middle age stage, and vayu in the old age stage. 

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