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Basic Principles of Ayurveda

Purusha: Atma when joins with Pancha Mahabhuta then the matter assumes life and the body is termed as Purusha. In Ayurveda the term Purusha is specifically used for human beings. Thus Pancha Mahabhuta is the basic elements required for the formation of all the bodily tissues and sensory and motor organs including mind.

Dosha: The concept of Dosha has been evolved by the great sages of Ayurveda to differentiate with living and non-living. Through Sarira (human body) is made up of Pancha Mahabhuta. It attains life only when Atma (spirit), Indriya (senses) and Mana join it.

Dosha are the biological units of living body which are responsible for all its functions.

Dosha are three viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and each of which is also made of Mahabhuta. Vayu and Akasha Mahabhuta form Vata, Agni Mahabhuta forms Pitta and Jala Mahabhuta forms Kapha dosha.

The word Dosha is derived from the verb ‘Dusa’ which means to vitiate. In the normal state of equilibrium they support the body and when vitiated produce the disease. Dosha play important role in pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases.

Vata: The word ‘Vata’ is derived from the verb ‘Va’ which means Gati (motion). This Dosha is responsible for all the movements in the body. It is of five types:
  • Prana Vayu
  • Udana Vayu
  • Vyana Vayu
  • Apana Vayu

The seat of function of Prana vayu is head, chest, throat, tongue, mouth and nose. It controls the functions of salivation, eructation, sneezing, respiration and deglutition etc.

The seat of function of Udana vayu is umblicius, chest and throat. Its main function is phonation. It also provides enthusiasm, vitality, complexion etc. to human beings.

Functions of Samana Vayu are closely related to Agni (digestive-juices).It regulates the secretion of gastric juice, retains the food in the stomach or intestine for the required time, thus helps in its absorption.

Vyana Vayu which is situated all over the body is responsible for the pulsation of heart and blood circulation. It controls the movement of eyes, limbs etc.

The seats of function of Apana Vayu are testes, bladder, umbilical region, thigh, groin etc. It controls the functions of elimination of semen, urine; faeces etc.The movements related with the delivery of foetus are also governed by it.

Pitta:The word Pitta is derived from the root ‘Tapa’ which means heat (Santapa). This Dosha is responsible for digestion and metabolism of the body. It is of five types :
  • Pacaka Pitta
  • Ranjaka Pitta
  • Bharajaka Pitta
  • Alocaka Pitta
  • Sadhaka Pitta

Pacaka Pitta is located in the Grahani (stomach and intestine). Its main function is digestion and it also augments the other Pitta situated in the body.

Seat of function of Ranjaka Pitta are liver and spleen.Its main function is to convert Rasa into Rakta(blood).

Bharajaka Pitta is found in the skin and it provides pigment to the skin ,hair etc.

Alocaka Pitta is situated in the eye, and vision and discrimination of colours are its functions.

Sadhaka Pitta is located in the Hrdaya and it is responsible for intelligence and ego.It is due to this Pitta that all the functions of the mind and the body are co-ordinated.

Kapha: Kapha is also called Slesma. One of its main functions is to provide nutrition to bodily tissues.Kapha is also of 5 types:
  • Kledaka Kapha
  • Avalambaka Kapha
  • Tarpaka Kapha
  • Bodhaka Kapha
  • Slesaka Kapha

Kledaka Kapha is situated in the stomach.It is slimy (Picchila) in quality, sweet in taste and has the action of moistening the food ingested.It also also protects the digestive organs from being hurt by the digestive juices.

Avalambaka Kapha is located in the chest where it provides the nutrition to the heart.

Bodhaka Kapha is found in tha tongue and is responsible for perceiving the taste.

Seat of function of Slesaka Kapha is joints where it lubricates the joints so that they may function properly.

Tarpaka Kapha is situated in the head and gives nutrition to the mental faculties.

Manas Dosha: In addition to Vata, Pitta and Kapha which are bodily Dosa, there are two manasa Dosa.
  • Rajas (passion)
  • Tamas (darkness)
Manasa Dosa may be held responsible for mental diseases.

Dusya: In the disease process first the Dosa are vitiated which in turn vitiate Dhatu and Mala. As Dhatu and Mala get vitiated by Dosa ,therefore they are also named as Dusya.In the normal condition,Dosa ,Dhatu and Mla support the body but when vitiated produce the disease.

Dhatu: The word ‘Dhatu’ is derived from the verb ‘Dha’ which means to hold.The matters which hold the body is termed as Dhatu. In general, it is a term signifying bodily fluids and tissues. Dhatu are of 7 types:

  • Rasa(nourishing fluid of plasma)
  • Rakta(blood)
  • Mamsa(muscular tissue)
  • Meda(fatty tissue)
  • Asthi(bone and connective tissue)
  • Majja(bone marrow)
  • Sukra(vital substance)

There are 3 types of pathological changes in these Dhatu viz. Ksaya (decrease), Vrddhi (increase) and Pradosa (vitiation).The Ksaya of one and Vrddhi of another may be simultaneous in the same disease and in the same patient.In this condition, Dhatu increases in one place at the cost of another.

Upadhatu:Upadhatu are not actually nourishing the body but they are the bye products of Dhatu, necessary for the body.
They are Stanya (breast milk), Artava (menstrual blood), Kandara(tendons),Sira(vessels),Vasa(fat),Tvak (skin), Snayu etc.They are also vitiated by Dosha.

Mala: Mala are different excretions viz. faeces, urine, Mala Kapha, Mala Pitta, excretions from organs, Sveda (sweat), Nakha(nails), hair, the oily discharge from skin etc.The Mala are also vitiated and included in Dusya.

Srotas:The word Srotas is derived from ‘Sru’ which means oozing. The oozing of nourishing fluid and the return of waste matters takes place through these Srotas. In fact, the whole body is composed of Srotas, but for the convenience of diagnosis and treatment, they have been classified into 13 groups.

They are Prana-Vaha (channels through which oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange takes place), Rasa-Vasa, Rakta-Vaha, Mamsa-Vaha, Meda-Vaha, Asthi-Vaha, Majja-Vaha, Sukra-Vha, Mutra-Vaha (urine channels), Purisa-Vaha (channel for faeces) and Sveda-Vaha (channels for sweat).

The pathological conditions in these Srotas are Atipravrtti (excessive flow), Sangraha (accumulation), Vimarga-Gamana (extravasation) and Sira-Granthi (thrombosis). Any one, two, three or even four types of pathological conditions may occur in the disease.

Agni: Agni is a very important factor because Ayurveda believes that majority; if not all the diseases are caused by the vitiation of Agni.It is responsible for all the digestion and metabolism of the body.

It is of 13 types viz. Jatharagni (digestive juices), seven Dhatvagni i.e. Agni of Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and Sukra, and 5 Bhutagni i.e. Agni of Akasa, Vayu, Tejas, Jala and Prithvi. Out of these, Jatharagni is very important and all the other Agni are dependent upon it.

The vitiation of these Agni is of 3 types viz. Vismagni, Tiksnagni, and Mandagni. These three abnormalities of Agni are responsible for producing the various types of diseases but Mandagni is the common cause of most of the diseases. Top

Ama: Ama has been defined as

  1. Undigested or semi-digested food
  2. Mala Sancaya (the accumulation of excretion)
  3. First vitiation of Dosa Generally,

it is produced by diminished power of digestive juices (Mandagani), but it may form at other levels of Agni i.e. Bhutagni and Dhatvagni. In short, Ama may be produced at any level of digestion and metabolism.It is also a frequent cause of diseases. Great stress has been laid in Ayurveda on correction of the digestion.

Vyadhi (disease) and Its Causes: The condition which causes uneasiness to Sarira (body) or Mana (mind) is defined as Vyadhi or disease. It is produced by three factors viz.
  1. Asatmyendriyartha Samyoga
  2. Prajanaparadha
  3. Parinama

Asatmyendriyartha Samyoga : The excessive (Atiyoga) or faulty (Mithyayoga) or no use (Ayoga) of the sense organs is called Asatmyendriyartha Samyoga. Constantly seeing of bright objects like sun, reading in the dark and not seeing at all are examples of Atiyoga, Mithyayoga and Ayoga respectively.,

Parinama (Kala): The seasons play important role in the health and its abnormality may disturb the equilibrium of Dosa. Excessive cold, heat or rain in their respective seasons is Atiyoga; Less cold during winters or less hot during summers is Ayoga; and hot during winters and cold during summers is Mithyayoga of Kala (season).

Prajnaparadha: If the right thing is not done in the right time then it is called Prajnaparadha.It is the root cause of Asatmyendriyartha Samyoga. The causes may be further be divided into two groups :
  1. Bahya (extrinsic)
  2. Abhyantara (intrinsic)
Errors of diet ,season ,unnatural use of sensory and motor organs etc. are the Bahya causes. Vitiation of Dosa, Dusya, Srotas, Agni etc. are the Abhyantara causes.

Classification of Vyadhi (Disease): All the diseases are classified into three major groups namely.

  1. Nija Roga
  2. Agantuja Roga
  3. Manasa Roga

The Diseases caused by the vitiation of Vata, Pitta and Kapha are called Nija Roga;the diseases caused due to trauma ,bite etc. are Agantuja Roga;and mental diseases are Manasa Roga. The diseases are also classified into 3 groups :

  1. Adhyatmika
  2. Adhibhautika
  3. Adhidaivika
Adhyatmika: Adhyatmika diseases are further classified into Adi-Bala-Pravrtta (hereditary) Janma-Bala-Pravratta (congenital) Dosa-Bala-Pravrtta (due to vitiation of Dosa)

Adi-Bala-Pravrtta or hereditary : diseases are of two types viz. maternalor Matrja and paternal or Pitrja.

Janma-Bala-Pravrtta or congenital:, diseases of two types viz. Rasa-Krta which are due to the vitiated Rasa ,Rakta etc. of the mother and dauhrdapacaraja which are due to the irregularities in diet during pregnancy.

Dosa-Bala-Pravrtta : diseases are produced due to the vitiation of the three Dosa-Vata, Pitta. Kapha.

Adhi-bhautika: These types of diseases are also called Sanghata-Bala-Pravrtta diseases. They are produced by extrinsic factors e.g. injury, bites etc. Top

Adhi-daivika: These diseases are caused natural forces beyond the control of man. These are of three types viz.
  1. Kala-Bala-Pravrtta
  2. Daiva-Bala-Pravrtta
  3. Svabhava-Bala-Pravrtta

Kal-Bala-Pravrtta: Diseases caused by seasonal changes which may due to vitiated (Vyapanna) seasons or normal changes (Avyapanna) of the seasons. Daiva-Bala-Pravrtta diseases caused by contamination (Samsarga) or accidental causes e.g. lightening, fall etc.

Svabhava-Bala-Pravrtta diseases are produced by natural physiological processes e.g. old age, sleep, hunger, thirst etc.

Sat-Kriya-Kala: During the disease process the abnormalities of Dosa passd through six stages viz.
  1. Sancaya (stage of accumulation)
  2. Prakopa (stge of provocation)
  3. Prasara (stage of spread)
  4. Sthana Samsraya(localization)
  5. Vyakti (disease manifestation)
  6. Bheda (chronocity or permanent pathological changes or incurability)
These six stages are called Sat-Kriya-Kala or time for the treatment. It ha sbeen emphasized in Ayurveda to diagnose and treat the disease at an early stage, so that its complications may be prevented. As the proverb says prevention is better then cure, Dosas treated timely may prevent the disease.

Chikitsa: Whatever is planned for the prevention or elimination of the disease is known as Cikitsa. It is of three types :
  1. Daiva-Vyapasraya
  2. Yukti-Vyapasraya
  3. Sattvavajaya

Daiva Vyapasraya Cikitsa: consists of wearing the ausadha and practice of mantra, mangla. It is not in common use now-a-days etc. Sttvavajaya Cikitsa is especially useful for the mental diseases and it consists of Manonigraha i.e. control of mind.

Yukti-Vyapasraya: Cikitsa is being widely used for the prevention and elimination of diseases by the Ayurvedic physicians since time immemorial. This type of treatment consists of planning (Yojana) of dietetic regimen (Pathya) and medication.

The main object of Yukti-Vyapasrya cikitsa is Yukti or Yojana which menas planning. In this type of treatment the physician plans the Ahara, Vihara, Ausadha, Matra, Kala etc. by taking into consideration,Desa,Kala, and causes, symptoms,signs, stage,complications, curability etc. of the disease.

Taking all these points in view, a physician whatever plans (by Yukti) for prevention or elimination of disease is known as Yukti-Vyapasraya Cikitsa.
Taking the different Yukti into consideration, the physician plans two types of treatment depending upon the condition of the patient. These are Sodhana and Samana.

Shodhana Cikitsa : The treatment planned for the elimination of increased and morbid Dosa from the body is known as Sodhana therapy. It is also known as Panca Karma (five fold therapy).it constists of Vamana, Virecana, Anuvasana Basti, Asthapana Basti and Sirovirecana (Nasya).

Before undertaking the above five purificatory processes some treatment is to be given, which is known as Purva-Karma meaning ‘pre-treatment steps’. It consists of Snehana and Svedana. In the after-treatment steps the patient is taken to normal diet gradually and this is called Samsarjana Karma.

Shamana Cikitsa: The treatment in which the Kupita Dosa is pacified without eliminating it from the body is defined as Samana Cikitsa.

It is classified in two groups namely Apatarpana and Santarpana .

Apatarpana Ciktsa consists of three measures viz. Langhana, Ruksana and Svedana; and Santarpana Cikitsa is divided in Brhmana, Anehana and Stambhana .

Langhana: This type of treatment is prescribed in in the disorders caused by the increased Kapha or Ama .It consists of Pipasa, Atapa Sevana, Maruta Sevana, Pacana, Upavasa, and Vyayama. Vamana, Virecana, Asthapana Basti and Sirovirecana are also included in it. Thus it is quite clear that from the Ayurvedic point of view, only fasting is not Langhana. Any of the above methods may be prescribed for Langhana, taking into consideration the strength of the patient.

Ruksana: It is described in the disease caused by Ama, Urustambha etc. In this type of treatment Ruksana, Laghu, Trksana drugs are used.

Svedana: The treatment which causes sweating is known as svedana. It is indicated in disorders of Vata and Kapha.

Brmhana: The treatment which increases the Dhatu is Brmhana Cikitsa. It is indicated in weakness and diseases causing debility.

Snehana: This type of treatment is particularly useful for disorders of Vata. It consists of administration of oily preparations.

Stambhana: This type of treatment is indicated in the diseases of Pitta, Agnidagdha, Atisara, Vamana etc. The drugs having Sita, Manda, Mrdu, Slaksana, Ruksa, Sushma, Drava, Sthira and Laghu properties are used for this treatment. The above mentioned treatment is done through Ausadhi (medicine), Ahara (diet) And Vihara (treatment with other means excluding medicines and diet e.g. exercise, rest etc.).

Pathya: In fact, Ayurveda puts a great stress on the diet and diet habit which are called ‘Pathya’. It has been mentioned in ayurveda that if a person suffering from any disease follows strictly the regulation of diet (Pathya); he may not require medicine, but if he does not follow the regulation of diet, medicine may be fruitless.

Taking account of these, it is necessary to follow ‘Pathya’ in health as well in disease. Selection of food and diet in general is to be made according to Rasa(taste) ,Guna( properties),Virya(energy),Vipaka(ultimate results), Prabhava( Ultimate principles of action ) ,compatibility and incompatibility(Viruddha).

Other important factors of diet are method of intake of the food, the time of taking of food and Satmya (homologous) etc. Stress is also laid on purity of Vayu (atmosphere), avoiding pollution of water, Desa (habitat) and Kala(season) for prevention of epidemics (Janapadodhvamsa).