Basic Principles Related to Human Body
Deviating from the known approaches of our times to human body, Ayurveda studies the human body more from a functional point of view. In Ayurveda, human body is not considered just as a mass of organs, systems and tissues; but the complex mechanism’ of myriad functions taking place both at physical and mental level are evaluated and described.
In order to explain the functional complexity of human body, Ayurveda propounded few basic Principles. These Principles visualize the functional units of the body to be formed by three Dosha
(humours), seven Dhatu
(tissues) and Mala
(metabolic end products) which are in equilibrium during health.
The human body is more complex than any other form of life as on date. Purusha
–the Human body is the aggregate of 25 elements, together with Atma
–the spirit or soul- DOSHAS
Ayurveda identifies that, the functional integrity of human body is governed by a balance of three specific humors, termed as Doshas. Practically speaking, their equilibrium is not a static one but dynamic in nature.
The word Dosha is derived from the root dus, which sounds similar to the English prefix ‘dys’. If translated, the word dosha would mean a "fault", "stain", and "transgression" against the cosmic rhythm or an inaccuracy that leads to chaos. However, in the context of Ayurveda philosophy, doshas are not per se harmful. Rather, they seem to be called doshas for they are prone to undergo chaos or aberrations under disturbed circumstances
If Doshas are considered to be manifestations of energy, Vata dosha can rightly be equated to a Kinetic Energy. The origin of the word Vata can be traced to "that which moves" and it fits the dosha to the letter.
Vata is the initiator of all life processes that are dynamic in nature. It represents the impulse in the communication network of the body – from brain to periphery, from tissue to tissue and cell to cell. Vata is responsible for perception (pain), transmission and reaction. It brings a thought from the memory to consciousness, and transfers current experiences into memories. It inspires speech and is the base for laughter and exaltation.
In human physiology Vata governs all such functions that involve somatic initiation and dynamism:-
- Vata initiates and transmits all stimuli.
* Vata governs the intestinal motility facilitating the downward movement of food we consume.
* Vata governs whole process of respiration.
* Vata governs the movement of heart. Thus, it takes off delivering the nutrients to all cells in our body. It governs the collection and transport of carbon dioxide and other wastes from body.
* Vata governs our intellectual perception, imagination and motivation.
In order to explain more intricate details of these doshas, Ayurvedic doctrines classified each of them in five sub-doshas; like vata dosha in "Prana, Udana, Vyana, Samana, Apana"
Pitta represents the somatic energy in all living forms. In a living cell, it converts the ingested food into energy. Pitta maintains the natural pigmentation/colour of cells. Pitta is primarily distributed in the regions of umbilicus, the stomach and small intestines, sweat, lymph, blood, plasma, eyes and skin.
Pitta dosha, as the name suggests, is responsible for all types of transformation in the body. Pitta controls digestion of food in the gut as well as the conversion of light rays which fall on the retina to electrical impulses which in turn are carried by the optic nerve for processing in the brain. A strong Pitta in the brain allows good processing of the information, thereby leading to a certain maturity in comprehension.
If vata dosha controls exultation and laughter, Pitta dosha controls emotions like anger, fear and bravado. In keeping with its effect on the brain, Pitta is responsible for positive and action-oriented emotions. Because it hones the intelligence, Pitta gives rise to greed and may be said to be responsible for Machiavellian tendencies in humans.
In human body, it governs an array of complex activities concerning digestion and metabolism; -
- Pitta generates and maintains some natural urges, like hunger, thirst.
*Pitta represents various secretions, responsible for digestion.
*Pitta regulates the complexion and suppleness of skin
* Pitta is instrumental in the maintenance of vision.
- Pitta supports certain mental phenomena like intellectual comprehension, Conviction, courage and valour.
* Human body is maintained at a constant temperature of 37o C irrespective of temperature in outer environment. This phenomena is called as "Thermo-regulation" and constitutes an important function of Pitta.
In order to explain more intricate details of these doshas, Ayurvedic doctrines classified each of them in five sub-doshas like pitta dosha in "Pachaka, Ranjaka, Sadhaka, Alochaka, Bhrajaka"
In human body, Kapha is primarily distributed in chest, throat, head, plasma, fatty deposition and tongue. If Vata is kinetic energy then Kapha is potential energy.
It gives mental strength, as well as resistance to disease. It gives firmness to joints while keeping them lubricated. It also imparts sexual potency.
* Like in living cell, Kapha maintains the structural integrity and confines Individual organs to their specific location.
* It protects the bodily organs against physiological injury.
* Kapha imparts immunity against diseases.
* It maintains the fluid balance.
* Mental phenomenon like, intellectual stability, determinations are governed by Kapha.
In order to explain more intricate details of these doshas, Ayurvedic doctrines classified each of them in five sub-doshas like kapha dosha in "Avlambaka, Kedaka, Bodhaka, Tarpaka, Sleshaka".
Dhatus are structural blocks of the body. They constitute the body -termed as S’areera. The most important difference between the Doshas and the Dhatus is that the latter perform functions under the influence of the Doshas.
The word Dhatu means ‘support’, in Sanskrit. Tissues therefore form the infrastructure of the body. There are Seven types of such structural elements that, constitute human body.
Rasa :- It represents the primary constitution of human body. Water is a major constituent of human body. Such water is present in human body, both as extra cellular and intracellular fluid content. Rasa dhatu-the first of seven structural elements refers to both extra cellular and intracellular portions of fluid in the body.
Rakta :- The word Rakta refers to Blood. Thus, Rakta dhatu represents the blood, which includes its cellular components. Blood is perceived as a special type of tissue, in modern concepts of physiology also.
Mamsa :- The muscular tissue, which constitutes many internal organs as well as the muscles, is referred to as Mamsa.
Medas :- Medo-dhatu is referred to as adipose tissue. Commonly, adipose tissue comprises of all deposits of fat-distributed in the body.
Asthi :- All the bones in human body are composed of a tissue termed as osseous tissue. All such tissue is termed as Asthi dhatu in Ayurveda. Asthi dhatu also include all cartilaginous structure in the body.
Majja :- Majja is bone marrow. A special type tissue called myeloid tissue forms bone marrow.
Sukra :- Sukra represents the reproductive elements. This includes the sperm in males and ovum in females. Apart from these elements, Sukra also refers to cellular reproductive elements.
TISSUE NUTRITION IN AYURVEDA
The mechanism involved in the maintenance of nutrition to these 7 structural elements is explained in a concept; known as " Dhatuparinama Vada".
As per this concept, the ingested food is digested in digestive tract and nutrient and waste parts are segregated. This kind of digestion is carried out primarily, by Pachaka Pitta-which is the digestive moiety of Pitta.
Samana Vata and Kledaka Kapha, which are the functional moieties of Vata and Kapha respectively, located in digestive system, support Pachaka Pitta in this process. In view of its fire like role, Pachaka Pitta is referred to as "Pachakagni".
This process can be explained very simply, with an analogy of "Cooking". We need the help of air, fire and water to cook food properly, in our day today practice. In our body, functions of air, fire and water are played by Samana Vata, Pachaka Pitta and Kledaka Kapha respectively. A right degree of cooking is possible when the air, fire and water are just, at optimal level.
After digestion, the nutrients and wastes from ingested food are segregated. The digested food, termed as " Ahar Ras" is a blend nutrients needed for all 7 dhatus.
Nutritional demands of different dhatus are variable and each dhatu derives its selective nutrients, as this "Ahar Ras" is circulated through out the body through circulatng channels. The selective nutrient, picked-up by each Dhatu, undergoes further metabolism in respective tissues.
Such metabolism, within a Dhatu is carried out with the help of specific moieties of Pitta located in respective dhatus. The Pitta element, working within a particular dhatu, is called as Dhatwagni.
During this process, each Dhatu produces some kind of metabolic waste again, from its selective nutrients. Such wastes produced by a Dhatu are called Dhatumala. If not eliminated from time to time these wastes from tissues become toxic. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends periodical "cleansing" of body
Mala’s are excretory elements. These are three and termed as Thrimalas-
(1) Pureesha (The Faeces)
(2) Mutra (The Urine)
(3) Sweda (The Sweat)
The word Thrimala is used, to refer 3 types of excretory systems present in the body and not just the excreta. Mala can be translated as metabolic end products. This means that each cell which is a living factory will produce, under the influence of the Doshas , wastes (mala) which in turn influence adversely the functions of the Dhatus that produce them.
Thus Dosha, Dhatu and Mala form a tripod of health
Gyanendriyas are sensory organs. They are the organs of perception. Since they are the tools to acquire –"gyana" –the knowledge or information, they are termed so. They are five in numbers-
Akshi (The Eyes)
Karna (The Ears)
Nasika (The Nostrils)
Jihwa (The Tongue)
Twacha (The Skin)
These five are termed as Indriyadhisthana. It means, the prime location of sensory perception. Every Gyanendriya is a complex system and not just, one or two organs. Each of these Gyanendriyas have a definite object of perception. This object of a sensory organ is termed as Indriyartha.
Pada (The Feet)
Hasta (The Hands)
Vagindriya (The sense of speech)
Paya (The Anus)
Upastha (The Genetalia)
The name of karmendriya includes the entire structure and functional mechanism of that particular organ. The function of a karmendriya is referred to as Indriyartha.
Manas or the mind is considered as 11th Indriya by Ayurveda. By virtue of its functions, Manas performs the functions of both Gyanendriya, the sensory organs and Karmendriya, the motor organs.
It has two specific characters, viz. Ekatwa (solitude or seclusion) and Anutwam (subtleness). Because of its Subtleness, Manas can move swiftly. For its swiftness, Manas is considered as the fastest object in the universe.
Manas are an entity that is responsible for generation of knowledge. It plays an instrumental role in the perception of Indriyartha. For this purpose, it conjugates itself, with the respective gyanendriya and receives sensory signals.
Gyanendriya can’t perceive any type of knowledge on its own, without conjugating itself, with Manas or Mind. Also, it is important to note that, Manas can conjugate itself, with only one sense organ at a given point of time and not more than one. But, it can move from one organ to the other, swiftly-within a split second. Functioning of Karmendriyas also needs a conjugation with Manas.
Apart from such dual role, Manas is also responsible for some more faculties. Analysis, Thinking, Imagination are some of such special functions of Manas.
Buddhi is another constituent of Purusha. In terms of modern Psychology, Buddhi comprises intellect and will. It contemplates the circumstances that call for an action and provides rule of conduct. Will control the disposition, in harmony with the dictum from Buddhi.
Manas has an ability to perceive various stimuli through Indriyas. Also, it can analyze them in terms of merits & demerits. Based on such analysis, Buddhi produces a decisive knowledge. Thus, Buddhi-the intellect is ultimate decision-maker.
The word Atma can be literally translated as Soul. Concept of Atma has been the central dogma of Indian Philosophy.
Atma conjugates with all the constituent elements of human body, which is eternal. Such conjugation of Atma is only restricted to the instruments (such as sensory organs, mind & intellect) but, not their with their deeds.
Atma is omnipresent. It is constituent among all forms of life. The biological functions of all living systems are attributed to the presence of Atma, in a body-where all other constituents are incorporated.