Dosha ,Dhath& malas

The Vedic scriptures say that there is an
inextricable link between humans and the
universe. The very elements of human life
exist outside in the cosmos as well. As the poet
Walt Whitman said, “I believe a blade of grass is
no less than the journey-work of the stars.” In order
to understand the universe and environmental
situations, and to understand human health concerns,
one needs to appreciate the common link
between them: the elements of creation.
The Vedas discuss the process of creation. First,
there was the eternal, Divine, unmanifest existence:
ever present. It is said that life was created from
within the eternal, like a thread that comes from
within a spider to be woven into a web. Creation
eventually dissolves back into the eternal like the
spider returning the web into itself.
One may ask how the nonmoving eternal can
appear to move or create something. Here, the Vedic
literature, known as the Upaniähads, offers a metaphor:
Just as the desert appears to create an oasis
without moving to create it, so does the nonmoving
eternity appear to produce this illusory creation.
The creation is called illusory because it is not lasting;
only eternity is real because it is everlasting.
There is not enough space in this book to justly
discuss this topic. This is a mere offering into the
insight of the origin of creation as explained by
the ancient Vedic ^rishis
As creation developed, it formed three underlying
principles that uphold all life: the laws of
creation, maintenance, and dissolution. Everything
in life is born or created, it lives, and then it dies.
These principles are known as sattwa, rajas, and
tamas, respectfully, and are called the three guòas
or tendencies. All of life, human and celestial, obey
these laws.
The Elements: Building Blocks of Life
The creation principle developed five essential
elements—or building blocks that all life forms
contain: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. We can
easily see how life was created from the subtlest
to the grossest matter. From eternity, the subtlest
form of matter is ether. Ether mixing with eternity
creates air, a more observable or experiential element.
As air moves, it eventually creates friction,
which creates heat or fire. Heat produces moisture,
thus creating water, the densest element yet:
if one tries to walk through water, one is slowed
by its density. Finally, water produces the densest
form of matter, earth. The Vedas say that all of the
creation, including humans, is made up of combinations
of all five essential elements. These elements
are the subtlest aspects of human life, finer
than the molecular, atomic, or subatomic levels.
This is the level that Áyurvedic healing works
on. Focusing on the cause of the grosser levels of
life, the denser aspects will be taken care of since
they are made up of these five elements. Just as a
strong foundation supports a strong building, when
the five elements (the foundation of all matter) are
strong and balanced in a person, they will automatically
balance the more material levels.
Thus, Áyurveda does not need to look at isolated
parts of the human anatomy, or at the vitamin,
chemical, or nutritional level of health. It simply
balances the elements, and this balances the
more physical levels.
A person diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer is an
example of this balancing. Rather than create a
name for a symptom, Áyurveda identifies the illness
as an excess of the fire element. Acid is a byproduct
of heat. Áyurveda will look to see in what
part of the patient’s life overheating occurs. It may
be due to eating excessive fiery foods and spices
like tomatoes and peppers. One’s career may be
causing undue anger (i.e., hot temper). Perhaps the
person drinks alcohol (firewater).
Once the cause is learned, suggestions for reducing
a person’s excessive intake of fire are discussed.
Simultaneously, the patient is advised to
use more of the air and water elements to balance
the heat with coolness (air cools heat, water puts
out the fire). Thus, the holistic approach of
Áyurveda seeks the cause of an illness and restores
balance, using the insight of the elemental creation
of the universe.
The Áyurvedic Body
Personalizing the healing process is a uniqueness
that Áyurveda brings to the holistic field of
health. From the insights of the Vedic sages, we
learn that people are different and need to be individually
Expanding upon this elemental view, the
Áyurvedic practitioner understands that people are
made up of various combinations of the elements.
Some people have more air in their system; some
people have a more fiery constitution. Others are
predominantly made up of water. Still others are
combinations of fire and air, fire and water, or air
and water. Some people have an equal amount of
all three elements (ether is combined in air and
earth within water).
Thus a more air-predominant individual needs
to take in less air and more fire and water. A water
person already has an excess of water, so there is a
need to reduce the intake of water and to increase
the fire and air elements in the diet and lifestyle.
Personalized Healing
The general Áyurvedic approach is threefold.
1. Determining one’s elemental constitution (doßha
or prak^iti),
2. Learning the elemental cause of illness (vik^iti),
3. Applying therapeutic recommendations to balance
elements causing the illness, without causing
an imbalance to the doßha (constitution).
This unique, personalized approach not only
makes healing effective, but gentle as well. Other
holistic measures may work, yet still aggravate the
person’s doßha. Áyurveda is the only holistic science
that needn’t warn people that they may feel
worse while the diseases or toxins are being removed
before they will feel better. Because of its
balancing approach, gentleness marks the entire
healing process.
Qualities of the Three Doßhas
Parallel to the three guòas (sattwa, rajas, and
tamas) in creation are the three doßhas, or constitutions,
in the human body: Váyu (or Váta), Pitta,
and Kapha. Váyu may be understood as nerve
force, electro-motor, physical activity or that,
which is responsible for motion. It is commonly
called air. The root, ‘va’ means to spread. In Western
terms, it is the electricity setting the organism
into motion, maintaining the equilibrium between
Pitta and Kapha (inerts).
Váyu relates to the nerve-force.
It is responsible for all movement
in the mind and body.
The movement of Váyu even regulates the
balance of Pitta and Kapha.
Pitta relates to internal fire, bile, body heat, digestive
enzymes, physio-chemical, biological,
metabolic and endocrine systems. It is responsible
for digesting the chyle into a protoplasmic substance
like sperm and ovum.

The nerve network of the mind and body.
The bones are primarily affected by Váyu
Pitta relates to the circulatory, endocrine,
and digestive systems
Kapha fills the intercellular spaces of the body
as connective tissue. Examples of these tissues include
mucus, synovial fluid, and tendons. Kapha
is responsible for the gross structure of the body
(solid and liquid/phlegm-plasma). Each person is
made up of a combination of these elements.
The knee bones
are examples of
areas that are lubricated
Together, the doßhas are responsible for catabolic
and anabolic metabolism. Catabolism breaks
down complex internal bodies, and Váyu (air energy)
sets this energy free into simpler waste.
Anabolism takes food and builds it into more complex
bodies. The summit of the metabolic process
is protoplasm or essential matter [proteins, carbohydrates,
lipids, and inorganic salts]. Lifeless food
becomes living protoplasm and is set free as useful
energy or excess heat or motion that is emitted
from the body. Thus, the purpose of the three
doßhas is to move the lymph chyle (the by-product
of digested foods) throughout the body. This
nourishes and builds the body tissues. When any
or all of the doßhas develop imbalance, the body
ceases to be nourished, and disease develops.
The three doßhas (Váyu, Pitta, Kapha) exist
throughout the entire body, in every cell, yet are
predominant (their sites of origin) in the colon,
small intestine, and stomach, respectively. Some
authorities say that Váyu primarily resides below
the navel, Pitta from the navel to the heart, and
Kapha, above the heart.
Váyu is also found in (governing) the waist,
thighs, ear, bones, and skin. Pitta also governs the
navel, sweat, lymph, blood, eye, and skin. Kapha
additionally controls the chest, throat, head, bone
joints, small intestine, plasma, fat, nose, and
Properties of the Three Doßhas
Váyu: Dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, moving
Pitta: Slightly oily, hot, light, odorous, liquid
Kapha: Oily, cold, heavy, slow, smooth, slimy,
Each of the three doßhas has five
divisions or responsibilities.
5 Váyus
Each of the five Váyus is responsible for various
physical and mental functions of the cerebralspinal
and sympathetic nerves.
Práò is located in the head and governs the
chest, throat, mind, heart, sense organs, intelligence,
expectorating, sneezing, belching, inspiration,
and swallowing of food—outward movement.
Udán resides in the chest and controls the nose,
navel, and throat, and is responsible for initiating
speech, effort, enthusiasm, the capacity to work,
complexion, and memory—upward movement.
Vyán is found in the heart and rapidly moves
throughout the body. It regulates all body movements,
including walking, raising and lowering of
the body parts, and opening and closing the eyes.
Samán is located near the digestive fire. It works
in the alimentary tract (absorbing nutrients and
excreting wastes), and other abdominal organs. It
holds food in the alimentary tract, helps digest it,
separates nutrients from waste, and eliminates the
waste—equalized movement.
Apán is seated in the colon, and controls the
waist, bladder, genitals, and thighs. Its main function
is downward movement of wastes (feces,
urine), reproductive fluid, menstrual fluid, and it
also controls the downward movement of the fetus.

5 Pittas
Pachaka exists in the small intestine, stomach,
and colon as non-liquid heat, bile, or digestive fire.
The fire digests and transforms food, emulsifying
food fats and separating absorbable nutrients from
waste, so they may be passed to lacteals by absorption.
[Food becoming partially digested in the
stomach is known as chyme. This chyme passes
into the small intestine where it becomes digested
by the pancreatic juice and bile. The usable byproduct
is lymph and fatty matter, or chyle. The
chyle moves through lacteals, or lymphatic vessels
which carry chyle from the small intestine to
the thoracic duct. From the thoracic duct, the chyle
is sent into the blood.] Pachaka (digestive enzymes),
through digestion, automatically nourishes
the other four Pittas.
Ranjaka is located in the stomach, liver, and
spleen, and gives color to lymph chyle when it is
transformed into blood as it passes through the liver
and spleen.
Sadhaka is found in the heart. It helps in performing
mental functions such as knowledge, intelligence,
and consciousness by maintaining
rhythmic cardiac contractions.
Alochaka resides in the retina of the eyes and
governs sight.
Bhrajaka resides in the skin. It regulates complexion
by keeping secretions from the sweat and
sebaceous glands of the skin active.
5 Kaphas
Avalambaka is found in the chest and creates
cohesion, softness, moistness, and liquidity, which
result in maintaining body strength.
Kledaka is in the stomach, liquefying hard food
Bodhaka is found in the tongue and is responsible
for taste.
Tarpaka exists in the head and nourishes the
sense organs.
Shleßhaka is located in the bone joints and lubricates
People who are predominantly an air (Váyu)
prak^iti will have different experiences depending
on whether their doßha is balanced or in excess.
Balanced Váyu-prak^iti individuals will be adaptable,
cheerful, have natural healing tendencies, be
thin-framed, and very tall or very short. If there is
excess Váyu in their bodies, they may be very thin,
have dry skin, gas, constipation, bone problems,
or arthritis. They may talk very fast or become easily
tired. Mentally, they may quickly grasp concepts
but soon forget them; be anxious, worried,
fearful, or nervous.
Pitta-dominant individuals, when healthy and
balanced, will be warm, and have clear, penetrating
thoughts. They will tend to be leaders and/or
athletic. They will be of moderate, muscular build,
and will be passionate. When they overheat, they
may find themselves impatient, hot-tempered, or
too critical. Physically, they will develop heat-related
problems like ulcers, infections, rashes or
acne, eye problems, or high blood pressure.
The Kapha-paramount individuals, when balanced,
are loyal and calm. Physically, they are big
boned and strong, with deep-toned voices. When
Kapha is excessive, they tend toward water excesses
like water retention, being overweight, or
having bronchitis. Mentally, they will find themselves
lethargic, too attached, and sentimental.
As we discussed earlier, each person is made
up of a combination of these elements, yet each
usually has a combination predominantly of two
or all three of these elements. These elements in
turn, form three physiological principles, Váyu
(ether and air), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (water and
earth). Like the elements, people are predominantly
made up of one or more or these doßhas.
People fall into seven prak^iti categories:
1. Váyu 5. Pitta/Kapha
2. Pitta 6. Kapha/Váyu
3. Kapha 7. Tridoßhic (equal amounts).
4. Váyu/Pitta (combination)
These constitutions may be further subdivided,
8, 9. Váyu/Pitta (with Váyu or Pitta being predominant)

10, 11. Váyu/Kapha (with Váyu or Kapha being
12, 13. Pitta/Kapha (with Pitta or Kapha being predominant)
14-19. Tridoßhic (six additional constitutions, with
one or two doßhas being more predominant: e.g.,
Váyu predominance, Pitta and Kapha predominance,
Three external reasons cause doßhas to become
increased (imbalanced):
1. Time of day or season (e.g., around noontime
is ruled by Pitta; Fall is predominantly a Váyu
2. From inadequate, excessive or untimely sensory
experiences (e.g., excessive loud music, overeating)
3. Actions (e.g., excessive speaking, inadequate
exercise, etc.)
Agnis: Digestive Fire (Enzymes)
Most diseases are due to poor digestion. Agni
(enzyme) is found in the alimentary canal and digests
food. The normal digestion of the three
doßhas produces Samágni. Digestive activity
(healthy, deficient or excessive) is governed by the
doßhas becoming aggravated. The three doßhas
produce three agnis (vißhamágni, tíkßhnágni and
mandágni respectively). Excess Váyu in the body
produces weak, irregular digestion, and causes gas.
Excess Pitta creates a situation like an overheated
furnace. Food burns up quickly, and persons
experience burning sensations, thirst, acid
indigestion, etc. In some cases the agni fire even
burns up nutrients, causing malnutrition.
When excess Kapha is in the digestive tract, the
digestive fire is low, making it difficult to digest
any foods. As a result, a person feels dull, poor,
inadequate, and lethargic; the stomach is heavy, or
the person may experience constipation. Váyu disorders
produce hard stools from the dryness caused
by gas. Pitta stools are soft or liquid due to excess
heat. Kapha stools are moderate. A healthy stool
is also moderate and easily eliminated once or
twice a day.
Thirteen agnis reside in the body and are responsible
for digestion,
Jatharagni: Works at the gastrointestinal level,
governing basic digestion and the 12 other agnis.
5 Bhutagnis: Metabolize the five elements that
are present in the body’s tissues. They are a form
of heat that is always present in all the tissues that
are responsible for proper function and development
of the tissues.
7 Dhatagnis: Metabolize in the seven tissues
(dhátus). This is a biochemical process beyond
food digestion. It includes anabolic and catabolic
Body Tissues and Wastes
(The 7 Dhátus and 3 Malas)
Tissue Layers (Dhátus)
The Áyurvedic view of the body has many similarities
to modern beliefs. Seven tissue systems
(dhátus) are in the body. Each tissue is primarily
governed by one of the three elements. Each dhátu
is developed or transformed out of the previous
tissue layer, starting with rasa (plasma). If plasma
is not healthy, then all the other layers will also be
affecteTdi.ssue Layer
1. Plasma (rasa) Kapha/water
2. Blood (rakta) Pitta/fire
3. Muscle (máåsa) Kapha/water
4. Fat (medas) Kapha/water
5. Bone (asthi) Váyu/air
6. Nerves -fluid/
marrow (majjá) Kapha/water
7. Reproductive
tissues (¤hukra) Kapha/water

With insight into the governing doßha, the cause
of a diseased dhátu is accurately determined. For
example, if a person has cancer in the blood, we
know that excess Pitta (heat, toxins) exists in the
blood. If a person has osteoporosis, then too much
Váyu is in the bones. Muscular Dystrophy would
be an example of a muscular or Kapha problem.
Once the elemental cause of the illness is
known, therapies are used to balance the system
through reducing the excess elements(s) and increasing
the deficient one(s). Therapies include the
use of herbs, foods, and lifestyle variations.
Signs and Symptoms of
Vitiated Tissues (Dhátus)
Body Wastes (Malas)
Another important factor in health is the proper
elimination of waste: feces, urine, and sweat (miscellaneous
waste includes tears (eye), spit (tongue),
oily secretions (skin), mucoid secretions (mucus
membrane), and smegma (genitalia excreta). Malas
(bodily wastes) help maintain the functioning of
our organs.
Feces (puríßha) provide support and tone, as
well as maintaining the temperature of the colon.
Improper functioning can lead to Váyu illness like
worry, fear, ungroundedness, nervousness, headaches,
gas, distention, and constipation. Functioning
of the feces is damaged by excessive use of
purgatives, colonics, worry, and fear (fear can both
create improper functioning or be a by-product of
this dysfunction). It is also damaged by excessive
travel, the wrong foods (such as “junk food,” or
those foods that are too light or too heavy), oversleeping,
coffee, drugs, antibiotics, insufficient
exercise, and prolonged diarrhea. In Áyurvedic literature
it has been clearly stated that debilitated
persons suffering from tuberculosis should not be
given any kind of purgatives, as it is the feces that
preserve the temperature of such persons.
Urine (mútra) expels water and other solid
wastes from the body. Poor urine elimination results
in bladder pain or infection, difficult urination,
fever, thirst, dry mouth, or dehydration. Diuretic
drugs, alcohol, excessive sex, trauma, fright,
or too few liquids damage it.
Sweat (sweda) controls the body temperature
by way of expelling excess water and toxins, cools
the body, moistens the skin and hair, carried excess
fat from the body, and purifies the blood. Excess
sweating can cause skin diseases (usually Pitta
related) like eczema, boils, fungus, burning skin,
dehydration, fatigue, or convulsions (Váyucaused).
Deficient sweating can result in stiff hair,
skin fissures, dry skin, dandruff, wrinkles, or susceptibility
to colds and flu (i.e., peripheral circulation).
Too much dry food, lack of salt, excess or
deficient exercise, and excessive use of diaphoretic
herbs or excess sweating damage the sweating
Life Sap (Ojas)
Ojas (the life sap) is the essence of all the tissues
(dhátus). It pervades every part of the body.
Tissues (Dhátus) Signs & Symptoms
Plasma (rasa)
restlessness, palpitation,
cardiac pain, exhaustion
without cause, irritated by
loud noises
Blood (rakta)
roughness, dryness, skin
cracks, loss of luster
Muscle (máåsa)
emaciation (especially of
buttocks, neck, and
Fat (medas)
cracking joints, eye
lassitude, overly thin,
Bone (asthi) falling hair, nails, teeth;
loose joints
Marrow (majjá)
thinness, weakness, bone
lightness, Váyu bone
essence (¤hukra)
weakness, dry mouth,
pallor, lassitude, exertion,
impotence, non-ejaculation
of semen

(Some authorities believe ojas is a combination of
eight different drops (aßhtabindu) of liquid, secreted
from the pineal gland.) Excessive sex, drugs,
talking, loud music, insufficient rest or burnout,
and high technology deplete Ojas. Signs of diminished
ojas are fear, worry, sensory organ pain, poor
complexion, cheerlessness, roughness, emaciation,
immune system disorders, and easily contracting
Tastes (Rasas)
Áyurveda says there is a total of six tastes. Each
taste is governed by a doßha. These tastes may either
aggravate or pacify the doßhas, dhátus, and
Tastes provide varying degrees of nourishing
strength. Sweet taste is the most nourishing, and
as each taste becomes less nourishing, it becomes
more bitter, until it is astringent—and the least
This is also the order of tastes that get digested
(so eating sweets first is better, and astringent foods
last). Some authorities state that if one were to eat
sweets last, the body would digest this taste first,
letting the other tastes pass undigested through the
system. By the time the sweets are digested, the
other foods have passed through the system without
being digested. Other authorities believe that a
little sweet taste at the end of the meal stimulates
Every substance, including some foods, may
have more than one taste (i.e., primary and secondary
tastes). Substances alleviate doßhas, aggravate
doßhas, or maintain health. When health is at
least slightly in balance, persons are advised to have
a little of each taste daily.

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