Vata Kalakaliya Adhyaya – Charaka Sutrasthana 12

Master Charaka has explained about qualities of Vata Dosha, its normal functions, causes and features of Vata Dosha imbalance, how to restore Vata Dosha balance etc in 12th chapter of Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana – Vata Kalakaliya Adhyaya. This chapter was written as per the discussions held in a symposium, conducted by Sage Atreya. The symposium was attended by many leading Ayurveda sages and scholars of ancient times.  

qualities of Vata Dosha

Topics for discussion

Symposium on the properties of Vata, Topics for discussion:
The Ancient sages, desirous of knowledge about good and bad properties of Vata, assembled and proposed the following  topics for discussion among themselves.
I. What are the qualities of Vata?
II. What causes Vata Dosha imbalance (aggravation)?
III. What are the factors for Vata Balance?
IV. How do the aggravating and balancing factors respectively act on Vata, which is inaccessible to sense organs?
V. What are the actions in normal and imbalanced states of Vata which are situated both within and outside the body?

Qualities of Vata

Six physical qualities of Vata by Kusha :
, descendant of Sankruti says –
Rooksha – Dryness
Laghu – Lightness
Sheeta – coldness,
Daruna – instability,
Khara – coarseness, roughness and
Vishada – non-sliminess, clarity. – are the six qualities of Vata. [4]

Causes for Vata aggravation

Causes of Aggravation of Vata by Kumaras Shira Bharadvaja:
Having heard this, Kumara shira Bharadvaja said, “these, as explained by you, sir, are the  six qualities of Vata. Vata Dosha gets aggravated by use of diet, medicines and activities that are similar to these six qualities. Because, diet and activities of similar properties leads to an increase of Dosha of similar qualities. [5]

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mode of action of vata balance

Cause for Dosha balance

Cause of Dosha Balance By Kankayana:
Having heard this, Kankayana, a physician from Bahilka said, “what you said, Sir, is correct”. These are verily the aggravating factors of Vata Dosha. Diet and activities having opposite qualities of a Dosha, leads to mitigation (balancing) of that aggravated Dosha. [6]

Aggravating, relieving factors – Mode of action

Mode of action of aggravating and alleviating factors by Badisa Dhamargava:
Badisha Dhamargava says, “What you have said is correct, Sir! These are verily the aggravating and alleviating factors of Vata”. We shall now explain how the aggravating and alleviating factors respectively aggravate and alleviate the Vata,  which is Asanghata (unquantifiable) and Anavasthita (unstable) – thereby inaccessible.
The aggravating factors of Vata are those which bring about
Rooksha – dryness
Laghu – lightness,
Sheeta – coldness,
Daruna – coarseness,
Khara – rough,
Vishada – clarity, non sliminess,
Sushira – hollowness.

By these qualities, Vata gets situated in one suitable part of the body and attains growth, and so it gets aggravated. The alleviating factors of the Vata, on the other hand, are those which bring about
Snigdha – unctuousness, oiliness
Guru – heaviness,
Ushna – heat,
Shlakshna – smoothness,
Mrudu – softness,
Picchila – sliminess and
Ghana – compactness.
By the use of these qualities, Vata gets dislodged from the affected place and gets alleviated. [7]

normal functions of Vata

Functions of normal and abnormal Vata by Vayorvida:
Having heard the scientific explanation of Badisha, which was approved by the sages, the royal sage Vayorvida said, “ All that you have said, Sir, is true and free from any contradiction”.

Let us explore the functions (normal and aggravated) of Vata Dosha, which is present inside and outside the body (=air). The below-mentioned functions are understood by means of
Pratyaksha – direct observation, with the help of sense organs
Anumana – inference and
Aptopadesha – scriptural testimony.
Let us pay obeisance to Lord Vayu and explore his functions.

Functions of normal Vata

Vayuhu Tantra Yantra Dharaha – The Vata Dosha, when it is normal, sustains the functioning of all the organs of the body.
Prana Udana, Samana, Vyana Apana – These are the five types of Vata Dosha.
Pravartaka Cheshtanam Ucchavachanam – Vata initiates all the actions and speech.
Niyanta Praneta Cha Manasaha – Vata controls and directs the mind.
Sarva Indriyanam Udyojakaha – it coordinates, stimulates all the sense organs.
Sarva Indriya Arthanam Abhivoda – it controls all the objects of sense faculties.
Sarva Sharira Dhatu Vyuhakaraha – it maintains the compactness and unison of all the body organs.
Sandhanakaraha Shareerasya – it maintains body compactness.
Pravartako Vacha – it initiates speech.
Prakruti Sparsha Shabdayoho shrotra Sparshanayoho moolam – It is the root for touch, sound, ears and sensation of touch.
Harsha Utsahayoho Yonihi – it is the root cause for happiness and enthusiasm.
Sameerano Agnehe – it controls Agni – digestion strength (air is necessary for the fire to stay on)
Dosha Samshoshanaha – it dries up Pitta and Kapha
Kshepta Bahirmalanam – it evacuates waste products out of the body
Sthula Anu srotasaam Bhetta – it forms all the body channels – minute and large
Karta Garbhakrutinam – Vata is responsible for growth of the foetus. Vata moulds and shapes embryos.
Ayusho anuvrutti – it is the cause for the continuity of life.

Function of imbalanced Vata

Vata, when aggravated, afflicts the body with various types of diseases and affects the strength, skin complexion, happiness and the span of life. It perturbs the mind: affects all the sense organs and sense faculties; destroys, deforms the embryo or delays delivery of the foetus. Vata causes fear, anxiety, bewilderment, humility and delirium. It shortens life span.

Normal functions of air

The following are the actions of the Vayu (air), moving in the world, outside the body:-

  • Maintenance and sustenance of the earth,
  • Kindling of fire,
  • Bringing about compactness and movement in the sun, moon, stars and planets,
  • Creation of clouds, showering of rains, flowing of rivers, bringing about maturity of flowers and fruits, shooting forth the plants, classification of seasons as well as five Mahabhutas (five basic elements):
  • Air manifests the shape and the size of the products of the five Mahabhutas,
  • Air is responsible for germination of seeds, growth of plants, and brings about hardness and dryness to the grains. Air is the cause for transformation.

Abnormal functions of air or wind

The following are the action of the aggravated Vata (air) moving in the world outside the body:-

  • Breaking though the peak of mountains, uprooting trees, disturbing the oceans, overflowing of the lakes, changing the course of rivers, bringing about earthquakes, causing thunders in the clouds, release of dew, thunder without cloud, dust, and fish, frog, serpents, alkaline water, blood, stone and thunder storm, disturbance of the six seasons;
  • Disturbance in the productivity of plants; spread of epidemics in humans,
  • Doing away with the positive factors of creation; bringing about cloud, sun, fire and wind which could destroy all the four ages.

Other qualities of Vata

The god Vayu (=Vata) is the eternal cause of the universe: He brings existence as well as destruction to all living beings. He causes happiness and misery. He is the God of death, controller, Lord of creatures, Aditi and Vishvakarman (creator of the universe). He possesses innumerable forms. He can move everywhere, and is responsible for all actions and thoughts. He is subtle and omnipresent. He is Lord Vishnu. He has created and is maintaining the whole universe. The God Vayu alone has the above distinctive features.[8]

Question by Marichi

Question by Marichi on Vayorvida’s observation:
After listening to the sage Vayorvida, Marichi inquires,  “The present symposium is related to the science of medicine. Even though what has been stated about the qualities of Vayu is correct, is this exposition or understanding of such qualities of Vayu is applicable to the science of medicine?”[9]

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Answer by Vayorvida

Sage Varyovida answered, “ If a physician does not understand the Vayu which excels in strength, roughness, quickness and destructive power, how would he be able to forewarn a patient about the ill-effects of Vata, well in advance, before it affects the body? How would he advise about the normal qualities of Vayu conducive to good health, improvement of strength and complexion, Lustre, growth, attainment of knowledge and longevity? [10]

functions of Pitta and Kapha

Pitta normal and abnormal functions

Normal and abnormal functions of pitta by Marici:
Marichi said; “It is Agni alone represented by Pitta in the body which brings about good or bad effects according to its normal or imbalanced state,
e.g digestion or indigestion, vision or loss of vision, normalcy or imbalance of body heat, of skin complexion,
Shourya -valour, Bhaya – fear, Krodha – anger and Harsha – joy, bewilderment and happiness and such other pairs of opposite qualities.[11]

Kapha normal and abnormal functions

Normal and abnormal functions of Kapha by Kapya:
Having listened to Marichi, Kapya said, “Soma (the God of water or the moon) which is represented by Kapha in the body brings about good or bad effects according to this normal or abnormal state.
E.g  Dardhya – sturdiness and Shaithilya – brittleness, Upachaya – good nourishment, Karshya – emaciation, Utsaha – enthusiasm and Alasya – laziness, Vrushata – potency and Kleebata – impotence, Jnana – knowledge, wisdom and Ajnana – ignorance and such other pairs of qualities.[12]

Normal functions of Tridosha

Remark by Atreya

Presidential remark by Punarvasu Atreya:
After having listened to Kapya, Lord Punarvasu Atreya said, “All of you have dealt with the subject quite well except that you have not made any general statement on this topic. In fact, all the three Doshas viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha while they are in their natural state, Avyapannam Indriyam –  maintain proper functioning of sense organs without any abnormality,
Bala Varna Sukha Ayusha – maintains strength, complexion, happiness and long life span.

In life, if one follows good aspects of Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire, lust) he will have a successful life. But if one follows bad aspects of Dharma, Artha and Kama, then one will have a bad quality of life. Likewise, if one maintains Tridosha in good condition, he will have good health, or else, disease. [13]

Opinion of the house

All the sages concurred in and welcomed the exposition of Lord Atreya.[14]

Thus, it is said:-
Having listened to the exposition of Lord Atreya, all the sages concurred in and welcomed it as the Gods did on hearing the words of Indra. [15]


The six qualities of Vata, two types of causes (relating to the aggravation and vitiation of Vata), several functions of Vata, its four aspects (normalcy and aggravation within and without the body); functions of Kapha and Pitta, views of the sages and conclusion by Lord Atreya- all this about Vata has been explained in this chapter on “Merits and Demerits of Vata”[16-17].

Thus , ends the twelfth chapter of the Sutra section on “The Merits and Demerits of Vata” of Agnivesha’s work as redacted by Charaka.

Thus, ends the quadrate on “Furnishing Information the Physician, Medicine etc.”

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