Ashaya – Meaning, Types, Location, Utility

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
We all have home to live. Even the ingredients and components naturally present in our body and those which we supply need a home where they can live.

The ingredients which are naturally present and formed in the body are blood, stools, urine etc and those which we supply are air, food etc.

Blood formed in liver and spleen, and therefore those organs are called home of blood. Stools are formed and stay in the large intestines until they are voided, therefore the large gut is the home for stools. The urine stays in the urinary bladder until it is voided; therefore the bladder forms the home of urine.

The materials we supply include food, air etc. The food we take goes into the stomach and intestines and stay there until they are completely digested, the stomach therefore is the home for undigested food.

The air we take goes to the lungs and stays there until it is distributed all through the body getting mixed with blood. Therefore, the lungs are the home of air.

The place where we live before our birth, i.e. the womb of our mother or uterus is also our first home.

Thus there is a place accommodated by one or the other material in the body and they form the home for that particular material.
The home or abode for those substances may be temporary or permanent depending on what type of function that substance is performing in that particular organ.

Example, the undigested food can stay for 3-4 hours in the stomach, we may get an urge to void the urine once the bladder gets filled, therefore the urinary bladder may be the abode of urine until it is voided and the duration of stay of urine in the urinary bladder may be less than that of the food staying in the stomach.

In the diseased conditions of the home, it may hold the materials for a longer or shorter time than expected or intended.
Example, a diseased large intestine might behave in 2 abnormal ways. It may hold on the stools, form less stools or make voiding the stools difficult in conditions like constipation.

It can throw away the unprocessed and unformed stools along with undigested food and unabsorbed water in the form of loose stools in conditions like diarrhoea, dysentery etc.

The homes within our body which form abode for various essential materials are called Ashaya. The term Ashaya can be compared to the hollow viscera in the body which has lumen to provide accommodation to one or the other essential substances.

Definition of Ashaya

Ashayas are defined as spaces, abode or places meant for occupancy.
They are occupied by the essential ingredients needed for body functioning (Example, Rakta or blood in Raktashaya or Liver and spleen) and also by waste materials which needed to be voided (Example, Mutra or urine in Mutrashaya i.e. urinary bladder).

आशय्य अभ्यास योगेन करोति आशय संभवम्।(सु.शा.४/२९)
Aashayya abhyaasa yogena karoti aashaya sambhavam (Ref – Sushruta Shaareera 4/29)
By the virtue of repeatedly staying at a place, the Vayu creates Ashayas.

Vayu is a force in the body which is always in motion. The movements of other elements in the body depend on the qualitative and quantitative equilibrium of Vata or Vayu.

Vayu is never used to stay at one place nor has a habit of doing it. Now when it stays at one place and makes a habit of it, it can either be destructive or constructive.

The constructive part is forming an Ashaya. Since Vayu has made a habit of staying at a place repeatedly, it pushes the tissues to the periphery and creates a space or place within.

These spaces become Ashayas. (When vayu repeatedly stays at a place it can form Ashaya, this Vayu is generally a normal and happy Vayu. But when the Vayu is blocked and forced to stay at a place, it tries to escape and as a result can damage the tissues).

स वायुः मांस पेशिषु आशय्य आ सम्न्तात् निवासं कृत्वा हृदय आशयानां सम्भवं उत्पत्तिं करोति।(सु.शा.४/२९)
The Vayu constantly staying in the maamsa (muscles) and mamsa peshi (muscle fibres), creates various Aashayas like Hrudaya (heart) etc i.e. When the Vayu by permanently staying in the Mamsa and Mamsa Peshis creates spaces within them so as to create the Aashayas.

आशयः (धातुमान) अवस्थान प्रदेशो दधति ति धातवे रस रक्त मांस आदय कफ पित्त पुरीषाणि प्राकृतानि स्व कर्मण्य दधति इति धातवः।(शल्हण, सु.शा.४)
Aashayaha (dhaatumaana) avasthaana pradesho dadhati dhaatave rasa rakta maamsa aadaya kapha pitta pureeshaani praakrutaani sva karmanya dadhati iti dhaatavaha (Ref Dalhana, on Sushruta Shaareera 4)
Ashayas apart from being abode or spaces, facilitates the Dhatus (tissues) including Rasa (plasma or lymph), Rakta (blood cells), Mamsa (muscle tissue) etc tissues, normal kapha, normal pitta, purisha (faeces) and mutra (urine) for their normal physiology i.e. the Ashaya’s allow Rasa, Rakta etc to stay in them and render their normal activities.

Types of Ashayas

आशयाः तु वाताशयः, पित्ताशयः, श्लेष्माशयो, रक्ताशय, आमाशयः, पक्वाशयो, मूत्राशयः स्त्रीणां गर्भाशयो अष्टम इति॥(सु.शा.५/८)
Aashayaaha tu vaataashayaha pittaashayaha shleshmaashayo raktaashaya aamaashaya pakwaashaya mootraashaya streenaam garbhaashayo ashtama iti (Ref – Sushruta Shaareera 5/8)

रक्तस्याधः क्रमात् परे।
कफ आम पक्व पित्तानां वायोः मूत्रस्य च क्रमात्।
गर्भाशयो अष्टमः स्त्रीणां पित्त पक्वाशय अन्तरा॥(अ.सं.शा.३)
Raktasya adhaha kramaat pare
Kapha aama pakwa pittaanaam vaayoho mootrasya cha kramaat
Garbhaashayo ashtamaha streenaam pitta pakwaashaya antaraa (Ref – Ashtanga Sangraha Shaareera 3)
Ashayas are 7 in number.
They are as listed below:
Vatashaya – Place, space or abode for Vayu
Pittashaya – Place, space or abode for Pitta
Shleshmaashaya (Kaphashaya according to Vagbhata) – Place, or space or abode for Kapha
Raktashaya – Place, space or abode for Rakta or blood
Aamashaya – Place, space or abode for Ama (contaminated essence of food formed due to improper digestion of food effecting from sluggish or weak digestion in the stomach, has capacity to block or clog the channels of the body) i.e. Stomach
Pakwashaya – Place, space or abode for digested food or large intestine
Mutrashaya – Place, space or abode for urine, urinary bladder
Garbhashaya – Place, space or abode for Garbha or foetus, Uterus or womb. This is found exclusively in women

स्त्रीणां गर्भाशयः अष्टमः।(सु.शा.५)
पुरुषे अभि अधिकः च अन्ये नारीणाम् आशयः त्रयः॥
धरा गर्भाशयः प्रोक्तः स्तनौ स्तनाशयौ मतौ॥(शार्ङ्गधर)
Streenaam garbhaashayaha ashtamaha (Ref – Sushruta Shaareera 5)
Purushe abhi adhikaha cha anye naareenaam aashayaha trayaha
Dharaa garbhaashayaha proktaha stanau stanaashayau matau (Sharangadhara)
Sharangadhara mentioned that there are 7 Ashayas in the body in both men and women. Women have 3 Srotas in addition.
They are:
Garbhashaya i.e. uterus
Stanyashayas i.e. Place space or abode of stanya or breast milk (breasts).
Thus according to Sharangadhara there are a total of 10 Ashayas.

Location of Ashayas

श्लेष्माशय स्यात् उरसि तस्मात् आमाशयः तु अधः।
ऊर्ध्वम् अग्न्याशयो नाभेः वाम भागे व्यवस्थितः॥
तस्य उपरि तिलं ज्ञेयं दत् अधः पवनाशयः।
मलाशयः तु अधः तस्मात् वस्तिः मूत्राशयः तु अधः॥
जीव रक्ताशयम् उरो ज्ञेयाः सप्त आशयः तु अमि।(शार्ङ्गधर)
Shleshmaashaya syaat urasi tasmaat aamaashayaha tu adhaha Urdhwam agnyaashayo naabhehe vaama bhaage vyavasthitaha Tasya upari tilam gneyam data adhaha pavanaashayaha Malaashayaha tu adhaha tasmaat vastihi mootraashayaha tu adhaha Jeeva raktaashayam uro gneyaha sapta aashayaha tu ami (Ref – Sharangadhara Samhita)
The Shleshmaashaya is located in Ura or chest (thorax)
Amashaya is located beneath Shleshmashaya
Agnyashaya is located above and left of Nabhi (umbilicus or navel region)
Tila is located above the Agnyashaya
Below the Tila, the Pakwashaya (Vatashaya) is located
Malashaya and Mutrashaya (Vasti) are located in the lower part of Koshta (hollow of the body or space for visceral organs)
The Raktashaya which is very vital is located in the Uras or thorax

Analysis of locations of Ashayas –
This explanation of Sharangadhara creates little confusion regarding the locations of Ashayas. Let us sort them out.
Shleshmashaya located in Uras or thorax can be considered as Lungs.

Amashaya or stomach is located below the Shleshmashaya. Even we see that the stomach is located beneath the lungs being separated by the diaphragm (muscular layer separating organs of the chest cavity from the organs of abdomen). Thus Amashaya is stomach.

By location, Agni ashaya appears to be the Pancreas. But it has not been enlisted in the list of Ashayas. Probably, the author has considered the listed Ashayas as the main ashayas and has mentioned the left out Agnyashaya in this context.

(Agni means fire, the site of fire is Agnyashaya or pancreas, the secretions of pancreas i.e. digestive enzymes and hormones like insulin can be compared to Agni).

Tila seems to be Spleen (which is the root of Rakta ashaya or blood forming organ) as spleen is located above Agnyashaya i.e. at the tail of the Pancreas. Thus Tila is spleen and Raktashaya.

The terms Pakwashaya, Vatashaya and Pureeshashaya or Malashaya are used interchangeably in Ayurveda and there is a lot of confusion regarding what is what? In fact all represent Large intestine and its parts. Different authors giving different names had added to the confusion.

In this context since Pakwashaya is said to be present below the Tila or spleen. Thus, the Transverse colon or descending colon can be considered as Pakwashaya.

If Pakwashaya is Vatashaya our confusion is solved. But Pakwashaya and Vatashaya have been mentioned separately in the list. We can get a clarification for this from Sushruta Sutrasthana Chapter 21, verse 6.

Sushruta tells that Vata is basically located in Shroni (pelvis) and Guda (anus). Thus Vatashaya is pelvis and anus.
Sushruta tells that the Pakwashaya is located above Vata Sthana or Guda and below Nabhi (navel).

So the region of Large Intestine located between the anus and navel region is Pakwashaya i.e. transverse colon and rectum.

Malashaya is located in the lower part of koshta or visceral hollow. It is also that the the Maladhara kala (layer or membranes forming the stools) are located in Unduka or caecum, the first part of the large intestine.

It also occupies the lower part of abdominal cavity. Therefore Malashaya (site for mala or faeces or stools) is nothing but Unduka.

In short –
Malashaya or the place where the faeces or stools is bifurcated from the digested food and stools formed is Caecum.
The Pakwashaya or the site which holds the pakwa mala or processed and properly prepared stools (not taking as digested food because, the stools are already formed in caecum according to Ayurveda) before it is excreted is Transverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid colon.

(Malashaya can be considered as the site where stool formation, reabsorption of left out nutrients and water takes place and Pakwashaya as a place where these processes are continued until completion. The malashaya receives the digested food and starts converting it into stools whereas the pakwashaya completes the formation of stools and makes it fit to be expelled.)

Vatashaya is the pelvic cavity, rectum and anus.

Mutrashaya or urinary bladder is also present in the lower part of the Koshta i.e. abdominal (pelvic) cavity.

Jeevarakta ashaya or place or abode of very vital rakta or blood is said to be located in the Uras or thoracic cavity.

his again is confusion. Already Yakrut (liver) and Pliha or Tila (spleen) are said to be Raktaashaya. Let us understand it in this way. Yakrut and Pleeha are Raktashayas or abode of blood.

They are concerned with manufacture and maturation of blood cells. The Jeeva Raktashaya explained in this context is the Heart, which distributes the blood mixed in Rasa (plasma) all through the body via Dhamanis (arteries).

This way, the author has covered Agnyashaya (pancreas) and Jeeva raktashaya (heart) also in Ashayas after not considering them in the list of Ashayas.

Vatashaya

तत्र समासेन वातः श्रोणि गुद संश्रयः।(सु.सू.२१/६)
Tatra samaasena vaataha shroni guda samshrayaha (Ref – Sushruta Sutra 21/6)
Vata is all pervading. It controls all the activities in the body. Though any area is not confined for Vata and its activities, certain sites or places have been allotted to it (as is done with other doshas) from where they operate their activities.

We know Pakwashaya is the chief site of Vata (Large Intestine). Since we have seen some confusions regarding the terms Pakwashaya, Malashaya and Vatashaya and also have cleared the doubts in the above said discussion, we shall stick to the explanation given by Sushruta regarding the site of Vata as Vatashaya (because Pakwashaya is also mentioned in the list of Ashayas).

Vatashaya is the shroni (pelvic cavity) and Guda (rectum and anus).

The main sites of Vata are:
Pakwashaya – Large intestine, it is the predominant site of Vayu
Kati – Pelvis, hips
Sakti – Thighs
Shrotra – Ears
Asthi – Bone tissue
Sparshana indriya – Sense organ of touch, Skin

Pittashaya

पक्व आमाशय मध्यस्थं पित्तस्य।(सु.सू.२१/६)
Pakwa aamaashaya madhyastham pittasya (Ref – Sushruta Sutra 21/6)
The Pittashaya is said to be located between Amashaya (stomach) and Pakwashaya (Large intestine, transverse colon to be precise in this context). Gall bladder should be considered to be Pittashaya.

Again though there are many sites for Pitta, Pittashaya is said to be one of the predominant sites of Pitta (Nabhi or umbilicus is said to be the chief site of Pitta, Gall bladder falls in the approximate region of Nabhi).

The main sites of Pitta are:
Nabhi – Navel region, it is the predominant site of Pitta
Aamashaya – Stomach or upper gut
Sweda – Sweat
Lasika – Serum, Lymph
Rudhira – Blood tissue
Rasa – Plasma, nutritional fluid
Druk – Eye
Sparshanam – Skin

Pittashaya is usually simulated with Agni sthana (place of digestive fire). Thus the primary digestion and the onset of metabolism take place in this Pittashaya.

If we consider Pittashaya as the site of Agni, Agnyashaya or pancreas too should be included in the term since Agnyashaya has not been given a place in the list of Ashayas.

Shleshmashaya

तत्र अपि उपरो विशेषेण श्लेष्म स्थानम्।
च श्लेष्माशय स्यात् उरसि।
उदान वायोः आधारः फुफ्फुसः प्रोच्यते बुधैः।(शार्ङ्गधर)
Tatra api uparo visheshena shleshma sthaanam
Cha shleshmaashaya syaat urasi
Udaana vaayoho aadhaaraha phuphusaha prochyate budhaihi (Ref – Sharangadhara Samhita)
Shleshmashaya is located in the Uras or chest (thorax). Shleshmashaya is related to the actions of Udana Vayu. It is also called as Phuphusa (lungs).

So without confusion, the Shleshmashaya is the pair of lungs located in the thoracic cage. Though there are many sites for Kapha, Uras is said to be the chief site of operation for Kapha or Shleshma.

The main sites of Kapha or Shleshma are:
Uras – Chest, it is the predominant site of Kapha
Kantha – Throat
Shiras – Head
Kloma – Pancreas, Trachea, Water regulating centres
Parvani – Inter-phalangeal joints
Aamashaya – Stomach or upper part of digestive tract
Rasa – Plasma, nutritional fluid
Meda – Fat tissue
Ghrana – Nose
Jihwa – Tongue

The functions of Udana Vayu i.e. Vak Pravritti (speech), Praytna (efforts), Oorja (energy or heat), Bala (strength and or immunity), Varna (colour) and Smriti (higher functions including memory) are attributed to Shleshmashaya.

Lungs are directly related to oxygenation and deoxygenation process, which is vital for all functions of the body. All the functions of Udana Vayu depend on the proper functioning of Shleshmashaya.

Thus all the physical, mental and speech related activities are under the control of Shleshmashaya.

Raktashaya or Shonitashaya

शोणितस्य स्थानं यकृत् प्लीहानौ।(सु.सू.२१)
Shonitasya sthaanam yakrut pleehaanau (Ref – Sushruta Sutra 21)
जीव रक्ताशय इति जीव तुल्यं रक्तं, तस्य आशय स्थानम्, तत् च प्लीहा इति प्रसिद्धं, हृदयस्य वाम आश्रितं भवति।
Jeeva raktaashaya iti jeeva tulyam rraktam, tasya aashaya sthaanam, tat cha pleehaa iti prasiddham, hrudayasya vaama aashritam bhavati
The Raktashaya is located in Yakrut (liver) and Pleeha (Spleen). They are called Rakta ashayas because they are haemopoeitic organs taking part in the formation and maturation of blood cells.

liver gall bladder pancreas
liver gall bladder pancreas

The responsibility is greater on them when the child is in the mother’s womb (garbha avastha). Later the responsibility is transferred to bone marrow but the liver and spleen will have their hold and effect on the process throughout the life as per Ayurvedic references. Therefore they are called Raktashaya. They carry memories of blood production.

Another reference tells that Pleeha or spleen located towards the left of Hrudaya (heart) is the site of Jeeva Rakta (blood which is in the form of life).

Aamashaya

नाभि स्तनान्तरं जन्तोः आमाशय उदाहृतः।(शार्ङ्गधर.प्र.५)
Naabhi stanaantaram jantoho aamaashayaha udaahrutaha(Ref -Shaarangadhara. Prathama.5)
स्तनयोः मध्यं अधिष्टाय उरस्य आमाशय द्वारम्।
तत्र आमाशय पित्ताशय उपरिष्टात्।(डल्हण, सु.सू.२१)
तत्र अपि आमाशयो विशेषेण पित्त स्थानम्।(चरक)
Stanayoho madhyam adhishtaaya urasya aamaashaya dwaaram
Tatra aamaashaya pittaashaya uprarishtaat (Ref – Dalhana on Sushruta Sutra 21)
Tatra api aamaashayo visheshena pitta sthaanam (Ref – Charaka)
Amashaya is located between the Nabhi (umbilicus) and Stanas (breasts or mammary glands or thorax). Amashaya is the seat of Pitta and root of Annavaha Srotas (channels carrying the food).

It is a Matruja avayava (organ derived from maternal part) and has 2 peshis (muscles). Amashaya dwara or the upper opening (cardiac orifice) of the Amashaya is located in the midline of Stana (breasts) and in the thoracic cavity.

The name Amashaya tells that this is an organ which provides space or site for Ama.

Ama is a metabolic toxin which has been created due to errors in metabolism, both at the gut as well as cellular levels.

Ama has a capacity to create blocks in the body due to its property of sticking to the surface of the cells and channels of the body (transport systems).

Sluggish digestion or weak metabolic fire (gut fire, the active components taking part in the digestion of food at the gut level including the stomach acids) leads to indigestion.

This leads to the formation of erratic or unprocessed food essence (ahara rasa) which is about to get into the circulation for being distributed to nourish the body tissues.

From this, the first tissue rasa dhatu is improperly formed and is unprocessed. This unprocessed and contaminated ahara rasa formed in the amashaya (stomach or upper gut) is called ama.

Thus, improperly processed digestive juices in circulation which will neither be recognised by the cells as nutrition nor will further be metabolized by the cells is called ama. This is formed at the gut level due to weak digestion.

When ama is not processed by the cells, the ama blocks and clogs the channels of circulation and nutrition due to its sticky nature. The ama further accumulates in the cells and disturb tissue metabolism and also will hamper the tissue formation.

Gradually this ama accumulates in the body in the form of ama-visha or endo-toxins. Ama and amavisha will lead to manifestation of many systemic psychosomatic illnesses and also auto-immune disorders like Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis) etc.

Association of this ama with morbid doshas will add fuel to the fire. These doshas are now called sama doshas (doshas associated with ama). Sama Vata, Sama Pitta and Sama Kapha also will produce painful syndromes and various forms of arthritis.

Characteristics of Ama –
अविपक्वं असम्युक्तं दुर्गन्धं बहु पिच्छिलं।
सदनं सर्व गात्राणां आम इति अभिधीयते॥(मा.नि.आमवातनिदानम् मधु)
Avipakwam asamyuktam durgandham bahu pichchilam
Sadanam sarva gaatraanaam aama iti abhidheeyate (Ref – Madhava Nidanam, Amavata nidanam, Madhukosha teeka)
Avipakwam – unprocessed
Asamyuktam – disintegrated
Durgandham – foul smelling
Bahu pichchilam – very sticky
Sadanam sarvagatrani – causes weakness of all the body parts
Due to the above said characteristic features, ama tends to stick within the cells and the channels of transportation in the body leading to multiple blocks.

Due to these blocks the tissues are not nourished in a good way resulting in weakness and fatigue due to deficit nutrition. Ama further predisposes to sluggish gut and tissue metabolism.

Sluggish metabolism leading to indigestion and formation of ama and ama once again predisposing to weak digestion and formation of more ama becomes a vicious cycle as time progresses.

If this condition is not attended ama acts as a toxin and starts producing pain, swelling and stiffness at the site of its adherence and localisation. Thus ama when vitiated causes many painful conditions at the place of its vitiation and lodgement.

Mutrashaya

मूत्राशयो मलाधारः प्राणायतनम् उत्तमम्।(सु.नि.३)
वस्तिः मूत्राशयः तु अधः।(शार्‘ग्गधर.पू.५)
Mootraashayo malaadhaaraha praanaayatanam uttamam (Ref – Sushruta Nidaanam 3)
Vastihi mootraashayaha tu adhaha (Ref – Shaarangadhara.Poorva.5)
Mutrashaya is also a Mala adhara (site of mala or excreta, because mutra or urine is also a mala). It is a pranayatana (abode of life element.

It is a marma or vital organ, which when injured takes away the life in no time. It is also called as Vasti.Mutrashaya is thus the Urinary Bladder which holds the urine until it is voided.

Garbhashaya

आवर्तो योनिः तस्या यः तृतीय आवर्तेः, चक्राकारः स एव गर्भाशयः।
शार्ङ्गधर.पू.५)
शङ्ख नाभि आकृतिः योनि स्त्री आवर्ता सा प्रकीर्तिता।
तस्याः तृतीये तु आवर्ते गर्भ शय्या प्रतिष्ठिता॥
यथा रोहित मत्स्यस्य मुखं भवति रूपतः।
Aavarto yonihi tasyaaha yaha truteeya aavartehe chakraakaaraha sa eva garbhaashayaha (Ref – Shaarangadhara.Poorva.5)
Shankha naabhi aakrutihi yoni stree aavartaa saa prakeertitaa
Tasyaaha truteeye tu aavarte garbha shayyaa pratishtitaa
Yathaa rohita matsyasya mukham bhavati roopataha

तत् संस्थानं तथा रूपां गर्भ शय्यां विदुः बुधाः॥(सु.शा.५)
पित्त पक्वाशययोः अन्तरे रोहित मुख आकार गर्भाशय।
शुक्र आर्तव प्रवेशिन्यः तिस्रः पेश्यः।(अ.सं.शा.५/११३)
Tat samsthaanam tathaa roopam garbha shayyaam viduhu budhaaha (Ref – Sushruta Shaareera 5)
Pitta pakwaashayayoho antare rohita mukha aakaara garbhaashaya
Shukra aartava praveshinyaha tisraha peshyaha (Ref – Ashtaanga samgraha shaareera 5/113)
In the commentary of Sharangadhara Samhita, it is mentioned as the 3rd aavarta or circle (layer) of the Yoni (vaginal canal) is known as Garbhashaya and it is like wheel shaped.

Anatomically the lower part of the uterus i.e. cervix opens into the upper portion of vaginal canal which can be considered as 3rd avarta of Yoni.

Yoni resembles the shape of a Shankha Nabhi (conch shell) and is having 3 spirals. In the 3rd of these three, the Garbhashaya is located. Garbhashaya resembles the shape of the mouth of a type of fish called Rohita.

According to Vagbhata, the location of Garbhashaya is in between Pittashaya and Pakwashaya. 3 peshis or muscles are present in the Garbhashaya.

Sharangadhara commentary also tells us that, the Garbhashaya is located in the surroundings of Pakwashaya. Anatomically, the coils of large intestine are in proximity of uterus.

By this explanation, we can consider Garbhashaya as Uterus.

Conceiving the Garbha (foetus) and enabling it to grow to full term (in its state of perfect health) is the function of Garbhaashaya. Monthly menstrual cycles too take place through this organ.

large intestine

Pakwashaya

तत्र अपि पक्वाशयओ विशेषेण वात स्थानम्।(च)
पक्वाशय गतः तत्र नाड्यो मूत्र वहाः तु याः।(सु.नि.३)
पुरीषधरा कला एवं वात स्थानम्।(अ.सं शा ६/३६)
पक्वाशय मध्ये नाभिः, तत्र अपि सध्यो मरनम्।(अ.सं शा.८/२०)
Tatra api pakwaashayayo visheshena vaata sthaanam (Ref – Charaka)
Pakwaashaya gataha tatra naadyo mootra vahaaha tu yaaha (Ref – Sushruta Nidaana 3)
Pureeshadharaa kalaa evam vaata sthaanam (Ref – Ashtanga Samgraha Shaareera 6/36)
Pakwaashaya madhye naabhihi, tatra api sadhyo maranam (Ref – Ashtaanga samgraha shaareera 8/20)
Pakwashaya is said to be a Vata Sthana or site of Vata by Charaka. Already we had seen the opinion of Sushruta on the location of Pakwashaya.

Sushruta tells that the Pakwashaya is located above Vata Sthana or Guda and below Nabhi (navel). So the region of Large Intestine located between the anus and navel region is Pakwashaya i.e. transverse colon and rectum.

Vagbhata also has mentioned Pakwashaya as the place of Pureeshadhara Kala (membranes or layers which form stools or faeces).

At the centre of Pakwashaya (in the proximity) can be located Nabhi or umbilicus, which is a Sadhyo Pranahara Marma (vital point, the damage of which can take away the life almost immediately).

स्तनौ स्तन्याशयो मतौ।(शा.पू.५)
Stanau stanyaashayo matau (Ref – Shaarangadhara Poorva 5)
Stana (breasts or mammary glands) are the Stanyashaya. They are the place of stanya (breast milk). They are 2 in number and are in the close proximity of Uras or thorax.

Importance of Ashaya

Need of studying Ashaya –
As a part of gaining anatomical and physiological knowledge of the organs (Ashayas)
Ashayas form the roots of origin for Srotases (channels of the body) – Srotases are the channel systems related to formation, transportation of essential things within the body (like food, air, water, blood etc) and waste products out of the body (like stools, urine etc).

The whole body is made up of Srotases and our health depends on the functional excellence of Srotases. These Srotas have their roots in the Ashayas. When the Ashayaas are damaged or vitiated, the concerned srotas and dhatus are also vitiated.

Example, the Raktashaya i.e. Yakrit (liver) and Pleeha (spleen) are the roots of Rakta Vaha Srotas (channels carrying blood cells). in fact the Raktashaya itself is Raktavaha Srotas.

Raktashaya forms the mature red cells and Raktavaha Srotas transports or carries the mature blood cells into the circulation.
If Raktashaya is diseased or vitiated, the Raktavaha Srotas will be inefficient to deliver the matured red cells to the system, as immature cells are formed in the liver and spleen.

The other way is also true. By knowing the symptoms of sroto-dushti, we can infer the ashaya damage or morbidity related to ashayas. Amashaya is the root of Annavaha Srotas.

The signs and symptoms of anna vaha srotas vitiation like anorexia, nausea, indigestion etc give us a clue that the pathology resides in the Amashaya or stomach.

This way it becomes easy to treat the stomach and the ailments or morbidity therein. Along with the medicines to get rid of ama and morbid doshas, causing the diseases of the stomach, the medicines which rectify the functioning of the stomach and heal the structural damage should also be administered.

Ashayapakarsha – Ashayas are involved in a pathological process called Ashayapakarsha. In this condition, the vitiated Vata will pull or push the normal Pitta and or Kapha from their site and displace them.

This will create a vacant space of Pitta in Pittashaya and Kaphashaya (Shleshmashaya). They will thus be left undefended.

Example, if pita or pachaka pitta (the pitta which resides in stomach and is responsible for digestion of food) is pulled off its place by morbid Vata, take for example the Vata located in the lower portion of the body (responsible for excretory functions or output in lower direction), the Pitta sthana (place of pitta) will be devoid of Pitta and this will lead to indigestion and a wide range of metabolic diseases.

At the same time, the Pitta would have been pulled down into the Vata place i.e. the pelvis or large intestine or urinary bladder or uterus. This will cause burning sensation of these organs along with inflammatory changes.

The physiology of these organs also will be disturbed. The defecation, urination, menstruation and labour everything will be troublesome. This is called Ashayapakarsha or dislodgement of a dosha from its place.

This is an important aspect of Ayurvedic pathology. The knowledge of Ashayas will give an idea about Ashayapakarsha and the methods of combating it.

The Doshas are formed in Ashayas. Kapha is formed in Amashaya at the beginning of the digestion. This is called Madhura Avasthapaka stage.

Pitta is formed in the 2nd or middle stage of digestion in Pittashaya. This stage is called Amla Avasthapaka.

Vata is formed at the end stage of the digestion in Pakwashaya. This stage is called Katu Avasthapaka.

Dhatus and Malas are also formed in some Ashayas – Rakta or blood tissue is formed in Raktashaya i.e. liver and spleen, Pureesha or stools are formed in Pakwashaya or Large intestine and Mutra or urine is held in Mutrashaya or urinary bladder before being voided.

The Kriya Kalas take place in the Ashayas. Kriya Kalas are the 6 stages of dosha vitiation.
They are –
Sanchaya – stage of accumulation of doshas in their own sites (ashayas)
Prakopa – stage of aggravation of doshas in their own sites (ashayas)
Prasara – stage of spread or overflow of doshas to other sites (dhatus and ashayas)
Sthanasamshraya – stage of lodgement of doshas in the dhatus or ashayas
Vyakta – stage of manifestation of disease (in the afflicted ashaya or dhatu)
Bheda – stage of complications

Kriya kala means proper time for treatment. The kriya kalas mentioned above are tougher to treat in that chronological order. Therefore, Sanchaya is the easiest stage and Bheda is the toughest stage to handle for a physician.

All these pathological stages happen in one or the other ashaya. Therefore it is important to know about the aashayas, their relationship with doshas and or kriyakala.

Kalas or membranes (or layers) which separate the dhatus from their ashayas are located in close vicinity of the ashayas. The kalas form a distinctive screen separating the ashaya and the tissues forming the ashayas.

They protect and buffer the ashayas from injuries and damages. Example, The shleshmadhara kala helps in the formation of shleshma (mucous) which lubricates the inner surfaces of hollow organs like stomach intestines etc and help in the free flow of food and liquids, also protects the interior of the stomach from erosive actions of acids and digestive enzymes.

The Pureeshadhara Kala located in Unduka or Pakwashaya (caecum or large intestine) will produce stools, the Raktadhara Kala present in Raktashaya (liver and spleen) will produce rakta or blood cells etc.

Just before finish –
On the basis of ‘residence and resident’ relationship, the resident will be happy if the residence is well built and equipped.

Similarly, in the body also some important ingredients of the body which are travelling from one corner of the body to the other in order to carry out the life activities in a balanced way, some materials which stay at a place to perform certain important activities and some substances to get excreted out of the body in a balanced way, need a residence where they can stay. Some elements like Rakta (blood) are also produced in their abodes.

The knowledge of Ashaya helps a doctor to track down the status of an organ. At the same time it also helps him or herto identify if the tenants (asrita) of an ashaya are good, bad, ugly or disturbing and also to diagnose if the ashraya is healthy or not.

By doing so, an effective treatment can be given at the right time and the balance between the residence and resident can be established, which in turn is the key for perfect health.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email: [email protected]

3 thoughts on “Ashaya – Meaning, Types, Location, Utility”

  1. I want to thank you so much for such great articles you are sharing.
    As a student of ayurveda I am really apreaciating the clarity you use to explain such a beautiful science.
    Thank you very much!
    *Blessings*

    Reply

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