Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
In the story of evolution of man, the discovery of fire is the most important achievement of our ancestors and we should be indebted to them for having done that!
Fire or Agni has been used on daily basis ever since and has been an integral component and companion of our life. We cannot imagine most of our activities happening without the use of fire.
Heat and electricity are the innovations of fire and each represents the form of energy. The idea of fire and its energy derivatives might have come from the ultimate source of heat in the cosmos, i.e. the Sun and Sun energy.
Human body also has a fire component in it. Body heat is the indicator of life. The heat or fire element in our body is said to be a representative of Sun and Sun energy in the exterior world. This heat element in our body is named as Pitta.
All metabolic activates, our hunger, appetite, digestion of food, provision of life elements (in the form of properly processed essence of food i.e. nutrition) to all cells, our color and complexion, circulation of blood, temperature of body, vision thought processes, anger, aggression, energy and drive and lot more things are dependent on Pitta. Pitta renders these functions to perfection and keeps us healthy and going when it is in a state of balance. When the same pitta is disturbed and vitiated, it causes burnouts and inflammation in the body leading to many diseases and also death. Absence of pitta and its activities indicates absence of heat and reflects absence of life!!
Pitta is one of the 3 doshas, the basic humoral elements controlling the functions of the body. Vata and Kapha are the other two elements or doshas. Pitta cannot travel from one part of the body to the other and is helped by Vata in this process.
Pitta subtypes, features
Though Pitta is a single entity, it is of 5 subtypes, represented in 5 places in the body. They are all inter-related and the function of each Pitta is dependent on the functions of other.
The 5 types of Pitta are
- Pachaka Pitta – Located in the stomach and intestines
- Ranjaka Pitta – Located in the liver and spleen
- Bhrajaka Pitta – Located in the skin
- Alochaka Pitta – Located in the eyes
- Sadhaka Pitta – Located in the head / heart
Subtypes of Pitta points towards distribution of its functions – As mentioned above, Pitta has its representations in 5 different places of the body. This classification can be understood in terms of functional distribution of pitta. Pitta being a single entity bears 5 different names while located in 5 different locations of the body and also renders different functions.
Each Subtype of Pitta is governed by Pachaka Pitta – Among all the pitas, Pachaka Pitta, a subtype of Pitta located in the digestive system, mainly in the stomach and intestines is said to be the primary and strongest pitta. Being located in its site, Pachaka Pitta controls all the other subtypes of pitta through agni karma or fiery action (heat and energy promoting). Thus the gut or nabhi (navel, representation of digestive system) is considered as the control station of all subtypes of pitta. This also indicates that much of the health, balance and activities of pitta subtypes (other than pachaka pitta) are under the control of pachaka pitta and also are dependent on the health, balance and activity of pachaka pitta. If there is imbalance in quality and quantity of pachaka pitta, the other pittas also get affected, they too will get imbalanced. This leads to many diseases in the seats of pitta subtypes or may be more generalized. Thus, the pachaka pitta or core fire (jathara agni or pachaka agni, the main metabolic or digestive fire) should be kept in balance with utmost care and effort.
Each subtype of pitta has its own assigned functions – Pitta has its generalized functions and is operational at each and every corner of the body, controlling all the functions. At the same time, its subtypes are assigned specific functions. Example – Pachaka Pitta located in the stomach is assigned the function of receiving and digesting the food, absorb the digested food and put into circulation and to see that the food is assimilated and used properly at cellular level. Ranjaka Pitta provides color to the ahara rasa (digestive juices) passing through liver and spleen and provides red or bloody color to it, hence taking part in formation of rakta or blood cells.
The functions of Pitta subtypes are integrated – The coordination of these subtypes of pitta is necessary for the functions of the body to take place smoothly and uninterruptedly. Example, If Pachaka Pitta is functionally low (manda agni), the functions of other pitas which are dependent on Pachaka pitta also get deteriorated. If Pachaka Pitta is hyper (ati agni), the other pittas also work in excess and cause systemic burnouts in a generalized way or in the their preliminary seats or locations.
The pitta subtypes work in synchronization with subtypes of vata and kapha – Pitta subtypes have to work in synchronization with the subtypes of other doshas i.e. vata and kapha for sustenance of healthy and disease free environment in the body. Example – In the process of digestion, in the stomach and intestines, Pachaka Pitta works in synchronization with Samana Vayu and Kledaka Kapha to enable proper digestion. Sadhaka Pitta works in sync with Tarpaka Kapha and Prana Vayu to enable a proper thought process, to promote intelligence and memory process.
Why should we have knowledge of Subtypes of Pitta?
One should have a thorough knowledge of Pitta Subtypes. This will help in addressing the pitta or pitta types specifically and provide a comprehensive treatment. Generalized treatment of pitta will help in addressing the vitiation of subtypes of pitta, but the knowledge of subtypes will help in precise treatment of pathological conditions of pitta subtypes. This is important from a physician’s point of view in terms of treatment approach. Knowing the subtypes of pitta will enable a physician to understand their relation with subtypes of vata and kapha, their relation with the organs and tissues wherein they are located, the balance and imbalances they carry in terms of their relation with the controlling force i.e. pachaka pitta and helps in addressing the pathologies caused by the imbalances of the pitta subtypes in a comprehensive way.
It is located between large intestine and stomach. (between Amashaya and pakvashaya)
It is composed of all the five basic elements (Panchamaha Bhuta), it is predominant with fire element and devoid of water element.
It is called by the term Anala- fire because of its function of Paka – digestion and transformation of food materials.
It cooks the food, divides it into essence and waste,
It bestows grace and influence on other types of Pitta.
Hence, among all the types of Pitta, Pachaka pitta is the dominant one.
The pitta located in the Amasaya- stomach is known as Ranjaka. It converts the useful part of the digestion into blood. Hence it converts Rasa Dhatu into Rakta Dhatu.
The pitta located in the Hrudaya –heart is known as Sadhaka.
It attends to mental functions such as knowledge, intelligence, self- consciousness, etc, thereby helping the purpose – aims of life.
It is located in the eyes. It helps in vision.
It resides in skin and helps exhibition of color and complexions.
Just Before Finishing
In this article I have covered about the subtypes of Pitta, their location, salient features of pitta subtypes and the importance of knowing the pitta subtypes from the treatment aspect.
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