Ranjaka Pitta – Location, Functions, Imbalance, Disorders, Treatment

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Ranjak means coloring or ‘that which colors’.
The pitta that imparts color to the rasa dhatu is called ranjaka pitta.

Introduction

According to Ayurvedic concepts, the tissues are formed in chronology. The first tissue i.e. rasa dhatu is formed from the essence of digestion or nutritional juice i.e. Ahara Rasa.

The second tissue to be formed in the chronology is blood tissue. When a part of rasa tissue is getting transformed into blood tissue, the ranjaka or coloring pittam located in liver imparts red color to the rasa. After acquiring red color it will be called as rakta dhatu or blood.

Read – Understanding Blood Functions, Vitiation And Treatment As Per Ayurveda

Ranjaka Pitta is one of the five sub-types of pitta.

Ranjaka Agni – Since all types of pitha are considered as forms and representation of fire in the body, the suffix agni (fire) is given to each subtype of pitta.
Thus Ranjak Pitta is also called as Ranjaka Fire.

Related reading – Sub Types Of Pitta Dosha – Importance, Salient Features

Sanskrit sloka

Location

Seat of Ranjaka Pitta
Different authors have given different opinions regarding seat of coloring pitta.

Yakrut (liver)
According to Sushruta, liver is the seat of coloring pitta. Being located in the liver, the ranjaka pitta is said to impart color to the rasa tissue when it passes through the liver.
Read – Liver Diseases: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Home Remedies

Amashaya (stomach, duodenum, small intestine)
According to Vagbhata, subtype of pitta located in the amashaya is called ranjaka pitta because it colors the rasa.

Hrudaya (heart)
According to Sharngdhara the rasa being propelled and carried by action of samana vata, reaches the heart. Here the rasa gets digested, processed, acted upon and colored by pitta located in the heart. Since the pitta located in the heart is said to color the rasa, it may be considered as seat of ranjaka pitta.
Read – Hrid Roga: Causes, Types, Symptoms of Heart Disease As Per Ayurveda

We can sum up different opinions and infer that stomach produces ranjaka pitta, the liver stores it and the heart distributes it all over the body. Alternatively we can consider that the coloring pitta is present in parts and parcels in different organs as mentioned above and the coloring of rasa takes place in three different stages, firstly in stomach, then in liver and lastly in the heart.

Other understanding

Other way of understanding Ranjak Pitta
Heart is the root of rasa vaha srotas, the channels carrying and distributing rasa tissue.
After digestion of food, rasa tissue formed in stomach reaches heart and is distributed to all parts of body.

The rasa which comes to heart from stomach has partly been colored by its contact with ranjaka pitta located in stomach. When this partly colored rasa is pumped from the heart, it reaches the liver. In liver, the rasa is further colored by ranjaka pitta stored in liver. Thus, coloring of rasa takes place in different stages, in the closed integrated loop completed by stomach, heart and liver.

All three versions of ranjaka pitta seats shall be considered individually too.
Read – Srotas: Body Channels and Duct systems – Easy Explanation

Functions

Functions of Normal Ranjaka Pitta
Imparts color to the rasa dhatu
Normal Ranjaka Pitta takes part in imparting color to the rasa tissue and converts it to blood tissue. The color of blood or red blood cells is due to ranjaka pitta.

Gives the push to the flow of blood and helps in its proper circulation
After imparting color to rasa tissue and converting it into blood tissue, the ranjaka pitta stays associated with blood cells. This pitta subtype is needed to give push and force needed for the blood to flow in the blood vessels in an uninterrupted way.

The pulsation of arteries we find while palpating during pulse examination is due to the hot and intense qualities of ranjaka pitta associated with blood. Circulation of blood from and to the heart is due to integrated and coordinated action of vyana vata, ranjaka pitta and avalambaka kapha.
Read – Understanding Blood Functions, Vitiation And Treatment As Per Ayurveda

Gives color to different elements and tissues of body
Some authors also believe that the color of different elements and tissues of the body is due to color imparted by ranjaka pitta. Thus, ranjaka pitta is believed to provide color to urine, stools, skin (apart from bhrajaka pitta), eyes and hairs.

pathology

Pathology related to Ranjaka Pitta imbalance
When there is imbalance of coloring pitta in form of its pathological increase or decrease many diseases related to liver, coloration of body tissues and circulation may be manifested.

When there is abnormal increase of ranjaka pitta it may cause disease like pigmentation disorders, high blood pressure etc.
Read – Hypertension Causes, Types, Symptoms, Ayurvedic Treatment

When there is abnormal decrease, it may cause diseases like anemia, pallor, jaundice, abnormal color manifestation in hairs, skin, urine, stools etc.

Since the roots of rasa and blood carrying channels are associated with formation, storage and circulation of coloring pitta, the imbalance of quality and quantity of this pitta subtype will have a pathological impact on these channels and produce diseases pertaining to these channels. Similarly, the diseases of these channels will cause pathological imbalance of ranjaka pitta.

Modern Correlation


As already discussed, ranjaka pitta is situated in stomach according to Vagbhata.
Sushruta opines that this pitta subtype is located in liver and spleen.

According to modern references, Castle’s intrinsic factor is located in stomach and in the duodenum (Brunner’s glands of duodenum to be precise). It is a glycoprotein secreted by parietal cells of gastric mucosa. In humans, it has an important role in the absorption of cobalamin i.e. Vitamin B12 in the intestine. Failure to produce or use this intrinsic factor by the human body results in pernicious anemia. In this anemia, insufficient red cells are produced.
This, according to Ayurveda may be due to failure of ranjaka pitta to color sufficient red cells. Thus  Castle’s intrinsic factor seems to be closer comparison to the ranjaka pitta explained by Vagbhata as existing in stomach.

Iron broke down from disintegrated RBCs is stored in liver and helps in hemoglobin formation and haemopoisis. Thus, the breakdown of RBCs and storage of iron in liver which again helps in formation of hemoglobin can be considered as the ranjaka pitta explained by Sushruta, as located in liver.

Seeing the above said explanations, the difference of opinion between Sushruta and Vagbhata about the sites of Ranjaka Pitta does not contradict each other.
Read – How To Reduce ESR? Herbs, Ayurvedic Treatment, Medicines

Sri Hirlekar, the author of ‘Shareera Tatva Darshanam’ justifies that stomach as the seat of ranjaka pitta also liver and spleen as these organs lay close to stomach.

The fact that Ayurvedic scholars and teachers of ancient time have identified a hemopoitic factor to be present in stomach, liver and spleen long before 10the century B.C. Castle in 1929 showed the presence of material necessary for formation of anti-anemic factor in the gastric tissue. It being like liver itself is effective in treatment of pernicious anemia.

The hemopoitic principle stimulates the bone marrow to produce RBCs. In case, this factor becomes deficit or nil, the bone marrow produces immature or premature RBCs without proper hemoglobin content in them.
Read –Rakta Pradoshaja Rogas – When Blood Is Vitiated By Doshas

This factor is of 3 forms –

  • Extrinsic factor – in the food in the form of B12 folic acid and iron
  • Intrinsic factor – in the body i.e. Brunner’s glands of duodenum and is stored in liver and spleen
  • Renal erythropoitic factor of kidney

Treatment

Treatment for disorders pertaining to Ranjaka Pitta:
Treatment involves
Deepana, Pachana – improving digestion strength
Vamana – Vomiting treatment
Virechana – Purgation treatment
Pitta balancing herbs and medicines with raisins, pomegranate, Shatavari, Manjishta, Kutki etc are advised.
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