By Dr Raghuram Y. S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B. A. M. S
Human body is said to be ‘pancha mahabhuta vikara samudayatmaka’ associated with life principle i.e pususha or chaitanya.
Pancha mahabhuta vikara samudayatmaka means ‘association of derivatives of five elements of nature’. Human body is an association of derivatives of five elements of nature i. e. earth, wind, water, fire and ether. When these elemental derivatives are associated with life element (soul) , human body lives its life.
Read – Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment
Below mentioned inclusions of human body are said to be panchamahabhuta vikaras or derivatives of five elements of nature –
Dosha – Dhatu – Mala
These doshas, dhatus and malas are called as derivatives of elements of nature because each of them is formed by permutation and combination of one or more elements of nature.
Read – Shareera: Formation Of Human Body, Ayurvedic Concept
Dosha – mahabhuta
Tridosha make up by combinations of elements of nature
Each dosha is made up of different combinations of elements of nature.
Read – Types Of Doshas And Their Functions
Vata – air
Vata = air + ether = Vayu Mahabhuta + Akasha Mahabhuta
Vata is representative of air in body. It renders its functions through its ‘cold and dry’ qualities.
Vata is made up of air and ether elements. Thus, vata is present in form of dry air in body. Though air and ether, both have their independent authority in body, vata is made up of both these elements. Both elements participate in well synchronized functions of vata or to enable vata to function in a proper way.
Read – Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Vata Dosha Body Type
Air needs space to move and that space is provided by ether element. Entire body is made up of spaces, including space inside and outside cells. This is ether element. This provides pathways for air element which is not seen in real terms to move around and conduct its activities in body.
All other elements of body including pitta, kapha, tissues and excreta move around in body with help of vata. Thus, vata is an independent entity and governs activities of all other elements which are passive in nature.
We can tell that a part of vata made up of ether element creates its own pathway for movement and air component of vata creates push or impedes needed for its free movement. Thus, whenever term Vata is used, it essentially includes both air and ether components of vata and not ‘only air’ component. Qualities of vata i. e. lightness, dryness, coldness etc are contributed by both components of vata.
Pitta – fire
Pitta = fire + water = Agni Mahabhuta + Jala Mahabhuta
Pitta is representative of fire or Sun in body. It renders its functions through its ‘hot’ quality.
Pitta is made up of fire and water elements. Thus, pitta is in form of hot water in body.
Fire and water is a unique combination. It is in this combination that pitta renders its functions. Pitta in body is just like acid in a bottle. If bottle is not labeled we would not know that it is acid. Only when acid is poured on some substance and when it burns it we would learn that content of bottle was acid. Or else it was just a liquid.
Read – Understand Pitta Dosha By Its Functions
Main functions of pitta are digestion of food, maintenance of temperature and heat in body and providing color and complexion to an individual.
Except Pachaka pitta, a subtype of pitta located in stomach (intestine) , which is devoid of liquid component, other pittas have considerably good quantity of water in them.
Water content of pitta helps in counteracting with fire component and to check excessive heat produced by fire component of pitta. Thus buffer for heat of pitta is provided within itself in form of water content.
If fire component and water component of pitta are imbalanced it leads to many diseases related to metabolism.
Read – Understanding Agni: Concept, Definition, Functions, Types
If fire component is more, excessive heat is produced in body which leads to excessive corrosion and inflammation in body. It leads to excessive digestion and burnouts in body. Body will be depleted of its nutrition since food will be burnt.
On other hand if water content of pitta is more, fire gets diluted, there is less heat in body and food is not digested properly. Entire metabolism will be disturbed and gets sluggish. This will lead to many metabolic errors, stagnation and multiple blocks in body.
Read – Understanding Digestion Process From An Ayurveda View
Kapha – water, earth
Kapha = water + earth = Jala Mahabhuta + Prithvi Mahabhuta
Kapha is representative of water or Moon in body. It renders its functions through its ‘cold and unctuous’ qualities.
Kapha is made up of water and earth basic elements. Thus, kapha is in form of cold and semi-frozen water or semisolid cementing substance in body.
Read – Understand Kapha Dosha By Its Functions
Water and mud forms a cementing substance, an adhesive which holds two bricks of a construction together. Similar function is rendered by combination of water and earth components of kapha in body. They together form cementing substance which holds cells together, help in formation of tissues, organs and organ systems.
Thus, kapha takes part in keeping components of body adhered to each other and work in integration. In short, kapha is building matrix which helps in engineering body anatomy and is responsible for integrity, stability and endurance of body. This integrity of body components together constitute immunity and well being of an individual and also for smooth run of all activities.
Main functions of kapha are to enable proper growth and development of body, provide strength, immunity and endurance to body.
Read – What is Ojas? How To Increase Ojas During Health And Disease?
If there is imbalance between water and earth components of kapha, many diseases would manifest in body which would disturb strength, immunity, stability and endurance of body components.
Read – Kapha Decrease Symptoms, Analysis, Treatment
If water component becomes more and earth component becomes less, there will be laxity of body components and loss of integrity in body tissues. This would lower endurance and immunity and cause many diseases.
Read – Kapha Increase Symptoms – Kapha Vruddhi Lakshana
On other hand, if water component becomes less and earth component becomes more, kapha will cause multiple blocks in body. Obstruction in channels of body would hamper circulation, oxygenation, nutrition and other functions and cause diseases like atherosclerosis, kidney stones, fatty liver,constipation etc
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