Tridoshas – Causative Factors Of All Systemic Diseases

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Tridoshas are vata, pitta and kapha. The term dosha has many meanings. Dosha in general terms is a fault or an error.
Read – How To Incorporate A Basic Principle Of Ayurveda For A Better Health


The term dosha has many meanings. Dosha in general terms is a fault or an error. Here, when we take its meaning in medical terms, dosha means –

  • That which contaminates
  • That which has the capacity to vitiate and disturb other elements

Sanskrit verse

When doshas are in a state of balance, they take care of and support the body. They are responsible for all functions of body. But when same doshas get vitiated, they tend to invade tissues, excreta, organs and other components of body and cause various diseases.
Read – Types Of Doshas And Their Functions

No disease in body is produced without vitiation of doshas. As a rule, doshas should get vitiated, invade tissues, get lodged in them and damage them if a disease needs to be produced. Thus, doshas are mandatory factors needed for formation and manifestation of any disease, especially diseases of systemic origin.

These doshas though not actively, but may invariably get associated in mental disorders and diseases caused due to external factors like injury, poisoning etc in later part of their manifestation.
Read – Balanced Doshas And Their Contribution To Comprehensive Health

Sushruta’s view

Sushruta’s three pointers to prove that doshas are main pathogenic factors of a disease

Just like doshas support the body when they are in a state of equilibrium, they also damage body components and disturb their functions when they get vitiated. Doshas get vitiated due to various factors, main etiological factors for vitiation of doshas being wrong choices of food, erratic and undisciplined lifestyle, extremes of climate, stress, geographic variations etc.

Hence, tridoshas are main causes of diseases.
Read – Contributory Factors for a Disease – Ayurvedic View Point

Three factors which establish doshas as main pathogenic factors of a disease are –

Tallingatwaat – Diseases may be manifested in many types. They may be physical, mental or both, systemic or local, general or traumatic, congenital or acquired. Immaterial of kind of disease, signs and symptoms of disease will always be in accordance to predominant dosha(s) involved in the causation of disease.
Read – Normal Dosha Vitiation In Relation To Digestion

This allows us to understand dosha-disease relationship. If symptoms of disease are caused by one or more doshas, disease which includes those symptoms too must be caused by vitiated doshas. If vitiated doshas have not caused disease, dosha specific symptoms will not be seen.
Read – Roopa – Symptoms: Definition, Types, Benefits of its knowledge

Drishta Phalatwat – When a physician treats a disease by just understanding dosha(s) involved in causation of disease by seeing signs and symptoms of disease, results in form of comprehensive cure of disease are obvious.

Many times, knowledge of tridoshas and symptoms caused by morbid doshas has enabled physicians to comprehensively treat disease without going into specific identification and diagnosis of a disease. Thus, addressing dosha symptoms in a given disease yields good fruits in form of good cure, which is obvious in most cases. This gives proof that doshas are inevitable causative factors of a disease.

Aagamaat – Aagama means ancient classics. In almost all Ayurvedic classics, all authors and masters have accepted and proclaimed that doshas are causative factors for a disease. Since ancient preaching, teachings and documentation have been accepted as important sources of obtaining knowledge, concept of doshas being causative factors of a disease documented in these classical references need to be accepted without any doubt or questioning.
Read – Functions Of Doshas In Balance In The Body – Prakrita Dosha Karma


Simile to explain inseparable relationship between doshas and diseases

A bird flying high up in sky cannot get separated from its shadow, how much ever it tries to, in spite of bird flying for long time and throughout day, making repeated and futile attempts to keep its shadow away.

Similarly innumerable worldly materials cannot escape from tri gunas i.e. sattva, rajas and tamas qualities with which they are made up of.
Read – Abnormal Vitiation Of Doshas – Vaikruta Dosha Dushti

Likewise, innumerable manifestations of diseases may be, they cannot be away from the sphere of tridoshas.

This simil establishes inseparable relationship between doshas and diseases.

Doshas are invariable and inevitable causes for formation of diseases. Vitiated doshas produce diseases in body. Statement is thus proved.
Read – Importance Of Diet (Pathya) For Specific Diseases

Doshas cause disease

How are diseases formed by doshas?

Diseases are formed due to a vicious mixture of vitiated doshas and tissues which are weak and susceptible. Doshas cause diseases in below-mentioned way.

Dosha(s) get vitiated when one gets exposed to or consumes etiological factors which cause aggravation of doshas, thus disturbing their balance in body. These doshas initially get increased and aggravated in their own seats. Later when aggravation of doshas is not attended, they leave their seats and spread to all parts of body. These doshas get lodged in weak and susceptible tissues.
Read – Independent And Dependent Dosha Imbalance – Explanation, Example

When this happens, premonitory symptoms of disease are manifested. These symptoms indicate initial damage of tissues by vitiated doshas and onset of disease process. When disease is not addressed in this preliminary stage, doshas further damage tissues.
Read – Samprapti Ghatakas – Components Of Manifestation Of Disease

When tissues have been sufficiently damaged by vitiated doshas, signs and symptoms of a fully manifested disease are formed. This marks manifestation of disease with its hallmark signs and symptoms. Disease when not treated even in this stage might progress to stage of complications. Disease at this stage becomes difficult to treat or impossible to cure.

Thus, doshas which get vitiated by etiological factors pass through 6 stages of pathogenesis and cause diseases. These six stages are called shat kriya kala.

First three stages i.e. stage of accumulation, stage of aggravation and stage of spread of doshas do not cause diseases but form foundation for same. Diseases are formed in last three stages i.e. stage of lodgment of doshas in tissues, stage of formation of disease and stage of complications. When earlier stages are treated, next stages are not formed and hence disease may be aborted in earlier stages, before its manifestation.

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