By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa B.A.M.S
Guru Guna means ‘heaviness’ quality. It is present in some substances and those substances are said to be heavy in nature.
Heaviness is one of the qualities and is included in 20 gurvadi qualities. Guru is first quality explained among these 20 qualities. Therefore entire group is named as gurvadi i.e. guru etc qualities. Read – Dravya: Meaning, Ayurvedic Explanation
Heaviness in terms of substances
When we hold some substances we feel that they are heavy. Example, holding a big stone, book, and bag filled with materials etc. In this instance we are discussing about heaviness present basically in a substance.
This quality contributes to the weight and gravity of substance. This is because heaviness is due to earth and water elements contained in the substance. Earth and water elements are responsible for downward movement i.e. gravity. Read – Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment
Heaviness also means heavy to digest, difficult to digest, foods that take very long time to undergo digestion. It can also be relative. For example, 5 idlis are Guru when compared to 2 idlis.
When we drop some substances, they fall down. When we throw certain substances they go up and again take a downward course and fall to ground. These substances are heavy in nature. This heaviness is due to makeup of substance predominantly by earth and water elements. Among the elements of nature we can see that earth i.e. solid materials and water i.e. liquids tend to have natural gravity and a downward course when released or thrown. Read – Relationship Between Doshas And Basic Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta)
Heaviness in food, herbs
Heaviness in terms of medicinal herbs and food substances –
Foods and medicines which are heavy to digest are considered to have heaviness as a quality in them.
‘Those foods and medicines which get digested slowly by metabolic fire and produce heaviness in the body are considered to be heavy in nature. Due to their heaviness, they also tend to pacify or diminish digestive fire’. Read – Classification Of Foods And Drinks – Charaka Sahmita Sutrasthana 27
This very much depends on quality and quantity of agni i.e. digestive fire.
Vata constitution people will have variable and fluctuant fire. Therefore immaterial of quality and quantity of food, digestion will be erratic. Read – Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Vata Dosha Body Type
In those of pitta body types, fire is very intense. Therefore it will digest food in quick time, heavy foods too. But even intense nature of fire in pitta people will take more time to digest heavy foods and medicines in comparison to foods and medicines which are light to digest.
People of kapha constitution will have mild digestive fire which is not powerful, therefore digestion is slow. Heavy foods take lot of time to digest in comparison to vata and pitta type of fires.
Therefore digestion of heavy to digest foods and medicines are slowest in kapha influenced digestive fire, better and variable in fire influenced by vata and comparably good and quicker in fire influenced by pitta.
Heaviness of food and medicinal herbs is due to heaviness quality in them. Large quantity of food is also considered as heavy in terms of digestion. Even fire influenced by pitta cannot digest large quantity of heavy foods or even large quantity of lighter foods because quantity will be in excess in comparison to the capacity of digestion of a given fire. Just imagine putting heavy logs of wood on an intense fire, large quantities of fuel too will put off a big fire. Fire influenced by kapha cannot digest even small quantities of heavy food. Read – How Much Food To Eat Per Day As Per Ayurveda?
Heaviness quality is related to earth element. It is in fact a special quality of earth element. Water element too has heaviness in it. All those substances predominantly made up of earth, water or both elements are heavy in nature, have heaviness as quality in them. Heaviness causes gravitation and gravity is a feature of both earth and water elements. Read – Relationship of Water Element With Doshas And Lifespan
Effect on doshas
Heavy quality mitigates vata while it increases kapha.
Lightness is natural quality of vata, heaviness is antagonistic to it. Therefore any food or medicine which has heaviness quality will mitigate vata. On other hand, heaviness is the basic quality of kapha. Therefore any medicine or food which has heaviness property tends to increase kapha. Read – Understand Kapha Dosha By Its Functions In other language, those foods which increase kapha would decrease vata and those which increase vata would decrease kapha. Kapha and vata are naturally antagonistic doshas.
Basically increase in kapha would decrease vata and increase in vata would decrease kapha in body. They are not only antagonistic but also mutually balancing. Heaviness is one among many qualities of kapha, which is also absent in vata which enables this antagonizing and mutually balancing mechanisms between kapha and vata. Read – Vata Dosha Qualities And Functions
Effect on Tissues
Heavy quality increases tissues, mainly muscle tissue. It is nourishing to the tissues and whole body. It provides strength and endurance. Since it enhances quality and quantity of tissues, heaviness quality also enhances immunity. Read – Dhatu – 7 Body Tissues As Explained In Ayurveda
Effect on Excreta
Heaviness quality increases the quality of excreta and makes them stick to channels of body. Medicines used in therapeutic purgation are heavy in nature. Therefore they tend to move downwards. By virtue of this nature, purgatives tend to expel excreta out of body, through anal route. Read – Virechana Therapy – Right Method, Side Effects, Management
Effect on systemic functions
As already said, heaviness quality i.e. foods having heavy quality gets slowly digested. Being heavy, these heavy foods pacify digestive fire and make it weak. If one is habituated to take heavy foods regularly or by practice, fire is continuously weakened. This leads to indigestion and anorexia, leading to many disorders due to sluggish digestion. Read – How To Know That Your Digestion System Is Working Fine?
Heavy quality also produces satiety. We would observe that whenever we eat heavy to digest foods we have a feel of saturation and satisfaction very early, just after eating small quantity of food. Same thing can be observed when heavy quantities of food are taken.
Foods’ having this quality cause exhaustion of body and depression of mind since heaviness slows down activities of the body and mind. Slow digestion also will have a depressive impact on mind. Since nutritive juices are formed slowly following sluggish digestion, body tissues will get delayed supply of nutrients and hence exhaustion and fatigue. Read – What Is The Right Time For Food? How Many Meals A Day? – Ayurveda
Below mentioned are also heavy in nature and quality –
- – i.e. sweet tastes, all foods having sweet taste
- Madhura vipaka – sweet post-digestion effect, first stage of digestion of food
- Sheeta veerya – cold potency
Examples of foods and medicines having heaviness quality
Reason for heaviness as per Bhojana Kutuhala
As per Bhojana Kutuhala first chapter, people with mild digestive fire should avoid foods that are heavy to digest with respect to the quantity in which they are consumed, as the innate nature or the quality is been gained during its processing.