Roughness Quality-Khara Meaning, Action On Doshas, Therapeutic Uses

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

Khara Guna means ‘roughness’ quality. Substances having this quality are said to be rough in nature.


Roughness is one of the 20 gurvadi qualities. It is opposite to shlakshna guna i.e. smoothness quality. Roughness and smoothness are opposite qualities and are also mutually balancing. Roughness is harsh to touch, scrapes and destroys doshas while smoothness is pleasant to touch and causes healing of damaged tissues and prevents wear and tear in body. Read – Dravya: Meaning, Ayurvedic Explanation

Roughness is defined on basis of capability of foods, medicines and activities which cause scraping and destruction of tissues and produce roughness in the body. Therefore, the foods and medicines which scrap and destroy tissues and induce roughness in body parts are considered to have khara guna i.e. roughness quality.

Roughness is antagonist to smoothness quality. When smoothness increases it leads to increase in kapha features. This would cause excessive smoothness of tissues and body parts making the body tender and delicate. Smoothness is needed to an extent and also in certain tissues and is not needed at certain areas, as in bone tissue. Smoothness also builds up tissues and there may be an abnormal increase in the deposition of unwanted tissues. In this condition, quality opposite to that of smoothness i.e. roughness quality should be administered. Roughness would remove excessive smoothness and its ill effects in the body and also destroy morbid kapha and scrap off unwanted tissues when administered in the form of foods, medicines and treatments comprising of roughness quality.

Smoothness is caused by increased kapha in the body. Roughness is caused by increased vata. Roughness also causes increase in vata. Vata is antagonistic to kapha. Roughness caused by vata antagonizes and balances smoothness caused by increased kapha.
Read – Understand Vata Dosha By Its Functions

When kapha is taken under control by roughness quality, smoothness caused by kapha naturally decreases. Thus, roughness antagonizes hyper-activity of smoothness quality, makes body parts rough and removes excessive smoothness. Roughness scrapes off accumulated tissues and unwanted cell debris and destroys morbid kapha caused by increased smoothness. This also eventually clears the blocks, restores tissue and general health. Read – Activities And Diet For Kapha Balance

Salient features

Salient features of Roughness quality

Roughness in terms of substances medicinal herbs and food substances Roughness is a quality which can be perceived by touch. It is a feel when you touch dry bark of a tree or a sand paper. Inside the body roughness can be known through its action, i.e. its ability to cause roughness, scrap and deplete tissues, increase vata and vata symptoms including dryness, roughness of the body parts and degeneration. All these happen following the consumption of foods, medicines and treatments which have roughness quality in them.

That which is unpleasant and rough to touch is called khara guna, i.e. roughness quality.

‘That which has capability to scrap the tissues and other components of the body is called khara guna i.e. roughness quality’

Roughness quality may be induced in the body by administering medicines, food or activities having roughness quality predominantly. Read – Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment

Elemental relationship

There are different opinions regarding the elemental relationship of roughness quality.

Roughness is caused due to increase in vata. Therefore, roughness is related to air element. According to master Charaka, it is predominant in air and earth elements. According to master Sushruta roughness is predominant in fire and air elements. In spite of difference of opinions, air is the common factor in roughness; therefore it is rich in air element.

Medicines and foods rich in air element with association of earth or fire elements will naturally induce roughness in body parts. Read – Relationship Between Doshas And Basic Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta)

Effect on doshas

Roughness quality increases vata. Therefore it naturally mitigates kapha. Vata naturally possesses roughness quality. Hence, vata induces roughness in the body. Anything which increases roughness in the body also increases vata. Similarly anything which increases vata also increases roughness.

Kapha has smoothness as one of its qualities. Increase in kapha increases smoothness in the body. Smoothness though has healing effect, when increases beyond limits tend to increase kapha and consequently block the channels of transportation in the body hampering all the functions.
Read – Kapha Test – How To Know About Kapha Imbalance In Your Body

In such conditions roughness should be induced in the body by administration of foods, activities, medicines and therapies which has roughness quality in them. Roughness being antagonistic to smoothness reduces smoothness and induces roughness in these structures. Roughness also increases vata which is antagonistic to kapha. This increased vata and roughness quality will nullify hyper-activity of kapha and also reduce smoothness. This also prevents unnecessary accumulation and stagnation caused by buildup of kapha by its scraping quality.

Effect on Tissues

Roughness quality depletes tissues owing to its scraping function. Its functions are said to be similar as vishada quality i.e. clearness quality. Roughness increases vata. Both vata and roughness are antagonistic to kapha. When kapha builds up in the body, there is undue stagnation and blocks in tissues and channels of transportation.

Tissues are formed in excess and are stagnated. Most tissues, especially soft tissues belong to kapha category. Roughness, by the virtue of its scraping function removes excessive tissues and makes them normal.

When opposite quality of roughness i.e. smoothness quality gets increased in the body, it causes accumulation of substances in tissues and channels leading to stagnation and impairment of body functions. Body is depleted of nutrition and wastes are held back in tissues and channels. Body becomes heavy and congested.

This becomes a suitable environment for manifestation of many systemic disorders. In these conditions, foods, medicines and therapies having roughness quality should be administered to combat the bad effects of increased smoothness and kapha increase.

When roughness increases beyond limits it increases vata. When vata increases beyond limits, it causes destruction of body tissues as increased vata scrapes off the tissues. This further leads to reduction of body support, loss of endurance, immunity and body becomes susceptible for many diseases. Read – Vata Increase Caused Due to Tissue Depletion: Dhatu kshaya

This condition can be handled by administration of foods and medicines having smoothness quality. Smoothness builds up tissues in a healthy way, heals wounds and damages and restores tissue functions and balances them. Smoothness also destroys vata which has abnormally increased due to excessive roughness quality in the body.

Effect on Excreta

Roughness brings about dryness in excreta. This makes excreta, especially faeces difficult to be excreted. This may eventually cause conditions like constipation, dysuria, etc, especially when roughness goes beyond limitations.

Effect on systemic functions

All the systemic functions of roughness quality are similar to clearness quality. They are as explained below –

Roughness can be used to treat pathological conditions caused due to increased smoothness and sliminess qualities and also due to increased kapha. By this, roughness would remove the excessive stickiness and smoothness caused in tissues and passages. This quality, like clearness, is used in effectively treating diseases and symptoms caused by increased kapha, fat and ama.

Roughness is used to clear congestion and stagnation produced by increased smoothness, stickiness, increased kapha, fat and ama in tissues and channels and also to treat the diseases caused by these pathological components.
Read – Medo Dhatu: Fat Tissue, As Explained In Ayurveda

When, due to administration of khara quality, the obstructions and congestion in the body are removed, channels of the body open up and enable free and uninterrupted transportation of essential things in body. It also enables evacuation of morbid doshas and wastes. Tissues are nourished by nutrients and strength is restored.

Like clearness, roughness also would suck off excessive fluidity from tissues and removes congestion. It also sucks fluids from excreta and makes it dry. When this quality increases it may lead to constipation and stagnation of wastes and toxins in the body.

Roughness will help in scraping of excessively piled up unnecessary tissues and dead cell debris which are caused due to morbid kapha, ama and fat. Roughness, when in state of balance, will enable healing of wounds in quick time since it clears off waste tissues, sucks off  wastes and fluid congestion around the wounds and create a healing environment. Read –

Roughness quality increases vata which is antagonistic to kapha. Therefore roughness is used to treat high kapha conditions and pathological manifestations, congestion and accumulations caused due to increased kapha, fat and ama.

Excessive increase of vata caused due to excessive roughness is harmful for the body and tissues, because increased vata would damage tissues severely and cause depletion of body strength. To counteract the effect of excessive roughness quality, foods and medicines having smoothness quality should be administered. Read – Vata Body Type From Structural, Functional Mental And Social Viewpoint

Effect of excessive consumption

When foods having roughness quality are excessively consumed, they lead to excessive loss of tissues and fluidity of body. These foods also cause excessive drying of faeces leading to conditions like constipation. This happens due to scraping, drying and sucking functions of roughness quality. Excessive roughness quality also causes abnormal increase in vata. Increased vata consequentially destroys tissues and cause many vata disorders. Excessive roughness may totally destroy its antagonist property i.e. smoothness which is essential for many body functions. 

Examples of foods and medicines having roughness quality

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