Fineness Quality – Sookshma Meaning, Therapeutic Uses, Mode Of Action

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

Sukshma Guna means fineness’ quality. Substance with this quality is said to be fine in nature.


Fineness is one of the 20 gurvadi qualities. It is opposite to sthula guna i.e. bulkiness quality. Fineness and bulkiness are opposite qualities and are also mutually balancing. Fineness, being minute, gets dissolved and spreads through entire body and opens up all channels of transportation. Bulkiness owing to its largeness and inability to spread gets stagnated and causes blocks in channels of body. Read – Dravya: Meaning, Ayurvedic Explanation

Fineness is antagonist to bulkiness quality. When bulkiness increases, it causes stagnation and retention of materials in the body, causes unnecessary accumulation of tissues and kapha increase in an abnormal way. This quality would also make one obese.

In this condition, quality opposite to that of bulkiness i.e. fineness quality should be administered. Fineness would remove excessive bulkiness and its ill effects in the body and also destroy morbid kapha. Fineness also would destroy unwanted tissues which have accumulated in the body. Fineness would do these things when administered in the form of foods, medicines and treatments comprising of fineness quality. These substances will induce the fineness quality in the body and antagonize the effects of excessive bulkiness and increased kapha.

Bulkiness is caused by increased kapha. Fineness is caused by increased vata. Fineness also causes increase in vata. Vata is antagonistic to kapha. Fineness induced by vata antagonizes and balances excessive bulkiness caused by increased kapha. When morbid kapha is taken under control by fineness quality, bulkiness caused by kapha also decreases consequentially. Thus, fineness antagonizes hyper-activity of bulkiness quality, makes body thin, opens up blocks and congestion caused by bulkiness and also relieves bulkiness. Fineness also depletes excessively accumulated cell debris and destroys kapha which has abnormally increased due to buildup of bulkiness quality in body. This also eventually clears stagnation and congestion in the body and restores health. Read – Balanced Doshas And Their Contribution To Comprehensive Health

Salient features

Salient features of Fineness quality

Fineness in terms of substances medicinal herbs and food substances – Fineness is a quality which cannot be perceived by eyes or touch. Its effects are seen in and out of the body. Actions of increased fineness can be perceived in the form of increased vata activities in the body. Inside the body fineness can be known through its action, i.e. its ability to destroy bulkiness, to open up channels of transportation and to clear the body of its congestion and stagnation, cause depletion of tissues, drying of excreta and vata increase.

These events happen following consumption of foods, medicines and treatments which have fineness quality in them.

That which has ability to get dissolved / absorbed easily into cells and channels and also to spread all through the body is called ‘sukshma guna’ i.e. ‘fineness quality’.

 ‘Those which have expansive strength and ability is called sukshma guna i.e. fineness quality. That which owing to its minuteness and fineness tends to easily enter each and every structure of the body, including cells and channels, spreads in the entire body and also opens up the channels of transportation and expands them removing the congestion caused in them is called fineness quality’

Fineness quality may be introduced or induced in body by administering medicines, food or activities having fineness quality predominantly.

Elemental relationship

Fineness quality is mainly related to three elements i.e. fire, air and space elements.

Combination of air and space elements make up vata dosha. Therefore fineness which is formed by and dependent on these elements also increase vata in body. Combination of these three elements in balanced proportions is very intense and quick acting. They enable easy dissolution and penetration into the minutest areas of the body, into each cell and small channels of body and hence spread in body. Read – Relationship Between Doshas And Basic Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta) It is the same combination of elements in fineness quality that helps it to break down obstructions and clear stagnations in the body, thus opening up channels of the body. Fineness increases vata and destroys kapha and stagnation caused by excessive kapha by virtue of these three elements comprised in it.

Medicines and foods rich in air, space and fire elements will naturally induce fineness in the body parts. Read – Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment

Effect on doshas

Fineness quality increases vata and mitigates kapha. Vata naturally possesses fineness quality. Hence, vata induces fineness in the body. Anything which increases fineness also increases vata. Similarly anything which increases vata also increases fineness.

Increase in kapha will cause increased bulkiness in the body. Bulkiness increased beyond limits once again causes increase in kapha. These events consequently cause stagnation and blocks in channels of the body leading to disturbance of many functions. Read – Kapha Test – How To Know About Kapha Imbalance In Your Body

In such conditions fineness should be induced by administration of foods, activities, medicines and therapies which has fineness quality in them. Fineness being antagonistic to bulkiness reduces bulkiness and induces fineness in these structures. Fineness also increases vata which is antagonistic to kapha. This increased vata and the fineness quality will nullify hyper-activity of kapha and also reduce bulkiness. This also prevents unnecessary accumulation and stagnation which has been caused by increased kapha and thus keeps the body clean. Read – Relationship of Doshas with Treatment of Diseases

Effect on Tissues

Fineness quality depletes tissues. This happens when vata increases beyond limitations owing to increased fineness.  When in a state of balance, fineness makes sure that excessive tissues are not formed and deposited; it keeps clearing unnecessary tissues. When abnormally increased and out of balance, fineness increases vata. This increased vata destroys tissues, even normal tissues. Read – Vata Increase Caused Due to Tissue Depletion: Dhatu kshaya

Both vata and fineness qualities are antagonistic to kapha. When kapha builds up, it causes undesired stagnation and blocks in the tissues and channels of the body. Tissues are formed in excess and are stagnated. Most tissues belong to kapha because of similarity in properties and functions. Fineness removes these unwanted tissues, clears passages and balances tissues. Read – Decrease Of Tissues – Dhatu Kshaya – Reasoning, Symptoms

When opposite quality of fineness i.e. bulkiness quality gets increased in body, it causes accumulation of substances in tissues and channels. This leads to stagnation and impairment of body functions. There is also formation and accumulation of unnecessary tissues in the body. Due to obstructions, body is depleted of nutrition. Wastes are held back in tissues and channels. Heaviness and congestion builds up in the body due to blocks and increase of kapha. In these conditions, foods, medicines and therapies having fineness quality should be administered to combat the ill-effects of increased bulkiness and abnormal increase of kapha. Read – Activities And Diet For Kapha Balance

At the same time, when fineness increases abnormally it increases vata. Severe vata aggravation leads to destruction of tissues. This reduces support, endurance and immunity.

This condition can be handled by administration of foods and medicines having bulkiness quality so that excessive fineness which is harmful to the body could be handled. Bulkiness builds up tissues in a healthy and restores their balance. This enables the body to recover from damage caused due to effect of increased fineness and vata. Bulkiness also destroys vata which has abnormally increased due to excessive fineness quality in the body. Read – Dhatu – 7 Body Tissues As Explained In Ayurveda

Effect on Excreta

Fineness brings about dryness in excreta. It soaks and sucks the fluidity of faeces and makes it hard and dry. Eventually faeces is expelled with difficulty. On long run, this can cause constipation, and retention of body wastes, especially when fineness gets increased beyond limitations. Read – Tri Malas – The Three Major Waste Matters Of Body

Effect on systemic functions

Fineness can be used to treat pathological conditions caused due to increased bulkiness quality and also due to increased kapha. Fineness would eventually remove excessive bulkiness caused in body. This quality is therefore useful in treating conditions like overweight, and bulkiness of the body since it is bulk depleting.

Clearness is used to clear congestion and stagnation produced by increased bulkiness and increased kapha. Thus, clearness is beneficial in treating the conditions caused due to congestion in cells and channels caused by abnormal increase in bulkiness and kapha. After administration of fineness quality, congestion and obstruction is removed. Eventually channels of body open up. Clarity in channels enables free and uninterrupted transportation of essential things in body. Tissues are nourished and body regains strength. Read – Rasa Dhatu: Definition, Formation, Circulation, Imbalance Diseases, Treatment

Fineness also would suck off excessive fluidity from tissues and removes congestion. It absorbs fluids from excreta and makes it dry. When fineness increases, it may lead to constipation and stagnation of wastes and toxins.

Since fineness destroys tissues, it will remove excessively piled up unnecessary tissues and dead cell debris which are caused due increased bulkiness and abnormal increase of kapha. These unwanted tissues are the source of many ailments.

Fineness quality increases vata in the body which is antagonistic to kapha. Therefore fineness is used to treat high kapha conditions and pathological manifestations, congestion and accumulations caused due to increased kapha.

Excessive increase of vata caused due to excessive fineness is also 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 fineness quality, foods and medicines having sthula guna i.e. fineness quality should be administered. Read – Vata Samanya And Nanatmaja Vyadhis (General And Unique Vata Disorders)

Fineness quality is easy to digest. Therefore foods and medicines which are rich in fineness get easily digested, converted, absorbed and spread quickly all through the body.

Effect of excessive consumption

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


Examples of foods and medicines having fineness quality Madya – wine (medicated), alcohol etc.
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Suksma, Pramathi

There are two qualities explained in Ayurveda that sound similar but there are minute differences. 
Pramathi and 

Herbs with Pramathi quality break down the obstacles and blockages that are situated in the deep tissues and channels. They help to open up the blockage. 

Acharya Sharangdhara writes, 
nijavīryeṇa yaddravyaṃ srotobhyo doṣasaṃcayam | 
nirasyati pramāthi syāttadyathā maricaṃ – vacā || śā| saṃ 4

nijavīryeṇa – By the inner strength of the potency 
yaddravyaṃ – of a herb, 
nirasyati – destroys, breaks down 
doṣasaṃcayam  – the dosha complex which causes disease 
srotobhyo – in the body channels, 
pramāthi syāt – is called Pramathi. 
tadyathā – like  
maricaṃ – Black pepper 
vacā  – Acorus calamus

These are useful in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis, atherosclerosis, to open blockage in nerve conduction channels, to open up blockages in internal organs like liver, spleen, kidney etc. 

Sookshma is another quality. It simply means minuteness. The herbs with Sookshma quality enter the minute channels. it does not open up the blockage but it can just enter deep minute channels of the body. 
Example: Sookshma – honey, ghrita manda, Saindhava lavana, sesame oil. 
After an oil massage, the sesame oil enters deep to the muscle tissue through the skin pores. 

What’s the function of sukshma ausadhi on a body like pramathi breaks the channels and opens up the blockages ?
Sometimes when the pathology is seated deep within the body tissues, the medicines have to travel to the minutest of the channels to bring about therapeutic effects. There, the sookshma quality is helpful.

For example deep tissues of any organ such as brain, liver, kidney etc.
There, pramathi might not be suited as they can be very hot and might not serve the required healing.
Acarya Chaprapani writes, 
प्रमाथित्वादिति क्षोभकारित्वात्|
Meaning, pramathi herbs can cause local irritation as they are meant to forcefully open up the channels. 

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