By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Gunas means qualities. These qualities are embedded in substances (dravya).
Read – Dravya: Meaning, Ayurvedic Explanation
Ayurveda classics mention and elaborate 41 qualities.
1. Adhibhoutika Qualities
a. Samanya (general qualities)
Gurvadi qualities – 20 in number (read about heaviness (guru guna) quality)
Paradi qualities – 10 in number
b. Vishishta (specific qualities)
Shabdadi qualities – 5 in number
2. Adhyatmika qualities
These qualities are 6 in number
Apart from these qualities, Master Sushruta has enumerated 5 more qualities which are not included in the above list of 41 qualities. Therefore it becomes important to discuss about these qualities.
Read – Rasa Panchaka – 5 Qualities Of Substance (Dravya)
Additional Susruta qualities
Additional Qualities mentioned by Master Sushruta
1. Vyavayi Guna
The quality which first gets dispersed throughout the body and then undergoes transformation (paka) is said to be Vyavayi quality. The general notion is that anything on entering the body is subjected for transformation in gut, absorbed and later put into circulation so that it is made available for all body tissues.
Read – Vipaka: Taste Conversion During And After Digestion
But vyavayi quality or the substances / foods / medicines having this quality do not follow this rule. First, on entering into the body, they are directly absorbed into the system, put into circulation and gets spread all over the body. In the later phase they get digested i.e. transformed.
These substances are enriched with air and ether elements.
Examples of herbs having vyavayi quality are –
Bhang – Cannabis sativa (read about Bhang)
Ahiphena – Papaver somniferum etc
2. Vikasi Guna
Quality which after getting dispersed all through the body cause destruction of ojas and causes laxity of body tissues and joints is called Vikasi quality. Ojas is the essence of all tissues and is formed as an end product of tissue metabolism. (Read about Ojas)
Since it is the essence of all the tissues, ojus depicts the immune system of the body. Vikasi quality is predominantly made up of air element.
Examples for vikasi quality are –
kramuka – betel nut
kodrava – Paspalum scrobiculatum etc.
Read – Betel Nut (Areca catechu) Uses, Research, Medicines, Side Effects
3. Sugandha Guna
Sugandha means pleasant odor. Sugandha quality provides pleasure to the mind, is comfortable, pleasant, minute and soft in nature.
4. Durgandha Guna
Durgandha means foul smell. This quality is opposite to that of sugandha quality. It is unpleasant to the mind and causes nausea and aversion.
Read – Nausea: Ayurvedic remedies, treatment, Medicines
5. Ashukari Guna
That quality, just like the oil spreads quickly on the layer of water, spreads quickly in the body and renders its actions is called Ashukari quality. In Bhavaprakasha treatise, this quality has been named as Ashu (quick acting).
Read – Prabhava: Special Effect of Herb
Sushka Guna – Bhavamishra
Shushka Guna mentioned by Master Bhavamishra
Shushka Guna is one more quality which has been mentioned by the author of Bhavaprakasha treatise i.e. Master Bhavamishra. While all authors have mentioned Sandra guna (solidity quality) as the opposite quality of drava guna (liquidity quality), Bhavamishra has mentioned shushka quality as opposite of drava quality.
This quality is made predominantly of three elements i.e. earth, air and fire elements.
Read – Drava Guna (Liquidity) – Meaning, Action On Doshas, Therapeutic Uses
Additional information about these extra-qualities
Many authors have included vyavayi and vikasi in the category of actions (karma) and have discussed in the related context instead of considering them as qualities (guna).
Vaisheshika school of philosophy has included sugandha and durgandha in ‘gandha’ and have said that these two are variants of smell (gandha).
Some authors have accepted ashukari as a action, just like vyavayi and vikasi.
Shushka quality mentioned by Bhavamishra can be categorized under Sandra (read – solidity quality) or ruksha (dryness) quality.