Mechanism Of Avarana, Types, Importance of Vata

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Avarana is a unique concept in Ayurveda. It is a condition which has been explained in the context of Vata disorders. Avarana means covering, enveloping or enclosing. In this condition the ‘free flowing’ and ‘all pervading’ vata is obstructed and enveloped by pitta, kapha, tissues, food and excreta. This obstructed vata causes many disorders. These diseases are called avaran janya vyadhis.

Components of Avarana

  • Avaraka – that which covers vata and obstructs it
  • Avruta – that which is covered, vata in this instance
  • Avarana – the entire pathological mechanism wherein an avaraka will cover and block the avruta is called as avarana


Mechanism of Avarana as explained by master Charaka

Master Charaka, in the context of Vata Vyadhi i.e. diseases caused by vitiated vata has explained avaran in detail.

Ref – Charaka Chikitsa Sthana Chapter 28

Master Charaka first explains about vata nanatmaja vyadhi i.e. diseases caused due to vitiation of only vata. Then, he goes on to explain, how Pitta and Kapha associate with Vata to cause disease and further he explains about Avaranam.
Read – Functions Of Doshas In Balance In The Body – Prakrita Dosha Karma

Association of pitta and kapha in vata disorders –

Pitta and Kapha, when associated with Vata Dosha, the symptoms of pitta and kapha also prevail along with vata symptoms.
Read – Vata Disorders (Vatavyadhi): Definition, Causes, Symptoms

Master Chakrapani tells –

A Vata disease may find association with not only with pitta and kapha but also with the tissues beginning with blood i.e. all tissues and excreta beginning with feces i.e. all excreta.

Here, master Charaka lays foundation for the explanation of avarana.

Firstly master Charaka explains
Avaranam of vata by pitta and kapha,
then the avarana by tissues and
lastly by excreta.
In all these types of Avaran, Vata is being obstructed by Pitta, Kapha, tissues etc.

Among all these, the vata will still be predominant. This shows the authority of vata in the avarana. Read – Vata Dosha – Introduction, 40 Things To Know

Causes of aggravation of vata

Vayu gets aggravated by two factors –

  • Marga avaran – obstruction of the passages caused by forcible holding of natural urges
  • dhatu kshaya – depletion of essence of tissues

Role of associated doshas in the blockage of the pathways of vata –

One meaning of Marga Avaranam is the blockage of Vata by other Doshas, tissues, excretas etc.
Other meaning of Marga Avaranam is the blockage of vata due to forcible withholding of urges. Withholding the urges cause retrograde movement of Vata (Udavarta). This reverse movement of Vata causes further aggravation of vata.
Read – Vata Samanya And Nanatmaja Vyadhis (General And Unique Vata Disorders)

We get two questions related to this concept.
1. How does the vata which has been blocked show signs of aggravation instead of submission?
The obstructed vata should actually be recessive and not dominant. If vata is recessive it should not cause a disease.

2. Doesn’t pitta and kapha have any role in causing blockage of the vata passages?
The reply is as said below –
Imagine air continuously moving in a pipe. When it is blocked, at that site, still there is momentum of air movement. The waves of air from being keep on gushing in, at the site of block.
This leads to a big accumulation of air at the site of block. This is exactly the condition of Vata.

Thus aggravated Vata, can vitiate Pitta and Kapha, causing Avarana symptoms.
Read – Dhatu – 7 Body Tissues As Explained In Ayurveda

Here, probably master Charaka is trying to explain –

  • The mechanism of lodgement of doshas (sthana samshraya) in the weak tissues facilitated by vitiated vata
  • The authority of vata in lodgment of doshas
  • That in spite of association with pitta and kapha, vata is authoritative in initiating the pathogenesis
  • The pitta and kapha symptoms found in a disease are not essentially those caused by vitiated pitta or kapha, but also due to push and pull by the force of vata

Summary – Pitta and Kapha which are travelling with the vata in the same passages also can cause avarana of vata. We may also be misguided by seeing the symptoms of vitiation of pitta and kapha. But it is the minuteness of vata which is capable of scattering the pitta and kapha into the tissues which cause these symptoms.
Read – Main Cause For Diseases As Per Ayurveda

Mechanism –

  • Pitta / Kapha block vata.
  • Vata gets disturbed and it wants to escape.
  • Being powerful and having mobility and minuteness / subtleness this vata pushes / scatters the pitta and kapha to make its way.
  • These pitta and kapha are mobilized into the susceptible tissues.
  • Pitta and kapha get lodged in the tissues and cause pitta or kapha symptoms respectively.
  • But the mechanism is initiated by vata itself. Therefore even after being subjected to avarana, vata has control over the pathogenesis. It is authoritative.
  • The vitiated vata throws the pitta and kapha here and there i.e. into the weak and susceptible tissues and causes the diseases therein

By causing the block of passages of transportation and nurture, the vitiated vata causes depletion of tissues. This process when continued will once again cause vitiation of vata.
Here the vata aggravated by blockage of its passages causes dryness and depletion of tissues.

Summary of mechanism

Summary of the mechanism of avarana –
There is association of pitta, kapha, tissues, waste products etc, along with vitiated vata. In Avarana, Vata gets blocked by one or many of these things.

There are two mechanisms of vata vitiation –

1. Marga avarana – this is again of two kinds:

  • Obstruction to the force and movement of vata by the doshas or tissues
  • Obstruction of one subtype of Vata by another subtype. Eg: Pranavrita Vyana Vata – Here Vyana Vata is obstructed by Prana Vata.
  • Alternatively forcibly withholding the natural urges of the body leads to reverse movement of vata → leads to vata aggravation → this causes obstruction to the pathways of vata.
  • Vitiated pitta or kapha enveloping the vata → the vata with the help of its minuteness and mobility qualities, being predominant among the doshas pushes pitta and kapha into the susceptible tissues → this causes lodgement of doshas in these tissues and their subsequent damage → give rise to the pitta or kapha symptoms.

This makes us think that the given disease or condition is caused by pitta or kapha. But it is in fact caused by vitiated vata. This shows the authority of vata in association with other doshas and also when it is subjected to avarana.

This is the pathogenesis of vata roga / vitiation caused due to obstruction to the pathways of vata.
Read – Ashayapakarsha By Vata: Displacement of Pitta, Kapha Dosha

2. Dhatu Kshaya – depletion of tissues / tissue essence
Due to obstruction / encapsulation / avarana of vata and the passages of transportation, and invasion of tissues by doshas there are two consequences –

  • damage of the tissues and their non-compensation
  • deficit nutrition of tissues due to the block of the passages and subsequent depletion

Both these events lead to enormous tissue depletion. The ultimate consequence of all this is vata prakopa. This is the pathogenesis of vata roga / vitiation caused due to depletion of tissues.

Types of Avarana

Avarana is of 42 types.

When vata gets obstructed by components of body inclusive of pitta, kapha, tissues, food, urine and feces, 22 types of avaranas occur.

  • Pitta obstructing vata – 1
  • Kapha obstructing vata – 1
  • Obstruction of vata by tissues other than rasa, i.e. by blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow and semen and by all tissues together – 7 types
  • Obstruction of vata by food – 1
  • Urine obstructing vata – 1
  • Feces obstructing vata – 1
  • Pitta obstructing 5 vata sub-types – 5
  • Kapha obstructing 5 vata sub-types – 5

Anyonya avaranas – when one sub-type of vata obstructs another sub-type of vata, we get 20 types of avaranas.

  • Prana vata obstructing other four sub-types of vata – 4
  • Udana vata obstructing other four sub-types of vata – 4
  • Samana vata obstructing other four sub-types of vata – 4
  • Vyana vata obstructing other four sub-types of vata – 4
  • Apana vata obstructing other four sub-types of vata – 4

All together, in above said avaranas, removing other components causing avarana and only including doshas, we get to see 32 types of avaranas.

Examples of Avarana

Pittavruta Vata

Pittavruta Vayu (Vayu obstructed by Pitta) –
When Pitta blocks Vata, the below mentioned symptoms are manifested:

  • Daha – burning sensation
  • Trushna – thirst
  • Shoolam – pain, colic, spasms
  • Bhramaha – giddiness, vertigo
  • Tamaha – feeling as if surrounded by darkness
  • Katu amla lavana ushanoho cha vidaaha – burning sensation on consumption of pungent, sour, salt and hot food substances
  • Sheeta kaamitaa – liking towards cold comforts
  • Read related: Vata Kshaya Lakshana: Symptoms Of Decrease Of Vata Dosha

Kaphavrita Vata

Kaphavrita Vata – vata obstructed by kapha

शैत्य गौरव शूलानि कटु आध्यो उपशयओ अधिकम्।
लङ्घन आयास रूक्ष उष्ण कामिता च कफ आवृते॥च.चि.२८/६२॥

When vitiated kapha obstructs vata, below mentioned symptoms are manifested –

  • coldness
  • heaviness in body
  • pain
  • symptoms reduce on consumption of pungent, sour, salt tastes and hot foods, there is inclination to eat such foods
  • desire to starve, eat light foods, exercise, to consume dry and hot foods and comforts

Raktavruta Vata

Raktavruta Vayu (Vayu obstructed by Rakta) –
When Rakta blocks Vata, teh below mentioned symptoms are manifested:

  • Twak mamsa antaraja daha – burning sensation between skin and muscles
  • Twak mamsa antaraja arti – severe pain between skin and muscles
  • Sa raga shwayathu – swelling with redness
  • Mandalaani – elevated eruptions in circular shape on the skin

Annavruta Vata

Annavruta Vayu (Vayu obstructed by food) –
When anna or food blocks Vata, the below mentioned symptoms are manifested:
Bhukte kukshau cha ruk – pain in the abdomen (tummy) immediately after consuming food
Jeerne shaamyati – the pain (in the tummy) gets reduced after the digestion of food
Read related: How To Balance Vata Dosha? Line Of Treatment And Reasoning

Anyonya Avarana Examples

Examples of Anyonya or Paraspara Avarana
Mutual affliction (block, obstruction) of one sub-type of vayu by the other is said to manifest in 20 different types. I shall mention a few examples here.

Pranavruta Vyana

Pranavruta Vyana (Vyana vayu obstructed by Prana Vayu) – When Prana Vayu obstructs or intervenes with the funcitons of Vyana Vayu, the below mentioned symptoms are manifested:

– Sarva indriyaanaam shoonyatvam – feeling of voidness or emptiness in all the sense organs
– Smruti kshaya – deterioration of memory
– Bala kshaya – deterioration of strength

Remedy – Urdhwa jatruka chikitsa, i.e. the treatments done for head and neck like Nasya (nasal medication) etc should be conducted

Vyanavruta Prana

Vyanavruta Prana (Prana Vayu obstructed by Vyana Vayu) –
When Vyana Vayu obstructs or intervenes with the functions of Prana Vayu, the below mentioned symptoms are manifested:
– Swedo atyartham – excessive sweating
– Lomaharsha – horripulation
– Twak doshaha – diseases pertaining to skin
– Supta gaatrataa – numbness of the body parts

Remedy – Sneha yukta virechana (purgation given with unctuous medicines or with purgatives prepared in oil or ghee base) is the treatment of choice in these conditions

Similarly any subtype of vayu can block or meddle with the smooth functioning of other subtype of vayu. The disturbances or morbidity will be presented by the dominating or most vitiated sub-type of vata which is causing the obstruction. The above mentioned examples of Avaranas are only for the sake of understanding.

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