Dhamani Sharira Meaning, Function, Functions, Distribution

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
In Ayurveda the terms sira, dhamani and srotas are used interchangeably. Some experts believe that they are synonyms of each other and serve similar purposes and that they are named differently according to the context of usage of these terms or based on where these structures are located. But since these structures are explained separately they are not one and the same, they are different structures.
Read – Shaareera: Ayurvedic Study Of Anatomy And Physiology

Similarities, Dissimilarities between Sira, Dhamani and Srotas

According to Master Sushruta –
Dhamanis are totally different from Sira and Srotas, because –

They are different in shape and structure / anatomical difference
Different signs and symptoms
The roots / origin of these structures are different
Functions are different
The classical texts have considered them as different structures

In spite of having these differences they seem to be one and the same because –
They are mutually connected
They are used synonymous with each other in the classical texts – all are predominant in akasha mahabhuta.
They have functions in common to each other
They are all minute and microscopic in structure
Read – Srotas: Body Channels and Duct systems – Easy Explanation

Definition of Dhamani

Considering all the derivations and definitions above, dhamanis can be considered as those structures which fulfill the below mentioned criteria –
Dhmayate / Dhmanat – they have pulsations
Madhye sushira bhavat – they will have space for flow of materials inside them
Puranat bahyo rasadini – they are filled with rasa etc tissues and these tissues are transported through the dhamanis to various parts of the body
Puryate shariram – they fill the body (encroached everywhere in the body)
Poshyate va shariram – nourishes every bit of the body
Kriyate – enables all functions like breathing etc to take place effortlessly in the body

Origin, Root, Distribution of Dhamanis (Master Charaka)

Dhamanis are 10 in number. They are connected to the hrdaya and are also roots of rasa carrying channels. They are large, transmit ojas to various parts of the body and are connected to the hrdaya – the heart.

Dhamanis by Master Sharngdhara

Dhamanis are carriers of rasa. They pulsate and are spread out all over the body. The dhamani which is located proximal to the root of the thumb is an indicator of life. By examining this dhamani the physician can diagnose the well being or state of a patient.
Read – Channels Of Circulation And Doshas

Origin, Number of Dhamanis, Types (Master Sushruta)

Dhamanis take their origin from the navel. They are 24 in number.

These 24 dhamanis are further classified into the below mentioned types –

Sl NoName of the DhamanisMeaningNumber
1Urdhwaga DhamanisDhamanis move upwards10
2Adhoga DhamanisDhamanis move downwards10
3Triryagga DhamanisDhamanis moving to lateral sides04

Divisions, Functions of Urdhwaga Dhamanis

The dhamanis moving in upward direction take care of the body by
– carrying sound, touch, vision, taste and smell (sensory functions)
– carrying inspiration and expiration (air in and air out)
– carrying hunger
– carrying laugh / smile, yawning, speech, cry (weep) etc

This means to tell that the above said functions are carried on by the dhamanis moving upwards.

These dhamanis are 10 in number. On reaching the heart, these 10 dhamanis get divided into 30 branches. The sub-classification of these 30 dhamanis are as below enlisted –

Sl NoDhamani functionsNumber
1Vatavaha – Vata carrying02
2Pittavaha – Pitta carrying02
3Kaphavaha – Kapha carrying02
4Raktavaha – Blood carrying02
5Rasavaha – Lymph / plasma carrying02
6Shabdavaha – Sound carrying02
7Rupavaha – Vision carrying02
8Rasavaha – Taste carrying02
9Gandhavaha – Smell carrying02
10Bhashyavaha – Speech carrying02
11Ghoshavaha – Indistinct sound / whisper carrying02
12Svapiti / svapnavaha – brings about sleep02
13Pratibudhyati / Prabodhavaha – responsible for awaking02
14Ashruvahini – Tear carrying02
15Stanyavaha – located in breasts and responsible for carrying breast milk
Shukravaha in men – located in the breasts and responsible for ejaculation of semen / carrying semen

The same dhamanis supply and nourish the abdomen above navel, flanks, back, chest, shoulders, neck and arms.
Read – Pranavaha Srotas: Channels Carrying Vital Life Element – Oxygen

Sanskrit Verses

Divisions, Functions of Adhoga Dhamanis

These dhamanis move in a downward direction. These dhamanis convey / transport Vata / adhovata (fart), urine, feces, semen and menstrual blood downwards.

These dhamanis on reaching the pittashaya (abode of pitta – viscera manufacturing and conveying pitta) segregates the essence of digestion of food properly formed by the action of digestive fire and its heat from the other watery juices. These dhamanis carry the same nutritive juices and nourish the body parts.

These dhamanis nourish the dhamanis moving upwards and side-wards with nutritive juices. They fill the seat of rasa i.e. heart with nutritive juices. They differentiate and segregate urine, feces and sweat.
Read – Ashaya – Meaning, Types, Location, Utility

Each dhamani divides into 3 parts in between the stomach and colon and thus forms 30 branches. The sub-classification of these 30 dhamanis are as below enlisted –

Sl NoDhamani functionsNumber
1Vatavaha – Vata carrying02
2Pittavaha – Pitta carrying02
3Kaphavaha – Kapha carrying02
4Raktavaha – Blood carrying02
5Rasavaha – Lymph / plasma carrying02
6Annavahini – Food carrying / carries food being located in the intestines02
7Toyavaha – Water carrying02
8Mutravaha – Urine carrying / expels urine being located in the urinary bladder02
9Shukravaha – Semen carrying / those which help in manufacture of  semen Artavavaha – Menstrual blood carrying / those which take part in manufacture menstrual blood02
10Shukra visarga – Semen carrying / those which carry semen out of the body / ejaculationArtava visarga – Menstrual blood carrying / those which take part in carrying menstrual blood out of the body – menstruation02
11Varchovaha – Stool / feces carrying – being connected to (supplying) the colon they help in defecation02
12Svedamarpayanti – Will provide sweat to the dhamanis going side-wards08

These dhamanis supply to and nourish the part of colon below the navel, waist / pelvis, urine, feces, anus / rectum, urinary bladder, penis and thighs.
Read – Udakavaha Srotas: Channels of water transport, Signs of damage, Treatment

Divisions, Functions of Tiryaggata Dhamanis

The dhamanis moving in oblique direction are 4 in number. Every dhamani as they course ahead would divide and re-divide into thousands and lakhs of dhamanis. The branching of these dhamanis are innumerable. They form an extended network as they spread out elaborately into every corner of the body.
The openings of these dhamanis are connected to the sweat pores. It is from these openings that the sweat is discharged to the surface.
They nourish the inner and outer sides through the rasa flowing in them.
It is from these pores and orifices that the medicinal properties and potency of the medications administered on the surface of the body through various procedures and therapies like massage, showering, dips, anointments etc enter the body
These also receive comfortable and uncomfortable touch and experience them and the differences in those touches
Read – Svedavaha Srotas Description, Vitiation Symptoms, Treatment

Lotus Stalk simily to explain the structural network of Dhamanis

Just like the stalks of lotus have pores in them naturally through which water is infiltrated into and inside them, the dhamanis too have lot of pores / orifices in their structures through which the rasa (nutrient juices) infiltrates into them.

Origin, existence and destruction of dhamanis

The dhamanis take their origin / created by the five basic elements of nature (the elements of nature take part in the formation of the dhamanis).

These dhamanis soak into and get connected five times to (attached to) the organs of sense in the human being who is composed of 5 subtle senses. These dhamanis also connect these five subtle senses to the five elements of nature of which they are composed of as long as the person is alive. When the person dies and gets mingled back into the five basic elements from which he was created, the dhamanis too get destroyed and disintegrated and get mingled back into the elements of nature.

So, these dhamanis are created by the same elements of nature which create the human body and get destroyed with the body after death. Therefore these dhamanis are connected with the man and his life from birth to death having elemental and sensual relationship with every bit of the body part.
Read – Relation Between Doshas, Sense Organs And Perception

What are dhamanis?

From the modern perspective ‘dhamani’ as defined and explained by Master Charaka can be considered as the arteries. Dasha Dhamanis i.e. 10 dhamanis taking their origin from the heart can be considered as the 10 big blood vessels connected to the heart. When we see the structure of the heart the great veins are also bigger structures connected to the heart apart from the arteries. But the veins do not have pulsations. Dhamanis have pulsations and hence the bigger arteries, mainly aorta and its branches seen around and connected to the anatomical structure of the heart (taking origin and moving out) are considered as dhamanis. They are also hollow inside as explained by the above said references and also carry nutrients, oxygen and enable smooth conduction of all activities of the body. Every part of the body needs to be receiving blood supply to survive and function. Through pulsations, as explained by Master Sharngdhara, dhamanis give signs of life.

Therefore the dhamanis can be correlated to the great blood vessels, especially the arteries and their branches i.e. ‘the arterial system of the body’.

Master Sushruta’s explanation of 24 main dhamanis taking their origin from navel may be understood as the explanation of the preliminary part of circulation which was established in the form of ‘fetal circulation’ even before the birth of the individual wherein the heart of the child will not be operational and will be dependent on the mother’s blood and nutrition which will enter and exit through its navel connected to the umbilical cord. Therefore this seems to be the embryological circulatory system. After the birth of the child the responsibility is taken by the heart and its blood vessels i.e. arterial circulation (established after the birth of the child and henceforth). The smallest branches of the dhamanis seem to be the explanation of capillary network.
Read – Raktavaha Srotas: Description, Vitiation Symptoms, Treatment

Are Dhamanis ‘the nerves’?

Seeing most of the functions of dhamanis explained by Master Sushruta it makes sense to consider hrdaya as brain and dhamanis as nerves but it might not suit the explanation seeing the anatomical description of dhamanis. Dhamanis are hollow, have pores and carry nutritive juices within them. There is exchange process taking place in dhamanis. Therefore it is reasonable enough to consider and accept dhamanis as the arteries. And dhamanis have pulsation and nerves don’t.

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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