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Charaka Shareera Sthana 6th Chapter Shareera Vichayam Shaareeram

6th chapter of Charaka Shareera sthana deals with “knowledge of the details of the Body”. The chapter name is Shareera Vichayam Shaareeram.

Read – Shaareera: Ayurvedic Study Of Anatomy And Physiology

Constitution of Physique

We shall now expound the chapter on ‘knowledge of the details of the Body” as conducive to its understanding. Thus said Lord Atreya [1-2]

Utility of the detailed knowledge of body

Detailed knowledge of body:
Detailed knowledge of the human body is conducive to the wellbeing of the individual. Understanding of the factors that constitute the body provides knowledge regarding the factors which are responsible for its wellbeing. It is because of this that experts praise the knowledge of the details of the body (and insist that one has a thorough knowledge of the same). [3]

Composition of body – results of their concordance and discordance

The body which is maintained in a state of equilibrium represents the conglomeration of factors derived from five Mahabhutas and this is the site of manifestation of consciousness. When Dhatus in this body becomes conflicting then there is disease or destruction (of the body). Aggravation or diminution of dhatus either partially or in their entirety constitutes this discordance. [4]

Dhatus having mutually opposite qualities undergo increase and decrease simultaneously. A thing which increases a particular Dhatu is also responsible for the decrease of the Dhatu having opposite quality. [5]
Read – Shareera: Formation Of Human Body, Ayurvedic Concept

Maintaining equilibrium of Dhatus is the object of treatment

Therefore, medical therapies when properly administered simultaneously bring both the reduced and increased Dhatus to their normal state by reducing the increased ones and increasing the reduced ones. [6]

Maintenance of equilibrium of Dhatus

While administering therapies and also while resorting to regimens for the maintenance of positive health equilibrium of Dhatus is sought for as the ‘end result’.
Even healthy persons should properly use wholesome food with appropriate taste and attributes and also foods processed properly with an intention to maintain the equilibrium of Dhatus.
After taking the food dominated by particular attributes, it is desirable to neutralize their effects by resorting to the regimens which are contradictory to them. [7]
Read – Importance Of Diet (Pathya) For Specific Diseases

Instructions for maintaining equilibrium

Equilibrium of dhatus provides positive health. To maintain this equilibrium one should follow the below mentioned advices –

  • One should properly resort to such actions and take such foods which are contrary to the locality, season and physical constitution of the individual. For example, one should indulge in sleep while living in a desert; one should resort to exercise during the spring season; an individual with a fatty body should resort to exercise and vigil in excess.
  • One should refrain from excessive utilization, wrong utilization and non-utilization of the time, intellect and objects of senses.
  • One should not suppress manifested urges and
  • One should refrain from exhibiting strength beyond one’s real capacity. [8]

Food and Dhatus

Dhatus (tissue elements) inside the body of the individual get increased by the habitual use of food preparations which are either of similar attributes or are dominated by such attributes. Habitual use of foods having opposite qualities or having the dominance of such opposite qualities reduces the Dhatus. [9]
Read – Eating Etiquette: Ayurvedic Healthy Eating Rules

Attributes of Dhatus in the Body

Guru (heaviness)
Laghu (lightness)
Shita (coldness)
Usna (heat)
Snigdha (unctuousness)
Ruksa (roughness)
Manda (dullness)
Tiksna (sharpness)
Sthira (immobility)
Sara (mobility / flow)
Mrdu (softness)
Kathina (hardness)
Visassa (non sliminess)
Picchila (sliminess)
uksma (minuteness)
Sthula (bulkiness, stoutness)
Sandra (density) and
Drava (liquidity)
Read – Gurvadi Gunas – 20 Qualities Of Substances As Per Ayurveda

These are the twenty attributes of body tissues which account for their increase or decrease. By the habitual use of heavy food preparations the Dhatus which are heavy (having heaviness attribute / quality) get increased, and those which are light (having lightness attribute / quality) get reduced. Similarly by the continued use of lighter foods the tissues which are light get increased and the tissues which are heavy get decreased.
Similarly, all Dhatus get increased by the use of substances having similar properties and get reduced by the use of those having opposite properties. Following the same principle – by consumption of meat the muscle tissues in the body would increase in comparison to the other tissues. Similarly blood tissue increases by blood, adipose tissue would increase by fat, consumption of muscle fat increases the same tissue i.e. muscle fat, consumption of cartilage increases bone tissue, the bone marrow tissue would increase on consumption of bone marrow, semen would increase on consumption of semen and the foetus would increase by consumption of amagarbha i.e. immature foetus such as an egg. [10]
Read – Ayurvedic Diet And Lifestyle For Pregnant Woman

Administration of ingredients having predominance of attributes

  • If a particular tissue element is to be increased and the homologous dietary articles cannot be taken because of their non-availability, hateful disposition or any other cause, then food preparations of different nature but having the predominance of the attributes of the Dhatu to be promoted should be used. (Certain examples in this connection are given below)
  • When there is a deficiency of semen, milk, ghee and such other substances known to be sweet, unctuous and cold should be administered with a view to promote it.
  • For treating a patient suffering from the diminution of urine, sugarcane juice, Varuni type of wine, Manda (thin gruel) liquid things and substances having sweet, saline and sour tastes and of sticky nature are to be administered.
  • For treating a patient suffering from the diminution of feces, Kulmasha (paste of barley mixed up with hot water and slightly boiled so as from a cake), Masha (Phaseolus Radiatus Linn), Kuskunda (Mushroom), Ajamadhya (middle portion of the goat consisting of intestines and other abdominal viscera), yava (barley), leafy vegetables and Dhanyamla (sour fermented liquor from rice gruel) should give.
  • For the treatment of patients suffering from the diminution of Vata, substances having pungent, bitter an astringent tastes and dry, light and cooling property should be administered.
  • For the treatment of patient suffering from the diminution of Pitta, substances having sour, saline and pungent tastes and alkaline, hot and sharp properties should be administered and
  • For the treatment of patients suffering from the diminution of Kapha, substances having sweet taste, unctuous, heavy, dense and slimy properties should be administered.
  • Even all those activities which would increase these dhatus should be resorted to. Similarly other Dhatus should also be either increased or decreased by the administration of homologous and non- homologous substances in appropriate time. Thus the factors which increase of decrease all the Dhatus are described – some Dhatus are individually described and for remaining Dhatus, the principle laid down here should be applied. [11]

Factors responsible for growth of body

The following factors are responsible for the growth of the body in its entirety. 

  1. Opportunity; for example, youth is the proper time for the growth of the individual. During young age, it is the specificity of the time which is responsible for the growth of the individual.
  2. Favourable disposition of the nature; for example, results of the unseen (past) actions are also responsible for the growth of individual’s body
  3. Excellence of the properties of food and
  4. Absence of inhibiting factors; for example, excessive indulgence in sex and mental affliction inhibits the growth of the individual’s body [12]
    Read – Brumhana Therapy – Nourishing Ayurvedic Treatment Principle

Factors responsible for promotion of strength

The following factors are responsible for the promotion of strength:

  • Birth in a country where people are naturally strong;
  • Birth at a time when people naturally gain strength
  • Favourable disposition of time (pleasant and moderate climate)
  • Excellence of the qualities of the seed (sperm) and Ashaya (ovum and uterus) of the parents;
  • Excellence of the ingested food
  • Excellence of the physique
  • Excellence of the Satmya (wholesomeness of various factors responsible for the maintenance of the body)
  • Excellence of the mind
  • Favourable disposition of the nature
  • Exercise and
  • Cheerful disposition [13]
    Read – Exercise Timing, Benefits, Side Effects, Ayurvedic Management

Factors responsible for transformation of food

Heat (Pitta), Vata (air, wind), moisture, unctuousness, time of digestion and appropriate administration – these factors are responsible for the transformation (digestion, assimilation and metabolism) of food. [14]

Specific actions of transforming factors

Factors described in the above verse which are said to be responsible for transformation (digestion, assimilation and metabolism) perform the following specific action:

  • Pitta (heat) digests
  • Vata transports food nearer to Pitta for digestion
  • Moisture loosens the food particles
  • Unctuousness softness the ingredients
  • Time bring about the maturity of the process of digestion and
  • Appropriate administration of food brings about equilibrium of Dhatus [15]
    Read – Understanding Digestion Process From An Ayurveda View

Transformation of attributes

During the process of transformation, the attributes of food ingredients assume the attributes of (or become homologous with) such of the tissue elements of the body as are not contradictory on nature. When they are contradictory, properties of one act against the other during the process of interaction resulting in the decay of the body [16]

Two categories of physical attributes

Attributes of the body are again of two categories, viz. Prasada (pure substance) and Mala (impurities). Of them, those which cause obstruction or troubles in the body are called as mala. Substances which are produced in various orifices and channels of the body, which are divergent forms and are in the process of being removed out of the body, the wastes / putrefied materials of the eyes, ears and nose, the blood and other tissues which have got suppurated and have acquired the form of pus, vitiated Vata, Pitta and Kapha and such other substances which while existing in the body causes its destruction belong to this category.
All of them come under the category of Mala (impurities) and the remaining is Prasada (Pure substance). The latter (prasada) are classified into seven categories i.e. the tissues beginning with Rasa (plasma) and ending with Shukra (semen). They can be classified into twenty categories on the basis of their attributes beginning with Gurutva (heaviness) and ending with Dravatva (fluidity). Therefore the seven tissues and twenty attributes (qualities) when are in a state of balance and not producing the diseases are considered as prasada bhaga i.e. pure substances of the body. [17]
Read – Dhatu Mala: Tissue Waste Products: Ayurveda perspective

Vitiation by Doshas

Of all these, Vata, Pitta and Kapha naturally have the capacity to vitiate things (tissues of the body). When these doshas get vitiated by exogenous factors they would vitiate the other elements of the body (including the tissues).

Signs and symptoms of the vitiation of various Dhatus in different times have already been described in the 28th chapter of Sutra section. Such are the manifestations of the vitiated Doshas when they come in contact with the tissue elements of the body.
When in normal state, Vata etc; are responsible for the maintenance of the health of the individual. So a wise man should try to keep the doshas in their normal state. [18]

The physician, who is always conversant with the various aspects of the entire body, is also very proficient in Ayurveda – which could bestow happiness and health to the entire universe. [19]
Read – Role Of Doshas As Tissues and Waste Products (Dhatu And Malaroopa Of Doshas)

Query about foetus

While Lord Atreya was imparting the above instructions, Agnivesha asked, “We have heard your expositions on the body.  Now we would like to hear the following:
Which of the organs of the foetus is manifested first in the pelvis of the mother?
Where does the face of the foetus lie in the uterus and what posture does it maintain inside?
By which food is it nourished and how does it come out?
What are the foods and regimens which are responsible for its immediate death after birth?
What are the factors that help in the growth of the foetus without any disease?
Whether the diseases afflicting the foetus is caused by Gods etc or not?
What is your opinion regarding the timely or untimely death of the foetus?
What is the span of its life? and
What factors are responsible for the maintenance of the lifespan? “[20]

Views of Sages about ‘organs to be formed first’ in a foetus

Lord Punarvasu Atreya replied to Agnivesha, “In the fourth chapter of this section dealing with the formation of embryo, the manner in which the foetus is formed in the uterus of the mother and the mode of manifestation of its various organs are already described. But there are various types of controversies on such problems among all the sages who are authors in the subject. They are enumerated below:

Sl NoName of the sageOpinion regarding the first organ of the foetus formed / manifested
1Kumarashira Bharadvajaobserved that the head of the foetus is first manifested in the uterus because it is the receptacle of all sense organs
2Kankayana, the physician from Bahlika,heart being the receptacle of consciousness is first formed
3BhadrakapyaNabhi (umbilicus) is first formed as it serves the means to provide nourishment to the foetus
4Bhadrashaunakarectum located near the colon is first formed since this is the site for Vata
5Badisahands and feet are first formed being the instruments of the individual for his activities
6Janaka of Videhasense organs being the receptacles of senses are first formed
7Marici Kasyapait is not possible to make any statement about first formation of any organs as they cannot be observed directly
8Dhanvantariall the organs are formed simultaneously

The view of Dhanvantari is correct as all the organs like heart etc. are (actually) formed simultaneously. According to Atreya, it is true that the heart is the origin of all organs and the receptacle of certain phenomena. So the formation of all other organs does not take place before the formation of the heart. So, all these organs like heart etc are formed simultaneously. All phenomena are in fact inter-dependent. So the view of Dhanvantari is quiet correct and should be acceptable by all. [21]
Read – Involvement Of Doshas In Formation Of Organs

Posture of the foetus

The foetus lies in the uterus with its face towards the back of the mother, head upwards and limbs folded and wrapped up by the placenta. [22]

Thirst and hunger of foetus

The foetus is free from thirst and hunger. It is dependent upon the mother for all its activities. It lives upon the nourishment by the process of Upasneha (exudation) and Upasveda (conduction of heat). Some of its organs are well manifested and some others are not so. It draws nourishment by the process of exudation sometimes through the holes in the hair follicles and sometimes through the channels of umbilical cord.
The umbilical cord of the foetus is attached to the umbilicus and the placenta to the umbilical cord. The placenta is in turn connected with the heart of the mother. The heart of the mother floods the placenta (with nourishment) by the pulsating vessels. This rasa (nutritive fluid) promotes strength and complexion of the foetus because it is composed of all the tastes.
Rasa (digestive product of food) of the pregnant woman serves three purposes i.e. 

  1. Nourishment of her own body
  2. Lactation and
  3. Growth and development of the foetus being supported by that food

The foetus that is dependent upon the mother keeps living inside (the uterus). [23]
Read – Conception And Formation Of Fetus As Per Ayurveda

Process of delivery

During the time of delivery, the foetus turns its head downloads by virtue of the Prasuti Maruta (Vayu which regulates the process of deliver) and gets delivered through the vaginal path. This is the normal situation. Situations other than this constitute abnormality. After delivery the child is free in its movement. [24]

Factors responsible for proper growth of foetus

The diet and regimen described in the 8th chapter of this section, if adopted, promotes the growth of foetus without causing any morbidity.
The same diet and regimens inappropriately administered might destroy the foetus immediately after birth as the wind and sun destroy a planted tree whose roots are not yet firmly established. [25-26]
Read – Monthly Development Of Fetus – Ayurvedic perspective

Justifications for the existence of diseases caused by divine displeasure

Can diseases in the foetus be caused due to the displeasure of Gods and other divine entities?

It might be possible. The reasons / proofs are as mentioned below –

  • The description of the same has been given by the wise persons and authors in various treatises
  • Sight of unexpected events like super- natural strength, knowledge, charm etc
  • Specific nature of the etiologic, signs, symptoms and treatment and
  • There are certain diseases which do not correspond to the aggravation of any of these Doshas [27]

Timely and Untimely death

Our views on the existence and non-existence of timely and untimely death are as follows:
“Whosoever dies would die on time because the time has no void whatsoever (time is moving constantly without interruption)”. This is what some scholars say. But this not correct. Time having or not having void, both are incorrect. Time has a distinct feature of its own which does not admit any void or absence thereof in its definition.
Some others say “Whenever one dies, he dies at the appointed hour of death. Being free from hatred or attachment, time deals equally with all creatures (so death always occurs at the predestined moment),” this also is simply distortion of facts.
The fact that everybody dies does not prove the equality in temporal actions.

If it is said that the time when one dies is the time predetermined for this death, then every movement of life as and when it occurs can be taken as pre-determined in respect of time. But this also is not true. According to this theory all actions should happen at a fixed and predetermined time. But this will not happen as a rule. Even practically we can see that untimely food; speech and action will yield worst outcomes and when the same are done timely the effects will be good and desirable.
One can also observe by means of direct perception manifestation of various factors depending upon their timely or untimely action. For example, such and such is the opportune or inopportune time for such and such diseases, food, ‘medicine, therapy and remission.

Even a layman talks in these terms, such as, it rains on time or otherwise; it is cold or hot on time or otherwise; flowers and fruits of the tree have occurred in time of otherwise. So both the things equally hold good. Therefore, death occurs in time. If there was no untimely death, then the span of every one would have been fixed and therefore the knowledge of wholesome and unwholesome objects would be of no use at all. The source of knowledge like perception, inference and verbal testimony accepted in all scriptures would cease to be sources of knowledge because all these sources of knowledge clearly prove that there are factors which are conducive to longevity and otherwise so the statement of some Rshis to the effect that untimely death cannot occur is confined to words only (and not to facts). [28]
Read – Kala – The Time Factor

Factors responsible for maintenance of normal span of life

In the Kali age the normal span of life (of human beings) is one hundred years. The factors responsible for the maintenance (of the normal span) of life are:

  • Prakrti Sampat i.e. state of balance and excellence of Doshas in the constitution of the individual
  • Guna Sampat i.e. excellence of the compactness of the body and excellence of hereditary qualities; and
  • Atmasampt i.e. virtuous acts conducive to longevity. [29-30]
    Read – Ayu – Meaning, Explanation, Types Of Lifespan

To sum up:
The following nine topics are duly discussed by the great sage in this chapter on the “Knowledge of the Details of the Body” is conducive to its understanding:

Definition of Sharira (body) the way how it is afflicted leading to disease and destruction:
Increase or decrease of Dhatus
Treatment of deficient Dhatus
Factors responsible for the growth of body
Factors responsible for the digestion and metabolism of food
Factors which help in the digestion and metabolism of food
The mode of action of each of the above mentioned factors
Mala (impurities) and Prasada (Pure) type of Dhatus and various queries [31-34]

Thus ends the sixth chapter of Sharira section on “the knowledge of the Details of the Body as conducive to its understanding “of Agnivesha’s work as redacted by Charaka. [6]

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