Hari Om Tat Sat
1.0 Disease & Its Cause
According to Ayurveda, prajnaparada is the true cause of disease. Prajnaparada means the failure of intelligence, and this leads to thoughts and actions that breach the natural order of human life.
On the level of the mind, this leads to the impairment of intellect, emotions and memory, which in turn leads us to the six weaknesses, the Shadripu:
(i) Kama-desire (Venus)
(ii) Krodha-anger (Mars)
(iii) Lobha-greed (Rahu)
(iv) Moha-passion/illusion (Ketu)
(v) Matsarya-jealousy (Mercury)
(vi) Mada-alcohol (Saturn)
The Sun, Moon and Jupiter are sattvic grahas and do not govern any of the Shad
Ripus. These weaknesses lead to the well-known human traits:
(ii) Untruthful speech.
(iii) Improper behavior.
(iv) Fear, greed, anger and hatred.
(v) Suppression of natural physical urges (coughing, sneezing, defecation and urination) as well as emotions.
(vi) Excessive stimulation of natural urges.
(vii) Overindulgence in sexual activity.
(viii) Incorrect use or misuse of therapies.
2.0 Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda
2.1 Samkhya Philosophy & Cosmic Anatomy
According to Sankhya philosophy, there are twenty-four cosmic principles or tattwas at work in the Universe. Purusha is the ultimate principle of creation – it is the formless, indivisible and undifferentiated state of pure consciousness or transcendental existence. Purusha is beyond time, space and causation. It is the Absolute state of unmanifest reality and it is considered to be the male principle of creation.
Prakruti is the female principle, the primal matter and mother of all that directs cosmic manifestation. The first manifestation of prakruti is mahad or cosmic intelligence and out of this intelligence, the sense of “I am”, Ahamkar, comes into existence. Out of this state of ego consciousness arises the sense of individuality and separateness.
Ahamkar has three qualities or gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. Through the support of the gunas, ahamkar creates both the organic and inorganic universe, as well as the subjective and objective world. In addition, ahamkar, with the help of the gunas, creates the five subtle senses, the five organs of cognition, the five organs of action, the five great elements as well as the five sense objects. Sattva guna rules the subjective world, while tamo guna presides over the objective world and the two are brought into dynamic relationship by the kinetic force of Rajas. These are the eternal principles of creation.
2.2 Sankya Philosophy & Ayurveda
There is Purusha and purusha, the ‘Self’ and the ‘self’. Charaka tells us that everything about the purusha, the individual, is established in the human body. The classical works by the three great authorities on Ayurveda: Charaka, Shushrut and Vagbhat, use the term prakruti to describe the constitution of the individual. Prakruti is the genetic make-up that is unique to each individual and is expressed in terms of the three gunas. We saw that the three gunas are further differentiated into the five elements and the science of the three gunas and the five elements represent the building blocks of Ayurvedic medicine.
The Rishis further cognized that the three gunas and the five elements manifest in the human constitution as three fundament al principles or humors that under lie all mental, emotional and bodily functions. These three humors or doshas are known as vata, pitta and kapha, and they are responsible for the creation of the dhatus and thus the flesh and blood of the body itself.
The science of Ayurveda is the science of Tridosha, and an individual’s prakruti is described in terms of the doshas. Manas prakruti describes our mental constitution in terms of sattva, rajas, and tamas. Deha prakruti describes our physical attributes in terms of the doshas.
2.3 The Tattwas
The tattwas are the building blocks of creation and affliction to the tattwas indicate the fundamental flaws in our consciousness as well as our physical constitution. The mind itself is a manifestation of the tattwas. The tattwas represent bodily process and these need to be understood.
Ether or Akasha – Jupiter: Akasha is the first expression of creation and it is the pure essence of all things. It governs the space and atmosphere in which we all reside. It all-pervading, omniscent and omnipresent. Akasha is our true home in the manifest universe. It is through Akasha tattwa that we become conscious of our connection to all things. Inner stability is derived from that sense of connectedness and this gives us that profound sense of peace and knowledge that ultimately leads us to spiritual freedom.
Air or Vayu – Saturn: Consciousness begins to move and from this motion of awareness, the Air element or Vayu tattwa become manifest. Vayu tattwa is the flow of consciousness, of prana, the life energy itself, throughout the entire body. Vayu tattwa governs the movement of the lungs and thus respiration. It governs sensory stimuli as well as all voluntary and involuntary movements in the body.
Fire or Agni – Mars: The movement of Vayu gives rise to friction and heat and the manifestation of Agni, the fire element. Agni is responsible for the digestion of all life experiences, our perceptions of the world, as well as the digestion of the food we take into the body. It gives knowledge and understanding as well as the capacity to absorb and assimulate life experiences. It governs all the transformative processes and is responsible for the regulation of heat in the body.
Water or Jala – Venus: It is responsible for all the biochemical and hormonal functions in the body. This element represents about 90% of the composition of the body and it is responsible for the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, tissues and organs. It is to be found in the blood plasma and the lymphatic system.
Earth or Prithvi – Mercury: It provides structure, solidity and groundedness to the body. It is to be found in the bones, skin, nails, hair and teeth.
Organs of Action
Tattwas & The Body
|Tattwa||Location in the Body||Action in the Body|
|Akasha||Head, senses, nervous system||Environment, mental space.|
|Vayu||Chest and heart. Respiratory and circulatory systems.||Movement, breathing.|
|Agni||Navel and digestive system.||Digestion, hunger and thirst.|
|Jala||Lower abdomen, hips, urogenital region.||Water systems – lymph, blood, urine.|
|Prithvi||The legs.||Bones, muscles, skin, nails.|
2.2 The Gunas
The universe is composed of three universal qualities or gunas that pervade the entire creation. They are known as sattva, rajas and tamas. It is through the mind and the ego that we experience these gunas. Sattva is purity and it gives rise to integrity and spiritual meaning. The mind is sattvic in its very nature. Rajas is the dynamic principle that is at work in all creation and it brings everything into relationship. It rules over movement and change. Tamas is the principle resistance and in our daily experience of the world and relationship, it gives rise confusion and selfishness.
Sattva rules intelligence, and is therefore the subjective experience of perceiving and knowing; rajas rules action and is the capacity to engage in the activity of perceiving, while tamas rules the world of matter and therefore represents the object of perception.
Sattva is Gyanashakti, rajas is Kriyashakti and tamas is dravyashakti.
2.3 The Doshas
According to the Vedas, the entire cosmos is the manifestation of the pancha tattwa or the five great elements – akasha, vayu, agni , jala and prithvi tattwa. The Rishis further grouped these tattwas into three foundational cosmic principles that are responsible for all bodily functions, referred to as doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas constitute the mind and the physical body and therefore our thoughts, perceptions, and ideals as well as all physiological processes.
The doshas are responsible for the function of the body and as long as they remain in balance, the individual remains healthy and happy. When the doshas become imbalanced, whether it be through improper diet, life style or lack of self-understanding or the impact of traumatic life experiences, various diseases and mental disturbances manifest and the person becomes unhappy.
Once the doshas become imbalanced, they cause destruction to the tissues of the body, the dhatus, and symptoms that we call disease begin to manifest. According to Ayurveda, the key to maintaining psychological and spiritual health has to do with maintaining the balance of the doshas.
Vata Dosha: Because vata is composed by akasha and vayu tattwa, it governs all the spaces in the body and it is the energy related to all bodily movement. It has authority over the nervous, sensory and motor systems. It is responsible for the assimilation of nutrients and the removal of wastes from the cellular tissues and organs of the body.
It governs breathing, movements of eyelids, muscles, tissues, heart, and cell membranes. Vata also governs nervousness, fear, anxiety, pain, tremors and spasms. Vata accumulates in the large intestines, bones, urinary bladder, kidneys, brain and ears. These are the seat of vata.
Pitta Dosha: Pitta is composed of primarily agni but also jala tattwa. It is the fire principle in the body and it also rules all biochemical processes. It governs metabolism of all psychophysiological processes, and therefore rules mental, emotional, biochemical and physiological activities. It rules hunger as well as thirst.
It is penetrating in nature and therefore it governs perception, judgement, intelligence, discrimination, understanding and courage. It rules all enzymatic activity in the body. On the mental emotional level, it rules irritability, anger, jealousy, hatred and revenge. The primary location of pitta is the small intestines, blood, liver, gall-bladder, spleen, heart, uterus, sweat glands, skin and eyes.
Kapha Dosha: It provides structure, solidity, stability and nourishment for all bodily tissues. It rules all secretions that lubricate the body – the mucous membranes and joints. Because of its capacity to hold things together, it gives qualities such as persistence, calmness, forgiveness and loving feelings.
Kapha is to be found in the chest, stomach, lungs fatty tissue, sinuses, nasal passages, lymph, pancreas, joints, plasma and all mucous secretions. Emotions such as attachment, greed and possessiveness are the negative traits of kapha dosha.
Aries, Leo, Sagittarius – Pitta dosha
Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn – Vata dosha
Gemini, Libra, Aquarius – Tridoshic
Cancer, Scorpio Pisces – Kapha dosha
Sun – Pitta
Moon – Kapha/Vata
Mars – Pitta
Mercury – Tridoshic
Jupiter – Kapha
Venus – Vata/Kapha
Saturn – Vata
The doshas accumulate at their primary locations and thus give rise to symptoms that are referred to as disease. An imbalance in the doshas is often due to a faulty Agni and hence incomplete digestion. This in turn causes toxins or ama to build-up in the digestive tract and circulate throughout the body. Ama accumulates in areas of weakness and prevents the assimilation of nutrients. Disease begins to manifest in that location. The first task in Ayurvedic treatment is to kindle Agni and to detoxify Ama from the system.
The prakruti of the native is to be seen from the planets that aspect the lagna and rasi drishti should be used to determine this.
Vikruti is to be seen from the planets that afflict the lagna or the Moon by graha drishti. These planets indicate the root cause of the disease as well as the susceptibility to doshic imbalances that are likely to arise during the different period through out the life.
2.4 The Sapta Dhatus – the Bodily Systems
The human body is made up seven Dhatus or tissues and these form the basic building blocks for all bodily structures. The dhatus are formed from the five great elements – space, air, fire, water and earth. The product of digestion is referred to as ahara rasa and this provides nutrition for all the dhatus. Along the way, the upadhatus , secondary tissues, and the malas (bodily wastes) are formed. Thus, the dhatus themselves are the product of digestion.
Parasara and Varahamihira gives us the correspondence between the rasis, grahas, doshas and dhatus. They are as follows:
Rasa Dhatu (plasma) – Mercury: Rasa is composed primarily of the water element and is the plasma portion of the blood and lymphatic fluids. It is located primarily in the lymphatic system, skin, and mucous membranes, as well as the heart and blood vessels. It has qualities of Kapha dosha. Breast milk and menstrual flow are upadhatus.
Rakta Dhatu (blood) – Moon: The blood is composed predominantly of the fire and secondary water elements. It is the red blood cell portion of the blood. It oxygenates the cells, tissues and organs of the body. If pitta is low, we may have poor rakta formation. It is pitta in its function. Blood vessels and tendons are upadhatus.
Mamsa Dhatu (muscle) – Saturn: The dominant element is earth, secondary water and fire. Its purpose is to hold the body together and to provide physical strength and stability as well as confidence and courage. Ligaments and skin are upadhatus.
Meda Dhatu (adipose & fat) – Jupiter: The dominant element is water. It provides lubrication and oiliness/lubrication to all the tissues. It is related to our capacity to receive and give love and affection. Omentum and peritoneum are upadhatus.
Asthi Dhatu (bone) – Sun: It is composed of the ether and air element. It provides structure and support and relates to our self-confidence. Teeth are the upadhatu.
Majja Dhatu (marrow & nerves) – Mars: The dominant element is fire. It fills up the porous spaces in the bones. It is the conduit for all sensory impulses and is to be found in the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nerves are part of this dhatu. It relates to our mental capacity as well as our sense of calmness. Sclera & sclerotic fluids are upadhatus.
Shukra and Artava Dhatu (reproductive tissue) – Venus: It is said to contain the essence of all the tissues as it receives its nutrition from the metabolism of all the previous dhatus . It refers to semen in men and ovum in women. It maintains the function of reproduction. Its function is related to creativity and procreation. Ojas is the upadhatu.
2.5 Prana, Tejas & Ojas
Prana, tejas and ojas are a more subtle expression of the three doshas and while in balance, they maintain the proper function of the cells and tissues of the body and along with the three doshas, they are responsibility for the longevity and health of the body. These three universal forces are composed of the tattwas: prana is primarily akasha, tejas is primarily the fire element, and ojas primarily of water.
The Moon is Mana/mind is the bridge between the inner and the outer world and it represents the flow of mental consciousness. Everything is brought into relationship because of the flow of prana. The mind and the body are linked together by prana, and it is through this pranic vital essence that our thoughts, feelings and emotions flow through the tissues of the body. Our thoughts and actions influence our physical health. Prana becomes disturbed by our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and these are created by our own subjective interpretation of life.
When we direct our consciousness towards an object in the world, it is the flow of prana that facilitates the process of perception. The sensations, thoughts and feeling that we experience in the mind and body are all due to the flow of prana. Prana is the flow of our consciousness and that intelligence is experience by the tissues in the body because of this universal force.
Tejas is the subtle and spiritual essence of the Sun, and it through this force that the light of the soul enters our life. It represents the flow of intelligence in our consciousness and it is responsible for the digestion and transformation of life experiences. Every experience has to be digested and transformed into knowledge. This is the function of tejas. The experience of life is nourishment for the senses, and our perceptions must be digested and transformed into consciousness. This also applies to the digestion of food and its transformation into the essence that nourishes the cells, tissues and organs of the body.
Ojas is the by product of digestion and particularly of Shukra dhatu, which is ruled by Venus and. Ojas is composed primarily of water and therefore relates to the function of feeling. It resides in the heart as para ojas. When we have digested all the negativity of the mind and when we have become free of all the attachments of the world, we are able to experience the bliss of God’s love which resides in the heart because of para ojas. The soul resides in the heart and it is through the heart that we experience the presence of God. The perception of God takes place because of the flow of prana, the transformation of that perception into knowledge and consciousness is the function of tejas, and the ecstasy that we experience is due to the accumulated ojas in the heart.
In the body, ojas provides immunity and protection from disease as well as resistance against infection. Ojas is the essence of the water element and kapha dosha, and is the biological substance that maintains immunity in the body. When ojas is healthy and strong the individual rarely become ill. Ojas is present is all the cells and dhatus and it provides a natural immunity against disease and infection. It has much to do with the endocrine system. Disorders related to a depletion or poor quality ojas corresponds with the classification of diseases referred to as auto-immune disorders in western medicine. Auto-immune diseases such as chronic fatigue, immune dysfunction syndrome, rheumatoid arthiritis, lupus, Chronic disease, multiple sclerosis, mononucleosis, Epstein Barr virus and HIV.
Ojas depletion can be due to excess pitta or vata. Pitta will burn ojas and vata will cause dryness and emaciation.
Ojas may also be in excess and this corresponds to a condition of increased kapha dosha. This is to be seen in cases of obesity, high cholesterol, lipomas benign tumors), lymphomas (malignant tumors involving lymphoid tissue), and swelling throughout the body.
2.6 The Srotas – Channels
According to Charaka, “the srotas carry the dhatus undergoing transformation to their destination.” You see, each dhatu derives its nutrition from the previous dhatu. That is, rakta is derived from rasa, and on it goes. The last tissue, shukra, contains the end result of digestion in all the seven tissues, so a disease in one tissue affects all of the tissues. Disease very often begins in rasa dhatu and if rasa is defective in any way, all of the tissues are deficient. Mercury rules rasa dhatu and this tells us that our thoughts and intelligence have a lot to do with disease. Shukra is a concentrated form of all the other dhatus and hence the emphasis on sexual control and moderation for good health.
Health is created by the proper flow through the srotas and disease is caused by improper flow. Flow can be excessive, deficient or blocked due to Ama, and this may lead to pain and possibly infection. Sushrut tells us that, “the nerve primarily carries Vata, the arteries and veins carry Pitta, and the lymph Kapha.”
Three channels connect the outer to the inner
Pranavaha Srota – prana
Annavaha Srota – food
Ambuvaha Srota – water
The seven channels that supply the dhatus
Rasavaha Srota – the circulation related to plasma. It has its origin in the heart and blood vessels.
Raktavaha Srota – has its origin in the liver and spleen and responsible for hemoglobin part of the blood.
Mamsavaha Srota – has its origin in the ligaments and skin and supplies the muscles.
Medovaha Srota – supplies fat, the adipose system. origin in the kidneys and omentum.
Asthivaha Srota – the bones, origin in the adipose and buttocks.
Majjavaha Srota – supplies the marrow and nervous system, origin in the bones and joints.
Shukravaha Srota – supplies the reproductive tissue, origin in the breasts and testes.
The three channels related to elimination
Svedavaha Srota – sweat.
Purishvaha Srota – feces.
Mutravaha Srota – urine.
SPECIAL FEMALE CHANNELS
Artavavaha Srota – menstrual fluid and sexual secretions.
Stanyavaha Srota – breast milk.
Manovaha Srota - sensations, thoughts, emotions and feelings.