Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything. These are the three Doshas namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These principles can be related to the basic biology of the body. These Doshas decide the Constitution (Prakruti) of a person. Living beings require energy for all body functions be it metabolism or regeneration. Vata is the energy of movement, Pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism and Kapha, the energy of lubrication and structure. All people have the qualities of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, but one is usually primary, one secondary and the third is usually least prominent. The cause of disease in Ayurveda is viewed as a lack of proper cellular function due to an excess or deficiency of Vata, Pitta or Kapha. Disease can also be caused by the presence of toxins known as Ama.
In Ayurveda, body, mind and consciousness in work together in maintaining balance. They are simply viewed as different facets of one’s being. To learn how to balance the body, mind and consciousness requires an understanding of how Vata, Pitta and Kapha work together. According to Ayurvedic Philosophy the entire cosmos is an interplay of the energies of the five great elements Space (ether), Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are combinations and permutations of these five elements that manifest as patterns present in all creation. In the physical body, Vata is the subtle energy of movement, Pitta the energy of digestion and metabolism, and Kapha the energy that forms the body structure.
Ayurveda accepts the Hindu Philosophy principle that everything in this universe is made–up of five basic elements. And everything that exists in the universe has a miniaturized representative in our body. Thus the five principles that make the universe make–up our body.
These elements, known as the Pancha–mahabhuta are
- Prithvi or Earth.
- Jal or Water.
- Teja/Agni or Fire.
- Vayu or Air.
- Aakash or Space/Ether.
These five elements are the basis of life and everything can be explained in terms of these five. For example, the bulky and solid parts are composed of Prithvi, the digestive enzymes or any source of heat is Agni, the hollow and empty parts are Aakash.
Ayurveda states that the body is composed of three main substances
- The Tridoshas (three doshas).
- The Dhatus (these are seven in number).
- The Malas (the waste products, chiefly contain feces, urine and sweat).
Dhatus are basic tissues which maintain and nourish the body. They are formed from the nutritional juices of our food. Proper amount and functioning of each Dhatu is very important for good health. Malas (pronounced as ‘Ma–laas’) are wastes produced as a result of various metabolic activities in the body. Proper elimination of malas is essential as their accumulation can lead to several diseases. All these factors are inter–related and directly or indirectly help in maintaining the equilibrium of the tridoshas.