Body is the representation of physical substances of human being. It can be described as a material that grows and destroys . Literally, the meaning of the body comes from the Latin root word – “corpus”. The historical Indo-Aryan language – Sanskrit has several synonyms to the word body; Deha (grows, develops), Śarira (Destroys) and Kāya, refers to accumulation. In fact, body is the functioning unit of the human, and everybody would agree that every subtle mechanism of the body has not completely understood yet.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, physiology of the body is explained under thridoshas (three energetic), sapta dhatus (seven tissues) and trimalas (three metabolic wastes) that have interconnected mechanisms with each other. The concept of Dosha-Dhatu-Mala is unique in Ayurveda. The three vital principles of doshas are vata (air + ether), pitta (fire + water) and kapha (water + earth). Dhatus are the substances retained by the body and can always be rejuvenated or replenished. Rasa (plasma)-Rakta (blood)-Mamsa (muscle)-Meda (fat)-Asthi (bone)-Majja (medulla) and Sukra (reproductive) are the seven dhatus (tissues) that develop in the human body in a fixed, sequential manner one from the other. Mala means waste products. It is third in the trinity of the physiology of the body and the major waste products are Sweda (sweat), Mutra (urine) and Purisha (stool).
Imbalance between any of these components disrupts health. For instance, vitiation of vata dosha results in vata signs and symptoms like pains and aches; neurological diseases like hemiplegia and skeletal diseases like osteoarthritis. Usually, the diseases occur as a combined phenomenon of the deranged physiological units. For instance, if deranged doshas affect rasa, rakta and sweda, the result is skin diseases. Conditions like muscle atrophy or dystrophy occur, when vitiated Vata affects the Mamsa dhatu.
These physiological units are also connected to the Mind and Spirit. Human being is a wonderful creation of the nature – a combination of Sattva, Ātma and Śarira (Mind, Spirit and Body).
Every human being is a result of the development of a cell called “gamete”. Status of doshas of the body is determined at the conception, and it is called Prakriti. Prakriti means the constitution or the fundamental form. It is a specific composition of doshas that is permanent throughout the life. The human phenome is based on prakriti: kapha, pitta and vata, and this creates a genetic connotation. Every individual is different from another, due to the combination of prakriti which results in certain physiological and psychological characters. The mental constitution of human being is described according to three types of qualities of mind called trigunas (three qualities) – satva, rajas and tamas. Satvic quality is about religious, loving, compassionate and pure minded. Rajas is egoistic, ambitious, aggressive, proud, competitive, and potential of controlling others. Tamas is described as less intelligent. They tend towards depression, laziness, and excess sleep even during the day. However, none of the human beings are completely belonging to one specific dosha or guna, but a combination. Once you are able figure out your predominant doshas, it describes the nature of your body, mind and susceptibility to certain diseases. For instance, vata-pitta people are susceptible to the disease “Vata Rakta”[Gravitational Eczema/ Gout]. Kapha predominant (kapha-pitta/ kapha-vata) people tend to suffer from obesity.
Awareness of the body is about awareness of the physiological, psychological and the pathological aspects of yourself. It indeed, helps to see yourself more clearly and hence, to live a healthy life!
May all beings be healthy!
Dr. Indunil Weerarathne
12 December 2011