Desire for long life, Ashtanga Hridayam, Sutrasthana, Chapter-1, verse 1.9-1.14, BAMS 1st year.

Hello reader, in this post, we will further discuss Chapter-1 (Desire for long life) of Ashtanga Hridayam (Sutrasthana). In these verses, Acharya Vagbhata explains different kinds of digestive tracts, the formation of body constitutions, different properties of three doshas, basics tissues and wastes, six tastes, and the effect of taste on doshas.

Koshtabhedah-(kinds of alimentary tract)

There are three types of digestive tracts (Koshta):

1. Kroora Koshta – wherein the person will take a long time for digestion. The bowel evacuation will be irregular. It is influenced by Vata.

2. Mrudu Koshta – Sensitive stomach, has a very short digestion period. Even administration of milk will cause bowel evacuation.

3. Madhya Koshta – Proper digestive tract, bowel evacuation at appropriate times. It is influenced by Tridosha balance.

Notes: —With the aggravation of Vata, the bowel movement is hard ( hard sabulous feces being eliminated with difficulty and not regularly every day ), with the predominance of pitta, the bowel is soft ( semi-solid or liquid feces, eliminated more than once a day, even drinking of milk produces purgations ); with the predominance of Kapha, the bowel is moderate (feces is neither hard solid nor liquid, is eliminated without difficult once a day, regularly), it is so when all the doshas are in equal proportion. This is the ideal condition and does not give rise to any disease while the former two are abnormal and cause ill-health.

Dehaprakrti (body constitution)-

Like the poison is natural and inherent to poisonous insects, similarly, the Prakruti (body type) is inherent to humans. The body type is decided during conception, based on the qualities of sperm and ovum.

Vata prakruti – Vata body type is considered as low quality 

Pitta Prakruti – Pitta body type is considered as moderate quality 

Kapha Prakruti – Kapha body type is considered good quality.

Tridosha body type – influenced equally by Vata, Pitta and Kapha is considered the best quality.

Dual body types, Like Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Kapha body types are considered as not good.

Notes:— The male seed is the Sukranu ( spermatozoon ) and the female seed is the ovum). Both these unite together (fertilization) and form the embryo and that is the commencement of life. The male and the female seeds produced in the body of the man and the woman contain the tri-doshas. At the time of the union of the two seeds the doshas undergo a change in their proportion, either all of them might remain in equal proportion, or any two together might become predominant or anyone dosa only might become predominant. These conditions greatly influence the nature of the embryo in its characteristic features, which becomes known as Prakrti of man ( natural human constitution ).

Related link:
Ashtanga Hridayam (SutrastAshtanga Hridayam (Sutrasthana), Chapter-1,(BAMS Ist Year), verse1.1-1.8

Thus seven kinds of Prakati get formed, three eka-doshaja ( from anyone dosha separately ), three dvi-doshaja or samsargaja (from the combination of any two doshas), and one from sammisra (from the combination of all the three together in equal proportion). Among them, eka-doshaja is hina (poor), the samsargaja (dvi-doshaja) are madhya (moderate) and sammisra is uttama (best, ideal). Further, even among the eka-doshaja, the first one (Vataja) is hina (poor) the second (pittaja) is madhya (mode­rate), and the third (kaphaja) is uttama (best). The characteristic feature of these prakrti ( constitutions ) has been described in chapter 3 of Sarirasthana. The example of poisonous worms is to indicate that though they are born from poison, they do not die of it, but continue to survive, similarly the prakrti, though formed from the Doshas which are similar to poison, continue to manifest in the person as long as he lives.

Tridosalaksana-( properties of the three Doshas)

  • Quality of Vata:
    • Ruksa (dryness),
    • laghu (light in weight),
    • sita (coldness),
    • Khara (roughness),
    • suksma (subtleness), and
    • Cala ( movement).
  • Quality of Pita
    • Sneha – slightly oily, unctuous,
    • Teekshna – piercing, entering into deep tissues,
    • Ushna – hotness,
    • Laghu – lightness,
    • Visram – bad smell,
    • Sara – having fluidity, movement,
    • Drava – liquidity.
  • Qualities of Kapha:
    • Snigdha – oily, unctuous,
    • Sheeta – cold,
    • Guru – heavy,
    • Manda – mild, slow in action,
    • viscous, shlakshna – smooth, clear,
    • Mrutsna – slimy, jelly,
    • sthira – stability, immobility are the

Notes :—The above are some of the natural and inherent properties of the dosas and more information about the dosas will be found later in chapters. 11 & 12.

The increase, decrease of individual Doshas, or imbalance of a couple of these Doshas is called Samsarga. An imbalance of all the three Doshas together is called Sannipata.

Dhatu and mala {basic tissues and wastes)-

Body tissues and waste products are called Dushyas. This means, there are influenced and affected by Doshas.
Body tissues are –

1. Rasa – the first product of digestion, Soon after digestion of food, the digested food turns into Rasa. It is grossly compared to lymph or plasma. But it is not a complete comparison.

2. Rakta – Also called as Asruk. – Blood

3. Mamsa – Muscle

4. Meda – Fat tissue

5. Asthi – Bones and cartilages

6. Majja – Bone marrow

7. Shukra – Semen / Ovum or entire male and female genital tract and its secretions are grossly covered under this heading.

Mala – waste products

  • Shakrut / Pureesha – (feces),
  • Sweda (sweat) and
  • Mutra (urine) are the three waste products of the body.

Notes :—These will be described again in detail in chapter 11. 

Vrddhi and Ksaya

Equal qualities lead to increase, and opposing qualities lead to decrease. For example, dryness is the quality of Vata. If a Vata body type person exposes himself to dry cold weather, his dryness and in turn Vata will increase, leading to dry skin. In the same way, oiliness is the opposite quality of dryness. If he applies oil to the skin, then the dryness and related Vata is decreased.

Notes.—Each of the doshas, dhatus, and malas has its own pramana (quantity), gunas (specific qualities), and karmas (functions), which in its normalcy (Samya) is conducive to health. They sometimes, undergo vrddhi (increase) and ksaya (decrease) in their quantity, one or more of its qualities and functions, which are both known as vaisamya (abnormalcy) and which lead to ill-health, Use of or association with substances, qualities, and activities which are similar (same or identical) with the material, qualities and functions of the Doshas, dhatus and malas bring about their increase, whereas the use or association with substances, qualities and activities which are viparita (dissimilar, opposite) bring about their decrease.

SADRASA-(six tastes)

In Ayurveda 6 tastes have been descriebed as under:

  • Swadu (sweet),
  • amla (sour),
  • lavana (salt),
  • Tikta (bitter),
  • Ushna (pungent) and
  • Kasaya (astringent) are the six rasas (tastes). 

They are successively lower in energy. That means, Sweet taste imparts maximum energy to the body and the astringent, the least.

Notes :—Taste is also a guna ( quality ) of every substance, each substance may have one or more tastes, which becomes known when the substance is put on the tongue. The first, clearly recognisable taste is known as Pradhana rasa ( primary taste ) and the remaining tastes which are recognised later and mildly are anurasa ( secondary taste ). In respect of giving strength to the body, kasaya ( astringent ) provides the minimum, ushna ( pungent ) a little more and so on, swadu ( sweet ) providing the maximum.

Alleviation of Doshas by tastes

In the list of tastes, the first three, i.e. Sweet, sour, and salt mitigates Vata and increases Kapha. The last three, i.e. bitter, pungent and astringent tastes mitigate Kapha and increase Vata Astringent, bitter and sweet taste mitigates Pitta. Sour, salt, and pungent tastes increase Pitta.

DoshaIncrease doshaDecrease DoshaPanchmahabhutas
MadhuraKaphaVata, PittaPrithvi+ap
AmlaPitta, KaphaVataPrithvi+ Agni
LavanaPitta, KaphaVataAp+ Agni
TiktaVataKapha, PittaAkasha + vayu
UshnaVata, PittaKaphaAgni + Vayu
KasayaVataKapha, PittaPrithivi + Vayu

With this, we have finished the second Part of Chapter-1 of Sutrasthana, desire for long life, Ashtanga Hridayam. Check our previous post to learn more by clicking here.

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