top of page

Composition of human body according to Ayurveda

The modern science gives detailed study of structure and functions of the human body, and analyse various elements of it through various pathological examinations yet for comprehensive study of never ending and numerous process of the internal organs, one has to a recourse of Ayurveda which states that there is inseparable relation of the body and mind and there is a lot more to explore beyond this…

Ayurveda has evolved the origin of the body by following "Je Pindi te Brahmandi" (principle found in a jiva is the same as that found in the universe) and "Je Brahmandi te Pindi " (principle found in the universe is the same as that found in a jiva), the two dictums as the basis. The Universe is formed from the Panch Maha Bhootas- Prithvi (Earth), Aap/ Jala (Water), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Aakash (Ether or Space) and so is the body.

The verse of Charkra Samhita suggests that Chaitanya (Consciousness) and the elements arising out of Panch Maha Bhootas (Five basic principles earth, fire, water, air, space or ether) form the body.

a) The five sense organs in the body possess the virtues of these panchmahabhootas (Five basic principles earth, fire, water, air, space or ether):

· The characteristics of akasha (space or ether), that is Shabda (Sound) is received by the ears.

· The characteristics of Vayu (Air), that is Sparsha (Touch) is perceived through the skin.

· The The characteristics of Agni (Fire), that is Roopa (View) is seen through the eyes.

· The characteristics of Aapa/Jala (Water), that is Rasa (Taste) is perceived through the tongue.

· The characteristics of the Prithvi (Earth), that is Gandha (Smell) is perceived through nose.

b) The Panch Maha Bhootas (the five elements) possess the domination in the other organs of the body as under :

  • Prithvi Bhav (Earthly nature): Nails, bones, teeth, flesh, skin, excretion, beard, body hair, hair etc.

  • Jaliya Bhav (Nature of water): Fluids, kapha, pitta, urine, perspiration, and saliva.

  • Aagneya Bhav (Nature of fire): Pitta, heat, the glow of the body, view, eyesight etc.

  • Vayviya bhav (Nature of air): Breathing, blinking and opening of the eyelids, speed, inspiration, dharana etc.

  • Aakashiya bhav (Nature of space): All holes, hollow places, small and big strota, vocal system and ear system.

According to ancient scriptures- "Shiryate tat shariram", that which “degenerates” is known as body. The body elements degenerate and get lost again in Panch Maha Bhootas. The same are again formed anew that is the demand of the body. The elements in the surrounding panchmahabhoutic nature are picked up willingly by the body and assimilated. The symptoms such as desire, hunger, and thirst are commonly felt. Also, hatred towards the element, which has been created in excess is also born. In any natural process, these three things are included.

c) The Bhutas combine into 'tridosas' or bioenergetic forces that govern and determine our health or physical condition.

· In Vata dosha, the mahabhuta involved are air (Vayu) & space (Akasa);

· In Pitta dosha, fire (agni) and water (Jala) are involved,

· and in Kapha dosha, water (Jala) & earth (Prithvi) mahabhuta are involved.

These three doshas (kapha, vat and pitta) are responsible for the disintegration and integration of the components in the body. The medium of these three doshas is responsible for these disintegration and integration actions. As these three doshas are endowed with their characteristics, they are termed as dravya (liquid). The strengths cannot stay independently, and need support of liquids, hence vat, kapha and pitta are not strengths but liquids. But according to their locations, they are gross at some places and subtle at others (cannot be seen). They are exhibited through actions at such places.

  • · Kapha: It is a white colored substance, which is cold, heavy, slow, sticky and glossy. Even if it is subtle or gross, it has these qualities. As per ayurveda, kapha amounts to six palms full. That means it can be in liquid form too. Even if the oily part of the kapha is demonstrated through the organs, its other characteristics are according to its functions.

  • · Pitta is hot, sharp, a little bit of expansive property, with particular smell or strong smell. Even if these are demonstrated through organs, other characteristics are as per functions. Pitta is five palmfuls. This also is a liquid substance.

  • · Vat is dry, less cold as compared with kapha, tiny and movable. This substance is of moving nature and not related to body organs. This is at some places gross and at most of the places subtle. It is called as Avyaktovyaktakarma " that is even if it is not expressed on its own, it is expressed through actions.

The health or ill health of the body depends on these three substances. Also, most of the movements in the body are also dependent on this. Even if all the substances in the nature and in this body are panchmahabhoutik, the main functional ones are only three i e aap, tej and vayu. For carrying out their functions, these three substances have to seek help from the earth and the sky. Hence, the doshas are also three. There is another stream of thought that the life of the body and the most supportive element i.e. the blood is also the fourth dosha. But it is more proper to recognize blood as dhatu instead of dosha.

The body is said to be healthy when these three doshas are equal in proportion. But when this distribution is disturbed, disease sets in. To reduce the substance, which has become excessive or to increase one, which is reduced, one has to plan proper medications or other processes.

The nature has a number of substances surrounding the body. The substance absorbed in the body affects it and causes certain symptoms. There are different characteristics of the elements of the body, they are of twenty types namely, Heavyness, slowness, coldness, oilyness, smoothness, thickness, softness, firmness, minuteness, and the opposites of this that is lightweight, swift, warm, dry, rough, thin, hard, moving, gross, sticky etc.

  • Out of these twenty characteristics, oily, cold, heavy, slow, soft, sticky and solid are reflected through the prithvi and aap elements out of the panchmahabhootas. If these substances are absorbed more into the body than needed, and are demonstrated by the body through lithargy, heaviness, softness etc, then one can say kapha dosha is on the increase. Because these characteristics are of kapha dosha.

  • Oily, sharp, small, hot etc characteristics are reflected in tej/ agni-based elements. If these substances are absorbed more into the body, and are demonstrated by symptoms such as thirst, burning, fever etc, then one can say pitta dosha is on the increase

  • Also, sensations such as dryness, smallness, coldness, roughness, minuteness and movement etc are reflected through the vayu and aakash or logical elements. If they are absorbed more into the body and are demonstrated through symptoms such as sleeplessness, dryness, lightweight etc then one can say vata dosha is on the increase.

If the three doshas i.e. vata, pitta and kapha are balanced, then their functions support each other and the body remains healthy. The proportion of each dosha to the desired extent is known as “dosha samya”. If it increases or decreases it is known as “dosha vaishamya”. So while studying the health or illness of the body, first one must consider the three doshas.

(d) After the three doshas are understood, one has to consider dhatus and mal. Because it is stated that " Doshadhatumalamulam hi shariram | " Vakbhata has the following reference:

Vayuh pittam kaphascheti trayo doshah samasatah | V S 1.6 Vikruta vikruta deham ghananti the vardhayanticha | V S 1.7

Concept of a Cell

Caraka has explained that the body parts can be divided and re-divided into innumerable individual components called ‘Paramānus’. These are innumerable because of their huge number, highly minute structure and limited perceptive ability of sense organs (Ca. Śā. 7/17). This statement indicates that there existed a concept of minute and numerous individual living units in the body. Today we call such microscopic units by the name ‘Cell’. ‘Anu Srotas’ is another such very similar term, probably indicative of a cell. Some scholars

even held the view that the living body is nothing but the resultant of aggregation of such

innumerable ‘Srotāmsi’. (Ca.Vi. 5/4). ‘Srotāmsi’ is the plural form of ‘Srotas’. The term

‘Srotas’ means an individual ‘Cell’ - ‘Anu Srotas’ and also an individual ‘Organ System’ -

‘Sthūula Srotas’. A tissue is a group of structurally and functionally similar cells. ‘Srotāmsi’

are structurally similar to their corresponding tissues. Also, each ‘Srotas’ is functionally

(Metabolically) related to its corresponding tissue.

Dhatu Siddhanta or Theory of Basic Tissues

The body contains three doshas kapha, pitta, vayu. When they go astray, they destroy the life. When they are equalised, they govern the life. Ras, Rakta, Mans, Med, Asthi, Majja and Shukra are seven dhatus or substances or tissues. Plasma and lymph (‘Rasa’), blood cells (‘Rakta’), muscular and general connective tissues (‘Māmsa’), body-lipids including adipose tissue (‘Meda’), tissues resisting easy degradation - like bones (‘Asthi’), bone marrow and nervous tissue (‘Majjā’) and tissues responsible for reproductive functions (‘Śukra’) are the basic tissues from which the body is formed. (A.H. Sū.1/13).

The dhatus are built sequentially over a 30-day period, culminating in the production of ojas (the most refined bodily essence).

  • Ras (Fluids) - This is a flowing dhatu. When one consumes food that is a square meal, based on panchmahabhootas, including six rasas, twenty characteristics and all types of viryas and when the food is digested properly after being processed by the fire in the stomach, the substance generated which is minute essence is known as rasa. Its place is the heart and that is circulated through all the vessels due to the vyanvayu all over the body. It also supplies dhatus necessary for the growth of the children, dhatus which are weakened in the old people, and continues to maintain the stability in the middle-aged persons. It stays alive in the body. Other dhatus are then made up of rasa.

  • Rakta (Blood) - When the rasa containing more water reaches the liver and the spleen, it becomes red in colour due to the ranjak pitta. Then it is known as blood. The characteristics of prithvi, aap, tej, vayu and aakash in that order i e peculiar smell, liquidity, red colour, speed and energy are exhibited in blood. Hence blood is known as panchamahabhoutic. When the blood is washed away from a cloth and does not leave any stain on the cloth, it is termed as healthy blood (defectless). That is the main function of this dhatu.

  • Mansa (Muscular Tissue or flesh) - On the supporting blood, the fire in the muscular tissue operates in the mansvah strotra and this dhatu is produced. The warmth or heat of the vayu and tej is mixed up in the blood and it becomes thick. It gets ripened due to the fire of the mansa and takes the form of mansa. The cells and the muscles in the body are also forms of flesh. The cells do the act of covering and hence the organs are protected. The muscles bear the weight of the body. The joints move. All these movements are due to vyanvayu.

  • Med (Adipose Tissue)- On the supporting mansa (flesh), the fire in the med operates in medovah strota and the dhatu med is created. It strengthens the body.

  • Asthi (Bones) - On the panchmahabhootas in the supporting elements, the fire in the asthidhatu operates and creates roughness. This creates bones. Due to vayu , they can be porous. This function is carried on in asthivah strota. Due to this...

  • Majja (Bone Marrow) - Asthidhatu supporting majja gets operated upon by the fire in majja in majjavah strota. and majja dhatu is created. The .. in the holes in the bones is known as majja. The nature of it is different from the med...

  • Shukra (Generative Tissue) - Shukra dhatu is produced from majja due to uniting with fire. The origin of shukra dhatu is in shukradhar kala in shukravah strota all over the body. Though the testicles and the eggs are the main origins for this, actually shukra dhatu is produced all over the body in a miniscule form. It drizzles in the testicles and comes out through medhra. In a young age, it exists in invisible form and when the child comes of age, it becomes visible.

Female Shukra: The shukra dhatu originating in the female body is termed as Aartava. There are two types of this:

o The monthly aartava which is produced in the uterus each month, this is known as bahihpushpa. This is not useful for conceiving, but this is necessary to purify the uterus.

o The other aartava originates in a tiny form It takes part in the unity by absorbing the shukra, it is termed as Antarpushpa.

Oja - The brightness or the excellent glow in the shukra dhatu, of all seven dhatus, is termed as “oja”. The main place of oj is the heart, but it occupies the entire body. It is the main basis of living and the state of the body depends on it. Pranas reside in it. It is actually representative of the characteristics of all seven dhatus and as such need not be considered as the eighth dhatu.

There are upadhatus for all sapta dhatus. They are as under :

· Rasa - Stanya and Raja

· Rakta - Kandara and Shira

· Mansa - Vasaa and Twacha

· Med - Snayu, Sandhibandha, Shira

Tissues producing breast-milk (Stanya), female reproductive tissues (Ārtava), ‘Kandarā’ (tendons), Sirā (blood vessels), ‘Vasā’ (muscle fat), six layers of skin and ‘Snāyus’ (sinews) are the ‘Upadhātus’ (subsidiary tissues).

Mal - It is the waste developed in the body and is of three types:

· Purish - After the food has been fully digested, at the time of division of sarkitta, purish is produced by purishdharakarla in purishvah strota. According to the Charaka, the measure of it is 7 handfuls. Due to this, there is dharana of vayu and agni.

· Mutra (Urine) - According to Charaka, the measure is 4 handfuls.

· Sweda (Perspiration) - This is mal of med. Due to this, the skin and hair become little moist.

Now, when the basic concept of tridosha, saptadhatu and their impurities is clear, the coming blogs will include further detailed notes about each one of them... Stay tuned!

214 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page