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Doshas & Tridoshas in Ayurveda

The core framework of Ayurveda Explained

An introduction to the defining conceptual framework of Ayurveda and its understanding of the reigning forces in the body

The Concept of Tri Doshas

Ayurveda uses a different concept of humours than the four humours of traditional Greco-Roman and European medieval medicine. Dosha (or, sometimes, Dosa )is often translated as the Sanskrit term for humour. Whereas Greek & Roman humours were considered fluids, Ayurvedic doshas are the manifestations of elemental forces in the physical body, and not as physical substances in themselves.

Together all three Doshas form the Tridosha, which means the 'three doshas'. Dosha is a Sanskrit word which literally means "deviation". It is one of the Basic Principles, (Maulik Siddhant) of Ayurveda. There are three primary Doshas:

  • Vata
  • Pitta
  • Kapha

Their existence in the human body is considered individually, however two doshas can combine, (dwidoshaj) as can all three doshas (Tridoshaj or Sannipataj).

The 3 main doshas are: Vata (combination of the space and air elements), Pitta (analogous to the fire element), Kapha (combination of water and earth elements).

In Ayurveda, all bodily processes are believed to be governed by a balance of the 3 doshas. If all doshas are in balance the person is normal and in good health. Whichever dosha appears to dominate a person's behavior and physique is called his constitution type.

Each constitution type has particular strengths and susceptibilities. 'Tridoshas are considered similar to aetiological factors, which are responsible for one's normal health condition. There is an interesting parallel with the Western concept of athletic (pitta), leptosomic (vata) and pycnic (kapha) constitutional types.

Physical measures or worships are enough to restore the equilibrium of disturbed physical doshas.

The realization of right knowledge, retention of memory, self-control and focusing restore the disturbed equilibrium of psychic doshas.

Medical formulations with opposite properties of disturbed doshas are administered to cure the ailments. Physicians should have thorough knowledge about the properties contained in Vata, Pitta, Kapha doshas to administer corrective formulations.

Doshas of the Mind (Psychic Doshas)

As doshas make the physiology of human body , there are tridoshas for mental faculties also.They are Satwam , Rajas and Tamas. The character of a person and his conduct are very well influenced by the doshas.

Satwika dosha predominance is related to divinity. Satva generates virtue and a life of goodness.

Rajasa with anger, short tempered. Tamasa with extreme laziness. Tamas and rajas always go with hand in hand. Tamas requires the help of rajas to move as it is static.

Through Yoga therapy the satwika fraction of mind is been evoked, thereby reducing the contribution from the rajasa and tamasa part.As healthy mind in a healthy body , tridoshas of mind can very well be stable in a body with healthy doshas.

Recognising Disturbed Doshas in Disorders

Disturbed doshas turn out disorders in multiple modes. This may be singly or in groups. There are 62 ways to produce disorders. The properties of doshas are inherent in the effect they produce on perturbation. The effects point to the disturbed dosha which make clinical diagnosis easy. Disturbed vata signifies many ailments such as palpitation, lameness, prolapse of rectum, loose teeth, stiffness in the back, pain and stiffness in the leg, horse voice, paralysis, hearing impairment, eye disorders, mental instability, dyspnoea and hiccup. An expert physician can recognize the disturbed properties of vata such as instability, coldness, roughness and more. Disturbed pitta features hyper acidity, fever, jaundice, internal bleeding, inflammation, fainting, excessive sweating, burning sensation and blue coloration. A learned physician can easily detect the disturbed properties of pitta including fluidity, sour taste, heat, sharpness, discoloration etc. Disturbed kapha signifies salivation, copious expectoration, drowsiness, coldness, sensation of heaviness, mucus discharge, swelling in he neck, pallor etc. Perturbed kapha detects properties of kapha which include sweetness, heaviness, lubricity, softness, coldness etc.

Swelling by Three Doshas

Imbalanced doshas in Ayurveda, individually or in groups, are capable of generating internal swelling. It has no role in external swelling which is caused by outside agents. Wrong or irrational application of treatment procedures makes the doshas perturbed to act adversely.

The characteristics of swelling caused by each Tridosha \ dosha are different.

Vata provoked due to cold, fasting etc swelling speedily increases or decreases. The colour of the swelling may be red or black and in many cases no colour change is noticed. The victim will have punching pain.

Pitta provoked due to the intake of pungent, salty or sour foods etc swelling appears and disappears quickly. Its colour may be black, blue, yellow or coppery. Burning sensation is felt. Fever, thirst, diarrhea, yellow colouring of eyes and skin also form part of the symptoms.

Perturbed Kapha \ kapha (due to over-sleep, day sleep, intake of rich and fatty, sweet and cold foods etc) induced swelling appears and disappears slowly. The color will be pale and looks oily. Itching is yet another symptom.

Swelling caused by two or three disturbed doshas exhibit mixed symptoms.

Telling Effects of Imbalanced Doshas on Head, Heart and Abscess

Imbalanced doshas can play havoc on head, heart and abscess.


The Head, where vital breath and five sense organs are located, is an extremely important organ. The imbalances of doshas quickly manifest in the head in the forms of various disorders. This can be due to various reasons such as suppression of natural urges or tears, eating too much especially soured stuffs, day sleep, sleepless at night, inhalation of dust, smoke, odour and many more reasons. All the three imbalanced doshas individually or collectively cause disorders to the head. Vata is prone to imbalance due to fasting, excessive purgation or vomiting, suppression of natural urges, loud or excessive talk and many other reasons. Imbalanced vata trespasses to the vessels of the head and proclaims its presence in the form of symptoms such as pain in the eyes and ears, neck, temporal region, forehead etc.

Consumption of pungent, sour or salty foods or wines, exposure to sun and heat etc generates perturbation of pitta and when it enters the vessels in the head creation of symptoms such as sweating, giddiness, severe thirst etc takes root.

Imbalance of Kapha \ kapha is easily caused by day sleep, over-sleep, over-eating of fatty and rich foods etc. Drowsiness, lethargy, numbness, sensation of heaviness or coldness etc marks the entry of imbalanced kapha to the head vessels.

If all the three or two doshas are disturbed and entered into head vessels, they will manifest in symptoms with mixed nature.

Head is not immune from worm-inflicted diseases. Consumption of rotten foods, over-eating rich foods with jaggery, milk, sesamum etc is the cause for worm generation. Piercing pain, swelling, itching, discharge of worms etc are the resultant of worm infliction.


Imbalanced Vata \ vata caused by fasting, eating too little, anguish, excessive physical activity etc enters the heart when symptoms of immobility, tremor, fainting, cramps, listless look etc take birth. Perturbed pitta caused by eating during indigestion, eating of pungent, hot, salty or sour foods, anger, exposure to sun etc generates sweating, giddiness, fainting, tiredness, thirst, acid eructation etc, whereas perturbed kapha caused by eating of rich and fatty foods, day sleep, over-sleep, lack of physical activity etc enters the heart and signifies its presence by the symptoms of drowsiness, heaviness in the chest, loss of appetite, numbness and so on.

The effect of all the three or two perturbed doshas to the heart is the triggering of mixed symptoms.

Heart is prone to worm-inflicted diseases also. In this case the symptom is swelling in the heart region. Persisting symptom gives birth to severe pain in the heart region.


The people who are accustomed to eating of rich and fatty foods especially with more sour and salty substances and do little or no physical and mental activities and over-sleep are prone to this complaint. In this case, all the Tridosha_&_Charaka \three doshas (disturbed) plus fat gathered in the body block the channel of vata bringing ojas to the urinary bladder which causes diabetes. If steps are not taken to curtail the aggravation, the formation of abscess takes different forms in different regions. Joints, muscular parts and vital organs are the pet regions of abscess.

Abscess is mainly classified into seven, each having distinctive symptoms. The seven are saravika, kachapika, jalini, sarsapi, alaji, vinata and vidradhi. The last named vidradhi is more serious one. Many other varieties of abscess also exist, but they are of little consequences.

Paired margins, saucer-like and sunken centre are the symptoms of saravika. Saravika is painful and moist-clad. Kachapika is terribly painful and is spread over a large area and the shape is like a tortoise back. Jalani’s symptom is projected blood vessels on the surface and oily discharge through small openings and is hard. Sarsapi is small but painful and displays tiny boils. The boils form puss very quickly. Alaji typifies burning sensation along with fever, thirst and fainting. The burning sensation will increase after sunset. The symptoms of Vinata are pain on back or abdomen and look large and saucer-shaped and accompanied by thick discharge.

The symptoms of vidradhi, the serious one among the seven, are taut on skin, tendon and muscles with pain. Contributory factors for vidradhi are varied and wide. Over-rated physical activity, over-sleep, unwholesome diet, eating during indigestion, suppression of natural urges, excessive sexual intercourse, prolonged or intermittent fatigue, over-drinking of alcohol etc are the main factors.

The imbalances of three doshas together causes abscesses in heart region, navel and urinary bladder and are considered very serious. Abscesses in these regions refuse to respond to treatments whereas in other cases response is positive.

Tridosha & Charaka

The concept of tridoshas is revolutionary, as no science has been able to give a real definition to this doctrine. But the lack of explanation does not prove its non existence, as the science of Ayurveda is built upon these principles. The explanation of different spectrum of diseases and their treatment success itself proves its value. The theory of ayurveda backs that our body is largely been controlled by three dosha (forces), made up of three basic elements of space i.e, water, earth and air.

The three doshasVata, pitta, Kapha are described more as physiological entities. From the beginning of life from a zygote tridosha plays the role. It is highly difficult to give exact corelation to their function with the modern entities as it has been proved beyond that.

For a body to be healthy it is very essential that tridoshas be well balanced. Any deviation from the normal is vitiation- the root cause of disease. A detailed clinical presentations for each condition is given. A very minor condition like common flu to the most dreaded conditions of Cancer or AIDS can be explained within the range of tridosha vitiation.

Doshas move all over the body through numerous omnipresent channels in spite of having their own abodes. Pelvis is the abode of vata. The gut between the stomach and the large bowel is the location of pitta. Kapha is aboded in stomach, chest and head. These three elements have their own specific properties while they prefer to differ from each other. Each ones action on dhatus in situations is determined by itself. They have different characters.

Vata is dry, cold, light, subtle and mobile. Pitta(the force of the sun) is hot, light, sharp and slightly oil while kapha(likened to the moon)is heavy, firm, soft and slim. Vata(wind) causes all movements, fluids’ transportation, transmission of sensations and mental and physical functions which include happiness. Pitta helps digestion, causes vision, joy, anger and emotions. Kapha causes intelligence, strength, joint contour etc.

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