Sroto Vimana

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Sroto Vimana
Section/Chapter Vimana Sthana Chapter 5
Preceding Chapter Trividha Roga Vishesha Vijnaniya Vimana
Succeeding Chapter Roganika Vimana
Other Sections Sutra Sthana, Nidana Sthana, Sharira Sthana, Indriya Sthana, Chikitsa Sthana, Kalpa Sthana, Siddhi Sthana

Vimana Sthana Chapter 5, Sroto Vimana (Chapter on the Systemic inner Transport System in Human Body)

Abstract

Ayurveda describes a systemic inner transport system comprising of gross and minute as well as very subtle channels transporting not only biological fluids, nutrients and waste products but also energies and impulses in different biological settings. These are generically called srotamsi or channels. The srotamsi are innumerable but 13 gross channels are clinically approachable and are affected in different disease states with specific manifestations. These 13 gross channels comprise of three channels which transfer life-support substances from outside to inside the body and are called pranavaha, udakavaha and annavaha srotas. Another three channels perform gross excretory functions and remove feces, urine and sweat and are called purishavaha, mutravaha and swedavaha srotas respectively. The remaining seven channels are for sustenance of the seven primordial tissues or dhatus and are collectively called saptadhatus.

Besides these gross channels, the living body has innumerable micro-channels responsible for secretion, synthesis and microcirculation of different life substances. According to Charaka, there are as many srotamsi as there are life-factors operating in the body. These channels are prone to getting vitiated and obstructed, a fundamental reason for all pathologies in the body-mind system. Ama, the byproduct of diminished agni, is the most common cause of srotodushti (vitiation of transport system). There are four broad categories of srotas morbidity viz. hyperactivity, hypoactivity, distortions and swellings, and diversions of pathway. It is imperative to conserve the integrity of the srotamsi for good health. Ayurvedic srotovijnana is a unique approach to the understanding of macro, micro and molecular dimensions of the inner transport system of the living body.

Keywords: Srotasa, transportation of nutrients.

Introduction

Ayurvedic texts, except the Sushruta Samhita, do not deliberate much on gross anatomy. Ayurveda seems to be largely physiology-oriented bioscience where the central consideration is the physiological micro-structure. The knowledge of the understanding of gross anatomy of the body is inferred from the set of functions observed in the living body in different settings. The Ayurvedic biology bases its understanding of the function and functional anatomy of the living body on its quantized functions. According to the theory of srotovijnana, the living body is a huge unified micro-macro channel system – Srotomayam hi shariram. The channel potential is the basic nature of the body-mind system which is intimately connected on one side to the external world and with each molecule of the inner world on the other side. This science of dynamic interconnectedness is the unique feature of Ayurvedic biology. The concepts of tanmatra, panchamahabhuta, tridosha, saptadhatu, ojas, agni, ama and srotas together project a new holistic biology with quantum logic which is distinctly different from the materialistic reductionist biology based on Newtonian physics that is crudely organ-structure dominant, overemphasizing the narrow cause-effect relationship. In contrast, Ayurvedic biology adopts broad-based inclusive cause-effect phenomenon where cause and effect are a continuum and have no separate identity. This age-old idea conforms to the recent developments in modern physics pioneered by Albert Einstein.

Thus it is obvious that Ayurvedic biology is in line with quantum physics, in contrast with conventional biology which still follows the matter-dominant classical Newtonian physics. This chapter deals with the concept of srotas in brief but, in a very lucid manner, suggests that the living human body is a quantized microchannel system which constitutes the basic matrix of the entire life process. The whole body is a consolidated sroto-biome composed of a wide range of gross and subtle micro channels which are innumerable, culminating in 13 gross channels which are clinically identifiable inlets, outlets and inner sustaining portals. In this consideration, every cell of the living body is a single molecular channel while the 13 physiological systems and the whole body are the gross channels i.e. the gross channel assemblies all functioning in the united field of the biosphere. The other major classic text of Ayurveda (Sushruta Samhita) also presents a similar view point although it presents different versions of gross physiological systems describing 11 pairs of Srotamsi.

Thus, the srotas biology, and concepts such as agni and saptadhatu in Ayurveda biology are distinctly different from conventional biology. The so described Ayurvedic biology conveniently extends to physiology on one hand and to pathophysiology and pharmacology on the other.

Sanskrit Text, Transliteration and English Translation

अथातः स्रोतसां विमानं व्याख्यास्यामः||१||

इति ह स्माह भगवानात्रेयः||२||

athātaḥ srōtasāṁ vimānaṁ vyākhyāsyāmaḥ||1||

iti ha smāha bhagavānātrēyaḥ||2||

athAtaH srotasAM vimAnaM vyAkhyAsyAmaH||1||

iti ha smAha bhagavAnAtreyaH||2||

Now we shall expound the chapter on specific features of srotas i.e. channels. Thus said Lord Atreya.[1-2]

Srotas (transport systems)

यावन्तः पुरुषे मूर्तिमन्तो भावविशेषास्तावन्त एवास्मिन् स्रोतसां प्रकारविशेषाः| सर्वे हि भावा पुरुषे नान्तरेण स्रोतांस्यभिनिर्वर्तन्ते, क्षयं वाऽप्यभिगच्छन्ति| स्रोतांसि खलु परिणाममापद्यमानानां धातूनामभिवाहीनि भवन्त्ययनार्थेन||३||

yāvantaḥ puruṣē mūrtimantō bhāvaviśēṣāstāvanta ēvāsmin srōtasāṁprakāraviśēṣāḥ| sarvē hi bhāvā puruṣē nāntarēṇasrōtāṁsyabhinirvartantē, kṣayaṁ vā'pyabhigacchanti| srōtāṁsi khalu pariṇāmamāpadyamānānāṁ dhātūnāmabhivāhīni bhavantyayanārthēna||3||

yAvantaH puruShe mUrtimanto bhAvavisheShAstAvanta evAsmin srotasAM prakAravisheShAH| sarve hi bhAvA puruShe nAntareNa srotAMsyabhinirvartante, kShayaM vA~apyabhigacchanti| srotAMsi khalu pariNAmamApadyamAnAnAM dhAtUnAmabhivAhIni bhavantyayanArthena||3||

There are as many types of srotas as there are corporeal entities. All such entities do not arise or decay in the absence of srotas. Srotamsi are defined as inner transporting channels of dhatus undergoing transformation. [3]

अपि चैके स्रोतसामेव समुदयंपुरुषमिच्छन्ति, सर्वगतत्वात् सर्वसरत्वाच्च दोषप्रकोपणप्रशमनानाम्| न त्वेतदेवं, यस्य हि स्रोतांसि, यच्च वहन्ति, यच्चावहन्ति,यत्र चावस्थितानि, सर्वं तदन्यत्तेभ्यः||४|| अतिबहुत्वात् खलु केचिदपरिसङ्ख्येयान्याचक्षते स्रोतांसि, परिसङ्ख्येयानि पुनरन्ये||५||

api caikē srōtasāmēva samudayaṁ puruṣamicchanti, sarvagatatvāt sarvasaratvācca dōṣaprakōpaṇapraśamanānām| na tvētadēvaṁ, yasya hi srōtāṁsi, yaccavahanti, yaccāvahanti, yatra cāvasthitāni, sarvaṁ tadanyattēbhyaḥ||4||

atibahutvāt khalu kēcidaparisaṅkhyēyānyācakṣatē srōtāṁsi, parisaṅkhyēyāni punaranyē||5||

api caike srotasAmeva samudayaM puruShamicchanti, sarvagatatvAt sarvasaratvAccadoShaprakopaNaprashamanAnAm| na tvetadevaM, yasya hi srotAMsi, yacca [1] vahanti, yaccAvahanti, yatra cAvasthitAni, sarvaMtadanyattebhyaH||4||

atibahutvAt khalu kecidaparisa~gkhyeyAnyAcakShate srotAMsi, parisa~gkhyeyAni punaranye||5||

Some experts opine that an individual is just the aggregate of innumerable srotamsi because of their pervasiveness and the diffusiveness of agents that aggravate or pacify doshas. However, it is not correct because that which srotas belongs to, which they carry, nourish and where they are situated, all that is different from srotamsi themselves. Some experts hold that srotamsi are innumerable because they are many while others consider them as definite in number. [4-5]

तेषां तु खलु स्रोतसां यथास्थूलं कतिचित्प्रकारान्मूलतश्च प्रकोपविज्ञानतश्चानुव्याख्यास्यामः; ये भविष्यन्त्यलमनुक्तार्थज्ञानाय ज्ञानवतां, विज्ञानाय चाज्ञानवताम्||६||

तद्यथा प्राणोदकान्नरसरुधिरमांसमेदोस्थिमज्जशुक्रमूत्रपुरीषस्वेदवहानीति वातपित्तश्लेष्मणां पुनः सर्वशरीरचराणां सर्वाणि स्रोतांस्ययनभूतानि, तद्वदतीन्द्रियाणां पुनः सत्त्वादीनां केवलं चेतनावच्छरीरमयनभूतमधिष्ठानभूतं च| तदेतत् स्रोतसां प्रकृतिभूतत्वान्न विकारैरुपसृज्यते शरीरम्||७||

tēṣāṁ tu khalu srōtasāṁ yathāsthūlaṁ katicitprakārānmūlataśca prakōpavijñānataścānuvyākhyāsyāmaḥ; yē bhaviṣyantyalamanuktārthajñānāya jñānavatāṁ, vijñānāya cājñānavatām||6||

tadyathā prāṇōdakānnarasarudhiramāṁsamēdōsthimajjaśukramūtrapurīṣasvēdavahānīti; vātapittaślēṣmaṇāṁ punaḥ sarvaśarīracarāṇāṁ sarvāṇi srōtāṁsyayanabhūtāni, tadvadatīndriyāṇāṁ punaḥ sattvādīnāṁ kēvalaṁ cētanāvaccharīramayanabhūtamadhiṣṭhānabhūtaṁ ca| tadētat srōtasāṁ prakr̥tibhūtatvānna vikārairupasr̥jyatē śarīram||7||

teShAM tu khalu srotasAM yathAsthUlaM katicitprakArAnmUlatashcaprakopavij~jAnatashcAnuvyAkhyAsyAmaH; ye bhaviShyantyalamanuktArthaj~jAnAya j~jAnavatAM,vij~jAnAya cAj~jAnavatAm||6||

tadyathA- prANodakAnnarasarudhiramAMsamedosthimajjashukramUtrapurIShasvedavahAnIti;vAtapittashleShmaNAM punaH sarvasharIracarANAM sarvANi srotAMsyayanabhUtAni, tadvadatIndriyANAMpunaH sattvAdInAM kevalaM cetanAvaccharIramayanabhUtamadhiShThAnabhUtaM ca| tadetat srotasAM prakRutibhUtatvAnna vikArairupasRujyate sharIram||7||

I will give examples of some types of srotas according to their origin and abnormalities, which will suffice for the learned to know about those not mentioned here and for the mediocre to grasp them fully. Some of the major srotas include those carrying prana i.e. vital breath, udaka or water, anna or food, rasa or plasma, rakta or red blood, mamsa or muscle, meda or adipose, asthi or bone, majja or marrow, shukra i.e. reproductive elements, mutra or urine, purisha or feces and sweda or sweat. As regards vata-pittta-kapha, they move all over the body with all the srotamsi serving as their passages. Similarly, for mind etc. which transcend sense organs, the entire sentient body serves as a passage as well as its location. As long as these srotamsi are normal, the body is not inflicted with any disorder. [6-7]

Roots of transportation channels and signs of their vitiation

तत्र प्राणवहानां स्रोतसां हृदयं मूलं महास्रोतश्च, प्रदुष्टानां तु खल्वेषामिदं विशेषविज्ञानं भवति;तद्यथा- अतिसृष्टमतिबद्धं कुपितमल्पाल्पमभीक्ष्णं वा सशब्दशूलमुच्छ्वसन्तं दृष्ट्वा प्राणवहान्यस्य स्रोतांसि प्रदुष्टानीति विद्यात्| उदकवहानां स्रोतसां तालुमूलं क्लोम च, प्रदुष्टानां तु खल्वेषामिदं विशेषविज्ञानं भवति; तद्यथा- जिह्वाताल्वोष्ठकण्ठक्लोमशोषं पिपासां चातिप्रवृद्धां दृष्ट्वोदकवहान्यस्य स्रोतांसि प्रदुष्टानीति विद्यात्| अन्नवहानां स्रोतसामामाशयो मूलं वामं च पार्श्वं, प्रदुष्टानां तु खल्वेषामिदं विशेषविज्ञानं भवति;तद्यथा- अनन्नाभिलषणमरोचकविपाकौ छर्दिं च दृष्ट्वाऽन्नवहान्यस्य स्रोतांसि प्रदुष्टानीति विद्यात्| रसवहानां स्रोतसां हृदयं मूलं दश च धमन्यः| शोणितवहानां स्रोतसां यकृन्मूलं प्लीहा च| मांसवहानां च स्रोतसां स्नायुर्मूलं त्वक् च| मेदोवहानां स्रोतसां वृक्कौ मूलं वपावहनं च| अस्थिवहानां स्रोतसां मेदो मूलं जघनं च| मज्जवहानां स्रोतसामस्थीनि मूलं सन्धयश्च| शुक्रवहानां स्रोतसां वृषणौ मूलं शेफश्च| प्रदुष्टानां तु खल्वेषां रसादिवहस्रोतसां विज्ञानान्युक्तानि विविधाशितपीतीये; यान्येव हि धातूनां प्रदोषविज्ञानानि तान्येव यथास्वं प्रदुष्टानां धातुस्रोतसाम्| मूत्रवहानां स्रोतसां बस्तिर्मूलं वङ्क्षणौ च, प्रदुष्टानां तु खल्वेषामिदं विशेषविज्ञानं भवति; तद्यथा- अतिसृष्टमतिबद्धं प्रकुपितमल्पाल्पमभीक्ष्णं वा बहलं सशूलं मूत्रयन्तं दृष्ट्वा मूत्रवहान्यस्य स्रोतांसि प्रदुष्टानीति विद्यात्| पुरीषवहानां स्रोतसां पक्वाशयो मूलं स्थूलगुदं च, प्रदुष्टानां तु खल्वेषामिदं विशेषविज्ञानं भवति; तद्यथा- कृच्छ्रेणाल्पाल्पं सशब्दशूलमतिद्रवमतिग्रथितमतिबहु चोपविशन्तं दृष्ट्वा पुरीषवहान्यस्य स्रोतांसि प्रदुष्टानीति विद्यात्| स्वेदवहानां स्रोतसां मेदो मूलं लोमकूपाश्च, प्रदुष्टानां तु खल्वेषामिदं विशेषविज्ञानं भवति; तद्यथा-अस्वेदनमतिस्वेदनं पारुष्यमतिश्लक्ष्णतामङ्गस्य परिदाहं लोमहर्षं च दृष्ट्वा स्वेदवहान्यस्य स्रोतांसि प्रदुष्टानीति विद्यात्||८||

tatra prāṇavahānāṁ srōtasāṁ hr̥dayaṁ mūlaṁ mahāsrōtaśca, praduṣṭānāṁ tu khalvēṣāmidaṁ viśēṣavijñānaṁ bhavati; tadyathā- atisr̥ṣṭamatibaddhaṁ kupitamalpālpamabhīkṣṇaṁ vā saśabdaśūlamucchvasantaṁ dr̥ṣṭvā prāṇavahānyasya srōtāṁsi praduṣṭānītividyāt| udakavahānāṁ srōtasāṁ tālumūlaṁ klōma ca, praduṣṭānāṁ tu khalvēṣāmidaṁ viśēṣavijñānaṁ bhavati;tadyathā- jihvātālvōṣṭhakaṇṭhaklōmaśōṣaṁ pipāsāṁ cātipravr̥ddhāṁ dr̥ṣṭvōdakavahānyasya srōtāṁsi praduṣṭānīti vidyāt| annavahānāṁ srōtasāmāmāśayō mūlaṁ vāmaṁca pārśvaṁ, praduṣṭānāṁ tu khalvēṣāmidaṁ viśēṣavijñānaṁ bhavati;tadyathā- anannābhilaṣaṇamarōcakavipākau chardiṁ c dr̥ṣṭvā'nnavahānyasya srōtāṁsi praduṣṭānīti vidyāt| rasavahānāṁ srōtasāṁ hr̥dayaṁ mūlaṁ daśa ca dhamanyaḥ| śōṇitavahānāṁ srōtasāṁ yakr̥nmūlaṁ plīhā ca| māṁsavahānāṁ ca srōtasāṁ snāyurmūlaṁ tvak ca| mēdōvahānāṁ srōtasāṁ vr̥kkaumūlaṁ vapāvahanaṁ ca| asthivahānāṁ srōtasāṁ mēdō mūlaṁ jaghanaṁ ca| majjavahānāṁ srōtasāmasthīni mūlaṁ sandhayaśca| śukravahānāṁ srōtasāṁ vr̥ṣaṇau mūlaṁ śēphaśca| praduṣṭānāṁ tu khalvēṣāṁ rasādivahasrōtasāṁ vijñānānyuktāni vividhāśitapītīyē; yānyēva hi dhātūnāṁ pradōṣavijñānāni tānyēva yathāsvaṁ praduṣṭānāṁ dhātusrōtasām| mūtravahānāṁ srōtasāṁ bastirmūlaṁ vaṅkṣaṇau ca, praduṣṭānāṁ tu khalvēṣāmidaṁ viśēṣavijñānaṁbhavati; tadyathā- atisr̥ṣṭamatibaddhaṁ prakupitamalpālpamabhīkṣṇaṁ vā bahalaṁ saśūlaṁ mūtrayantaṁ dr̥ṣṭvā mūtravahānyasya srōtāṁsi praduṣṭānīti vidyāt| purīṣavahānāṁ srōtasāṁ pakvāśayō mūlaṁ sthūlagudaṁ ca, praduṣṭānāṁ tu khalvēṣāmidaṁ viśēṣavijñānaṁ bhavati; tadyathā- kr̥cchrēṇālpālpaṁ saśabdaśūlamatidravamatigrathitamatibahu cōpaviśantaṁ dr̥ṣṭvā purīṣavahānyasya srōtāṁsi praduṣṭānīti vidyāt| svēdavahānāṁ srōtasāṁ mēdō mūlaṁ lōmakūpāśca, praduṣṭānāṁ tu khalvēṣāmidaṁ viśēṣavijñānaṁ bhavati; tadyathā- asvēdanamatisvēdanaṁ pāruṣyamatiślakṣṇatāmaṅgasya paridāhaṁ lōmaharṣaṁ ca dr̥ṣṭvā svēdavahānyasya srōtāṁsi praduṣṭānīti vidyāt||8||

tatra prANavahAnAM srotasAM hRudayaM mUlaM mahAsrotashca, praduShTAnAM tu khalveShAmidaMvisheShavij~jAnaM bhavati; tadyathA- atisRuShTamatibaddhaM kupitamalpAlpamabhIkShNaM vAsashabdashUlamucchvasantaM dRuShTvA prANavahAnyasya srotAMsi praduShTAnIti vidyAt| udakavahAnAM srotasAM tAlumUlaM kloma ca, praduShTAnAM tu khalveShAmidaM visheShavij~jAnaMbhavati; tadyathA- jihvAtAlvoShThakaNThaklomashoShaM pipAsAM cAtipravRuddhAMdRuShTvodakavahAnyasya srotAMsi praduShTAnIti vidyAt| annavahAnAM srotasAmAmAshayo mUlaM vAmaM ca pArshvaM, praduShTAnAM tu khalveShAmidaMvisheShavij~jAnaM bhavati; tadyathA- anannAbhilaShaNamarocakavipAkau chardiM cadRuShTvA~annavahAnyasya srotAMsi praduShTAnIti vidyAt| rasavahAnAM srotasAM hRudayaM mUlaM dasha ca dhamanyaH| shoNitavahAnAM srotasAM yakRunmUlaM plIhA ca| mAMsavahAnAM ca srotasAM snAyurmUlaM tvak ca| medovahAnAM srotasAM vRukkau [1] mUlaM vapAvahanaM ca| asthivahAnAM srotasAM medo mUlaM jaghanaM ca| majjavahAnAM srotasAmasthIni mUlaM sandhayashca| shukravahAnAM srotasAM vRuShaNau mUlaM shephashca| praduShTAnAM tu khalveShAM rasAdivahasrotasAM vij~jAnAnyuktAni vividhAshitapItIye; yAnyeva hidhAtUnAM pradoShavij~jAnAni tAnyeva yathAsvaM praduShTAnAM dhAtusrotasAm| mUtravahAnAM srotasAM bastirmUlaM va~gkShaNau [2] ca, praduShTAnAM tu khalveShAmidaMvisheShavij~jAnaM bhavati; tadyathA- atisRuShTamatibaddhaM prakupitamalpAlpamabhIkShNaM vAbahalaM sashUlaM mUtrayantaM dRuShTvA mUtravahAnyasya srotAMsi praduShTAnIti vidyAt| purIShavahAnAM srotasAM pakvAshayo mUlaM sthUlagudaM [3] ca, praduShTAnAM tu khalveShAmidaMvisheShavij~jAnaM bhavati; tadyathA- kRucchreNAlpAlpaM sashabdashUlamatidravamatigrathitamatibahucopavishantaM dRuShTvA purIShavahAnyasya srotAMsi praduShTAnIti vidyAt| svedavahAnAM srotasAM medo mUlaM lomakUpAshca, praduShTAnAM tu khalveShAmidaMvisheShavij~jAnaM bhavati; tadyathA- asvedanamatisvedanaM pAruShyamatishlakShNatAma~ggasyaparidAhaM lomaharShaM ca dRuShTvA svedavahAnyasya srotAMsi praduShTAnIti vidyAt||8||

For pranavaha srotas, the origin is the hridaya as well as the mahasrotas, The symptoms appearing when they are afflicted include too long, too short, aggravated, shallow or frequent breaths with sound and pain. This indicates the affliction of pranavaha srotas.

For udakavaha srotas, the origin is talu and kloma i.e. throat and the palate. The symptoms of an afflicted udakavaha srotas include dryness of tongue, palate, lips, throat and kloma (oropharynx) and excessive thirst. By observing these symptoms, one should know that the udakavaha srotas is affected.

Annavaha srotamsi have their origin in stomach and the left side of the trunk. The symptoms of their afflictions include lack of appetite, anorexia, indigestion and vomiting.

The rasavaha srotamsi have their origin in hridaya i.e. heart and dashadhamanis i.e. ten major arterial trunks. The raktavaha srotamsi have their origin in liver and spleen. Mamsavaha srotamsi have their root in ligaments and the skin. Medovaha srotas has its root in the vrikka i.e. kidney and omentum. Asthivaha srotamsi arise from medas i.e. fat and buttocks. Majjavaha srotas has its origin in bones and joints while the shukravaha srotas has its roots in testicles and penis. As regards their morbidities, the same has been described in the chapter on various foods and drinks. The symptoms of the affected srotamsi carrying dhatus are the same as those of the respective dhatus.

The mutravaha srotas i.e. the channels carrying urine originate from basti and vankshana (pelvic region including kidneys and the urinary bladder). The symptoms of their affliction include excessive excretion, excessive obstruction or suppression of urine, vitiated, diminished or frequent, thick urine with pain.

Purishvaha srotas, the channels carrying feces, have their origin in colon and anorectal region. Symptoms of their morbidity include difficulty in evacuating bowels, scanty stools, passage with sound and pain, loose motions, or irritable/irregular bowels.

Swedavaha srotamsi carrying the sweat has their root in the adipose tissue and hair follicles. The symptoms of their affliction are loss of perspiration, excessive perspiration, coarseness, excessive smoothness, excessive burning sensation and horripilation. (8)

Synonyms of srotasa

स्रोतांसि, सिराः, धमन्यः,रसायन्यः, रसवाहिन्यः, नाड्यः, पन्थानः,मार्गाः, शरीरच्छिद्राणि, संवृतासंवृतानि, स्थानानि, आशयाः, निकेताश्चेति शरीरधात्ववकाशानां लक्ष्यालक्ष्याणां नामानि भवन्ति| तेषां प्रकोपात् स्थानस्थाश्चैव मार्गगाश्च शरीरधातवःप्रकोपमापद्यन्ते, इतरेषां प्रकोपादितराणि च| स्रोतांसि स्रोतांस्येव, धातवश्च धातूनेव प्रदूषयन्ति प्रदुष्टाः| तेषां सर्वेषामेव वातपित्तश्लेष्माणः प्रदुष्टा दूषयितारो भवन्ति, दोषस्वभावादिति||९||

srōtāṁsi,sirāḥ, dhamanyaḥ, rasāyanyaḥ,rasavāhinyaḥ, nāḍyaḥ, panthānaḥ, mārgāḥ, śarīracchidrāṇi,saṁvr̥tāsaṁvr̥tāni,sthānāni, āśayāḥ, nikētāścēti śarīradhātvavakāśānāṁ lakṣyālakṣyāṇāṁ nāmāni bhavanti| tēṣāṁ prakōpāt sthānasthāścaiva mārgagāśca śarīradhātavaḥ prakōpamāpadyantē, itarēṣāṁ prakōpāditarāṇica| srōtāṁsi srōtāṁsyēva, dhātavaśca dhātūnēva pradūṣayanti praduṣṭāḥ| tēṣāṁ sarvēṣāmēva vātapittaślēṣmāṇaḥ praduṣṭā dūṣayitārō bhavanti, dōṣasvabhāvāditi||9||

srotAMsi, sirAH, dhamanyaH, rasAyanyaH, rasavAhinyaH, nADyaH, panthAnaH, mArgAH, sharIracchidrANi,saMvRutAsaMvRutAni, sthAnAni, AshayAH, niketAshceti sharIradhAtvavakAshAnAM lakShyAlakShyANAMnAmAni bhavanti| teShAM prakopAt sthAnasthAshcaiva mArgagAshca sharIradhAtavaH prakopamApadyante, itareShAMprakopAditarANi ca| srotAMsi srotAMsyeva, dhAtavashca dhAtUneva pradUShayanti praduShTAH| teShAM sarveShAmeva vAtapittashleShmANaH praduShTA dUShayitAro bhavanti, doShasvabhAvAditi||9||

Srotas, sira, dhamani, rasayani, rasavahini, nadi, pantha, marga, sharirachhidra, samritasavritta, sthana, ashaya and niketa are the names of visible and invisible spaces within the sharira dhatus (body tissues). Due to morbidity of these channels related to sharira dhatus, any passage that is undergoing transformation or is in a fully transformed state of respective sharira dhatu also gets affected. Likewise, morbidity of other srotamsi affects the respective contents. The srotamsi affect related srotas and so do the dhatus. Because of their nature, vitiated vata-pitta-kapha tend to infect all that they come in contact with. [9]

Causes of vitiation of srotasa

भवन्ति चात्र- क्षयात् सन्धारणाद्रौक्ष्याद्व्यायामात् क्षुधितस्य च| प्राणवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति स्रोतांस्यन्यैश्च दारुणैः||१०||

औष्ण्यादामाद्भयात् पानादतिशुष्कान्नसेवनात्| अम्बुवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति तृष्णायाश्चातिपीडनात्||११||

अतिमात्रस्य चाकाले चाहितस्य च भोजनात्| अन्नवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति वैगुण्यात् पावकस्य च||१२||

गुरुशीतमतिस्निग्धमतिमात्रं समश्नताम्| रसवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति चिन्त्यानां चातिचिन्तनात्||१३||

विदाहीन्यन्नपानानि स्निग्धोष्णानि द्रवाणि च| रक्तवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति भजतां चातपानलौ||१४||

अभिष्यन्दीनि भोज्यानि स्थूलानि च गुरूणि च| मांसवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति भुक्त्वा च स्वपतां दिवा||१५||

अव्यायामाद्दिवास्वप्नान्मेद्यानां चातिभक्षणात्| मेदोवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति वारुण्याश्चातिसेवनात्||१६||

व्यायामादतिसङ्क्षोभादस्थ्नामतिविघट्टनात्| अस्थिवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति वातलानां च सेवनात्||१७||

उत्पेषादत्यभिष्यन्दादभिघातात् प्रपीडनात्| मज्जवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति विरुद्धानां च सेवनात्||१८||

अकालयोनिगमनान्निग्रहादतिमैथुनात्| शुक्रवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति शस्त्रक्षाराग्निभिस्तथा||१९||

मूत्रितोदकभक्ष्यस्त्रीसेवनान्मूत्रनिग्रहात्| मूत्रवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति क्षीणस्याभिक्षतस्य च||२०||

सन्धारणादत्यशनादजीर्णाध्यशनात्तथा| वर्चोवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति दुर्बलाग्नेः कृशस्य च||२१||

व्यायामादतिसन्तापाच्छीतोष्णाक्रमसेवनात् | स्वेदवाहीनि दुष्यन्ति क्रोधशोकभयैस्तथा||२२||

bhavanti cātra-

kṣayāt sandhāraṇādraukṣyādvyāyāmāt kṣudhitasya ca| prāṇavāhīni duṣyanti srōtāṁsyanyaiśca dāruṇaiḥ||10||

auṣṇyādāmādbhayāt pānādatiśuṣkānnasēvanāt| ambuvāhīni duṣyanti tr̥ṣṇāyāścātipīḍanāt||11||

atimātrasya cākālē cāhitasya ca bhōjanāt| annavāhīni duṣyanti vaiguṇyāt pāvakasya ca||12||

guruśītamatisnigdhamatimātraṁ samaśnatām| rasavāhīni duṣyanti cintyānāṁ cāticintanāt||13||

vidāhīnyannapānāni snigdhōṣṇāni dravāṇi ca| raktavāhīni duṣyanti bhajatāṁ cātapānalau||14||

abhiṣyandīni bhōjyāni sthūlāni ca gurūṇi ca| māṁsavāhīni duṣyanti bhuktvā ca svapatāṁ divā||15||

avyāyāmāddivāsvapnānmēdyānāṁ cātibhakṣaṇāt| mēdōvāhīni duṣyanti vāruṇyāścātisēvanāt||16||

vyāyāmādatisaṅkṣōbhādasthnāmativighaṭṭanāt| asthivāhīni duṣyanti vātalānāṁ ca sēvanāt||17||

utpēṣādatyabhiṣyandādabhighātāt prapīḍanāt| majjavāhīni duṣyanti viruddhānāṁ ca sēvanāt||18||

akālayōnigamanānnigrahādatimaithunāt| śukravāhīni duṣyanti śastrakṣārāgnibhistathā||19||

mūtritōdakabhakṣyastrīsēvanānmūtranigrahāt| mūtravāhīni duṣyanti kṣīṇasyābhikṣatasya ca||20||

sandhāraṇādatyaśanādajīrṇādhyaśanāttathā| varcōvāhīni duṣyanti durbalāgnēḥ kr̥śasya ca||21||

vyāyāmādatisantāpācchītōṣṇākramasēvanāt svēdavāhīni duṣyanti krōdhaśōkabhayaistathā||22||

bhavanti cAtra-

kShayAt sandhAraNAdraukShyAdvyAyAmAt kShudhitasya ca| prANavAhIni duShyanti srotAMsyanyaishca dAruNaiH||10||

auShNyAdAmAdbhayAt pAnAdatishuShkAnnasevanAt| ambuvAhIni duShyanti tRuShNAyAshcAtipIDanAt||11||

atimAtrasya cAkAle cAhitasya ca bhojanAt| annavAhIni duShyanti vaiguNyAt pAvakasya ca||12||

gurushItamatisnigdhamatimAtraM samashnatAm| rasavAhIni duShyanti cintyAnAM cAticintanAt||13||

vidAhInyannapAnAni snigdhoShNAni dravANi ca| raktavAhIni duShyanti bhajatAM cAtapAnalau||14||

abhiShyandIni bhojyAni sthUlAni ca gurUNi ca| mAMsavAhIni duShyanti bhuktvA ca svapatAM divA||15||

avyAyAmAddivAsvapnAnmedyAnAM cAtibhakShaNAt| medovAhIni duShyanti vAruNyAshcAtisevanAt||16||

vyAyAmAdatisa~gkShobhAdasthnAmativighaTTanAt| asthivAhIni duShyanti vAtalAnAM ca sevanAt||17||

utpeShAdatyabhiShyandAdabhighAtAt prapIDanAt| majjavAhIni duShyanti viruddhAnAM ca sevanAt||18||

akAlayonigamanAnnigrahAdatimaithunAt| shukravAhIni duShyanti shastrakShArAgnibhistathA||19||

mUtritodakabhakShyastrIsevanAnmUtranigrahAt| mUtravAhIni duShyanti kShINasyAbhikShatasya [1] ca||20||

sandhAraNAdatyashanAdajIrNAdhyashanAttathA| varcovAhIni duShyanti durbalAgneH kRushasya ca||21||

vyAyAmAdatisantApAcchItoShNAkramasevanAt [2] | svedavAhIni duShyanti krodhashokabhayaistathA||22||

So, the verses:

Pranavaha srotamsi are affected due to wasting, suppression of urges, roughness, physical exercise during hunger and affection of other srotas. The udakavah srotamsi are affected due to heat, ama, fear, excessive alcohol drinking, consumption of dry food and suppression of thirst. Annavaha srotamsi are affected due to overeating, untimely eating, unwholesome food and derangement of digestive fire. Those who eat food that is heavy, cold, over-unctuous and in excessive quantity and perform excessive mental work suffer from disorders of rasavaha srotas. Those who consume food and drinks which may cause a sensation of burning and those who consume unctuous, hot and liquid food and get exposed to Sun or fire, are afflicted by disorders of raktavaha srotas. Those who consume lot of channel-blocking, bulky and heavy food and also sleep during the day suffer from disorders of mamsavaha srotas. The medovaha srotas is afflicted due to lack of physical exercise, sleeping during the day, and excessive intake of fatty food and alcoholic drinks. The asthivaha srotamsi are affected due to excessive physical exercise, excessive jerks to the body, excessive rubbing of bones and constant use of vata-aggravating material. The majjavaha srotamsi are afflicted due to crushing, excessive discharge, trauma, compression and repeated consumption of incompatible foods. Shukravaha srotamsi are affected due to sexual acts at inappropriate hours and through non-vaginal tract, suppression of discharge of semen, excessive coitus and faulty surgical procedures, or if kshara and agni karma procedures are administered for cauterization. The mutravaha srotamsi are affected due to consumption of water, food and coitus during the urge for micturition, suppression of the urge of micturition specially in persons who are suffering from wasting and trauma. Purishvaha srotas are afflicted due to holding up the urge for bowel movement, over eating, eating during indigestion and when the previous meal is still not digested especially in persons with poor digestion and who are emaciated. Swedavaha srotas are affected due to excessive physical exercise, excessive heat, inappropriate use of hot and cold substances, or emotions such as anxiety, anger, grief and fear. [10-22]

General etiology of vitiation

आहारश्च विहारश्च यः स्याद्दोषगुणैः समः| धातुभिर्विगुणश्चापि स्रोतसां स प्रदूषकः||२३||

āhāraśca vihāraśca yaḥ syāddōṣaguṇaiḥ samaḥ| dhātubhirviguṇaścāpi srōtasāṁ sa pradūṣakaḥ||23||

AhArashca vihArashca yaH syAddoShaguNaiH samaH| dhAtubhirviguNashcApi srotasAM sa pradUShakaH||23||

Diet and lifestyle that are suitable to doshas (similar in properties of dosha) and unsuitable to dhatus (dis-similar in properties of dhatu)in their properties cause morbidity in srotamsi. [23]

Four features of srotas morbidity

अतिप्रवृत्तिः सङ्गो वा सिराणां ग्रन्थयोऽपि वा| विमार्गगमनं चापि स्रोतसां दुष्टिलक्षणम्||२४||

atipravr̥ttiḥ saṅgō vā sirāṇāṁ granthayō'pi vā| vimārgagamanaṁ cāpi srōtasāṁ duṣṭilakṣaṇam||24||

atipravRuttiH sa~ggo vA sirANAM granthayo~api vA| vimArgagamanaM cApi srotasAM duShTilakShaNam||24||

Increased flow or obstruction or formation of nodules and flow of bodily fluids or contents in the wrong or opposite direction are the features of morbidity of srotas. [24]

Characteristics of srotas

स्वधातुसमवर्णानि वृत्तस्थूलान्यणूनि च| स्रोतांसि दीर्घाण्याकृत्या प्रतानसदृशानि च||२५||

svadhātusamavarṇāni vr̥ttasthūlānyaṇūni ca| srōtāṁsi dīrghāṇyākr̥tyā pratānasadr̥śāni ca ||25||

svadhAtusamavarNAni vRuttasthUlAnyaNUni ca| srotAMsi dIrghANyAkRutyA pratAnasadRushAni ca||25||

Srotamsi have color similar to those of the dhatus they carry and are tubular, large or small, long and tendril-like in shape. [25]

General principles of management

प्राणोदकान्नवाहानां दुष्टानां श्वासिकी क्रिया| कार्या तृष्णोपशमनी तथैवामप्रदोषिकी||२६||

विविधाशितपीतीये रसादीनां यदौषधम्| रसादिस्रोतसां कुर्यात्तद्यथास्वमुपक्रमम्||२७||

मूत्रविट्स्वेदवाहानां चिकित्सा मौत्रकृच्छ्रिकी| तथाऽतिसारिकी कार्या तथा ज्वरचिकित्सिकी||२८||

prāṇōdakānnavāhānāṁ duṣṭānāṁ śvāsikī kriyā| kāryā tr̥ṣṇōpaśamanī tathaivāmapradōṣikī||26||

vividhāśitapītīyē rasādīnāṁ yadauṣadham| rasādisrōtasāṁ kuryāttadyathāsvamupakramam||27||

mūtraviṭsvēdavāhānāṁ cikitsā mautrakr̥cchrikī| tathā'tisārikī kāryā tathā jvaracikitsikī||28||

prANodakAnnavAhAnAM duShTAnAM shvAsikI kriyA| kAryA tRuShNopashamanI tathaivAmapradoShikI||26||

vividhAshitapItIye rasAdInAM yadauShadham| rasAdisrotasAM kuryAttadyathAsvamupakramam||27||

mUtraviTsvedavAhAnAM cikitsA mautrakRucchrikI| tathA~atisArikI kAryA tathA jvaracikitsikI||28||

The treatment of vitiated pranavaha, udakavaha and annavaha srotas are the same as those described for treating shwasa, trishna and amapradosha. In disorders of rasavaha srota, the treatment described in chapter on various foods and drinks(28th of Sutra Sthana) should be used in respective diseases. In the morbidities of mutravaha srotas, purishavaha srotas and swedavaha srotas, the treatment indicated should be the same as mentioned for dysuria, diarrhea and fever respectively. [26-28]

Summary

तत्र श्लोकाः-

त्रयोदशानां मूलानि स्रोतसां दुष्टिलक्षणम्| सामान्यं नामपर्यायाः कोपनानि परस्परम्||२९||

दोषहेतुः पृथक्त्वेन भेषजोद्देश एव च| स्रोतोविमाने निर्दिष्टस्तथा चादौ विनिश्चयः||३०||

केवलं विदितं यस्य शरीरं सर्वभावतः| शारीराः सर्वरोगाश्च स कर्मसु न मुह्यति||३१||

tatra ślōkāḥ-

trayōdaśānāṁ mūlāni srōtasāṁ duṣṭilakṣaṇam| sāmānyaṁ nāmaparyāyāḥ kōpanāni parasparam||29||

dōṣahētuḥ pr̥thaktvēna bhēṣajōddēśa ēva ca| srōtōvimānē nirdiṣṭastathā cādau viniścayaḥ||30||

kēvalaṁ viditaṁ yasya śarīraṁ sarvabhāvataḥ| śārīrāḥ sarvarōgāśca sa karmasu na muhyati||31||

tatra shlokAH- trayodashAnAM mUlAni srotasAM duShTilakShaNam| sAmAnyaM nAmaparyAyAH kopanAni parasparam||29||

doShahetuH pRuthaktvena bheShajoddesha eva ca| srotovimAne nirdiShTastathA cAdau vinishcayaH||30||

kevalaM viditaM yasya sharIraM sarvabhAvataH| shArIrAH sarvarogAshca sa karmasu na muhyati||31||

To sum up the verses thus far, roots of the thirteen srotamsi, general symptoms of their vitiation, synonyms, morbidity of srotas and dhatus, etiological factors of the various afflictions and their treatment, and basic descriptions of the srotas are the subject of study in this chapter on srotas. One who knows the body from all aspects and also all the bodily diseases does not get confused when treating it. [29-31]

इत्यग्निवेशकृते तन्त्रे चरकप्रतिसंस्कृते विमानस्थाने स्रोतोविमानं नाम पञ्चमोऽध्यायः||५||

ityagnivēśakr̥tē tantrē carakapratisaṁskr̥tē vimānasthānē srōtōvimānaṁ nāma pañcamō'dhyāyaḥ||5||

Thus ends the fifth chapter - on the specific features of the srotas - of the Vimana Sthana in the treatise composed by Agnivesha and redacted by Charaka. [5]

Tattva Vimarsha

  • Srotasa are the basic biological transport and transformation systems in the body.
  • Doshas can pervade in these biological systems and also affect them due to their own causes.
  • The roots of srotasa shall be considered while treating a disorder pertaining to specific srotasa.
  • Diet and lifestyle that are similar in properties of dosha and dissimilar in properties of dhatu cause morbidity in srotas.

Therefore the causative factors of a disease are similar in properties of dosha and dissimilar in properties of dhatu. The management shall be designed accordingly.

  • Increased flow or obstruction or formation of nodules and flow of bodily fluids or contents in the wrong or opposite direction are the features of morbidity of srotas. Diagnosis of these shall be done first before designing management protocol.

Vidhi Vimarsha

The chapter on Sroto Vimana deals with the subject of inner transport systems of the living body in a unique, holistic style and presenting almost a new way of understanding human biology. The living human body is comprised of innumerable micro and macro channels with specific functions. The tangible and intangible components of this srota system are responsible for transport and circulation of all kinds of biological fluids, energies and impulses. Charaka’s statement that our body is equipped with as many micro-channels as is the number of life events is an interesting way of looking at the circulatory system within the body. The subtle dimension of srotovijnana of Ayurveda seems to encompass all the minute structural and non-structural pathways and receptors which allow complex body functions. While deliberating on the micro-structural dimensions of srotovijnana,Ayurveda does not forget to reflect that it is an applied bioscience that needs to be practiced by clinicians who may need to clinically examine the roots of these channels at a gross level. Hence, after initial reflection on the quantized microstructures, Charaka presents a very practical scheme of 13 gross channels or physiological systems for routine pathological considerations and for clinical examinations in a patient. Following two aspects need to be kept in mind to understand the Ayurvedic concept of srotvijana:

  • The concept of cellular and molecular srotamsi is aptly reflected in the following verse:

Srotomayam hi shariram ; Yawantah purushe murtimanto Bhawavisheshah tawant ewasmin Srotasam prakara visheshah.

(The body is a network of srotasa. There are as many types of srotas as there are corporeal entities.)

Ayurveda in general and the Charaka Samhita in particular presents its unique approach to the molecular physiology of the living body encompassing the entire range of micro transport tissues or channels, with the help of microstructure and nonstructural physiological mechanisms describing the same under Sroto Vimana. The bio receptors, the micro transport accelerator mechanisms and all kinds of designed micro barriers such as blood brain barrier etc. fall in the realm of micro srotas. This could be easily compared with the contemporary information prevalent today in molecular biology.

  • On the other hand, Charaka describes 13 gross channels from the applied point of view of pathology, clinical medicine and diagnostics which is routinely used in examination of a patient in clinical settings. It seems Charaka considers physiology as subtle and pathology as gross. As also mentioned in the introduction of this chapter, the described set of 13 channels are designed for following physio-pathological attributes, namely, three channels for intake of biologically needed material from outside such as air, water, food through three channels called pranavaha, udakavaha, and annavaha. Besides, there are three other gross excretory functions associated with evacuation of bowels, urine and sweat through the three respective channels/systems called purishavaha, mutravaha, and swedavaha.

Finally, there are the seven sustaining channels, one each for the seven dhatus or primordial tissues of the body namely rasavaha, raktavaha, mamsavaha, medovaha, asthivaha, majjavaha and shukravaha for perfusion of the dhatus viz. rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja, and shukra respectively. Each of these channels has been described to possess a pair of base organs called mula which forms the origin of the respective srotas.

These channels, both minute and gross, are vulnerable to afflictions from a set of srotas disorders viz. atipravritti or hyperactivity, sanga or hypoactivity, siragranthi or obstructive swelling, and vimarga gamana or diversion of function. Such srota dushti or vitiation are caused by a range of factors including ama, unhealthy particles ingested and inhaled from the atmosphere, and wear and tear in body due to routine physiology and stress. Ayurveda advocates protecting the channels from being blocked or vitiated by means of leading a healthy life style, eating healthy food as well as by practicing periodical samshodhana karma.

Future Scope for Research

  1. This chapter deals with the micro and macro inner transport system of the living body. Considering the high priority given to srotas system in Ayurveda it appears necessary to scientifically probe into this important traditional concept. It may be useful to undertake comparative studies with the contemporary knowledge about the membrane biology and systemic endothelial system. Srotovijnana of Ayurveda is a rich area of molecular biology research.
  2. Srotavarodha (obstruction of channels) is the basic cause of pathology in Ayurveda. There is a need of clinical and molecular study of the nature of srotavarodha occurring in different clinical situations with a view to develop preventive and therapeutic modalities on the lines of samshodhana chikitsa of Ayurveda beyond traditional Panchakarma therapy.
  3. Srotas- wise classification of different diseases with a view to develop systemic medicine in Ayurveda which may facilitate the application of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Glossary

  1. Srotas – The word srotas means a channel or a pathway with functions like secreting, oozing, leaking, and circulating. It refers to the macro and micro inner transport system of the body and pathways concerned with the function of accepting, rejecting as well as carrying the vital external supports for life from outside viz. prana (air), anna (food) and udak (water) which are essential to sustain life besides ejecting the excreta viz. mala (feces), mutra (urine) and sweda (sweat) in order to keep the internal environment clean. There are special systemic srotamsi for carrying/circulating the nutrients and bio-factors through each of the seven dhatus. Besides these gross channels there are innumerable micro channels, pathways and receptors specific for transmission and transportation of different bio-factors/bio-events, tangible or intangible in the body. The srotas system forms the basic matrix of all physiological, pathological as well as the pharmacological functions of the living body.
  2. Vimana – Methodology of assessment/measurement/identification of biological/clinical events of the living body.
  3. Murtimantah – Material factors
  4. Pranavaha Srotas – Respiratory system
  5. Udakavaha Srotas – Hydration/dehydration system.
  6. Annavaha Srotas - Digestive system
  7. Rasavaha Srotas - Circulatory system.
  8. Raktavaha Srotasa – Haemopoetic system
  9. Mamsavaha Srotas – Muscular system
  10. Medovaha Srotas - Adipose system
  11. Asthivaha Srotas – Bone/Skeletal system
  12. Majjavaha Srotas – Bone marrow
  13. Shukravaha Srotas – Reproductive system
  14. Mutravaha Srotas – Urinary system
  15. Swedavaha Srotas – Perspiratory system
  16. Purishavaha Srotas – Excretory GIT System
  17. Talu – Palate
  18. Kloma – Oropharynx ,the site where the hydration/dehydration manifest the most
  19. Vama parswa – Left flank
  20. Amashaya – Stomach
  21. Hridaya – Heart/Brain
  22. Dhamani –Arteries
  23. Yakrit – Liver
  24. Pleeha – Spleen
  25. Basti – Urinary Bladder
  26. Vanksana – Pelvic zone including kidneys & urinary bladder
  27. Pakwashaya – Colon and Rectum
  28. Sthula Guda – Rectum and Anus
  29. Lomakupa – Hair follicles
  30. Sira – Veins
  31. Dhamani – Arteries-
  32. Rasayani – Micro channels carrying the plasma
  33. Nadi – Any tubular structure of the body. Also used to denote nerves
  34. Ashaya – visceral space or reservoir
  35. Ati-Pravritti – Hyperactivity
  36. Sanga – Hypo-activity- obstruction
  37. Siragranthi – Obstructive Swelling
  38. Vimarga-Gamana – Diversion of flow or circulation

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