Vata doṣha is responsible for movement and cognition. [Code:SAT-B.384] It is one of the three sharira doṣha with a predominance of vayu and akasha mahabhuta. This vital biological force performs functions like all sensory perceptions, motor activities, and higher mental activities. [Code:SAT-B.384]
Rigveda stated that when the three dhatu- vata, pitta and kapha remain in a normal state and undisturbed, the body is at ease, and there is no disease.[R.V.1.3.6] Dosha, dhatu and mala are fundamental factors of the living body. [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/3] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 11/1]. Life continues as long as vata is present in the human body. [Bhe. Sa. Sutra Sthana 16/2] Along with being mobile, the vata may also keep the pitta, kapha, dhatu, and mala functioning. This demonstrates that vata can affect other dosha and the body's components.[Sha. Sa. Pratham Khanda 5/25] Pitta, kapha, dhatu (body elements), and mala (waste materials) are dependent on vata dosha for their activities. The functions of vata are also observed in nature in the form of movements of trees, clouds, and other objects. The movement in body is a sign that life is present. Vata conducts all these gross and subtle physical movements. This article describes the details of vata dosha.
|Authors||Bhojani M. K. 1, Tanwar Ankur Kumar 1|
1 Department of Sharir Kriya, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India
2 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.3Department ofKayachikitsa, G.J.Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat, India
|Publisher||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India|
|Date of publication:||October 14, 2022|
Etymology and derivation
The god of wind (maruta), movement (chala), wind (anila), present everywhere (samirana), pure (pavana), gives sensation of touch(sparshana), full of strength (mahabala), life(jivana), sadagati, help in perception of smell (gandhavaha), self-existent (swayambhu) [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/5], air, wind, blown, desired for, wished for, solicited, and god of wind.
Vata is categorized as ‘dosha’ primarily because of its capability to vitiate other body components. It is also mentioned as ‘dhatu’ because in normal state, it sustains or maintains the body. [Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 21/4]It is also called as ‘mala’ as it can make the body unwholesome and produced as waste material during the process of digestion “katu avasthapaka”(last stage of digestion). [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 15/11] Vata is the somatic factor having two prime functions –movements (cheshta) and process of learning or knowledge (jnana). Vata is swayambhu (self-existent) and it is the root cause of production, preservation, and destruction.[Su.Sa.Nidana Sthana 1/7] Vata is the controller of body. Vata leads the functions of all dosha, and its responsible for many diseases.[Su. Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/8]
Sites of vata
Dosha pervades every part of the body. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/9] Acharya stated the general location of vata, pitta and kapha are the lower, middle, and upper portions of the body, respectively marked by the heart (hridaya) and umbilicus (nabhi). [A.S. Sutra Sthana 1/4] Vata is predominately present in body parts below umbilicus (adho nabhi). [K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/10] The specific sites of dosha are locations where their functions are primarily observable. The specific seats of vata are:
- Urinary bladder (basti) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8] [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8]
- Large intestine+ rectum+ anal region (purishadhana) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8]
- Pelvic region (kati or shroni) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8][Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/6][Dalhan on Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/6] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 12/1]
- Thighs (sakthini) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8][A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 12/1]
- Both legs (padam) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8]
- All bones (asthini) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/8][A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 12/1][K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/10]
- Anal region (guda) [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/6] [Dallhan on Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/6][Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/9]
- Ears(shrotra) [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 12/1]
- Skin(sparshnendriya) [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 12/1]
- Bone marrow(majja)[K.S. Sutra Sthana 27/10]
The characteristics of vata are:
- Dryness (ruksha) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58] [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/7][A.Hr. Sutra Sthana1/11]
- Coldness (shita) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58] [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/7] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/11]
- Lightness (laghu) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58] [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/7][A.Hr. Sutra Sthana1/11]
- Micro or subtle nature (sukshma) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana1/11]
- Mobility (chala) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58] [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana1/11]
- Clearness(vishada) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58]
- Roughness(khara) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/58] [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/7][A.Hr. Sutra Sthana1/11]
- Hardness(daruna) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 12/4]
- Bioenhancer (yogavahi) [Cha.Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 3/39]
- Formlessness (amurtatva) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/13]
- Frequent (bahu) [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/98]
- Swift (sheeghra) [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/98]
- Coarseness or harshness (parusha) [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/98]
- Assessed through its functions (avyakto vyakta karma)[Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/7]
- Movements in all direction(tiryak) [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/8]
- Having predominately raja quality (rajobahula) [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/8]
- Unpredictable potential(achintyavirya) [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/8]
- Quick(ashukari) [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/9]
These attributes should be considered while taking diet and lifestyle management of health. If the food and lifestyle habits having similar characteristics are followed in excess, a person may experience vata dosha vitiation leading to vata disorders.
Functions of vata
Vata dosha governs all bodily functions. The ability to provide other bodily entities, such as other dosha, dhatu, and mala, mobility belongs to the vata dosha in the human body. Vata is responsible for all motion, so this dosha is also known as life in living beings. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 17/116] The principal functions of vata dosha are as below: [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 18/49] [Su.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/10][Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 7/8][Sh. Sa. Pratham Khand 5/21] :
- To sustain the body
- Maintaining and controlling all the/ human machinery or body (tantra yantra dhara)
- The originator of all kinds of movements (parvartaka cheshtanam uccha vachanam)
- Regulates and guides the mind (niyanta praneta cha manasa)
- Stimulates all sensory and motor organs (sarvendriyanam udyojakah)
- Directs senses to their respective objects (sarvendriyarthanam abhivodha)
- Responsible for proper building of the tissues and organs of the body (sarvasharira dhatu vyuhakar)
- Connects the different tissues (sandhanakar sharirasya)
- Induces speech (pravatakovacha)
- Causative factor of sound and touch sensation (prakriti sparshshabdayo shrotra sparshayormulam)
- Cause of pleasures and determination (harsha utsahayonih)
- Stimulates digestive power(samirano-agneh)
- Dries up the excessive moisture (dosha samshoshanah)
- Excretion of waste products (kshepta bahimalanam or samo moksha gatimata)
- Formation of every kind of channel, fine and coarse (sthulanu srotasam bhetta)
- Regulates the formation of the different structures of the fetus and provides specific size/shape (karta garbhakritinam)
- Sustain the life(ayusho anuvritti pratyaya bhutah)
- Control the segmentation or division of cells (vibhagakaranan matah)[Sha.Sa.Pratham Khand 5/21] 
- Inhalation and exhalation (ucchavasa-nishwasa)
- Proper movements of dhatu (dhatugati sama)
Five particular functions of vata based on its types are as below:[Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/4]
- Body movements and pulsation(praspandan)
- Retain the perception of senses (udwahana)
- Ingestion of food(purana)
- Differentiation of tissues and waste products(viveka)
- Retention of waste products till evacuation(dharana)
The classification of vataisbased on different functions and locations in human body. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 12/8]
Prana, Udana, Samana, Vyana, and Apana are the five classifications of vatadosha. Five sets of functions by which vatadosha is divided into five types are described with [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/4] the diseasespecificity of five types of vata.[Su.Sa. NidanaSthana 1/13-19]The location and function of five types of vatadosha based on different Ayurvedic texts are as given in table 1. [Cha.Sa. ChikitsaSthana28/5-11]
|S.No.||Type of Vata||Location||Function||Disease [Su.Sa. NidanaSthana 1/13-19]|
|Spitting out (shthivana)
Ingestion of food (aharadi)
Provides strength, complexion (Urjabalavarnadikarma)
|Disease occurring above the neck (Urdhvajatrugata)|
|03.||Samana||Near digestive system (anataragne parshva)||It gives strength to the digestive system||Abdominal lump (gulma),|
less digestive capability (agnisada),
|04.||Vyana||Whole body (dehavyapnoti)||Movements (gati)
Contraction and relaxation (prasarana)
Upward and downward movements (aakeshpa)
Opening and closure of eyelids (nimesha)
|disease located to the whole body (sarvadeha)|
Inguinal region (vankshana)
|Ejection of semen, removal of urine and faces (Shukra mutra shakrit kriya),
menstruation and delivery of fetus (srijtya artava garbha)
|Diseases related to the urinary bladder and anal region (bastigudaashraya)|
Vata dominant constitution (prakriti)
The characteristics of vata dominant constitution individuals based on properties of vata dosha. [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/99]The person having vata dosha in predominance have the following characteristics:
- Lean body appearance
- Dryness in voice, skin and hair
- Less and disturbed sleep
- Quick in action, walk, and talkative
- Unsteady movements of legs and hands
- Prominent movements of joint with voice
- Cracks in heel and skin
- Intolerance to cold
- Prominent tendons, veins and joints.
Loka purusha samanya
Factors responsible for abnormal states of vata
Certain factors cause excess or decline of vata in the human body. These factors are natural or unavoidable and artificial or avoidable.
These factors are the essential component of biological rhythm occurring in the external as well as internal environment of the body. This natural increase is physiological. These factors are as follows: [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/20], [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 1/8], [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana12/24-25][A.Hr. Nidana Sthana 1/14-15]
- Season (ritu): Vata undergoes accumulation in summer (grishma), gets vitiated in rainy season (varsha) and subsides to normal during autumn (sharada).
- Various stages of digestion of food: Vata gets vitiated at the end of meal digestion (jirneanne)
- Biological rhythm of day and night: Vata gets vitiated at the end of day (apraha) and night (pratyush).
- Habitat (desha): Vata usually gets vitiated in the person of arid area (jangala desha).
- Age (vaya): In old age, vata is in excess as compared to other dosha.
Apart from natural factors, there are certain factors that cause vitiation of dosha and disease. These factors are easily avoidable and used in clinical practice through the concept of samanya vishesha siddhanta. These factors are as follows: [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana21/19] [A.Hr. Nidana Sthana1/14-15]
- Diet (dravya) and particular properties of diet: Ayurveda defined three tastes (rasa) that can lead to vitiation of vata dosha. These three rasa are bitter (tikta), pungent (katu) and astringent (kashaya).These three rasa, when taken in excess, cause vata vitiation (prakopa).
- Lifestyle or activities: Suppression of natural urges(vega vidharana), night awakening (ratri jagrana), loud speech (ucchabhashana), overworking or excessive shodhana (kriya atiyoga), overthinking (chinta), excessive exercise (vyayama), excessive sexual indulgence (ati maithuna), excessive studies(ati adhyanana), swimming (plavana), and lifting of weight (bhara harana) etc.
Person having prakriti vata dosha as body constitution should avoid diet and lifestyle which vitiates vata dosha. To prevent the vata dominant diseases, diet and lifestyle opposite to attributes of vata are advised. [A.Hr. Sharira Sthana 3/85-89]
Stages of dosha
Dosha continues to exist in three states: hypofunction (kshaya), hyperfunction (vriddhi), and normal physiological state (sama). [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana17/110]Increase and reduction in dosha functioning (karma), respectively, can be used to understand dosha increase and decline in the body. Dosha, when increased, produce their respective features in excess; when decreased, cut off their functions and when in normal state, they perform their normal functions.
Hyperfunctioning of vata (vriddhi lakshana)When vata levels in the body are increasing, the body exhibits various signs and symptoms as below: [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana15/15], [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana11/5], [A.S. Sutra Sthana 19/6]:
- Emaciation (karshya)
- Blackish discoloration (kashnya)
- Fond of hot articles (ushnakamitva)
- Uncontrolled movements (kampa or gatra sphurana)
- Abdominal distension (anaha)
- Constipation (shakrut graha or gadha varcha)
- Decreased strength (bala bhransha or alpa balatvam)
- Loss of sleep (nidra bhransa or nidra nasha)
- Sensory and motor function loss (indriya bhransha)
- Delirium (pralapa)
- Dizziness (bhrama)
- Lack of self-confidence (dinata)
- Dryness of skin (twaka parushya)
- Pain in bones (asthi shula)
- Reduction in bone marrow (majja shosha)
- Flatulence (adhmana)
- Delusion (moha)
- Fear (bhaya)
- Grief or sorrow (shoka)
Hypo functioning of vata (kshaya lakshana)
When vata levels in the body are declining, the body exhibits various signs and symptoms as below:[Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana15/9] , [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana11/15-16], [A.S. Sutra Sthana19/15]
- Avoid talk (alpabhashita or alpavaka)
- Generalized weakness (angasada)
- Loss of sensation (sangya moha or mudha sangyta)
- Symptoms of increased kapha
- Less active(manda cheshta)
- Loss of happiness or lack of pleasure (apraharsha)
- Excess salivation(praseka)
- Loss of appetite (aruchi)
- Nausea (rhallasa)
The state of vata dosha can be diagnosed and assessed based on clinical features. The most presented clinical features of vata dosha are pain(shula), numbness(suptata), dryness (rukshta) rigidity (stambhana), wasting (shosha) and harshness(parusha).[Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/12]Eighty types of diseases due to an imbalance of vata dosha (vataja nanatmaja vyadhi) are listed. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/11] [table 02]:
|Cracks in nail(nakhabheda)||Diarrhea(vidbheda)||Difficulty in vision(akshibheda)||Frontal pain(lalatabheda)|
|Cracks in feet(vipadika)||Dysperistalsis(udarvarta)||Toothache(dantabheda)||Headache(shiroruka)|
|Foot pain(padashula)||Unable to walk (khanjata)||Loose teeth (dantashaithilya)||Scaling in scalp (keshabhumisphutana)|
|Foot drop(pada bhransha)||Kyphosis(kubjata)||Aphasia (mukatva)||Facial paralysis (ardita)|
|Foot numbness(pada suptata)||Dwarfism (vamanatva)||Speech disorder (vakasanga)||Monoplegia (ekangaroga)|
|Difficulty in walking (vatakhuddata)||Stiffness of sacro-iliac joint (trikagraha)||Astringent taste in mouth(kashayasyata)||Quadriplegia (sarvangaroga)|
|Stiffness in ankle(gulphagraha)||Back stiffness(prishtagraha)||Dry mouth(mukhashosha)||Hemiplegia(pakshavadha)|
|Cramps in calf (pindikodveshtana)||Lateral side Chest pain(parshvavamarda)||Tastelessness (arasagyata)||Clonic contraction(akshepaka)|
|Sciatica(gridhrasi)||Pain abdomen(udaraveshta)||Anosmia(grananasha)||Tonic contraction(dandaka)|
|Genu varum (janubheda)||Stiffness in heart(hridmoha)||Earache(karnashula)||Fainting(tama)|
|Genu valgum (januvishlesha)||Heaviness in heart(hriddrava)||Tinnitus (ashabdashravana)||Giddiness(bhrama)|
|Stiffness in thigh(urustambha)||Rubbing pain in chest(vakshauddharsa)||Difficult hearing(ucchaihsruti)||Tremors(vepathu)|
|Thigh pain (urusada)||Difficulty in thoracic cage muscle movements (vakshauparodha)||Deafness (badhirya)||Yawning(jrimbha)|
|Paraplegia (pangulya)||Stabbing pain in chest (vakshastoda)||Ptosis of eye lid(vartmastambha)||Hiccups (hikka)|
|Rectum prolapse(guda bhransha)||Wasting of arm muscles (bahushosha)||Entropion (vartmasankocha)||Depression(vishada)|
|Tenasmus (gudarti)||Neck stiffness (grivastambha)||Glaucoma (timira)||Delirium(atipralapa)|
|Scrotum pain(vrushnakshepa)||Torticollis (manyastambha)||Pain in eye(akshishula)||Dryness(rukshya)|
|Stiffness in penis(shephastambha)||Hoarseness of voice (kanthoddhvansa)||Complete Loss of vision(akshivyudasa)||Hardness(parushya)|
|Tension in groin area(vankshanaanaha)||Difficult movement of tempo-mandibular joint(hanubheda)||complete loss of eye brow(bhruvyudasa)||Dusky appearance (shyavarunaavbhasata)|
|Pelvic girdle pain(shronibheda)||Cracks in lips(oshthabheda)||Temporal pain(sankhabheda)||Insomnia(aswapana)|
Disturbance, either excess or decline, leads to disease. To manage and or prevent disease, the clinician must follow the theory of similarity and dissimilarity (samanya- vishesha siddhanta) based on rasa and food, which decline vata (shamaka) and aggravate vata(prakopa). Controlling the increase of the vata dosha requires avoiding foods and ways of living that increase it, while indulging in foods that reduce it (vata shamaka). Contrarily, the decline of vata is treated by consuming foods and leading lifestyles that stimulate it, rather than suppressing it. Three tastes(rasa) that helps in controlling the vitiated vata are – sweet(madhura), sour(amla) and salty(lavana).[Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana1/66] Medicated enema(basti) is the best intervention indicated for vitiated vata. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20/13] Oil is best therapeutic drug for the treatment of vata. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 25/40]The herbs having sweet, sour, salty, unctuous and hot qualities used in single or combination along with therapies like oleation, fomentation, asthapana and anuvasana types of enema, inhalation, diet, massage, hot shower etc are helpful in the treatment of vatika disorders.[Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana20/13]
Diagnostic and assessment tools
Vata dosha can be assessed by its functionality either normal or abnormal through subjective methods like questionnaires and objective methods. There are some objectives methods which may be used to assess the functions of vata. Currently, there are no validated and standardized tools for dosha assessment within the body. Vata vriddhi and kshaya features will be assessed through a subjective questionnaire Ayurvedic physicians assess the normalcy and abnormality through the ayurvedic principles of examination (pariksha). Some of the objective methods which may be used to assess the normal functioning of vata are:
- Examination of senses like vision test, BERA(Brain evoked response audiometry)etc.
- Examination of cranial nerves
- Examination of reflexes –superficial and deep.
- Examination of higher mental function-like memory and speech.
- Assessment of autonomic function test
- Nerve conduction velocity test
Future area of research
- Vaje R.P. (1986): Vata dosha vichara (a comparative study with nervous system), Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Savitribai Phule, Pune university. This study tried to correlate various parts of nervous system of vata types.
- Saley S.R.(1988): Classical and present day dosha provocative specially vata dosha, Tilak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Savitribai Phule Pune university.
- Mankar A.S.(2010): Study of vata sthana with the help of basti w.s.r. to janu sandhigata vata (osteoarthritis of knee joint), Dept. of sharira rachana, Tilak Maharashtra University. This experimental study revalidated the statement of acharya Charak in context of prime sthana of vata.
- Gurao R.P.(2016): Development of assessment criteria of laghu guna of vata and its applied aspect in sthaulya w s r to vidangadi churna, Dept. of Kriya Sharir, DSRRAU, Rajasthan.
Significance of arterial stiffness in Tridosha analysis:
The study assessed the large changes in arterial stiffness among Tridosha locales and quantified arterial stiffness using Nadi Tarangini, a pulse acquisition method. Significant differences were found between Tridosha locations, which can be applied to Ayurvedic interventional studies.
Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis in the assessment of dosha imbalance:
This study compared the spectral analysis of heart rate variability data with clinical assessment of dosha pathology in 42 study participants and found significant concordance. This study indicates the use and applicability of HRV in evaluating intricate dosha imbalances and other criteria, such as dhatu imbalance.
Vagus nerve serve as biomarker for vata dosha activity:
The parasympathetic vagus nerve's survival and homeostatic activities and those controlled by the five main subtypes of vata dosha were strongly connected in this discussion article. According to the paper, vagal activity is a trustworthy potential biomarker for significant vata dosha functions. 
Vata dynamics and cardiac disorders:
Vata has the distinctive quality of Vega (movements), which moves in a specific direction, so its intensities can be measured with the use of contemporary methods. This review discusses specifics of these natural urges that cause cardiovascular disorders(CVD) alone, as found in traditional Ayurvedic books, western medications, and technology that measures their intensity. Assessment of vata dynamics with modern technological tools help in prevention and management of CVD.
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 National AYUSH Morbidity and Standardized Terminologies Electronic Portal by Ministry of AYUSH Available on http://namstp.ayush.gov.in/#/Ayurveda
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- ↑ Akiguchi I. [Nerve function test--sensory nerve conduction velocity (author's transl)]. RinshoByori. 1978 Nov;26(11):909-15.
- ↑ Kumar PV, Deshpande S, Joshi A, More P, Nagendra HR. Significance of arterial stiffness in Tridosha analysis: A pilot study. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2017 Oct 1;8(4):252-6.
- ↑ Manohar PR, Sorokin O, Chacko J, Nampoothiri V. An exploratory clinical study to determine the utility of heart rate variability analysis in the assessment of dosha imbalance. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine. 2018 Apr 1;9(2):126-30.
- ↑ Sumantran VN, Nair PP. Can the vagus nerve serve as biomarker for vatadoshaactivity?. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine. 2019 Apr 1;10(2):146-51.
- ↑ Baikampady SV. Vata dynamics with special reference to cardiac disorders–a cross-disciplinary approach. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2020 Oct 1;11(4):432-9.