From Charak Samhita
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These are the physiological factors responsible for functions in normal state and pathogenesis of diseases in abnormal state. These are basic constituents of body. Their state of equilibrium is one of the important pre-requisite for health.

Sharirik Dosha Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Manasik Dosha Raja, Tama
Vata Prana, Udana, Vyana, Samana, Apana
Pitta Pachaka, Ranjaka, Sadhaka, Alochaka, Bhrajaka
Kapha Avalambaka, Kledaka, Shleshaka, Bodhaka, Tarpaka


Dosha[1]are the biological humor[2] manifesting there presence in living body by performing various activities, processes, functions and mechanics. These dosha are judged by the virtue of their respective functions assorted throughout the body. These functions are coined on the name of Dosha are due to the attributes - Guna[3] possessed by them. Every activity happening every now and then inside the body is totally governed by and is under the influence of dosha.

The three dosha theory (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) since its inception from long time ago was established keeping the functional similarity of similar components governing the ecosystem viz. Sun, Moon and Wind. Ayurveda proposes this as a "Loka-Purush Samya Siddhanta"

Etymological meaning

The literal meaning of the term Dosha states the independent capacity of body to vitiate, adulterate or contaminate any subtle to gross tissue or structure. On the other hand these dosha are also involved during the conception or fertilization period influencing the formation of new zygote. So whichever the dosha completely dominates throughout the phase of zygote formation may eventually reflect all the characteristics and attribute as a part of behavior or temperament - Prakruti, throughout the lifetime of that particular individual. Thus the etymological meaning of the term Dosha stands as - whoever is independent, responsible for formation of Prakruti and is highly prone to get vitiated thus creating any abnormal pathology. These three dosha are omnipresent in the living body sustaining the integrity of Prana in its normal stages while the same is responsible for disease ailments when vitiated.


Dosha are generally said to be the humors of the body as per Ayurveda. These humors may be different as per the physical and psychological aspect of the body. Any substance which is independent in capacity to work, exclusively involved in Prakruti formation physiologically and tends to easily gets deviated to create any pathology is termed to be Dosha. This altogether makes the Dosha a different one from the humors of Greek or Latin philosophy. However the term dosha is popularized by the tendency of them to create pathology by deviation in the normal functioning of the body. At physical level there three dosha - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. At psychological level out of three only two - Raja and Tama fits in the category of term Dosha. The tridosha can be stated as -

  1. Vata - Principle factor for any type of movement, initiation, interest, locomotion.
  2. Pitta - Factor responsible for metabolism, heat, transduction, biotransformations.
  3. Kapha - Factor responsible for strength, vigor, retention, moisture, stability.


Ayurveda believes that every materialistic and non-materialistic things in the world are made up of the five primitive elements viz. Pancha mahabhutas. Thus every subtle to gross object is having fixed and proportionate elemental composition. Dosha are also having the same with one or the other dominating attributes. The involvement of these Mahabhutas in dosha are ultimately reflected by the guna possessed by the respective dosha.

  1. Vata dosha - Akasha and Vayu
  2. Pitta dosha - Teja or Agni
  3. Kapha dosha - Prithvi and Jala

Table 1:Elemental composition of dosha as per different Ayurvedic contexts

Dosha Ashtanga Samgraha Sushrut Samhita Chakrapani & Dalhan
Vata Vayu and Akash Vayu Vayu
Pitta Agni Agni Agni
Kapha Prithvi and Jala Soma (Jala) Soma (Jala)


Every materialistic or non-materialistic object (dravya) in the world acts only by the virtue of properties possessed by it. These properties, attributes are nothing but Guna of that dravya. The term Dosha from its definition states very three basic properties as -

  1. Which are involved in formation of Prakriti (Somatotype) of an individual.
  2. Those which are independent.
  3. Those which are unstable and tend to deviate from normalcy and also have tendency to create a disease.

Properties of Sharirik Dosha

Vata-Pitta-Kapha are the three Sharirik dosha. Each one possess individual and specific properties within them. Following are the properties of Sharirik dosha as mentioned by different ancient scholars.

Vata Dosha

Charak Samhita Ruksha (Dryness), Laghu (Light weightedness), Shita (Cold), Khara (Rough), Sukshma (Fine or Subtle), Vishad (Cleaning or Removing tendency), Daruna (Harshness), Yogavahi (Synergistic in action)

Sushruta Samhita Ruksha (Dryness), Laghu (Light weightedness), Shita (Cold), Khara (Rough), Tiryag (no any specific direction /Oblique), Dviguna (Shabda - Sound and Sparsha - Touch), Rajo bahula (mutually interdependent with Rajasik - exciting factors at psychological level), Achintya virya (Unimaginable potency), Doshanam neta (Primary to all other dosha), Roga Samuharat (Capable to vitiate enough to produce multiple diseases), Ashukari (Very quick in action), Muhushchari (Repeated tendency)

Ashtanga Hridaya Ruksha (Dryness), Laghu (Light weightedness), Shita (Cold), Khara (Rough), Sukshma (Fine or Subtle), Chala (Movable)

Kashyap Samhita Vyavayi (Spreadable), Vishad (Cleaning or Removing tendency), Shita (Cold), Ruksha (Dryness), Chala (Movable), Khara (Rough)

Dosha Guna and Elemental constitution

Importance of Dosha

Physiological Importance

Pathological Importance