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Dosha are regulatory functional factors of body and mind. These are principal constituents of the body those are responsible for homeostasis, when present in the state of equilibrium. Dosha also determine the psycho-physiological nature / constitution of an individual. Dosha are capable of vitiating the different bodily tissues, when deviate from the state of equilibrium and can lead to diseases. [Code: SAT-B.382] [1]

Thus dosha are the physiological factors responsible for functions in normal state and pathogenesis of diseases in abnormal state. 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 are three Sharirik dosha which are - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. At psychological level there are only two Mansik dosha namely - Raja and Tama. [2] 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. Ancient Ayurvedic scholars differ in their opinion as per their individual thinking and intellect. 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), Chala (Movable), Vishad (Cleaning or Removing tendency or Non-slimy)[3], Daruna (Harshness)[4], Yogavahi (Synergistic in action)[5]

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)[6]

Ashtanga Hridaya - Ruksha (Dryness), Laghu (Light weightedness), Shita (Cold), Khara (Rough), Sukshma (Fine or Subtle), Chala (Movable) [7]

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

Sharangdhara Samhita - Vibhag karanam (Which separates, segregates), Rajo gunamaya (Dominant with Raja guna at psychological level), Sukshma (Fine or Subtle), Shita (Cold), Ruksha (Dryness), Laghu (Light weightedness), Chala (Movable)

Pitta Dosha

Charak Samhita - Sa-sneha (slightly unctuous), Ushna (Hot), Tikshna (Sharp), Drava (Liquid), Amla (Sour in taste), Vistra (Foul smelling), Sara (Secretory), Katu (Bitter in taste)

Sushruta Samhita - Ushna (Hot), Tikshna (Sharp), Drava (Liquid), Puti (Putri smelling), Pita (Normally Yellowish in appearance), Nila (Bluish appearance abnormally), Katu (Normally Bitter in taste), Amla (Sour in taste abnormally)

Ashtanga Hridaya - Sa-sneha (slightly unctuous), Ushna (Hot), Tikshna (Sharp), Laghu (light weightedness), Vistra (Foul smelling), Sara (Secretory), Drava (Liquid)

Kashyap Samhita - Ushna (dominantly hot), Tikshna (slightly sharp in nature), Laghu (light weightedness), Drava (Liquid)

Sharangdhara Samhita - Ushna (Hot), Drava (Liquid), Pita (Normally Yellowish in appearance), Nila (Bluish appearance abnormally), Satvagunottaram (Dominant Satvik guna at psychological level), Katu - Tikta (Bitter and Spicy in taste normally), Amla (Sour in taste abnormally)

Kapha Dosha

Charak Samhita - Guru (Heavy), Shita (Cold), Mrudu (Soft), Snigdha (Unctuous), Madhur (Sweet in taste), Sthir (Stable), Pichhila (Slimy, Sticky in nature)

Sushruta Samhita - Shweta (Whitish), Guru (Heavy), Snigdha (Unctuous), Pichhila (Slimy, Sticky in nature), Shita (Cold), Madhur (normally Sweet in taste), Lavana (Salty in taste abnormally)

Ashtanga Hridaya - Snigdha (Unctuous), Shita (Cold), Guru (Heavy), Manda (Slow and Sluggish), Shlakshna (Sticky), Mrutsna (Slimy), Sthir (Stable)

Sharangdhara Samhita - Snigdha (Unctuous), Guru (Heavy), Shweta (Whitish), Pichhila (Slimy, Sticky in nature), Shita (Cold), Tamogunadhik (dominant with Tamasik guna at psychological level), Swadu (Sweet in taste normally), Lavana (Salty in taste abnormally)

Importance of Dosha

Dosha are the physiological entities of the body playing their respective role both at physical and psychological level as well. They are involved at almost every happening inside the body from subtle to gross level activities. They are involved in birth or origin of an tiny structure, component, organ and ultimately an individual too. They are having a crucial role to run all the functional activities, mechanics of an structure, organ, system and complete organism. Their importance is highlighted in Ayurveda in different Ayurvedic treatises as -

  • दोषधातुमलमूलं हि शरीरम् | - सु.सू.१५/३
  • दोषधातुमलमूलो हि देहः | - अ.सं.सू.१६
  • दोषधातुमलामूलं हि सदा दहस्य तं चलः | - अ.ह्.सू.११

Physiological Importance

  1. Dosha are involved in formation of Prakruti - As the definition of the Dosha itself implies - Prakruti arambhaktvam
  2. Dosha are vital components to maintain and establish the Health
  3. Normalcy of Dosha is responsible for Normal state of Agni
  4. Any deviation in any form of Dosha from their normalcy leads to development of pathological ailments further leading into disease.
  5. Even though countable and limited Dosha, they are capable to produce innumerable pathological symptoms and diseases too.

Pathological Importance


  1. National AYUSH Morbidity and Standardized Terminologies Electronic Portal by Ministry of AYUSH Available on
  2. Kashinath Shastri. Charak Samhita. Sutra Sthan. Deerghanjivitiya. Reprint 2007. Pg. No. 25. URL.
  3. Kashinath Shastri. Charak Samhita. Sutra Sthan. Deerghanjivitiya. Reprint 2007. Pg. No. 27.
  4. Kashinath Shastri. Charak Samhita. Sutra Sthan. Vatakalakaliya Adhyaya. Reprint 2007. Pg. No. 172.
  5. Kashinath Shastri. Charak Samhita. Sutra Sthan. Jwara Chikitsa. Reprint 2007.
  6. Yadavji Trikamji Acharya. Sushrut Samhita. Nidan Sthan. Vatavyadhi Nidan. Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan. Reprint 2012. Pg. No. 257.
  7. Kaviraj Atridev Gupta. Ashtang Hridayam. Sutra Sthan. Ayushkamiya. Reprint 2007. Pg. No. 27.