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The word ‘Dosha’ literally means impurities or morbidities. In Ayurveda, dosha are the governing principles of physiology and psychology. They are the primary and essential constitutional factors of the human organism. They maintain the integrity of the human body. [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/23] The three dosha at physical level, vata, pitta, and kapha, vitiate different body tissues and can lead to diseases in disequilibrium state. [SAT-B.382] [1] They are the actual intrinsic factors which become excited and imbalanced, either conferring a predisposition to or actually causing morbidities disease (vyadhi). Their state of equilibrium is one of the important pre-requisite for disease free state (arogya) [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 9/4] and health [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/48]. The dosha have been correlated with systems theory in the field of physics, providing a sound theoretical basis for this Ayurvedic concept, and research utilizing a biostatistical approach to quantify the dosha reveals a sound empirical basis as well. Being the units of microcosm in body, the three dosha, kapha, pitta and vata, maintain integrity of the organism by creating, assimilating and diffusing strength in the same way as the Moon (soma), Sun(surya) and Air (anila), maintain integrity of the macrocosm respectively. [Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/8]

Section/Chapter/topic Sharira / Dosha
Authors Deole Y.S.1, Shilwant A.A.2
Reviewed by Basisht G.1

1Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.P.G.T.& R.A., Jamnagar, Gujarat, India

2Department of Kriya Sharir, G.J.Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand, Gujarat, India
Correspondence email:
Date of first publication: ???

Etymology and derivation

The word dosha is derived from Sanskrit root ‘dusha’ meaning causing abnormalities (vaikrutye).

Types and sub types of dosha

The dosha are broadly categorized into two:

  1. Somatic or physical level (sharira dosha): Three dosha viz. vata, pitta and kapha.
  2. Psychic or mental level (manas dosha): Two dosha viz. rajas and tamas. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/ 57]

The present article describes somatic or physical dosha.

Origin of dosha

Dosha at physical level originate from five fundamental elements (pancha mahabhuta). Vata dosha originates from vayu and akasha mahabhuta; Pitta dosha from agni mahabhuta and kapha dosha from combination of aap and prithvi mahabhuta. The dosha represent functions of dominant mahabhuta in the body at gross level. They can be principles of regulators, enhancers or inhibitors of the physiological functions.

Subtypes of dosha

Each physical dosha has five subtypes based on their functions and sites.

  1. Vata dosha: Prana, Udana, Samana, Vyana, Apana
  2. Pitta dosha: Pachaka, Ranjaka, Sadhaka, Alochaka, Bhrajaka
  3. Kapha dosha: Avalambaka, Kledaka, Bodhaka, Tarpaka, Shleshaka [A.Hr. Sutra Sthana 12]

Functions of dosha

The dosha govern all the physiological activities. Growth and development (upachaya), strength (bala), complexion (varna), blissful state (prasannata) depends upon them. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 20] Vata governs functions in the body related to initiation and movement e. g. food through the digestive tract, transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream, communication between cells via nerve impulses, excretion of metabolic wastes etc. Pitta governs functions that relate to transformation (e.g., digestion of food, processes of metabolism, etc.), hunger, thirst, vision, sensory perception, intelligence, complexion, and heat generation. Kapha governs the structure and cohesion of the body. It relates with function of strength, stability and moisture in body. [A. Hr. Sutra Sthana 11/1-3]

Properties of dosha

The dosha act through their properties (guna). The properties (guna) are responsible for showing specific effect (karma). Dosha govern the functions related to that property and lead to resultant effect. Therefore, these properties are also applied as parameters to assess normal and abnormal states of dosha in body. The resultant effect is observed clinically.