Swabhavoparam vada

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The term 'Swabhav' means prakriti or the nature of the substance, and the term 'Uparama' means destruction. The word 'Swabhavoparama' stands for natural destruction or self-destruction. The theory of natural destruction or process of self-healing is termed 'Swabhavoparam-Vada.[1] Birth, growth, and senescence, which ultimately lead to death, are inevitable. This physiological event is going on at every moment of our life. Nobody can get rid of this unavoidable process. Destruction is a passive phenomenon as kala (time) moves continuously, passes away, and is irreversible.

Section/Chapter/topic Concepts/ Swabhavoparama vada
Authors Mali Vaishali P. 1,
Nawkar Madhumati S. 2
Reviewers Kashikar V.A. 3
Basisht G.4,
Editor Deole Y.S.5
Affiliations 1 Department of Samhita-Siddhanta, Ch. Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan, New Delhi. India
2 Department of Sanskrit Samhita Siddhanta, R. T. Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Akola, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Sanskrit Samhita Siddhanta, National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, India
4 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
5 Department of Kayachikitsa, G. J. Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat, India
Correspondence emails vaishalipm257@gmail.com,
Publisher Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India
Date of publication: February 22, 2023
DOI 10.47468/CSNE.2023.e01.s09.129

Etymology and derivation

Swabhava means a state of being, natural state or constitution, innate or inherent disposition, nature, impulse, and spontaneity.[2]
Uparama means to cease from motion, stop, be inactive or quiet, cessation or discontinuance, ending, desisting from, or death. Uparama means vinaasha, destruction or abstinence or avoidance, desisting, discontinuance.[3]
Vada means discussion. Thus the word 'swabhavoparama vada' means discussion on the theory of innate or natural destruction.
Destruction of any object's nature, qualities, or form is known as Swabhavoparam vada.[4] Swabhavoparam vada forms the basis for managing causative factors (hetuviparita chikitsa).

Elucidating the concept of swabhavoparama vada theorized in Charak Samhita[5]

Most philosophical schools talk about creation. And further interrogate the cause of the creation, the universe. Ayurveda deals with the biological processes, predominantly concerning the human body. This may be why Charak's treatise discusses the destruction and its place and utility for physicians.
In the context of the theory of natural destruction, the sequential order of the tetrad suggests the logical progression in the clinical training of Ayurveda scholars: from a foundational course in therapeutics to more specialized procedures, including purification therapies.  Kalpana chatushka tetrad describes the planning of purification therapies. It addresses all the aspects regarding the use of medicines for purification purposes. In the last chapter of this tetrad, the signs, and symptoms of excess and less purification are explained, then after swabhavoparam vada is discussed.
While explaining the importance of purification therapy, it is mentioned that morbid doshas evacuated by purification therapies do not recur. Like plants, if morbidities are not uprooted completely, the diseases would recur or relapse almost certainly. If the manifestation of the disease is a transient phase and can remit automatically, then what are the objectives and importance of chikitsa? This query has been raised by scholars. In response to this, in the course of explaining the main objectives and applicability of therapy (chikitsa), Acharya Atreya has described the swabhavoparam vada.[6]
'Dhatu vaishamya' means deviation from the state of equilibrium, either increase or decrease of dhatus. Disproportion of the causative factors results in disequilibrium of the dhatus. Conversely, the homogeneous causative factors restore the equilibrium state of dhatus. However, the destruction of the existing dhatus always happens naturally with time. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 16/ 27]
Thus for dhatus either, they are in the state of equilibrium or disequilibrium, regardless of any cause for destruction, due to their inherent nature, they destroy. For their destruction, no cause is essential or mandatory. It is also clear that the things that are produced (utpanna dravyas) only get destroyed (Bhava vishesha iti utpattimanto vishesha).[7] One can say that the padartha (matter) produced will get destroyed in the next moment due to its inherent nature.
Further, Atreya state that there is always a cause for the manifestation [origin of things (karya dravya)], but none exists for their destruction. However, some scholars believe that the absence of causative factors is the very cause of their destruction. The things which are produced will be eradicated in the second moment.[8] There is no need for a different cause to the natural form/nature (innate property). Based on the same principle, the destruction of dhatus takes place. On the contrary, another group of scholars interprets the same concept in the way that, without a causative factor, it is a cause of destruction.
The concept of kshanikavada (doctrine of momentariness) is accepted by the scholars of Ayurveda. In this context, it is highly pertinent to discuss the role, utility, and importance of chikitsa. Because if the natural resolution (of disorders) is in the very nature of things, then what is the necessity of a qualified physician? Which disequilibrium state of body elements is harmonized by the physician employing therapy? After all, what does the treatment amount to? And what is its objective? Acharya Atreya essentially addresses these queries since the disequilibrium state of dhatus is not stable (after manifestation in the next moment it vanishes). Because time is constantly moving (nityaga), this fleeting monetary nature of kala, does not expect any other reason for its destruction.
The cause of the destruction of things is not known either due to complete absence (just like the horn of a rabbit) or to being incompetent to receive knowledge. Even the truth is not known, like a root nail or other things dug in the earth. In the second example, though knowledge exists, it is not visible to the naked eye. But in the case of destruction, the cause is not at all present and expected by that respective thing for its destruction. The phenomenon of destruction is inevitable.[9] There is no cause for its inhibition, nor is there any other action.
Three factors are discussed in the explanation of destruction.

  1. Destruction without cause
  2. Momentary/fleeting nature of things
  3. The possibility of treating the disequilibrium state of dhatus is not possible because of its momentary nature.

Objectives of therapeutics

The objective of therapeutics is the sustenance of the equilibrium of the dhatu. It constitutes the duty of the physician. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 16/ 35]. By abstaining from factors that give rise to the state of disequilibrium and practicing those that promote the state of equilibrium, the condition of disequilibrium of dhatus (dhatu vaishamya) does not persist and the continuance of the state of equilibrium will be restored. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 16/ 36-38]
To enlighten the rationale of therapeutics and the intent with which the physician administers the therapy are explained. The action by which the equilibrium state of dhatus is produced is the therapy It is believed that although the disequilibrium of dhatus is temporary and perishable, even when it is destroyed, those imbalanced dhatus work as imbalanced elements only.[10] Will the formed dhatus possess the same former disequilibrium state (vaishamya-avastha)? The continuous manifestation of imbalanced dhatus will not cease unless the cause is replaced with a wholesome diet and dietary habits. But when the cause for the equilibrium state of dhatus is used, the cause begins the identical elemental progeny. It will disrupt the uninterrupted succession of imbalanced dhatus.
Further raised a query that from the consumption of causes of equilibrium, how disequilibrium of dhatus will not arise? Successive production of the equilibrium state of dhatus is ensured through chikitsa. Acharya Atreya addresses the query as: by abstinence from the causes of disequilibrium, and regular practice/ consumption of causes of equilibrium, the continuum of the disequilibrium stage of dhatus (vishama dhatus) will be destroyed. The manifestation effect is a compound phenomenon. Thus, all the causative factors responsible for the manifestation of sama dhatu are essentially present to achieve the equilibrium of dhatus unimpaired. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 16/37]

The philosophical foundation of swabhavoparam vada

The swabhava-vada of Charvak school and kshanikavada of the Buddha school of philosophy are essential to consider in the light of swabhavoparama vada.

The doctrine of swabhava vada

Charvak, the crest-gem of the atheist school, was a follower of the doctrine of Brihaspati. The doctrine states that the universe was produced and is sustained by substances' nature and necessary actions according to their inherent properties. Brihaspati, the preceptor of devatas, popularized the Charvak school of thought. According to Charvak’s philosophy, the soul does not exist without a body. There is no distinction between atma and sharira. They do not accept the theory of rebirth. They accept only knowledge by direct perception (pratyaksha pramana). They accept only four bhuta; Prithvi, jala, agni, and vayu. The atoms of four bhuta are the cause of evolution. Swabhava is the instrumental cause (nimitta karana) for evolution. For example, the sura bija (wine seeds) produce madya (wine) and alcohol when combined with other substances. As such chaitanya (consciousness) in the body will take place naturally. When betel leaf and lime combine, redness is seen in the mouth. As such chaitanya is born out naturally from prithvi and other jada padartha (gross structure). In this school, the original principles are the four elements prithvi, jala, agni, and vayu. From these alone, when transformed into the body, intelligence is produced, just as the inebriating power is developed from the mixing of certain ingredients. When these are destroyed, intellect at once perishes also. Thus, swabhava vada is accepted as a cause of origin or manifestation. In Charak samhita, swabhava is accepted in many places. In the present context, the doctrine of swabhava vada is taken as the logical foundation behind destruction.[11]

Kshanika vada (theory of momentariness)

Vasubandhu explains the etymology of 'Kshanika' as below:
"An object, which possesses the nature of coming into being and vanishing immediately without any interval, is called kshanika".[12]
In Buddhism, trisutras i.e. the three characteristics (marks) of existence namely impermanence (anitya), non-self (anatma), and un-satisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha); are among the main teachings of the Buddha. The realization of the truth of these three marks can bring an end to suffering, which is the prime objective of Buddha's teaching. Thus anitya (impermanence) is a central concept of Buddhism. The doctrine of momentariness (kshanika vada) was developed in early Abhidhamma literature as a logical extension of the concept of anitya (Pali, impermanence). Originally, it was present in the Buddha"s teachings in the form of impermanence (Pali, Anicca), later, his disciples developed the concept of momentariness.[13] The Sautrantika Buddhas are supposed to be the chief exponent of the theory of momentariness. In all four philosophical schools of Buddha, the concept of impermanence appeared in the form of momentariness.[14] Change is inherent in all phenomenal existence. As we affix the permanent label on something, it undergoes a metamorphosis. This was propounded by Buddhist philosophy. Any matter in this universe is momentary. It tells about the uncertain and unstable nature of things in this universe which undergo continuous transformation and destruction.

The theory of dependent origination (Pratityasamutpada)

Pratityasamutpada explains the principle of causality, which is congenial to Buddha's philosophy. Pratitya means after reaching (prapya) or depending on (apekshya). Sama means right, and Utpada means arising. Everything arises in dependence upon multiple causes and conditions; nothing exists as a singular, independent entity. All existence is impermanent. It means becoming. All becoming is subject to the law of causation. The law of causation is the production of an effect out of a complement of causes and conditions. When the causes and conditions disappear, the effect appears. The effect emerges from the destruction of causes and conditions. Causes and conditions are co-related. An effect cannot happen without any cause and conditions. The cause of an effect vanishes, then the effect emerges. The cause cannot exist in effect. But the cause is always prior to the effect. The effect arises from an aggregate of causes and conditions.[15],[16] The principle of dependent origination is closely related to the four noble truths. The doctrine of pratityasamutpada (dependent origination) is the foundation of the Buddha's teachings. The theory of karma is based on this, an implication of the law of causation. The approach of momentariness (kshanika vada) is also a corollary of pratityasamutpad (dependent origination). "Because things depend on their causes and conditions, because things are relative, dependent, conditional, and finite, they must be momentary. That which arises, that which is born, and that which is produced must necessarily be subject to death and destruction. And that which is subject to death and destruction is not permanent. And that which is not permanent is momentary".[17]
Further, this theory states that everything which is produced destroys naturally.[18] Everything arises from and ends in asat. The matter is created in the first moment, exists in the second moment, and undergoes destruction in the third moment. Hence all the things are temporary.[19] According to Buddha’s philosophy, the soul (atma) is not an independent dravya. The soul that exists in this moment does not live the next moment. Another new soul is born out. Like the present time (kala) vanishes, it has no relation with the past and future. Each present moment 'does not possess any temporal thickness'. Knowledge is like a river, which flows always. The old water flows away, and the new water again enters into the flow even though the river is only called by the old name. In the same way, even though the former object is destroyed and a new object is produced, it is perceived that the present object is the same as the former object. This is because, in every second moment, the same object identical to the former object is produced. This process goes on incessantly.
All the things in the universe were created by their own causes. The matter is perishable by nature.[20] The cause of the destruction of concern is their caste i.e. origin or nature. That is, the matter arises by nature in such a way that it must be destroyed in the second moment. Transience (kshanikata) of matter is inherent. The matter is getting destroyed every moment, and, in its place, new similar substances are being generated immediately. The lamp's flame is destroyed every moment, and in its place in the second moment, a new lamp like that of the previous lamp is born. Though the matter is momentary, by continuous analogous transformations that occur every second, we assume that it is the same substance. Modern interpreters often illustrate the point with the example of the apparent motion on a movie screen being caused by a quick succession of stills. This is said to be the case with the many entities that appear to make up the continuous self.[21] Thus whatever is true in the world is momentary. Therefore, all sacraments (sanskar) are momentary. It is rightly said. In the post-knowledge arising out of prior knowledge, power is obtained from past knowledge through a succession of the moment .
All conditioned phenomena are subject to change and decay and are, therefore, impermanent. (Dhammapada Verses 277) All things are impermanent, was the doctrine preached by the Buddha. Anitya is inherent in all component things. As a matter of the reality of the momentariness, which follows from the principle of dependent origination. Whatever is born will also be declined, and whatever may be declined cannot be considered permanent. That is why everything is momentary. Therefore, the doctrine of momentariness goes further than the principle of the theory of impermanence. It not only means that everything is impermanent but according to this, everything exists only for a moment.[22]
Vasubandhu (4th to 5th century CE) was one of the most influential thinkers in the Indian Buddhist philosophical tradition. Vasubandhu believed in the doctrine of universal momentariness. He opined that all things in the world of ordinary beings were subject to causes and conditions and, therefore, impermanent. Vasubandhu in his work discussed the impossibility of change coupled with the doctrine of impermanence, to establish momentariness. If things have it as part of their nature to self-destruct, they must do so immediately upon coming into being. It can never become so if they do not have it as part of their nature.[23][24]
Thus, the doctrine of momentariness evolved from the fundamental theory of impermanence, the doctrine of dependent origination, and the law of causation. All these theories form the basis for the construction of swabhavoparama vada. Being a medical health care system, the prime objective of Ayurveda is to maintain the equilibrium state of dhatus and not to achieve enlightenment, or nirvana. Ayurveda has the impact of various ancient schools of Indian philosophical teachings on its foundational structure. Thus, Acharya Atreya establishes the importance of treatment by constructing the theory of swabhavoparama vada. This help to build and nurture the fundamentals of Ayurveda.
Thus, all beings have a cause for their creation, but they have no reason for their destruction. The annihilation or destruction of beings is a natural phenomenon. All the things are produced in the first moment due to certain causative factors. Still, they perish naturally in the very second moment without expecting any cause or causative factor. Swabhava is the cause behind destruction. Thus, the disturbance in the state of equilibrium of dhatus by certain causative factors will be momentary. Automatically it will be destructed in the next moment without the help of any therapeutic intervention. So, any deviation from the state of equilibrium of the dhatus be treated as a momentary one. The view of the doctrine mentioned above of continual decay of things (kshanikavada) is being acknowledged to construct the role and utility of the treatment. Although the imbalance of dhatus is destroyed transiently, the role of chikitsa is admitted necessary to produce homogeneous dhatus. Thus, based on the theory of causation, the role of treatment could be established to disrupt the disequilibrium and restore and maintain the continuum of sama dhatu.
Thus swabhavoparama vada is built on the three basic philosophical doctrines viz.

  1. Swabhava (nature) is the cause of the destruction of all things (swabhava-vada)
  2. Every manifestation needs cause (cause-effect relationship- karya-karana siddhant)
  3. All the things in this universe are momentary (momentariness-kshanika vada)

Contemporary approach

Apoptosis :

In a multicellular organism, the cells are highly organized and regulated too. If cells are no longer needed, they are removed through a tightly regulated cell destruction process. This process is called programmed cell death or apoptosis. Apoptosis (from a Greek word) meaning "falling off," as leaves from a tree. Apoptosis typically happens in cells that have been around in the body long enough to be worn out, so they need to make way for nice, new young cells. Programmed cell death, including apoptosis is required for normal cell turnover and tissue homeostasis.[25] In apoptosis a suicide' program is activated within the cell, leading to fragmentation of the DNA, shrinkage of the cytoplasm, membrane changes, and cell death without lysis or damage to neighboring cells. This process shows alteration on the cell surface. This acts as an indicator. In response to this, it was phagocytosed by either a neighboring cell or a macrophage. They can also kill themselves when damaged or stressed by triggering procaspase aggregation and activation from within the cell. Apoptosis is mediated by proteolytic enzymes called caspases, which activate cell death by cleaving specific proteins in the cytoplasm and nucleus.[26]
Apoptosis, can be activated in physiological or pathological conditions and free the organism from undesired cells. Cell proliferation and physiological cell death are highly coordinated and tightly controlled during normal development. Apoptosis takes part in several processes during embryonic development. It is now apparent that cell death and cell death-like processes are likewise major aspects of gametogenesis, organogenesis, tissue turnover, etc.[27] In developing vertebrate nervous systems, for example, up to half or more of the nerve cells normally die soon after they are formed. In a healthy adult human, billions of cells die in the bone marrow and intestine every hour. In adult tissues, cell death exactly balances cell division. If this were not so, the tissue would grow or shrink. During the metamorphosis of a tadpole into a frog, since tail is not required, the cells in the tail undergoes apoptosis. Thus, we can say that the regulation of cell death is as necessary as the regulation of cell life to maintain a healthy individual.[28]
In the context of the human body, apoptosis can be based on the theory of swabhavoparama vada.1 Both of these physiological processes converge to the point of `self-destruction'. Apoptosis is a highly regulated and controlled process that confers advantages during an organism's lifecycle. Homeostasis is necessary to maintain health, but the natural death of every living object is inevitable. So, the cells adopt the mechanism of programmed cell death. In adulthood, about 10 billion cells die every day to keep balance with the number of new cells arising from the body's stem cell populations. This normal homeostasis is not just a passive process but is regulated through apoptosis.[29]


Exclusively in eukaryotic cells, the lysosomal degradation of intracellular components is termed 'autophagy'. It helps the cell to adapt to a changing environment. Autophagy plays an essential role in maintaining cellular homeostasis, and dysregulation may participate in the pathological process of many human diseases. Autophagy is responsible for degrading long-lived proteins and damaged or superfluous organelles. Autophagy is also part of the cellular response to intracellular and extracellular stress. This process plays an important role in cellular protein metabolism, waste removal, structural reconstruction, growth, and development. Under stress conditions such as starvation and hypoxia, it can be induced quickly. This regulation is achieved through post-translational modifications (such as phosphorylation and acetylation) of key autophagy proteins.
This promotes proteolytic degradation of cytosolic components at the lysosome. The isolation membrane, phagophore expands to engulf intra-cellular cargo, such as protein aggregates, organelles, and ribosomes, thereby restoring them in an autophagosome. The loaded autophagosome matures through fusion with the lysosome, promoting the degradation of autophagosome contents by lysosomal acid proteases. Lysosomal permeases and transporters export amino acids, nucleotides, and other by-products of degradation back out to the cytoplasm, where cells can re-use. Thus, autophagy may be considered a cellular' recycling factory' that promotes energy efficiency through ATP generation and mediates damage control by removing non-functional proteins and organelles.
Chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) refers to a special type of autophagy that selectively degrades certain proteins with the assistance of chaperones. The soluble protein substrate in the cytoplasm can directly enter the lysosome. Dice discovered that lysosomes could selectively degrade ribonuclease A (RNase A).[30] LAMP2A (lysosome-associated membrane protein type 2A) on the lysosomal membrane is the receptor, one of the key regulators involved in this selective degradation pathway.[31] LAMP2A is considered to be the primary rate-limiting factor of CMA. Studies have shown that starvation, oxidative stress, DNA damage, hypoxia, and other stimuli can increase the activity of CMA by promoting the production of the LAMP2A protein. A high-fat diet can reduce the level of LAMP2A on the lysosomal membrane and thus inhibits CMA activity in the liver. A series of studies have demonstrated that CMA plays a significant role in maintaining neuronal homeostasis, promoting lipid degradation, protecting mitochondrial function, and repairing DNA damage. The CMA activity decreases in aging bodies, mainly due to the decreased level of LAMP2A in the lysosomes, which may underlie the development of aging-related diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, metabolic disorders, and tumors.[32] Fasting therapy works on the principles of autophagy.[33]

Importance and utility of the swabhavoparama vada

Swabhavoparama vada ascertains the importance of chikitsa and the duties of a qualified physician. The concept also emphasizes to disrupt the continuum of the cause (Hetoh avartanam) which is removing the causative factors (hetus). It creates the absence of causative factors called 'nidana-varjana'. Ithampers the progression of the disease.
Abstinence from disease-causing factors has preventive and curative aspects. Nidana parivarjana plays a vital role in breaking down the pathogenesis at every stage of shat - kriyakala.[34] It can be included under non-drug therapy (adravyabhoota chikitsa). It can easily conceal the manifestation of vishama dhatus and break the pathogenesis chain.[35]
Dosha, dhatu, and malas are the fundamental units of the body. Physiology is governed by these three units. The annihilation process is a continuous phenomenon. Thus, kshaya or destruction of these elements occurs naturally without any cause. Utpatti or manifestation of these units expect cause. To restore and continue the state of equilibrium of all the dhatus is the prime objective of Ayurveda. All types of actions and procedures are prescribed for the very objective.[36] The doctrine of swabhavoparama vada helps to accomplish this.
The same elements, whose wholesome combination gives rise to the well-being of human beings (purusha), bring about various kinds of diseases when combined in an unwholesome manner. [Cha.Sa.SutraSthana 25/29]
Qualities of the fundamental elements (panchamahabhuta) are responsible for the equilibrium state of all the units of the body, thus maintaining the state of equilibrium of dhatus. While the negative (opposite) qualities of the same mahabhuta lead to various diseases.[37] It is in accordance with the theory of swabhavoparama vada.

Utility of the concept

A physician must know the characteristics of panchamahabhuta, body components, food, and various therapeutic medicines. Observation of the changes in characteristics with an objective to maintain equilibrium status makes a successful treatment. The food items that continue an equilibrium state in dhatus and help eliminate abnormalities or disturbances in the equilibrium path are considered wholesome food items. Everything expects the cause for its manifestation (utpatti). Wholesome food items are the inherent or the intimate cause (upadana karana) for the manifestation of dhatus. Regular consumption of such dravya also helps to disrupt the continuum of vitiated dhatus and restore the state of equilibrium. Maintaining this continuum of equilibrium of dhatu is essential for preserving health. Thus, the destruction of previously vitiated dhatus will take place by swabhava. Further continuous consumption of a wholesome diet will lead to the formation and maintenance continuum of the equilibrium state of dhatus (sama dhatu santan-parampara).

Sharira as an example:

As per the definition of sharira (body), it naturally degenerates every moment. This supports the theory of natural destruction.

Application in understanding the root cause of pleasure and diseases

In chapter on Purush Vichayya Sharira, the cause of pravritti (utpatti –attachment)) and methods of nivritti (detachment) are discussed. Acharya Atreya stated that[38] the division of the six elements, the separation, the withdrawal of the living, the restraint of the life force, and that destruction is the nature of the world. Here, it is reiterated that cause is essential for the manifestation of being, but destruction is natural. The source of attachment is ignorance, desire, hatred, and purposeful action. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 6/5] They are the causes of manifestation. This reminds us of Buddha's philosophy's theory of impermanence and momentariness. Simultaneously, there is an increase and decrease in the dhatus of opposite properties. The natural factors maintain the state of equilibrium. When some factors increase dhatu, the other opposite factors in the body reduce them up to normal level. When properly administered simultaneously, medical therapies bring both the reduced and increased dhatus to their normal states by reducing the increased ones and increasing the diminished ones.

Application in the preservation of equilibrium status

In response to the Agnivesh's question on managing illnesses of the past, the present, and the future, Acharya Atreya has reiterated the principle of swabhavoparam vada [39]. When treatment is given conducive to the continuity of happiness (health), the pleasure (sukha) is continued. Natural destruction destroys suffering in the form of disease. Due to the absence of a cause of suffering, the suffering (illness) will not arise. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/93] Because of the momentary nature of elements (bhava –padartha), neither the state of equilibrium of dhatus, nor the imbalanced state of dhatus is brought to normalcy.  The causative factors determine the equilibrium or imbalance of the dhatus.

Relation with vishesha principle

The swabhavoparama vada can be considered in the light of another principle quoted by Charak i.e. Hraasa hetuh visheshacch. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/44] The dis-similar or opposite substance or action or properties cause a reduction. At first sight, these two principles seem contradictory because if destruction is the natural process, then what is the need for the vishesha principle? If dhatus are vitiated due to excessive increase (dhatu vriddhi avastha), the physician will use the vishesha principle to resume the equilibrium state of dhatus. As per the swabhavoparama vada, natural destruction is a continuous process due to the momentary nature of dhatus. Hence for destruction, no medicine is needed. But intervention is required to break the chain of manifestation of vitiated dhatus. In the present case, the vishesha principle should be used to restore the equilibrium of dhatus. Charak illustrates the same in the explanation of swabhavoparama vada. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 16/34-36]

Swabhavika vyadhi (naturally occurring diseases)

Swabhava (nature) is a cause behind many specific phenomenon. Death is a natural phenomenon. Naturally occurring diseases due to swabhava (nature) depend on kala (time). Examples are kshudha (hunger), pipasa (thirst), jaravastha (aging), and mrityu (death). Sushruta states that the swabhavik vyadhi (natural diseases) like jara (ageing), mrityu (death) occur without reason as the time (kala) proceeds. Thee are unavoidable. Swabhavoparama vada is the doctrine used to explain the destruction phenomenon.

Padamshika krama (sequence to adopt good habits and discard bad habits)

This is a good example of swabhawoparama vada. A sequential regimen is prescribed to adopt good habits and gradually give up bad habits. By gradually reducing unwholesome practices and adopting the wholesome practices in proper sequence, the unwholesome practices will not recur and wholesome will be fully adopted. The continuum of the disequilibrium stage of dhatus (vishama dhatus) will be destroyed. This will prevent the recurrence of vitiated dosha and expedite recovery from the disease state. Such practice establishes the need and importance of maintaining the continuum of wholesome practices.[40]

Karmaja vyadhi (diseases due to deeds in a previous life)

This is a group of diseases caused by the sinful acts of the previous life. The causative factors for this category of diseases are not at all traceable. The diseases caused by providence (actions of past life) will be relieved only after the effect of such actions, comes to an end (decay of karma).[41] The theory of natural destruction appropriately explains the rationale behind this concept.

Application in langhana chikitsa and upawasa (reduction therapies and fasting)

Fasting is one of the ten methods of langhana therapy.[42] Fasting includes complete abstinence from food. There is extensive empirical and observational evidence that medically supervised fasting is efficacious in treating many disorders. It prevents most chronic degenerative and chronic inflammatory diseases. Michalsen A. mentioned potential health-promoting effects of fasting like fasting-induced neuroendocrine activation and hermetic stress response, increased production of neurotrophic factors, reduced mitochondrial oxidative stress, general decrease of signals associated with aging, and promotion of autophagy.[43][44]
Fasting is a powerful approach to ignite digestion, which removes accumulated toxins in the body. Aam (metabolic toxins) is considered an underlying driver of all illnesses. Fasting destroys many metabolic toxins, removes the obstruction of the srotasa, and ignites the agni (digestive capacity). This process helps to combat illness.[45] Fasting therapy works on the fundamentals of swabhavoparama vada. In the absence of cause (unwholesome food), the future manifestation of vishama dhatus is prohibited by abstaining from food intake. The destruction of previously formed aam and vishama dhatu takes place naturally.

Application in the cause of diseases

The effect of incompatible food is neutralized if taken in a small amount or occasionally.[46] The equilibrium is disturbed, and diseases are formed only after regular exposure to unwholesome dravya. If unwholesome dravya are consumed occasionally or in very less amounts, it will not result in the manifestation of vishama dhatus. It stresses the importance of maintaining the continuum in manifesting the conditions viz. sama dhatu and vishama dhatu. Continuous practice plays a pivotal role.
The doctrine of causation (karya-karana siddhanta) has a vital role in the philosophical foundation. The cause-effect theory is accepted by all philosophical schools, including Ayurveda, with different viewpoints. But all stressed the importance of the material cause rather than (as is western philosophy) the efficient cause.[47] This relationship is established despite other principal theories regarding the cause-and-effect relation. And hence for every manifestation, a specific cause is essential. The same is applicable to the continuation of human health. Dhatu vaishamya (disequilibrium state of dhatu) is an effect of exposure to vishama hetu (unwholesome regimens) and, conversely applies to sama dhatus. The things which manifest will undergo destruction due to their inherent nature. There is no need for a separate cause for their destruction.
Swabhavoparama vada explains the importance of intervention and continuous practices of good diet and lifestyle to preserve health and manage diseases.

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