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The Three Doshas: Inner Principles of Life

This week, we are sharing some content from our upcoming book that our resident doctor Manish Chandra is coauthoring. Enjoy!

Excerpt from Chapter 6: The Organization of Life, Integral Systems of Dosha, Dhatu, and Mala.

The three doshas or tridosha represents the embodiment of the three gunas as manifest through the mahabhutas (five elements). The three gunas represent three fundamental kinds of change. They are biological forces, and the effect of a force is change. The doshas are also changes, the same as the three gunas only framed in the body. Change is the nature of the body; it is always in motion, always changing. The condition of the changes that are occurring at any time are what define both wellness and illness — disease and ease. A condition of balanced changes, of dynamic equilibrium is a state of wellness; whereas imbalance fosters disease and illness. The word dosha means fault in Sanskrit because the doshas are forces which invoke changes — changes that the body must exert effort to rebalance or otherwise succumb to the consequences of imbalance. As faults and tendencies toward imbalance, the doshas are also experienced as such — as illness, uneasiness, discomfort, distress, or weakness. Vata or movement, pitta or heat, and kapha or growth are the three fundamental ways we experience physical and mental faults or imbalances. As the universal forces or gunas, the doshas represent respectively rajas guna (activity), sattva guna (purity), and tamas guna (inertia). The three gunas influence the body and mind in two ways: externally or grossly as forces of nature, and internally or discretely as tridosha. Internally, the mahabhutas, material expressions of the three gunas, comprise tridosha. All physical and mental consumptions are, in fact, introductions of changes to the body; the form of the changes is the mahabhutas, the affect is tridosha. Thus the mahabhutas are vehicles for embodiment of the three gunas as tridosha.

The growth-promoting dosha is kapha dosha, and is generated predominantly from earth and water elements. Pitta dosha is the heat-producing dosha, and is generated by fire and water. While vata dosha, the movement-producing force is primarily composed of air and ether.

The principles of vata, pitta and kapha embrace the entire procession of organic existence and provide an immediate insight into healthy physiology as well as intervening pathology. The concepts of vata, pitta, and kapha explain all physiological processes and also the principles that guide them. They function physiologically in the origin, growth, decay death and disintegration of an organism. And they function pathologically when they cause abnormal growth or when they contribute to the production of wastes, hemi-metabolites, and toxins that poison or congest an organism’s natural rebalancing processes.


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