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The Principle of Tridosa in Ayurveda

The Principle of Tridosa in Ayurveda
Item Code: IDK205
Author: Kaviraja Dhirendra Nath Ray
Publisher: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan
Edition: 2007
Pages: 376 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.7" X 5.7"
weight of the book: 565 gms

Ayurveda is the most ancient of all medical sciences. It is the only medical science which has withstood the ravages of time and is still thriving steadily and triumphantly even amidst the modern medical sciences of the West. It is a rich heritage handed down to us by the ancient Hindu sages of divine insight and unlimited experience. Like Hindu sages of divine insight and unlimited experience. Like Hindu philosophy, it is a vast storehouse of knowledge and even in this age of rapidly progressing sciences it can fairly boast of imparting knowledge of things unknown to them. It is for this reason that from time to time savants, both Indian and European, had been attracted to it and had made special studies of the System of Hindu Medicine. These scholars had studied Ayurveda from different points of view, from the point of view of its history, its anatomy and surgery, its gynecology and midwifery, its chemistry, its therapeutics, etc, - and had written some excellent treatises on the particular branch of Ayurveda they were interested in; but none of them had studied Ayurveda from the physiological point of view. The reason of this, I think, is that none of these scholars was a practitioner of Ayurveda. It is only a practising Kaviraja or Ayurvedic physician who has to study Ayurveda in its physiological aspect leading to the study of the nature and function of Vayu, Pitta and Kopha or Tridosa as they are comprehensively called. The others may have an academic interest in the anatomy, chemistry or history of Hindu Medicine, but an intimate knowledge of the Tridosa is essential and indispensable to an Ayurvedic physician and without this knowledge it will not be possible for him to enter into and understand the intricate problems and methods of his science and be thereby in a position to succeed in its proper, useful and practical application.

We are being repeatedly told by prominent public men and by those who practise western medicine and even by some of our modern exponents of Hindu medicine that to further the interest of Ayurveda it is necessary that it should be studied from the view point of modern science and that some of the new ideas be incorporated in it. I do not deny the utility of an elementary knowledge of the modern sciences and of modern anatomy for every student of Ayurveda. In fact, a through knowledge of the structure of the human body is essential and is enjoined by Susruta for those who wish to practise surgery. But, is the knowledge of modern physiology essential for an Ayurvedic student? The physiology of western medicine is quite different from that of Hindu medicine, which is the physiology of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. Modern physiology may help an Ayurvedic student to some extent in the study of his subject, (I am not sure whether it may not mislead him in some instances), but hat is more necessary for him is a study of the physiology underlying his own system of medicine.

"For the successful treatment of diseases according to any system of medicine, one must have a sound knowledge of the physiology and, what is more to the point, of pathology according to that system. So anybody who professes to practise Hindu Medicine must get to know the Tridosa. But to know the three Dosas, it is less than useless to study them from the point of view of modern science alone. To thoroughly understand the real meaning of what of old Ayurvedists have told us about Vayu, Pitta and Kapha, we must study the subject from their view point. That is a very difficult task now. I have myself personally felt that difficulty when studying Ayurveda. Steeped as we are from our very childhood in ideas of the West, - imbued with the ideas of western science, - our whole outlook is vitiated, the viewpoints of the ancient Ayurvedists and of the Hindu philosophers become obscure and we fail to grasp the real meaning of their writings. It is for this very difficulty that we, of newer generations, do not know of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha what Caraka and Susruta or even Vagbhata did. The fault is not the fault of the science of Ayurveda it is entirely ours. So I would say to our critics, 'Don't judge Ayurveda by the modern practitioners of that science of medicine just as a European professors of a missionary college once told us, 'Don't judge Christianity by the present-day followers of Christ'.

"The charge is very often leveled against Ayurveda that is not scientific; and that charge is made without even knowing anything about Ayurveda. I have given ample proofs (in this book) to disprove this charge. I have shown how from the basis of the Pancabhautika theory of matter, the Ayurvedists had developed step by step the principle of Vayu, pitta and Kapha, When once they had postulated this principle they had naturally had to speak of the functions of the body in terms of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. And this they did very elaborately ad thus created the physiology and pathology of Ayurveda by means of which they could accurately diagnose a disease. Not only this; in order to minister to the different ailments of the human body, they had to find out different medicines. And so after propounding the Principle of the Tridosa, they had, as logical sequence, had to find out the properties ad actions of a vast number of vegetable, mineral and animal products with special reference to Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. That is why, in Ayurveda, we find the properties of every kind of food and medicine described with reference to Vayu, Pitta and Kapha and we find the mention of Rasa, Virya and Vipaka of different substances and the relation of the six Rasas with the three Dosas".

"Medicine can never be a perfect science like mathematics. It is an experimental science and so will always be partly empirical. The medical man has to deal with the living human body with all its complexities ad vagaries of behaviour. He has ultimately to depend upon the human subject and not on any lower animal for his experiments. So after all, the result of a clinical study is the most important. And herein lies the excellence of Ayurveda. The conclusions arrived at by the old Ayurvedists regarding the properties and actions of drugs upon the human body were made after innumerable clinical experiments, because they had ample opportunity and a vast field for research at their disposal. What we learn in Ayurveda is the result of experience which does not cover a few years or decades only; it is the experienced knowledge accumulated over centuries and centuries. The supremacy of Ayurveda is due not to any potent indigenous drug, but to the application of that drug is conformity with the Principle of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. The essential thing now, therefore, is to dive deep into the subject of the Tridosa, and this should be done not by blindly following the methods of modern science, but by emulating the methods of the ancient Ayurvedists; for, it is by so doing that we can get to know the real meaning of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha."

No serious attempt had yet been made to present this fundamental principle underlying the System of Hindu Medicine in a form which could be understood by student s of the Western Systems of Medicine. To this end I had engaged myself in a special study of the Vayu, Pitta and Kapha of Ayurveda and had written several articles on the subject. A this time a notifications dated the 1st November 1932, was issued by the Registrar, University of Madras, declaring a prize called the 'Sir J. C. Bose Prize" to be awarded to the writer of the best monograph on "A Critical Study of Hindu Medicine," and inviting competitors from all parts of India. As all my materials were ready, I chose "The Principle of Tridosa in Ayurveda" as the subject of my monograph which I submitted on the 25th April, 1933. On the recommendation of the committee appointed for the purpose of adjudicating on the theses submitted for the above prize, the Syndicate of the Madras University awarded the prize to me and their decision was communicated to e by the Registrar of that University by a letter dated the 2nd June, 1936. After this, many of my friends and pupils requested me to publish the thesis as there was really a want of such publications. Their special requests and persuasions are responsible for this publication of my thesis in book-form.

In publishing the book, I have re-written several chapter and added new ones of which chapter 16 on Heredity and Temperament and chapters 18,19 and 21 deserve special mention. I have also appended full Sanskrit Text which form about half the volume of the book. I have collected these from the different Ayurveda Samhitas and arranged them in methodical order. I do not claim these collections to be exhaustive, but I do hope that they will be of particular help to those who, in future, will want to pursue the subject further. Several points which were not dealt with in the book have been indicated by head-lines in the Sanskrit Texts.

In preparing my monograph, I had to consult not only the various books on Ayurveda and the extant commentaries on the different Samhitas but had also had to freely consult the standard textbooks on modern physiology. I hereby acknowledge my indebtedness to the authors of these books, specially to Dr. Mc Kendrick from whose little book on physiology (Home University Library) I have quoted several passages. Some of the diagrams included in the book have been taken with slight modifications, where necessary, from these books. In writing the first portion of my monograph, I got much help from the following books, - (1) Osteology by Dr. Hoernle, (2) Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus by Dr. Sir B.N. Seal, (3) Six Systems of India Philosophy by Dr. Max Muller, (4) Vaisesika Sutras edited by Major B.D. Basu, (5) Indian Philosophy by Prof. Radhakrishnan and (6) History of Indian Philosophy by Prof. S.N. Das Gupta. Dr. Seal's book and that valued portion of Dr. Das Gupta's book which deals with Ayurveda were also of ample help to me regarding Tridosa.

Of the diagrams, Fig.7 is the outcome of my own original conception. Fig.5 had been drawn by me for one of my articles in the "Prakrti" and I hereby tender my thanks to its editor, Dr. S.C. Law, for kindly lending me the block.

In conclusion, I want to make a special mention of my indebtedness to Kaviraja Dvarakanatha Sena, Kavya Vyakarava-Tarkatirtha of Calcutta – an Ayurvedist of the old orthodox school, an erudite scholar of the Nyaya system of philosophy and author of the original Sanskrit book "Dosa-siddhanta". It is no exaggeration to say that without his helpful suggestions this monograph could not have been written; in fact, I owe a great deal to him for the idea contained in Chap VI. My thanks are also due to my brother Mr. Sailendra Nath Ray, M.A., B.L. for helping me throughout with the reading of the proofs.

In a book of this nature, it is quite possible that errors may creep in. I crave, therefore, the indulgence of scholars and scientists in this respect and shall be grateful if such mistakes are pointed out to me. The subject is a complicated one and criticisms and suggestions from scholars will be really helpful.


Chapter 1.
  Evolution of Hindu Medicine 1
  Hindu Medicine and the Vedas 3
Chapter 2.
  Chronology 5
  The Samhitas 5
  The Commentators 8
Chapter 3.
  Conception of the ancient Hindus regarding the physical world 11
  The Principle of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 11
  The Samkhya theory of cause and effect 12
  The Nyaya-Vaisesika System 15
  Dravya explained 17
  Guna defined 19
  Karma defined 19
  Gunas enumerated 20
  Samanya and Visesa 22
  Samavaya 23
Chapter 4.
  The Pancabhautika Theory of Matter 24
  The Five Tanmatras 24
  The Five Mahabhutas 24
  Bhutas are not elements 26
  Psychological explanation of Bhutas 26
  Pancabhautika matter 27
  The Bhutas and their qualities 28
  Properties of Pancabhautika matter 29
Chapter 5.
  The three Dosas are Dravyas 33
  Tridosa must be included in the six Padarthas 35
  Pitta is taijasa 36
  Kapha is apya 36
  The Vayu of the body 37
Chapter 6.
  The Tridosa as the causes of production, preservation and destruction of the body 39
  Vayu, Pitta and Kapha are the causes of production of the body 39
  Also of preservation of the body 41
  Also of destruction 42
  Prthivi and Akasa are not the causes of destruction 43
Chapter 7.
  The Nature and physical properties of the Tridosa 45
  The Nature of the Tridhatu 46
  Nature and physical properties of Vayu 48
  Physical properties of Vayu 50
  Physical properties of Pitta 52
  Physical properties of Kapha 53
Chapter 8.
  Locations of the three Dosas in the normal body 56
  Seats of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 56
Chapter 9.
  Classification of the three Dosas 61
  Fivefold divisions of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 61
Chapter 10.
  General functions of the normal Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 65
  Normal functions of Vayu 65
  Normal functions of Pitta 68
  Normal functions of Kapha 69
  The Prana Vayu 69
  The Udana Vayu 71
  The Samana Vayu 72
  The Vyana Vayu 73
  The Apana Vayu 73
  The Pacaka Pitta 74
  The Ranjaka Pitta 77
  The Sadhaka Pitta 77
  The Alocaka Pitta 77
  The Bhrajaka Pitta 78
  The Kledaka Kapha 78
  The Avalambaka Kapha 79
  The Bodhaka Kapha 80
  The Tarpaka Kapha 80
  The S'lesaka Kapha 81
  The Hrdaya and the Nabhi 83
Chapter 11.
  A comparative study with modern science 85
  Identification of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 85
Chapter 12.
  Agni and digestion 90
  Different Agnis 90
  Food and digestion 92
  Place where food is digested 94
  General process of digestion 95
Chapter 13.
  The production of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha of the body 97
  Production of Kapha 97
  Production of Pitta 99
  Production of Vayu 102
  Production of Food-Rasa 103
Chapter 14.
  Production of Dhatus in the body 105
  Circulation of Rasa 105
  Production of Dhatus 106
  Digestion of Dhatus 106
  Digestion of Rasa Dhatu 107
  Liver and Spleen 108
  Digestion of Blood 110
  Digestion of Mamsa 111
  Digestion of Medas 111
  Digestion of Asthi 112
  Digestion of Majja 112
  Digestion of S'ukra 112
  Circulation of Rasa Dhatu 113
  Nature of Circulation 116
  Production of Upa-Dhatus 118
  Production of Malas 120
  Prasada and Mala 122
Chapter 15.
  The Nourishment of the body 125
  Method of Nourishment 125
  Nourishment of the Dosas 125
  Nourishment of the Dhatus 126
  Nourishment of the Upa-dhatus 128
  Nourishment of the Malas 129
  Normal quantities of Dhatus 130
Chapter 16.
  The Prakrtis 135
  Heredity 136
  The Temperaments 141
Chapter 17.
  The different Prakrtis 146
  Vataja temperament 146
  Pittaja 147
  Kaphaja 147
Chapter 18.
  The abnormal Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 150
  What constitutes a disease 150
  Classification of disease 152
  Tridosa are the role agents for producing a disease 154
  Dosas and disease as cause and effect 155
Chapter 19.
  Causes of derangement of Dosas 158
  General causes of disease 158
  Asatmyendriyarthasamyoga 159
  Prajnaparadha 160
  Parinama 161
  Causes of derangement of Vayu 161
  Causes of derangement of Pitta 162
  Causes of derangement of Kapha 163
Chapter 20.
  Functions of Deranged Dosas 164
  Functions of abnormal Vayu 164
  Functions of abnormal Pitta 165
  Functions of abnormal Kapha 165
  Waning, aggravation and expansion of Dosas 166
  Accumulation of Dosas 167
Chapter 21.
  First principle of medical treatment 169
  Fundamental principle of treatment 170
Chapter 22.
  Relation between Dosas and Rasas 173
  Rasas and Bhutas 173
Chapter 23.
  Different kind of treatment 175
  Mitigators of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 175
  The seven Dhatus 177
  Index 181
Contents of Sanskrit Texts
  Nature and description of the three Dosas 1
  Properties of normal Vayu 3
  Nature of unmixed Vayu 3
  Influence of Vayu in the origination of diseases 5
  Catalytic power of Vayu 6
  Normal functions of the atmospheric air 6
  Abnormal functions of the atmospheric air 6
  Properties of Vayus of different directions 7
  Description of disease-producing outside air 8
  Properties of normal Pitta 8
  Pitta and Agni 9
  Properties of normal Kapha 9
  Locations of the Tridosa in the body 10
  Function of normal Vayu 12
  Function of normal Pitta 13
  Function of normal Kapha 14
  The five Vayus 15
  The five Pittas 18
  The five Kapha 22
  functions of Agni 24
  Digestion of food 24
  Seven Dhatu-agnis 25
  Upa-dhatus 25
  Successive production of Dhatus 26
  Production of Malas 26
  Nourishment of the Dhatus in a cycle 27
  Localisation of disease 27
  Nourishment of one Dhatu by another 27
  Value of food 28
  Food as fuel for body fire 28
  Agent for the proper digestion of food 28
  Nourishment of the body by food 29
  Divergent views regarding the method of nourishment 30
  Formation of one Dhatu different in nature from the preceeding one 37
  The posya and posaka Rasa Dhatu 38
  Importance of food and Rasa 40
  Successive production of Dhatus 42
  Production of Dosa, Dhatu and Mala 43
  Method of circulation of Rasa Dhatu 43
  Nourishment of the Upa-dhatus 45
  Physiology of digestion as described by Vagbhata I 47
  Agni as vitiator 48
  Agni as digestant 48
  Successive production of Kapha, Pitta and Vayu 48
  Production and nourishment of Dhatus and Malas 48
  Physiology of digestion as described by Vagbhata II 50
  Prasada and Kitta 52
  Normal functions of Dhatus, Upa-dhatus and Malas 53
  Normal quantities of some Dhatus and Upa-dhatus 53
  The different Bhuta-parts of the body 55
  Vayu as the agent in the conjunction and disjunction of the cells of the body 56
  The formation of the embryo 56
  Nourishment of the embryo by the food-Rasa of the mother 57
  Influence of Vayu in the growth of the foetus 58
  Influence of Vayu, Pitta and kapha in the development of the embryo 58
  The reason for the non-existence of excreta, etc of the foetus 59
  Effecting of breathing, etc of the foetus 59
  The temperaments 60
  Mixed temperaments 69
  Non-changeability of temperament 69
  Temperaments according to Bhutas 69
  Temperaments due to Vayu 71
  Temperaments due to Pitta 73
  Temperaments due to Kapha 76
  The definition of a disease 80
  Classification of disease 80
  Tridosa as the sole agents for producing a disease 86
  General causes of disease 92
  Causes of derangement of Dosas 99
  Reasons for the appearance and non-appearance of diseases 102
  Functions of abnormal Vayu 105
  Symptoms of abnormal Vayu aggravated in different part of the body 107
  Symptoms of Vayu covered by Pitta and Kapha 110
  Functions of abnormal Pitta 112
  Functions of abnormal Kapha 112
  Dosas in relation to the six seasons 114
  Symptoms of aggravated or waning Dosas 114
  Symptoms of highly aggravated Tridosa 116
  Symptoms waning Dosas 117
  The spreading-out of Dosas 118
  Why the Dosas go from the abdominal region to the Dhatus 120
  Normal and abnormal functions of Dosas in the respective siras 121
  Symptoms of aggravated Dosas in the respective Dhatus 122
  Mature and immature Dosas 123
  Causes of the Dosas remaining immature 125
  Eighty kinds of Vata-diseases 127
  Forty kind of Pitta diseases 128
  Twenty kind of Kapha diseases 128
  Etymological interpretation of Kala or time 130
  Divisions and subdivisions of time 130
  Division of the year into six seasons 130
  Natural aggravation and accumulation of Dosas in the different seasons 133
  Scope and use of Ayurveda 137
  Necessity of medical treatment 138
  What is medical treatment 139
  What to do when a disease is not specified by any name 140
  Appropriate time for medical treatment 140
  First principle of medical treatment 140
  General advice as to mental diseases 142
  Method of observation and examination 142
  Definition of Rasas: their origin 145
  The six Rasas 145
  Different kinds of treatment 150
  Treatment of immature Dosas 153
  General principles of treatment 155
  Mitigators of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha 157
  Ministrations according to temperaments 163


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