We all know that cells are the basic units of our body. Cells aggregate to form tissues, which in turn make our body framework. These tissues i.e., group of cells need food to work, and it also expels the waste material out of that digested food.
But Ayurveda presents this theory in a different way. It believes that it is not cells that make our body but Dosha, dhatus & mala. These three are also called as the ‘Mula (Root)’ of our body.
Doshas, dhatus, and malas form the integral cause of the human body. Our body has no existence without these three entities. Ayurveda describes that it is the normal functions of these three & mind that maintains health and their deranged services contribute to disease.
In general, we cannot directly see doshas, but we can assess them by their functions while the other two are the material elements of our body. These three are composed of Panchamahabhutas, and ultimately, it is the five essential elements which rule our body.
So, what exactly are the Dosha, dhatu, and mala? Let’s know more about them.
What is Dosha (Vital Body Energy)?
Dosha is the primary factor of the body which maintains its integrity. The available description of doshas is qualitative and hence, cannot be quantitatively determined. These doshas cannot be seen as they are an energy form of pancamahabhutas.
Basically doshas are three; namely, Vata, Pitta & Kapha called Tridoshas. The harmony of these doshas results in well-being, whereas their disharmony may cause ill-health or even death.
Doshas represent groups of physiological activities going on continuously in the body, so long as we are alive. Hence, complicated events are easily understood with proper knowledge of doshas.
These three doshas form the basis of all the concept of diagnosis, treatment, drug, diet, etc. They support the body similar to pillars supporting a building. Each Dosha supports and controls body activities in a coordinated way.
Vata dosha can be described as a self-generating and self-propagating force which keeps kapha, pitta, dhatus, and malas in motion. It drives the cells to grow & divide and produces a complex organism
Vata is the most powerful amongst Tridosha and the sole factor responsible for the development of organism out of a single cell. It regulates all vital functions and structures of the body.
In other words, the concept of vata can be attributed to the activities of the neuroendocrine systems and in some instances, catabolic activities also.
The word pitta means to heat, burn, or warm. Pitta is described as Agni (fire) as its functions resemble that of fire. It represents the energy element in our body.
Pitta manifests itself in different forms and chemical activities essential for digestion & assimilation.
Pitta is the energy which guides all the metabolic activities of the body and maintains body temperature. It also prepares the field for the perception of light stimuli and responsible for intellect.
In short, pitta can be correlated to the enzymes responsible for cellular and metabolic functions of the body.
The word kapha means the product of water. Kapha dosha is a cooling, sustaining, and preserving principle in living body. It is a stable constituent when compared to the other two doshas.
Kapha is also called as ‘Shleshma’ which means to keep together as it binds all the tissues of the body together. It is the potential source of strength and resistance against diseases.
Actions of kapha can be ascribed to that of fluid balance, nutrition, tissue-building, immunological, and anabolic activities.
The word ‘dosha’ means, which is susceptible to corrupt. They deviate quickly from their normal activities to abnormal if resorted to faulty diet and regimen, thus causing disorders. So, all diseases, even those yet to evolve, can be managed by knowledge of doshas.
What is Dhatu?
The word Dhatu means to support. Dhatu is that which supports body, mind, and life.
Dhatus constitute the material substrate of the body. In modern terminology, it can be called as body tissues. Dhatus not only supports the body but are nutritional and structural factors.
Dhatus exist in two forms – stationary and circulating. Stationary dhatus make up the underlying architecture of the body and exists in material form. These are continuously formed and destroyed to maintain a state of dynamic equilibrium, known as health.
Circulating dhatus comprise the nutrient substances, which provides nutrition and forms stationary ones. Stationary dhatus or the seven kinds of body tissues which form organ systems include:
- Rasa – plasma and lymph
- Rakta – blood cells
- Mamsa – muscular tissue
- Meda – fatty tissue
- Asthi – bones
- Majja – bone marrow and nervous tissues
- Shukra – reproductive tissue
It is the first dhatu formed, and it carries nutrients to all the other dhatus in the body. Hence, it is regarded as the most crucial dhatu for the healthy growth of other dhatus.
Rasa is compared with the blood plasma, lymph, and essence of the food. This dhatu itself originates from properly digested food as a transparent extract. The way of the distribution of nutrition by Rasa dhatu to other dhatus is described in detail in Ayurvedic texts.
Precisely, the pathway of nutrition can be compared to the supplying of water from a well to various portions of a field through channels. The nutrition is distributed in a particular sequence of dhatus:
Rasa —> Rakta —> Mamsa —> Meda —> Asthi —> Majja —> Shukra
Rasa dhatu circulates through the heart through 24 channels and hence provides nutrition to each cell of the body, thereby giving a feeling of satisfaction.
All fluids like water, milk, buttermilk, fruit juices, soups, meat juices, etc. nourishes rasa dhatu.
Rakta is the red colored fluid i.e., blood formed from the rasa dhatu. It is circulated through the heart to all the tissues in our body.
Rakta nourishes the rest of the dhatus and gives strength & complexion to the body. Blood circulation forms the basis of human life. Life of every person depends on ‘prana’ supplied by Rakta.
Prana is nothing but the energy for the body to live on. It can be compared to the oxygen present in the air we breathe.
Sweet & sour foods like dates, jaggery, and citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, etc. enhance the formation of Rakta dhatu.
This dhatu gives a specific shape to the body and forms the muscular & bulky part of the body. It is located in every part of the body.
The general function of Mamsa dhatu is to cover up the skeletal body, forms walls of organs, gives them firmness, and maintains body posture.
Food mainly dominant in earth element enhances the growth of muscle tissue like pulses, wheat, fruits like dates, banana, apple, etc. while animal meat directly builds muscular tissues.
Meda dhatu lubricates the body and makes the body flexible. It acts as a shock absorber and protects the body from trauma. Yellowish fat tissues found under the skin & around almost every organ is nothing but Meda dhatu.
It is present around every organ and joints. Meda also forms sweat, provides softness, stability, and enhances the strength of the body by minimizing the wear & tear process of the body. It also protects the body from excess cold or hot climate.
If Meda increases, it causes obesity, physical weakness, and decreased body resistance to diseases.
Animal fat, butter, clarified butter, oily and sweet foods increases Meda dhatu.
Asthi dhatu (bones) is the framework of our body. It is the hardest dhatu and is covered by muscular tissues.
Asthi dhatu is stiff, rough, hard, and dry. It contains cavities in which pancabhautic element of air resides thus making bones hollow from inside.
Asthi dhatu supports the body, protects the vital organs from trauma, and maintains homeostasis of the body. It wraps the bone marrow as well as protects & nourishes it.
Intake of elements similar to bones increases the strength of bones like calcium present in bones of animals, corals, etc.
Majja (bone marrow) is thought to be the extracted juice of the Asthi dhatu secreted into the inside cavity of bones. As it is located deep inside the cavities of bones, hence it is challenging to examine.
Majja is actually in a liquid form, soft and non-sticky material and can be correlated with nervous tissues.
Majja dhatu fills the space in the bones, thus lubricating bones and makes them flexible & durable. It enhances the endurance power of all joints of the body and nourishes Shukra dhatu.
Sweet, oily, and bitter foods enhance the strength of Majja dhatu.
The last dhatu formed and nourished from rasa is Shukra dhatu. It is said to be the purest form of dhatu in the body.
In males, semen is believed to be Shukra dhatu while in females it is their ovum or egg. Reproduction is the most essential function of the Shukra dhatu. It produces new life by nourishing the reproductive tissues of both male and female.
It also provides strength to the body. Milk, ghee, animal meat, sweet foods nourish Shukra dhatu.
Inherent relation of Dosha & Dhatu
Dhatus are also called as Dushya because they are liable to be vitiated by the disturbed doshas. Otherwise, Tridosha is always present in the dhatus in their standard form as doshas work through the dhatus, and both cannot function without each other.
Concisely speaking doshas do the function, and dhatus provide the site for doshas to function.
Vata dosha resides in Asthi dhatu while pitta dosha in Rakta dhatu. Kapha resides in rest of the dhatus like Rasa, Mamsa, Meda, Majja and Shukra dhatu.
What is Mala ?
Malas are impurities of the body which are regularly eliminated from the body and thus keep the body clean. The excretory products of digestion and metabolism constitute malas. These are known as mala due to their principle property of toxification.
Malas in proper proportions and balanced state sustain and support the body like Dosha and dhatus, which is why it is one of the trinity of body. In Ayurveda, three malas are regarded as necessary:
1. Purisha (Feces)
It is the waste product formed from food in the intestines. Undigested food forms the significant bulk of Purisha. It mainly supports the body.
Weakness, fatigue, dehydration during diarrhea proves that Purisha in intestines is required to support the body. Formation and regular elimination of Purisha maintains a balanced state of vata dosha and Agni (digestive fire).
Increase in Purisha causes abdominal bulging, pain, and heaviness, while its decrease causes gurgling sounds, pain in flanks, and abdominal discomfort.
2. Mutra (Urine)
Mutra is the liquid wastes of the food after assimilation. It is formed in the urinary system. Mutra transports the unctuous moisture in the body and maintains the normal fluid volume in the body.
Increase in Mutra caused pain in the lower abdomen and increased frequency of urination, while its decrease causes a change in urines color, blood in urine, scanty urine, and difficulty in passing urine.
3. Sweda (Sweat)
Now we know that it is produced by metabolism of Meda dhatu and is excreted through the skin. Vata dosha helps in excretion of Sweda.
Sweda holds moisture on the skin and maintains its texture. It nourishes hair follicles of the skin and also controls the body heat.
Increased Sweda causes terrible body odor, itching while its decrease leads to rough skin hair and dry skin.
Dosha, Dhatu & Mala: Base of body
According to Ayurveda, only a stable condition of Dosha, dhatu, and mala is the healthy condition of the body. Any imbalance in either of them causes disorders.
All three of them are intricately connected. Vata is related to Asthi dhatu; Pitta is associated with Sweda and Rakta. Kapha is associated with the rest of dhatus and malas.
Because of this relationship, medicine and practices, which brings about an increase or decrease of one Dhatu, automatically brings about the same state to the related dosha and vice-versa.
For instance, if we take medicines to enhance our blood production then pitta automatically gets increased or sedentary lifestyle increases kapha dosha which in turn increases Meda dhatu (fatty tissues).
Thus, Dosha, dhatu, and mala are not only crucial from the structural view but also the diagnosis & treatment point of view.
The accurate understanding of this physiological theory helps in discerning the pharmacological activity of various substances, nurture of multiple tissues, and the occurrence of diseases in dhatu.
Hence, we should equally protect Dosha, dhatu, and mala from any abnormality with healthy food and practices.