What is Ayurveda? Tridosha theory, Astangas and Panchmahabhuta

by in General 23/07/2021

Definition of Ayurveda:

AYURVEDA is a Sanskrit word, in which Ayur means ‘lifespan’ and Veda means ‘to know’. Thus, it refers to the science which deals with knowledge of longevity and life.


It highlights on 2 core motives that is

  1. To cure the diseases of a diseased person
  2. To protect the health of a healthy people by preventing diseases and helps us to focus on maintaining a perfect health. various procedures have been explained how to escape from reoccurrence of diseases and counter the illness by living a healthier life. Hence, focusing on preventive aspect also.

Another primary objective of Ayurveda is Trisutra. Tri means ‘three’ and sutra means ‘formula’. It basically works on these 3 principles while treating the patients.

  1. Hetu – the cause of disease. Finding the cause od disease. Different causes are explained. it can be unhealthy food, lifestyle disorder, environmental factors and so on
  2. Linga- detail discussion on signs and symptoms
  3. Aushadha– treatment for numerous ailments are mentioned.


Ayurveda’s deep roots are from India. It is one of the oldest Indian medical science having a holistic healing approach, by creating a complete balance between body, soul, and mind in an herbal way. It is the system having its own anatomy and physiology which existed in that era which is a remarkable contribution from India. Furthermore, Only Ayurveda explains the ideal time to wake up (Brahma muhurta), how to start a daily routine, Brief explanation of the seasonal regimen and diet to be consumed according to seasons to live a healthy life. Also, internal body cleansing-detoxification therapies (panchkarma), rejuvenating, and boosting immunity recipes like chavanpraash are described. We also find in-depth explanations on how to avert geriatric disorders.

It teaches us the 4 main pursuits (purushartha) of life:

  1. Dharma– to follow the right path and learning the moral values of life.
  2. Artha– how to earn wealth and property in a righteous way
  3. Kama– fulfilling one’s longings and desires. Enjoying all the materialistic pleasures in a righteous way
  4. Moksha– to get free from the vicious cycle of life and death. Thus, enlightening the path of salvation.

This ageless and universally accepted health science has continued and embraced in this modern era because of its indigenous healing system. And today India has a lot of universities and colleges teaching various courses related to Ayurveda.

Period of Ayurveda:

We get comprehensive references about Ayurveda in the ancient scripture called Atharvaveda. In Sanskrit, they explain Ayurveda as upaveda of Atharvaveda which means practical knowledge of Atharvaveda. Several diseases and their cure have been quoted. To add, the complete narration is in form of shlokas. There is no fixed period for Ayurveda but scholars estimate that the hymns were compiled in 6000 BC.

The mythological story behind Ayurveda:

According to Indian mythology, Lord Brahma is the creator of the earth. It is believed that the recognition of Ayurveda is timeless (anadi kaal) and existed before life existed on earth. Lord Brahma recollected and recited the wisdom of Ayurveda to his administrator named Prajapati. His duty was to foster and manage the whole world. Furthermore, Prajapati orated this divine science to twin brothers named Ashwini kumaras who were famously known as physicians of gods. Then this knowledge was shared with lord Indra the king of gods. Until this time the knowledge of Ayurveda existed only in heaven.

Later on, when the people on the earth started suffering from numerous diseases and whole humanity was in great mental agony. The meeting was conducted by the great sages and they decided to learn this precious knowledge from Lord Indra. Among all, sage Bhardwaj was selected. And Lord Indra preached this celestial health science to him.  Sage Bhardwaj further propagated to his colleagues and followers. For centuries this graceful information regarding Ayurveda is constantly flowing and never ended. This reference is taken from a book name Sushrut Samhita.

Branches of Ayurveda (ashtanga’s):

‘Asta’ means 8 and ‘Anga’ means limbs. So, Ayurveda is divided into eight branches of specialization.  That is to do a master’s in the subject you are interested in. Sages divided into different branches in that era is a salient feature of this science that everyone noticed.

  1. Kaya chikitsa (department of general medicine)
  2. Bala chikitsa (department of pediatrics)
  3. Graha chiktsa (psychosomatic disorders)
  4. shalya chikitsa (ENT disorders)
  5. Shaya chikitsa (surgery department)
  6. Damstra chikitsa (forensic and toxicology)
  7. Jara chikitsa (anti-oxidant therapy)
  8. Vajikaran (the science of reproduction)

  1. kaya chikitsa:

The word kaya refers to body and chikitsa means treatment. It deals with general ailments such as all types of fever, cough, diarrhea, diabetes, hypertension, etc. All the metabolic and systemic disorders are discussed here.  Today we can compare this branch to general physician.

  1. Bala chikitsa:

Bala means children. It deals with diseases of children.  Babies cannot speak and they are unable to explain their symptoms. Moreover, the dosage of medicines varies from adults, and palatable medicines were needed to formulate.  Thus, a separate branch was dedicated. It not only deals with vivid child ceremonies (samskaras) like sacred thread ceremony, traditions to born and brought up child, food, and nutrition but also deals with prenatal and postnatal baby care. Today we can compare this division to pediatrics.

  1. Graha chikitsa:

It deals with diseases caused by external factors such as evil spirits, demons, and idiopathic disorders. Today we can compare this sub-division to psychosomatic disorders.

  1. Shalakya chikitsa:

It deals with diseases above clavicle bone. Ailments related to ears, nose, throat, eyes, tongue, teeth, and cephalic diseases. We can compare this to ENT disorders.

  1. Shalya chikitsa:

This branch is related to surgery. Diseases that are caused by foreign bodies and diseases which cannot be cured by medicines are conferred here. Description of various surgical procedures, various instruments and their sterilization, types of sutures, and dead body preservation are mentioned. Also, alkaline substances in hemorrhoids, wound management, bloodletting therapies (rakta mokshana) for impure blood are taught in-depth.

  1. Damstra chikitsa:

Signs, symptoms, and treatment of various poisonous cases are dealt. Poison due to insects, reptiles, plants, and metals is told. To add, air and water pollution causing epidemics have also conversed. We can link this branch to today’s forensic and toxicology.

  1. Rasayan:

It deals with geriatric health problems, therapies for rejuvenation and restoring vitality. Prevention of diseases, promotion of longevity and intellect, as well as boosting immunity. Innumerable formulas for anti-aging and premature aging are shared. Presently we can call it anti-oxidant therapy.

  1. Vajikaran:

Secrets of how to enhance virility and have a qualitative progeny are described. How to Improve the quality and quantity of semen, improve sexual interest. Solutions for infertility and sterility, aphrodisiac-rich diet, and recipes are mentioned.  Today we can equivalence it to the science of progeny.

Concepts of Ayurveda:

This science has some unique concepts. I am trying to introduce few basic theories in Ayurveda.

Concept of five basic elements (panchmahabhuta):

  1. Earth
  2. Water
  3. Fire
  4. Air
  5. Ether

Our whole universe is made up of earth, water, air, fire, and space. Everything in this universe is the amalgamation of these panchmahabhutas. Likewise, all the living organisms are also made up of these bhutas and another crucial factor called tridoshas.

Concept three principle energies (Tridoshas):

  1. Vaat
  2. Pitta
  3. Kapha

For a plant to grow soil, water and sun are the essential factors. correspondingly, to regulate our body vaat, pitta and kapha are the three main vertices or the building blocks of our body. Three of them are collectively called doshas. There are no English terminologies for vaat, pitta and kapha. These are their Sanskrit names. The imbalance of these doshas causes diseases of the body and mind. Balancing these doshas leads to one’s well-being. Hence, Ayurveda emphasizes balancing them.

It is quite difficult to understand these doshas in few sentences because each dosha has subtypes, various functions at different body parts, and a single Dosha’s qualities (gunas) are explained. Individual dosha when works improperly their symptoms and abnormalities have been stated. On this basis, the treatment aspect is planned.  To sum up, vaat, pitta, kapha control our body and mind.

Vaat constitutes sky and air, pitta is made up of fire and water, kapha is developed from earth and water.

Vaat = sky + air

Pitta = fire+ water

Kapha= earth + water

  1. Vaat dosha:

Vaat is responsible for movement. It gives mobility to all the functions occurring in our body such as voluntary- involuntary moments of the body, blood circulation, hearting beating, inhalation, exhalation, the expulsion of urine, excreta, blinking of eyes, and so on.

  1. Pitta dosha:

It helps in regulating body temperature. It is mainly responsible for digestion including the cellular and chemical level of digestion; metabolism, absorption, assimilation. For example, breaking carbohydrates into sugar. Also, pitta is responsible for one’s appetite.

  1. Kapha dosha:

It provides structure to our body as well as lubrication to joints, ligaments, and muscles. It nourishes the body and helps in the regeneration and repairing of cells.

Ayurvedic medicines are made up of:

  • Plant-based
  • Metal and mineral-based
  • Herbo-mineral

Medicines are mainly derived from plants. Also, include metal, mineral, and animal products. Importance is also given to food, exercise, lifestyle, and contraindicated diets.

 Ayurveda is an alternative system of medicine because:

There are many instances wherein acute conditions like accidents, surgical procedures, op poison, heart attack, etc. where other science gives faster relief compare to Ayurveda.

 Ayurveda is gaining importance around the globe because:
  • Because it has minimal side effects. Another system of medicines does cause drug toxicity and harms the body in long term.
  • Preventive measures
  • Every individual has a unique body constitution (prakriti). So, every person is different from one another. While giving the medicines this point is also considered. For the same disease in Ayurveda, the line of treatment and medication varies from individual to individual.
  • Yoga is a part of Ayurveda
  • Excellent results in chronic illness.
  • Immune modulator.
  • Usage of herbal products
  • Detoxification procedures




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