Ayurveda believes that all living and non-living things in the universe are made of five basic elements Prithvi (Earth), Jala (Water), Teja (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Aakash (Ether). Even the human body is made up of these elements, which are collectively known as the panchamahabhutas. Various combinations of two of the elements further create the Tridoshas, which is another important basic principle the Ayurvedic system is based upon.
Vata Dosha :-
The elements combine with Ether and Air in dominance to form what is know in Ayurveda as Vata Dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration and elimination etc.
Pitta Dosha :-
The elements with Fire and Water in dominance combine to form the Pitta Dosha. The Pitta Dosha is responsible for the process of transformation or Metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that over bodies can assimilate is an example of a Pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism.
Kapha Dosha :-
The elements with Water and Earth in dominance combine to form the Kapha Dosha. Kapha is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by unit. It also offers protection, for example, in form of the cerebrospinal fluid, which protects the brain and spinal column.
We all are made up of unique proportion of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These ratios of the Doshas vary in each individual and because of this Ayurveda sees each person as a special mixture that accounts for our diversity.
Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three Doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a persons health challenges. When any of the Doshas become accumulates,Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the Dosha that has become excessive. Also Herbal Medicines will be suggested, to cure the imbalance and the disease.
Understanding this main principle of Ayurveda it offers us an explanation as to why one person responds different to a treatment or diet than another and why persons with the same disease might yet require different treatments and medications.
Other important basic principles of Ayurveda which are briefly mentioned are :
1. Dhatus :- These are the basic tissues which maintains and nourish the body. They are seven in number namely- Rasa (Chyle), Raktha (Blood), Mansa (Muscles),Meda (Fatty Tissues), Asthi (Bone), Majja (Narrow) and Shukra (Reproductive Tissue). Proper amount of each dhatu and their balanced function is very important for good health.
2. Mala :- These are the waste materials produced as a result of various metabolic activities in the body. They are mainly urine, feaces, sweat etc. Proper elimination of the malas is equally important for good health. Accumulation of malas causes many diseases in the body.
3. Srotas :- These are different types of channels which are responsible for transportation of foods, dhatus, malas and doshas. Proper functioning of srotas is necessary for transporting different materials to the site of their requirement. Blockage of srotas causes many diseases.
4. Agni :- These are different types of enzymes responsible for digestion and transforming one material to another.
All these factors should function in a proper balance for good health. They are inter-related and are directly or indirectly responsible for maintaining equilibrium of the tridoshas.
Balance and Harmony of the Three Doshas :
When the three doshas are well harmonised and function in a balanced manner ,it results in good nourishment and well being of the individual. But when there is imbalance or disharmony within or between them, it will result in elemental imbalance, leading to various kinds of ailments.
The Ayurvedic concept of physical health revolves round there three Doshas and its primary purpose is to help maintain them in a balanced state and thus to prevent disease.