Doshas In Ayurveda is one of the most misunderstood concepts. And it is somewhat difficult to explain to one without any Ayurvedic or Sanskrit background. There are many wrong understandings about Ayurveda due to lack of explanation in the mainstream language English. Nowadays malpractices using Ayurveda’s name are more, and they use the false principles and concepts which ultimately harm the patients. Here is a small attempt to explain Doshas for correct understanding.
Ayurveda follows Panchabhoota principle, and it is the foundation of Ayurveda.Everything which can be perceived by humans is made of Pancha-Mahabhootas, That is Air, Water, Fire, Earth, and Space and so is the human body. Variations in their combinations lead to different kinds of matter. We all know that a lot of simple as well as complex physiological activities are going on in our body continuously. So to simplify the understanding of these activities, they are classified under the concepts of three doshas namely Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
To understand Sanskrit terms we have to know the root meaning. Here the word Dosha is derived from root “dhush-vaikritya” (दुष्-वैकृत्ये). It means that which is susceptible to vitiation. Doshas are primary constitutional factors of the body, which maintain its integrity. Available description of doshas is qualitative as well as functional line and hence it cannot be quantitatively determined. (This is explained by using pancha mahabhoota principle, Humans still can perceive objects made of 5 elements only, Even structures which observed through microscopes can be classified based on Pancha-mahabhoota principle. There is no need of updating this principle unless situation occurs like increase in our sensory organs, or if we can perceive another element).
I hope now you have understood about Dosha; Hereafter I will explain the three doshas in brief.
Vata can be considered as the regulator of all the function in the human body. The term vata in Sanskrit is derived from the root which means “to move”, “to motivate” or “to stimulate”. So all the neuroendocrinal system can be correlated to vata dosha as all the movement, stimulation and motivation functions are carried out by these systems. There are many other functions for vata but mentioned some in the superficial level as an example for your easy understanding. Vata is again divided into five based on its function and location (Location means a functional area, not where we can see it, But Yes we can feel and understand its role.)
Pitta can be considered as the one which transforms, which heats, or digests. The Term Pitta is derived from the Sanskrit root which means to burn or digest. It has many resembles with the element fire as it is one of the building blocks of Pitta. So it can be correlated to the digestive system whose primary functions are digestion, assimilation, and metabolism. Pitta dosha also divided into five based on its role and location.
Similarly, the term kapha is derived from a root meaning “to embrace” or “to keep together” so it can be compared to everything that prevents. Kapha can be related to a potential source of strength, Immune functions. Bodily fluids which help in nutrition and immunity, fluid balance, etc. can connect to Kapha. Kapha also further divided into five types.
Here don’t think that In Ayurveda body functions are explained based on doshas. It’s not; there is an explanation of each organ, part, blood vessel, bone, etc. just like how modern medical science is. Doshas are explained to understand about the balance of all functions. The balanced state is Heath, and the imbalance causes ill health.
So Acharyas have succeeded in classifying all the physiological activities under these three doshas and are explained in deep. In much more straightforward way,
Any impairment of the function is considered as the vitiation of respective dosha.
Acharyas have explained the different herbs and medicines based on their effect on doshas. Many formations have been told with the explanation of its actions based on dosha and many other factors (Affected organs, location, the cause of each disease, body reactions, digestive power and much more). Treatment is selected by considering the vitiated dosha in the body along with other factors and the effect of these medications on the imbalances.