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  Articles » Ayurveda & Health » Article Description :
THE THREE DOSHAS - Vata, Pitta & Kapha
Posted on: Saturday,July 4th 2009 By  India Abundance
According to the ancient Vedic seers, there are three basic forces in existence. First is a principle of energy that gives movement, velocity, direction, animation and motivation. Life is nothing but a play of forces, continually changing and interacting. As modern science confirms, matter is energy and what seems solid is a static appearance of innumerable, subtle moving currents.

This energy of life is called Prana, meaning the primal breath or life-force. All energy follows a movement of inhalation and exhalation like the breath, expanding and contracting in a perpetual ebb and flow. All material energy is a development of the power of life itself. Energy is life and even inanimate energy holds a secret life-force. The ancient seers perceived the energy of the universe as the manifestation of Prana, ever seeking greater awareness, freedom and creative unfoldment.

Hidden in all energy is the working of a conscious will. Energy is will in action in the outer world. Behind will is sentience or consciousness as the power of determination. Prana is also the Purusha; energy is also the primal spirit. Life itself is being, the consciousness principle. There is an inner working of intelligence behind the movement of energy in the world. This natural or organic intelligence is conscious and sure in its plan and method; not by choice or intention but intuitively and spontaneously as a movement of pure beauty and harmony. Its glory is manifest in all nature, from the flowers to the stars.

The second of the triad of primal forces is a principle of light or radiance. Energy is light, Jyoti. Energy as it moves, undergoes transformation, and gives off light and heat. Energy is an electrical force, which like lightning has its own luminosity. There is a natural warmth to all life and a natural light behind all energy. Behind all life is a principle of perception, a transparency that manifests as intelligence and consciousness. In all chemical reactions is concealed the power of light as the ability of consciousness to transform itself. Within the first spark is latent the light of the highest awareness. This principle of light goes along with life and guides its function.

The third of these forces is a principle of cohesion that allows for consistency and the development of form. Behind all manifestation is a common unity. There is an interlinking of forces into a single rhythm. There is an affinity of forces that links them together in one great harmony. This cohesiveness is not only a chemical property; it also reveals a conscious intent. It manifests the power of love, Prema. Love is the real force that holds all things together. Love unfolds the manifestation and ensures its continuity, sustaining all creatures in their life and awareness.

These three principles are one-life is light, which is also love. The energetic principle (life) possesses a radiance (light), which in turn has a bonding power (love). We must ever seek greater life, light and love because this is the nature of the universe itself.

In the Vedas, the great god Indra, the dragon slayer and wielder of the vajra (thunderbolt), symbolizes the power of life that can overcome all obstacles. The spirit of light is Agni, the god of fire, the divinity of vision and of sacrifice who upholds all transformations. The spirit of love is Soma, the nectar of immortality that gives nourishment and delight to all. Hidden in cryptic Vedic mantras is the primal code of cosmic law, the key to the universal force on all its levels. Through these Vedic mantras we can learn to balance and control the forces of life. This not only creates health but also gives the basis for rejuvenation of the mind and the transformation of consciousness.

These three forces of life, light and love relate to the three great elements of air, fire and water. According to ancient mythology, in the beginning Heaven and Earth were one. There was no space between them for creatures to live. Then, by the will of the Creator, the gods came into being and separated Heaven and Earth, drawing apart the two firmaments. In the space between Heaven and Earth, the gods set in motion the life-force to give room for creatures to grow. This life-force became the atmosphere in which the elements of air, fire and water as wind, sun and rain provide for the development of life.


Ayurveda recognizes three primary life-forces in the body, or three biological humors called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which correspond to the elements of air, fire and water. As the active or mobile elements, they determine the life processes of growth and decay.

The Ayurvedic term for humor is dosha, meaning that which darkens, spoils or causes things to decay. When out of balance, the doshas are the causative forces behind the disease process.

VATA is the biological air humor, also translated as wind. It means ‘that which moves things’. Vata dosha is the motivating force behind the other two doshas, which are ‘lame’, incapable of movement without it. It governs sensory and mental balance and orientation, and promotes mental adaptability and comprehension.

PITTA is the biological fire humor, also translated as bile. Its meaning is ‘that which digests things’. Pitta dosha is responsible for all chemical and metabolic transformations in the body. It also governs our mental digestion, our capacity to perceive reality and understand things as they are.

KAPHA is the biological water humor, also translated as phlegm. It means ‘that which holds things together.’ Kapha dosha provides substance and gives support, and makes up the bulk of our bodily tissues. It also provides our emotional support in life, and relates to positive emotional traits like love, compassion, modesty, patience and forgiveness.

Each dosha exists in a second element that serves as the medium for its manifestation, acting as its container.

VATA, air, is contained in ether. It resides in the empty spaces in the body and fills up the subtle channels.

PITTA, fire, exists in the body as water or oil. It exists mainly in an acid form, as fire cannot exist directly in the body without destroying it.

KAPHA, water, exists in the medium of earth, which contains it. Our physical composition is mainly water contained within the boundaries of our skin and mucus membranes (earth).
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