The Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda
The Metaphysics of Ayurveda
According to the Ayurvedic theory of the universe, the material universe evolved from the five basic elements: Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Space. All living and non-living beings, organic and inorganic, from peas to planets, are mix of these five elements – with different compositions of each element. When they enter into the physiology of a living organism, human for example, they acquire a biological form. When any of these elements are imbalanced within our body or in the environment, they will influence our health and make us sick. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the influence of these elements.
While we are a composite of the five elements, certain elements are seen to have the ability to combine and thereby create various physiological functions. In Ayurveda, we study these functions and the influence of the five basic elements, which fall under three classifications known as Doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
The wind and space elements are combined to form the Vata principle. The Vata dosha can be seen as the force that directs nerve impulses, blood circulation, respiration and elimination of wastes (sweat, urine and other waste products of the body). It also controls the various movements of the body, both physical and mental, including breathing, heart beats, extension and contraction of muscles, etc.
The manifestation of fire element. It is associated with body temperature and is also a primary force for any kind of transformation in our biological processes. The major functions of Pitta are digestion and metabolism of food, appetite, maintaining the body temperature and maintaining skin softness and clear complexion. It is also active in the functions of the liver, eyes and brain.
The combination of earth and water elements manifest as Kapha, which is the heaviest of all three doshas! The major functions of Kapha are maintaining the shape, structure and lubrication of the body, performing physical movement and tasks, growth of body tissues and fertility. Kapha also acts as a balancing force between the restlessness of Vata types and laziness of Pitta types.
The interplay among these three doshas determines the qualities and conditions of our body and mind. A harmonious state of the three doshas creates balance and health; an imbalance, which might be an excess or deficiency of a dosha, manifests as a symptom of disease.