Metaphysics of Ayurveda
According to ayurvedic theory of universe, the material universe is 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 composition 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 the 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 an ability to combine to create various physiological functions. In Ayurveda we study these functions or influence of the five basic elements under three classifications known as doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
Vata: The wind and space elements are combined to from 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 respiration, heart beats, motivation and contraction of muscles etc.
Pitta: The manifestation of Fire element, it is associated with temperature of our body and also a primary force for any kind of transformation in our biological processes. The major functions of pitta are digestion and metabolism of food, maintaining the body temperature, appetite for food and drinks, to maintain the softness and complexion of the skin. It is also active in the functions of liver, eyes and brain.
Kapha: The combination of earth and water elements manifest as Kapha – the heaviest of all the three doshas! The major functions of Kapha are maintaining 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 and laziness of Pitta.
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, manifests as a symptom of disease.
Branches of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is also known as “asthanga veda” (Eight fold Knowledge) as it is divided in to eight specialized branches. They are as follows: