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Ayurvedic Principles

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Agni (Flame Energy)

 

Jataraagni changes the food which can be absorbable to the koshtam (intestinal tissues). The food that nourishes the dhaathus, ojas, strength, complexion etc. depends on agni because rasa and other dhaathus cannot be produced from undigested food. The quality and quantity of food intake differs among individuals based on agni. Maintain jataraagni as is one of the major signs of health. Ash taanga Sangraham describes jataraagni as the internal or body heat produced at various levels of changes in the formation of dosha, dhaatu and mala. Agni is more important because Only from the food that is digested by jataraagni are the body tissues or dhaathus formed. In the Bhagavat Geeta Sri Krishna says that he is present in all living things in the form of vaishvanara (agni) (B.G.Ch.XV, Shioka 14).

Functions & Form

Functions of Agni and its Importance
Charaka Samhita states that agni is responsible for life span, complexion, strength, health, enthusiasm, corpulence, lusture, immunity, energy, heat processes and praana. Agni is the root cause of both health and disease (Cha. Sam., Chi.15/1,2).Agni burns down(digest) any type or amount of food at any time.

What is the form of Agni
It is the tejomahabhootha located in the form of jataraagni in our body. But it is quite impossible for the “tejomahabhootha” to exist as such inside our body in the form of fire (with flames). It is present in our body in the form of “pittham’ or pitihadosha and is understood to have a samavaalja- avyabhichari- sambandha (an inseparable mutual relationship).

Classification of agni/pittha into five types :
1. Paachakaagni/Paachaka pittha : proper or improper digestion of food.
2. Alochakaagni/Alochaka pittha : vision or lack of vision
3. Bhraachakaagni/Bhraachaka pittha : normal and abnormal skin colour and body temperature.
4. Saadhakaagni/Saadhaka pittha : bravery or fearlessness and vice versa
5. Ranjakaagni/Ranjaka pittha : in the transformation of rasa dhaathu into rakiha dhaathu inside the body.

Types

Charaka gives three levels of Agni based on quality.They are,
1.Jataraagni vyaapaara is the activity of digestion of food ingested,
2.Bhootaagni vyaapaara is the activity of conversion of the aahaara rasa (product of digestion/essence of digestion) being brought to a more subtle form for acceptance by the dhaatwaagni.
3.Dhaatwaagni vyaapaara is the activity of each dhaathu being converted into the next, (e.g.) for the conversion of rasa into raktha, raktha into maamsa etc.

Actually Agni has 13 types.Jataragini is one among them and is most important and master of all agnis.The other twelve are the saptha dhaathwaagnis (seven agnis of the dhaathus) and the pancha bhoo(aagnis (five agnis of the mahabhoothas).

Types of Agni according to their nature

Mandaagni : here the agni is below normal or weak, seen in the predominance of kapha dosha.
Teekshnaagni : here the agni is very strong. seen in the predominance of pittha dosh.
Vishamaagni : here the agni is very erratic, at times it is manda and at times it is very teekshna. due to vaatha vitiation (vaatha vruddhi).
Samaagni : the agni is in its equilibrium and thus functions normally.

Weak Agni

Conditions when Agni is weak :

There are two conditions:

1 .Physiological conditions :Some examples are -

(a) In the summer season when the agni in our body is less intense
(b) After a period of fasting
(c) After snehana and swedana therapy (i.e., oleation and sweating). Snehana here includes both internal and external-byway of abhyanga.
In all such cases we should not over load the jataraagni with heavy and large quantities of food - we should take only light and easily digestible foods in small quantitites and gradually increase the quantity.

2. Pathological conditions :Some examples are

(a) Conditions of disease like grahani,jwaram, athisaaram and ars has
(b) Conditions of “aama”
(c) When one’s food habits are irregular.
In conditions like “juara” the power of digestion is weakened as the jataraagni is brought out by the vaathaadi doshas which move into the aamaashaya and mix with the aama dosha (Aama dosha is the product of improper digestion - it is the rasa dhaathu formed by the action of improper agni on the aahaara) causing obstruction of the channels (see the section on aama below).

Aama

Aama is the accumulation of undigested material. Aama actually means unripe, uncooked or undigested food. It is the end product of hypo-functional agni on aahaara and is an essential factor in the development of a disease.

Nature of Aama
Aama has been described as being avipakwam asamyuktham durgandham bahupicchilam sadanam sarvagaathranam aamam ithi abhidhiyathe i.e. it is in the form of incomplete digestion non homogenous, with bad odour, very sticky and produces lassitude of the whole body. As regards its origin, it is said - Ooshmano alpa balatwena dhaat hum aadhyam apaachitham dhush tam aamaashaya gatham rasam aamam prachakshyathe.The jataraagni maandhya leads to the improper digestion of aahaara rasa which in turn results in the improper formation of the initial end product i.e. aahaararasas.

A part of this aama may be absorbed in the system causing systemic manifestations which are as follows:

 1. Srothorodham    Obstruction in the channels
 2. Balabhramsham    Weakness of body and loss of weight
 3. Gowravam    Heaviness of the body
 4. Anilamoodatha    Derangement in the action of vaatha
 5. Aalasyam    Fatigue (a feeling of tiredness)
 6. Apakthi    Indigestion
 7. Nishtivam    Sticky discharge from the mouth
 8. Malasangarn    Constipation
 9. Aruchi    Distaste/Anorexia
 10. Kiama    Weariness


* The concept of aama is important both in the context of food and nutrition and the treatment of diseases. One should avoid food which would cause aama and also while treating a dis eas the aama or niraama (pakwa) stage of the disease has to be kept in mind.

 

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