Excerpts from Ayurveda and Marma Therapy by Dr.David Frawley, Dr.Subhash Ranade and Dr.Avinash Lele
I. The Seven Tissues
- The body consists of seven prime constituents called dhatus. They are the main substances that do not get eliminated from the body.
- Plasma (rasa dhatu): Plasma and mucous membranes, function of nutrition and affects the skin.
- Blood (raktha dhatu): Hemoglobin portion of blood, function of oxygenation and anatomical counterpart is blood vessels.
- Muscle (mamsa dhatu): Muscle tissue, function of movement, anatomical counterpart is muscles and internal organs.
- Fat (Meda dhatu): Fat or adipose tissue, function of lubricating and cushioning, anatomical counterpart is surrounding adipose formations.
- Bone(asti dhatu): Bone tissue or cartilage, function of support and protection, anatomical counterpart are bones and skeleton.
- Nerve(majja dhatu): Nerve tissue and bone marrow, function of transmission of nerve impulses, anatomical counterpart is brain and spinal cord.
- Reproductive(shukra dhatu): Reproductive tissue and secretions, function of reproduction and anatomical counterparts are testes, uterus.
- The outer tissue s of blood and plasma are affected by digestion of food and drink.
- The inner tissues of nerve and reproduction are mainly affected by our behavior, how we develop our minds and relate to other people.
- The intermediate tissues of muscle, fat and bone have a strong nutritional component nbut are affected by our behavior in terms of exercise and posture.
- malas or waste materias are constituents eliminated from body during the normal course of metabolism. The three main malas are urine, feces and sweat.
- Subtle waste materials (kleda) are eliminated from epithelial linigs of the eyes, nose. mouth, ears and genital organs.
- Main tissue that relaes to kapha is plasma which produces kapha (mucus) as waste material.
- Main tissue that relates to pitta is blood which produces pitta(bile or excess blood) as a waste material.
- Main tissue that relates to vata is bone which holds vata in its joints and porous spaces.
- Channels which supply nutrients, to remove waste materials are called srotas.
- Respiratory System – Pranavaha Srotas: Pranavaha srotas carry prana, the breath or vital force. It relates to subtle or energy body (pranamaya kosha) which envelopes physical body. Prana is absorbed through the lungs and also from food through the digestive tract.
- Digestive System – Annavaha Srotas: These channels that carry food, mainlt in the digestive system.It is called the mahasrotas as it is the main canal in the body, the gastro intestinal tract. It is the dominant system that governs the physical body, which itself is called annamaya kosha or the sheath of food.
- Water metabolism system – Udakavaha or Ambhuvaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry water (udaka or ambhu) and regulate water metabolism. Its origin is soft palate or pancreas. It also governs the assimilation of sugar.
- Sweating System/Swedavaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry sweat or perspiration (sweda). Its originis fat tissue, from which sweat arises.
- Excretory System – Purishavaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry the feces (purisha). Its origin is colon or rectum.
- Urinary System – Mutravaha Srotas: These are the channels that carry urine. Its origin is bladder and kidneys.
- In addition there are seven channel systems, one for each seven tissues:
- Plasma – Rasavaha
- Blood – Rakthavaha
- Muscle – Mamsavaha
- Fat – Medavaha
- Bone – Asthivaha
- Nerve – Majjavaha
- Reproductive – Shukravaha
- Mind – manavaha
- There are 2 more channels in women: the menstrual system or Artavavaha srotas and lactation system or Stanyavaha srotas.
IV. Agni or power of digestion
- The key force responsible for the functioning of the body is Agni.
- There are various agnis, most notable is jatharagni (fire in the belly)
- Working with it are the five elemental agnis (bhutagnis) located in liver which convert digested food mass into appropriate forms of the five elements in the physical body.
- Each of the seven tissues has its own Agni responsible for its specific metabolism which are known as Dhatvagnis.
- In addition to the digestive fire, the breath itself is a gaseous or pranic fire(pranagni) that promotes the proper movement of energy throughout the body.
- Each of the five senses also has its own agni that aids in the reception an recognition of sensory impressions. In the same way, the mind has its own agni though which it digests emotions, ideas and experiences.