Ayurveda > Ayurveda Case Notes > Ayurvedic Anatomy and Physiology: Dhatus
By Dr. Satish Kulkarni
discussed in the previous article
that the three basic constituents of
the body (treedoshas i.e. vaat-pitta-kafa)
are created by five supreme powers
i.e. Earth (pruthvi), Water (aap),
Divine Fire (tej), Air (vayu)
and Universal Space (aakash).
Amongst these powers, Divine Fire (tej)
is the precursor of pitta and
body fire (agni) is the
successor of pitta.
plays a vital role in the creation
and maintenance of body tissues (dhatus).
The human body is made up of seven
basic tissues or vital substances
called dhatus. The meaning of
the sanskrit word dhatu is
that which binds
together. Dhatu is the
element which constructs our body. Dhatu
is the base of growth and survival. Dhatus
take different forms in our body to
maintain life. Different organs (sharir
avayavas) and different body
systems (strotasas) are made
out of dhatus. Our nourishment
and development is fully dependent on
believes that there are seven dhatus
in all. They are: life sap (rasa),
blood (rakta), muscles (mansa),
fatty tissue (med), bones (asthi),
bone marrow and nervous tissue (majja)
and semen and reproductive system (shukra).
Each dhatu has its own agni
i.e. dhatu-agni. Our food
intake is converted into life sap by agni
of rasa dhatu and rasa
dhatu is produced. Likewise, agni
of rakta dhatu prepares rakta
out of rasa and so on. Every dhatu
is a precursor of the next dhatu.
Rasa is transformed into rakta,
rakta prepares mansa, mansa
is further transformed into meda,
meda is used to make asthi,
asthi forms majja and majja
produces the ultimate dhatu
researchers must have observed that
food is the starting point of life.
Food enters the body from the
inlet the mouth and the end
products come out of body through the
outlet the genitalia and anus.
The second important observation must
have been that any living creature
(including human beings) survives and
grows with food and dies without it.
They must have seen that starvation
retards growth of the body and
destroys the body in the end. Thus,
this theory of dhatus must
have arrived from these observations.
protect our body from external
encounters. They are responsible for
our immune mechanism. If there is
wasting (kshaya) of dhatus
then the body construction collapses
and ultimately life ends.
recognises shukra as the most
important dhatu. It states
that one needs a hundred drops of
blood (rakta) to produce one
drop of semen (shukra). Shukra
is the essence of all the body
tissues and is that creation of
mother nature which has the capacity
to produce new life. In any case, it
should not be wasted without
substantial reason (i.e.
in doshas (vaat-pitta-kafa)
affects dhatus. These affected
or defective dhatus hamper the
quality of life. Proper diet (ahar)
and proper life style (vihar)
help in maintaining the balance of doshas
and in producing healthy dhatus.
summarize, dhatus account for
the ayurvedic explanation of
the anatomy and physiology of the
human body. Our body processes
consumed food and transforms it into
life sap, which in turn creates a
chain of further body tissues i.e. dhatus.
Their gain gives quality to our life
and their loss destroys life.
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