(dosha, humor, nature) in Ayurveda
of the Vata-Pita-Kapha System
Lets look at how this system came into existence. This understanding really help us absorb it on a deeper level.
The sages who developed Ayurveda observed nature very closely. Though the power of detailed observation they came to understand the basic forces of creation: solid matter, liquid matter, radiant energy, gaseous substance, and the space or field in which they are manifested. These forces create three basic forms of energy: propulsion, conversion and cohesion. They were worshipped as the gods Vayu (propulsion), Agni (conversion), and Soma (cohesion).
After observing these principles were applied to the functions of the human body. The qualities that these forces represent in nature work the same in the body. For example, the force of propulsion manifests as wind in the environment. Wind has the quality of movement, drying, agitation, and cooling. In the body, vata has the same functions: it corresponds to breathing, muscle action, the movement of food through the intestines, and the expulsion of wastes. It has a cooling effect on the body, and creates agitation in the mind when aggravated.
By watching these basic forms of energy in the environment we can learn how to recognize them in ourselves. Think of the sun. What are its qualities? Radiant heat, light, energy, transformation of fuel and our general source of life. In our bodies, we can perceive pitta as the metabolism that controls our heat, our eyes sense light, our digestion transforms food, and the metabolic process extracts energy from the nutrients of our food.
As kapha relates to liquid and cohesion, so the water elements in our bodies represents the majority of physical matter. Kapha corresponds to the qualities that unite the total organism. It provides lubrication; just as dry dirt crumbles in our hands, the addition of water provides the property of cohesion. Kapha also provides the cooling necessary to balance the fire of pitta and stabilizes our emotions and relationships.
Without any instruments except intelligent observation and profound meditation, the sages were able to accurately describe the functions of the body. Their ability to penetrate our nature through deep meditation gave us profound observations that we are very hard-pressed to match today. It is even more amazing that their system continues to work well thousands of years later.