The Seven Ayurveda Dhatus: A Deep Dive

Last time, we talked about the meaning of Dhatu and its different elements: Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda , Asthi, Majja , Shukra-Artava but we did not discuss the characteristics of each. That’s why in this blog post, we will tackle all the seven Dhatus according to Ayurveda. The concepts and theory are based on Dr. Sumit Kesarkar and National Library of Ayurveda Medicine (NLAM). Read on! 

Rasa Dhatu

As we remember, Rasa has a predominance of the element Aapah (water). According to Acharya Vagbhat’s book titled Ashtanga Hrudaya, Rasa’s main function is Preenam which means nourishment of the body. The pathology of Rasa Dhatu can be understood through the symptoms when its proportions increase or decrease in the body. 

The symptoms of increase of Rasa are described in Ashtanga Hrudaya, which means that the symptoms are similar to the increase of Kapha Dosha. Including excessive salivation, lethargy, heaviness, pallor, hypothermia, shortness of breath, coughing and excessive sleep. On the other hand, when the Rasa decreases, it results in making the body dry and rough, tiredness, lack of energy, dehydration, malaise and intolerance to sound. 

Rakta Dhatu

It can be correlated to the circulatory system in the human body as per modern medicine. Rakta produces 2 Upadhatus: Sira-Dhamani which could be the blood vessels including arteries and veins and Kandara which is the capillaries. It produces waste products in the form of Pitta Dosha. The pitta can be correlated into digestive enzymes like bile. 

Rakta has a predominance of Agni (fire) and Aapah (water). According to Acharya Vagbhat’s book titled Ashtanga Hrudaya, Rakta’s main function is Jeevan which means vitality. This dhatu carries the life force or Prana. The pathology of this dhatu can be understood through the symptoms when its proportions increase or decrease in the body. 

Increase of Rakta can result in herpes, spleen disorders, abscess skin disorders, tumors, jaundice, gout, low metabolism, redness of eyes, hemorrhagic disorders, etc. While when it decreases, it may result in desire to eat sour foods, desire for cool environments, varicose veins, and can make the body dry and rough. 

Mansa Dhatu 

Mansa Dhatu or known as the muscular system as per modern parameters and has 2 Upadhatus as well: Vasa which means muscle sheaths and Tvacha as 6 types of human skin as described in Ayurveda.  

This dhatu produces waste in the form of Khamala, which are from ears and nose. It has a predominance of Kapha Dosha and element of Prithvi (earth) followed by Aapah. Mansa’s main function is Lepan which means wrapping or enveloping the body. There is no area in the body where bone exists without muscles but there are muscles that exist without bones specifically, heart and tongue. 

When the Mansa increases it results in tumors, gland enlargements and muscle enlargements. But when it decreases it can lead to heaviness in the eyes, muscle wasting, and loss of muscle mass.

Meda Dhatu

Meda can correlate into fats or lipids in the human system. It produces one upadhatu which is the Snayu which means the ligaments in the body. It also produces waste products in the form of Sweda or sweat which is the one of the three prime excrements of the human body. Meda has a predominance of Kapha Dosha and element of Aapah followed by Prithvi (earth).

Meda’s main function is Snehan which means lubrication. The action of lubrication wraps around muscle and helps keep the body warm. When meda increases, symptoms are weakness, dyspnea, obesity, and gasping. On the other hand when it decreases, it may trigger dreams, enlargement of spleen and skinny complexion. 

Asthi Dhatu

Asthi or can be correlated as the skeletal system, it does not produce any accessory tissue or upadhatu. However, Sharangdhara Samhita considers Danta or teeth to be an upadhatu or asthi. Asthi produces waste products in the form of Nakha or nails and Roma-Kesha or body hair. 

It has the predominance of Vata Dosha and element of Prithvi and followed by Aakash (space). Though some of the authors consider Vaayu as one of the predominant Mahabhuta. Its main function is called Dharan which means to be the foundation of the human body. When Asthi increases it may result in hypertrophy of bone and formation of extra teeth while it decreases it can cause inflammation of bones and joints, weakness, falling of teeth, rickets, etc. 

Majja Dhatu

It is defined as any matter completely covered by asthi and it can be the entire neurogenic system compared today. It does not produce any accessory tissue or upadhatu. However, Sharangdhara Samhita considers Kesha on hair to be an upadhatu but also considers it the Mala or waste product by Vaghatt. 

Waste product is called Akshi Vit Twak Sneha, which can be the lachrymal secretion of the eyes and skin. Majja has a predominance of Kapha Dosha and element of Aapah followed by Prithvi (earth). Its main function is called Pooran which means to fill. Primary purpose is Asthipoorana or bone filling. When Majja increases you can feel heaviness of the eyes and body and clubbing of fingers. When it decreases you may feel weakening of the bones, vertigo and blurring of vision. 

Shukra Dhatu

It is a final dhatu associated with reproductive system, it can be correlated to the male and female sexual fluids but can refer also as any enzymes that acts as a main regulator for regeneration. 

Shukra does not produce upadhatu nor a waste product. However Achavarya Vagbhat considers Ojas, the supreme refinement of all dhatus are the mala or Shukra. It has a predominance of Kapha Dosha and element of Aapah followed by Prithvi (earth).

Main function is called Garbhotpadan which refers to reproduction. When Shukra increases you can feel increase of sexual desire and seminal calculus. When it decreases you may feel loss of libido, sexual incompetence, impotence, low metabolism, lack of orgasms, etc. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the seven dhatus are all intertwined, and a single dhatu’s malfunctioning can have an influence on every other dhatus. There are dhatus. containing five mahabhutas, or constituent parts. Consequently, the doshas, which also consist of Five factors aid in maintaining the equilibrium of dhatus, resulting in the right functioning of the body’s many systems. 

Special thanks to NLAM: National Library of Ayurveda Medicine for the reference materials and Dr. Sumit Kesarkar for discussing the topic very clearly. Don’t forget to subscribe to Organic Ayurveda Life for more ayurvedic related updates! 

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