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Charaka SamhitaCharakasamhita Sutrasthana Chapter 12 - Vatakalakaliya Adhyaya - Merits and Demerits of...

Charakasamhita Sutrasthana Chapter 12 – Vatakalakaliya Adhyaya – Merits and Demerits of Vata


अथातो वातकलाकलीयमध्यायं व्याख्यास्यामः ॥ १ ॥ इति ह स्माह भगवानात्रेयः ॥ २ ॥

We shall now expound the chapter on the Merits and Demerits of Vata.

Thus said Lord Atreya. [ 1-2 ]

In the preceding chapter, diseases together with their nature, path, external causative factors and therapies have been explained. For the sake of brevity, the basic factors of these diseases like vata, etc. were left out. Those basic factors are now being explained in this chapter. Out of the three such basic factors, viz. vata, pitta and kapha, vata occupies a most prominent position. So it is being explained first. The presentation in this chapter will include the manifest details relating to the merits and demrits of vata, etc. This chapter is an example of symposium held in ancient days and summary of the proceedings is given nicely.

Symposium on the properties of Vata, Agenda for discussion:

वातकलाकलाज्ञानमधिकृत्य परस्परमतानि जिशासमानाः समुपविश्य महर्षयः पप्रच्छुरन्योऽन्यं –किंगुणो वायुः, किमस्य प्रकोपणम्, उपशमनानि वाऽस्य कानि, कथं चैनमसङ्घातवन्तमनवस्थितमनासाद्य प्रकोपणप्रशमनानि प्रकोपयन्ति प्रशमयन्ति वा, कानि चास्य कुपिताकुपितस्य शरीराशरीरचरस्य शरीरेषु चरतः कर्माणि बहिःशरीरेभ्यो वेति ॥ ३ ॥

The sages desirous to know about the good and bad properties. of vata, assembled and proposed the following questions for discussion among themselves :

I. What are the properties of vata ?

II. What does aggravate the vata ?

III. What are the factors for its alleviation ?

IV. How do the aggravating and alleviating factors respectively aggravate or alleviate the vata which is incorporeal and unstable and as such inaccessible ?

V. What are the actions in normal as well as in aggravated conditions of vata which is situated both within and without the body ? [ 3 ]


Unlike pitta and kapha, vata does not have any corporeal form. It is also unstable in nature. So because of its unstability and incorporeal nature, it is inaccessible.

Six Physical qualities of vata by Kusa

अत्रोवाच कुशः साङ्कृत्यायनःरूक्षलघुशीतदारुणखरविशदाः पडिमे वातगुणा भवन्ति ॥ ४ ॥

Then said Kusa, the descendant of Sankrti, “These are the six qualities of vata-roughness, lightness, coldness, unstability, coarseness and non-sliminess. [4]

The term ‘daruna’ may be interpreted in two different ways. As explained in the chapter on the “Quest for Longevity” (Sutra 1 : 59), the term, by implication may mean unstability. That is to say the word ‘calatva’ of that chapter has been substituted by ‘daruna’ ( darunatva ) here. Alternatively, it may mean hardness in view of the arid nature of vata.

Causes of Aggravation of vata by Kumaras Sira Bharadvaja

तच्छ्रुत्वा वाक्यं कुमारशिरा भरद्वाज उवाच – एवमेतद्यथा भगवानाह, एत एव वातगुणा भवन्ति, स त्वेवंगुणैरेवंद्रव्यैरेवंप्रभावैश्च कर्मभिरभ्यस्यमानैर्वायुः प्रकोपमापद्यते, समानगुणाभ्यासो हि धातूनां वृद्धिकारणमिति ॥ ५ ॥

Having heard this, Kumarasiras Bharadvaja said, “This is as you I have explained, Sir, these are the qualities of vata. The vata gets aggravated by the habitual use of drugs having identical properties, and resorting to actions having identical empirical effects. Habitual use of substances having homologous qualities results in the enhancement of dhatus. [5]

The name ‘Bharadvaja’ stands for the preceptor of Atreya also. In the present context this name stands for another sage who propounded the theory that in the womb of the mother, the head of the embryo appears first. So the expithet “Kumarasiras”.

Qualities and substance go invariably together. Qualities as such do not exist in actions. So homologous nature of actions is to be determined not on the basis of the qualities but on that of its empirical effects. The actions having homologous empirical effects would be those which cause roughness in the body, e.g., running, remaining awake at night, etc.

Alleviation of vata by Kankayana

तच्छ्रुत्वा वाक्यं काङ्कायनो बाहीकभिषगुवाच — एवमेतद्यथा भगवानाह,

एतान्येव वातप्रकोपणानि भवन्ति; अतो विपरीतानि वातस्य प्रशमनानि भवन्ति, प्रकोपणविपर्ययो हि धातूनां प्रशमकारणमिति ॥ ६ ॥

Having heard this, Kankayana, a physician from Balkh ( Bahlika ) said, “What you said, Sir, is correct”. These are verily the aggravating factors of vata; those of opposite qualities are its alleviating factors. Heterogeneous qualities of aggravating factors constitute alleviators of dhatus ( dosas ). [6]

Mode of Action of aggravating and alleviating factors by Badisa Dhamargava

तच्छ्रुत्वा वाक्यं वडिशो धामार्गव उवाच-एवमेतद्यथा भगवानाह, एतान्येव वातप्रकोपप्रशमनानि भवन्ति । यथा ह्येनमसङ्घात मनवस्थितमनासाद्य प्रकोपणप्रशमनानि प्रकोपयन्ति प्रशमयन्ति वा; तथाऽनुव्याख्यास्यामः–वातप्रकोपणानि खलु रुक्षलघुशीतदारुणखरविशदशुषिरकराणि शरीराणां, तथाविधेषु शरीरेषु वायुराश्रयं गत्वाऽऽध्यायमानः प्रकोपमापद्यतेः वातप्रशमनानि पुनः स्निग्धगुरूष्णलक्ष्णमृदुपिच्छिलघनकराणि शरीराणां, तथाविधेषु शरीरेषु वायुरसज्यमानश्चरन् प्रशान्तिमापद्यते ॥ ७ ॥

After having heard this, Badisa Dhamargava said, “What you have said is correct, Sir! These are verily the aggravating and alleviating factors of vata”. We shall now explain how the aggravatiag and alleviating factors respectively aggravate and alleviate the vata. which is incorporeal and unstable-thereby inaccessible. The aggravating factors of vata are those which bring about roughness, lightness, coldness, unstability, coarseness, non-sliminess and hollowness. The vata gets shelter in this environment of body and attains growth, and so it gets aggravated. The alleviating factors of the vata, on the other hand, are those which bring about unctuousness, heaviness, heat, smoothness, softness, sliminess and compactness. The vata does not get lodged in this type of body and as such gets alleviated. [ 7 ]

Even though the vata does not have direct contacts with its aggravating aad alleviating factors, still the aggravating and alleviating factors are directly connected with the body, and so the vata moving within the body has indirect contacts with them. Thus it gets aggravated or alleviated depending on its contacts with homologous and heterologous qualities.

Functions of normal and abnormal vata by Vayorvida:

तच्छ्रुत्वा बडिशवचनमवितथमृपिंगणैरनुमतमुवाच वार्योविदो राजर्षि:एवमेतत् सर्वमनपवादं यथा भगवानाह | यानि तु खलु वायोः कुपिताकुपितस्य शरीराशरीरचरस्य शरीरेषु चरतः कर्माणि वहिःशरीरेभ्यो वा भवन्ति, तेषामचयवान् प्रत्यक्षानुमानोपदेशैः साधयित्वा नमस्कृत्य वायवे यथाशक्ति प्रवक्ष्यामः ।

Having heard the scientific exposition of Badisa, which was approved by the sages, the royal sage Vayorvida said, “All that you have said, Sir, is true and free from any fallacy”,

The functions of both the corporeal and external vata, aggravated or otherwise, moving within or without the body, will be explained, as far as we can and as it has been ascertained by us through perception, inference and scriptrual testimony after paying obeisance to the god Vayu.

Functions of normal vata of body

वायुस्तन्त्रयन्त्रधरः, प्राणोदानसमा नव्यानापानात्मा, प्रवर्तकश्चेष्टानामुच्चावचानां, नियन्ता प्रणेता च मनसः, सर्वेन्द्रियाणामुद्योजकः, सर्वेन्द्रियार्थानामभि वोढा, सर्वशरीरधातुव्यूहकरः, सन्धानकरः शरीरस्य, प्रवर्तको वाचः, प्रकृतिः स्पर्शशब्दयोः श्रोत्रस्पर्शनयोर्मलं हर्षोत्साहयोयनिः, समीरणोऽग्नेः, दोषसंशोषणः, क्षेता बहिर्मलानां, स्थूलाणुस्त्रोतसां भेत्ता, कर्ता गर्भाकृतीनाम्, आयुषोऽनुवृत्तिप्रत्ययभूतो भवत्यकुपितः ।

The vata, in its normal state of functioning sustains all the organs of the body. It consists of Prana, Udana, Samana, Apana ____and_Vyana, It prompts all types of actions. It restrains and impels the mental activities. It coordinates all the sense faculties and helps in enjoyment of their objects. It brings about compactness in all the tissue elements of the body. It brings together different parts of the body. It prompts speech. It is in the origin of touch as well as sound. It is the root cause of the auditory and tactile sense faculties. It is the causative factor of joy aad courage. It stimulates the digestive fire and absorbs the dosas. It throws out the excreta. It creates the gross and the subtle channels. It moulds the shape of the embryo. It is indicative of the continuity of the span of life. Functions of vitiated vata in the body:

कुपितस्तु खलु शरीरे शरीरं नानाविधैर्विकारैरुपतपति वलवर्णसुखानुषामु

पघाताय, मनो व्याहर्पयति, सर्वन्द्रियाण्युपहन्ति, विनिहन्ति गर्भान् विकृतिमापादयत्यतिकालं वा धारयति, भयशोकमोहदैन्यातिप्रलापाञ्जनयति, प्राणांचोपरुणद्धि | *

The corporeal vata, when aggravated, afflicts the body with various types of diseases and affects the strength, complexion, happiness and the span of life. It perturbs the mind; affects all the sense faculties; destroys, deforms or detains the embryo for long. It gives rise to fear, anxiety, bewilderment, humility and delirium. It takes away the life.

Normal functions of air

प्रकृतिभूतस्य खल्वस्य लोके चरतः कर्माणीमानि भवन्ति; तद्यथा- धरणीधारणं ज्वलनौज्ज्वालनम्, आदित्यचन्द्रनक्षत्रग्रहगणानां सन्तानगतिविधानं, सृष्टिश्च मेघानाम्, अपां विसर्गः, प्रवर्तनं स्रोतसां, पुष्पफलानां चाभिनिर्वर्तनम्, उद्भेदनं चौद्भिदानाम्, ऋतूनां प्रविभागः, विभागो धातूनां, धातुमान संस्थानव्यक्तिः, बोजाभिसंस्कारः, शस्याभिवर्धनमविक्लेदोपशोषणे, अवैकारिकविकारश्चेति ।

The following are the actions of the natural vayu, moving in the world, outside the body :- Sustenance of the earth, kindling of fire; bringing about compactness and movement in the sun, moon, stars and planets, creation of clouds, showering of rains, flowing of rivers, bringing about maturity of flowers and fruits, shooting forth the plants, classification of seasons as well as five mahabhutas; manifesting the shape and the size of the products of the five mahabhutas, bringing about the power of germination in the seeds and the growth of plants, bringing about hardness and dryness in the grains and bringing about transformation everywhere.

Abnormal functions of air or wind

प्रकुपितस्य खल्वस्य लोकेषु चरतः कर्माणीमानि भवन्ति; तद्यथा- शिखरि शिखरावमथनम्, उन्मथनमनोकहानाम्, उत्पीडनं सागराणाम्, उद्वर्तनं सरसां, प्रतिसरणमापगानाम्, आकम्पनं च भूमेः, आधमनमम्बुदानां, नीहारनिदपांशुसिकतामत्स्यभेकोरगक्षाररुधिराइमाशनिविसर्गः, व्यापादनं च षण्णामृतूनां, शस्यानामसङ्घातः, भूतानां चोपसर्गः, भावानां चाभावकरणं, चतुर्युगान्तकराणां मेघसूर्यानलानिलानां विसर्गः ।

The following are the actions of the aggravated vata moving in the world outside the body :-Breaking through the peak of mountains, uprooting the trees, disturbing the oceans, overflowing of the lakes, changing the course of rivers, bringing about earthquakes, causing thunders in the clouds, release of dew, thunder without cloud, dust, sand, fish, frog, serpents, alkaline water, blood, stone and thunder storm, disturbance of the six seasons; non-productivity of plants; spread of epidemics, etc. amongst living beings; doing away with the positive factors of creation; bringing about cloud, sun, fire and wind which could destroy all the four ages.

Other qualities of vata

स हि भगवान् प्रभवश्चाव्ययश्च, भूतानां भावाभावकरः सुखासुखयोर्विधाता, मृत्युः, यमः, नियन्ता, प्रजापतिः, अदितिः, विश्वकर्मा, विश्वरूपः, सर्वगः, सर्वतन्त्राणां विधाता, भावानामणुः, विभुः, विष्णुः, क्रान्ता लोकानां, वायुरेव भगवानिति ॥ ८ ॥

The god Vayu is the eternal cause of the universe: He brings existence as well as destruction to all living beings. He causes happiness and misery. He is the god of death, controller, Lord of creatures, Aditi and Visvakarman ( creator of the universe). He possesses innumerable forms. He can move everywhere, and is responsible for all actions and thoughts. He is subtle and omnipresent. He is Lord Visnu. He has permea ted the whole universe. The god Vayu alone has the above distinctive features. [8]

It is not possible to enumerate all the qualities of the vata. Only a few representative qualities have, therefore, been explained above. Some of these qualities can be ascertained through direct perception, e.g., speech; some by inference, e.g., mental activities; some on the basis of scriptural testimony, e.g., the shape and size of the embryo.

The term ” may be interpreted either as sustainer of the (organs of the ) body or the sustainer of the joints (yantra) of the body (tantra). The vuyu is regarded as the bearer of the objects of all the sense faculties, that is to say, it is through vayu that all the sense faculties enjoy their respective objects. The vayu, being directly related to tactual perception and the tactual sense faculty being a common factor for all the sense faculties-vide Sutra 11: 38-no sense faculty can enjoy its object without the help of the vayu.

The vayu is further regarded as the origin of speech. Even though speech or sound is the distinctive feature of akasa, still, the quality of akasa, is also stated to be included under the qualities of vayu. Thus, vayu possesses two qualities, i.e., touch and sound-cf. Sarira 1: 28 and Nyayadarsana 2: 1 : 66.

Vayu is the root cause of the auditory faculty because it is responsible for the formation of the specific constituents of the ears.

The above description of the qualities refers to the god vayu who is capable of bringing about supernatural effects like the creation of storms, etc., at the time of the destruction of the age.

Question by Marici on Vayorvida’s observation

तच्छ्रुत्वा वार्याविवचो मरीचिस्वाच – यद्यप्येवमेतत् किमर्थस्यास्य वचने

विज्ञाने वा सामर्थ्यमस्ति भिषग्विद्यायां; भिषश्विद्यामधिकृत्येयं कथा प्रवृत्तेति ॥९॥

Having listened to the sage Vayorvida, Marici enquired, “The present symposium is related to the science of medicine. Even though what has been stated about the qualities of vayu is correct, is this exposition or understanding of such qualities of vayu is applicable to the science of medicine ? [ 9 ]

Answer by Vayorvida

चार्योविद उवाच – भिषक् पवनमतिवलमतिपरुष मतिशीघ्र कारिणमात्ययिकं चेन्नानुनिशम्येत्, सहसा प्रकुपितमतिप्रयतः कथमग्रेऽभिरक्षितुमभिधास्यति प्रागेवैनमत्ययभयात्; वायोर्यथार्था स्तुतिरपि भवत्यारोग्याय बलवर्णविवृद्धये वर्चस्वित्वायोपचयाय ज्ञानोपपत्तये परमायुःप्रकर्षाय चेति ॥ १० ॥

The sage Varyovida answered, “If a physician does not comprehend the vayu which excels in strength, roughness, quickness and destructive power, how would he be able to forewarn a patient (against its attack) well in advance of its disastrous effects and how would he advise about the normal qualities of vayu conducive to good health, improvement of strength and complexion, lustre, growth, attainment of knowledge and longevity. [ 10 ]

Normal and abnormal functions af pitta by Marici

मरीचिरुवाच – अग्निरेव शरीरे पित्तान्तर्गतः कुपिताकुपितः शुभाशुभानि करोति; तद्यथा-पक्तिमपक्तिं दर्शनमदर्शनं मात्रामात्रत्वमूष्मणः प्रकृतिविकृतिवर्णो शौर्य भयं क्रोधं हर्षे मोहं प्रसादमित्येवमादीनि चापराणि द्वन्द्वानीति ॥ ११ ॥ Marici said, “It is Agni alone represented by pitta in the body which brings about good or bad effects according to its

normal or abnormal state, e.g. digestion or indigestion, vision or loss of vision, normalcy or otherwise of (bodily) heat, normalcy or otherwise of complexion, valour and fear, anger and joy, bewilderment and happiness and such other pairs of opposite qualities. [11]

Agni within the body represents the heat of the pitta as distinct from the external agni, that is physical fire having flame, etc. It is not that the biological agni is identical with the pitta. The latter is in fact one of the causes of the suppression of digestive power (agnimandya ). There are some other differentiating factors as well. For example, the ghee is regarded as a remedy for the aggravated pitta while it is said to promote digestive power. Pacaka, Alocaka, Bhrajaka, Sudhaka and Ranjaka-these are the five forms of agni. Depending upon its normalcy or aggravation, it brings about the effects as follows:

Normal and abnormal functions of Kapha by Kapya

तच्छ्रुत्वा मरीचिवचः काप्य उवाच-सोम एव शरीरे श्लेष्मान्तर्गतः कुपिताकुपितः शुभाशुभानि करोति; तद्यथा-दाढ्य शैथिल्यमुपंचयं कार्यमुत्साहमालस्यं वृषतां क्लीबतां ज्ञानमज्ञानं बुद्धिं मोहमेवमादीनि चापराणि द्वन्द्वानीति ||१२||

Having listened to Marici, Kapya said, “Soma (the god of water or the moon) which is represented by kapha in the body brings about good or bad effects according to its normal or abnormal state, e.g. sturdiness and looseness, plumpness and emaciation, enthusiasm and laziness, potency and impotency, wisdom and ignorance and such other pairs of qualities. [12]

Presedential remark by Punarvasu Atreya

तच्छ्रुत्वा काप्यवचो भगवान् पुनर्वसुरात्रेय उवाच – सर्व एव भवन्तः सम्यगाहुरन्यत्रैकान्तिकवचनात्; सर्व एव खलु वातपित्तश्लेष्माणः प्रकृतिभूताः पुरुषमव्यापन्नेन्द्रियं बलवर्णसुखोपपन्नमायुषा महतोपपादयन्ति सम्यगेवाचरिता धर्मार्थकामा इव निःश्रेयसेन महता पुरुषमिह चामुष्मिंश्च लोके; विकृतास्त्वेनं महता विपर्ययेणोपपादयन्ति ऋतवस्त्रय इव विकृतिमापन्ना लोकमशुभेनोपघातकाल इति ॥ १३ ॥

After having listened to Kapya, Lord Punarvasu Atreya said, “All of you have dealt with the subject quite well except that you have not made any general statement on this topic. In fact, all the three dhatus, viz. vata, pitta and kapha while they are in their natural state, help in bringing about the action of the sense faculties as well as strength, complexion, happiness and a very long span of life in living beings. Like virtue, wealth and desire well accompalished, these dhatus also if well directed, bring about immense happiness to living beings in this world and the world beyond. If on the other hand, these dhatus are aggravated, like the three seasons vitiated, they also cause undesirable effects and bring about disastrous effects in the lives of living beings in the world. [ 13 ]

Opinion of the house

तदृषयः सर्व एवानुमेनिरे वचनमात्रेयस्य भगवतोऽभिननन्दुश्चेति ॥ १४ ॥

All the sages concurred in and welcomed the exposition of Lord atreya. [ 14 ]

भवति चात्र

तदात्रेयवचः श्रुत्वा सर्व एवानुमेनिरे । ऋषयोऽभिननन्दुश्च यथेन्द्रवचनं सुराः ॥ १५ ॥

Thus, it is said :

Having listened to the exposition of Lord Atreya, all the sages concurred in and welcomed it as the gods did on hearing the words of Indra. [ 15 ]

Summary :

तत्र लोकौ – गुणाः षड् द्विविधो हेतुर्विविधं कर्म यत् पुनः । वायोश्चतुर्विधं कर्म पृथक् च कफपित्तयोः ॥ १६ ॥

महर्षीणां मतिर्या या पुनर्वसुमतिश्च या । कलाकलीये वातस्य तत् सर्व संप्रकाशितम् ॥ १७ ॥

The six qualities of vata, two types of causes (relating to the aggravation and vitiation of vata), several functions of vata, its four aspects (normalcy and aggravation within and without the body }; functions of kapha and pitta, views of the sages and conclusion by Lord Atreya-all this about vata has been explained in this chapter on “Merits and Demerits of Vata”. [ 16-17] इत्यग्निवेशकृते तन्त्रे चरकप्रतिसंस्कृते लोकस्थाने वातकलाकलीयो नाम द्वादशोऽध्यायः समातः ॥ १२ ॥

इति निर्देशचतुष्कः ॥ १३ ॥

Thus, ends the twelfth chapter of Sutra section on “the Merits and Demerits of vata” of Agnivesa’s work as redacted by Charaka.

Thus, ends the quadrate on “furnishing Information the Physician, Medicine, etc. ( निर्देशचतुष्क )


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