The five mahabhutas which enter into the composition of the human body are classified into three categories, namely (1) dosas, (2) the dhatus and (3) the malas. Dosas govern the physiological and physico-chemical activities of the body and these are three in number, namely (1) vayu, (2) pitta and (3) kapha. (These are often mistranslated as wind, bile and phlegm respectively). Vayu is responsible for all the movements and sensations, including motor actions inside the body. Pitta is responsible for all physio-chemical activities of the body in the form of metabolism, production of heat and energy. Kapha is the substance which maintains compactness or cohesiveness in the body by providing the fluid matrix to it. These dosas are dominated by different mahabhutas as per the table given below : —
Dosa Dominating mahabhuta
1. Vayu Vayu and akasa mahabhutas
2. Pitta Tejas mahabhuta
3. Kapha Prithvi and ap mahabhutas.
These dosas, namely, vayu, pitta and kapha, are further divided into five categories each. Their locations and functions are described in detail in ayurvedic classics. Diseases that are produced by the aggravation or diminution of dosas are also described in ayurvedic texts. From these signs and symptoms manifested in the human body, the physician can judge the type of mahabhuta that has gone astray resulting in the manifestation of the disease and this helps the physician to select a particular drug.
The dhatus are the basic tissue elements of the body. They are seven in number, namely, (1) rasa or chyle or plasma, (2) rakta or the red-blood corpuscles, (3) mamsa or muscle tissue, (4) medas or the fat tissue, (5) asthi or bone tissue, (6) majja or the bone marrow and (7) sukra and rajas or the sperm and ovum which are responsible for procreation.
These dhatus or basic tissue elements remain in a particular proportion in the human body and any change in their equilibrium leads to disease and decay. Their functions are described in detail in ayurvedic classics. Diseases are produced only when the dosas interact with these dhatus and this happens only when there is disturbance in their equilibrium.
These seven dhatus are also composed of live mahabhutas. However, prithvi mahabhuta predominates in muscle and fat tissues; jala mahabhuta predominates in lymph, chyle and other fluid tissue elements; the haemoglobin fraction of the blood is primarily composed of tejas mahabhuta; bones are composed of vayu mahabhuta and the pores inside the body are dominated by akasa mahabhuta.
If there is any change in the equilibrium of these dhatus certain signs and symptoms are manifested in the body which are described in detail in ayurvedic classics. From these signs and symptoms, the physician can ascertain the mahabhautic requirement of the body for the correction of the disease, and drugs are selected accordingly.
The malas or the waste products are primarily of three categories, namely, (1) the stool, (2) the urine and (3) the sweat. These are required to be eliminated regularly. The catabolic products of the body in the form of unwanted mahabhutas are eliminated through them. If these are not eliminated in the required quantity, then this results in disease and decay, and various signs and symptoms are manifested in the body. From these signs and symptoms, the physician can ascertain the exact mahabhautic requirement of the body and select a drug or recipe for correcting the disease.
Thus, the physician can ascertain the exact position of the mahabhutas in the body from certain external signs and symptoms.