Rasa, Virya, Vipaka, Digestion, Karma

These are common to…..

Madhura – Sweet

– Sthoulya/Obesity

  • Prameha/Diabetes
  • Vikara

Amla Rasa – Sour

– Pitta Dosha Ailments

  • Rakta Vikara/Roga = any kind of blood ailments/diseases
  • Pitta Roga – Hyper Acidity, Heartburn, Ulcers (Bleeding ulcers are Rakta Vihara), Burning Red Rashes (rashes with more itching or wet are more Kapha based)

Lavana Rasa – Salty

– Pitta Vikara/Roga (ailments/diseases) but later can show up in Kapha and Vata constitutions

– Impotency/Napusa Katva – infertility/impotency – check for food intake: processed food very high in Lavana Rasa. Fresh food is naturally lower in Lavana Rasa – If you need to preserve food use salt – not good for you

– Khalitya – hairloss/baldness – Check for salt intake – Loss of anything relates to Vata Vikara even though it is a Pitta Roga/ailment

-Shotha – Edema: Swelling without inflammation – retention of water. Kapha Vikara

Katu – Pungent – first Vata then Pitta for all diseases

  • Napusa Katva – impotence
  • Trishna (thirst)
  • Vata Roga – Tremors/Seizures, Constipation, Dryness, cracking of soles
  • Krushatva – pathological emaciation
  • Developing nations have more issues with first three rasas (indulgence), other countries the last 3 rasas

Shula – Pain – Vata Vikara

Tikta – Bitter

– Dhatu Kshaya/Wasting of any dhatu – muscles etc.

  • Daurbalya – debility/weakness

Kashaya – Astringent

  • Stroto Rodha – obstruction of channels
  • Vata Roga
  • Malavshstambha – constipation

Importance of Rasa:

Aagama (Classics) – The classic scriptures have used Rasa as one categorizational process of herbs. Groups of Herbs classified by the predominance of their Rasas – not the only categories, but a main one. Can also categorize by dosha.

  • eg: Madhurskanda – a category of herbs of madhura rasa – A Group Category
    • Important because we treat with the introduction of different Rasa – so for convenience we look at these categories and make recommendations for treatment.

Anumana – Inference – Important to know the concept of rasas so that you can infer the effect on the doshas.

    1. E.g: does rasa affect dosha makeup? Yes, we determined this due to mahabhuta fundamental makeup of both rasa and dosha.So when shown in relation to the dosha we can affect an out of balance dosha by treating with mahabhuta (element) via rasa (taste)

VIPAKA – Post-digestive Rasa

  • Definition: Parinam Lakshano Vipaka: “The end result of digestion of dravya/substance getting into the body is Vipaka” The end result (parinam) effect (lakshano) is digestion of the dravya (vipaka)
    • Final transformative state
  • Gut is the main eliminating canal –
    • part 1 – Gastrum/Amashaya: stomach
    • part 2 – duodenum/Grahani
    • part 3 – Small intestine/laghuantra
    • part 4 – Colon/pakvashaya

Gross/Macro Digestive States/Jathar Agni (residing in the Pachaka Pitta) :

Madhura Avastha Paka – Whatever food is digested must undergo madhura avasta paka/sweet state (avasta) of digestion (paka). Chewed and swallowed. Dravya has its own guna, rasa, virya, karma, prabha. Saliva is not acidic, its water mostly which is madhura. Hence this state of digestion is madhura avastha paka

Amla Avastha Paka – stomach digestion state/ stomach acids – chemical reactions happening in stomach and small intestines

Katu Avastha Paka – pungent digestive state – large intestine. Still digesting even here.

Ahara Rasa is what’s left

Micro/Dhatu Digestive States – Dhatu Agni (7 dhatus + 5 Pancha Mahabhuta Agni, 13 agni) – the result of the 3 avastha pakas goes into dhatu agni and then the 5 Pancha Mahabhuta Agni). The effects of the dravya show up here: the whole qualities of the dravya is revealed here – guna, rasa, karma, virya, prabha. We can’t taste this at the vipak level but we can infer the effect of the dravya based on what it does to your body: how does it affect dosha, dhatu and mala.

One way of viewing digestion is that it goes in order by dhatus

Rasa-> Rakta-> Mamsa-> Meda-> Asthi-> Majja-> Shukra ->

Another way of viewing is that like seeds spread for birds who peck a piece here and there, the dhatus pull what they need only

Kshira Dadhinaya: A third view is like yogurt – you act upon it with curd and the whole gets converted into yogurt SO ahara rasa is acted by rasa dhatu and it all turns into rasa then acted upon by rakta and all turns into rakta, then mamsa etc.

When gets into the dhatu – whichever one it is – that action on the dhatu, dosha and mala is inferred as Vipaka. At the onset of microcirculation once dhatu agni acts on it, the post digestive effect on the body (dosha, dhatu, mala) is going to be inferred as the Vipaka of this dravya. After colon at dhatu agni level – tissue. When nutrients are passing into cellular structure. This determines the Vipaka of the dravya. The final action/end product of metabolite is Vipaka.

Vipaka – 3 stages Effects/Actions on body happens in building, maintenance, or destroying.

– Madhura Vipaka – Building the body

– Amla Vipaka – Maintaining the body (Hrdaya – cardiac muscles have affinity to amla for maintenance. Pregnant woman has two hearts beating in body, has a definite affinity to sour things. We can infer that sourness is important to blood, cardiac maintenance)

– Katu Vipaka – Destroying the body

Vipaka depends on your mindfulness – try not to talk during mealtimes. Simple things matter a lot in the outcome of your life.

Avastha Paka                                                       Vipaka

Initial transformative phase                               Final transformative state

Can be assessed                                                 Must be inferred by the action on body

Classification of Vipaka:

Charaka says

Rasa                                                                    Vipaka

Madhura/Lavana                                                   Madhur Vipaka

Amla                                                                  Amla Vipaka

Katu/Tikta/Kshaya                                            Katu Vipaka

Debate – Sushruta has dravya classified on basis of panchamahabhut

Parthi Dravya                                                    Guru Vipaka

Aapya Dravya                                                   Guru Vipaka

Tejas Dravya                                                     Laghu Vipaka

Vayavya Dravya                                                Laghu Vipaka

Aakashiya Dravya                                             Laghu Vipaka

Importance of Vipaka:

Responsible for all the actions/effect of dravya on body. The responsible factor for action on the dosha/dhatu/mala (body) level.


Definition: Most powerful/potent element of the dravya is virya. The potent element is known as potency is equal to virya. Viryam tu kriyate yen(a) ya kriya. “The factor to which kriya/action is brought about is virya.” Any dravya that gets into the body beyond vipaka effects on body, everything boils down to 2 final effects: heating or cooling of the body. Like the sun or the moon. Post-vipaka, whatever effect the dravya shows on the body can be categorized in these two ways: either heats up the body or cools down the body. Ushna or Shita – Heating or Cooling. (note – Shighra is fast NOT cooling)

Classification of Virya:

Vipaka                                                                Virya

Madhura Vipaka                                                   Shitha Virya

Amla Vipaka                                                        Ushna Virya

Katu Vipaka                                                        Ushna Virya

Importance of Virya:

  1. Karma Karana – action effect: does it build up/Shitatwa or break down/Ushnatwa?
  2. Pradhanikatva – determines potency of dravya – level of activity determined by the virya of a particular dravya: importance/pradhani factor/katva. How much will a substance affect you in what way.


Definition: Vishishta Karmanam chaiv(a) Prabhavastasy(a) S(a) Smrut(a) – the peculiar or special action of Dravya is Prabhava. meaning it cannot be logically explained

You cannot correlate the action of this dravya with its constitutents – rasa, guna, virya, vipaka – yet it has a specific action. This action is Prabhava.

e.g. – pearl worn on the pinkie finger is cooling – but seafood is heating. The prabhava of the pearl is to cool. Not a logical explanation but exists regardless. The wearing of stones and colors and music therapy and is prabhava. Can’t logically explain it, but it is the fact that certain colors are cooling and heating or activating or soothing – that is prabhava.

Mercury enhances the actions of other dravya but that is not prabhava.

Danti – Katu Rasa – Katu Vipaka – Ushna Virya : Virechak/purgative-laxative

Chitraka – Katu – Katu – Ushna : Sangrahi/solidifies the consistency of stools – firms the stool, improves it (this is unconventional to what Katu-Katu-Ushna would normally be (normally virechaka action) SO Sangrahi quality is the Prabhava.

Although the makeup is the same, because of the Prabhava, action is different.


Cannot be limited/kept open because it is so vast. Scriptures keep it open in case someone comes up with a way to logic it out. Explanations are welcome, if they can better the field of understanding, but the classics leave it without classification.


  1. Achintya – Unpredictable. Prabhava is unpredictable and that is why its important.
  2. Daiva Pratighata – Divine Intervention. Beyond the capacity of our logical reasoning – so lined up with spiritual reasoning. That is why it is important.
  3. Adbhuta Karma – Being unpredictable, it is better to think of it as divine intervention and therefore it is thought of as being magical in its effect. Adbhuta/magical + Karma/effect.

Divine encompasses the magical, but magical isn’t always divine.


Definition: Yat kurvanti tat karma – The factor (residing in the dravya) which literally acts (on the dosha/dhatu/mala), that is karma. That which performs is karma.

Kriya = in process/doing Karma = done

All dravya contains guna, rasa, virya, vipaka, prabhav and karma (quality, taste, potency, post-digestive effect, special quality and action)


Effects of Karma on the basis of Dosha:

  • Prakopaka/vitiator – virulent buildup/aggravation – excessive buildup over balance point (prakopa is the karma)  
  • Shamaka – mitigated or lowering/pacifier of the already aggravated dosha

Effects of Karma on the basis of Dhatu:

  • Vrudhikara – building up/nourishing – therapeutically only to the optimum of the dhatu. Ie anemia – need to build up rasa dhatu to normal level of iron/hemoglobin
  • Kshayakara – depleting – therapeutically only to the normal levels of dhatu – Ie neem/curry leaves deplete shukra dhatu

Effects of Karma on the basis of Mala:

  • Vrudhikara – Purish Vrudhikara (stool buildup), Mutra Vrudhikara (urine buildup), Sweda Vrudhikara (sweat buildup)
  • Kshayakara – Purish Kshayakara (stool depletion), Mutra Kshayaka (urine depletion), Sweda Kshayakara (sweat depletion)

Effects of Karma on the basis of Agni

  • Agni Deepana Karma: Appetizing effect/flaring up of agni
  • Agni Pachana Karma: Digestive effect – helps to optimize to optimum digestive level

Herbs are highly concentrated and comprehensive in their effect on the body because they are aushadhi dravya.

Ashto Aahar Vidhi Visheshaytane – 8 step protocol to understand diatetics/regarding wholesome consumption of food.

Chikitsa/treatment is not the first approach – lifestyle is the first approach. When you are not digesting, STOP eating or eat very lightly. Unless you have changed your lifestyle and aahara don’t move on to chikitsa

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. Until you reach this awareness, focus on making the value of sorrow less in your life by increasing your life (be the ocean not the glass)

Effects of Karma on the basis of Therapeutics

  • Sanshodhana – curative – expel the excess/vitiated doshas from the body – panchakarma nasya, purgative, emesis, basti
  • Sanshamana – palliative – subside the aggravated doshas – not to purge or emesis but to settle it down.

Other types/Different terms related to Karma

  • Anulomana – bringing a vector down (either dosha/mala) to effect the downward effect on Vata Dosha or mala
  • Bhedana – breaking up or fragmenting – striking a stone: fecal matter, kidney stone
  • Chedana – separating as in one thing from another – sticky fecal matter from wall/lumen
  • Straunsana – mild laxative effect, best defined by raisins – not truly laxative, but mildly laxative.
  • Grahi – equal to sangrahi – brings about formation of fecal matter.
  • Stambhana – to prevent expulsion – to halt, withholding. – therapeutically with severe diarrhea need to prevent fluid loss (nutmeg, pomegranate, alum) or excessive blood loss. Motility of the colon is so hyperactive that the presence of fluid will aggravate it – so treat not with more fluid, but with an herb that doesn’t aggravate the colon. Kshaya rasa or Sheeta guna are what you need to process these herbs.
  • Vyavayi – produces effect in an extremely quick way – fair amounts of self generated alcohol
  • If you find a patient with a sincere motive to change, work with them. If they aren’t willing to change their actions, they are “well left”. No point in treating ignorant addiction – if they can understand the effort it will take to HEAL them then you should work with them. But the patient has to be preferably wealthy enough (to purchase medicine they need) and completely obeying the physician. Once you come to know the physician understands you, you recognize that the doctor is going to put their heart and soul into healing you. Therefore to be a good patient, you must have the motivation to change. One step for the patient and then the physician can take a thousand steps with you.
  • Vikashi – quick spreading but lowers down/harming oja – alcohol/narcotics – not a therapeutic but a karma of some dravya.
  • Abhishyandi – that which liquefies and then clogs – yogurt
  • Yogavahi – that which assists and enhances the properties of another dravya. – honey, ghee
  • Vidahi – that which imparts a burning sensation
  • Rasayana – tonic for whole of the body – dhatu/mind etc. – chawanprash

Vajikarana – aphrodisiac that which enhances reproductive and performative powers triggering libido and enhancing performance. – ghee,

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