What are Dhatus in Ayurveda Introduction Concepts


Hello friends, The National Library of Ayurveda Medicine is pleased to present a new episode on Ayurveda. The present release is part of a video lecture series prepared for the education of Ayurveda literature in accordance with the academic curriculum of Ayurveda studies in India. My name is Dr Sumit Kesarkar and I will be your host throughout this video on the Introduction to Dhatus, which are the building blocks of the human body according to Ayurveda. Dhatu is derived from the root word “Daa” which means ‘Foundation’ or ‘that which bears’. It is thus said to be the basis of growth and survival. In terms of the human body, dhatu is described as the functional entities or tissues which nourish the body and support it. Modern medicine describes the body as a network of interconnected systems. They each affect one another the nervous system affects the skeletal system, which affects the circulatory system and so on. The way in which the physiology of the human body is perceived in Ayurveda is completely different from that of modern medicine. Rather than having specific, differentiated systems, the body consists of a series of channels called “srotas” which are seven in number We will discuss the srotas more in detail in a separate video. These srotas or channels flow through every part of the body to perform the necessary functions. The seven srotas contain the seven dhatus, which are progressive in qualities, with each higher unit carrying a part of its previous one. According to Ayurveda, there are seven basic dhatus in the human body. They are Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja, & Shukra-Aartava. Some Dhatus produce accessory tissues or Upadhatus. Upadhatus in brief can be considered as a refinement produced when dhatu metabolism occurs. The Upadhatus nourish the body. For example, Stanya or breast milk is one of the two Upadhatus produced by rasa dhatu during the metabolism of Rasa. Though its essence is present in a woman throughout her life, it nourishes the baby post pregnancy when it is born. Raja or menstrual fluid is the second Upadhatu produced by Rasa, which through its formation balances the body and promotes fertility in a woman. Similarly, Dhatus also produce waste products known as Mala’s. The Mala’s have a healthy state and a diseased state in terms of their physical attributes and are useful for diagnosing the functioning of the dhatus. The proper functioning of all the 7 units culminates into an eighth unit known as “Ojas”, which is considered as the ultimate refinement, the supreme nectar that sustains life. Each dhatu has certain proportions of the Pancha mahabhutas in them. To review the general translations of the 5 mahabhutas: Agni is fire, Prithvi is earth, Aakash is space, Aapah is water & Vayu is air from the perspective of planet earth We will have a look at the proportions of those elements in the different dhatus now. The + sign indicates the dominance of a mahabhuta. Rasa dhatu has preominance of Aapah Rakta of Aapah +, Agni ++ Mansa of Prithvi ++ and Aapah Meda of Aapah +++ and Prithvi + Asthi of Prithvi ++ & Aakasha+ Majja of Aapah +++ & Prithvi + and Shukra of Aapah ++ & Prithvi + Apart from this, every Dhatu or tissue layer also has the predominance of one of the three doshas, which can be quantified from the combination of the Panchamahabhutas. The seven dhatus can be co-related to the Modern terms as Rasa dhatu can be co-related to the Lymphatics, Capillary secretions & Digestive juices Rakta dhatu to Haemopoetic or Circulatory system Mansa dhatu to Muscular system Meda dhatu to Lipids or Fat tissue Asthi dhatu to Skeletal system Majja dhatu to Nervous system including bone marrow, brain, spinal cord and nerve apparatus Shukra / Aartava to Reproductive system including hormones. We will study each individual Dhatu in a seperate video Each Dhatu is a micro representation of the macro human form. Each Dhatu sustains itself by absorbing food from the digestive juices. The absorbed food is assimilated to nourish itself and its upadhatu. The unwanted material is excreted as waste; Mala. To take an example, the Ahar rasa or the digestive juice, on reaching Rasa dhatu, is absorbed by it. The digestive fire within the rasa dhatu assimilates the ahar rasa as per its own attributes and nourishes Rasa dhatu and its upadhatus, Stanya and Raja. The waste product is excreted out, which in the case of Rasa dhatu is phlegm or mucus and can be attributed to Kapha. The three processes of Absorption, Assimilation & Excretion, when functioning together harmoniously, impart health. Any discrepancies lead to diseases. Dhatu’s growth, sustainability and destruction are governed by the three doshas, as explained before. Dhatu Poshan refers to the nutrition of the different dhatus in the body through digested food Three different laws exist in Ayurveda that explain the process of nutrition of the dhatus from the digested food. We will study each in brief. Ksheer Dadhi Nyaya Ksheer means milk and Dadhi means yoghurt. This most accepted law states that as milk is transformed into yoghurt, similarly, one dhatu transforms into another. Just as yoghurt cannot be converted back to milk, this dhatu transformation is unidirectional. This is known as Ksheer Dadhi Nyaya. At first, Ahar rasa completely changes to Rasa Dhatu, following this is the changing of Rasa Dhatu to Rakta Dhatu and so on. This is one of the paths of nutrition of the different Dhatus. For example Mansa dhatu would constitute a part of Rasa and Rakta. Each unit is processed from the previous one and hence considered to be a finer refinement. The Sun’s rays take many years to reach earth, yet it maintains its effect through the continuous release of rays. Likewise, it may seem by this law that one Dhatu would completely end if it totally changes into other one. But due to the continuous flow of ingested food, it does not occur. Kedar Kulya Nyaya The word Kedar means small pieces of land and Kulya means drain. Crops in a field get irrigated by creating Kulya or drains and Kedar or small pieces of land. The small pieces of land get irrigated one by one through drains in sequence. In the same way, different Dhatus of the body get nutrition one by one in sequence through vessels. The 1st dhatu, Rasa Dhatu, gets nutrition from Ahar Rasa or digested food. Then Rakta Dhatu gets nutrition from the rest of Ahar Rasa and likewise up to Shukra Dhatu. This Ayurvedic law of nutrition of the dhatus unfolds as follows During the transformation, first Ahar Rasa reaches the Rasa Vaha Srotasa or channel, the Rasa Dhatu Agni or metabolic fire of Rasa Dhatu processes the Ahar Rasa. During this process it is divided into three parts Sthoola or Macroscopic, Sukshma or Microscopic & Mala or Excretions. The Sthoola part gives nutrition to the Dhatu i.e. Rasa. The Sukshma part nourishes its descendent Dhatu,i.e. Rakta & its Updhatus, Stanya and Raja. Mala is excreted out, i.e. Kapha in this case in form of phlegm or mucus This way the transformation of Dhatu, Updhatu and Mala takes place. The theory in brief says that one Dhatu serves as an activating signal for the formation of the next. In modern medicine, this is comparable to the effect of hormones as signals. Khala Kapota Nyaya The word Khala means pot and Kapota means pigeon, the bird. As the bird has to come to the pot of grain for its nourishment, likewise all the Dhatus are directly nourished by Ahar Rasa without considering the sequence of nutrition. For example, if a certain area is lacking sodium, the sodium in the circulatory fluid will go directly to it. To have a brief recap, we understood through this video the constitution and functioning of the Dhatus, which are considered to be the foundations of the human body. There are 7 dhatus: Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and Shukra and they are responsible for the structure and functioning of the human body. The healthy pathology of all dhatus culminate into a supreme refinement dhatu called Ojas. Each dhatu is composed of the Panch Mahabhutas with varying combinations. Some dhatus have Upadhatus, which can be termed as a refinement of that Dhatu that is produced during its metabolism. Each dhatu absorbs food, processes it to nourish itself and its upadhatu and excretes the waste in a similar manner as a human body does. The nature and attributes of these waste products and Updhatus are helpful in determining the health of a Dhatu. We also learned about the three laws of metabolism between the dhatus and how they are nourished. The Ksheer Dadhi law gives the example of milk and yoghurt and implies that as milk gets transformed to yoghurt, in a similar manner, one dhatu gets transformed to other. The Kedar Kulya law states that as a farm gets irrigated by various channels one by one, with the closest being nourished first, similarly, each dhatu gets nutrition in sequence with Rasa first and shukra last. The Khala Kapot law states that as various pigeons make their way to a pot filled with grains, similarly the digestive juice nourishes each dhatu as required without any sequence. Though all these 3 laws may seem different, Ayurveda states that they are utilized according to the requirements. I hope this video was informative and made the subject clear. Comments and feedback are highly appreciated and you can leave them by visiting the NLAM website at or likewise by writing to me at Thank you for watching. [SUBTITLES CREDIT:NLAM]

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