Sushruta is one in holding with Foster that "the animal body dies daily, in the sense that at every moment some part of its substance is suffering decay, is undergoing combustion." The etymological significance of the term Shariam (Skr. Shri, to wither up) testifies to his knowledge of the combustion that goes on within the human system. Three kinds of fire are detected in the body, which are sure to feed upon its constituent principles in the absence of proper fuel in the shape of food and air. It is food and the fundamental bodily principle of Shleshma, which is cooling or watery in its essence, that fly to the rescue of the organism, the latter (Sleshma) surcharging it with its own essential humidity and keeping intact the integration of its component molecules.
The Rasa, or lymph chyle which is formed out of the ingested food, prevents the internal bodily fires from
(1) The seat of the moon is at the root of the palate and that of the sun is at the root of the navel; the place of the air (or breath) is above the sun, and mind dwells above the moon. Chittam (or the passage between the mind and the spiritual soul) dwells above the sun. and life dwells above the moon.
Jnana Sankalini Tantram, International Journal of Tantrik order (New York) Vol. V. No. 5 p. 109.
(2) It is supposed that the change effected by the light, which falls upon the retina, is in fact a chemical alteration in the protoplasm, and that this stimulates the optic nerve-endings. Kirk's Physiology Ch. XVII, preying upon the vitals by coursing freely through the whole organism. The Rasa thus generated, undergoes a sort of purification, the purified portion being called Prasadabhuta, and the excreted portion Malabhuta, such as are found as effete products deposited in certain pores of the body. Kaphah or Sleshma is that portion of Rasa which fills all the intercellular spaces of the body, thus holding them together in a kind of cooling embrace (Skr. Slish to embrace) and prevents (1) the dreadful combustion which would otherwise have been caused by organic heat. Our Acharjas have classified the Kaphah into five different kinds such as the Kledaka, Avalamvaka, Vodhaka and Shlesmaka according to their different functions and locations in the economy.
The lymph chyle, born of the digested food, and which courses through the body, potentially contains the elements which build the different tissues of the human organism. Under the influence of metabolic heat it is progressively transformed into blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, semen and Ojah. In other words, under the process of physiological metamorphosis, the lymph chyle sets free that part of its constituents (2) which possess bloodmaking properties, and are ultimately transformed into blood - (its unutilised or excreted portion being eliminated through the natural apertures of the body), and so on, through the progressive series of metabolism to Ojah Dhdtu. Thus with the derangement of the bodily Vayu which causes the free coursing of the lymph chyle through its vessels, the Pittam (metabolism of tissues), in any particular part of the body, is also affected by reason of its incarceration, and thus causes an increase or diminution in the excreted portion of the Rasa, which is another name for Kapham during the progressive metabolism. Thus we see that Vayu, Pittam, and Kaphah, which, in their normal state, are the three supporting principles of the body are transformed into morbific diathesis by increasing or diminishing the bodily heat, secretions, or excretions.†
(I) A B.
Charaka Chikitshasthanam. Chap. 15.
Chakra Datta's commentary on the Charaka Samhita. Sutrasthanam. Cr. XXVIII.
Thus congestion and inanition (atony) are the two main forms of disease recognised by the Ayurvedic Pathologists, the former being held amenable to resolution or elimination, and the latter to local feeding or nourishment.