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Ashraya Ashrayi Bhava: Relationship Between Tissues And Doshas


The human body is made up of Doshas, Dhatus (tissues) and Malas (excreta). While doshas predominantly contribute towards various functions, the dhatus form the structural components of the body. Malas get eliminated from the body to keep the body healthy. But the doshas and dhatus are interrelated within our system and work in synchronization.

The doshas have their abode in the dhatus (and also in the malas) and operate from therein. They are said to have ‘ashraya-ashrayi-sambandha’ i.e. the inseparable relationship of ‘abode and resident’. Here the dhatus (and malas) are abodes and doshas living in them are residents. Thus dhatus and malas are ashrayas (abode) and doshas are ashrayis (resident).


Ashraya Ashrayi Bhava
Vata Dosha is located in the asthi’s (bones)

Pitta is located in Sweda (sweat) and Rakta (blood)

Kapha is located in the other elements / tissues of the body, namely Rasa (lymph, plasma), Mamsa (muscles), Meda (fat), Majja (bone marrow), Shukra (semen), Mutra (urine) and Pureesha (stools, feces)

Ashrayi (resident, indwelling forces)

Ashraya (abode, residing place)


Asthi (bones)


Sweda (Sweat)

Rakta (Blood)


Rasa (Lymph, Plasma)

Mamsa (Muscle)

Meda (Fat)

Majja (Bone Marrow)

Shukra (Semen)

Mutra (Urine)

Pureesha (feces)

Why the doshas (ashrayis) need to be placed in the dhatus and malas (ashrayas)?
You always need a place to stay, don’t you? The body tissues (though they are constantly in circulation just like the doshas) have fixed places to stay in the body. This is because the construction of the entire body has taken place by the dhatus (tissues being the building blocks of the body). Similarly the malas stay in close relationship to the organs or sites where they are formed, like the feces with the colon, urine in the bladder and sweat in the skin.

Doshas, as we have already discussed are the functional components of the body. They are constantly moving from one place of the body to the other coordinating the different life activities. But they too need some place to stay from where they can operate or move around. Doshas have found their places in these dhatus and malas which form their ashrayas.

Importance of Ashraya-Ashrayi Bhava and its knowledge
Ashraya Ashrayi Bhava is not only limited to the abode and resident relation between the doshas and dhatus (and malas). Below mentioned is the importance of having a comprehensive knowledge of Ashraya Ashrayi Bhava as far as the physician is concerned.

Ashrayas and Ashrayis have inseparable relationship and work in a synchronized way
‘May your walls know joy; may each room hold laughter, and may every window open to great possibility’ – Mary Ann

The concept explains the relationship between the anatomical and physiological components of the body and also the synchronization between them.

Example, Vayu is located in Asthi. Due to its lightness, Vayu keeps the bones light. Bones are basically made up of Prithvi Mahabhuta – Earth element. Therefore they are hard tissues and support the body frame. Vata Dosha located in this earthy bone, is made up of Vayu and Akasha Mahabhutas (Air and Space elements). This is needed to keep the interior of the bone porous and light. This enables the body to move easily on its joints. If Vayu were not present in the bones, the bones would have been heavy and it would have been difficult to carry our own bodies. The space created by Vayu in the bones helps Majja (bone marrow) to occupy the interior of the bones.

Asthi – bone is also said to be one of the prime sites of Vata.

Similarly Pitta is located in the Rakta – blood tissue. Pitta is made up of Agni (fire) and Jala (water) elements. This is needed to keep the blood in liquid state so as to enable its smooth flow in the blood vessels without getting clogged. Agni in Pitta provides it the heat. Pitta in turn provides the heat to the Rakta. Therefore we are warm blooded. The loss of heat or pitta element in the rakta may also indicate serious illness and is also a sign of death. The heat and intensity (ushna and teekshna guna) of pitta gives the push to the blood to flow in the blood vessels.

Similarly Kapha is located in the Mamsa dhatu or muscle tissue. Kapha is made up of Jala (water) and Prithvi (earth) element. The same elements help in the formation of mamsa dhatu. The combination of water and earth (mud) forms a cementing substance just like the concrete used to construct the buildings, which holds the bricks together. The kapha does the same and so does the mamsa. Presence of kapha in the mamsa gives it’s the normal texture, strength and flexibility. The muscles are present all through the body. They help the joints and visceral organs to move easily. The flexibility of the body depends on the health of mamsa dhatu and the quality and quantity of kapha present in it.

Note: The relationship between the doshas and other dhatus shall be understood in a similar way.

Normalcy and morbidity of Ashraya and Ashrayi affect mutually
If the Ashrayi is normal, the health of the ashraya (tissue) is also normal. A good tenant can take of his abode or home in a proper way. In this instance since the tenants are the doshas, their normalcy is mandatory for the dhatus and malas to be healthy. If the doshas (ashrayi) gets vitiated, they also contaminate the dhatus and malas and cause wide array of diseases. Example, Pitta Vriddhi or Prakopa (pathological increase or vitiation of pitta) causes vitiation of Rakta leading to many blood borne diseases and inflammatory diseases. Similarly pathological increase of kapha or its vitiation (kapha vriddhi or prakopa) causes excessive accumulation of fat leading to obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure etc conditions. The other kapha tissues (rasa, majja, pureesha etc) can also get vitiated when kapha gets vitiated. The most susceptible dhatu will be affected.

Also pathological increase of pitta and or kapha will lead to pathological increase in the tissues related to pitta and kapha respectively (following the principle of ashraya ashrayi bhava). But the exception is Vata vriddhi or prakopa. Vata vitiation or pathological increase of Vata leads to asthi kshaya or destruction of bone (instead of accumulation).

Aashraya-Aashrayi Bhava helps in planning appropriate Treatment
Aashraya is generally a tissue or an organ. The doshas (aashrayis) have inseparable relationship with their corresponding aashrayas. In a condition of normalcy and health, the relationship is compatible. The doshas do not harm their own houses i.e. the dhatus and malas (and aashayas or viscera made up of dhatus).

They keep transiting in and out of the aashrayas. But when the doshas get vitiated due to many contributory factors (nidana or contributory factors) like incompatible food, erratic life style, stress, not properly following the dinacharya (daily regimen), rutucharya (seasonal regimen), sadvritta and sadachara (noble code and conduct of living), geographic and climatic variations etc, they tend to contaminate and vitiate the dhatus.

The doshas tend to attack the weaker and susceptible dhatus and damage them. The channels of the transport system in the body will be blocked, clogged and damaged. When the tissues get damaged, the protective system and immunity of the body fails. The body and mind becomes susceptible to many diseases.

The knowledge of aashraya and aashrayi will help us to plan effective treatment protocol. The treatment protocol includes isolating the morbid doshas from the dhatus and flushing them away from the body. Through procedures like Deepana (enhancers of metabolism), Paachana (digestants), Snehana (oleation) and Swedana (sudation), the doshas which have got deep rooted in the dhatus and are causing damage are mobilized from the cells towards the gut.

From the gut the morbid doshas are thrown out of the system through therapeutic cleansing measures like Vamana (therapeutic emesis) and Virechana (therapeutic purgation).

Kriyakala or stages of pathogenesis can be properly understood through the knowledge of Aashraya-Aashrayi Bhava
Ayurveda has given 6 stages of pathogenesis (the steps in which a disease process is formed and progress to successive complicated stages). The idea is to know, identify and diagnose the diseases in the earliest stages so that the treatment becomes easy. In the first 3 stages i.e. Sanchaya, Prakopa and Prasara, the doshas get pathologically increased in quantity in their own seats and tend to move away (overflow of morbid doshas) towards sites which don’t belong to them. After trespassing into other areas, the doshas invade the weaker dhatus. In the 4th stage of kriyakala, i.e. the doshas start invading the tissues and the premonitory symptoms of the disease (purvarupas) get manifested.

In the 5th stage the invasion completes and the dhatus are considerably damaged. Here the disease is identified and name in its true form as the signs and symptoms of the disease get manifested in this stage. (Vyakta stage).

The 6th stage (bheda stage) of kriyakala causes complications. All these stages occur in line with the aashraya-aashrayee bhaava. Knowing this would enable us to learn about the changes occurring in the kriyakala and its stages and identify the disease at the earliest.
Related reading – Shat Kriya Kala – ‘Stage-Wise Disease Management’

Knowledge of Ashayapakarsha can be obtained through Aashraya-Aashrayee Bhava
Aashayaapakarsha is one of the abnormal behaviors of Vayu wherein it pulls the normal pitta out of its site, in the presence of kapha kshaya (pathological decrease of kapha) and displaces it. The morbid pitta enters other sites of the body (especially the lower parts of the body like pelvis, colon, urinary bladder, lower limbs, low back, testes, ovaries, uterus, urinary passages etc) and causes various diseases (mainly inflammatory in nature). The knowledge of Aashayaapakarsha depends on the wisdom of Aashraya-Aashrayee Bhaava.

Read related: Ashayapakarsha By Vata: Displacement of Pitta, Kapha Dosha



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