Understanding Prakriti + Vikrti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution
Prakriti is a commonly used term in Ayurveda.Prakriti means one’s psychosomatic constitution or mind-body type. In Sanskrit, the wordprakritimeans nature. Vikriti is synonymous with a disorder, disease, or pathological manifestation.
The concepts ofprakritior psychosomatic constitution andvikritior disorder are significant in Ayurveda. They are used extensively for examining patients, prescribing Ayurvedic treatments, and helping people maintain overall health and well being.
This article will explain the Ayurvedic termsprakritiandvikriti.
What Is Prakriti?
Ayurveda says that there arepancha mahabhutasor five elements that are the basic building blocks of the body. These five elements are prithvior earth,vayu or air,jalaor water,agni or fire and akashaor ether (space).
Ayurveda believes that both our bodies and the entire universe are made up of these five elements. These five elements when combined form the threedoshas of the body which are Vata dosha, Pitta dosha, and Kapha dosha.
Everyone possesses a unique combination of these five elements in varying degrees.
Vata dosha is mainly responsible for movements of the body, whereas the Pitta dosha is responsible for maintaining digestion, metabolism, and body temperature.
The Kapha dosha is mainly responsible for lubrication, cohesiveness, and body structure. Besides these primary functions, the three doshas are also responsible for many other important bodily functions.
These three doshas represent a body’s basic constitution orPrakriti.
According to Ayurveda, yourprakritiis what determines your physical and mental characteristics.
A state of complete physical well being is said to be achieved when these three doshas are in equilibrium. Any imbalance in these doshas is considered to be the root cause of diseases and disorders.
An individual’sprakriti is determined based on theirpancha mahabhutas and threedoshas. This allows Ayurvedic practitioners to prescribe very specific treatment plans according to the individual’s unique constitution.
Identifying an individual’s physical constitution is an important step in devising a lifestyle and diet plan that is tailor-made for their particular constitution.
While a person’s basicprakritiremains the same throughout their life, sometimes, due to drastic changes in physical, emotional, mental, or lifestyle conditions, one’s psychosomatic constitution can change.
Find out your Prakriti now. Take this FREE Dosha Quiz!
Factors That Determine Prakriti
A person’s basic prakritiis established even before birth.The factors that determine agarbhaor fetus’prakriti are the following.
- Constitution of sperm and ovum
- Time of conception
- The health of the uterus
- The mother’s diet and lifestyle (during pregnancy)
The predominance of any of these factors determines theprakriti of the fetus and is the reason why someone’sprakriti might have a predominance of one dosha while another might have a combination of two or even three doshas.1
Seven types ofDoshik Prakriti
Ayurveda describes seven types ofdoshik prakritis. These seven types of prakriti areVata prakriti, Pitta prakriti, Kapha prakriti,Vata Pitta prakriti, Vata Kapha prakriti, Pitta Kapha prakriti andSama Dhatu prakriti. Sama dhatu prakriti is a manifestation of all three dosha.
Characteristics of Vata
The qualities of Vata dosha areruksha or rough,laghuor light,chala or mobile,bahu or abundant,shighra or swift,sheeta or cold,parushaor coarse andvishada or non-slimy.
The following qualities impart certain characteristics to Vata dominant individuals.
- Rough, lean, thin, and short stature.
Rough, weak, hoarse, slow, adhered anddilapidated voice.
- Such individuals tend to sleep less than others.
- Light gait.
- Light movements and activities.
- A tendency for eating less.
- A fickle and changeable nature.
- Unstable joints, eyes, eyebrows, jaw, lips, tongue, head, shoulder, hands, and feet.
Bahu Guna or abundance
- Very talkative nature.
- Easily visible veins and tendons.
Shighra Guna or swiftness
- A hasty tendency towards work.
- Irritated very quickly.
- More prone to diseases.
- Scared or startled easily.
- Quick attachment and disenchantment with things.
- Memorize and forget things quickly.
- Intolerance to cold weather.
- Excessive shivering in colder conditions.
- Stiffness of the body.
- Excessively coarse hair all over the body including the head, beard and body hair.
- Coarse nails, teeth, face, hands, and feet.
- Cracked skin
- Joints that make a ‘pop’ during heavy movements.
According to Ayurveda, Vata-dominant individuals may have lesser strength, stamina, life expectancy, children, and wealth due to the aforementioned qualities.2
Read More: Vata Diet – Everything You Need To Know
Characteristics of Pitta
The qualities of a Pitta prakritiareushna or hot,tikshna or sharp,dravaor liquid,vistram or rotten smell, amla rasa or sour taste andkatu rasa or pungent.
The following qualities impart certain characteristics to Pitta dominant individuals.
- Intolerance to heat.
- Warm mouth or heat around the face
- Delicate and beautiful body parts
- Small pimples or eruptions over the body
- Plenty of freckles, black-moles, and pimples.
- Excessive hunger and thirst
- Premature greying of hair and early onset of hair loss
- An early appearance of wrinkles
- Soft, scanty, and brown colored hair on the face and scalp.
- Brave and courageous.
- Intense digestive fire.
- Healthy appetite
- Lack of endurance
- A tendency to eat frequently
- Loose or lax and soft joints and muscles.
- Excessive perspiration, urination, and defecation.
Vistram Guna (rotten smell)
- Bad odor in axillary regions
Pungent and Sour Taste
- Less semen, low libido, and fewer children
According to Ayurveda, Pitta-dominant individuals may have moderate strength, lifespan, knowledge, understanding, wealth and means.3
Read More: Pitta Diet – Everything You Need To Know
Characteristics of Kapha
The qualities of Kapha dosha are snigdha or oily,shlakshna or smooth,mriduor soft,madhuraor sweet,sara or essence, sandraor dense,mandaor slow acting, stimita or stable,guruor heavy,sheeta or cold,vijjalaor slimy andacchah or clear.
The following qualities impart certain characteristics to Kapha dominant individuals.
- Excess fat around the organs
- Pleasing or delicate personality
- Fair complexion
- An abundance of semen, libido and children.
- A strong, compact, and stable body.
- Well developed and healthy organs.
- Dullness or slowness in physical activities.
- Eating food slowly.
- Moving and acting slowly.
- A tendency to delay starting work.
- Does not get irritated easily.
- Less prone to sudden mood swings.
- Slow, deliberate, and careful gait.
- Hard worker.
- Low hunger, thirst, and perspiration.
- Well padded joints and ligaments.
- Clear eyes and face.
- Clear complexion.
- Affectionate and clear voice.
According to Ayurveda, Kapha-dominant individuals may be strong, wealthy, knowledgable, brave, calm and live long.4
Read More: Kapha Diet – Everything You Need To Know
Dwandaja Prakriti or Dual Dosha Constitution
When any two doshas are combined together, theprakritibecomes adwandaja or dualprakriti. This can be a Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, and Pitta-Kaphaprakriti.5
Indwandaja prakrit, characteristics and features of both dosha are present.
Dualprakriti has also been termed asdwi doshaja prakriti by Ayurvedic scholars.
Sama Dhatu Prakriti
When the characteristics of all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) are found together, it is called sama dhatu prakriti.6
While this is considered the perfect state, it rarely occurs in the majority of individuals.
Sama dhatu prakriti has also been termed as tri-doshaja prakriti orsanni paatik prakritiby Ayurvedic scholars.
Ayurveda mentionmanas prakriti or mental constitution on the basis of mental characteristics.
There are three types ofmanas prakriti namelySattva, Rajo,andTamo.7These threemanas prakritis are also known asmano gunas.
In the classic Ayurvedic textCharaka Samhita,a total of 16 kinds ofmanas prakriti have been mentioned. Sattvik prakritiis subdivided into seven types,rajsik prakriti is subdivided into six types, and tamsik prakritiis subdivided into three types.
What is a Pancha Bhautik Prakriti?
In Ayurveda, some practitioners treat patients on the basis of theirpancha bhautik prakriti.This is often confused withdoshik prakriti because the two concepts are quite similar.
The threedoshasare made up of thepancha mahabutaor five elements in different proportions. The only difference, however, is how the two concepts are represented in Ayurveda.
The textSushruta Samhita describes five basicprakritis on the basis ofpancha mahabhautik: pavan or air (vayu),dahan oragni (Pitta),toyaor water (Kapha), prithvi or earth, andnabhas or ether.8
Read More: Panchabhautik Chikitsa: A Unique Branch Of Ayurvedic Medicine
What is Vikriti?
What Vikritireally means is a disorder or pathological manifestation. A patient’svikriti is also analyzed alongside theirprakriti in Ayurveda.
A patient’svikriti is examined in terms of thehetuor cause of the disorder,dosha(vitiating factors),dushya(vitiated factors),prakritior constitution, desha or place,kala or time,bala or strength, andlakshana or symptoms.
These factors help in determining what theVikriti is.
A disease or disorder is considered severe when it has a commondosha, dushya, constitution, place, and time along with a strong cause and severe symptoms.
A disease or disorder is mild whendosha,dushya, constitution, place, and time are not common andwhen the cause and severity of the symptoms are mild.
A disease or disorder is moderate when thedosha,dushya, constitution, place, and time have some commonalities and the cause and severity of symptoms is moderate.9
- Charak Samhita, Viman sthan,8/75, p.no.643, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Charak Samhita, Viman sthan,8/98, p.no.644, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Charak Samhita, Viman sthan,8/97, p.no.644, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Charak Samhita, Viman sthan,8/96, p.no.643, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Charak Samhita, Viman sthan,8/99, p.no.645, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Charak Samhita, Viman sthan,8/100, p.no.645, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Charak Samhita, Sharir sthan,4/36, p.no.735, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
- Sushruta Samhita,part-1, Sharir sthan,4/79, p.no.52, by Kaviraj Ambikadutta Shastri, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan, 2011.
- Charak Samhita, Viman sthan,8/101, p.no.645, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.