Monday, July 13, 2020

Ayurveda 41 “Qualities” Explained


Forty One Qualities Of Matter In Ayurvedic Medicine

Definition of quality or property or characteristic is used in a very comprehensive way in Ayurvedic medicine. In ancient ayurveda textbook, Charaka Samhita, forty one properties of matter are described. Eleven of them are specific and the rest are general.

“There are total of 41 qualities or properties of matter that are divided into five groups.”

(Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch. 1-49, Longevity)


Definition of Quality – Properties Of Five Elemental Principle:

Each of the five primary elemental vibration has its own innate quality associated with it. Each of the five elements have their specific and unique quality.

The actual residing place of these properties is in the subtle vibrational plane of the five elements. Sometimes these have been known as ‘Tanmatra’ or subtle properties of five elements in Ayurveda and Yoga literature.

  1. The subtle vibrational property of Smell resides in Earth element.
  2. The subtle vibrational property of Taste is found in Water element.
  3. The property responsible for Vision is associated with Fire element.
  4. The property responsible for Touch is spontaneous in Air element.
  5. The property of Sound or Energy transmission is related with Ether.

Each of the five Elements have affinity or dominance in their corresponding sensory organs, organs of action and the physiological functions of these organs and the pathological disorders of these organs.

In modern physiology, each of these functions are attributed with sensory organs and nervous system. The receptors for each of sensory function are attuned to their own sensation. Sensory organs are only the receiving center for sensations from where sensations are sent to brain where their actual perception occurs.

Definition of Quality – Common Properties Of Five Elemental Principle:

Heaviness, lightness, cold, hot, unctuous, non-unctuous, slow, penetrating or sharp, sluggish or stable, mobile, soft, hard, clean, sliminess, smooth, rough, gross, subtle, dilute and concentrated are the twenty properties that are present in different substances.

These properties have their own physical, chemical, physiological or biological, pathological, pharmacological and medical significance in Ayurveda. We have dealt about their significance in some detail already along with articles about Ayurveda doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The twenty properties are not specific to any single element and substance. These properties of a substance can change or transform when we treat or process the substance with other materials.

For example, curd is said to be with smearing quality for the minute channels in intestine and body. When we add some salt to curd, the smearing property of curd changes and it doesn’t have any untoward effect on micro-channels.

Definition Of Quality – Another 10 General Properties Are:

Distant or superior or beyond or dominance, non-dominance or inferior or nearby, practical aptness or planning, number, combination, division, segregation, quantity or amount, transformation of qualities and practice are the ten general qualities.

Like the above twenty qualities, these do have a wide spectrum of influence encompassing physical, chemical, biological, pharmacological and medical relevance.

These general properties are described in detail in Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Chapter 26. Knowledge of these properties are essential for success in the management of disorders and for maintaining good health.

Definition Of Quality – Six Properties Associated With Intelligence or Soul Are:

Intelligence, happiness or pleasure, sadness or unhappiness, desire or liking or attachment , disliking or hatred, exertion or effort.

These six qualities are associated with self or ego and emotional nature that is why these are also called spiritual qualities. Spiritual qualities are present and manifest in every individual and personality.

We get attached to what gives us happiness or pleasure and we begin to like that  and gradually we are bound and attached by that. So pleasant experiences in life result in cravings or attachment or desire for them.

We dislike or hate what brings displeasure or unhappiness to us and we get entrapped in it. Unhappy incidences in life develop another attachment in the form of disliking or hatred.

There is a quadrant of these four qualities – pleasure and desire, unhappiness and disliking.

All our efforts in the direction of chasing happiness and to get away from sadness or unhappy experiences. Our emotional life swings like a pendulum in this quadrant.

True freedom lies in freedom of choice and not in following cravings or tendencies or giving way to habits. The freedom of choice can only be sought through intelligence. Then we can choose wisely and our efforts will be well informed and balanced.

As a native Indian and an Ayurvedic holistic healer, Arjun writes in the lane of herbal healing and home remedies. Certification: BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery With Modern Medicine).

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