Three Doshas- TriDoshas!

Tri is a prefix which means same in Sanskrit and English- three. Dosha! This comes from a Sanskrit root “Dush” which means – the Pollutant!

So Doshas are those which can pollute the in-vivo with their activities. Therefore it means that these three are responsible for all kind of problems and diseases in the body.

Most of us have the same understanding about the Doshas, but it is not always so.

What are Doshas

Most of the times we translate Doshas as- Bio Humors. But this is not exact analogy. Conceptually, these are different from each other. Because Humors told by Hippocrates are visible. But in case of Ayurveda these are invisible ones. Ayurvedic Doshas are “invisibles”. These represent themselves by actions.

Actions speaks about qualities and performances of the Doshas.

Doshas are more like- dynamic gradients. These dynamic gradients represent the different stages and conditions of working of the body. These gradients three different stages/conditions of a single activity.

This is something like a graphical presentation. Data on a graph represents different positions and situations. But these are always within the periphery of the body of the graph. Same is about the Doshas. 

  • Three Doshas represents three different states of the body.  
  • Because dosha represent different position and condition of a process, therefore these seems opposite to each other.. 
  • Doshas are neither three different forms nor three different characters.
  • These are dynamic active gradients.
  • This is the reason here we are telling these as three different gradients of the same functioning of the body.

Before understanding the three doshas, we need to understand the philosophy behind these.

The Philosophy of Doshas

Every science has its roots somewhere in the Philosophy. Before verification and application every science was a Philosophy. This applies with the Law of Gravity by Isaac Newton and theory of relativity by Sir Einstein too. Because Philosophy is a result of keen observation and intuitive analysis. When these both are proved and applied- this brings the science in existence.

So at a stage all the sciences were philosophies.

Most of the modern sciences have detached themselves from their philosophical roots. But science like Ayurveda is deeply associated with its philosophical background.

For example: “they Food thy medicine” this was the Philosophy of the modern medical sciences. Hippocrates said this. The father or modern medicine. But this Philosophy is no more in practice.

Opposite to this, philosophy is deeply interlaced with principles of treatment and health in Ayurveda. It is not possible to imagine about the applicability of ayurveda without philosophical understanding.

Anyhow; here are two points from basic philosophies of Ayurveda, which can help us to understand the concept behind Doshas.

What “matters” is Energy

Matter is secondary. Energy is primary. The advancement in quantum physics now proves that matter is nothing just a quantified energy. This is base of Ayurvedic philosophy.

What biological process is it? Doesn’t matter for Ayurveda. What matters is- what impact a biological process will bring! If some endothermic/exothermic activities are there. The main concern of modern medicine is to find out the bio-chemical details of the process. But for Ayurveda, it is enough to know that this process is “endothermic” or “exothermic”. Because nature of the results brings an impact. Not the chemicals.

This is the prime aspect of Ayurvedic Philosophy. According to Ayurveda these are the energies, which are responsible always for the any kind of working or execution. We human beings, our physical bodies are the results of the same energies. These energies are Triguna- Sattava, Rajas and Tamas on the primary level and on other level these becomes- Tridoshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha!

These energies might be invisible! But these represent themselves by their actions and executions.

Just walking and jogging will impact on the human body in certain ways. By doing physical activity we lose “fats” therefore this increases “dryness”. So here one thing is clear that “movement” brings “dryness”. This is the dryness only which causes soreness and stiffness in the muscles and joints. Now in this example we need not to know about the exact details of the biochemical process. We need to know about the process and its results. Ayurveda talks about same.

By the way, this example is of Vata aggravation and Kapha pacification, incase you missed it.

Visible is not always true:

What is visible is thought to be the main source of knowledge by modern day physical sciences. 

But Ayurveda never recommends this thought. According to Ayurveda and other Indian Philosophies- what is visible cannot be true always. Because when we visualize something- that object is being interpreted according to the previous knowledge stored with us. And if the previous knowledge is not accurate, we won’t have a true idea about that thing.

So there will be always some preoccupied thoughts about that particular object.

In this prospect. A single biological or biochemical process might have two different impacts in different people and conditions. This is something like wearing a warm clothing in summer will impact the biological process in a different manner and in winters it will be opposite.

Same is about the Doshas, for Ayurveda. These three doshas behave differently in different conditions. And we need to understand all these aspects in detail. But before this, in backdrop of these two philosophical conditions we need to understand the Doshas.

Understanding Three Doshas

We can better understand Doshas through the example of the metabolism.

During the whole day we face different conditions with our metabolism.

When you are sleeping early morning- metabolism is very sluggish and slow. Because your body is not doing some stuff, so anabolism will be on a higher side.

After bed you are in a park- jogging. Catabolism (the other part of the metabolism) is on a higher side- to liberate energy from the stored foods of your body.

So you can see there are two different stages of the same process within a short time frame.

Here we can find two poles of the same activity- High & Low! Between these will be the third part- which is intermediate. This intermediate part will be telling about the phase of transitions in between the high and low phases. So these are three parts of the metabolism in complete-

Anabolism­­­­­ + Intermediate Phase + Catabolism = Metabolism

We can write the same equation with some analogues from three Doshas and here it goes-

Anabolism­­­­­ + Intermediate Phase + Catabolism = Metabolism

Kapha Dosha + Vata Dosha + Pitta = Life/ Life Activity

These are the three Doshas overall, so simple to understand.

If Doshas are not visible how can we identify these?

Yes we can identify these! You can identify the Gravity by looking at the falling objects- same is applicable with these Doshas. Certain activities, actions and signs and symptoms are enough to tell about the activity of the Doshas. We will detail about individual Doshas one by one. But before anything we need to know about an important question-

Are Doshas only bad?

These are responsible for causing diseases. So these should be bad only. This seems a general perception among all. But it is not true.

No! Doshas are not bad always.

 Doshas play role in health as well as with diseases.


The best way to understand this is Cholesterol! Cholesterol is an important part of biochemical process of the body. But we only know Cholesterol for its capability of causing diseases. It never means that cholesterol does bad only (which is a big misconception in field of health).

Same is with the Doshas. These are the primary and foremost cause for diseases. Therefore we know these doshas as pollutants. In the same way as we know cholesterol for bad things.

But these are the base of health in a harmonious condition of these.

Human life is possible with all three doshas only. No single Dosha can bring life and activity.

All the three Doshas work together. When in harmony these result in health. And once these disturb these cause disease. 

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