Lecture Note: “Concept of Genetics in Ayurveda WSR to Prakriti”

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“Concept of Genetics in
Ayurveda WSR to Prakriti”

Dr Narendra Shankar Tripathi
Associate Professor, Dept of Kriya Sharir,
Faculty of Ayurveda, IMS, BHU, Varanasi

based on the lecture available at
Concept of Genetics in Ayurveda WSR to Prakriti

Every individual has a different type of personality, known as Prakriti. Charaka, while describing the ten-fold examination of a patient (Dasa-Vidh Pariksha), has placed Prakriti at the top. It serves not only as an instrument to examine the patient but also as a prime source of prognosis. Prakriti influences the onset (occurrence), pathogenesis, diagnosis, prognosis, as well as the management and treatment of a patient.

शुक्रशोणितसंयोगे यो भवेद्दोष उत्कटः |
प्रकृतिर्जायते तेन तस्या मे लक्षणं शृणु ||
(Su.Sha. 4/63)

Aacharya Susruta states very clearly that this Prakriti or personality of an individual is formed during the fertilization of sperm with the ovum. During the time of fertilization whichever dosha i.e. Vata, Pitt, kapha or Satva, Raja, Tama whichever dosha is dominant during that time will be manifested as Prakriti or personality or we can say psychosomatic constitution of an individual. This psychosomatic constitution remains unaltered throughout the life.

Vata Prakriti:

अल्पकेशः कृशो रूक्षो वाचालश्चलमानसः
आकाशचारी स्वप्नेषु वातप्रकृतिको नरः ।
(Sha. Sa. Pu.6/20)

According to Sharangdhar in Purvakhand, a person with Vata prakriti has scanty hair, a lean and thin body, dry skin, and tends to be fickle in nature. They may also experience flying scenes in their dreams.

Pitta Prakriti:

अकालपतितैर्व्याप्तो धीमान् स्वेदी च रोषणः । 
स्वप्नेषु ज्योतिषां द्रष्टा पित्तप्रकृतिको नरः ।
(Sha.Sa.Pu.6/29)

According to Sharangdhar, a person with Pitta prakriti may experience premature falling and graying of hair, excessive sweating, and intelligence. These individuals may also observe fighting scenes and burning scenes in their dreams.

Kapha Prakriti:

गम्भीरबुद्धिः स्थूलाङ्गः स्निग्धकेशो महाबलः ।
स्वप्ने जलाशयालोकी श्लेष्मप्रकृतिको नरः’ ।
(Sha.Sa.Pu.7/22)

According to Sharangdhar, individuals with Kapha Prakriti are perceived as stable-minded, possessing well-developed body parts and shiny hair. These individuals often experience romantic scenes in their dreams. Sushruta states that an individual’s Prakriti is determined by the predominant Dosha or Doshas at the time of the fertilization of the ovum with sperm. Once formed, Prakriti remains unchanged throughout life. Any alteration in Prakriti is considered fatal or malignant.

Dalhana, a commentator on the Sushruta Samhita, clarifies that the predominance of Doshas is physiological, not pathological. This is because the existence of the fetus (Garbha) is possible only in a physiological state. Otherwise, the establishment of Garbha is impossible, or the Garbha may develop anomalies that could be teratogenic in nature.

Furthermore, it is noted that parents serve as the best genetic engineers, as their dietary habits and psychological behaviors can potentially alter the genetic constitution of their offspring.

Factors affecting the formation and development of Prakriti:

तत्रप्रकृत्यादीन् भावाननुव्याख्यास्यामः |
तद्यथा- शुक्रशोणितप्रकृतिं, कालगर्भाशयप्रकृतिं, आतुराहारविहारप्रकृतिं, महाभूतविकारप्रकृतिं च गर्भशरीरमपेक्षते l (Ch.Vi 8/99)

Factors which are responsible for the formation of Prakriti can be categorized into two i.e., prenatal and postnatal.

A. Prenatal –

  1. SHUKRA PRAKRITI (Nature of sperm)
  2. SHONITA PRAKRITI (Nature of women)
  3. KALA PRAKRITI (Nature of time)
  4. GARBHASHYA PRAKRITI (Nature of uterus)
  5. MATURAHARA VIHARA PRAKRITI (nature of food and behavior of mother)
  6. MAHABHOOTA VIKARA PRAKRITI (Nature of products of Mahabhoota)

शुक्रशोणितं गर्भाशयस्थमात्मप्रकृतिविकारसम्मूर्च्छितं ‘गर्भ’ इत्युच्यते | तं चेतनावस्थितं वायुर्विभजति, तेज एनं पचति, आपः क्लेदयन्ति, पृथिवी संहन्ति, आकाशं विवर्धयति; एवं विवर्धितः स यदा हस्तपादजिह्वाघ्राणकर्णनितम्बादिभिरङ्गैरुपेतस्तदा [‘शरीरं’ इति सञ्ज्ञां लभते | तच्च षडङ्गं- शाखाश्चतस्रो, मध्यं पञ्चमं, षष्ठं शिर इति ||३||

The Akasha Mahabhoot (element of space) provides the necessary space for the development of the fetus, while Vayu Mahabhoot (element of air) aids in the division after fertilization. Agni Mahabhoot (element of fire) supplies energy for cell division, and Apa Mahabhoot (element of water) is responsible for proper cell division. Improper functioning of Apa Mahabhoot can lead to the formation of monozygotic identical twins. Prithvi Mahabhoot (element of earth) contributes to the weight of the fetus.

The formation of the three germinal layers—ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm—takes place. Subsequently, various body parts such as hands, feet, tongue, nose, ears, and buttocks are endowed. The amalgamation of sperm and ovum in the uterus, combined with the soul and its nature, is referred to as ‘Garbha’ (embryo). Supported by consciousness, it undergoes the influence of Pancha Mahabhoota (five elements) – acted upon by Vayu with division, Tejas with cooking, Apa with moistening, Prithvi with consolidation, and Akasha with growth.

This evolving structure, endowed with different body parts, acquires the name ‘Sharira’ (body). It consists of six parts: four extremities, trunk (chest and abdomen), and head. The entire body is formed through the amalgamation of the sperm and ovum, influenced by the interactions of the five elements.

Caraka (C.Sa 7/5) has mentioned ‘sirogrivam antaradhih’ for the head and neck respectively, emphasizing the six integral parts of the body. Atmaprakrtivikaseasammurcchitam – atma (soul); prakrtayh (the primordial Nature), etc. – eight; vikarah (products) – five bhutas (elements) and eleven indriyas (sensory organs) – sixteen, collectively form the aggregate, resulting in 11 types of Indriyas.

B. POSTNATAL (extra-uterine) – Factors Responsible for the Development of PRAKRITI:

  • Jati (race)
  • Kula (family)
  • Desha (land)
  • Kala (season)
  • Vaya (age)
  • Pratyatma niyata (individuality or soul of a person)

Charaka also acknowledged that Panch-Mahabhoot (five elements) exert their influence in the formation of Shukra and Shonita.

Four prime factors—RASAJA, ATAMAJA, MATRAJA, and PITTAJA—also play a role in altering the development of personality and the foetus.

By exerting control over these factors, we can potentially prevent teratogenic malformations in the foetus.

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