Agni in Ayurveda: Ayurveda is a classical 5000 years old natural system of medicine which even in today’s time is of high importance. For ages, it has been used in India to lead a healthy life and manage many types of vyadhis (diseases) in a person and now has also started trending in other countries as well. There are many concepts in Ayurveda that are explained from a clinical standpoint to understand and manage all sorts of vyadhis. One such topic is Agni- which is widely explained in classical Ayurvedic textbooks.
Concept of Agni in Ayurveda is predominant to overall health. Agni is the gatekeeper of life, a force of intelligence within each cell, tissue within our body. As per Ayurveda, Agni helps in Paka Karma (digestion) in our body. It plays a significant role in many useful processes in the body like digestion, metabolism, maintaining homeostasis (stable internal state), and also functioning of the body.
All the digestive functions work properly if Agni is strong in the body and efficient but if there is some sort of vitiation in the body leading to weak Agni that can cause digestive issues resulting in Ama Uttpati (waste toxins). If Agni is depleted in the body, death soon follows.
“रोगा: सर्वेअपिमन्देअग्नौसुतरामउदराणितु |”
Agni is said to be the root of life, body, mind, and senses. Every disease in our body is caused by a disturbance of the Agni. So to treat any disease and work on the root cause, correcting the Manda Agni (low digestive power) is as important as working on that disease.
Type of Agni in Ayurveda:
Agni in Ayurveda is stated to be of 3 types which are Jathragni, Bhutagni, Dhatvagni, and these Agnis are further divided into 13 types.
- Jathragni: It is described Pradhyantam out of all Agnis due to its property of operating digestive functions where all the nutrients are digested in the body. It is situated in Jathara (stomach and duodenum) which is why is called Jatharagni. The main work of Jathragni is to convert Ahara into Ahara Rasa which leads to DhatuPoshan.
- Bhutagni: Bhutagni is an Agni related to PanchaMahabhuta in Ayurveda where it is explained that everything in the universe including our body is made up of 5 Mahabhutas named as- Akasha, Vayu, Agni, Pruthvi, and Jala. Bhutagni is divided into 5 types based on these Mahabhutas which work on the cellular level. This Agni helps in nourishing the PanchaMahabhuta. In modern this can be correlated with the enzymatic functions of the liver.
- Dhatvagni: This Agni is of 7 types namely- Rasagni, Raktagni, Mamsagni, Medoagni, Asthyagni, Majjagni, Shukragni. Dhatvagni helps in the formation of Dhatus and helps in maintaining the functions of organs. It is directly related to Jathragni where the DhatuPaka and Dhatu Formation take place.
Functions of Agni in Ayurveda:
There are multiple functions of Agni as explained in Ayurveda:
- Digestion and absorption
- Balances metabolic activities in the body
- Production of the digestive enzymes
- Maintenance of body temperature in the body
- Sensory perception
- Strength and vitality
- Nourishment to all the tissues
- Creation of Teja, Oja and Prana
- Alertness, affection, and enthusiasm in life.
- Provides natural longevity
Agni in Balanced State:
When Agni is in a balanced state, it is inclined to support a long and healthy life. The basic features of balanced Agni are:
- Awareness of taste
- Improves appetite
- No coating on the tongue
- Balances digestion and metabolism
- Maintains weight
- Supports strong immunity
- Keeps mind calm
- Mood uplifting, cheerfulness, and enthusiasm
- Improves sleep
- Enhances intelligence and courage
Once we understood the concept of Agni in Ayurveda, now Agni disturbance is something of high significance as well in Ayurveda. In classical textbooks, many issues like Langhana (fasting), indigestion, overeating, eating at the wrong time, eating spicy, oily fast food, Panchakarma Mithyayoga (improper use of Panchakarma), and suppression of urges can lead to Agni Dushti (disturbance) due to which Ama is formed. It is very clearly mentioned that if your Agni is strong your digestion process will be fast but if it is weak the digestion process will be sluggish leading to Ama Uttpati (toxins).
Disturbance of Agni in Ayurveda:
- Vishama Agni: The defect in Agni occurs due to the vitiation of Vata Dosha. Here the digestion could work quickly or slowly as per the effect of Vata Dosha.
- Tikshana Agni: The Agni when defected by Pita Dosha forms Tikshana Agni. Regardless of what type of food it is, the digestion process here is very quick.
- Manda Agni: Manda stands for slow. Here the vitiation occurs due to Kapha Dosha. The digestive process is slowed down due to which undigested food remains and creates toxins in the body.
- Sama Agni: Normal digestive fire is known as Samagni. The digestion process works efficiently leading to proper Dosha DhatuPoshana.
For Doshas, Dhatus, and Malas to be in a normal state Agni need to be in a normal state. Apart from the functioning of digestion and metabolism, Agni also operates on harmful pathogens, improves blood circulation, and maintains immunity, energy level, and complexion. Overall, maintenance of Agni for the body to function normally, mental capacity, emotional health, and the majority of diseases explained in Ayurveda are related to disturbance of Agni. As we have observed, Agni is the central part of our lives. So maintain your Agni, and take the first step toward healthy living.