What is Prakriti?
It is the inherent body type or constitution of a person. Ayurveda recognises seven types of prakriti.
Ayurveda gives great importance to various types of Prakriti, diets compatible with individual Prakriti and dietary and other lifestyle regimen compatible with individual prakriti for effective prevention and cure of diseases. Identification of an individual’s prakriti is important and necessary for the purpose of prescribing proper dietary and other lifestyle regimen for good health. Normally an experienced, expert Ayurvedic Physician is capable of identifying prakriti of a person by feeling his pulse. However for the benefit of the lay reader, criteria in detail are being described in this chapter which will enable the reader to correctly identify his own prakriti. Once he has identified his prakriti, prescription for good health and longevity would be clear to him without much effort. So important, therefore, is the knowledge of individual prakriti that in it lies the key to prevention and cure of a lot many diseases that human flesh is heir to.
You may have wondered why you feel comfortable in cold weather while your wife always seems to suffer from catarrh, sinusitis or rheumatism during cold winter. Among your friends, one may be liking bright sunny weather and another may be having a splitting headache during bright sunshine. Individuals react differently to environmental stimuli. What is it that makes individuals different? Ayurveda provides the answer. Individuals have specific types of constitution, which is termed ‘Prakriti’ in the original texts of Ayurveda written in the Sanskrit language. It is this prakriti which makes specific physical and mental types and also gives susceptibilities to specific diseases. A ‘Kapha’ prakriti person has ‘kahpa’ as the predominant dosha in his system. If you have ‘pitta’ prakriti, ‘pitta’ shall likewise e your predominant dosha meaning thereby that pitta vitiating diet or other lifestyle is bound to derange ‘pitta’ resulting in such problems as quinsy, hyperacidity or skin rashes & boils. In the following paras are described physical and mental characteristics of persons with different main ‘prakriti’ types -‘vata prakriti’, ‘pitta prakriti’ and ‘kapha prakriti’.
Vata Prakriti – A vata prakriti person walks with a fast gait, he has dry skin often with cracks at soles and around fingers; he is very talkative; he is either too tall or too short; he is by nature changeable and has an unstable disposition; he has a tendency towards cunning and deceit; he eats like a glutton; he is given to sensual pleasures, he is fond of singing, laughing, hunting and quarreling; he likes dry and fried food and also meat; he makes a clear sound while drinking water; his eyes give dry and dusty looks, occasionally his eyes remain half open even in sleep; he is jealous and untrustworthy; his voice resembles that of dog, jackal, camel, vulture, mouse, crow or owl. He sleeps less and sometimes stammers or possesses an abnormal speech; he is physically weak and does not have a good, natural longevity. He has a good instant grasp of things but cannot retain information over long periods. A good example of ‘vata prakriti’ individuals are the students who perform hectic last minute cramming before their examination, often by studying over night and sleeping during day time. A vata prakriti person is by nature clever, cunning, and deceptive and often not meaning what he says or not saying what he means. His joints and bones are not strong though his joints may be supple and flexible. In many individuals varicose veins are prominent. He thinks and acts quickly. He commits information to memory fast and forgets it equally fast; he feels most uncomfortable in rainy and cold weather; his hair, nails, teeth, hands, and feet are hard and coarse, his joints often crackle when he walks. He likes to wander a lot and is capable of much running around. He is also often greedy by nature. Generally, he has few children because he does not have a high natural fertility.
A vata prakriti person is either too fat or too thin and wiry. He is by nature not steadfast or principled but a manipulator of things.
Pitta Prakriti – A pitta prakriti person is often fair complexioned; he is short tempered – often of a fiery disposition, he has strong voracious appetite; he is clever and diplomatic in speech and behaviour, his speech is clear and loud, often he has yellow or bloodshot eyes; his hair hands and other external organs appear warm and tepid; he has reddish tinge in his facial complexion; he is bold and enterprising; he is benevolent by nature; he is clever but not cruel and often protects even his enemies when they are in danger or distress; he has an active, sharp mind; he likes bitter, pungent and crisp foods; he sweats profusely and is intolerant of heat, his body often gives a bad odour, his stools are also large in quantity, he frequently suffers from skin ailments like rashes, prickly and itching and also has moles and freckles; his overall nature and tendencies can be likened to a leopard, bear or monkey. He feels very much elated by words in his praise.
A pitta prakriti person is intelligent and has a sharp sense of logic and reasoning. He usually has a high self-esteem and very often an inflated ego. He likes to have others pamper his ego. He frequently suffers from hyperacidity of the stomach or diseases like quinsy, diarrhoea and malaria. His physical strength and stamina are of a medium order, he lives moderately long and has fertility of a medium level. A pitta prakriti person is often easy to identify by his smooth lustrous skin, yellow tinged eyes, receding hairline, well-built body and conspicuously unpleasant body-odour.
Kapha Prakriti – A kapha prakriti person is calm and composed by nature, his bones are strong and joints compact and firm (If three persons, one each of vata prakriti, pitta prakriti and kapha prakriti sustained a similar fall impacting, say, the left arm, the vata prakriti person is most likely is fracture his arm and the kapha prakriti person is least likely.)
He can tolerate thirst and distress longer them other prakriti types; he is very intelligent and true to his word or trustworthy; he has a sallow, wheatish or golden complexion; he is of medium height and medium built-his weight would generally be near the ideal fixed by dietary standards. His hair is dark and thick and external organs are tender in looks; he is richly endowed with ‘ojas’, the intrinsic strength; he usually has lot of children because his natural fertility is quite high; he is normally soft spoken and amiable but with his enemies he tends to maintain a cold relationship while secretly harbouring inimical feelings. His nature is like an intoxicated elephant; his voice resembles the sound of a cloud, sea-tide or a conchshell. He is endowed with a good memory. He is slow in grasping things but once he understands, his understanding is usually crystal clear and he also remembers information for a long period. He is simple and straight forward by nature. He has big, round, moist-looking eyes, with thick eye-brows and eye-lashes. He has an even temper usually, unless he is instigated badly. He is a slow worker, often lazy and is a procrastinator but he is unquestionably honest. He is often shy in expressing his ideas for fear of embarrassing others. He is trustworthy. He is physically strong but lazy, indolent and often inactive. His nature and tendencies could be drawn a parallel with those of swan, elephant, lion,
horse or a bull.
A kapha prakriti person sleeps a lot, his appetite is low; he is tolerant and often a wishful thinker. He has a long life because of high natural longevity. Kapha prakriti persons unusually suffer from catarrh, bronchitis or colds. They are intolerant of cold weather. As per Ayurveda, there are seven types of prakriti in which human beings can be classified. In addition to the three Pure types of Prakriti viz. `vata’prakriti, `pitta’ prakriti and `kapha’ prakriti, there are four additional mixed types of prakriti in which characteristics of Kapha, Vata or Pitta in combination form are present. These four prakriti types are –
- Kapha-Pitta prakriti
- Pitta-Vata prakriti
- Kapha-Vata prakriti
- Kapha-Pitta-Vata (Sama-prakriti)
Once his basic characteristics are known and fundamental features of doshas are understood, prakriti of a person can be roughly identified with ease. Final judgment would, in any case, depend on a knowledge of the person’s habits, tastes, nature, likes & dislikes and susceptibilities to specific diseases.