In my previous article I discussed Vata, its functions and attributes. In this article I will cover Pitta as the second functional aspect of the Panchamahabuta (PMB) in health management through diet and lifestyle.
As I mentioned earlier. Doshas are none other than the grouping of PMB properties and that is why understanding the PMB is vital to understanding the doshas. I would like to reiterate that Ayurveda is a deep philosophy steeply rooted in science and requires several years (perhaps lifetime) of study to understand the workings of PMB in order to manage our health. However a simple layman’s understanding is provided below:
Pitta (Fire + Water) – the Principle of Transformation
As I mentioned in my previous article we should understand the doshas in terms of their attributes and qualities. Pitta dosha is a combination of the 2 PMB namely Fire (Agni) and Jala (Water). So, at a structural level, Fire (Agni) can be perceived as the heat generated in our bodies while the water (Jala) mixed with fire (Agni) can be attributed to the control of all the enzymes, digestive juices etc. Pitta therefore governs all types of transformation or digestions including “thought digestion.” Pitta dosha is not the digestive juices itself but the force that produces the right amount of pitta related activities within the body for transformation to take place. Pitta is also referred to as the Principle of Transformation.
At the digestive level Pitta transforms all raw food to nutrients and the mental Level Pitta processes and draws conclusion from the information. If we break the functions down into smaller levels such as the cellular level, Pitta transforms nutrients into energy for cellular function.
Pitta is also interpreted as “willpower” or the “fire in a person’s eye”. A person with a good balance of Pitta will be able to absorb subjects/ topics and transform blueprints into successful projects. A Pitta predominant person will have good digestive fire, strong appetite, tends to have early greying of hair etc. Imbalanced Pitta can lead to aggression, anger and other “heat” related diseases such as burning sensation etc. Similarly a person with a good Pitta can absorb nutrients well but when off balance, it leads to several skin related diseases. Excessive heat can cause long term skin, blood, heart related problems.
When it comes to age, Pitta is predominant during adulthood between ages of 20-40. So even though a person is Vata predominant in terms of body type, the external environment (in this case the age) will exhibit Pitta qualities in the person. Also during summer, Pitta is predominant in the environment, so a person must bear this in mind when he designs a nutrition or lifestyle program.
Likewise there is also Pitta dominance in terms of Day, Night and Digestion which I will not cover here. What I would like to highlight is that the PMB pervades all aspect of our lives from birth till death, digestion, thoughts, lifestyle, environment, etc. We should be mindful of these and balance our lifestyle and nutrition accordingly. As mentioned earlier, Ayurveda is all about customised nutrition and lifestyle. A “one-solution-fits-all” strategy will not work given that we are all individual body types living in different environment.
In the next series, I will explain the Kapha dosha with examples.
Vasanthi Pillay is the President and Founder of the Ayurveda Association of Singapore (AAOS) and the Director of Innergy Ayurveda and Yoga Pte Ltd. She conducts several Trainings and Workshops on Ayurveda in Singapore and Asia to help people understand the fundamental principles of Ayurveda so that they can apply the principles as a preventive medicine. Vasanthi works with 2 large conventional hospitals in Taiwan in assisting them with training and integrating Ayurveda and Yoga into the healthcare system. She is also working with Montessori Schools in China and Taiwan in educating the parents and teachers in incorporating a holistic diet and lifestyle program for parent-child education. Vasanthi who has worked in a highly stressful corporate world, developed a keen interest in mind-body relationship. This prompted her to take up her Yoga Instructor Course in Bangalore India in 1995 and several Ayurveda Courses. Vasanthi also holds a Bachelor of Arts (NUS) majoring in Philosophy, Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (SIM) and Post Graduate Diploma in Banking and Finance (UNSW, Australia). Vasanthi’s training certificates are provided by M S Ramaiah Indic Centre for Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (Bangalore).
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