AYURVEDA or the science of life had its genesis in the hoary days of the Vedas (c. 3080 B.C). Ayurveda has, however, undergone many modifications or changes through the ages since the days of its origin. But the important features of handling remain virtually the same.

The elementary structure of the Ayurvedic mode of treatment is originated on the central theory usually called the ‘tridosha tatwa’. The word ‘tridosh’ is derivative of the Sanskrit words, ‘tri’ and ‘dosh’ meaning three and pollutant respectively, and in amalgamation they mean the ‘three pollutants’ or ‘tri-pollutant’; and the Sanskrit word ‘tatwa’ stands for its English equivalent ‘theory’. Principally, the pollutants or vitiating factors play a substantial role in maintenance of healthiness or well-being and disease or illness. In a nutshell, healthiness or well-being is sustained if tridosh or the three pollutants operate in agreement with one another, and emerges to produce disease or illness, if they do not function in accordance with one another, or they operate in irregular manner.

The elementary idea underlying the Ayurvedic mode of treatment is to generate or maintain condition or environment so that ‘tridosh’ may operate in harmony with one another, or in case they have gone out of order or harmony, to restore the condition or the environment for their pleasant operation.

Elaboration of ‘Tridosh’ Everything in the universe, according to the ancient Indian scholars, is composed of ‘pancha-mahabhuta’, that is, five primary things namely, ‘kshiti’ (earth), ‘apa’ (water), ‘tej’ (energy), ‘marut’ (air) and ‘byom’ (space); they also held this opinion that all living beings, tiny or macroscopic in form, including human being, is made out of ‘pancha-mahabhuta’, in different variations and combinations. The food we take is also made out of ‘panchamahabhuta’ and in the ultimate analysis, the human being is a product arising out of digestion and assimilation of foodstuff. The foodstuff on digestion, is broadly transformed into two portions – one is called the ‘ahara-prosad’ or essential portion and the other the ‘kitta’ or non-essential portion. The important portion progressively turns into seven ‘dhatu’ or elements known as the ‘rasa’ (chyle), ‘rakta’ (blood), ‘mamsa’ (protein), ‘meda’ (fat), ‘ashthi’ (bone), ‘majja’ (marrow) and ‘sukra’ (reproductive elements irrespective.of the sexes). The seven elements contribute to the evolution and capacity of the body, provide its nutrition and also support it.

So, these elements are jointly described as the ‘sapta-dhatu’ or seven supporters (‘sapta’ meaning seven and ‘dhatu’ the supporter). Generation and alteration of ‘sapta-dhatu’ take place one after another in consecutive steps from ‘rasa’ to ‘rakta’ to ‘mamsa’ to ‘meda’ to ‘ashthi’, to ‘majja’ and to ‘sukra’.

Such a process is a consistent part of human presence from commencement till death. ‘Kitta’ or the non-essential portion is generated side by side of the generation of ‘ahara-prosad’. In course of generation of ‘sapta-dhatu’ some of its percentages are not vital for development of body but are declined or left behind as waste material, and are labelled as ‘dhatu-mala’ that is, refused or waste products arising out of ‘dhatu’. Out of ‘kitta’ are also produced or waste products like faeces, urine, sweat, hair, nail, etc., in gross form and three others namely ‘vayu’, ‘pitta’, and ‘kapha’ in microfine state. The excluded products arising out of ‘kitta’ and those out of ‘sapta-dhatu’ are all located in the communal class of ‘mala’ or waste products.

The ‘mala’ namely vayu, pitta and kapha plays an important role. If they exist in desirable quantity or measure and operate normally, they provide additional support and maintenance of body, and they are described as ‘mala-dhatu’ that is, waste product providing support to human existence. But, unlike ‘sapta-dhatu’, the ‘mala-dhatu’ cannot provide any nourishment. Moreover ‘mala-dhatu’ – ‘vayu’, ‘pitta’ and ‘kapha’ vitiate or pollute the effects of sapta-dhatu, and lead to chief causes for illness or ailments; and for this, they are described as ‘dosha’ or vitiating factors, orpollutants; and collectively, as the ‘tridosa’. This, in essence, provides for the base of building up of the ‘tridosh’ theory. In this context, it may be noted that ‘sapta-dhatu’ is liable to be polluted or vitiated by ‘tridosh’, and as such is called ‘dushya’, that is, anything that is liable to be polluted or vitiated. Faeces, urine, sweat and such other ‘mala’ or waste products are like-wise liable to be polluted or vitiated, and as such, they are also called ‘dushya’. Vayu, pitta and kapha spread and permeate all through the human body; but they are localized specially in the lower, middle and upper regions between the heart and the navel. According to the view held by Susruta, vayu dominates specially within the pelvic capacity, the space between the anus and hipbone; pitta is localized in the mid-space between the heart and the navel; and the intestines are the special site for the kapha. As held by Caraka pitta occupies the upper space of the heart. Tridosh exist and prevails at all times; it is, however, subject to variation in course of time.

At the end, middle and initial phase of the age of an individual human being, and of the day and night, and of the intake of meals, it is noticed that vayu, pitta and kapha vary. For illustration, in course of taking meals, it is noticed that kapha predominates at the outset, pitta at the middle and vayu at the end. In a similar way, tridosh is related to age, day and night, that is, at the initial phase or during infancy, kapha predominates and in the middle and old ages the pitta and the vayu respectively.