The constitution types (prakṛti)
Every person has a certain physical and psychological constitution that has existed since birth and does not change significantly during life. The Sanskrit term for this is Prakṛti (pronounced: Prakriti primordial matter).
Man is an image of the universe, a reflection of the heavens above. Thus the adage, “As above, so below”, is the ancient cosmic law. The entire universe is formed from Purusha, the original spirit and from Prakriti, the original nature. These two highest and eternal principles – primordial spirit and primordial matter – are thus present in every human being and form his basis.
It is therefore not surprising that the term Prakriti (primordial matter) is also used for the physical constitution of humans. The cosmic energies are reflected in the human being. Due to this fact, traditional Ayurveda teaches that the exact constitution of a person can also be read off in his personal Vedic-astrological horoscope (Jyotish). In Western medicine, Paracelsus (1493-1541, doctor and natural philosopher) points out the importance of astrology in medicine. “The doctor who has not mastered astronomy cannot be called a perfect doctor.” (IV, 405)
It has been known from time immemorial that the same shaping forces and rays that act on the planets and the earth also act on humans, animals, plants, minerals and also in the development of diseases. From this one can see how everything is connected and part of a whole. “Everything that nature gives birth to is shaped according to the essence of the virtue that is in it,” Paracelsus also writes.
The character, mind and qualities of a being are in harmony with the shape, figure and body. The outside points to the inside and the inside reveals itself in the outside. Through careful, profound observation, our ancestors not only discovered the healing secrets of a flower, tree or mineral, but also the virtues of a person. In each person, the constitution reveals the essence or nature and what is hidden within the body form.
Caraka now says that there are certain factors that influence the constitution of humans:
– The nature of the parents’ sperm and egg – The time of fertilization
– The nature and condition of the uterus
– The mother’s diet and lifestyle during pregnancy
– The composition of the five elements (Mahābhūtas) in the fetus (CS.Vi.8.95)
Knowing this is the reason that many couples in India consciously prepare for pregnancy. Both couples perform certain cleansing rituals (e.g. Panchakarma cure) before conception, so that the child can grow up on good and healthy “ground”. The time of fertilization is not chosen randomly, but according to special, good cosmic constellations. After conception, the mother pays particular attention to a good and constitutional diet and both parents pay attention to a harmonious and peaceful way of life. The Conception of a child is considered a sacred creative act. This is seen as a prerequisite for a good physical and psychological constitution of the human being.
According to Aṣṭāñga Hṛdayam, there are seven kinds of human constitutions (Śārīrasthāna, 3.83). The physical constitution (Deha Prakṛti) is formed depending on the characteristics of the three Doṣas – Vāta, Pitta, Kapha. Dominance of individual doṣas is rare. Often there are mixed forms of two dominant doṣas, one of which is usually more pronounced. The dominant Doṣa often determines the physique.
- Vata Constitution (Vataja Prakṛti)
- Pitta Constitution (Pittaja Prakṛti)
- Kapha Constitution (Kaphaja Prakṛti)
- Vata-Pitta Constitution (Vata-Pittaja Prakṛti)
- Vata-Kapha Constitution (Vata-Kaphaja Prakṛti)
- Kapha-Pitta Constitution (Kapha-Pittaja Prakṛti)
- Tridosha constitution (Tridoṣaja Prakṛti) = balance of all three Doṣas
The mental constitution (Mānasa Prakṛti) is considered separately in the constitution analysis. The three basic psychological forces (Triguṇa) are:
As with the physical constitution, we also have a cosmic reflection in the psychological constitution. The three universal basic qualities, the three Gunas – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas – pervade all of creation, influence people and affect our psyche and our body. (see Part 2 -> Link to The Three Gunas)
Thus, both constitutions – physical and psychological – have an effect on people. Therefore it is possible that a physical, “hot” Pitta constitution still has a calm and balanced mind (sattva) or a “heavy” Kapha constitution is mentally overactive, passionate or aggressive (Rajas) and a “light” Vata constitution is sluggish and lethargic. In determining the constitution, these factors must be taken into account and clearly distinguished.
The constitution is usually determined during an initial Ayurvedic consultation. It is ideal if it can be done on a healthy person, that is, before the person becomes ill. Because then you know at the same time how possible diseases can be prevented through correct behavior. If the person is already ill, especially in the case of long-term chronic illnesses, the current or past complaints can make it difficult to see the original requisites or give a completely wrong picture. In this case, consider early adulthood (approx. 20-25 years).
This means that when determining the constitution, the Ayurveda doctor always asks “How was that in the past?” However, this procedure is only relatively reliable if the patient can remember this time well. In the case of a sick person, the importance of the constitution takes a back seat, because then the symptoms (Vikṛti) have to be treated first. The constitution is then mostly visible after the elimination of the complaints (Vikṛti), which can often lead to a surprisingly different picture.
It is important to keep these factors in mind. A well-trained Ayurveda doctor can help you determine your constitution.
Constitution determination (Prakṛti)
|anatomy and general appearance||lean, protruding bones, tendons and veins, often disproportionate||medium-sized, moderately well built, mostly athletic stocky||well developed, heavy, fatty tissue dominated, well proportioned|
|skin||dry, rough, cracked||warm, moist, soft, pink, moles, freckles, tendency to wrinkled skin, pimples||thick, moist, cold, soft|
|hands||rough, dry, restless, with cracks, protruding joints and veins||warm, rosy, moist||thick, large, cool, firm, greasy|
|feet||small, thin, dry, rough, restless, cracked||soft, warm, moist||large, thick, well built|
|nails||Nails thin, small, dry, rough, dark||soft, rosy||thick, large, smooth, white, firm, oily|
|joints||"dry", unstable, cracking, crepitation||medium-sized,||well-built, firm, well-lubricated joints|
|urine||occasionally painful or much stuttering||yellowish to dark, occasionally burning||average amount, colorless|
|stool||hard, dry, difficult to settle, constipation, much gas||much stool, loose to soft, rather frequent bowel movements||average amount, shaped, sometimes contains mucus, "greasy"|
|appetite||Uneven||strong appetite and thirst||little, constant|
|speaking||quickly, changing topics frequently, chatty||fluent, clear, argumentative, convincing, good speaker||slowly, stays on topic, consistent|
|sleep||Little sleep (<6 hours), irregular, interrupted, grinding of teeth||average (7 hours)||long (> 8 hours), deep|
|sensitive to:||dry cold, wind||heat, sun||damp cold|
|illnesses||Tension, pain, joint problems, mental illness||Fever, inflammation, hyperacidity||phlegm, respiratory diseases, obesity|
|attitude||indecisivefast, erratic, unreliable, activities are started, but completed lately||determined, heated, focussing the goal, competitive, success-oriented, resolute||steady, rather slowly, but conscientiously|
|coping with stress||Fearful, nervous or exhausted quickly||impulsive, aggressive, angry||impulsive, aggressive, angry|
|behaviour||enthusiastic, lively, changeable||humorous, courageous, dynamic,||down-to-earth, systematic, tolerant, loyal, patient, generous, kind|
|intelligence||quick comprehension||excellent, analytical, focused attention||attention slow comprehension|
|property||difficultie in taking a decision||excellent observation||habitual person|
|talent||creative, imaginative, artistic, emotional||artistic, emotional Intellectual, researcher, adventurer, passionate||righteous, persistent, philosopher, scholar|
…..to be continued
Caraka Saṃhitā, (CS). (2018 reprint). Vimānasthāna (Vi), Vol. II, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi, India Aṣṭāñga Hṛdayam, (2014). Śārīrasthāna, Vol. I, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, India Paracelsus, Complete Works, Vol. IV, Anger Verlag Contact Sabine Anliker Naturopath with federal diploma Diploma in Ayurvedic Medicine MSc in Ayurveda Medicine Ruopigenplatz 8 6015 Lucerne www.ayush.ch
Naturheilpraktikerin mit eidg. Diplom in Ayurveda-Medizin
MSc in Ayurveda Medizin
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