Posted by: Kamlesh Tripathi
According to Ayurveda everything in this universe comprises of various proportions of five basic elements (The panch mahabhutas): Space—Akasha, Air—Vayu, Fire—Agni, Water—Jal and Earth—Prithvi.
The boundless combination of five elements gives rise to our staked individuality. And once there is a comprehensive knowledge of this ethereal combination in ourselves, we’ll be able to maintain a beneficial balance and harmony within ourselves. And wherever this balance is there; vibrant health is there.
Our natural constitution, more precisely the qualities we are born with, is called Prakriti. Qualities are important, not their statisitics. In Ayurveda, there is no generalised criteria, for maintaining health, individuality and individual constitution is more important. Some people need warm atmosphere, others prefer cooler atmospheres. Each one is a different individual. Ayurveda works with individual qualities of the person. Mind, body, and behaviour are consistently packaged together in subtle ways that are revealed only by knowledge of the five elements as dosas and gunas.
The predominance of elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas) and dosas (vata, pitta and kapha) at the time of conception and during gestation decides the natural constitution of that individual. Prakriti is formed from the subtle qualities of the five elements. Vata is a combination of the subtle elements of air and space, pitta of fire and water and kapha of earth and water. Once this proportion is set, generally it remains permanent for the lifespan of the individual, but the best out of a person can be brought out through spiritual practice, like meditation, breathing and good association.
“Pra” refers to before, beginning, commencement, source or origin, in different contexts. “Kriti” means creation or to do. Therefore, Prakriti on the whole means ‘the first formed nature’ or ‘the original form of the being.’
If we understand the subtle qualities of air and space we will find qualities which are light, dry, cold, clear and moving. These are the main qualities found in a person with vata constitution, or Prakriti. In the same way, we find the subtle qualities of fire and water are hot, sharp, oily and liquid. These are the main qualities of a person with pitta constitution or Prakriti. A person of Kapha Prakriti has the subtle elements of earth and water and gives them qualities that are solid, cool, slow, liquid and dense.
Benefits of knowing Prakriti
By understanding the qualities of our natural constitution, or Prakriti, we are able to understand ourselves, how to live our life and to understand people around us, with awareness. Unlike western medicine, that aims, at only, physical, and mental health. Ayurveda, wants to lift every aspect of life to a higher level. Personal relationships, work satisfaction, spiritual growth and social harmony are all linked to mind and body very intimately. Therefore, they can be influenced through Ayurveda if its knowledge goes deep enough.
Prakriti plays an important role in understanding our health and how we function in the world and our relationship to others as well as ourselves. We become aware what health problems may occur based on knowing our Prakriti, or natural constitution. We become aware of certain like types of food, situations and seasons that affect our well being and are able to effectively manage these factors and promote health. One can take proper care, change or adjust diet and adopt daily and seasonal routines.
Additionally, prognosis of disease with respect to Prakriti is possible. In this way, knowledge of Prakriti is useful and helpful to maintain health.
And knowing your Prakriti can help you live a better life through a suitable diet, appropriate lifestyle, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, anticipating disease and preventing it, healthy interaction with friends and family.
A person is normally a combination of three constitutions. Few people can say their constitution is pure vata, pure pitta or pure kapha. And usually a person is a combination of vata, pitta, or kapha playing a dominant role, while the other two play secondary roles.
So you may find you are a P-K person, that is, pitta is dominant, while kapha is secondary and so on. Or a V-P person, with vata dominant and pitta secondary, and likewise all combinations are possible.
(Excerpts from a book on Ayurveda)