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The Concept of Guna in Ayurveda

Guna in Ayurveda is one which is located in Dravya (a drug) inherently, acts as a causative agent and devoid of property and action. It means Guna itself has no action but it is a responsible agent in Dravya for such action.

Characteristics of Guna in Ayurveda

|| samavayee tu nischesthaha ||

Here the word nischestha has been intentionally added to the characteristic of Guna in order to differentiate it from Karma. If only the word Samavayee would have been used, it might have been transgressed the characters of Gunas, since Karma also has a non-separable relationship to Dravyas and resides in Dravyas.

Dravya sustains Guna, Karma, but Guna can’t sustain Guna and Karma. Karma also resides in Dravya and it is a non-essential cause as well. Yet, it is the cause of aggregation and segregation at the same time.

The author of text “Rasa vaisheshika” describes Gunas as “ Vishwa lakshana Gunah”. As these are responsible for the presence of various characteristics of Padarthas.

Gunas acts as a medium for understanding the peculiarities of Dravyas. It is an acceptable principle that every Guna has a definite action a single Dravya  may have many Gunas and single specific Guna may be present in many Dravyas.

Classification of Gunas

Guna in Ayurveda is classified mainly into three types i.e., vaisheshika Guna, Samanya Gunas, and Atma Gunas. The Vaisheshika Gunas are- a) Shabda; b) Sparsha; c) Roopa; d) Rasa; e) Gandha.

The Samanya Gunas (general Ayurvedic properties of material/ object) are 30 in number. They are divided into Guruvadhi and Paradi Guna.

Guruvadi GunaParadi Guna
Guru- LaghuPara
Manda- TikshanaApara
Hima- UshnaYukti
Snigdha- RukshaSamyoga
Shlakshna- KharaVibhaga
Sandra- DravaPruthakatva
Mridu- KathinaAbhyasa
Sthira- SaraSamskara
Sookshma- SthoolaParimana
Vishada- PichchhilaSankhya

Atma Gunas are 6 in number. They are- Ichchha, Dwesh, Sukha, Dukha, Prayatna and Buddhi. In total 41 Gunas are considered.

Significance of Guna

The references for Guna in Ayurveda are available in all the classics.

In the definition of sharira- “dosha dhatu mala  mulam he shariram”, three factors dosha, dhatu and mala are exhibited through Gunas.

In chikitsa aspects samanya vishesha siddhantha, samanya Guna will increases the dhatus etc. and  Vishesha Gunas will decreases the dhatus etc.

Importance of Guna

The importance of Guna in Ayurveda may be summed up as below-

  1. Rasabibhavata :- Actions of rasa that are present in Dravya are super seated by Guna.
  2. Rasanugraha :- The Gunas of Dravyas are cohesive to rasas only.
  3. Vipakakarantvata :- The vipaka super seats the rasas, but this vipaka is transformed mainly due to the Gunas.
  4. Sankyabahulyata :- In number also it is more.
  5. Prayogabahulyata :- In the aspect of usage the Gunas are widely used in clinical application.
  6. Karmabahulyata :- Guna is associated with and helps to bring action in various manner.
  7. Upadesha :- Many of granthas (Indian scriptures) explained about Gunas.
  8. Apadeshath :- It means description while describing an object we mentions its Gunas only.
  9. Anumanat :- The inference is also by Gunas

Doshas and its Gunas

Tridosha viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha also have Guna (physical properties). See below-

  • Vata dosha :- ruksha , laghu, sheeta, khara, sukshma, chala.
  • Pitta dosha :- sneha, tikshna, ushna,laghu, visra, sara, drava.
  • Kapha dosha :- snigdha, sheeta, guru, manda, slakshana, sandra, mridu.

This is all about Guna in Ayurveda in brief.

Read: Shada Padartha & Superiority Concept in Ayurveda

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