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The Concept of Veerya in Ayurveda

Last updated on: September 8th, 2017

The word Veerya is derived from ‘veer’ that means a dynamic property of a substance which brings about the action. Veerya in Ayurveda is a unique concept which is very important to understand the pharmacodynamics and action of a drug.

The actions of Rasa are already described in my previous posts, the remaining actions are due to Veerya.

Characteristics of Veerya in Ayurveda

It is observed that drugs which effectively act on Dosha, Dhatu and Mala at a particular time become ineffective after sometimes. This is so because the potency of a substances or the Veerya which is responsible for the effective action, is lost when old.

For this reason, all Samhitas (Ayurvedic classics) advise to use fresh Dravyas instead of old.

A drug works through Veerya. If its Veerya gets depleted due to the effect of adverse conditions, it looses its dynamic potency because of which it becomes ineffective. Action only takes place if the drug possesses Veerya, if it doesn’t, actions are not seen.

Different opinions exists regarding the form of Veerya. Some ancient Acharya mentions Veerya as a substances, some as Guna and Karma. Some describes Veerya as a dynamic potency and therefore consider it as a part of Guna. Modern scholars consider Veerya as ‘active principle’ and hence a part of special substances.

Types of Veerya

Veeryas are mainly divided into two types based on Charaka Samhita and Vagbhatta Samhita (Ashtangahridayam). i.e.,

  • Innumerable(Charaka)
  • Numerable (Vagbhata)

⇒ Astavidha Veerya (8 types of Veerya)- Guru, Laghu, Sheeta, Ushna, Snigdha, Ruksha, Mridu, Tikshna

⇒ Dvividha Veerya (2 types of Veerya)- Sheeta, Ushna

Dvividha Veerya and its Mahabhoota, Karma/ effect on Dosha

VeeryaMahabhoothaKarmaKarma on dosha
SheetaPrithvi+ JalaPleasurable, stabilizing, cleaning,life givingPitta shamaka, Kapha- Vata vardhaka
UshnaAgniBurning, fainting, loss of senses, sweating, emesis, purgationVata- Kapha shamaka, Pitta vardhaka

Asthavidha Veerya and its Mahabhoota, Karma/ effect on dosha

VeeryaMahabhoothaKarmaEffect on dosha
SheetaPrithvi + JalaPleasurable, stabilizing, cleaning,life giving, heavyPitta shamaka, Kapha- Vata vardhaka
UshnaAgniBurning, digestion, fainting, loss of senses, sweating and emesisVata- Kapha shamaka, Pitta vardhaka
SnigdhaJalaSnehana, restorative, anti aging, aphrodisiacVata hara
RukshaVayuConstipative, drying, heating, painfulVata vardhaka, Kapha shamaka
GuruAgni+ VayuApplicative, promotive, aphrodisiacVata hara
LaguAgni+ VayuScrapping, absorption, drying, healingKapha hara
MriduJala+ AkashaBlood & muscle promotingPitta shamaka
TikshnaAgniCollective, aspiration, drying, oozingKapha hara

According to some Acharyas, Vishada replaces the Lagu and Pichchhila replaces Guru Veerya.

Relations between rasa and Veerya

Generally dravyas having Madhura, Tikta, Kashaya rasas are Sheeta Veerya and those having Amla, Lavana and Katu rasa, are Ushna Veerya. All these rasas which are related to Agni mahabhoota are Ushna Veerya, and rest are Sheeta Veerya. But there is a exception, even though Rasa is useful in arriving at an inference about Veerya , Vipaka, Guna. So it is wrong to decide the Veerya.

Importance of Veerya in Ayurveda

  • Drug contains different entities like Rasa, Veerya, Vipaka etc. among all these Veerya is predominant because it brings about action of Dravya.
  • Only Dravyas which are predominant in Veerya are used in Chikitsa (treatment/ therapeutic purpose).
  • Action of Dravya is due to Veerya.
  • Veerya supersedes Rasa, Vipaka and Guna, therefore even when Rasa, Vipaka and Guna of a Dravya act in accordance with each other. Veerya brings about total action difference.

Veerya is mentioned as extremely importance even by Aptavachas in literatures.

Read: Shada Padartha & Superiority Concept in Ayurveda

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