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The Concept of Rasa in Ayurveda – Therapeutic Utility

rasa in ayurveda

Introduction of Rasa in Ayurveda – 

Rasa in Ayurveda means the particular sense object, which is perceived by the tongue, is called rasa, which can be perceived by the rasanendriya, is called rasa. The word rasa means taste, but it also have other meanings also like rasa dhatu, parada (mercury) etc.

Types of Rasa

Rasa are basically divided into six type based on its perception that is- Madhura rasa, amla rasa, lavana rasa, katu rasa, tikta rasa, kasaya rasa.

Once again, based on the actions of rasa the rasas are divided into two types i.e., soumya rasa and agneya rasa,

Characteristics of Rasa

Rasa Mouth and tongueSenses BodyChest and throat
MadhuraIt smearsPleases the sensesPleases the body—–
AmlaStimulates and increases salivationCauses contraction of eyes and eyebrowsProduces thrill even looking by itProduces burning sensation
LavanaCauses overflowProduces appetite—-Produces burning sensation
KatuProduces irritation and burning sensation on mouth &tongueInduces secretion from eyes and noseProduces burning sensation——-
TitkaClears the mouth and tongueProduces numbness in tongue——-Cleanses throat
KasayaProduces numbness, heaviness of the tongue—–——Pain inches region& choking sensation

Pancha mahabhoota of Rasa

RasaRelation with Pancha Mahabhootas
MadhuraPrithvi +jala
AmlaPrithvi+tejas
LavanaJala+tejas
KatuVayu+tejas
TiktaVayu+akash
KasayaVayu+prithvi

Regarding composition of amla and lavana rasas there is difference of opinion between Charaka and Surshruta, the composition given in above table proposed by Charaka. According to Sushruta amla is composed of jala and tejas and lavana is of prithvi and tejas.

Even though rasa is having above mentioned mahabhootas predominantly the other mahabhootas are also possible to see in little extent.

Rasa and its gunas (Ayurvedic properties)

RasaGuna (properties)
MadhuraSnigdha, sheeta, guru
AmlaSnigdha, ushna, guru
LavanaSnigdha, ushna, guru
KatuRuksha, ushna, laghu
TiktaRuksha, sheeta, laghu
KashayaRuksha, sheeta, laghu

Action of Rasas on Doshas (Ayurvedic humors/ energy)

The action of rasas on doshas is essential because rasa is one which has gunas (Ayurvedic properties) in it and which are favorable or unfavorable for the dosha and it will be mainly applicable in the treatment aspect because in Ayurveda we are treating only on basis of doshas by using different recipes.

DoshaUsed rasa in sequences
IIIIII
VataLavanaAmlaMadhura
PittaTiktaMadhuraKasaya
KaphaKatuTitkaKasaya

In these order rasas are used in treatment.

The  Perception of Rasas

According to Indian Darshana shashtra knowledge rasa can be acquired  through three Pramanas i.e., Pratyaksha, Anumana and Aptopadesha.

Rasas can be known through all these three modes of knowledge yet, direct demonstrable knowledge is more widely used. If the dravya comes in contact with the tongue then only the direct perception of rasa is possible. This is rasana pratyaksha.

Some rasa can perceivable by Anumana only like, madhura rasa of Swarna, Rajata and Naga (sweetness of gold, silver and lead), & tikta rasa of Lauha (bitter taste of iron) have all been ascertained through inference after carefully observing the effects of these dravyas on the body.

Similarly avyakta rasa or anurasa has to be specially understood through Aptopadesha. And this knowledge is endorsed through anumana pramana.

According to some, a general knowledge of rasa is obtained through Pratyaksha, Anumana provides specific knowledge, where Aptopadesha provides experimental knowledge.

Rasantara

The rasa of any dravya is never permanent, it always keeps on changing subtler proportions.

The factors which are responsible for rasantara (variability in taste) is-

  1. Patra:- the dravya keeping on long time in specific Patra (vessel), it changes its rasa.
  2. Kala:- long keeping of dravya leads to change of rasa.
  3. Samyoga:- combination of 2 different dravyas leads to change of rasa.
  4. Paka:- on ripening of some dravyas like fruits changes its rasas.
  5. Surya:- due to sunlight rasa will be changed.
  6. Bhavana:- by trituration the rasas will change.
  7. Desha:- environmental factors also leads to change of rasa.
  8. Kalapaka:- by allowing some time interval.
  9. Parinama:-  by transformation.
  10. Upasarga:- by decaying of dravya.
  11. Vikriya: by some special procedures.

Actions of Rasa:

The action of rasa is brought in accordance with samanya vishesha siddhantha. Similar dravya-guna-karma increase similar dravya-guna-karma and dosha-dhathu-mala. Whereas dissimilar dravya, guna, karma bring about decrease. The action described as the action are in fact the actions of gunas belonging the dravyas having the particular rasa.

Anurasa:

The one which is directly perceived is called rasa, whereas some rasas which are not perceptible at first but it will found at the last, are called as anurasa.

Characteristics of anurasa:

  • Anurasa is either unmanifested or is manifested in small proportion.
  • Anurasa doesn’t remain in dravya inits dry state. For eg. The sweet anurasa of dry pippali will not persists.

Comparision between Rasa and Anurasa:

RasaAnurasa
Is manifestedEither is non manifested or is manifested.
Remains intact even after dravya is driedDoesn’t remain intact after drying.
Manifested at firstManifested later or in end

Rasa panchaka is a term which includes five factors of dravya i.e., rasa, guna,Veerya, vipaka. These five are always the factors of dravya and these are having inseparable relation with dravya.