By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
Rasavaha Srotas are the channels of the body which convey the first tissue formed from the nutritive juices after the digestion of the food. Rasa is also the first tissue formed in the chronology of formation of tissues according to Ayurveda basics.
Rasa = first tissue to be formed after digestion of food, essence of nutrition, chyle, plasma, lymph. Vaha = carrying, Srotas = channels / ducts of transportation or conveyance
Formation of rasa tissue – Once the food is digested in the stomach and intestines – ahara rasa i.e. essence of food / nutritive juices are formed. These juices circulate through the circulatory system being pumped by the heart to different parts of the body. This takes part in nourishing all the tissues and organs of the body and to support the life process. The balance of this tissue is very necessary for the other tissues to be formed in the body. The other 6 tissues are formed in a chronological and methodical way after rasa tissue is formed.
Read – Srotas: Body Channels and Duct systems – Easy Explanation
Channels of transportation of essence of nutrition
According to Sushruta
a. Roots of the channels
The channels carrying nutrition are 2 in number. They have their roots in –
Hridaya – heart
Rasavahini dhamanis – channels carrying the nutritive juices to every part of the body from the heart – arteries
b. Symptoms of damage or injury to the channels
Shosha – emaciation
Pranavaha srotas viddha lakshana – symptoms similar to those occurring due to injury to Pranavaha srotas – channels carrying air / vital life force
Maranam – death
According to Charaka –
a. Roots of the channels
The roots of origin of channels carrying the nutrition lie in –
Hridaya – Heart
Dasha Dhamanis – 10 great vessels / arteries taking their origin from heart (these arteries successively divide into small branches as they get distributed all through the body)
b. Symptoms of vitiation of rasa conveying channels
Ashraddha – lack of interest in the food
Aruchi – tastelessness
Aasya vairasya – weird tastes in the mouth
Arasagnata – inability to perceive tastes
Hrullasa – excessive salivation / nausea
Heaviness of the body
Pain in body parts
Tama – feeling of darkness before the eyes
Pandutva – anemia
Srotorodha – obstruction in the channels of transportation in the body
Klaibya – impotence
Saada – fatigue / stoppage of working of organs and tissues
Krushangataa – emaciation of body parts
Nasho agnehe – destruction of digestive fire (capacity to digest food), sluggish digestion
Vali – premature wrinkling of skin
Palita – premature graying of hairs
Read – Channels Of Circulation And Doshas
Causes of vitiation of Rasavaha srotas
Guru aahara – heavy foods
Sheeta aahara – cold foods
Ati snigdha – excessive consumption of oily / fried / greasy foods
Ati maatram – eating food in excessive quantity
Ati chintanaat – excessive thinking (stress) / worry
Management of vitiation
The diseases caused by vitiation of channels conveying nutrition and the diseases caused by them should be followed by skilful and situational implementation of all the langhana – lightening measures.
The 10 kinds of lightening therapies which help in bringing about lightness in the body and hence curing the diseases caused by rasa carrying channels are –
|Sl No||Type of langhana / lightening therapy||Meaning|
|3||Shirovirechana / Nasya||Nasal medication|
|4||Niruha Vasti||Decoction / cleansing / evacuation enemas|
|5||Pipasa||Forcible withholding the thirst urge / not drinking water|
|6||Maruta||Exposure to breeze|
|7||Atapa||Exposure to sunlight|
|8||Pachana||Ama digesting medicines and measures|
|10||Vyayama||Indulgence in exercise|
Analysis of Rasa carrying channels and their roots
a. Hridaya / Heart as the root of ‘rasa transporting’ channels
Master Charaka and Sushruta, both have mentioned heart as one of the roots of rasa conveying channels. It is obvious that the nutrient juices which are prepared in the stomach and intestines by the action of digestive fire on the foods we consume i.e. after the digestion of food, reach the heart. It is the heart that distributes the nutrients to all parts of the body along with building blocks needed for the formation of first tissue i.e. rasa tissue.
The juices which are formed after the digestion of the food in the stomach are called ahara rasa. This rasa, when put into circulation after reaching the heart, nourishes and enriches all the tissues of the body. While this happens, the tissue fire of the rasa acts upon the nutrition available to it and converts it into two portions, a useful component which further nourishes and enriches the local tissue i.e. rasa tissue and the other portion which is a waste product. The useful component has 3 courses. The first part of it gets transformed to local rasa tissue. This supports and enriches the rasa tissue. The second portion goes ahead to nourish the next tissue i.e. blood tissue. From the third portion the sub-tissue of rasa is formed i.e. breast milk and menstrual blood.
Therefore it is clear that it is the heart which puts the nutritive juices needed to nourish the rasa tissue (and other tissues) into circulation. Therefore it is the root of rasa carrying channels.
Read – Dhatu – 7 Body Tissues As Explained In Ayurveda
b. Rasavahini dhamanis as the root of ‘rasa transporting’ channels
Master Sushruta has mentioned rasavahini dhamanis as other root of rasa transporting channels. Rasavahini dhamanis means channels carrying the nutritive juices to every part of the body from the heart – arteries. Dhamani actually means arteries but it is also a synonym for srotas. Therefore it is appropriate to consider the word dhamani as channel or ducts conveying rasa tissue. If blood plasma is taken as the rasa tissue, obviously the dhamani or srotas mentioned in this context means arteries.
c. Dasha dhamanis as the root of ‘rasa transporting’ channels
Master Charaka has mentioned dasha dhamanis as the roots of rasa transporting channels. Dasha Dhamanis means 10 great vessels or arteries taking their origin from heart. This also gives the same meaning as that explained by master Sushruta. The only difference is that Charaka has mentioned 10 numbers of arteries.
Combining the opinions of both master Charaka and Sushruta, the roots of rasa transporting channels can be said to be the heart and the blood vessels i.e. aorta and its branches taking their origin from the heart. Master Charaka’s opinion of 10 arteries probably indicate the bigger branches of the aorta which further divide and re-divide into many branches and supply nutrition to every part of the body.
Analysis of symptoms of damage of rasa transporting channels
Sushruta mentions the symptoms of the damage of rasa carrying channels. Emaciation occurs due to lack of nutrition. Death may occur when there is severe damage of these channels leading to severe loss of blood and depletion of nutrition to the entire body.
Sushruta has also mentioned that the symptoms of injury of channels carrying air (oxygen) can be seen even in this condition. This is because the heart is the common root for both rasa and air carrying channels. Channels of transportation of air also include lungs along with heart, the closed loop of respiratory and circulatory system.
The symptoms mentioned by Charaka with respect to contamination of rasa transporting channels are also called as ‘rasa pradoshaja rogas’ i.e. diseases caused by contamination of rasa tissue. As a rule the diseases caused by contamination of a channel and the tissue it conveys will be the same.
Most of the symptoms of vitiation of rasa carrying channels belong to pathology related to stomach and intestines. These include lack of interest in the food, anorexia, odd tastes in the mouth, loss of taste perception, nausea, heaviness of the body, drowsiness, pain in the body parts and fever. These diseases point towards weak digestion capacity leading to the formation of contaminated rasa and ama. These events will cause the mentioned diseases. Contamination of rasa tissue will also reflect the contamination of its channels.
Blockage of channels and destruction of digestive fire may be due to excessive formation of ama, contaminated rasa and kapha.
Fatigue, feeling of darkness before the eyes and emaciation are due to severe depletion of nutrition.
Anemia is due to inappropriate tissue metabolism at rasa and blood level and also due to improper conversion of rasa tissue into blood.
Impotence occurs due to severe depletion of semen tissue which is the final tissue to be formed in the chronology. This also happens due to severe nutritional depletion.
Long standing depletion of nutrition causes premature wrinkling and graying of hairs. In Ayurveda, the health of rasa tissue is explained on the basis of the health of skin. Thus, skin is the indicator of the health of rasa tissue. When rasa or rasa carrying channels are vitiated / contaminated, premature wrinkling and graying will occur.