The third part of this Ayurvedic series looks at the Pitta dosha, & how it facilitates transformation of thoughts, feelings & actions.
In my previous article, I discussed Vata, its functions and attributes. In this article, I’ll cover Pitta as the second functional aspect of the Panchamahabuta (PMB) in health management through diet and lifestyle.
As I mentioned earlier, Doshas are none other than the grouping of PMB properties and that is why understanding the PMB is vital to understanding the doshas. I’d like to reiterate that Ayurveda is a deep philosophy steeply rooted in science and requires several years—perhaps a lifetime—of study, to understand the workings of PMB in order to manage our health. However, a simple layman’s understanding is provided below.
Pitta Dosha: Fire + Water – the Principle of Transformation
As I mentioned in my previous article, we should understand the doshas in terms of their attributes and qualities.
Pitta dosha is a combination of the two PMB namely Fire (Agni) and Jala (Water). So, at a structural level, fire can be perceived as the heat generated in our bodies while water mixed with fire can be attributed to the control of all the enzymes, digestive juices, etc. Pitta therefore governs all types of transformation or digestions, including ‘thought digestion’. Pitta dosha is not the digestive juices itself, but the force that produces the right amount of pitta related activities within the body for transformation to take place. Pitta is also referred to as the Principle of Transformation.
At the digestive level, Pitta transforms all raw food to nutrients. At the mental level, Pitta processes and draws conclusion from the information. If we break the functions down into smaller levels such as the cellular level, Pitta transforms nutrients into energy for cellular function.
Pitta is also interpreted as ‘willpower’, or the ‘fire in a person’s eye’. If you have with a good balance of Pitta, you’ll be able to absorb subjects or topics, and transform blueprints into successful projects. A Pitta predominant person will have good digestive fire, strong appetite, and tends to have early greying of hair, among other qualities.
Imbalanced Pitta can lead to aggression, anger, and other ‘heat’ related diseases such as burning sensation. Similarly, a person with a good Pitta can absorb nutrients well but when off balance, may experience several skin related diseases. Excessive heat can cause long term skin, blood, and heart related problems.
When it comes to age, Pitta is predominant during adulthood between the ages of 20 and 40 years. So even though you’re Vata predominant in terms of body type, the external environment—in this case the age—will bring out Pitta qualities in you. Also, during summer, Pitta is predominant in the environment, so you must bear this in mind when you design a nutrition or lifestyle program.
Likewise, there is also Pitta dominance in terms of day, night and digestion, which I will not cover here.
What I’d like to highlight is that the PMB pervades all aspects of our lives from birth until death, digestion, thoughts, lifestyle, environment, and so forth. We should be mindful of these, and balance our lifestyle and nutrition accordingly.
As mentioned earlier, Ayurveda is all about customised nutrition and lifestyle. A ‘one-solution-fits-all’ strategy will not work, given that we are all individual body types living in different environments.
In the next series, I’ll explain the Kapha dosha with examples.