Ojas is the pure essence of sara, formed by the metabolism of the saptadhatu and specifically, shukra dhatu. Ojas has specific features, quantities, three stages of doshic vitiation and defined laksanas. The classical texts have outlined specific treatments for preserving ojas, which is key to good health.
Features of Ojas
Touch (sparsha): cold (sheeta), unctuous (snigdha), soft (mrudu), smooth (shlakshna), slimy (mrutsna), sticky (pichchila).
Sight (rupa): pure white (shuddha shukla), slightly red yellowish (ishat rakta-pita, lohit pita), resembling to ghee-clarified butter (sarpi varna).
Taste (rasa): sweet (madhura), like honey (madhu rasa).
Smell (gandha): of parched cereal (laja gandha).
Qualities: heavy (guru), cherished (prasanna), bulky (bahala), stable (sthira), cool (somatmaka), mobile (sara), clear or distinctly formed (vivikta).
Location and Quantity of Ojas
Para Ojas is the supreme form and the most important component for the vitality of life. It is in the heart and is measured as eight drops (bindu). Para ojas is formed at conception and manifests as the body during intra-uterine life--it is the embryo (garbha sara). The embryo is nourished from the essence of para ojas and after birth nourishment from ojas comes from the metabolism of the saptadhatu. Para ojas remains stable in the body until death.
Apara Ojas is formed during the metabolism of each dhatu. Its quantity is measured as half anjali (personal unit of measurement). It is present in all components of the body and manifests as the essence of sara which is observed as the main factor responsible for immunity. Para ojas circulates throughout the body via plasma (rasa dhatu) and blood (rakta dhatu) and through the channels (ojovaha sira). These channels originate from the heart.
Causative Factors for Vitiation of Ojas
- Injury or trauma: abhighata
- Malnourishment or impaired metabolism: kshaya
- Anger: kopa
- Excessive thinking: dhyana
- Grief: shoka
- Vigorous physical work or exertion: shrama
- Excessive appetite: kshudha
The above factors aggravate vata and pitta dosha, which leads to the quantitative and qualitative depletion of Ojas. It first becomes displaced from its prime location, the heart (hridaya), and as it depletes further the quality and quantity of ojas is lost.
- Fearfulness or phobia
- Fatigue especially with the sensory and motor organs
- Altered skin complexion
- Lack of self-confidence
- Dry and rough skin
- Emaciation of body
Three Stages of Ojas Vitiation and Laksanas
Oja vistramsa is immune system aberrations and allergies. It is the displacement of Ojas from its home location in the heart.
- Sandhi vishlesha: feeling of looseness or displaced joints or synapses
- Gatra sadanam: fatigue
- Dosha chyavanam: migration of vitiated dosha to other sites
- Kriya sannirodha: impairment and blockage of all functions of body and mind
Oja vyapat is dislodged immunity and autoimmune disorders. The quality of ojas is deteriorating.
- Stabdha guru gatrata: feeling of stiffness and rigidity in body
- Vata shopha: unstable swelling due to vitiation of vata dosha
- Varna bheda: abnormal change in normal complexion
- Glani: lassitude
- Tandra: drowsiness
- Nidra: excess sleepiness
Oja kshaya is immunodeficiency caused by the depletion of both the quality and quantity of ojas.
- Murchcha: fainting or unconsciousness
- Mamsa kshaya: emaciation and muscle wasting
- Moha: confusion
- Pralapa: delirium
- Marana: death
- Kshaya rasa dhatu includes extreme restlessness, intolerance to loud sounds, acceleration of blood flow (tachycardia), pain and distress even with the slightest exertion.
- Kshaya rakta dhatu includes rough, cracked, withering and dry skin.
- Kshaya mamsa dhatu includes thinning specially of hips, neck and belly.
- Kshaya meda dhatu include cracking joints, lassitude of eyes, exhaustion and thinning of the abdomen.
- Kshaya asthi dhatu includes loss of scalp and body-hair, beard, nails and teeth, fatigue and loose joints.
- Kshaya majja dhatu includes atrophy of bone tissues, weakness and lightness of bones and the patients suffers from vata disorders.
- Kshaya shukra dhatu includes debility, dryness of mouth, pallor, asthenia, fatigue, impotency and absence of ejaculation.
- Kshaya in purisha is provoked by vata and causes painful peristalsis in the intestine which spreads upwards and oblique, causing distension of belly and dryness.
- Kshaya of mutra includes dysuria, discoloration of urine, excessive thirst and dryness of mouth.
- Kshaya of malayana is associated with the minor orifices of nose, ears, eyes, mouth and skin. Their deficiencies lead to feeling of emptiness, lightness and dryness of the respective receptacle of that mala.
- Kshaya of ojas includes timidity, debility, constant worry, discomfort of the senses, loss of lustre, neurasthenia, dryness and emaciation.
Sara is the best essence of each dhatu and measures the quality and quantity of ojas and therefore immunity. The best quality sara directly depends upon the viability of the dhatvagni and metabolism. There are eight types of sara: tvak, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja, shukra and sattva which are assessed by the degree of strength.
Characteristics of Twak Sara (Best Quality of Skin)
Skin is unctuous (snigdha), smooth (shlakshna), soft (mridu), clean and adorable (prasanna) with fine (sukshma), thin (alpa), deep rooted (gambhira) and delicate (sukumara) hairs and is lustrous (prabha). This essence indicates happiness, good fortune, power, enjoyment, intelligence, knowledge, health, cheerfulness and longevity.
Characteristics of Rakta Dhatu Sara (Best Quality of Blood Tissue)
In persons with essence of rakta dhatu have their ear, eye, face, tongue, nose, lips, palms, soles, nails, forehead and genitals to be unctuous, red, beautiful and shining. This essence indicates happiness, sharp intellect, magnanimity, tenderness, moderate strength, lack for endurance and intolerance to heat.
Characteristics of Mamsa Dhatu Sara (Best Quality of Muscular Tissue)
The persons having essence of mamsa dhatu have their temples (shankha), forehead (lalata), nape (krikatika), eyes (akshi), cheek (ganda), jaws (hanu), neck (griva), shoulder (skandha), abdomen (udara), axillae (kaksha), chest (vaksha), hands (pani), feet (pada) and joints (sandhi) well developed with firm, heavy and good looking muscles. This essence indicates forbearance, restraint, and lack of greed, wealth, knowledge, happiness, simplicity, health, strength and longevity.
Characteristics of Meda Dhatu Sara (Best Quality of Lipid Tissues)
The person endowed with essence of meda dhatu have significant unctuousness specifically in complexion, voice, eyes, hair, skin hairs, nails, teeth, lips, urine and feces. This indicates wealth, power, happiness, enjoyment, charity, simplicity and delicacy in dealings.
Characteristics of Asthi Dhatu Sara(Best Quality of Bone)
Person with asthi dhatu sara has prominent heels (parshni), ankles (gulpha), knee joint (janu), elbows (aratni), collarbones (jatru), chin (chibuka), head (shira), flanks (parshva) and joints and also bones and teeth. Such persons are excess enthusiastic, very active, enduring, having strong and firm body as well as longevity.
Characteristics of Majja Dhatu Sara(Best Quality of Bone Marrow Tissue)
The persons with soft body parts, strong, unctuous complexion and sweet voice, prominent (sthula), long (dirgha) and rounded joints should be known as majja dhatu sara (or the essence of majja). They are long-lived, strong and endowed with learning ability, wealth, understanding, progeny and respectful image.
Characteristics of Shukra Dhatu Sara(Best Quality of Reproductive Tissues)
The shukra dhatu sara (having essence in form of reproductive tissues) individuals are gentle and charming (saumya), charming and gentle look (saumyaprekshina), have beautiful eyes as if filled with milk (kshirapurnalochana), immensely exhilarated (praharshabahula), teeth are unctuous, rounded, firm, even and compact, having pleasant and unctuous complexion and voice, brilliant, having prominent buttocks. They are liked by women for enjoyment, are strong and endowed with happiness, leisure, health, wealth, honor and progeny.
Characteristics of Sattva Sara (Best Quality of Mind)
The sattva sara persons are endowed with memory (smriti), devotion (bhakti), are grateful (kritajna), knowledgeable (prajna), cleanliness (shuchi), enthusiastic (mahotsaha), skillful (daksha), courageous (dhira), fighting in battle with valor, free from anxiety (tyaktavishada), having well-organized activities and highly intellectual abilities engaged in virtuous act.
Ayurvedic Practitioners may make the wrong decision by only looking at the patient as being strong because they are corpulent, weak because they are lean, strong because they have a large body or weak because they have a small body. However, it is observed that some people with a small body and leanness can be strong. This is the reason why the essence of sara dhatu must be examined before understanding the bala of a patient. [Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 8/102 - 115].
How to Maintain Strong Ojas and Immunity
Quality and Quantity of Food
- Ushnamashneeyaat - warm food is satisfying, enhances agni, digests early, stimulates the peristaltic movements, proper evacuation of vata, and reduces kapha in the intestines.
- Snigdhamashneeyaat - unctuous food is satisfying, stimulates agni and peristaltic movements, nourishes the body, strengthens the sense organs and enhances vigor and complexion.
- Maatraavadashneeyaat - appropriate food quantity enhances the life expectancy by keeping the tridosha - vata, pitta and kapha in balance. The correct quantity of food is easily propelled downward through the digestive system and does not weaken digestive strength. The food is assimilated without any disturbances.
- Manas is nourished from the best quality food and is instrumental for sensory perception and knowledge. All that is seen, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled is food for the mind. All sensory inputs are processed by the mind and stored as memory. The mind is the mediator between the senses and the soul.
Quality and Quantity of Sleep
- Sleep is essential for good quality of life and the ability to perform well during the day. Inadequate sleep impairs the ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system, and moderate emotions.
- People who maintain a regular sleep habit are free from diseases, have pleasant attitudes, and are endowed with strength, complexion and immunity. They are not too obese or too lean and have a longer lifespan with all prosperity. [Su. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4/39- 40]
- Staying awake at night causes dryness in body, while day sleep causes unctuousness. This leads to the aggravation of vata dosha and kapha dosha respectively. Sleeping in a sitting posture does not influence dosha equilibrium and is neither too dry or unctuous.
Modern Science Measurements for Health and Immunity
The concept of Ojas is connected with the bala (strength of the body) and vyadhikshamatva (strength of the immune system). Modern Science defines both health and immunity by measuring the bodies levels of vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, glycogen, viability of the sperm and ovum, etc.
Some researchers have theorized the function of endoplasmic reticulum seems to have a similar role as ojas. The endoplasmic reticulum has many anabolic roles within the cell including calcium storage, protein synthesis and lipid metabolism.
Metabolic Health Markers for Immunity
- Body Mass Index (BMI) (optimal range is between 18-25)
- HGB A1C (optimal range is <5.8)
- Vitamin D levels – (optimal range is >40)
- Zinc levels (optimal range is 80-130)
- Selenium (optimal range is 100-150)
- Neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (optimal range is <3:1 ratio)
- Fibrinogen (Best if <375)
- D-dimer (optimal range is <.4)
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
- Memory lymphocyte immunostimulant assay (MELISA)
- Comprehensive metabolic panel
The Science of Ayurveda is a highly specialized system that measures the health and immunity of each person. It is a system of healing that relies on the practitioners keen sense of physical observation to accurately assess each patients unique set of symptoms. Each patient is prescribed a unique personalized treatment plan based on the quality and quantity of dosha and dhatu observed during the assessment. This is the defining factor for the success of an Ayurvedic treatment plan.
- Ojas Abnormalities - Susruta Samhita Sutra Sthana 15/24-28.
- Kshaya and Ojas - Charaka Samhita Sutra Sthana 17/64 - 77.
- Assessment of Sara - Charaka Samhita Vimana Sthana 8/102 - 110.
- Mahesh, T S, and M Shreevidya. “A review on balya action mentioned in Ayurveda.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 5,2 (2014): 80-4. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.133796
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