The optimal quantity and quality so that the

The basic components of human body are Dosha,
Dhatu and Mala. The healthy state of body rests on the state of
dynamic equilibrium of these components. Human body is in a continuous exposure
to external and internal stressors which make the body vulnerable to disease.
But the tendency to have disease is prevented by many factors within the body. Oja
is one of the factors that prevent the body from illness. Ojas is
nothing but the pure essence of all Dhatu of the body. Abnormalities of Ojas
result in many illness and loss of strength and stamina. So it is utmost essential
to manage Oja in optimal quantity and quality so that the body will
enjoy healthy life. The present study is carried out with an aim to have proper
understanding of the Ojas with special reference to immunity and access
its clinical importance.

 

Keywords:
Oja, Bala, Vyadhikshamatwa, immunity.

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INTRODUCTION

Introduction

The concept of Ojas in Ayurveda is a very important principle. Ojas literally means “vigour”. It
is described as an essential component of the body to sustain life force.1 Ojas exists
on a subtle level within the body. Ojas help in normal functioning of
all body elements. The occurrence of disease within body is also prevented by
the presence of quality Ojas. Disease strikes at the location where
there is derangement of Oja. The diseases in present scenario such as
AIDS, diabetes etc. manifest features of decrease immunity or rather Ojakshaya.

Materials
and Methods

This article is based on a review of various Ayurvedic
classical literatures, online and offline journals. Materials related to Oja,
Vyadhishamatwa, immunity and other relevant topics were collected by
searching through various search engines and digital libraries. The search
results thus obtained were compiled, analyzed and discussed for a thorough and
in-depth understanding of the concept of Oja vis-à-vis immunity in
Ayurveda.

DISCUSSION

Formation
of Ojas

The Oja manifest within the embryo right at the time of fertilization,
when Shukra (sperm) fuses with Shonita (ovum) Paka
of Shukradhatu (both Shukra and Shonita) takes place
(fertilization) and two components are formed i.e. Sara (nutrient
materials) and Mala (excretory products). This Ojas will
perform its function of Avastambha and support the foetal
life the Garbha. Thus the Oja can be regarded as the product of
conception having derived from sperm and ovum; carry the Sara of all Dhatus
in them, which make them viable. Further nutrition and enrichment in the
quantity of Ojas to Ardhanjali takes place by Ahararasa (nutrient
materials), which is derived from mother’s body and possesses qualities similar
to Ojas and, it also simultaneously nourishes the growing embryo. In
later period of intrauterine life, when heart is developed, it enters into heart
and with the vessels connected to it, circulates throughout the body of fetus;
every tissue of the fetal body is supplied with Ojas, and is supported
by it. So that Pranas (factor responsible for sustenance of life) are
said to be seated in it. Hence Ojas is said to be prevailing in all the
stages of intrauterine life.

Types
of Ojas

The Ojas is considered to be of following two types viz. Para
Oja which is of Astha Bindu Pramana and located in Hridaya (heart)
and Apara Oja which is of Ardhanjali. Chakrapanidata is of view
that Param Teja which is the Sara (essence) of all Dhatus,
being located in Hridaya (heart) gets mixes with Rasa (lymph) and
circulates through Dhamani (vessels) and supply nourishment to entire body.
It represents the strength of
all the Dhatus and is present in the body right from the time of fertilization.

Nutrition
of Ojas

Ojas has to be synthesized by body continuously to maintain the state
of dynamic equilibrium as the Ojas is continuously being utilized in the course
of its functions.  Acharya Sushruta says
that food is the basis of all life as well as of Bala, Varna and Ojas. The
same view also holds by Charakacharya i.e. body is the outcome of food.
At some other place, he states the same fact in other words that Ahararasa
nourishes all the body tissues as well as Ojas. Thus it is
obvious that Ojas is produced and nourished from food substances, which
are conductive to Ojas. But, the conversion of food, in spite of having
all nutritive factors of Ojas, Dhatus, Bala and Varna etc. into
specific metabolite depends upon the proper functioning of Agni (digestive
factor).Another important factor that serves as an important entity for
internal transport system of body is termed as Srotasas. The nutrient
factors, the precursors of bodily elements are recognized and they are transported
to the place where they undergo digestion and metabolism for the formation of latter
body tissues. The Ojas is said to be located primarily in the Hridaya
(heart). It mixes with rasa and circulates through the Dhamanis (circulating
vessels). The heart plays an important role in distribution of Sleshmika Ojas
to all the tissues of the body. The channels of transport are the Dasha Mahamula
Dhamanis which carry Oja to the entire body. These channels permit
the exudation (filtration, diffusion and permeation) and maintain the steady
and dynamic flow to the body tissues for nourishment.

Quantity
of Ojas

According to Charaka, the quantity of Ojas in a
healthy individual is Ardhanjali while Vagbhatacharya the Astangahrdayakara
has stated it to be one Prasrtha in quantity. It is equitant to
volume of the cavity formed by hollowing one’s own palm, not mean two Pala in
weight for present context. In

Padmapurana,
the quantity of Ojas (Bala) is stated to be 1/4 Kudawa which
is approximately 1/4 Anjali when individualized norm is taken as
standard measure. By summation of the above statements it appears that Ojas is
Ardhanjali in an individual and it may fluctuate from 1/4 to 1/2 Anjali
depending upon the constitution. Since Charaka also says that these
fluids are always subjected to fluctuation i.e. increase or decrease. Chakrapani
Datta by quoting other authority, states that there is one more kind of Ojas
which is Astabindu in quantity and is called as Para Ojas and
is different from ½ Anjali Ojas i.e. Shlesmika Ojas. Arundatta
on the other hand, observes that Ojas pervades in all the cells of
body and its six drops are located in Hridaya.

Properties
of Ojas: The properties can play an important role in understanding its
multiple aspects precisely.

Ø Colour:
According to Sushruta it is Sukla Varna (clear white) whereas
other Acharyas has mentioned three colors of Ojas i.e. a clear
substance with the tinge of red and yellow.

Ø Odour: Lajagandhi
i.e. with the smell of Laja.

Ø  Taste: According to Charaka, its
taste is similar to that of honey i.e. Madhurasa with slight Kashayatva.2 No one else among
the Acaryas have directly mentioned about the taste of Ojas.

Relationship
Of Ojas And Sleshma:

The Kapha
in its normal status is supposed to give Bala (strength) to body
hence it is correlated with Ojas. According to Chakrapani dutta Sleshmika
Ojas is Apara Oja whose Pramana is considered as Adhanjali
Pramana.3

Relationship
Of Ojas And Bala:

Acharya
Charaka states that Bala, Arogya, Ayu, Prana and Ojas are
dependent on Agni. Bala is classified into three types as per Samhita Grantha:-

Ø Sahaja
Bala:-It is resistance to disease states to be Prakrita (natural/inborn)
and exists from birth. Some individuals are observed as physically strong from
their birth whereas some are observed as physically weak from the very birth. Acharya
Charaka in analyzing the Sahaja Bala has mentioned that the natural Bala
of the Sharira and Satva i.e. the body and mind are termed as
Sahaja Bala. Sahaja Bala can be correlated with constitutional
strength of an individual. According to Acharya Chakrapani the
constitutional strength is present in every living being form the very time of
birth. This is because of the natural growth of the Dhatus (tissues).
Thus the natural strength does not require any extraneous factor for its
growth. It is known that, there are some people who are by nature strong; some
others are weak, it is genetically decided.

Ø Kalaja
Bala:-This Bala is influenced by seasonal traits and age of the
person. Bala is dissipated and lowest in Adanakala. This Kala corresponds
to Shishira, Vasanta and Grishma, which represents the hottest
season of the year. On the other hand Bala is conserved and its highest
optimum level is witnessed in Visargakala corresponding to Varsha,
Sharada, Hemanta Ritu that represents the cooler seasons of year. As
regards to Bala the childhood and age come in last descending order.

Ø Yuktikrita: –
When the body resistance against diseases is inducted with the help of appropriate
nutrition and Rasayan therapy then it is called Yuktikruta Bala.4

Clinical
importance of Ojas:

Ojas plays a vital role in maintenance of health as well as production
of illness. When Ojas is in normal state it brings health and when it become
vitiated or depleted it leads to many pathological conditions. The various
clinical implications of Ojas are as follows;

In Physiological
State:

The Ojas plays a vital role right at the time of conception.
During fertilization Ojas is said to be present in the sperm and ovum in
the form of their Sara or essence, in the absence of which, fertilization
does not take place. After fertilization Sara of Shukra and Shonita
get converted in to a new substance, which is said to be Garbharasadrasah
(resultant of fusion of sperm and ovum) it is the only source of nutrition
of Garbha (fetus) for its growth and development. Ojas is also
responsible for viability or non-viability of fetus. During eight month of
pregnancy Ojas circulate trans-placentally between mother and foetus. If
the fetus gets delivered in this month, in the state when Ojas is in
maternal body, it does not survive being devoid of Ojas.5 Ojas help in
maintenance of health by helping the Dosha, Dhatu and Mala which
are the fundamental units of the body, to remain in a state of dynamic
equilibrium. It is also said that all the activities of the living body may it
be Kayika, Vacika, Mansika take place smoothly if the body is endowed
with proper qualities of Ojas. Thus it can be inferred that Ojas influence
the function of physical, sensory, psychic and other higher faculties of the
body and maintain the homeostatic condition of body.

 Ojas acts as Vyadhishamatwa
within the body. Vyadhikshamatwa is nothing but the immunity in Ayurvedic
concept which has two aspects viz. Vyadhibalavirodhitwa and Vyadhyutpadakanibandhakatwa
According to Charaka Vyadhikshamatwa is not of the same order in all
constitutions, it varies in individual regardless of their nutritional
environmental and individual factors, physical and psychological factors etc.6

In Pathological
States of Ojas:

The pathological states of Ojas or Ojas Vikruti are of three types
Oja Visransa Oja Vyapath Ojakshaya. Oja Visransa is characterized by Sandhivisleshana (looseness of the
joints), Gatrasada (inertness of the extremities), Dosha Chyavana (displacement
of Doshas from their respective
location) and Kriya Sannirodha (impairment of the function of the body,
mind etc). Oja Vyapad is characterized by Stabdha Guru Gatrata (inertness
and heaviness of the extremities), Vatasopha (anasarca due to Vata), Varnabheda (discoloration
of skin or change of complexion), Glani (fatigue of the senses), Tandra
(drowsiness) and Nidra (somnolence). Oja Kshaya displays symptoms
like Murcha (loss of consciousness), Mansakshaya (wasting of
muscles), Moha (stupor), Pralapa (delirium) and Marana (death)7

There are also certain other disorders in which the Ojas get
vitiated or become pathological and depleted. Those disorders are as follows:-

Ø Sannipata
Jwara: In Sannipata Jwara in when the excited Pitta and Vayu
bring about the Visramsa of Oja Then the symptoms like stiffness all over body, coldness, and desire
to sleep always, unconsciousness, somnolence, loosening of the limb, low fever
and body pain are seen.

Ø Rajayakshama:-In Rajayakshama
due to the obstruction of the Srotansi as a result of deficiency of
nutrients of Raktadi Dhatus ,lowered functioning of Dhatushmas (Dhatwagnis)
and Apachaya (catabolic events), the food ingested which when subjected
to the process of digestion in Kostha is changed into Malas,
little of nutrition is available for production of Ojas.

Ø Madhumeha:-In Madhumeha
Vyadhi, The Aggravated Vata by its Ruksha Guna Converts the Madhura Ojas into one of Kasaya
and transports it to the Mutrashaya (urinary apparatus). The Ojas produced
in this condition is qualitatively deficient. Even the impoverished Ojas is
lost to the body through urine.

Ø Panduroga:-In
Pandu Roga, aggravated Pitta vitiates the Dhatus which
latter lose their integrity. Subsequently, Varna, Bala and Sneha which
are the Gunas of Ojas are depleted by the vitiated Doshas and
Dhatus. The individual suffers from impoverished Rakta and Medo
Dhatus and de-vitalization. The person is then affected as Nissara (loss
of natural integrity, tone and strength of the tissues), Shitilendriya (impairment
of the integrity of the senses) and Vaivarna (abnormal color or
complexion of body)8

Concept
of Immunity

The
Body Defenses as per modern science is termed as Immunity which can be regarded
as resistance to disease.  The immune
system is responsible for defense against all the microorganisms and toxic
cells to which individuals are exposed. 
There are many factors which directly or indirectly affect the immunity
e.g. Genetics, Age, Health, nutrition, stress, Hormones etc. The immune system
is a functional system rather than a system with discrete organs. The parts of
almost all organs in the body play some role in immunity. Wide spread chemical
mediators, cells and tissues along with their transport via circulatory and
lymphatic systems constitute the immune system.9 There are
mainly two types of immunity present in body. First one is  Nonspecific Immunity an innate reaction that
acts as a general response against all kinds of pathogens without having been
previously exposed to it. The examples of non specific immunity are; a.
physical and chemical barriers, b. internal cells and chemicals. Second one is Specific
Immunity an adaptive system that fights specific individual pathogens in
customized and professional ways.

Cells
and tissues of the immune system

The
cells of the immune system take their origin from precursors in the bone
marrow, after which they circulate in the blood and live in lymphoid organs
like lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils along with virtually within all the tissues
of the body. During the demand they can rapidly migrate to any site of
infection. Among circulating white blood cells (leukocytes), the major
phagocytes are neutrophils and monocytes. These cells ingest and destroy
microbes, other injurious agents, and one’s own dead and damaged cells.
Neutrophils respond rapidly to foreign stimuli and to injury; their reaction is
part of acute inflammation. When blood monocytes enter tissues, they mature,
and are called macrophages. These cells are present under epithelia, in
connective tissues, and in all organs. Macrophages respond more slowly than do
neutrophils but for longer times; this reaction is typical of chronic
inflammation. Macrophages also help to repair damaged tissue. The most
important cells of adaptive immunity are lymphocytes which are catagorised in
two main classes B lymphocyte and T lymphocyte. B lymphocytes (so called
because they mature in the bone marrow) secrete proteins called antibodies,
which bind to and eliminate extracellular microbes.10 T lymphocytes
(which mature in the thymus) function mainly to combat microbes that have
learned to live inside cells (where they are inaccessible to antibodies). There
are two main types of T lymphocytes one is helper T cells which help B
lymphocytes to make the most effective antibodies and help macrophages to kill
ingested microbes. The second group of T lymphocyte is called cytotoxic
(cytolytic) T lymphocytes (CTLs) which kill infected host cells and thus serve
to eliminate reservoirs of infection. A third, small population of lymphocytes
is called “regulatory T cells” because they control immune responses and
prevent inappropriate reactions.11 There are
several other small populations of lymphocytes. In order to get immune
responses started, foreign substances have to be captured and displayed to
lymphocytes. The cells that perform this task of displaying antigens are called
antigen-presenting cells (APCs).12 The best
defined APCs are specialized type of cells called dendritic cells.

Conclusion

As the immune system is a two edged
sword so is the Ojas. Ojas prevent the body from having illness at the same
time it also become responsible for many illnesses if it get vitiated. So
during diagnosis the state of Ojas should be accessed properly and during treatment
also Rasayan Dravyas should be administered to maintain Ojas in its optimal
state. Optimal state of Ojas leads to the maintenance of unctuous
quality of body parts, holding body entities together, durability of body
elements, maintenance of bulk of body, maintenance of sexual vigor and strength
of body. 

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