The basic components of human body are Dosha,Dhatu and Mala. The healthy state of body rests on the state ofdynamic equilibrium of these components. Human body is in a continuous exposureto 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. Ojais one of the factors that prevent the body from illness.
Ojas isnothing but the pure essence of all Dhatu of the body. Abnormalities of Ojasresult in many illness and loss of strength and stamina. So it is utmost essentialto manage Oja in optimal quantity and quality so that the body willenjoy healthy life. The present study is carried out with an aim to have properunderstanding of the Ojas with special reference to immunity and accessits clinical importance.
Keywords:Oja, Bala, Vyadhikshamatwa, immunity.INTRODUCTIONIntroductionThe concept of Ojas in Ayurveda is a very important principle. Ojas literally means “vigour”. Itis described as an essential component of the body to sustain life force.1 Ojas existson a subtle level within the body. Ojas help in normal functioning ofall body elements.
The occurrence of disease within body is also prevented bythe presence of quality Ojas. Disease strikes at the location wherethere is derangement of Oja. The diseases in present scenario such asAIDS, diabetes etc.
manifest features of decrease immunity or rather Ojakshaya.Materialsand MethodsThis article is based on a review of various Ayurvedicclassical literatures, online and offline journals. Materials related to Oja,Vyadhishamatwa, immunity and other relevant topics were collected bysearching through various search engines and digital libraries. The searchresults thus obtained were compiled, analyzed and discussed for a thorough andin-depth understanding of the concept of Oja vis-à-vis immunity inAyurveda.DISCUSSIONFormationof OjasThe Oja manifest within the embryo right at the time of fertilization,when Shukra (sperm) fuses with Shonita (ovum) Pakaof Shukradhatu (both Shukra and Shonita) takes place(fertilization) and two components are formed i.e. Sara (nutrientmaterials) and Mala (excretory products). This Ojas willperform its function of Avastambha and support the foetallife the Garbha.
Thus the Oja can be regarded as the product ofconception having derived from sperm and ovum; carry the Sara of all Dhatusin them, which make them viable. Further nutrition and enrichment in thequantity of Ojas to Ardhanjali takes place by Ahararasa (nutrientmaterials), which is derived from mother’s body and possesses qualities similarto Ojas and, it also simultaneously nourishes the growing embryo. Inlater period of intrauterine life, when heart is developed, it enters into heartand with the vessels connected to it, circulates throughout the body of fetus;every tissue of the fetal body is supplied with Ojas, and is supportedby it. So that Pranas (factor responsible for sustenance of life) aresaid to be seated in it. Hence Ojas is said to be prevailing in all thestages of intrauterine life.Typesof OjasThe Ojas is considered to be of following two types viz. ParaOja which is of Astha Bindu Pramana and located in Hridaya (heart)and Apara Oja which is of Ardhanjali.
Chakrapanidata is of viewthat Param Teja which is the Sara (essence) of all Dhatus,being located in Hridaya (heart) gets mixes with Rasa (lymph) andcirculates through Dhamani (vessels) and supply nourishment to entire body.It represents the strength ofall the Dhatus and is present in the body right from the time of fertilization.Nutritionof OjasOjas has to be synthesized by body continuously to maintain the stateof dynamic equilibrium as the Ojas is continuously being utilized in the courseof its functions. Acharya Sushruta saysthat food is the basis of all life as well as of Bala, Varna and Ojas. Thesame 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 Ahararasanourishes all the body tissues as well as Ojas. Thus it isobvious that Ojas is produced and nourished from food substances, whichare conductive to Ojas. But, the conversion of food, in spite of havingall nutritive factors of Ojas, Dhatus, Bala and Varna etc. intospecific metabolite depends upon the proper functioning of Agni (digestivefactor).
Another important factor that serves as an important entity forinternal transport system of body is termed as Srotasas. The nutrientfactors, the precursors of bodily elements are recognized and they are transportedto the place where they undergo digestion and metabolism for the formation of latterbody tissues. The Ojas is said to be located primarily in the Hridaya(heart). It mixes with rasa and circulates through the Dhamanis (circulatingvessels). The heart plays an important role in distribution of Sleshmika Ojasto all the tissues of the body.
The channels of transport are the Dasha MahamulaDhamanis which carry Oja to the entire body. These channels permitthe exudation (filtration, diffusion and permeation) and maintain the steadyand dynamic flow to the body tissues for nourishment.Quantityof OjasAccording to Charaka, the quantity of Ojas in ahealthy individual is Ardhanjali while Vagbhatacharya the Astangahrdayakarahas stated it to be one Prasrtha in quantity. It is equitant tovolume of the cavity formed by hollowing one’s own palm, not mean two Pala inweight for present context. InPadmapurana,the quantity of Ojas (Bala) is stated to be 1/4 Kudawa whichis approximately 1/4 Anjali when individualized norm is taken asstandard measure. By summation of the above statements it appears that Ojas isArdhanjali in an individual and it may fluctuate from 1/4 to 1/2 Anjalidepending upon the constitution. Since Charaka also says that thesefluids are always subjected to fluctuation i.e.
increase or decrease. ChakrapaniDatta by quoting other authority, states that there is one more kind of Ojaswhich is Astabindu in quantity and is called as Para Ojas andis different from ½ Anjali Ojas i.e. Shlesmika Ojas.
Arundattaon the other hand, observes that Ojas pervades in all the cells ofbody and its six drops are located in Hridaya.Propertiesof Ojas: The properties can play an important role in understanding itsmultiple aspects precisely.Ø Colour:According to Sushruta it is Sukla Varna (clear white) whereasother Acharyas has mentioned three colors of Ojas i.e. a clearsubstance with the tinge of red and yellow. Ø Odour: Lajagandhii.e.
with the smell of Laja. Ø Taste: According to Charaka, itstaste is similar to that of honey i.e. Madhurasa with slight Kashayatva.2 No one else amongthe Acaryas have directly mentioned about the taste of Ojas.RelationshipOf Ojas And Sleshma: The Kaphain its normal status is supposed to give Bala (strength) to bodyhence it is correlated with Ojas. According to Chakrapani dutta SleshmikaOjas is Apara Oja whose Pramana is considered as AdhanjaliPramana.
3RelationshipOf Ojas And Bala: AcharyaCharaka states that Bala, Arogya, Ayu, Prana and Ojas aredependent on Agni. Bala is classified into three types as per Samhita Grantha:-Ø SahajaBala:-It is resistance to disease states to be Prakrita (natural/inborn)and exists from birth. Some individuals are observed as physically strong fromtheir birth whereas some are observed as physically weak from the very birth. AcharyaCharaka in analyzing the Sahaja Bala has mentioned that the natural Balaof the Sharira and Satva i.
e. the body and mind are termed asSahaja Bala. Sahaja Bala can be correlated with constitutionalstrength of an individual.
According to Acharya Chakrapani theconstitutional strength is present in every living being form the very time ofbirth. This is because of the natural growth of the Dhatus (tissues).Thus the natural strength does not require any extraneous factor for itsgrowth. It is known that, there are some people who are by nature strong; someothers are weak, it is genetically decided. Ø KalajaBala:-This Bala is influenced by seasonal traits and age of theperson. Bala is dissipated and lowest in Adanakala.
This Kala correspondsto Shishira, Vasanta and Grishma, which represents the hottestseason of the year. On the other hand Bala is conserved and its highestoptimum level is witnessed in Visargakala corresponding to Varsha,Sharada, Hemanta Ritu that represents the cooler seasons of year. Asregards 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 appropriatenutrition and Rasayan therapy then it is called Yuktikruta Bala.4Clinicalimportance of Ojas:Ojas plays a vital role in maintenance of health as well as productionof illness.
When Ojas is in normal state it brings health and when it becomevitiated or depleted it leads to many pathological conditions. The variousclinical implications of Ojas are as follows;In PhysiologicalState: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 inthe form of their Sara or essence, in the absence of which, fertilizationdoes not take place. After fertilization Sara of Shukra and Shonitaget 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 nutritionof Garbha (fetus) for its growth and development. Ojas is alsoresponsible for viability or non-viability of fetus. During eight month ofpregnancy Ojas circulate trans-placentally between mother and foetus. Ifthe fetus gets delivered in this month, in the state when Ojas is inmaternal body, it does not survive being devoid of Ojas.5 Ojas help inmaintenance of health by helping the Dosha, Dhatu and Mala whichare the fundamental units of the body, to remain in a state of dynamicequilibrium.
It is also said that all the activities of the living body may itbe Kayika, Vacika, Mansika take place smoothly if the body is endowedwith proper qualities of Ojas. Thus it can be inferred that Ojas influencethe function of physical, sensory, psychic and other higher faculties of thebody and maintain the homeostatic condition of body. Ojas acts as Vyadhishamatwawithin the body. Vyadhikshamatwa is nothing but the immunity in Ayurvedicconcept which has two aspects viz. Vyadhibalavirodhitwa and VyadhyutpadakanibandhakatwaAccording to Charaka Vyadhikshamatwa is not of the same order in allconstitutions, it varies in individual regardless of their nutritionalenvironmental and individual factors, physical and psychological factors etc.6 In PathologicalStates of Ojas:The pathological states of Ojas or Ojas Vikruti are of three typesOja Visransa Oja Vyapath Ojakshaya.
Oja Visransa is characterized by Sandhivisleshana (looseness of thejoints), Gatrasada (inertness of the extremities), Dosha Chyavana (displacementof Doshas from their respectivelocation) and Kriya Sannirodha (impairment of the function of the body,mind etc). Oja Vyapad is characterized by Stabdha Guru Gatrata (inertnessand heaviness of the extremities), Vatasopha (anasarca due to Vata), Varnabheda (discolorationof skin or change of complexion), Glani (fatigue of the senses), Tandra(drowsiness) and Nidra (somnolence). Oja Kshaya displays symptomslike Murcha (loss of consciousness), Mansakshaya (wasting ofmuscles), Moha (stupor), Pralapa (delirium) and Marana (death)7There are also certain other disorders in which the Ojas getvitiated or become pathological and depleted. Those disorders are as follows:-Ø SannipataJwara: In Sannipata Jwara in when the excited Pitta and Vayubring about the Visramsa of Oja Then the symptoms like stiffness all over body, coldness, and desireto sleep always, unconsciousness, somnolence, loosening of the limb, low feverand body pain are seen. Ø Rajayakshama:-In Rajayakshamadue to the obstruction of the Srotansi as a result of deficiency ofnutrients of Raktadi Dhatus ,lowered functioning of Dhatushmas (Dhatwagnis)and Apachaya (catabolic events), the food ingested which when subjectedto the process of digestion in Kostha is changed into Malas,little of nutrition is available for production of Ojas.
Ø Madhumeha:-In MadhumehaVyadhi, The Aggravated Vata by its Ruksha Guna Converts the Madhura Ojas into one of Kasayaand transports it to the Mutrashaya (urinary apparatus). The Ojas producedin this condition is qualitatively deficient. Even the impoverished Ojas islost to the body through urine. Ø Panduroga:-InPandu Roga, aggravated Pitta vitiates the Dhatus whichlatter lose their integrity.
Subsequently, Varna, Bala and Sneha whichare the Gunas of Ojas are depleted by the vitiated Doshas andDhatus. The individual suffers from impoverished Rakta and MedoDhatus and de-vitalization. The person is then affected as Nissara (lossof natural integrity, tone and strength of the tissues), Shitilendriya (impairmentof the integrity of the senses) and Vaivarna (abnormal color orcomplexion of body)8Conceptof ImmunityTheBody Defenses as per modern science is termed as Immunity which can be regardedas resistance to disease. The immunesystem is responsible for defense against all the microorganisms and toxiccells to which individuals are exposed. There are many factors which directly or indirectly affect the immunitye.g.
Genetics, Age, Health, nutrition, stress, Hormones etc. The immune systemis a functional system rather than a system with discrete organs. The parts ofalmost all organs in the body play some role in immunity. Wide spread chemicalmediators, cells and tissues along with their transport via circulatory andlymphatic systems constitute the immune system.9 There aremainly two types of immunity present in body. First one is Nonspecific Immunity an innate reaction thatacts as a general response against all kinds of pathogens without having beenpreviously exposed to it. The examples of non specific immunity are; a.
physical and chemical barriers, b. internal cells and chemicals. Second one is SpecificImmunity an adaptive system that fights specific individual pathogens incustomized and professional ways.Cellsand tissues of the immune system Thecells of the immune system take their origin from precursors in the bonemarrow, after which they circulate in the blood and live in lymphoid organslike lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils along with virtually within all the tissuesof the body.
During the demand they can rapidly migrate to any site ofinfection. Among circulating white blood cells (leukocytes), the majorphagocytes are neutrophils and monocytes. These cells ingest and destroymicrobes, other injurious agents, and one’s own dead and damaged cells.
Neutrophils respond rapidly to foreign stimuli and to injury; their reaction ispart of acute inflammation. When blood monocytes enter tissues, they mature,and are called macrophages. These cells are present under epithelia, inconnective tissues, and in all organs. Macrophages respond more slowly than doneutrophils but for longer times; this reaction is typical of chronicinflammation. Macrophages also help to repair damaged tissue. The mostimportant cells of adaptive immunity are lymphocytes which are catagorised intwo main classes B lymphocyte and T lymphocyte. B lymphocytes (so calledbecause 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 havelearned to live inside cells (where they are inaccessible to antibodies). Thereare two main types of T lymphocytes one is helper T cells which help Blymphocytes to make the most effective antibodies and help macrophages to killingested microbes. The second group of T lymphocyte is called cytotoxic(cytolytic) T lymphocytes (CTLs) which kill infected host cells and thus serveto eliminate reservoirs of infection.
A third, small population of lymphocytesis called “regulatory T cells” because they control immune responses andprevent inappropriate reactions.11 There areseveral other small populations of lymphocytes. In order to get immuneresponses started, foreign substances have to be captured and displayed tolymphocytes. The cells that perform this task of displaying antigens are calledantigen-presenting cells (APCs).12 The bestdefined APCs are specialized type of cells called dendritic cells. ConclusionAs the immune system is a two edgedsword so is the Ojas. Ojas prevent the body from having illness at the sametime it also become responsible for many illnesses if it get vitiated. Soduring diagnosis the state of Ojas should be accessed properly and during treatmentalso Rasayan Dravyas should be administered to maintain Ojas in its optimalstate.
Optimal state of Ojas leads to the maintenance of unctuousquality of body parts, holding body entities together, durability of bodyelements, maintenance of bulk of body, maintenance of sexual vigor and strengthof body.