What is Ojas? How To Increase Ojas During Health And Disease? Ayurveda

A reader asks –
I would like to know about the connection between ojas and diabetes from the point of view of the diet, a diabetic person can take in. As I know, Sattvic food is very important for building ojas. But, doesn’t sattvic food in general have a sweet vipaka? If yes, will sweet vipaka affect blood sugar levels? If yes, do diabetics have no way of building up ojas? Please enlighten me on this topic. ”
I haven’t heard such intelligently and diligently formulated question since a very long time. (seriously. No pun intended.) Many thanks for asking this question.  Let us analyze a few factors before we come to a few conclusions. 

Ojas

What is Ojus?

It is a concept explained in Ayurveda at the intersection of physical, mental and spiritual health.
Ojus is a quantifiable liquid in the body, responsible for overall health, energy and liveliness. It is both a mental and physical factor.
It is responsible for
– Health maintenance and health promotion
– Fight disease
– prevent disease

Ojus is the essence part of all the body tissues.
Rasa – nutritious part of food that reaches blood from gut.
Rakta – blood tissue
Mamsa – muscle tissue
Meda – fat tissue
Asthi – bone
Majja – bone marrow
Shukra – reproductive system
Sushruta Sutrasthana 22/19

Though it can be quantified, it can not be seen or compared to any elements in the body. Some compare Ojas to white blood cells. At the best, it can be said as a partial comparison.

Definition of Ojas as per Charaka The one which dwells in the heart and is predominantly white, yellowish and reddish in color is known as Ojas of the body:
If the Ojas is destroyed, the human being will also perish. The form in which the Ojas is produced in the body of the human  beings for the first time has the color of ghee; taste of honey and smell of fried paddy (Laja).
As the bees collect honey from the fruits and flowers, so the Ojas is collected in the body, by the actions, qualities, habits and diet of human being. Reference: Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 17/76 

Heart, the Seat of Ojas:
Reference:  Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 30

The heart is indispensable for all the normal mental and physical activities. In the heart, resides Para Ojas – the superior Ojas, which controls the mind. This is why, the physicians have designated the heart as ‘Hridaya’, ‘Mahat’ and ‘Artha’

Qualities of Ojas –
Snigdha – unctuous, oily
Somatmaka – watery
Shuddha – clear (transparent),
Ishat Lohita Peetakam – slight reddish yellow in colour;

10 qualities of Ojas:
Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 24/31
Guru – heaviness
Sita – cold
Mrudu – softness
Slaksna – smoothness
Bahala – density
Madhura – sweetness
Sthira – Stability
Passanna clearness or leisureliness
Picchila – Sliminess and
Snigdha – unctuousness

Examples:
Say, someone has got pancreatitis. Doctor gives medicines and patient takes it. Ojas is that factor of the body that digests the medicines, takes it to the target organ, and does the healing, with the help of medicines.
A person with good quantity of Ojas is lesser prone to cold, cough, fever etc when compared to another, with lesser Ojas.
A person with good control of mind, who follows stringent Brahmacharya.
A person with good memory and concentration has more Ojas.
A person with spiritual believes and practice has more Ojas.
A person who  eats in limited quantities, who has good control over anger, jealous etc has more Ojus.
A person who exercises and has a well built body has more ojas.

Symptoms of depletion of Ojas:
Depletion of Ojas is explained in three stages: (su su 15/24)
Stage 1: Ojo Visramsa:
Features are –
Sandhi Vishlesha – multiple joint pain, lack of strength in joints
Gatra Sada – fatigue, malaise
Dosha chyavana – increase of Doshas
Kriya Sannirodha – Lack of normal functioning of body

Stage 2: Ojavyapth –
Sthabda gurugatrata – stiffness and heaviness of the body
Vatashopha – edema due to increase of Vata Dosha
Varna bheda – skin discolouration
Glani – fatigue
Tandra – malaise, improper functioning of sense organs.
Nidra – excess sleepiness

Stage 3: Ojokshaya –
Murcha – unconsciousness
Mamsa kshaya – lack of muscle mass
Moha – delusion
Pralapa – irrelevant talk
Marana – death

How to increase Ojas? 
Regular intake of ghee, milk, and such other nutrition rich food.
Yoga, Pranayama, exercises, physical activities.
Mental exercises to improve concentration.
Prayer, Homa, Pooja and such other spiritual practices.
Being pious, righteous.
Medicines like Saraswatarishta

How to improve ojas in a kapha person?
There is a reference stating that Kapha in its normal state, itself acts as Bala (immune power). Kapha person is usually better nourished when compared to Vata or Pitta person. So, his overall body built, nourishment rates are relatively good. Best way for him to improve Ojas is to maintain his Kapha dosha in the right balance. As he is already Kapha body type, he tends to get more Kapha accumulated. He needs to control it. If it goes out of control, it may lead to Kapha disorders like over-nourishment, obesity, respiratory disorders etc. He can control it by
– regular exercise
– Limited diet / diet control.
– Active lifestyle
– Seasonal Vamana Panchakarma treatment (Emesis therapy)
– Use of Tulasi, Long pepper and such other Kapha balancing herbs, which he can chose in consultation with a doctor.

Food and medicine that might decrease Ojas –
Anger, grief, negative attitude
Excessively salty, pungent and bitter diet.
Ayurvedic medicines containing Kshara. Of course Kshara is required in some cases, but intake of such medicine over a long period of time would cause Ojas depletion. (reference: Ashtanga Hridayam)
One who takes very less quantity of food over a long period of time, will have depleted ojas. But that does not mean that over-eating will increase ojas.  Proper quantity of food, that digests easily, neither more nor less, increases ojas.

When Vata and Kapha are decreased then, Pitta causes vitiation of Ojasleading to Glani (debility), Indriya Daurbalya (weakness of sense organs), Trushna (excessive thirst), Murcha (fainting), Kriya kshayam – depleted body functions.-Charaka Sutrasthana 17

High Pitta causes burnout of body tissues -> depletion of body tissues -> ojas depletion

Sattvic food is very important for building Ojas.
Yes. But it applies to a healthy person only. Sattvic refers to light. Tamasik refers to darkness. 
From a spiritual perspective, non veg, fish garlic and onion are considered to be Tamasik. (opposite to Sattvik.) But in few diseases, non veg food / medicines with non veg ingredient, garlic, onion etc are used as medicine. In such a condition, for such a patient, these do help in improving her Ojas.

But, doesn’t sattvic food in general have a sweet vipaka?
Yes. many food that are Sattvic are sweet in nature.

If yes, will sweet vipaka affect blood sugar levels? If yes, do diabetics have no way of building up ojas?
If a food tends to increase ojas, it should always be understood that it does so, only when it is taken in a limited quantity.
It does not mean that the same food in higher quantities will improve Ojas. Any type of food in more quantity than required tends to vitiate Tridosha and the disease process. It becomes more a cause for disease, than cause for health (or ojus).

In diabetes, which is a disease condition as per Ayurveda, herbs like Guduchi, Neem, Triphala etc are Sattvic. They help to improve Ojas. So, a diabetic person can improve ojas by taking many such herbs. Amla is another great food ingredient for diabetic people to increase Ojas. Many of Ayurvedic formulations like Mehari Choornam, Nishamalaki Choornam etc contain Amla as the main ingredient. So, apart from promoting health and immunity, Amla also helps control blood sugar levels.

Like I said before, Ojas is the essence of all the body tissues. So, exercise would improve muscle and body strength and will also cause increase of Ojas.

Hence, exercise is an excellent means to improve Ojas for a diabetic patient.

Cause for decrease of Ojas 
Ojas undergoes decrease in quantity by anger, hunger (starvation), worry, grief, exertion.
Too much exercise
Fasting for long periods of time
Eating less quantities of food
Intake of alcoholic beverages which cause dryness,
Intake of mixture of good and bad foods,
Fear
Waking up at night, skipping night sleep,
Injury,
Assault by evil spirits; micro organisms like bacteria, virus etc,
Depletion of tissues such as by haemorrhage,
Too much of elimination of Kapha,blood, semen and waste products,
Ingestion of  poison.

Increase of Ojas makes for contentment, nourishment of the body and increase of strength.

Symptoms of Ojas decrease –
The person becomes fretful, fear complex,
debilitated, constant weakness,
repeatedly worries without any reason, feels discomfort in sense organs, develops bad complexion, negative thoughts and dryness;
Vyathita Indriya – affliction of sense organs with pain,
Dushchaya – loss of complexion,
Durmana -cheerless, depressed mood,
Rooksha – dryness, roughness and
Kshaama – emaciation.

Another reader asks – Home remedy to improve ojas for Vata Pitta person?
For Vata Pitta person, there is nothing better than ghee to increase Ojas. As per Ayurveda, cow ghee balances Vata and Pitta and it also improves Ojas. So, for people with such body type, regular (but limited) use of ghee in diet is recommended. Amla is also good to control Vata and Pitta.

Ojas and its importance:
It is the Ojas which keeps all the living begins nourished and refreshed.
There can be no life without Ojas.
Ojas marks the beginning of the formation of embryo. It is the nourishing fluid from the embryo. It enters the heart right at the stage of the embryo’s initial formation.
Loss of Ojas amounts to the loss of life itself.
It sustains the life and is located in the heart.
It constitutes the essence of all the Dhatus (tissues).
The Elan Vital owes its existence to it. But all this action of Ojas manifests itself in different ways, by flowing through the 10 vessels (channels) attached to it. Hence, these 10 channels attached to the heart is also very important.

Tips for preservation of Ojas:
Those who want to preserve Ojas and maintain heart and the vessels in good condition, should avoid such factors that lead to unhappiness (worries, stress).
Diets and medicine which are conducive to the heart (Hrudya) should be taken.
The herbs that maintain good health of Srotas (body channels) should be taken.

Healthy Kapha = Ojas

  • The Kapha in its nature state promotes strength in the form of Ojas.
  • When in morbid condition, it takes the form of excreta and causes misery. –
  • Charaka Sutrasthana 17/117

Kapha Dosha qualities that are similar to Ojas 

  • Cushioning
  • Structure
  • Stability
  • Compactness
  • Heaviness
  • Shleshma – Shlish Alingane – which binds, hugs, which brings stability
  • Nourishing
  • Bulk of the body is formed due to Kapha Dosha.

Place of Ojas and place of Kapha

  • Heart is the place of Ojas.
  • Ura sthana – heart and lungs area is said to be the place of Kapha.
  • Avalambaka type of Kapha resides in heart. It keeps the heart stable despite the continuous and heavy workload of the heart.
  • Kapha forms the stratum or base upon which, Vata does division and movements, Pitta does metabolism

Heart is the place of Ojas
The heart is indispensable for all the normal mental and physical activities. In the heart, resides Para Ojas – the superior Ojas, which controls the mind. This is why, the physicians have designated the heart as ‘Hridaya’, ‘Mahat’ and ‘Artha – Charaka Sutrasthana 30/6-7

Types of Ojas

  • Ojas is said to be of two types.

Para Ojas

  • greater importance, life is dependant on it
  • stable component,
  • 8 drops in quantity
  • Resides in heart

Apara Ojas

  • Lesser importance, health is dependant on it
  • Mobile component
  • Ardha Anjali  Pramana – volume of a fist ( 10 -15ml)
  • Circulates all over the body

Formation of Ojas
The one which dwells in the heart and is predominantly white, yellowish and reddish in color is known as Ojas of the body:
If the Ojas is destroyed, the human being will also perish.
Ojas is the first thing formed in the body. Charaka Sutra 30/74-75

Ojus has
–color of ghee;
–taste of honey and
–smell of fried paddy (Laja).

Simile for Ojus formation
As the bees collect honey from the fruits and flowers, so the Ojas is collected in the body, by the actions, qualities, habits and diet of human being. Cha. Su. 30

Ojas and its importance:

  • It is the Ojas which keeps all the living begins nourished and refreshed.
    There can be no life without Ojas.
    Ojas marks the beginning of the formation of embryo.
  • It is the nourishing fluid from the embryo. It enters the heart right at the stage of the embryo’s initial formation.
  • Loss of Ojas amounts to the loss of life itself.
    It sustains the life and is located in the heart.
    It constitutes the essence of all the Dhatus (tissues).
  • The Prana – vital energy owes its existence to Ojas.
  • But all this action of Ojas manifests itself in different ways, by flowing through the 10 vessels (channels) attached to heart. – Cha. su. 30

Factors responsible for Ojas
1. Food -प्राणिनां पुनर्मूलमाहारो बलवर्णौजसां च |Su.Su.1
Food is the root cause for
–Bala – strength, immunity
–Varna – skin complexion, aura
–Ojas
Food is the reason for well being of all body tissues.
Ojas = essence of all body tissues.
Inadequate food or low quality food = low body tissues = low Ojas

2. Shukra dhatu = reproductive system + hormones, semen, ovum
Some authors consider Ojas as Upadhatu (sub product of Shukra Dhatu.
Hence, Brahmacharya, disciplined lifestyle lead to better concentration, better utilization of energy -> better quality of Ojas.

3. Rasa Dhatu – nutritive part of food that enters blood stream from digestive tract.
Rasa dhatu further nourishes all the other Dhatus.
If Rasa Dhatu is of bad quality, then all the other Dhatus will be hampered.
Low quality Dhatus (tissues) =low quality ojas.

4. Rakta –blood is known as Jeeva – cause for life.
The function of Rakta is told as Jeevana – living.
It forms the base for white blood cells, which are the back bone for immunity.

5. Medo Dhatu
The flow of nutrition across Dhatus –
Rasa -> rakta(blood) -> mamsa (muscle tissue) -> Meda (fat) -> Asthi (bone) ->Majja (bone marrow) -> Shukra
(reproductive system).
If Medodhatu is over nourished, then there will be obstruction of flow of nutrition to successive Dhatus.
This will lead to low quality bone, marrow and shukra -> low quality Ojas.

6. Agni – digestion strength and Pitta
Proper agni -> proper digestion and effective extraction and absorption of nutrition from food by the body.
-> good nourishment of all the body tissues
-> good ojas.
Hence, regular use of turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, etc spices is very useful.

7. Vata Dosha:
Pranavata – good respiration – good amount of oxygen supply-> good quality of organs
Apana Vata – good excretion process –good healthy maintenance of body organs. = good ojas.

8. Mamsa – muscle tissue
Good quality muscle maintenance with good exercise and healthy food choices -> good controlled fat tissue -> uniform distribution of nutrition across all Dhatus
(nutrition will not be struck at medodhatu (fat tissue)
Hence, regular exercise also contributes to good Ojas.
Excessive exercise is not healthy, as only the muscle tissue will be over nourished, depriving nutrition to other tissues.

Qualities of substances that promote ojas
1. Ushna – hotness
Useful when there is low digestion and metabolism (Low agni).
Low Agni = low quality dhatu = low quality ojas
Hence, spices in moderate quantities lead to good ojas.

2. Heaviness and bulkiness –
Suggests toward strong and sturdy body tissues
Hence, good amounts of ghee, fats and oils promote ojas.

3. Mind calming substances and activities
Prasanna is a quality of Ojas.
Pranayama, Yoga,
Loveful relationship,
Disciplined life and relationship
Control and restraint over excessive sexual urge
Compassion towards fellow living beings (may all be happy and prosperous)
Positive attitude (yes, I will win)
All these are very necessary for a good immunity.
Worrying, negative mindset, depression -> lack of ojas -> lack of immunity

Ayurvedic medicines to increase Ojas:
Rasayana – rejuvenating, anti ageing medicines
Their main purpose is to restore proper utilization of nutrition from body tissues. Chyawanprash
Improves Agni – digestion strength
Has wide range of herbs to support all body tissues.
Brahma Rasayana, Amalaka rasayana
Guduchi – Giloy – Tinospora cordifolia,
Amla – Indian gooseberry
Ashwagandha – Indian ginseng – Withania somnifera,
Shatavari – Asparagus racemosus
Triphala

Vata balancing, nerve strengthening medicines
Ashwagandharishta
Balarishta
Ashwagandhadi lehyam
Ksheerabala taila
Balaswagandhadi taila
Maharaja Prasarini taila

Aphrodisiacs – Shukra Dhatu promoting
Shilajit
Ashwagandharishta
Mahakalyanaka ghrita
Bhringarajasava
Kaunch Pak

Mind calming medicines, anti depressants
Maha Kalyanaka Ghrita, Brahmi Ghrita
Saraswata Churna, Saraswatarishta
Brahmi Vati, Manasamitra vatakam

Fat reducing medicines (anti obesity medicines)
Ayaskriti, Medohara Guggulu,
Navaka Guggulu
Triphala Guggulu
Disease specific treatment and medicines
Restores normalcy of Dhatus = restoration of ojas.

As I understood, Ojas not physical part that resides in body? not visible? how modern medicine called ojas?
Ojas – conceptual entity. It is related with immunity.
So, as per modern, there is no one thing, which can be totally compared to ojas.
But healthy nutrition, good state of mind and good state of immunity – all the contributing factors to these = ojas.

What is the impact of someone having gastric bypass to deal with obesity..is ojas improved or diminished?
Obese person – only fat tissue sucks up all the nutrition and deprives nutrition to other tissues (Dhatu) -> depleted tissues -> depleted Ojas.
Even after gastric bypass, there is still threat of stomach regaining its large shape.
To eat healthy, less fat foods, good amount of exercise -> good Ojas
Any treatment / surgery / medicine – that restores health and boosts immunity -> promotes ojas.

When u say sweet is required to increase ojas, what  sweets its mean?
Like sugar or
jaggery or honey or other sweets?
Sweetness is a quality of Ojas. (1 among 10 qualities).
Hence, the food that are sweet, such as sugar candy, jaggery, honey, ghee, milk – all these contribute to good ojas in a healthy individual
Sweet has nourishing quality – nourishes all tissues – > good ojas.

Contributed by Dr Raghuram:
Ojus is a dhatu or upadhatu?
Ojus is the essence of all the dhatus and is formed after the Shukra. Ojus having all the essential ingredients and essence of all the tissues embedded in it represents the gross immunity of an individual. If all the dhatus are balanced in terms of quality and quantity, the ojas too will be formed and balanced in a good way. The salient features like vigor, vitality, charm and intelligence of an individual are based on this ojus.

Being primarily located in the hridaya or heart, it is spread out all over the body through circulation and maintains the health and integrity of the body. If ojus is stable we live and if it is unstable it leads to death.

Ojus is not a dhatu because though it satisfies the criteria of shareera dharana (formation and maintenance of the body), it doesn’t nourish any other dhatu (which is fulfilled by all the dhatus).

Ojus is also not an upadhatu because it is not nourished by any single dhatu (as happens in all upadhatus). In fact, ojus is the essence or extract of all the dhatus and carries in it traces of all the dhatus. It is a sum average of all the dhatus. Some authors though have considered ojus as a sub-tissue or upadhatu of shukra or semen.


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Comments

  1. happyguy77 says:

    Thank You, Dr. Hebbar for a very informative article on such a crucial subject which is the essence of health.

    Your analysis about ojas, who typically has more ojas and who has less ojas, makes sense. We come across some such people in our families, friends or at office. It is also good to know about the herbs for increasing ojas in diabetics.

    I’m sure people will find it helpful. Thanks.

    Best wishes….

  2. A very informative article. How to improve oja’s in a kapha person and also a person who is suffering from cancer?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      A very good question.
      There is a reference stating that Kapha in its normal state, itself acts as Bala (immune power). Kapha person is usually better nourished when compared to Vata or Pitta person. So, his overall body built, nourishment rates are relatively good. Best way for him to improve Ojas is to maintain his Kapha dosha in the right balance. As he is already Kapha body type, he tends to get more Kapha accumulated. He needs to control it. If it goes out of control, it may lead to Kapha disorders like over-nourishment, obesity, respiratory disorders etc. He can control it by
      – regular exercise
      – Limited diet / diet control.
      – Active lifestyle
      – Seasonal Vamana Panchakarma treatment (Emesis therapy)
      – Use of Tulasi, Long pepper and such other Kapha balancing herbs, which he can chose in consultation with a doctor.

      For a cancer patient,
      Things have already gone quite out of control in him and disease process has set in. In him, measures to improve immunity with product like Brahma Rasayana along with specific treatment to cancer can be of some use to improve Ojas.
      Stress is a known cause of cancer. Hence, as a preventive measure to stress needs to be retaliated in healthy individuals with massage, anti oxidant therapy, Pranayama, meditation etc.
      Read more about cancer prevention here – http://easyayurveda.com/2011/12/09/improving-lifestyle-habits-is-very-important-to-prevent-cancer/
      Hope it helps. 🙂

  3. patricia chandrashekhar says:

    Interesting and informative article. could you explain about kshara? what is it? thanks.

  4. Subhash Chandra Khirbat says:

    It added to my knowledge about OJUS. Eight years back I have been regular reader of NIROG DHAM magzine. Many thanks.

  5. Thank you for all this wonderful info. Cow ghee balances vata and improves ojas. I have good appetite. How can ghee help put on weight? Like 15 lbs? Is one tsp with milk enough? I also read worry causes emaciation. Can you explain Dr Hebbar please.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      One teaspoon with hot milk in the morning would help.
      Worry just takes away the ability of gut to absorb nutrients, hence emaciation.

  6. Very interesting information,ojas,is the energy,which keeps us moving,we also call it as the vitamins in our body,isn’t it?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Comparing it to vitamin does not seem appropriate to me. It is best to avoid comparing it to any chemical in the body and let us try to understand it purely on the basis of explanation available in our ancient scriptures.

  7. Thanks for such an informative article dr Hebbar. Does only cow ghee increase ojas or buffalo ghee also is ok ? Does taking one teaspoon cow ghee in milk has risk of increasing body weight ? Does chyawanprash increase ojas ? Is it true that ojas is stored in heart and brain too as I think somewhere in a yoga book it was mentioned but am not sure ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, thanks for the question.
      Cow ghee is preferred over buffalo ghee as per Ayurveda. But, if cow ghee is not available, then buffalo ghee is useful to improve Ojas.
      If the person is already obese, then taking milk + ghee may increase body weight. In obese person, the correction of fat tissue with exercise, use of Ayurvedic herbs such as guggulu, Triphala etc is recommended to improve Ojas.

      Chyawanprash increases Ojas, yes.
      There are two types of Ojas explained in Ayurveda. Para Ojas – more sacred and powerful – it resides in Hrudaya (heart / brain).
      Apara Ojas – secondary – circulates allover the body.

  8. Can taking aphrodisiac such as Ashwagandha lead to increase in Ojus. Is there any side effect of using Ashwagandha for a long time?
    Is kapalbhati effective in increasing Ojus?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      1. Yes. Ashwagandha increases Ojas.
      2. No side effects for long term, if the dose is on the minimal side – not more than 3 – 5 grams per day.
      3. Yes.

  9. Thank you for your article! Could you, please, give me the proper Sanskrit pronunciation of the terms “oja” and also “Teja” ? I have encountered both in many ayurvedic texts and have no idea how to properly pronounce them. Thanks for your help!

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Oja – O – as in owl
      Ja – as in January

      Teja –
      te – as in Thailand (with less stress on “i” of Thailand )
      Ja as in January.
      Hope it helps.

      • Thank you, that was very helpful! I am so glad that I won’t have to fear that I’m botching up those two terms, lol…. maybe now a few more left to go! I really like Sanskrit, and of course, Ayurveda! Namasté!

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