Dosha Gati: Normal And Abnormal Movements Of Doshas

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Movement of Dosha is called Dosha Gati. All the movements and activities in the body, take place due to Vata. Vata is the key force behind the physiological and pathological movement of body elements. 
पित्तं पङ्गु कफं पङ्गु पङ्गवो मल धातवः।
वायुना यत्र नीयन्ते तत्र गच्छन्ति मेघवत्॥(शा.पू.५/२५) 

‘Pitta, Kapha, Malas (excreta), Dhatus (tissues) are all lame. They don’t have independent movement in the body. They move from one place to the other only when propelled, mobilized or motivated by Vata, just like the clouds move only when pushed by the air’
This movement is called Gati.

Various dimensions of Gati
Gati indicates the below mentioned aspects of doshas –

  • Gati means status of doshas –
    Kshaya (depletion in quality and quantity),
    Sthana (normalcy) and
    Vriddhi (increase)
  • Gati means movement of doshas –
    Urdhwa Gati (upward movement),
    Adho Gati (downward movement) and
    Tiryak Gati (sideward or oblique movement)
  • Gati means the localization of doshas at a point of time –
    Shaka Gati (localization in shakas or tissues),
    Koshta Gati (localization in viscera) and
    Marma-Asthi-Sandhi Gati (localization in vital points of the body, bones and joints of the body)

Prakrita and Vikrita Gatis of doshas
Among these certain Gatis indicate normalcy and the others an abnormal or pathological state. Example, Kshaya, Vriddhi is abnormal conditions or gatis. Similarly when the doshas in normalcy move in upward or downward direction following the direction meant for them, it is Prakrita Gati (normal movements or status) but when they move in the direction abnormal to them, it is called Vikrita Gati (abnormal movement). Vikrita Gati of doshaas causes diseases.

Comparative Gatis of Doshas
All Doshas have Gati limited to their individual permeability and consistency. Vayu will have a wide range of Gati which can displace the body elements with will. When the integrity of other components is lost, they are more ruffled by Vata. Vayu alone has the capacity to pull or push things in the body.

Gati of Vayu
Gati of Vayu is provided by its Chala Guna (quality of movement). Vata Dosha is made up of Vayu and Akasha Mahabhutas (Air and Ether).
This makes Vata all pervading, quickly moving, expansive and invasive. Gati of Vata is usually downwards. When it moves upwards (pratiloma gati) it causes many disorders and disturbs many functions.

Gati of Pitta
Gati of Pitta is provided by its drava (liquid nature) and Sara guna (quality of sliding or slipping). Pitta is made up of Agni and Jala Mahabhutas (Fire and Water elements).
Both fire and water have mobility. Therefore mobility is natural to Pitta but the propulsion should be initially be provided by the Vata Dosha, the guiding force.
For both upward and downward Gati of Pitta, the propulsion by Vata is a must. Gati of Pitta is of moderate type and depends on the intensity of vata.

Pitta is a representative of Agni. Agni is made up of Agni and Jala Mahabhutas. Basically Agni and Pitta are provided a natural buffer in the form of Jala (Kapha dravya). Agni has an upward movement and Jala has downward movement. Therefore Pitta tends to move both in urdhwa and adho gati, of course guided by the direction of Vayu. When aagneya amsha is more it is displaced in upward direction and when Jaleeya amsha is predominant in pitta it is displaced in downward direction.

Gati of Kapha
Gati of Kapha is inhibited by its sthira guna (quality of being stable) but can be movable at times owing to its guru guna (heaviness property which facilitates gravitation). Kapha is made up of Earth and Water elements. Thus owing to the presence of Jala Mahabhuta, Kapha has natural tendency to flow but the Prithvi component provides stability and inhibits free flow. Thus we can tell that Kapha can move but not with ease and freedom. If the jala component of Kapha becomes more than Prithvi component, Kapha loses its stability and tends to flow. Even in this context it needs to be pushed or pulled by Vayu. This condition will anyhow be considered as pathological. Kapha tends to move downwards and depends on the intensity of propelling Vata. Kapha is usually static and its Gati is a timid one.
Read related: Yogavahi: How Vata Dosha Interacts With Pitta And Kapha

Factors responsible for Gati of Doshas
Normal and abnormal movement of doshas take place due to propulsion by Vayu

Dosha movement takes place due to motivation, initiation and propulsion of Vata. When Vayu is vitiated it can cause abnormal movements and displacement of body elements. This is pathological process (Vikrita Gati) and is responsible for many systemic diseases. The vitiated Vayu can displace normal body elements (as it displaces normal pitta from its place in Ashayapakarsha) and also vitiated doshas (as it mobilizes vitiated pitta and kapha from their sites in case of Prasara stage of Kriya Kala).

Abnormal Gati takes place due to relative imbalance of doshas
Doshagati depends on how supporting or antagonistic are the other doshas in respect to the dosha in question.
Example, Normal Pitta cannot be displaced from its site, but when there is associated kapha kshaya (depletion of kapha), Vata displaces normal pitta from its place causing Ashayapakarsha. This will cause pitta related diseases in other sites. Here the Gati of normal pitta as initiated by Vata takes place on the backdrop of kapha depletion.
Though normal pitta is mobilized or displaced from its site, it is a pathological condition. This is because even normal pitta going into the other sites (which are not the sites of pitta but are sites of vata and kapha) can be alien to the other site.
This shows that the body mechanism and action of doshas is mutually dependent, integrated, complimentary and supplementary. We should never think about pathological state of a particular dosha confined to only that dosha, it is always related to what is happening to the other doshas simultaneously i.e. gati of other doshas. We are speaking about relative imbalance.

Abnormal Gati is also due to Sroto Dushti (contamination of channels of the body) –
If the Dosha Gati is uncontrolled things move quicker than desired. The things are either transported or eliminated with quick pace. This is a burden on normal physiology. Example, excessive pumping of blood by heart (as in high blood pressure), diarrhea, menorrhagia, etc are excessive discharges.

Such Gatis are called Ati Pravritti. This is a type of Sroto Dushti (abnormality of channels carrying important elements in the body). Similarly when there is deficit movements, things will be circulated or disposed at slower rate than desired. This causes multiple blocks and undesired stagnation in the body creating pressure symptoms and many disorders. This is called Sanga. Sanga is also a type of Sroto Dushti. Thus Sroto Dushti causes abnormal movements in the body. Abnormal movements are anyhow caused by Vata Vikriti (Vata Vitiation).

Shakha Gati and Koshta Gati –
Doshas have a bi-phasic movement on daily basis; rather it takes place at every moment. Doshas have ashraya-ashrayi sambandha (abode-tenant relationship) with dhatus (tissues).

Dhatus are called Shakas. When they are needed for certain physiological activities, the doshas move from the shaka to koshta (visceral organs). This movement of doshas from shaka to koshta is called Koshta Gati. This is normal. After the completion of the assignment, the doshas move back to their abode i.e. shaka. This is called Shaka Gati. This takes place as a cyclic process.

Shakha Gati can be a dangerous scenario if the doshas go back to shaka and refuse to come back to koshta due to several reasons. In this condition 2 type of abnormal activities can take place.

Since the doshas do not enter the koshta, important functions like digestion etc will be halted. This leads to indigestion and related disorders. At the same time when the doshas remain in the shakas for more than desired time, they tend to damage the tissues leading to several set of disorders. Thus, Shaka and Koshta Gati should be an uninterrupted cycle to keep the body functions to go on smoothly.

Abnormal Gati also includes displacement of dosha subtypes –
The movement of pitta, kapha and other elements of the body are dependent on the propulsion they get from Vata.

This statement is a samanya siddanta (common principle) and applies to the subtypes of pitta and kapha also. Therefore the subtypes of doshas can also have anuloma (downward) and pratiloma (upward) gatis. Vayuna Yatra indicates that the other doshas can be displaced from any place to any other place. This also means that the subtypes of Doshas too can be displaced from their normal sites. When they are displaced from their normal sites, there is a vacancy in that site. The functions normal to the subtype of dosha in that site will be rendered deficit.

No gati is of course possible without the involvement of Vayu as we have seen in the condition of Prasara.

Disturbances occurring due to Pratiloma Gati –
Basically speaking about pratiloma or any pathological state (gati) we can think about the functional abnormalities or imbalances due to the absence of a particular dosha or its subtype in a place which is meant for it to be located. There is deficiency of that dosha or its subtype in that place when it is displaced or dominance of an agantu dosha.

Example when Pitta is displaced from its site (especially digestive zone), and tends to move in upward direction, it causes inflammation in the upper parts of the body like inflammation of nerves causing migraine headache, inflammation of oral mucosa causing stomatitis and gingivitis, inflammation of conjunctiva causing blood-shot eyes etc. Similarly when pitta drips downwards, it causes inflammation in the lower parts of the body like cystitis (inflammation of urinary bladder), proctitis (inflammation of bowel), hemorrhoids, burning urination and defecation etc. At the same time, since pitta has been displaced from its place, the pitta site (intestine and stomach) is devoid of pitta. Here we can find low pitta activities like indigestion. Thus the displaced pitta while causing symptoms of high pitta at some parts where it trespasses, it also causes symptoms of low pitta in its site.

Just Before Finishing –
Dosha Gati is an important aspect of understanding the normal and abnormal course of the doshas in the body, their normal and abnormal behavior, & their natural and altered movements. The knowledge of Dosha Gati is very important for the physician to distinguish between normal and abnormal dosha conditions, to understand the normalcy and pathological state of the system and to plan a comprehensive treatment protocol.
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