Types of Agni in Ayurveda
The term "Agni" is best represented by biological fire. Agni is vital at physiological and pathological levels. Just as we take food stuffs to feed ourselves for nutrition, the so called digestive fire also require constant feeding so as to carry out various biochemical pathways going on in our body.
Majority of the diseases are outcome of malfunctioning of the "Agni" which rightly has been called as central to health. Agni not only plays vital role in absorption of macro as well as micronutrients, but is destructive to pathogens also. The food that in not properly digested is referred as "Ama" in Ayurveda and it nothing but a toxin or pathogen responsible for array of diseases.
Proper functioning of digestive fire is evident from normal tone of the digestive-system, circulatory-system, strong immunity or resistance against diseases, proper tissue growth, and above all the complexion. This description better deals with physiological significance of Agni.
If digestive fire is not functioning properly, one has poor digestion, languid blood-circulation, poor complexion, low energy levels, flatulence and poor immunity against diseases. Thus promoting proper functioning of the digestive fire is treating the root cause of the diseases, according to Ayurvedic principles.
Types of Agni
- Charaka has described about 13 Agnis (Jatharagni – 1, Bhutagni – 5, Dhatvagni – 7)
- According to Sushruta, five types of Agnis are identified, (Pachakagni, Ranjakagni, Alochakagni, Sadhakagni and Bhrajakagni).
- Vagbhata has described different 18 types (Bhutagnis –5, –Dhatvagnis–7, Dhoshagni – 3 and Malagni–3).
- Sharangadhara has recognized five pittas only (Pachak, Bhrajak, Ranjak, Alochaka and Sadhak)
- Ideology of Bhavamishra is similar to Charaka and Vagbhata
Types of Agni, According to the Function and Site of Action
Agni has been divided into 13 types according to the function and site of action:
- Jatharagni – one Agni present in the stomach and duodenum.
- Bhutagni – five Agni from five basic elements.
- Dhatwagni – seven Agni present, one in each of the seven dhatus (tissues).
Jatharagni is the Agni present in the Jathara. Jathara stands for the stomach and duodenum. As per Ashtanga Hridaya, seat of Jatharagni is grahani (duodenum). The name grahani, as it holds the food for certain amount of time inside the Amashaya (stomach) in order to initiate digestion. The strength of the grahani lies in Agni. When the Agni undergoes malfunctioning, grahani also gets irritated and produces several digestive diseases.
Jatharagni is considered to be the prime because each and every nutrient that one ingests first comes to the stomach and duodenum and is subjected to the action of Jatharagni. Jatharagni plays a key role in digestion of food-stuffs composed of the five basic elements and transforms it for utilization by the respective tissues. Jatharagni separates food material into the sara (essence portion) and kitta (waste products) in the human body.
Jatharagni is also classified into four categories according to its performance of digestion in the human being.
- Vishamagni (Variable): Here the digestive fire is disturbed by vata. Because of variability in vata, there are episodes of alternating cycles of strong appetite with loss of appetite and forgetfulness to consume foods. Gaseous-distension of the abdomen and constipation are striking signs. Cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, enlarged spleen, abdominal tumor, colic, flatulence, wind and eructation are outcome of vishamagni.
- Tikshagni (High): Here the digestive fire is disturbed by pitta. In these cases, agni is usually high and both pitta and agni share same properties. In these cases, immunity against diseases is good. Because of variability in pitta, there are episodes excessive appetites. There are increasing chances of developing diarrhoea, bleeding-diathesis, toxaemia (toxins in the blood), abdominal colic, anemia, burning sensation, diarrhoea, hemorrhage, hemophilia, hepatitis, hepatomegaly, hyperacidity, jaundice, pain, pyuria, sour belching, tuberculosis, urine diseases, vertigo, yellow skin, are outcome of tikshagni.
- Mandagni (Low): Here the digestive fire is disturbed by kapha. Because of variability in kapha, there are episodes of poor appetite, sluggish metabolism and tendency to weight gain despite optimal food consumption. Excessive mucus or phlegm production and congestion are striking features. Blood circulation sin poor and one can easily get attacks of chest congestion to sinusitis. Bronchial asthma, bronchitis, cough, excessive salivation from the mouth, fatigue and nausea are hallmark of mandagni.
- Samagni (Normal): Normal digestive fire is characterized by strong and appealing appetite that is easily satisfied with normal food. Digestive functions are proper there are no episodes of gas, colic and constipation. Samagni is largely responsible for human body nutrition and building strong foundation of seven tissues.
Bhutagni is the one that is present in a basic element, precisely known as, Bhutas. There are five Agnis in each of the five basic elements, namely – Parthiva (earth), Apya (water), Tejas (Agni), Vayavya (vayu) and Nabhasa (akash).
All the seven element tissues of the body contain their own agni to metabolize the nutrients supplied to them through channels of circulation.
- Rasagni present in the Rasa Dhatu
- Raktagni present in the Rakta Dhatu
- Mamsagni present in the Mamsa Dhatu
- Medagni present in the Meda Dhatu
- Asthyagni present in the Asthi Dhatu
- Majjagni present in the Majja Dhatu
- Shukragni present in the Shukra Dhatu