Three Causes of Dis-Ease. Imbalance of Doshas.


Teachers of Ayurveda, particularly David Frawly in his book “Ayurveda and the Mind,” confirm that there are three main causes of disease:

  • Karma – the results and consequences of activities and types of thinking which have taken place in this and previous lives.
  • Excess of Rajas and Tamas – this occurs in the mind and consequently in our life. Some amount of tamas and rajas is necessary to maintain harmony in this world and in our particular body – to perform certain activities, to destroy something useless or to sleep. But the higher our level of personal development, the less tamas and rajas we need. If they exist even slightly in excess of the proper measure, then they become the causes of disease and suffering.
  • Imbalance of doshas – the doshas are the main types of constitution in the human body. Usually imbalance comes as a result of one not living in accordance with the constitution of his type and/or external factors. (We will shortly discuss the doshas further).

These three causes are normally connected with each other. A dosha’s imbalance is usually a result of excess rajas or tamas, which in return reflects deeper karmic disharmony. Therefore, to neutralize the above mentioned factors, Ayurvedic treatment considers three options:

  1. Appropriate therapy for balancing the doshas – it can involve specified lifestyle changes, change of diet, use of herbs, massage with various oils, cleansing procedures, clinical therapy on the imbalanced doshas using opposite energies, etc. We will discuss in a special chapter how to use psychology to balance the doshas.
  2. Neutralization of rajas and tamas – the main methods used on this level in Ayurvedic therapy and yoga are asanas (yogic postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), mantras (sound vibrations), meditation, sattvic diet and lifestyle. Practically this entire book is devoted to this subject;
  3. Minimizing karma or becoming completely free from it – on this level Yoga and Ayurveda recommend pujas (religious rituals and ceremonies), mantras, prayer, serving a spiritual mentor and submitting to the Divine aspect found in all creation. But the prime necessity, without which all the above can even bring harm, is to become unselfish, free of dependence, and most importantly to develop Divine love. It is important to develop a correct philosophical understanding and attitude toward the world and to engage in selfless activity (karma-yoga). Some of the following chapters are devoted to this topic: how to change karma and purify the effects of karma.

These three treatments are used together to varying degrees, depending on the needs of the individual. Regardless of the level of treatment, the mind is the root cause of all disease. Therefore, in a separate chapter, we are going to review the different stages of the mind and how to put the mind in order.


There are three main doshas or types of constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Doshas, like toxins, can accumulate negative emotions, for example: Vata – fear; Pitta – anger; Kapha – dependence. This is very well known by those who study Ayurveda. Vata – dosha is particularly widespread throughout our physical body, because the mind is also under its influence and consists of the same main elements – air and ether.

The problems associated with Vat a are usually psychological – fear, uncertainty, vulnerability and anxiety. Treatment of Vata always consists of a substantial amount of psychology. Because any kind of pain causes Vata imbalance, the treatment of any pain must include a strong anti-Vata component. Stress also tries first of all to imbalance Vata, which is why anti-stress therapies are aimed at reducing Vata.

But the other two doshas also have key components in psychology that cannot be ignored. Each patient has a particular psychological and physical energy, and to develop an effective plan of treatment, it is necessary to examine them. The three gunas are associated with three main psychological factors: rajas manage the ego’s impulses; tamas creates emotional blocks, insensitivity or addictions. The influence of the gunas can complicate the treatments of the doshas because they can produce attitudes in a patient that prevent a treatment from being successful, even in external areas such as diet and herbal therapy.

One way or another, the doshas and gunas should always be looked at as a whole and treated together. An established dosha imbalance always means a certain amount of tamas, which reveals itself as an old injury, pain or weakness. A good Ayurvedic doctor must know how to examine all the conditions to determine which dosha is situated in a sattvic, rajasic or tamasic state. Knowledge of this is the foundation through which one can practice Ayurvedic psychology.

Negative karma mainly occurs as a result of long term imbalance of doshas and gunas within the senses, emotions and mind (pragyaparadha or Buddhi-dosha). It begins from rajas, meaning high-handedness and stubbornness. Also they indicate an excess of tamas, which deprives one of the ability to see, to recognise or change anything. The purpose of Ayurveda is to not only balance the doshas and bring us to sattva, but also to reveal the karmic causes and karmic components (samskaras) concealed in our behavior. Vedic astrology is an important instrument that can help us find the karmic factors that affect us.

Ayurveda allows us to understand the psychology of the doshas and gunas, and how our karma manifests. Our mind plays the most important role; our body is simply the place where disharmony finds its shelter, where it reveals itself and causes disease.

This extract is from «Three Energies» book by Rami Bleckt, PhD