Astanga Hridaya Sutrasthan (Rasabhediyam Adhyaya)


The Rasabhediyam adhyaya is the 10th chapter of sutrasthan of the text book or Samhinta astang hrudaya. Rasabhediam word made up of two words Rasa and bheda. Rasa means taste and Bheda means types. This chapter discusses in detail concerning the types of tastes and their properties.

Introduction-

Rasa in Ayurveda means the particular sense object, which is perceived by the tongue (rasanendriya), is called rasa.

There are six types of tastes (Rasa) mentioned-

  1. Madhura(Sweet)
  2. Amla(Sour)
  3. Lavaṇa(Salty)
  4. Kaṭu(Hot)
  5. Tikta(Bitter)
  6. Kaṣaya(Astringent).

Origin of taste- Rasa Utpatti-:

Mahabhautik status of Rasas –The tastes is formed due to the combination of two Bhutas (primary elements).

RASA                                                 ACTIVATED MAHABHUTAS

Madhura (sweet)                             Prithvi + Ap (earth + water)

Amla (sour)                                       Tejas + Ap (fire + water)

Lavana (salt)                                     Ap + Tejas (water + fire)

Tikta (bitter)                                     Akasa + Vayu (ether + air)

Katu (pungent)                                 Tejas + Vayu (Fire and air)

Kashaya (astringent)                       Prithvi + Vayu (earth + air)

Rasa Lakshana (Characteristics of tastes)—

  1. Madhura/ Swadu (sweet)-

Madhura rasa is perspicuous by its sticking property in the oral cavity, providing a feeling of contentment and pleasure to the body and delight to the sense organs. It is also liked by ants.

  1. Amla (sour)-

Amla (sour) Rasa makes the mouth watery, causes tingling sensation of the teeth, horripilation and leads to closing of the eyes and brows. Amla rasa improves taste of food, digestion strength and nourishes the body.

  1. Lavana (salt)- 

Lavana rasa makes more moisten the mouth (increase salivation) and cause burning sensation in the   throat and cheeks. Salt aids in digestion and causes scarping effect, excision effect.it improves taste of food and digestion strength.

  1. Tikta (bitter)-

Tikta rasa means bitter, it cleanses the mouth and destroys the organs of taste (makes perception of other tastes impossible). This flavour is a therapeutic boon. It is disliked by many but has many therapeutic properties.

  1. Katu (pungent)- 

Katu rasa is found in spicy foods. It  stimulates the tip of the tongue, brings out secretions from the eyes, nose and mouth and also causes irritation ,burning sensation of the cheeks.

  1. Kashaya (astringent)- 

Kashaya rasa make inactive the tongue (diminishes capacity of taste perception) and causes obstructions of the passage in the throat.

 Rasa Karma (function of taste) –

  1. Madhura 

Rasa – Sweet taste being habituated since birth. It produces greater strength in the body tissues. It is more liked by children.it is also good for the aged, the wounded, the emaciated, improves skin complexion, hairs, strength of sense organs and Ojas (essence of the tissues, immunity). Sweet taste causes predominance of the body, good for the throat, increases breast milk, unites fractured bones. It is unctuous, mitigates Pitta, Vata and Visha (poison).

Excessive use of sweat taste cause many diseases arising from fat and Kapha, obesity, Asthma, unconsciousness, diabetes, enlargements of glands of the neck, malignant tumour (cancer) and such others.

 2. Amla (sour)-

Sour taste increase the digestive activity (stimulates the Agni). It is also good for heart ,great appetizer,hot in potency but cold in touch (coolant on external applications, relieves burning sensation), Sour taste satiates, causes moistening, it is easily digest because of laghu gunaa, causes aggravation of Kapha, Pitta and Asra (blood) and makes the inactive Vata move downwards.

If Sour taste used in excess, causes looseness of the body, blindness, giddiness, loss of strength,  itching (irritation), pallor (whitish yellow discoloration as in anaemia), Visarpa – Herpes, spreading skin disease, swellings, Visphota (small pox), thirst and fevers.

  1. Lavana (Salt)-

Lavana rasa gives relieve in rigidity, clears the obstructions of the channels and pores, increases digestive fire, lubricates, causes sweating, penetrates deep into the tissues, improves taste of the food.

By over use, it causes vitiation of Asra (blood) and Vata. It is causes baldness, graying of hair, wrinkles of the skin, thirst, skin diseases, effect of poison, Visarpa – Herpes, spreading skin disease and decrease of strength of the body.

  1. Tikta (Bitter)-

Bitter taste by itself is not tasty, but it cures anorexia (aruchi), worms, thirst, poison, many skin problems, loss of consciousness, fever, nausea, burning sensations; Bitter mitigates Pitta and Kapha doshas, dries up moisture, fat, muscle-fat marrow, faeces and urine. It is easy to digest. Increases intelligence, dry (causes dryness), cleanses breast milk, and throat.

Excessive use of bitter taste causes depletion of Dhatus (tissues) and diseases of Vata origin.

  1. Katu Rasa Karma –

Pungent cures diseases of throat, allergic rashes, leprosy and other skin diseases, Alasaka (a kind of indigestion), swelling (odema); reduces the swelling of the ulcers. Pungent taste increases digestive fire, improves taste, Shodhana (cleansing, eliminates the Dosas), dries up moisture of the food, breaks up hard masses, dilates (expands) the channels and balances Kapha.

Used in excess, it causes thirst (trushna), depletion of Sukra dhatu (reproductive element, sperm) and strength, fainting (loss of consciousness) contractures, tremors and pain in the waist, back etc.

  1. Kashaya (astringent)-

Astringent balances Pitta and Kapha, it is not easily digestible; cleanses the blood, causes squeezing and healing of ulcers (wounds), dries up the moisture and fat, intrupt the digestion of undigested food. Astringent taste is water absorbent, thus causing constipation; drying the skin too much.

By over use, it causes stasis of food without digestion, flatulence, pain in the heart region, thirst, emaciation, loss of virility, obstruction of the channels and constipation.

Tastes and potency:

  1. Hot Potency/Ushna Veerya-

Katu (pungent), Amla (sour), Lavana (salt) are hot in potency, each one more so in their succeeding order;

  1. Cold Potency/Sheet Veerya –

Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent) and Madhura (sweet) are cold in potency, each one more so in their succeeding order.

Properties of Taste (Rasa):

 Ruksha Gunaa-  Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent) and Kashaya (astringent) are dry and cause constipation (each one more so in their succeeding order)

 Snigdha Gunna-  Patu (salt), Amla (sour), Madhura (sweet) are unctuous and help elimination of faeces, urine and flatus, each one more so in their succeeding order.

 Guru Gunaa -lavana  (salt), Kashaya (astringent) and Madhura (sweet) are heavy to digest, each one more so in their succeeding order.

 Laghu Gunaa-   Amla (sour), Katu (pungent) and Tikta (bitter) are easy to digest, each one more so in their succeeding order.

Number of combination of tastes (Rasa Samyoga Samkhya)-

The combination of tastes will be fifty seven, but their actual counting will be sixty three, on the basis of their usage (in daily routine of selection of drugs, planning of therapies etc.)

Each taste separately = 6

Combination of 2 tastes = 15

Combination of 3 tastes =20

Combination of 4 tastes = 15

Combination of 5 tastes=6

Combination of 6 tastes =1

These are to be selected and used after considering the conditions of the Doshas, drugs and therapies.