The origin of the word वीर्य “VEERYA” is derived from the phrase “वीर विक्रान्तौ” which means that the one that is highly potent or powerful. It is generally equated to the phrase “POTENCY” that is expressed in Modern Pharmacology. It is this potency or potentiated property that propels the substance to act in the most optimum way at a given instance. In modern pharmacology, the word Potency is defined as “A measure of drug activity expressed in terms of the amount required to produce an effect of given intensity” (Wikipedia). Higher will be the potency will mean greater is the ability to show the desired or undesired affect. The definition is in line with the explanation for the word “Veerya” too.
वीरयते विक्रान्तः कर्मसमर्थो भवति अनेन इति वीर्यम् । (द. गु. वि)
वीर विक्रान्तौ । (द्र. मै. सि)
वीर्यं शक्तिः सा च पृथिव्यादीनां भूतानां यः सारभागस्तदतिशयरूपा बोध्या । (शिवदास् सेन्)
The property of the substance that will give the ability to produce an action in a more efficient manner producing a desired or undesired effect is VEERYA.
As per Shivadas sen, this property of the substance is the general property manifested by the Pritvi, etc 5 Mahabhutas but are potentiated as they are the essence and predominant property among the others resulted due to the combination.
वीर्यं तु क्रियते येन या क्रिया । ना वीर्यं कुरुते किञ्चित् सर्वा वीर्य कृता क्रियाः । (च.सू. 26)
गुर्वाद्या वीर्यमुच्यनचन्ते शक्तिमन्तोऽन्यथा गुणाः । पर सामर्थ्य हीनत्वात् गुणा एवेतरे गुणाः ।। (अ.स.सू. 17)
The property of the substance that have the ability to bring about an action on the body that result in a particular effect. It is actually these potentiated properties that produce the activity of the substance as per Charaka.
Now this property Veerya is none other than properties that are generally considered as गुर्वादि गुण (Gurvadi) itself. But when the same properties become prominent which is mainly due to being potentiated easily is said as वीर्य (Veerya) as per Vagbhata.
Based on the philosophical references and the references from the classical Ayurvedic texts it can be noted that the concept of VEERYA is expressed in two manners namely ASTAVIDHA VEERYA & DWIVIDHA VEERYA. Both the varieties are the derivatives from the concept of GUNA or property itself. It can further be observed that the Astavidha Veerya can be simplified into the Dwividha Veerya also. They can be enumerated as below:
The classification of Veerya is in two methods and is named on the basis of the number of properties that are considered under it. They are
- द्विविध वीर्य – Refers to the group that includes two properties in it namely Sheeta and Ushna
- अष्टविध वीर्य – This refers to the group that posses 8 properties in it namely Guru, Laghu, Sheeta, Ushna, Mridu, Teekshna, Snigdha and Ruksha
The two sets of the Veerya or potency are nothing but an extension of the other. In other words, the अष्टविध वीर्य (Astavidha Veerya) is an extension of द्विविध वीर्य (Dwividha Veerya) itself. The अष्टविध वीर्य (Astavidha Veerya) is composed of those properties named in the category of गुर्वादि (Gurvadi) properties that are useful and result in the production of considerable effects. But in general practice it is द्विविध वीर्य (Dwividha Veerya) that is commonly used.
The set of those properties which are 2 in number is द्विविध वीर्य (Dwividha Veerya). The two properties are शीत (Sheeta) and उष्ण (Ushna). These two properties are considered as the potentiated ones based on the reason that among the five Mahabhuta (पञ्चमहाभूत), the two namely अग्नि & सोम (Agni & Soma) are those which exert the pressure and influence on the creation. The influence is so much that it is the effect of the two are seen everywhere and masks the presence and effect of the other three Mahabhuta. This makes one feel that the creation is due to the influence of these two Mahabhuta itself. Even in the process of reproduction, it is the शुक्र (Shukra) representing the सोम and आर्तव (Artava) representing the अग्नि that take part which also ascertains the involvement of only two factors. Even the effect of the seasons are seen to be either hot or cold which represents the properties of अग्नि (Agni) and सोम or जल (Soma or Jala). Finally even among the त्रिदोष (Tridosha) the पित्त and कफ (Pitta and Kapha) are representatives of the two while the वात (Vata) assumes the property which which it gets associated with. Hence, as the influence of the two properties namely उष्ण & शीत are the two properties that influence the body, environment, genesis and the whole creation, their signature properties namely उष्ण (Ushna) and शीत (Sheeta) are to be considered as Veerya.
This group consists of 8 properties namely गुरु (Guru), लघु (Laghu), शीत (Sheeta), उष्ण (Ushna), मृदु (Mridu), तीक्ष्ण (Teekshna), स्निग्ध (Snigdha) and रूक्ष (Ruksha). The scholars belonging to the Dhanvantari School namely Sushruta and Dalhana have considered पिच्छिल (Picchila) and विशद (Vishada) instead of Guru and laghu which may be due to their similarity in the effect. The consideration of these 8 properties belonging to the category of Gurvadi guna as Veerya is due to the following criteria namely –
- Effectiveness – The 8 properties are highly effective and efficient to produce a considerable and notable effect on the body. Their effect is long lasting and doesn’t undergo any change under any circumstances even during digestion. It lasts till the substance gets completely metabolised.
- Power of action – The 8 properties are highly potentiated to produce an action and its relative effect than any other properties present in the substance.
- Familiarity – Due to its continuous manifestation, these properties are highly familiar and easily understood by all.
- Frequency – The properties are being commonly noticed and exerts influence in many substances leading to high frequency of presence.
- Utility – As the properties that are considered are more useful as they are highly manifested and very familiar.
- Dominance – Due to the earlier mentioned criteria, it is obvious that these properties are more dominant than the rest of those present in the substance.