न तु केवलं गुणप्रभावादेन द्रव्याणि कार्मुकाणि भवन्ति, द्रव्याणि हि द्रव्यप्रभावात्, गुणप्रभावात्, द्रव्यगुणप्रभावाच्च तस्मिंतस्मिन् काले तत्तदधिकरणमासाद्य तां तां च युक्तिमर्थं च तमभिप्रेत्य यत् कुरुवन्ति तत् कर्म, येन कुरुवन्ति तत् वीर्यं यत्र कुरुवन्ति तदधिकरणम्, यदा कुरुवन्ति स कालः, यथा कुरुवन्ति स उपायः, यत् साधयन्ति तत् फलम् । (च.सू. 26th Chapter)           

From the above reference, it is to be understood that a substance when it comes in contact with the body (touch, smelt or ingested) will start acting in its own way thus giving a particular relative effect. This effect is relative to many conditions or environment in which the substance will come in contact within the body after administration.

The concepts of Dravyaguna are 7 in number namely Dravya (Substance), Guna (Properties), Rasa (taste sensation), Veerya (potency or potentiated properties), Vipaka (Metabolites), Prabhava (Antagonistic or Synergetic properties) & Karma (Actions). These 7 concepts are known as SAPTAPADARTHA and form the core concepts through which the explanation of action or KARMA is dependent on. For explaining this it is quite important that we understand the concept of KARMA as per the different philosophies. These philosophies are totally known as the कार्यकारण सिद्धान्त (KARYAKARANA SIDDHANTA).

According to the philosophies, any action or KARYA is a resultant of three factors which are totally known as KARANA. These three factors are समवायी (Samavayi – Inherent), असमवायी (Asamavayi – Non-inherent) and निमित्त (Nimitta – Instrumental). Here also this principle holds good in totality. For any action of the substance to take place, the properties or Guna is a very much pre-requisite. Hence this forms the समवायी (Samavayi – Inherent) cause. If the availability of the property is not there, then the related action is not possible. Then the degree of its potentiation, method of its association with the body, dosage form and dose forms the असमवायी (Asamavayi – Non-inherent) causes. The rest of the causes like the place of action, time of action, the media through which it is administered, personality who has advised or has administered, substance as such, etc form the निमित्त (Nimitta – Instrumental) causes.


Coming to the modality as explained in the reference above is actually after the substance coming in contact of the body. Thus a substance will basically act by virtue of its properties (Gunaprabhava)) or Inherent nature (Dravyaprabhava) or even both. The dependence of action on various factors is evident from the fact that it is not that the properties that determine an action but the quality of the material, the maturity, the combination, the condition of the person who is using it, etc are instrumental in determining an action of the substance. Thus the methodology of action as per Ayurveda is possible by three methods namely –


The modality of action which is generated by the natural and special quality of the substance is to be considered as DRAVYAPRABHAVA. Usually, this action can be specifically attributed to the PRABHAVA of the substance. Here it is to be understood and an action is only generated by a property and not by any substance. Substance is only the one that forms the base for the presence of the properties. As per the definition of the concept of KARMA, it is evident that even though the property is one of the factor that is necessary for the manifestation of Karma but not the only factor. Still, it is the most important and inseparable cause of Karma or action. Hence, the term Dravya prabhava is more explaining the Prabhava of the substance. 

Generally, a substance when ingested has to undergo different stages of digestion followed by absorption and assimilation such that it produces the possible effect on the body. In due course of the process, the substance undergoes a series of reactions and changes both physically and chemically due to which the properties are due to undergo the changes. But at times the inert or innate property of the substance gets potentiated and exhibit a certain action which we term as Prabhava. This is exclusive for the said substance in question. 

Another instance where the nature of substance is to be understood is where the substance has the ability to bypass the normal course of digestion. These are especially medicines as the potentiated properties make them have this exclusive benefit. Here it is the nature of the substance that make it bypass the process of digestion and get itself absorbed. 


The action that is resultant from the properties that exist in the substance namely Rasa, Guna, Veerya and Vipaka are those that are to be considered as GUNA PRABHAVA. The four properties do exert their influence in the respective regions like Rasa in the mouth, Guna on whole body, Veerya in the mouth, skin and whole body while the Vipaka on whole body itself. Among the Panchalaxana of the substance, the four are those which are easily understandable or explainable properties, hence their effects also can be explained too. Thus the actions are considered to be as GUNA PRABHAVA.

It is known that the influence of Rasa is from the region between mouth and throat while the action of Vipaka is when the substance undergoes total transformation from its original form to the assimilable form. This can be in any part of the body which depends on what is the ultimate metabolite that the substance has resulted in. While the Guna and Veerya which aid in the movement and the reaction of these two namely Rasa and Vipaka.  Hence their zone of influence is right from the contact of the substance with the body to the complete assimilable form itself. 


The action that is resultant of the properties that exist in the substance and the special quality of the substance is to be taken as DRAVYA-GUNA PRABHAVA. In this case all the five elements of propeties namely Rasa, Guna, Veerya, Vipaka and Prabhava are responsible in bringing out the action. The action in this case is a resultant of the complete involvement of the properties present in it. Hence it is taken as those actions that have resulted due to DRAVYAGUNA PRABHAVA.

This category of action is having usually a multidimensional as the factors that can get potentiated is much more than the other two. Thus the zone of influence of the substance is not restricted but can be to any extent.


The remaining part of the reference speaks about the general modality of action. Thus, when the substance is selected based on the necessity, environment in which it supposed to act, time factor, user, etc, the administration is done with due consideration of all.


On administration of the substance, it is sure that the substance will undergo a reaction immediately or lately, which is known as KARMA. The reaction may be due to any methodology as described above (Dravyaprabhava, Gunaprabhava or both). As an action is defined as the process of combining and separating from one another in a simultaneous manner, this is obviously happening in a chemical reaction or a physical change. It is a known fact that an action is only possible when there is a presence of the related property. When the property gets potentiated the relative action is possibly initiated. This potentiated property is known as Veerya.


The Veerya refers to all the potentiated properties that exist in the substance and has the capacity to initiate a particular action. Infact every property do have the capability to produce a considerable action, but the effect either becomes dormant or nullified due to the activity of the other opposite property. Hence, the potentiation of property alone cannot produce the required effect. The factors like concentration of the property, reactivity of the property, zones of influence, the intensity, etc play their own roles in bringing out the actions’ effect.

In Ayurveda there are 6 Rasa, 20 Guna, 3 Vipaka, 2 Veerya and Prabhava form the properties present in the substance. As the manifestation of the properties is due to the Panchamahabuta, the properties are also their manifestations itself. Hence, properties of the substance are either the individual properties or those that have resulted due to their combinations in various permutations. This makes clear that Rasa is the indicator of the predominant Mahabhuta in its initial state, Vipaka is the indicator of the predominant Mahabhuta in its final stage of metabolism. The two are due to the combination of two or more Mahabhutas. The Gunas and Veerya are again the properties that are resultant of the dominant Mahabhuta among the five in any stage of its association or change. But as the substance undergoes Vipaka, there is a good chance that the two set’s predominance  may change. Even the formulations that have many ingredients in it will have one ingredient that is predominant and so its properties. The remaining are used to enhance or potentiate the required property while to suppress the others. This refers to two aspects namely the ability of undergo metabolic changes and then react within itself as a part of metabolism and the ability to undergo reaction with the substances that is taken with. The potentiated property also suggests it ability to reach the certain level of concentration in the body especially the blood such that the dose of the substance can produce a substantial effect. This is usually considered as the THRESHOLD CONCENTRATION. The action is very much related to this concentration too.


The region or part of the body where the said activity and the effects are resulted is known as Adhikarana. This may be a single part of the organ, organ as such, organs system or even the whole body. It depends on the substance, properties involved and environment that is responsible for the action to occur. The concept is more towards that of the TARGET ORGAN in modern pharmacology.


Kala or time factor on which the action depends upon. The time factor can be understood to be of three varieties namely Time of administration of the substance, Time the substance stays in the body and the Stage or condition of the disease. Let us discuss about it individually.


The time of adminisitration involves four factors namely age of the individual, seasonal variation, diurnal variation and Aushadha Sevana kala or dosage administration. 

The age plays an important role in ascertaining the dose of the substance but once a person reaches the adult age (18 years) the dose becomes almost stable. This is because the surface area or body area of the person undergo any considerable change. But with age the reactions within the body changes resulting in a substantial influence over the drug action.

The seasonal variation have a greater affect as the changes in the relative temperature and pressure in the environment influences the reactions in the body. This makes one to change the food habits, lifestyle and all other related activities. It also changes our fluid intake, composition of food, etc. Thus when a medicament is introduced into the body, there will be alteration in the reactions which may even result in unwarranted effects. 

The diurnal variation like the seasonal variation too have their influence on the activity of the substance. The variation may be of small or difficult to be observed, but at times its cumulative effect does a very event. 

Lastly the time of dosage administration which is actually in relation to he requirement of the disease and the Doshas that have become vitiated. Even the condition of the disease and the dosage form are important criteria for the planning of the dosage administration.


The presence of the substance in the body is dependent on the ability of the body to metabolise it or the ability of the substance to get metabolised. If the individual has a good appetite, then the body will digest the substance quickly, absorb it and finally metabolise it as per the normal course, but if the appetite is low, then the substance that is given is not digested properly or remains undigested. This makes the substance ineffective and is quickly excreted. But the medicines are of different nature, it bypasses the initial stage of metabolism (Digestion) hence they are readily absorbed into the body. These also have to undergo metabolism through series of biochemical reactions eventually to get excreted. This is known by analysing the concentration in the blood and when it comes to half, the time taken to reach the half concentration is known as Biological Half life Period. 


The stage of a disease can be known by understanding the Pathogenesis or Kriyakala of the disease. These stages of the disease will be indicating the changing environment within the body. Thus analysis of such a situation is necessary to understand as which and when the substance is to be administered to avoid undesired effect and obtain the desired effects. 


All the procedures, methods of administration, dose of medicines, times considered for administration, etc which is planned after due consideration to all the observations and analysis is Upaya. 

A proper planning of the treatment includes proper analysis of the disease and the diseased which gives the clear idea as which medicine is to be administered, when it is to be administered, how it is to be administered, etc. This forms the base for planning of the treatment which is the basis of success.


The final effect o the substance is known as the Upaya. The final effect is only possible when the complete transformation and assimilation of the substance takes place. This is in fact the end past of Vipaka or more specifically Nishtapaka where the substance will undergo complete transformation and looses its original existence. It gets transformed into a part of body tissue or the energy that is being used in the form of fuel to various biochemical reactions in the body. It is this effect that we commonly observe or get exhibited upon which we understand the nature of the substance.

If the effect is as desired and planned then it is due to proper metabolism of the substance while the effect is undesired and opposite to that expected while planning is usually due to improper metabolism that may be harmful to the body. 

A video that explains the pharmacodynamics of  medicine or food as per Ayurveda is being shown below. Let us know your comments regarding it.


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