What is Prakrati or Constitution?

What is Prakrati or Constitution?

Have you ever wondered why your skin is so different from your friends or family members? We can call it genetics, but today scientists believe that even genes have differential expression in everyone. This means that the same set of genes may produce different results in different individuals.

So, what is the factor that causes such a wide range of variations even in identical twins? According to Ayurveda, there are two planes of existence – the mind and the body. And there are two sets of factors that affect each of these planes. Therefore, prakrati or the constitution is also of two types –

  1. The Mind Type
  2. The Body Type

Manas Prakrati or the Mental Constitution

There are three Gunas, or the three fundamental properties of nature –

  1. Satva (balanced)
  2. Rajas (active)
  3. Tamas (dull/ignorant)  

These three gunas come together to form everything. They are like the three basic fabrics. Mother nature weaves all physical creations with the help of these fabrics.

The mind works like an interface between the soul and the physical world, just like the interface between the user and the computer. Ayurveda says that nature offers us three options for the mind – satvic (balanced), rajasic (active), and tamasic (dull/ignorant).

So you can choose between three types of interface for interacting with the physical world –

  1. A balanced mind
  2. A stimulated/ thrill-loving mind  
  3. A dull/ignorant mind

These three mind types are the basis for Ayurvedic personality types. They further divide into several categories and subcategories to give rise to numerous personality types.

Satvic mind has seven subcategories, rajasic has six and tamasic mind type has three personality types. Let us explore the mind-boggling details of these Ayurvedic personality types in future blogs.

Shariric Prakrati or the Physical Constitution

The guna condenses in form grosser reality and gives rise to the five great elements – space, air (activity), fire (heat), water (cohesive forces), and earth (mass/matter).

These five elements further condense together to form the three doshas. No physical entity can exist without all five elements. However, some elements dominate others. In the case of dosha, the following elements dominate the dosha constitution –

  1. Vata – space + air
  2. Pitta – fire
  3. Kapha – water and earth

These three doshas are unique biophysical energies. They come together to form a sustainable metabolism. However, these doshas have a natural hierarchy in the system. The dominance of a particular dosha in an individual decides the prakrati or the body type of a person.

For example, if a person has pitta dominance in her metabolism, then she will have a pitta prakrati or constitution.

The mental constitution is different and independent of the physical constitution. But, since the dosha also arises from the three gunas, they have certain mental characteristics also.

How is Shariric Prakrati formed?

The prakrati or the body type forms during fertilization. In mother's womb, the predominant dosha at the time of fertilization gives the baby its body type. For example, if vata dosha is dominant during fertilization, the baby will have a vata dominant prakrati.

What are the types of body constitution or Shariric prakrati?

The three primary types of Ayurvedic body constitution are –

  1. Vata dominant
  2. Pitta dominant
  3. Kapha dominant

If two doshas have a predominance, then a person may have a dual prakrati. For example –

  1. Vata pitta
  2. Vata kapha
  3. Pitta kapha
  4. Vata pitta

There is another more elaborate classification with triplet combinations of doshas. Here, the first dosha is dominant, the second dosha exerts a medium impact and the third dosha has the least impact on the overall metabolism. For example –

  1. Vata pitta kapha
  2. Vata kapha pitta
  3. Pitta vata kapha

The healthiest prakrati is Samya or balanced prakrati. In samya prakrati, all dosha are in equal proportion. But, it is a very rare body type. 

  • Samya : Vata=Pitta=Kapha

Other Types of Prakrati

There are many other classifications of prakrati. Some of the interesting ones are –

Bhautika Prakrati

Bhautika Prakrati is based on the dominance of elements in the body. For example –

Parthiva (body with the dominant earth element), Akashiya (body with the dominant space element), etc.

This body type gives a deeper insight than the dosha-based body type.

Jatiniyat Prakrati

Jatiniyat Prakrati depends on the race. For example, negros have better resistance to sunlight-related skin disorders (tanning, sunburn, skin cancer, etc.) compared to Caucasians.

Kulprasakta Prakrati

This prakrati or body type depends on the clan or family. This prakrati brings out crucial information about specific genetic features, disease history, etc.

Kalaniyat Prakrati

This prakrati depends on the time of the day or seasonal impact on the body. For example, early winter leads to an increase in pitta dosha, irrespective of the body type.

Vayaniyat Prakrati

Vaya means "age". This prakrati depends on the aging impact. For example, all people face vata dominance after 60 years of age, irrespective of their body type.

Balaniyat Prakrati

The word bal signifies strength. The general body strength varies from one person to the other depending on the lifestyle and diet. This strength is the basis of Balaniyat Prakrati.

Pratyatmaniyat Prakrati

The word “prati+amta” means “refering to the self". This prakrati signifies that each human being is unique and may have features that are in contrast with all scientific theories.

Ideally, a Vaidya should consider all types of constitutions for a precise diagnosis and accurate treatment.

Take Away

Ayurveda defines prakrati or constitution as the distinct features of an individual. Most people know about the Ayurvedic body types. However, the term prakrati is a vast concept. There are many categories of prakrati. The two primary categories are – the mind type and the body type.

The most used constitution is the dosha-based body type. It is primarily of three types – vata, pitta, and kapha. However, ancient Ayurvedic texts describe many other categories of body type depending on race, region, time, age, etc.

All aspects of prakrati present a comprehensive view of individual metabolism. Prakrati is the basis for accurate diagnosis and treatment in Ayurveda. It is also the foundation for a healthy diet and lifestyle.

In order to fully reap the benefits of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, make sure you "know thy prakrati.".

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