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Srotas or srotosharera is a significant and distinct topic in Ayurveda anatomy which in literal means a pathway or channel or a bodily transport system. They carry dhatus and are completely different structures from arteries, veins, lymphatics etc. Each srotas has its own moolasthana or seat or origin, which mostly is organ specific. Srotas are innumerable but most important functional aspects appear in 13 internal srotas mentioned by Acharyas. Even though srotas in literal definition mean channels, but their purpose is far more than just being a transport system. They secrete or ooze as well and have the properties of the dhatu they carry.
When srotas are in healthy state then the formation of dhatu (vital body tissue), mala (excretory product) etc occur physiologically, but when there is dushti or morbidity, these dhatu, mala etc become vitiated and there is disease manifestation. These core concepts play a vital role in ayurvedic diagnosis of any disease which further leads to appropriate treatment.
Srotas word is derived from, “स्रु गतौ “dhatu
Meaning – to secrete, permeate.
The structures or pathways through which materials are secreted and transported are called srotas.
(SKD – 5/467)
Definition | paribhasha
खानि स्रोतांसि| (sush.sha.9.10, dalhan teeka)
Hollow pathways or those which have cavity or “kha” are called as srotas.
मूलात् खादन्तरं देहे प्रसृतं त्वभिवाहि यत् |
स्त्रोतस्तदिति विज्ञेयं सिराधमनिवर्जितम् ||१३| (sush.sha.9.13)
Srotas are those pathways in human body which are distinct from dhamani and sira (which precisely means arteries and veins). Srotas origins from “kha” meaning a hollow cavity and further they branch out in the whole body.
खलु परिणाममापद्यमानानां धातूनामभिवाहीनि भवन्त्ययनार्थेन|| (char.vim.5.3)
Srotases are the internal body transport system which carry dhatu (vital body tissue).
Structure of srotas| swaroop
स्वधातुसमवर्णानि वृत्तस्थूलान्यणूनि च|
स्रोतांसि दीर्घाण्याकृत्या प्रतानसदृशानि च||२५|| (cha.vi.5.25)
The colour of srotas is that of the dhatu which it carries. They are tube like structure, long tendril or stem like in shape.
The srotases which carry rasa dhatu in the body has openings like that of small pores present over lotus stem, meaning they are very sukshma(tiny) and they spread across the srotas. (Asht.hrud.shar.3.46)
Conceptually srotas are innumerable but according to their specific functions they are categorized, also for better understanding.
Strotasa classification as per Acharya Vagbhata
Srotasas are categorised as per opening point of their channels by Acharya Vagbhata as,
|Bahirmukha Srotas (srotasas which has opening externally)||Antarmukha (Srotasas which has opening internally)|
|Nasika(nostrils)- 2||pranavaha srotas -1|
|Karna(ears) - 2||Rasadidhatu vaha srotas - 7|
|Netra(eyes) - 2||Mutravaha – 1|
|Guda marga (Anus) - 1||Swedavaha – 1|
|Mutra marga (Urinary orifice) - 1||Jalavaha – 1|
|Mukha (Oral cavity) - 1||Malavaha – 1|
|Stana (Breasts) - 2 (Females specific)||Annavaha srotas – 1|
|Raktapatha/Yoni (Vegina) -1 (Female specific)|
Strotasa classification as per Acharya Charaka
According to Acharya Charaka the strotasas are of following types. The table also described the causative factors for vitiation of these strotasas which work as disease causing factors for multiple illnesses related to these channels. 
|SROTAS||ORIGIN||CAUSES OF VITIATION|
|Pranavaha srotas||Hriday, mahasrotas (Gastrointestinal system)||Emaciation, kshudhita (excessive hunger), darunata (roughness), suppression of urges|
|Udakavaha srotas||Talu, kloma||Excess heat, ama (a toxic product formed due to imbalanced digestion and metabolims), excess dry food intake, excess alcohol intake.|
|Annavaha srotas||amashaya, vamaparshva||Overeating/excess intake of food, untimely/irregular eating, intake of unwholesome food|
|Rasavaha srotas||hriday, dasha dhamani||Heavy to digest food, cold food/drinks, excessively unctuous/fat rich food, persistent stress or worry|
|Raktavaha srotas||Yakrit,pleeha||vidahi annapana food and drink which cause burning sensation), excess exposure to sun and heat.|
|Mamsavaha srotas||Snayu, tvak||abhishyandi bojan(heavy food), divaswapna(day sleep)|
|Medovaha srotas||Vrikka, vapavahan||avyayam(no exercixe), divaswapna(day sleep), atibhakshana(excessive intake of food).|
|Asthivaha srotas||Medamoolam, jaghanam||ativyayama(excessive exercising), excess intake of vata aggravating food, atisankshobh(jerkful joint movements).|
|Majjavaha srotas||Asthimoola, sandhi||utpeshad, abhighat(injury), viruddha anna sevan(intake of incompatible food).|
|Sukravaha srotas||Vrushana, shefa||akala maithuna (untimely sexual intercourse), faulty surgical procedures, exposure to kshar(alkali), agna karma(cautery).|
|Mutravaha srotas||Basti, vankshana||drinking water, eating during urge of micturition, mutra nigrahat(supressing urge) especially on kshina and kshata(emaciated and in trauma).|
|Purishavaha srotas||Pakvashaya, sthoolaguda||excess eating during indigestion, sandharanat(supressing faecal urge) etc.|
|Swedavaha srotas||Romakupa||ativyayama(excessive exercise), atisantapa(excess heat exposure), excess krodha(anger), bhay(fear) etc.|
#(Moolasthana or origin of the srotas is stated above where in there is mention of body parts like talu, kloma, amashaya etc. These are organs mentioned in Ayurveda anatomy which cannot be explained with reference to modern science organs, thus must be considered as isolated concepts. These can be considered to be roughly equivalent to some organs we know as per modern medicine e.g. yakrit↔Liver, Talu↔palate, Amashaya↔stomach etc.)
Abnormalities of srotas | Srotovaigunya
The condition of srotas which is vulnerable for pathological changes or diseases is termed as srotovaigunya.
The agravated dosha in the body halt at an area where there is srotovaigunya and produce various diseases. (sush. Sutr .24.10)
This srotovaigunya or kha- vaigunya is significant in understanding Ayurvedic pathology. Rasa dhatu which moves all over the body gets obstructed where there is srotovaigunya or abnormality in srotas which in turn leads to disease manifestation. This is explained by a metaphor of rain and clouds, where there is obstruction in clouds there occurs rainfall. (char.chi.15.37)
Thus, srotovaigunya plays a major role in disease manifestation.
General morbidity in srotas| srotodushti
Strotodushti refers to the derrangenement of the functions being performed by that strotas due to some causative factor. It leads to impairment of function of not only that strotas but also the dhatu, upadhatu, dosha and/or mala related to that strotas. When rasavaha strotas is dushta i.e. deranged it will lead to disequilibrium of rasa dhatu, kapha dosha and upadhatus like raja, stanya etc. Therefore understanding of strotodushti is highly essential for any vaidya to establish diagnosis and plan treatment. Srotovaigunyata and srotodushti even though are two different concepts, the existence of sroto vaigunya is mandatory for sroto dushti to occur.
Srotodushti manifests in four ways, (cha.vi.5.24)
1. Atipravrutti (increased activity)- There is increased activity in one or more dhatus or mala etc.
2. Sanga (obstruction) – An obstruction or blockage in any of the srtotas is sanga.
3. Siragranthi (nodule) – new growth or enlargement or thickening in srotas is termed as siragranthi.
4. Vimarga gamana (opposite flow) – leaving its own physiological pathway and flow is known as vimarga gamana.
Reason for manifestation of sroto dushti
When the properties of Ahara (food) and vihara (lifestyle) which are dosha aggravating; and the properties of ahara(food) vihara(lifestyle) which are opposite to the guna or properties of rasa, rakta etc dhatu then it can cause vitiation of channels known as sroto dushti. Acharya Charka has clearly described the signs and symptoms that arise when a particular strotas is affected. These are known as Strotodushti lakshanas. Acharyas Sushruta has put forward the list of signs and symptoms which manifest when a particular strotas is injusred by even some external injury and these are known as Viddha lakshanas or injury signs. Clubbed together these signs represent the clinical manifestations of vitiation of a particular strotas and these are collectively put in table given below.
|SROTAS||VIDDHA LAKSHANA (Acc to Acharya Sushruta)||DUSHTI LAKSHANA (According to Acharya Charaka)|
|Pranavaha||wailing, body bending, stupor, giddiness, shiver.||Painful shallow breath with sound.|
|Annavaha||Colic pain, loss of appetite, vomiting||Indigestion, loss of appetite,|
|Udakavaha||Excessive thirst||Excessive thirst, dryness of mouth|
|Rasavaha||Dryness in general||Heaviness of body, aversion to food, premature ageing, tiredness etc|
|Raktavaha||Black discolouration of body, paleness, burning sensation, haemorrhage||Various skin disorders|
|Mamsavaha||Swelling, muscle atrophy, varicosity||Tonsilitis, certain tumours, piles etc|
|Medavaha||Excessive sweating, dryness of mouth, oiliness of body||Diabetes, excess fat gain etc|
|Purishavaha||Foul smell, matting of intestines||Loose motion, irregular bowel movements, painful movements|
|Artavavaha||Infertility, absence of menstruation, dyspareunia|
|Sukravaha||Impotency, blood discharge with semen||Impotency, congenital abnormalities etc|
|Mutravaha||Retention of urine||Pain while urinating, increased frequency and density.|
|Asthivaha||Teeth and bone pain, nail and body hair abnormality etc|
|Majjavaha||Joint pain, giddiness, certain abscess etc|
|Swedavaha||Excess perspiration or no perspiration at all, burning sensation|
There also is mention of manovaha srotas (The system for transport of mind and emotions) differently while explaining the concept of psychological diseases, dreams et. (char.indr 5.41)
General Management principles of Sroto dushti | srotodushti samanya chikitsa
The treatment of pranavaha, udakavaha, annavaha srotodushti should be done based on treatment principles of shwasa, trushna, amadosha. (char.chik.17)(char.chik.22)
Rasavaha srotodushti should be treated based on treatment principles mentioned in vividha sheetapitiya adhyaya. (char.sutr.28)
In mutravaha, Purishavaha and swedavaha srotodushti, treatment should be done based on treatment principles described in jwara(fever), atisaara (diarrhoea), mutrakrichra(dysuria) chikitsa adhyaya. (char.chik.3) (char.chik.19) (char.chik. 26)
Srotas play a prime role in disease manifestation and understanding accurate Ayurvedic pathology along with other core concepts like dosha, dushya etc. Thus, the fundamental concepts of nidan(diagnosis) and chikitsa(treatment) are based of tridosha, dhatu, srotas etc.
There is often a term used in common language while describing treatment aspects of Ayurveda like “cleansing of channels” or “removing disease from it root”. These terms precisely co relate with subjected srotas and treatment of Sroto dushti.
Concept of srotas do not much have a preventive aspect, but a proper flow of dhatus and appropriate excretion of mala from the body does in a certain way is an indication of fitness.
- Ashtanga Hrudayam (Sharirasthanam Adhyaya 3 Sutra 40-42)
- Charaka Samhita (Vimanasthana Adhyaya 5 Sutra 8-22)
- Ashtanga Hrudayam (Sharirasthanam Adhyaya 3 Sutra 44)
- Sushruta Samhita (Sharirsthana Adhyaya 9 Sutra 12)