The term Ojas in Ayurveda indicates a body fluid which is the purest form of all the dhatus supporting body. Ojas performs the function of health promotion, disease prevention and overall well-being of body-mind system. The term Ojas literally means luster, energy, strength, power or vitality. Thus all these bodily aspects are controlled by the body fluid known as Ojas. It is believed to be the essence of all the body tissues identified as 7 dhatus that perform various functions in a human body. Thus the visible outcomes of actions performed by Ojas like strength, luster etc are believed to be the indications for overall strength of body tissues.
Definition of Ojas
Ayurveda acharyas have defined Ojas as follows,
तत्र रसादीनां शुक्रान्तानां धातूनां यत् परं तेजस्तत् खल्वोजस्तदेव बलमित्युच्यते, स्वशास्त्रसिद्धान्तात् || (Sush Samh Su 15/19)
Meaning: Ojas is the purest essence of all 7 dhatus starting from Rasa upto Shukra. In th eframe of reference of Ayurveda, this ojas itself is also identified as Balam.
Sushruta has introduced this term Ojas while explaining the concept of Balam (Strength). Thus, many a times the term ojas is used synonymous with Balam. This highlights the primary function of Ojas which is providing strength and vigor.
Ayurveda states that, body is originally composed of dosas, dhatus and malas. As moola, i.e., root is the chief factor in stage of origin, sustenance and destruction of plants, in same way doshas, dhatus and malas for the body. Beyond this doshas, dhatus and malas, there is one separate entity due to which is formed as the essence of all the body-building tissues and thus represents the overall strength of the body and is responsible to maintain integrity of body-mind-energy system of body by preventing external forces in the form of diseases. The physical, mental and overall strength of a purusha largely depends on ojas. Ojas is the first element that gets formed in the body of living beings.
Types of Ojas
Two different forms of Ojas have been described and identified as 2 types of Ojas on the basis of their function in body. The 2 types of Ojas are as below
- Para Ojas: The term 'Para' means superior or supreme. Thus the superior type of Ojas is one that is vital for life. Any damage or destruction of this leads to death. It is closely associated with the soul or life energy of Purusha and thus it is called as Para Ojas.
- Apara Ojas: Apara indicates 'mediocre' in quality or function. Thus Apara ojas is that form of ojas which is inferior than the other type in terms of its role in life sustenance. This type of ojas is formed from the metabolism of all 7 body tissues. Thus the formation of this type of ojas needs contribution from all 7 dhatus on daily basis during the process of metabolism. Any damage or destruction of this component might cause energy loss
Site of Ojas in body
Ojas is present everwhere in the human body. It is believed to be present in fluid form in the circulation along with Rasa dhatu and rakta dhatu. However the prime site for the Para type of ojus is described as Hrudayam by Acharya Charaka. Thus affections of hrudayam cause imbalances in Ojas and vice versa.
Appearance of Ojas
Ayurveda acharyas have described the physical properties of Ojas to elaborate and substantiate its actions in the body. The properties are as follows,
ओजः सोमात्मकं स्निग्धं शुक्लं शीतं स्थिरं सरम् | विविक्तं मृदु मृत्स्नं च प्राणायतनमुत्तमम् ||
देहः सावयवस्तेन व्याप्तो भवति देहिनः | तदभावाच्च शीर्यन्ते शरीराणि शरीरिणाम् || (Sush Samh Sutra 15/21-22)
Meaning: Ojas is mild in nature like moon. Ojas is unctous, white in colour, cold in potency, stable but fluid in nature. It is clear or distinctly formed, soft and slimy. It is the seat for life energy. It occupies all parts of the body and its absence causes degeneration or destruction of body of Human beings.
Functions of Ojas
Ojas is closely associated with life energy. Its presence is integral for the sustaining the integrity of life. Also being the component formed by contribution of all the 7 dhatus of body it represents strength of body. The immunity of body is equivalent to its strength. Thus, Ojas also performs the keyrole in development of immunity. Any deviation or depreciation in the normal quantity and quality of Ojas leads to serious health complications and death.
Causes of imbalances of Ojas
Oja is affected due to the following causes:
Any injury or trauma (abhighata)
Malnourishment or impaired metabolism (kshaya)
Excessive thinking (dhyana)
Vigorous physical work or exertion (shrama)
Voracious appetite (kshudha) [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/28]
Due to these causes, the vata dosha and pitta dosha are aggravated. This leads to the quantitative and qualitative depletion of Oja. It is then easily displaced from its prime seat -heart hridaya.
General clinical features
Fearfulness or phobia
Fatigue especially at its sense and motor organs
Altered skin complexion
Lack of self-confidence
Dry and rough skin
Remarkable emaciation of body. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 17/73]
Three specific abnormalities and clinical features:
The abnormalities in quantity and quality of Oja are observed in three stages. [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 15/24]
Displacement of Oja from its own site (Oja vistramsa)
Qualitative deterioration (Oja vyapat)
Depletion of quality and quantity (Oja kshaya)
The three stages are increasingly severe and harmful leading to death. These three states are considered as three categories of immune disorders viz. Oja-vyapat as immune-aberrations and allergies; Oja-visramsa as a state of dislodged immunity and autoimmune disorders; and Oja-kshaya as a state of immunodeficiency. Some scholars opine that these states show features of immunity compromised state, immunity suppressed and immunity deficiency syndromes respectively.
- Gupta GK, Devi G. A conceptual study of function of Ojas w.s.r. to Vyadhikshamatva and its clinical significance. Research and Reviews: A Journal of Ayurvedic Science, Yoga and Naturopathy. 2018; 5(3): 24–29p
- Charaka Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyayam 30 Sutram 7)