Prabhava (प्रभावः)

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Prabhava is one another unique characteristic of a dravya(substance) mentioned in Ayurveda along with rasa, virya etc. where the term prabhava indicates, action of a certain drug which is irrelative of the quality the dravya exhibits. A certain factor in a dravya which has overall different pharmacodynamic effect on body is prabhava. Prabhava can also be termed as a special effect of a certain dravya(drug)


रसवीर्यविपाकानां सामान्यं यत्र लक्ष्यते| विशेषः कर्मणां चैव प्रभावस्तस्य स स्मृतः|| (Char.sutra.26.67)

When rasa, virya, vipaka have properties which are relative to the drug but there is a specific quality that the dravya(drug) exhibits which have a certain effect on our body which is irrespective of rasa,virya etc that quality and its action in our body is termed as Prabhava.

According to Ayurveda a drug or dravya is composed of Rasa, virya, vipaka etc and thus it shows its action accordingly in our body. But when the action of the dravya cannot be explained by its natural composition it is known as prabhava.

Determination of Prabhava

Prabhava being a quality present in a dravya(drug) the determination can only be done by understanding the effects in our body which are mentioned in our classical treatises, thus by Aptopdesha pramana.

There are various examples mentioned in our samhitas to determine such example is, poison acting as antidote to poison which is due to prabhava effect of that dravya. the action of certain drugs is due to rasa of that dravya, some act according to the veerya , and some according to prabhava. But when it comes to the potency or the strength, the dravya which has its effect due to prabhava are more potent than those dravya which act on basis of rasa, veerya, vipaka.

Dravya Classification

On the basis of composition of dravya , it can be classified in two categories

1. Saman pratyarabdha – meaning there is similarity between the rasa,veerya etc of the dravya and the pancha mahabhuta composition, thus their actions can be determined on the basis of rasa, veerya etc.

2. Vichitra pratyarabdha – meaning there is no similarity between the action and the rasa, veerya etc composition present in that dravya.

Thus, by this dravya classification, prabhava can be better understood by vichitra pratyarabdha concept.

Importance Of Prabhava in Ayurvedic Pharmacology

Prabhava as a concept is important in Ayurveda because when it comes to dravya(drug), the rasa etc qualities are the composition of dravya(drug) but prabhava is the inbuilt nature of that dravya(drug). Thus, from the standpoint of ayurvedic pharmacology, prabhava is one such important aspect.

There also is mention of precious stones which when worn according to their properties have shown effects of body, which are stated due to the action of Prabhava.

According to some acharyas when a dravya(drug) acts based on veerya(potency) it counters the dosha imbalance in our body. And when a dravya(drug) acts based on prabhava it directly counters the disease per se. This concept is called as dosha pratyanik and vyadhi pratyanik.