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The term vega (वेगः) literally means speed, velocity, impulse, outbreak or outburst. The it refers to the movement of something which is rapid or very quick. In Ayurveda this term indicates the natural urges of body that are manifested in the form of some rapid impulse generated by body. Generally these impulses are generated to throw out some metabolic wastes accumulated in the body. Some impulses are generated to fulfill the metabolic requirements of the body. Thus vegas are simply called as natural urges of the body. These urges could be either to expel the wastes like feces, urine, flatus in the form of defecation, urination or to fulfill the requirements of food, water in the form of hunger, thirst etc. Since many of these urges are expressed in the form of rapid movements of internal body structures, speed or velocity is their innate nature. If a person tries to forcibly suppress or generate these urges that leads to significant damage and harmful events in the body. Such repeated attempts consequently lay foundation for development of multiple diseases. Therefore, Ayurveda has given tremendous importance to the Vegas of body and studied their effects on health in depth.
विविधाः वेगाः Various Vegas
Ayurveda acharyas like Sushruta, Charaka and Vagbhata have devoted separate adhyayas to describe types, names, effects and treatment of vegas in their treatises. All of them have stated almost the same number of vegas of body. They are 13 in number. Various vegas listed are as follows,
न वेगान् धारयेद्धीमाञ्जातान् मूत्रपुरीषयोः। न रेतसो न वातस्य न छर्द्याः क्षवथोर्न च॥
नोद्गारस्य न जृम्भाया न वेगान् क्षुत्पिपासयोः। न बाष्पस्य न निद्राया निःश्वासस्य श्रमेण च॥ (Char Samh 7.3-4)
na vegān dhārayeddhīmāñjātān mūtrapurīṣayoḥ। na retaso na vātasya na chardyāḥ kṣavathorna ca॥
nodgārasya na jr̥mbhāyā na vegān kṣutpipāsayoḥ। na bāṣpasya na nidrāyā niḥśvāsasya śrameṇa ca॥ (Char Samh 7.3-4)
Various vegas which when forcibly suppressed or generated lead to multiple diseases are as follows,
- Mutram (मूत्रम्) : Urine
- Purisham (पुरीषम्) : Feces
- Retas (रेतस्) : Semen
- Vata or Adhovata (अधोवात) : Flatulence
- Chhardi (छर्दी) : Vomiting
- Kshavathu (क्षवथु) : Sneeze
- Udgara (उद्गार) : Burp/ Belching
- Jrumbha (जृम्भा) : Yawning
- Kshut (क्षुत् / क्षुधा) : Hunger
- Pipasa (पिपासा) : Thirst
- Bashpa or Ashru (बाष्प) : Tears
- Nidra (निद्रा) : Sleep
- Shramashwasa (श्रमश्वासः) : Exertional breathlessness
Along with these urges to express demands of physical body, Acharya Vagbhata has also mentioned few vegas that are generated to express the demands of manas which could also be identified as the psychological expressions of the body. These are the emotions and behavioral patterns in an individual. Thus forcible suppression or non-suppression of these emotions is also detrimental to health.
धारयेत्तु सदा वेगान् हितैषी प्रेत्य चेह च। लोभेर्ष्याद्वेषमात्सर्यरागादीनां जितेन्द्रियः॥ (Asht Hrud 4.24)
dhārayettu sadā vegān hitaiṣī pretya ceha ca। lobherṣyādveṣamātsaryarāgādīnāṁ jitendriyaḥ॥ (Asht Hrud 4.24)
The emotions that are identified as vegas are as follows.
- Lobha (लोभः) : Greed
- Irsha (ईर्ष्या) : Envy
- Dvesha (द्वेषः) : Hatred
- Matsarya (मात्सर्यम्) : Jealousy
- Raga etc (रागः) : Vehement desire
Types of Vega
All the above natural urges of body are categorized into 2 types by Acharya Vagbhata. The basis of this categorization is whether suppressing a particular type of urge is beneficial or harmful for the life. Some of the vegas when forcibly suppressed cause serious imbalances in the body these are called as adharaniya vegas (अधारणीयवेगाः) while some when not suppressed lead to harmful effects thus called as dharaniya vegas (धारणीयवेगाः). The types of vegas and vegas in each category are listed in the table.
(Natural urges that should be controlled)
(Natural urges that should never be forcible suppressed)
|Lobha (लोभः) : Greed||Mutram (मूत्रम्) : Urine|
|Irsha (ईर्ष्या) : Envy||Purisham (पुरीषम्) : Feces|
|Dvesha (द्वेषः) : Hatred||Retas (रेतस्) : Semen|
|Matsarya (मात्सर्यम्) : Jealousy||Vata or Adhovata (अधोवात) : Flatulence|
|Raga (रागः) : Vehement desire||Chhardi (छर्दी) : Vomiting|
|Kshavathu (क्षवथु) : Sneeze|
|Udgara (उद्गार) : Burp/ Belching|
|Jrumbha (जृम्भा) : Yawning|
|Kshut (क्षुत् / क्षुधा) : Hunger|
|Pipasa (पिपासा) : Thirst|
|Bashpa or Ashru (बाष्प) : Tears|
|Nidra (निद्रा) : Sleep|
|Shramashwasa (श्रमश्वासः) : Exertional breathlessness|
वेगधारण परिणाम Effects of suppressing the natural urges
Since the vegas as the name suggests inherently carry the velocity, speed or rapid movement inside the body, those show obvious association with Vata dosha as per Ayurveda. Vata dosha is responsible for all types of movements happening inside the body. Therefore, forcible suppression of these urges is believed to cause obstruction to the flow of vata and lead to its movement in reverse direction along with its aggravation in the body parts in related body parts. Since all the vegas are associated with various systems of body which are also connected with few others, the effects of Vegadharana are visible in all these connected systems. Varied effects of vegadharana have been described by Acharya Charaka, Acharya Vagbhata, and Acharya Sushruta.
Effects of suppression of various non-suppressible urges
Suppression of urine: leads to (i) difficulty in passing urine, (ii) urinary stone, (iii) atony of bladder and (iv) inflammation of urinary tract.
Suppression of stool: leads to (i) pain in abdomen, (ii) tympanites, (iii) indigestion (iv) gas in abdomen, (v) headache and (vi) ulcers.
Suppression of flatus: leads to (i) pain in the abdomen, (ii) tympanites, (iii) indigestion, (iv) heart diseases, (v) constipation or diarrhea and (vi) gas.
Suppression of semen: When semen in about to be ejaculated if it is suppressed then it may produce (i) a stone (spermolith), (ii) pain in testis and (iii) difficulty in intercourse.
Suppression of vomiting: When food is not digested, the body tries to expel it out. If it is suppressed, the undigested matter is circulated in the body, thereby producing different types of diseases like urticaria, giddiness, anaemia, hyperacidity, skin diseases and fever.
Supperssion of sneezing: This phenomenon is meant for getting rid of foreign matter from the nose thereby clearing the nasal passage. If this is suppressed, the foreign matter in the nose may produce rhinitis and chronic cold, headache, sinusitis and diseases of respiratory system.
Suppression of eructation: Suppression of eructation leads to hiccough, pain in chest, cough, anorexia and loss of appetite.
Suppression of yawning: Suppression of yawning leads to diseases of the eyes, throat, ear and nose.
Suppression of hunger and thirst: Desire to take food and drink water are suggestive of requirements of nutrition and replenishment of the loss. By suppression i.e. by keeping hungry and thirsty, nutritional dosorders and debility are produced. The body resistance and immunity against infections are lowered, thereby susceptibility to diseases increased. In the same way hunger, pain, dehydration etc. are produced.
Suppression of tears: In emotional conditions like pleasure and grief, the tears come down from the eyes and if suppressed, mental disorders, pain in chest, giddiness and digestive disorders are produced.
Suppression of respiration: Prāṇayāma is an important Yogic exercise and one should gradually practice this breathing exercise. Sudden holding of breath may cause suffocation, respiratory disorders, heart diseases and even death.
Suppression of sleep: This is also a natural urge. When the brain gets tired, the sense and motor organs get tired, rest is required. The rest is in the form of sleep. By keeping forcefully awaking, the diseases like insomnia, mental disorders, digestive disorders and diseases of sense organs are caused.