The Ayurvedic concept of Srotas the bodily channels. The internal transport system of our body fluids.
The Sanskrit word is derived from the root ‘su sravane’ meaning to exude, to ooze, to filter to permeate.
Srotas can be sthula (gross, macropscopic) and sukshma (microscopic).
A srotas is a passage, path, road or a highway there are thousands of srotamsi (srotamsi is plural for srotas).
Those small srotamsi come together and create a larger channel (srotas) such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary or gastrointestinal tract.
Srotas are the inner transport system of the body which provide platform for activities for the doshas, dhatus, agni, malas, ojas, prana…
Ayurvedic classics proclaim “Srotomayam hi shariram” means that the living body is a channel system and/or is comprised of innumerable channels.
The srotas is a system in which some tissue is formed; some material is metabolized, secreted or transported. Charak has described that Srotamsi are channels which transport the dhatus (asthayi or poshya dhatu) which are subjected to transformation.
Acharya Sushruta and Vagbhat both have compared srotas to the extremely fine passages and pores present in the lotus stem, through which rasadi poshya dhatu circulate all over the body and provide nutrition to the body.
Each srotas has a:
1. Soto mula (root, where it originates from).
2. Sroto marga (passage)
3. Sroto mukha (opening)
The colour of the srotas is similar to the colour of the particular organ or tissue in which it exists or through which it carries any material Cha. Chi 5/25.
Charaka describes the features arising out of abnormalities due to the structure or function of these srotas, which is referred to as srotodushti.
There are four types of srotodushti/ pathological changes in the srotas
1. Ati pravrutti – excess flow for example Diarrhoe, excess urination
2. Sanga – obstruction, stagnation
3. Vimarga gamana – reversed flow, false passage
4. Sira granthi – growth, swelling, tumour
The first two are more functional abnormalities of the srotas while the latter two indicate a structural disorder.
For an Ayurvedic practitioner it is important to access the functioning of the srotas as all the bodily function are depending on it. When clean, healthy srotamsi are present only one can experience sukha (happiness).
Vagbhata says that healthy Srotas are pillars of life. Their normal state is defined as life and the abnormal state of srotas is disease. Ast Hri. Sha 3/41-42
Diet, lifestyle, relationships and emotions that aggravate any of the three doshas and lodge in the dhatu (dosha dusha samurchana) are bound to disturb the functioning srotamsi.
Things which have similar gunas (qualities) of a particular dosha can create sroto dushti. For example, a Kapha provoking diet and lifestyle will aggravate the kapha dosha in the srotamsi. This is often seen in lifestyle disorder such as Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
Ayurvedic treatment is done with applying the opposite guna of the causative factors.
Causes for sroto dushti:
1. Kulaja – genetic predisposition
2. Sahaja – etiological factors during pregnancy e.g, mother’s diet, lifestyle emotional state during pregnancy
3. Doshaja – the initial cause is prajnaparadha (wrong diet, lifestyle)
4. Abhigata – physical or psychological trauma
5. Purva vyadhi – due to a previous illness.
The Srotas enumeration has differences between the Acharya Charaka and Sushruta. Charaka has enumerated fourteen srotas and Acharya Sushrut has enumerated eleven pairs of Srotas.
Srotas / channel and its Mulam/ site of origin
1. Pranavaha – Hridaya (Brain and heart), Mahasrotas
2. Udakavaha –Talu/palate, Kloma/pancreas
3. Annavaha – Stomach, left flank
4. Rasavaha –Hridya (heart), ten dhamani/ ten vessels
5. Raktavaha – Yakrt/ liver, pleeha/ spleen
6. Mamsavaha- Snayu/Ligament, twak/skin
7. Medovaha- Kidneys, omentum
8. Asthivaha – Adipose tissue, Jaghan/ thighs
9. Majjavaha – Bones, joints
10. Shukravaha- Testes, pudendum
11. Mutravaha- Urinary bladder, vankshanas (kidneys)
12. Purishvaha- Large intestine/pakwashaya, rectum/gudam
13. Svedavaha – Adipose tissue/medas, hair follicles
14. Artavavaha – Uterus, fallopian tubes
Reference about the Manovahasrotas can be found in Chakrapani commentary and it has been mentioned in the disease Apasmara/ Epilepsy. The Mula for the Manovahasrotas is the heart and the brain.
The word ‘vaha’ meaning to carry, for example Pranavahasrotas carries prana, Annavahasrotas carries Anna (food) etc.
Without Srotas dhatus cannot be formed
Without Srotas there is no bodily function
Without Srotas there is no life
How can you keep your Srotas healthy and in good function?
1. Wholesome diet and lifestyle
2. Good daily, seasonal and night routine
3. Regular body cleansing such as Panchakarma
4. Yoga, exercise
5. Pranayama, Meditation
6. Sadvritta/ good conduct
To learn more, you are welcome to join us for the workshop on the fundamental principles of Ayurveda on the 8th of June 2019 (see our Facebook events), for Ayurvedic consultation/ treatments email firstname.lastname@example.org
With Love your Lakshmi Ayurveda team