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The Concept Of Agni

ayurveda digestion

Agni is biological fire that governs metabolism and it is present in every cell of the body. 
Agni converts food in the form of energy which is responsible for all the vital functions of our body and longevity. It determines which substances enter our cells and tissues and which substances should be removed as waste.
Digestive abilities are directly proportional to the strength of Agni. When Agni is balanced it maintains healthy condition of the body. Malfunctioning of Agni leads to production of Ama – undigested food that remains in tract and causes diseases.
The heat energy to help digestion contained by Pitta is Agni. Pitta is the cause and Agni is the result.There is no existance of Agni without Pitta. While both are hot and light, Agni is subtle and dry, while Pitta is gross and fluid.

Agni has been devided into 13 types:

1 Jatharagni
5 Bhutagnis
7 Dhatvagnis

The most important Agni is Jatharagni. It is responsible for whole process of digestion and absorbtion in gastrointestinal tract and the 12 other Agnis. It converts the gross food particles into smaller particles which are then able to be absorbed. If Jatharagni is proper, the other forms of Agnis under its control are also in equilibrium. It is present inside stomach, small intestines and large intestine.

Bhutagni matabolize the 5 elements that are present in the body's tissues. The action of the Bhutagni can be equated with the conversion of digested materials in the liver. Liver is the centre of Bhutagni. Its functions starts immediately after absorption.

Dhatvagni metabolize Dhatus– supportive tissues of the body. This is biochemical process that includes anabolic and catabolic activity. Dhatvagni performs synthesis of new tissues and yields energy for the function of tissue.

Different states of Agni: 

Samagni (normal secretion of digestive enzymes), Vishamagni (irregular secretion of digestive enzymes), Tikshnagni (hypersecretion of digestive enzymes), Mandagni (hyposecretion of digestive enzymes).

Samagni is the normal type of Agni which digests and assimilates the food properly at the proper time. This increases the quality of the supportive tissues of the body.

Visamagni is abnormal type of Agni disturbed by Vata, which changes in its functioning producing flatulence, pain in abdomen, obstruction to the free elimination of feces, enlarged spleen, abdominal tumor and colic. There are alternating cycles of strong appetite with loss of appetite, and there is a mixture of digested and undigested food.

Tikshnagni is abnormal type of Agni disturbed by Pitta, which digests large quantities of food earlier than it should. It produces burning sensation inside the abdomen, belching, thirst, bleeding, abdominal colic, anemia, diarrhoea, hepatitis, hyperacidity, jaundice, pyuria, tuberculosis, vertigo.

Mandagni is abnormal type of Agni disturbed by Kapha, which cannot digest adequate quantities of food. It produces heaviness of the abdomen, difficulty in breathing, asthma, bronchitis, poor appetite, weight gain, excessive mucus production, congestion, poor blood circulation, fatigue.

If the Agni of the person is vitiated, the whole metabolism in his body will be disturbed which leads to accumulation of Ama – the root of all diseases.

Symptoms of proper functioning of Agni: 

  • good immunity
  • strength
  • healthy skin
  • normal evacuation of bowel and bladder 
  • proper functioning of all sensory organs

Moderate malfunctioning: 

  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • recurrent infection
  • incomplete evacuation of bowel and bladder 
  • improper functioning of sense organs
  • depression

Severe malfunctioning:

  • accumulation of fluid in body
  • loss of energy
  • improper sleep
  • weak immunity 
  • stiffness or inhibited movement
  • soreness at the roots of the hair
  • dull eyes

The key to healthy Agni is the intake of easily digested, freshly cooked, pure and compatible foods eaten at the appropriate times. Understanding the concept of Agni is very important for preventive and curative purpose. 

Author: Ayurveda Tutorials

Image source: Flickr | Andi Tamplin

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