A Beginner’s Guide to the Ojus
Ojus is the essence of all saptha dhatus right from rasa to shukra dhatu. It means the vital force, the vitality, body strength, luster, vigor, etc. Ojus are formed during the fertilization of sperm and ovum in the intra-uterine life.
The Garbharasa or the essence of Garbha (fetus) is termed as kalala and the essence of kalala is Ojus. The immunity of an individual is completely dependent on the ojus.
The seven dhatu undergo digestion and metabolism and with the help of respective dhatwagni, respective dhatu is formed. At every stage of digestion and metabolism of dhatu formation, the essence of the dhatu nourishes the succeeding dhatu. Thus, all the dhatu are formed and the essence of all the dhatu is the Ojus.
The shleshma or the kapha dosha in its normal state is also termed as Ojus. The word ‘Ojus’ is derived from the two words in Sanskrit, “ubja” and “asun” which gives the meaning of strength and luster. Ojus is one of the Pranayatana (vital forces).
Synonyms of Ojus
- Bala – It gives strength to the body.
- Sarva dhatu Sneha – It is the essence of all dhatu.
- Parama teja – It is the active principle.
- Jivashonita – It is the vital force of the blood.
- Shukrasara – It is the essence of Shukra dhatu.
- Dhari – that which sustains the life.
Qualities of Ojus
- It resembles in color like ghee, it is white in color / reddish yellow in color.
- It smells like Madhu (honey) or laja (fried paddy).
- It has a Madhura rasa (sweet taste).
- Guru (heavy)
- Sheeta (cold)
- Snigdha (unctuous)
- Shlakshna (smooth)
- Sthira (stable)
- Pichchila (slimy)
- Prasanna (it is clear)
- Bahala (it can circulate through minute channels of the body)
Formation of Ojus
The formation of Ojus can be explained with a simile of honeybees. Honeybees gather nectar from various flowers and fruits and store it in their hives. This nectar is the essence of flowers and fruits.
Ojus is present in intra-uterine life as the essence of garbharasa (the nourishing fluid of the fetus). This garbharasa is the essence of shukra (sperm) and artava (ovum). During the fourth month of gestation, the heart of the fetus is developed and then, the ojus enter the heart and the cardiac activity begins. Thus, this is the para ojus formed in the intra-uterine life.
From the formation of sapta dhatu, ojus is formed from the shukra dhatu or it is said to be the essence of shukra dhatu. The Aahara rasa is formed after the digestion of food and from the aahrara rasa respective dhatu in sequence are formed with the help of respective dhatwagni. So, the ojus formed is the essence of all seven dhatu.
In some contexts, it is considered the upadhatu (byproduct) of Shukra dhatu, and in some other contexts, it is the mala (waste metabolite) of Shukra dhatu.
Functions of Ojus
It is believed as per Ayurveda, that without ojus life does not exist. It is the life of the human beings.
- Provides strength.
- It activates the stability and growth of the mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue).
- It also stimulates the functioning of both sensory and motor systems of the body without any hindrance.
- It provides the complexion and voice of an individual.
- Because of the ojus, the body-sense organs and mind-soul are in alignment.
- As it is the essence of all the seven dhatu, the nourishment of all the tissues and the body is enhanced by ojus.
- It gives stability to both body and mind.
Seat of Ojus
- Ojus resides in the Hridaya (heart) and is known as Para ojus.
- Ojus present all over the body is known as Apara ojus.
According to one of the references in Ayurveda called Bhela Samhitha, there are twelve sites where ojus are present. Those twelve sites are:
- Rasa (plasma)
- Rakta (blood and its components)
- Mamsa (muscle tissue)
- Medas (muscle fat)
- Asthi (bones)
- Majja (bone marrow)
- Shukra (semen and the sperm/vaginal fluid)
- Pitta (gastrointestinal secretions)
- Sleshma (mucoid secretions)
- Sweda (sweat)
- Mutra (urine)
- Purisha (stools)
Types and quantity of Ojus
There are two types of ojus in the body.
- Para ojus: This is the ojus dwelling in the Hridaya (heart). It is an important and purest form of ojus. It is responsible for the continuity of life and hence any disturbance or decrease in it can cause fatal diseases and even death. The quantity of para ojus is ashta bindu (eight drops).
- Apara ojus: These is the ojus present all over the body and have similar properties to that of Kapha dosha. It is a strength promoter of the body and a decrease of it in the body can lead to various diseases. The quantity of Apara ojus is Ardha Anjali (half Anjali).
Etiology of vitiation or abnormality of Ojus
The etiology can be categorized into three factors, and they are Sahaja karana, Kalaja karana, and Yuktikrita.
- Sahaja karana – These etiological factors are congenital. The genetic make-up of the body since birth, which is poor, and malnourished, with any abnormalities is responsible for the vitiation of ojus.
- Kalaja karana – These factors are the climate changes that occur in different seasons. During the Vasanta rutu (spring season), kapha dosha is aggravated naturally and hence there are diseases of kapha dosha observed during that season. In Varsha rutu (rainy season), vata dosha is aggravated and diseases of vata dosha occur a lot in the rainy season. During the autumn season, which is the Sharad rutu, pitta dosha is increased and hence pitta pitta-originated diseases are seen. In the childhood period also there can be vitiation since the tissues are in the growth and development stage and the immunity is not completely developed. In old age, the tissues start depleting and the immunity is also reduced and that is the reason for the vitiation of Ojus.
- Yuktikruta: These are the etiological factors when an individual does not have a proper diet and lifestyle.
- Consuming dry food items
- Rukshapana – intake of strong wine.
- Anashana – fasting for a long time.
- Pramitashana – eating in very little quantity.
- Ativyayama – excessive exercise
- Ativyavaya – excess indulgence in sex
- Chinta – excess worry
- Bhaya – excess fear or anxiety
- Kopa – excess anger
- Vata-atapa sevana – excess exposure to wind and heat
- Prajagara – staying awake at late night.
- Abhighata injury to the vital points of the body and the mental trauma.
- Excess elimination of kapha, shukra, shonita, and mala from the body.
Stages of vitiation of Ojus
Pioneers of Ayurveda have explained three stages of ojus vitiation:
- Oja visramsa
- Oja vyapad
- Oja kshaya
- Oja visramsa – This is the first stage where there is displacement of ojus from its own site. It is the stage responsible for the clinical manifestation. The accumulation of dosha starts taking place due to various etiology.
Signs and symptoms:
- Sandhi vishlesha – loosening and displacement of joints.
- Gatra sadana – heaviness in the body and fatigue.
- Kriya sannirodha – impaired functioning of all the sensory and motor organs of the body along with the mind
- Dosha chyavana – vitiated dosha starts moving to other sites to cause the manifestation of the diseases.
2. Oja vyapad: The second stage in which there is qualitative depletion of ojus in the body. Dosha and dhatu combine with each other and clinical manifestation is seen. Secondary complications also develop during the oja vyapad stage.
Signs and symptoms:
- Stabdha guru gatrata – rigidity and heaviness of the complete body.
- Vata shopha – swelling occurs either generalized or localized due to impaired vata dosha.
- Varna bheda – there is an abnormal color change in the complexion of the skin.
- Glani – exhaustion
- Tandra – drowsiness or stupor.
- Nidra – excess sleep.
3. Oja kshaya – This is the third stage in which the symptoms of oja visramsa and oja vyapad are seen. There is qualitative and quantitative deterioration of ojus in the body.
Signs and symptoms:
- Murcha – fainting or unconsciousness
- Mamsakshaya – emaciation or muscle wasting
- Moha – confusion
- Pralapa – delirium
- Marana – death
Treatment for vitiated Ojus
Ojus have similar properties to that of kapha dosha, hence, the diet should be focused on increasing the kapha dosha. Food with Madhura rasa (sweet taste), guru guna (heavy), ghee and milk, meat soup, etc. are advised. The proper nourishment of the sapta dhatu (seven tissue elements) becomes very important to have a proper ojus formed. The drugs which have jeevaniya (life promoting), rasayana (immunomodulators), vajikarana (aphrodisiac) are ideal to administer in the diseases due to vitiation of ojus. Periodical regimen, physical exercise, yoga, pranayama, meditation, etc. are to be followed as conservative measures. Purificatory therapies can be indicated depending on the dosha involved and the clinical manifestation.
The essence of all the seven dhatu is the Ojus. It is the ultimate active principle in the body sustaining life, and providing strength to the body and is nourished by the shukra dhatu. It is mentioned as one among the Pranayatana. It is formed in the intra-uterine period as para ojus and is in the Hridaya. Apara ojus is present in the entire body and is like kapha dosha. The immunity of a person is solely dependent on the ojus. The seven dhatu nourishment is important to have proper ojus in the body. Three stages of vitiation of oja are explained in Ayurveda texts, oja visramsa, oja vyapad, and oja kshaya. Drugs that have rasayana, vajikarana, and jeevaniya properties are to be administered when there is a disturbance in the ojus.