PRAKRUTI – THE ESSENTIAL CONSTITUTION
The doshic constitution you are conceived with. There is usually a mixture of doshas with one dosha dominating. This is your essential nature that will remain constant for life. It determines the distinctive qualities of your mind and body when you are in balance. Knowing what your dosha is provides invaluable information that will help you get in touch with your body’s inner intelligence.
The Prakruti of a patient is given a lot of importance in Ayurveda. Often translated as a person’s constitution, the term actually means “original creation.” The Sanskrit prefix “pra” means “original” and “kruti” means “creation”. A person’s prakruti is the inherent balance of the three doshas at the moment of their creation. It is at this moment that a person’s physiological and psychological tendencies become fixed.
For example, people have tendencies that influence the thickness of the skin, the length of the fingers, the shape of the palm and the strength of digestion. There are tendencies toward or against every bodily feature and physiological function. In addition, there are tendencies toward a specific personality type and even how a person will react emotionally to stress. We have tendencies to be introverted or extraverted, excitable or calm, intense or laid back. All of this is coded in the constitution. A person’s prakruti (constitution) does not usually change throughout a person’s lifetime.
The three doshas are the physiological forces of the body. A person’s constitution is defined in terms of the inherent balance of these three doshas. It is the interplay between these doshas that is responsible for both body type and personality.
To know a person’s constitution is to know their tendencies. If a person knows their tendencies they can take the actions that keep their tendencies in check. A person who knows that they have a tendency to feel cold, easily avoids becoming too cold by wearing more clothing or drinking warm beverages. To know your constitutional tendencies is to be empowered with the knowledge needed to create balance in your life.
Every living creature has all three doshas within them. We cannot exist without a certain amount of each. Kapha provides each of us with tissues, pitta provides metabolic action and vata allows us to move and express ourselves. Our constitution is best defined in terms of the percentage of each energy within a person’s constitution. In this way there are not three types (vata, pitta or kapha), or even seven types (combinations), but an infinite number of combinations and permutations with no two people being exactly the same.
VIKRUTI – THE NATURE OF THE IMBALANCE
Vikruti is the set of imbalances that you are currently experiencing in the body and mind.
Vikruti means “after creation.” The Sanskrit root “vi” means “after” and the root word “kruti” means “creation.” A person’s vikruti is the state of the three doshas after the moment of conception.
Following the moment of conception, the human embryo is exposed to and altered by its environment. In a healthy environment, the embryo forms in an optimal manner. After birth, if the environment remains optimal, the child grows up healthy. However, in a less than optimal environment, the three doshas become disturbed and upset the normal physiology, resulting in the symptoms of disease.
For example, if one is experiencing dryness in the system, then eating more soups, drinking warm teas, and adding demulcents may be the appropriate therapy to counteract the dryness.
In Ayurveda, when we talk about the vikruti of a patient, we are referring to the current state of the three doshas and how they are expressing themselves in the body and mind. Due to the less than optimal environment most of us find ourselves in, our vikruti helps us to understand the imbalances or symptoms that we are experiencing. However, it should be understood that in an optimal environment, the vikruti and the prakruti are the same. In this state, tendencies exist in the body and the mind but they are not expressing themselves in a manner that is causing a disturbance.
An important goal of Ayurveda is to understand a person’s vikruti and then understand what aspects of a person’s environment have contributed to the disturbance. Once known, the goal is to correct the environment. In this context, environment refers to both what a patient takes in through their five senses as well as the nature of a patient’s lifestyle. While knowing a person’s prakruti is essential for understanding the deepest tendencies within a person, knowing a person’s vikruti is essential for devising a treatment program. Practitioners should remember that we always treat the current state of the doshas.