Foundations of Āyurveda Part II, Lesson 3 – Āyurvedic Anatomy & Physiology; The Dūṣyas: Dhātus & Malas


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Rasa, asṛk (rakta), māṃsa, meda, asthi, majjā and śukra are the seven dhātus and are also known as dūṣyas (those that get vitiated by the doṣas). Aṣṭāṅga Hṛdayam: Sūtrasthāna: I:13

Dhātus are the bodily tissues that nourish and comprise the body and hold organs in place. In this 16-hour lesson, we conduct an in-depth exploration into each of these seven tissues, how they are produced, their by-products and “waste” products (“waste”–while a decent translation–is not necessarily an accurate description of these products, since they all serve healthy functions in the body). This exploration yields insight into the health of the body and, if there is disorder, where it is and why it might have arisen.

Of particular interest to students already familiar with the learning objectives for this lesson, might be the insights and discussion around dhātu production, dhātu vṛddhi, dhātu kṣaya and dhātu duṣṭi and the Three Laws of Nutrition–a discussion that may serve to make a complicated process relatively easy to visualize, how disorder may affect any dhātu without necessarily having others be affected, how disorder in the dhātus can trickle up as well as trickle down, and the beginnings of our explorations into organs. It is curious to note how little emphasis or detail traditional Āyurveda ascribes to organs. We begin to explore the organs more in this lesson and elaborate much further in the next.

Regarding this particular course, you should know it is one excerpted lesson of our Foundations of Āyurveda Part II course. We are offering each lesson of that course as a stand-alone lesson–like this one–so that people can explore just one topic of interest but, if it seems a little out of context standing alone, it is because it is indeed out of context. But we feel the information presented will be valuable nonetheless.

If you would like more information on this course than what you’ll find on this page, whether it is approved for NAMA credits, etc., kindly peruse the home page–including the FAQs– for Foundations of Āyurveda Part II.

Textbooks: Dr. Vasant Lad’s Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 1: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda and Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 2, A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment, You can go through this course without either text, relying only on our lectures and handouts, but throughout our lessons we recommended readings from one or the other of these books, to enhance the information.

Sample Video

Drs. Svoboda and Welch answer the question, “When you learned Āyurveda, was it as condensed and concise as the information you present in this course?”


If you are more interested in improving your own personal health and daily practices than in studying Āyurveda more extensively, Dr. Welch’s Women’s Health & Hormones: Hormonal Balance & Stagnation Part I online, self paced course might be a better starting point – whether you are a man or a woman.

If, however, you have taken that already, or wish to focus on, or go further, into the Āyurvedic perspective and teachings on life and health, then Foundations of Āyurveda Part I might be a good option for you. That course is a prerequisite for Foundations of Āyurveda Part II.

If you have already taken Foundations of Āyurveda Part I or equivalent study, it would be best to take the entire Foundations of Āyurveda Part II course. This particular course you are considering is one lesson of Foundations of Āyurveda Part II, and could be good for you if you already have studied Āyurveda and just want to brush up on this one topic.


By the end of this course, if you have kept up with the memorization and study needed to assimilate what is taught, you will have achieved the following:


  1. List the sapta dhātus (seven bodily tissues) in English and Sanskrit
  2. Understand the main functions of the 7 dhātus
  3. Memorize and understand the definition of the sapta (7) dhātus, their associated upadhātus (secondary tissues) and malas (wastes)
  4. Recognize signs, symptoms and possible causes of vitiated dhātus
  5. Recognize symptoms associated with the entry of each doa into each dhātu
  6. Recognize the signs and clinical significance of dhātu sāra
  7. Understand the role of agni in the transformation of raw elements (tattvas or bhūtas) into āhāra rasa, āhāra rasa into first rasa dhātu and then, successively, the rest of the dhātus.
  8. Understand the concept of dhātu vṛddhi, dhātu kaya and dhātu duṣṭi and why they develop
  9. Memorize and understand The Three Laws of Nutrition as related to dhātu formation


  1. List the three malas: urine, feces & sweat

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