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Sodhana Karmas In Ayurveda and Yoga

Introduction
Ayurvedic treatment comprises of two major parts viz. samshodhana cikitsa (bio cleansing
therapy) and samsaman cikitsa (pacifying therapy). samsaman cikitsa consists of conservative
treatment like langhana, pacana, drug administration etc. Samsodhana Cikitsa envisages
Pancakarma treatment which is basically a bio-cleansing regimen intended to eliminate the toxic
elements from the body and thereby enhances the immunity of the body. Description of these
five procedures is available in Caraka Samhita Kalpa Sthana, Susruta Samhita Cikitsa Sthana
and Ashtanga Hridya Sutra Sthana.
Sodhana Karmas In Ayurveda
Dvibidha upakrama (Two kinds of therapies)
In Ayurveda, dvibidha upakrama (two kinds of therapies) are described: satarpana (nourishing)
or brmhana (stoutening) and apatarpana (depleting) or langhana (thining or slimming).
(As. Hr. Su 14/1,2).
Langhana is of two kinds: sodhana (purificatory) and samana (palliative).
Sodhanam samanam chetidvidha tatrapi lamghanam.(As. Hr. Su 14/4)
As per Ayurveda, the ausadha (therapy or medicament) is of 2 types: sodhana (purificatory) and
samana (palliative).
“Sodhanam Samanam cheti samasaduausadham dvidha”. (As. Hr. Su 1/25).
For the dosas of the body, basti (enemata), vireka (purgation) and vamana (emesis) are the best
therapies respectively, likewise are taila (oil), ghrta (ghee) and madhu (honey).
Sarirajanam dosanam kramena paramausadham. (As. Hr. Su 1/25).
Bastirbireko vamanam tatha tailam grtam madhu. (As. Hr. Su 1/26).
Therapies for Mana (Mind)
Dhi (discrimination), dhairya (courage or strong will) and atmadi vijnana (knowledge of the
soul) are the ideal therapies for the mind.
“Dhidhairyatmadivijnanam manodoshausadham param” (As. Hr. Su 1/26).
Five kinds of Sodhana
Sodhana expels the dosas out of the body forcibly. These are niruha (decoction enema), vamana
(emesis), kaya reka or virecana (purgation of the body), siroreka or nasya (purgation of the
head) and asra-visruti or rakta moksana (blood letting).
“Yadirayedvahirdosan pachadhasodhanam ca tat.
Niruho vamanam kayasirorekosrabisrutih.” (As. Hr. Su 14/5).
Pancakarma (Five specialized elimination therapies)
In the event of vitiated dosas brought forth by oleation (snehana) and fomentation (svedana)
therapies, a physician should administer panchakarma (five elimination therapies) paying due
regard to the dose and time. As described by Maharshi Caraka, panchakarma are vamana
(therapeutic emesis), virecana (therapeutic purgation), anuvasana basti (medicated oil enema),
niruha basti (medicated decoction enema), and nasya (nasal administration of medicaments).
“Vamanam recanam nasyam niruhaschanuvasanam,
Etani pancakarmani kathitani munisvaraih” (Sa.U 8/70)
Three steps of panchakarma

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The three steps of panchakarma are purva karma, pradhana karma and paschat karma. Prior to
these five Pradhan Karmas (main procedures), Purva Karma (preparatory measures) given to
the patient are: Pachana (ama pachana & deepana medicines like shunthi kwatha may be
given) snehana (oleation) and swedana (sudation). after the main procedures, pashchat karma
(samsarjana krama), a special diet and life regimen (period of convalescence) is advocated as
post operative measures.
Tanyupasthitadosanam snehasvedopapadanaih.
Panchakarmani kurbita matrakalau vicharayan. (Ca. Su 2/15)
Definition of Vamana and Virecana
The process of expelling morbid material through the upward tract (mouth) is called vamana
(emesis). The process of expelling morbid material through the downward tract (anus) is called
virecana (pugation). Since they expel (virecanat) morbid material from the body, both these
processes are also called (by the common term) virecana (purgation).
“Tatra dosaharanam urdvabhagam vamana samjnakam. Adhobhagam virecana samjnakam;
ubhayam ba sariramala virecanadvirecanasamjnam labhate”(Ca. Ka ¼)
Definition of Basti
The therapy which while moving in the umbilical region, lumbar region, sides of the chest and
pelvic region churns up the stool including all other morbid matter located there and
appropriately eliminates them (stool and other morbid material) with ease after nourishing
(oleating) the body is called basti.
“Navipradesam katiparsvakuksim gatva sakrtdosacayam bilodya,
Sasneham kayam sapuridosah samyak sukhenaiti cayah sa bastih” (Ca.Si.1/40)
Definition of Siro-virecana
When the body of the patients is cleansed, his head should be consecutively anointed and
fomented with the help of the palm. After ascertaining the strength of the three types of dosas, he
should be given errhine therapy, once, twice or thrice.
“ Bisudhadehasya tatah kramena snigdham talasveditamuttamangam,
Virecayetridvirrathaikaso ba balam samikhsya trividham malanam” (Ca.Si.1/50)
Sequence of Pancakarma
1) Fomentaion therapy (Svedana) should be administered to a person after he has undergone
oleation therapy (Snehana) continuously for a minimum period of three days, or a maximum
period of seven days.
“Tryahabaram saptadinam param tu snigdho narah svedayitabya uktah” (Ca.Si.1/6)
2) While administering pancakarma in general, emesis (vamana) and purgation (virecana)
therapies are to be administered before administration of basti (medicated enema therapy).
Generally, purgation therapy is administered only after administration of emetic therapy.
Utility of Panca-karma Therapy (Five purificatory therapies)
Panca-karma bestow happiness to both the patients and healthy persons by promoting their
strength and longevity and by curing their diseases.
“Ityaturasvasthasukhah prayogo balayusorbudhikrudamayadhnah. ((Ca.Si.1/53)
Good effect of Sodhana karma (Elimination therapy)

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Elimination therapy eliminates the dosas, eradicates diseases and restores normal strength and
complexion. If taken properly it brings longevity.
“Malapaham rogaharam balavarna prasadanam,
Pitva samsodhanam samyagayusa yujyate chiram.” (As. Hr. Su 14/4).
Emetics and purgatives are the principal remedies in cleansing the system of all the dosas.
“Pradhanyena vamanavirecane vartate niharane dosanam”. (Su.Ci. 33/2)
Sodhana Karmas In Yoga
Satkarmas
Hatha yoga, as described in the early Yoga Upanishads, was made up of the satkarmas and is a
very precise and systematic science. Shot means 'six' and karma means 'action'; the satkarmas
consist of six groups of purification practices.
Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli and Kapalabhati - these are said to be the six purificatory
processes.
“Dhautirbastistatha netistratakam naulikam tatha,
Kapalabhatiscaitani satkarmani pracaksate” (H.Y.P 2/22)
Performing the satkarmas: Dhauti, Basti, Neti, Laukiki (Nauli), Trataka and Kapalabhati, is
essential.
“Dhautirbastistatha neti laukiki tratakam tatha,
Kapalabhatiscaitani satkarmani samacaret.” (G.S 1/12)
Characteristics of Satkarmas
These six cherished processes, which purify the body and yield wonderful results, are held in
high esteem by the foremost of the Yogis.
“Karmasatkamidam gopyam ghatasodhanakarakam,
Vicitragunasandhayi pujyate yogipungavaih.” (H.Y.P 2/23)
Indication of Satkarmas
Those having an excess of fat or phlegm must practice the six purificatory processes first (i.e.
before attempting kumbhaka). Those in whom the three humours (dosas) are a state of
equilibrium need not practice them.
“Medah slesmadhikah purvam satkarmani samacaret,
Anyastu nacarettani dosanam samabhavatah.” (H.Y.P 2/21)
The aspirant should do the pranayama (the kumbhakas) after getting rid, by means of six
purificatory processes, of corpulence, disorders of phlegm etc. and other impurities. In this way
he will succeed in yoga without much difficulty.
“Satkarmanirgatasthaulyakaphadosamaladikah,
Pranayama tatah kuryadanayasena siddhyati.”(H.Y.P 2/21)
Aim of Satkarmas
The aim of the satkarmas is to create harmony between the two major pranic flows, ida and
pingala, thereby attaining physical and mental purification and balance. The satkarmas are also
used to balance the three doshas or humours in the body: kapha, mucus; pitta, bile; and vata,
wind. According to both ayurveda and hatha yoga, an imbalance of the dosas will result in

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illness. These practices are also used before pranayama and other higher yoga practices in order
to purify the body of toxins and to ensure safe and successful progression along the spiritual
path.
Description of Satkarmas
1. Neti: A process of cleansing and purifying the nasal passages. Practices included in this
category are: jala neti and sutra neti.
2. Dhauti: A series of cleansing techniques which are divided into three main groups: antar
dhauti or internal cleansing, sirsha dhauti or head cleansing (traditionally called danta dhauti),
and hrid dhauti or thoracic cleansing. The internal techniques clean the entire alimentary canal
from the mouth to the anus. They are divided into four practices:
a) Shankhaprakshalana (varisara dhauti) and laghoo shankhaprakshalana,cleansing of the
intestines
b) Agnisar kriya (vahnisara dhauti), activating the digestive fire.
c) Kunjal (vaman dhauti), cleansing the stomach with water.
d) Vatsara dhauti, cleansing the intestines with air.
3. Nauli: A method of massaging and strengthening the abdominal organs.
4. Basti: Techniques for washing and toning the large intestine.
5. Kapalbhati: A breathing technique for purifying the frontal region of the brain.
6. Trataka: The practice of intense gazing at one point or object which develops the power of
concentration.
Astakarma
In Hatha Ratnavali, astakarmas have been described such as cakri, nauli, dhauti, neti, basti,
gajakarani, trotana (trataka) and kapalabhati (mastakabhati).
“Cakrinaulirdhautinetibastisca gajakarani,
Tratakam mastakabhrantih karmanyastau pracaksate.”(Hatharatnavali 1/26)
7. Cakri: One should insert the half-length of the figure in the anus by opening it and move the
figure round until the anal sphincters are fully relaxed. This is cakri-karma.
8. Gajakarani: One vomits the contents of the stomach by stimulating and raising the apana
vayu up to the throat, through a gradual practice of gaining control over the passage of air. This
is called gajakarani.
Characteristics of Astakarma
The eight karmas are to kept secret, as they are effective in cleansing the body (ghata). They
should not be disclosed to anybody, like a noble woman who would not disclose her sexual
pleasures to anybody.
“Karmastakamidam gopyam ghatasodhanakarakam,
Kasyacinnaiva vaktavyam kulastrisuatam yatha.” (Hatharatnavali 1/28)
Conclusion
Through satkarma, purification of the body is achieved. The body can be made free from
diseases, clean and pure by sodhana karma.
“Satkarmana sodhanam”(G.S 1/10)

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Pancakarma increases the acceptability of body to various therapeutic regimens like rasayana
(rejuvenation) and vajikarana (aphrodisiac). thus, panchakarma therapy is believed to impart
radical elimination of disease causing factors and maintain the equilibrium of doshas.
samshodhana chikitsa is considered superior to samshamana chikitsa as the chances for
recurrence of the disease so treated are remote.
“Dosah kadachit kupyanti jita lamghana pacanaih,
Jitah samsodhanairai tu na tesam punarudbhabah.” (Ca.Su 16/20)
Panchakarma therapy plays a definite role in the management of diseases especially of
neuromuscular, rheumatologic and gastrointestinal origin. In addition to this Panchakarma
procedures are utilized for the purpose of preservation, maintenance and conservation of health
and the promotion of longevity.

Dr. Saroj Kumar Sahu


B.A.M.S, MDHCYS, PGDDHM, PH.D (YOGA)