Shad Rasas

Rasa which is experienced by an individual after consuming a drug and dietary substance. Rasa is the special sense known through the tongue or taste buds. Modern physiology defines taste as the direct action of a drug on the nerve endings in the mucous membrane of the mouth. In this context it is very essential to clarify about different meaning of rasa. They are:

  • Rasa Dhatu- body fluids including blood circulation throughout the body.
  • Rasa (parad)- element which digest other metals.
  • Rasa (swaras)- fresh juice extracted from herb.

Taste perception is the characteristic feature of Rasa. It is basically provided by two buhtas jala and prithivi. Rasa is recognized or perceived first after the contact of the substance with the tongue is the Pradhana Rasa (main taste) and that, which is subsequently perceived, is called Anurasa or Uparasa (secondary taste). The rasa is gustatory appeal caused by the substance after coming in contact with the tongue. Therefore, Rasa has been defined as ‘Taste with tongue’.

The drugs or dietetic substances may give different Rasa in immature and mature states. In other words, there may be different rasa in a drug when it is green and when dried up. Charaka, therefore, observed: “That savor, which becomes patent on the first contact of a dry substance with the tongue is declared to be it’s rasa. What is otherwise apprehended is its latent or after-test (anurasa or Uparasa)”. The test of a drug in green form should always be considered as Anurasa. Generally it is accepted that Rasas are six in number so they are called as Shadrasa.

Panchabhoutikata of Rasa- Rasas have their evolution in a systemic fashion. It is believed that the water in the clouds is devoid of any taste. As it gradually reaches the earth it will associate with other panch mahabhootas

The Importance of the Rasas

  • Generally speaking, the body is nourished by Ahara and the disease is treated by Ausadha. The dietetic and medicinal substances are composed of the five proto elements. The health or disease is known by certain normal and abnormal functions of the Doshas in the body. If the symptoms indicate the increases of a Dosha, we have to decrease it by giving drugs, which are dissimilar to that Dosha in it’s predominant Panchabhautika constitution. If the Dosha is decreased, it is to be increased by giving substances having predominant panchabhutika constitution similar to that of the decreased Dosha.

Now the question is that we can know the condition of a Dosha on the basis of certain signs and symptoms produced by it in the body and correct it by employing drugs on the principles of Similar and dissimilar. But how should we know the pancha bhutika constitution of a substance or drug? The easiest and the most practical course to know the predominant mahabhutas in a substance is ‘taste’. We know that there are six tastes (Rasas) and each of them has two predominant Mahabhutas. Put the substance on the tongue, find out it’s taste and infer the predominant Mahabhutas in it. This is why the rasas have been given priority and importance.

  • The tongue is the check-post in our body for all the substance – drugs or diet- which are ingested as per the need or demand of the body. When Kapha is increased in the body, the patient does not like sweet substances. On the contrary, he likes Katu-Kashaya and Tikta substances, which subsides Kapha. So also when a particular constituent of the body is decreased, there is a desire to eat such substances as may possess nutrient for that constituent. This is why the pregnant women needing calcium eat chalks and a patient of TB craves for meat. In short, the supply of substances to the body under normal conditions and abnormal states is regulated by the “taste” and the tongue is the sense organ to determine it.

Specific Characteristic of Six Rasas

Madhura Rasa:-

It is recognized in the mouth by its effects of unctuousness, satisfaction, pleasure and softness. Spreading all over the mouth it induces a feeling as if the mouth were besmeared with sweetness.

Dominant Mahabhutas:- Prithvi and jala

Actions:-The sweet tests being homologous with the body increase the body nutrient fluid, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, semen and vital essence. It prolongs life, clarifies the sense organs; imparts vigor and complexion and allows thirst and burning sensation. It has a beneficial influence on the skin, Hair, voice and strength. It promotes cheerfulness; vitality and satisfaction. It renders the body roborant and firm.  It acts as a synthesizer in pectoral lesions. It enlivens the functions of the nose, mouth, throat, lips and the tongue, and allays internal burning sensation and fainting. It is extremely liked by the bees and the ants.

Properties:-unctuous (Snigdha), Cold (Sheeta)  and heavy (Guru).

Excess use:- Though possessed of these qualities, if it is used exclusively or over-much, it produces corpulence, softness, lethargy, hypersonic, heaviness, in appetence, weakness of the gastric fire; hypertrophy of the tissues in the mouth and throat, dyspnoea, cough, coryza, intestinal torpor, algid fever preceded by cold, constipation, sweet taste in the mouth, vomiting, loss of consciousness and voice, elephantiasis, swelling of the throat, increase of mucus; discharge from bladder, vessels and throat, and eye diseases with increased mucus, and similar other diseases born of Kapha.

Amla Rasa:-

The sour or acid taste causes the setting of teeth on edge, salivation, sweating, stimulation of the sense of taste, and burning in the mouth and throat immediately on contact with these parts.

Dominant Mahabhutas:- Prithvi and Tejas

Properties:-unctuous (Snigdha), Hot(Ushna)  and light (laghu).

Actions of Amla:-

The acid taste adds relish to the dish, stimulates the digestive fire, builds up the body and invigorates it, enlightens the mind, stabilizes the sense functions, promotes the strength and regulates the peristaltic movement of Vata. It invigorates the heart, causes salivation, conducts the food downwards, moistens, digests and gives pleasure and is light (laghu), hot (ushna) and unctuous (singdha).

Excess use: - If Amla rasa is used much it causes vitiation of blood, edema, suppuration of the inflammation, burning sensation I the throat, chest and heart.

Lavana Rasa

Owing to the burning sensation it induces in the mouth, it gives rise to conduction of moistness, deliquescence and softness in the mouth.

Dominant Mahabhutas:- agni and apa mahabhutas

Properties:-unctuous (Snigdha), hot (ushna) and heavy (Guru).

Action: - The salt taste is digestive, liquefacient, inductive of defluxion, laxative, deobstruent; curative of Vata, stiffness, obstruction and accumulations; overpowers the rest of tastes; increases secretion of the mouth, liquefies the mucus, clarifies the passage, gives relish to food; is neither very heavy nor very unctuous and is hot.

Excess use: - On excessive use, it causes vitiation of Pitta and rakta, provokes thirst; causes fainting and great heat, disruption, corrosion of the flesh; destroys manhood. Impairs the function of the sense organs, induces premature wrinkles, gray hair and baldness.

Katu Rasa

 That is known as the pungent taste which, on contact with the tongue, causes irritation and pricking sensation, and gives rise to burning of the mouth, nose, eyes; it induces form of water from them.

Dominant Mahabhutas:- agni and vayu

Properties:-Dry (ruksha), hot (ushna)   and light (laghu).

Action: - The pungent taste purifies the mouth, stimulates the gastric fire, desiccates of food, causes the nose to run and eyes to water sharpens the sense organs, gives relish to food, cures purities, obesity, urticaria & edema; is anthelminti, splits open accumulation of blood, removes obstructions, dilates the passages, and allays Kapha: it is light, hot and dry.

Excess use: - When used in excessive quantities, it causes loss of manhood, weariness, asthenis, emaciation, fainting, choking, giddiness; diminishes strength and produces thirst.

Tikta rasa

That should be known as the bitter test which, on coming in contact with the tongue, causes loss of sensation of taste, is not pleasant to the tongue, and induces cleanness, dryness and keenness in the mouth

Dominant Mahabhutas:- Akasha and vayu Mahabhutas

Properties: - Dry (Ruksha),  Cold (Sheeta)  and light (laghu).

Action: - The bitter taste, though in-appetitive in taste, is yet appetizing in action. It is antidotal to poison; is vermicidal, cures fainting, burning, itching, dermatosis and thirst. It impart firmness to the skin and flesh; it is febrifuge, digestive-stimulant, purificatory of breast milk, depletive, and desiccant of moisture, fat, marrow, lymph, pus, sweat, urine, feces, bile and mucus. It is dry, cold and light.

Excess use: - On excessive use, it causes loss of semen, dries up the elements of the body; renders the channels rough; induces emaciation, giddiness and many other disorders of Vata.

Ksahaya Rasa

That is the astringent taste which produces astringent and dulling effect on the tongue and a sense of constriction in the throat, and is also antispasmodic in action.

Dominant Mahabhutas:- Prithvi and Vayu Mahabhutas

Properties:-Dry (Ruksha), Cold (Sheeta) and heavy (Guru).

Action: - The astringent taste is sedative, astringent in action, synthesizing, compressive, henotic, desiccant styptic; and sedative of Kapha, blood and Pitta. It consumes the body fluid, is dry, cold and is not light.

Excess use: - it causes emaciation, weariness, thirst stiffness, cyanosis, loss of manhood; it inhibits flatus, urine, feces and semen; it constricts the body channels and causes many disorders of Vata.