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The Concept of Kapha : A reference Guide

Kapha

Definition
Kapha is defined as ‘kena jalena phalati iti kapha’. The synonym sleshma is derived from the root slish alingane - slish, which means to embrace, to cohere or to keep things together. Bala relates to overcoming opposition in a working situation and is a potential source of resistance to disease and decay. In an abnormal state, kapha may become a waste product (mala) that needs to be excreted from the body.

Characteristics/qualities
The elements that form this dosha are jala (water) and prithvi (earth). The physical properties:
  • It is white and transparent in colour.
  • Its taste is sweet (madhura) when well-formed and salty (lavana) when not well formed.
  • It is cool (sita), soft, yielding (mrdu and mrtsna), unctuous (snigdha), slimy (picchila), viscous (vijjala) and smooth (slakshna)
  • The consistency is firm (sthira), dense and compact (sandra) and firm like coagulum (sara).
  • Other qualities include: heavy (guru), inactive (manda), and stable (stimita).

Location
Kapha is located in the small intestine, the head, root of the tongue, throat and in the joints. The seats of kapha are: siras, griva, kantha, ghrana, jihwa, bahu, uras, hrdaya, kloma, medodhatu, parvani, rasadhatu and amasaya.
Functions
Kapha gives strength and stability, both physically and psychologically. It provides support and substance to the body. Its function is to hold or to keep things together. It acts to restrict the forces of vata and pitta and prevent them from overworking, where their effects are active in the body. Listed below are functions in detail:
  • Holding / binding together various structures of the body e.g. the joints and (bandhana) the musculo-skeletal frame.
  • Steady and sturdy body (sthiratva), including firm and compact (dardhyata).
  • Heaviness of the body (gaurava) and physical strength.
  • Promotion of unctuousness / lubrication (snehana).
  • Resistance to disease and decay (bala).
  • Virility, sexual potency and capacity to reproduce (vrshta) and for growth (upachayam).
  • It governs the human emotions (compassion, love, loyalty, forgiveness and patience); enthusiasm (utsaha), forbearance (kshama); fortitude, courage etc (dhrti); greedlessness (alobha) and intelligence (dhi, jnana).
  • Knowledge, learning, wisdom (jnana); cognition, perception, comprehensiveness, understanding and talent (budhi).

There are five subdivisions of kapha: avalambaka, kledaka, tarpaka, bodhaka and sleshaka.