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Dr. Vikram Chauhan - MD (Ayurveda)

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

What Is The Concept Of Agni (Digestive Fire) In Ayurveda


According to Ayurvedic science, every substance is made from the five elements in this universe. These five basic elements are aakash (Space), vayu (Air), jala (Water), agni (Fire) and prithvi (Earth). These five basic elements along with atma (Soul), the life element, help in our physical formation. The human body is formed from these elements. The five element combinations lead to form tridosha that is vata, pitta and kapha.

  1. Air+Space = Vata
  2. Fire+Water = Pitta
  3. Earth+Water = Kapha

Let's discuss it in detail!

Agni, Concept Of Agni, Digestive Fire, Digestive Enzymes, Unicorn of Ayurveda, Function Of Digestive Fire, Types Of Agni, Properties Of Agni, Herbal Remedies, Symptoms, Treatment, Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Treatment, Diagnosis


The word agni means fire. In Ayurveda, we correlate the agni with digestive fire. Life-span, strength, enthusiasm, complexion, health, energy, corpulence, immunity, breathing, temperature, lutre, and important physiological activity, all the functions are held by an agni (Body fire). If body fire is finished, then the person dies. If the agni becomes normal then all the physiological functions of the body are normal. If the digestive fire gets vitiated then various diseases occur in the body. That food nourishes dhatus (tissues), ojas (Immunity), strength, vigor, complexion etc. depends on agni because rasa etc. can't be produced from undigested food. Five agni's pertaining each to prithvi, jala, vayu, tejas and akash digest the respective fractions of the food. Vitiation of agni becomes unable to digest even the light food and the food being undigested gets acidified and toxic.

Function Of Digestive Fire (Agni)

The prana vayu with receiving function carries the food to the belly where the food disintegrated by fluids (Juices) and softened by fatty substances gets acted upon by the digestive fire fanned by the samana vayu. Thus the digestive fire cooks the timely taken and balanced food properly leading to promotion of life-span. Agni cooks from below the food situated in the stomach for division into rasa (Nutritive fraction) and mala (Excretion) as the same cooks the rice grain with water kept in a vessel into boiled rice.

Properties Of Agni

Agni (digestive fire) has the characteristics of sight/vision (Roopa) and touch (Sparsh).

Types Of Agni

Jatharagni is one of the most important key roles in health and diseases. During the balanced state of jatharagni it provides strength, enthusiasm, immunity, longevity, temperature, complexion, health, lustre, proper digestion, other dhatva agni and bhuta agni and other important functions that depend on jatharagni. Diseased condition and healthy body condition both depend on agni. There are four types of digestive fire:-

  1. Samagni
  2. Visamagni
  3. Tiksnagni
  4. Mandagni

1. Samagni

Samagni state of agni is the condition in which doshas are in equilibrium state and perform normal digestion and metabolism functions.

Features Of Samagni

  • Digestion of food within stipulated period of time, if person consume normal quantity of food
  • Belching which is free from morbidities
  • Enthusiastic to do all activities
  • Proper elimination of natural urges without any difficulties
  • Feeling of lightness all over the body
  • Timely hunger and thirst

2. Visamagni

Visamagni is the state in which improper digestion and metabolism takes place due to irregular function of agni.

Features Of Visamagni

  • Sometimes agni performs normal functions
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal pain
  • Upward movement of air (vayu)
  • Diarrhea
  • Heaviness in abdomen
  • Straining exercise for evacuation of stools
  • Intestinal gurgling

3. Tiksnagni

Tiksnagni is the state in which hyper-functioning digestion and metabolic activities are observed.

  • Quick digestion of food even after taking more amount of food.

4. Mandagni

Mandagni is the state in which the digestion process becomes weak and takes a long time to digest the less quantity of food.

Features Of Mandagni

  • Slower digestion of food even after taking less quantity of food
  • Heaviness in abdomen
  • Heaviness in head
  • Cough
  • Dyspnea
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness of the body

Agni Vikriti (Destroys) Doshas

  • Visamagni state gives rise to diseases due to vata dosha.
  • Tiksnagni state gives rise to diseases due to pitta dosha.
  • Mandagni state gives rise to diseases due to kapha dosha.

Symptoms Of Vitiated Agni

  • Stasis of food
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Giddiness
  • Fainting
  • Stiffness in back and waist
  • Yawning
  • Bodyache
  • Thirst
  • Fever
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Improper digestion of food
  • Burning sensation

विषमो धातुवैषम्यं करोति विषमं पचन।
तीक्षणो मंदेन्धनो धातून विशोषयति पावक:।

Reference - C.Ci 15/50

According to the above shloka:- Irregular metabolism and digestion can lead to vitiation in dhatus. The intense metabolism and digestion and less intake of food items can cause dhatu kshaya that is dhatu depletion.

Importance Of Agni In Context To Arsa, Atisara And Grahani Dosha

The three diseases viz. Piles, diarrhea and sprue syndrome are interdependent in as much as one of them can cause the other. They get aggravated if there is reduction in the power of digestion and when the power of digestion is increased, they get cured. Therefore, agni should be specifically protected for these three ailments. Almost all diseases arise due to sluggish functions of agni.

Importance Of Agni

Jatharagni is one of the most vital agni among all agnis due to the function of dhatva agni and bhuta agni depends on jatharagni. Depletion or aggravation of jatharagni leads to depletion or aggravation of both dhatava agni and bhuta agni. That's the reason to balance the agni by taking a suitable diet and lifestyle for strength and longevity of the body. When the empty spaces (srotas) become abnormal, it brings abnormality in normal dhatu by not transferring to the required destination; this is because of the abnormality in srotas. Srotas vitiates other srotas and dhatus vitiates other dhatus for all these happenings disturbed dosas are responsible. Dosas (Vata, pitta and kapha) get imbalanced by the defective function of the agni because energy, strength, life span, nourishment and health all depend on the agni.

Relationship Between Agni And Pitta

A key concept in Ayurveda understanding of digestion is digestive fire, the process that is responsible for metabolic conversion within the body. Anything having to do with heat, light, conversion anywhere in the whole universe is under the control of the element of agni. In the body, however, agni turns over some of its functions closely related to the pitta dosha. Agni is the heating attribute of Pitta. There is always a close association between agni and pitta. Agni is the substance which originates (janya) and pitta is the source of origin (janaka). Due to this difference between the janaka and the janya the aggravated pitta might even reduce the agni. It is only by association with vata, pitta becomes powerful.


In this article we read that agni (digestive fire) transforms food into an energy form that manages all the important functions of the body. Agni play a vital role in human physiology by covers a multitude of functions in the body. Body fire is responsible for complexion, life-span, immunity, strength, health, energy, heat processes and corpulence. In fact, agni is responsible for life itself. Agni is the cause of various diseases, if agni is not functioning properly. Agni is very important to live a healthy life. In case of any query kindly visit

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