Ayurveda is one of the ancient sciences and literature about medicine, whose origin is from India. During ancient times the observers like Sushruta and Charaka observed that, there were some diseases which were carried on to the next generation due to its presence in the previous generation. This chain of the deformation in the genetic material of human beings was also taken into consideration while defining the Prakriti (personality) of an individual. Where Aacharya had great knowledge about genetics, Sushruta defined various types of hereditary and congenital diseases. Ayurveda mentions different types of diseases like obesity, impotence, diabetes, etc. Are caused due to defects in the genetic component of a person. Thus, Prakriti of a person is also mentioned in terms of its genetics.
By definition, “Prakriti is considered as qualitative and quantitative unchangeable doshika predominance from birth to death.” It plays an important role during prognosis and cure of a disease. The Prakriti of an individual is determined during the union of shukra (sperm) and shonita (ovum). Mostly, hereditary diseases are caused due to abnormalities in sperm and ovum.
Further, Prakriti of an individual is also determined by Kala, dietetic regimen, behavior of mother, nature of garbhashaya and also on panchamahabhutas. It can also be said that, Prakriti of a individual depends on:
1. Sperm and ovum
2. Season and condition of uterus
3. Food and regiments of the mother
4. Nature of panchamahabhutas which comprise the fetus.
At the time of conception the Prakriti depends on the dosa dominating the sperm and ovum and also the season and condition of the uterus. The food that a mother consumes and those which are aggravated at that time also defines the physical constitution of an individual. In this way the dosa ultimately emerged as the dominant factor that determines the Prakriti of a person. Season directly affects the Prakriti of a person as it is responsible for the aggregation of doses in the sperm and ovum.
Charaka explains the concepts of Matrija (maternal) and Pitrija (paternal) bhavas, so as to define the Prakriti of an individual. It mentions that, the embryo is produced from mother and father cells, suitably, nutrition and psyche; and, different organs are developed due to dominance of these bhavas. The concept of Bheejabhaga (ovum gene) is also explained in Ayurveda. It’s said that the congenital anomalies of parmeha are incurable due to genetic defects. Yonivyapad is also caused due to bheeja Dosha. The morbidity in the fetus is caused when women use aggravating factors such that the dosa gets vitiated and in course of spreading reach the ovum and uterus but do not affect the fetus entirely. Women still conceived but the fetus gets damaged in one or more maternally derived organs and thus, the morbidity of genes is affected. When a fetus in its bhejabhaga is affected and the uterus is damaged, the progeny becomes sterile and when a part of this gene is affected a putipraja (dead fetus) child is born. If the fetus still survives it has some abnormality and a portion of genes concerning the female character relating to body is also affected, the progeny will be predominantly female shaped but not female actually, and this is named as varta. This abnormality is caused when the ovum of the genetic part is affected. When the genetic part of sperm is affected the progeny will be predominantly male shaped but not male actually. This is named as Trinaputrika.
Shukra (sperm) and Shonita (ovum) and it’s vikrit:
The classical texts of Ayurveda explain the formation of the body with seven dhatus and the seventh dhaatu which is Shukra takes part in the formation of Garbha. As per sushruta the blood collected for holes by both the uterine vessels and endometrial capillaries are slightly black in color and specific order which is brought down two vaginal orifices by Vayu and is known as Sunita. According to Vagbhatta, the blood reaching the uterus comes out from three days in every month which is called the Artava i.e menstrual cycle. Aacharya shrutha described 8 Shukra and eight Shonita Doshas. Eight Shukra Dosha comprises one from each Dosha and Rakta viz. total four; combination of two Doshas viz. total three; and one from a combination of all three Doshas.
Bheeja, Bheejabhaga, Bheejabhagavayava and it’s progression (vikriti):
There are three genetic units known as bheja i.e. germinal cell, bhejabhaga i.e. chromosome and Bheejabhagavayava i.e. gene. The smallest units of Shukra and Shonita are considered as bheja, are of male and female respectively, which can be compared to do male and female gametes that is sperm and ovum. Bhejabhaga is the component which lies inside the bheja which is responsible for development of different body organs and tissues of the body and it may be compared to chromosomes which are transferred from generation to generation. Bheejabhagavayava is considered as the subtle stage of Bhejabhaga which carry hereditary characters and it may be compared to genes, which is a fundamental unit of heredity and is mainly responsible for expression of a particular trait in an individual.
The way in which the Vayu divided zygote or bheja decides the birth of male or female child. If the Vayu divides zygote in such a way that it has dominance of Shukra and other Atharva then a male child is born and later of the female. If there is any defect or if ovum, sperm or chromosomes are vitiated, it leads to a defect of a particular organ in the body. If parents have certain diseases like obesity or diabetes then Bheejabhagavayava is affected and hence causes the same illness to the offspring.
Further, there are 6 factors which take part during the formation of embryos and various body parts. The soft structures of the body like heart, intestine, rectum, muscles, bone marrow, etc. are formed from Matrija Bhava; the hard structures like nails, veins, bones, beard, sperm, etc. are formed from Pitrija Bhava.
Thus, Ayurveda lays a deep context regarding the genetics in human beings. The basics of the genomics in modern medicine are the same as ddos explained in Ayurveda. The concept of genes, chromosomes, DNA, genome, existed from the time when Ayurveda was discovered.