Ignorance is the Root of All Corruption

2.5 anitya asuci dukkha anatma sunitya suci sukha atma khyatih avidya

Ignorance is the field where the other forces of corruption develop, whether dormant, attenuated, intermittent or active.

  1. Nitya – everlasting, eternal
  2. Anitya – impermanent
  3. Atma – am- atom, discreet, separate, temple,
  4. Khyatih – assertion
  5. Avidya – vidya – to know, vid- vision, wise, druid

Avidya is the root of the kleshas. Klesa means poison. The five klesa’s are:

  1. Avidya – ignorance or a misunderstanding about reality
  2. Asmita – Iness or identification with a limited part of oneself
  3. Raga – desire. Ragah turns to rogah
  4. Dvesa – aversion
  5. Abhinivesa – not recognizing the immanence of death and thinking life is permanent.

Avidya is present because we are not connected to the eternally free and self sufficient part of ourselves that is part of the absolute. This happens when our consciousness is no longer aware of space and time and is beyond their limiting influence.

Many of us are caught in the illusion that tricks us into believing in the limitations of matter.  When we are subject to these limitations then disease can arise. Avidya is the root of all pathology.  There are four basic classes of disease:

  1. Karmic initiated from previous births
  2. Those seeds planted early in life that manifest late in life
  3. Diseases caused by spirit attachment
  4. Superficial diseases

Every disease that arises can be classified as resulting from either one of these classes. From these arise the main types of disease. Not all of these diseases are created by the doshas. The only one that is directly caused by the doshas is metabolic. The seven types are:

  1. Genetic or hereditary
  2. Congenital
  3. Metabolic
  4. Traumatic
  5. Temporal
  6. Divine
  7. Natural


All disease is a result of the digestive fire and pragnaparad is an example of compromised mental digestions. Anything that disturbs digestion could be classified as stress. Stress is of two types. One is eustress which is good like the force of gravity on our bones. The other is bad like distress. Ultimately it is up to our mind state to determine if the stress is good or bad.

Just as rasa is the fluid that nourishes all of our healthy tissues, Ama is the stagnant water that nourishes all of disease. This is true of mental ama as well. The more our behavior pollutes the mind, the more likely we will turn to selfish behaviors that pollute the body. Western medicine has correlated ama with intestinal toxemia which arises from the overconsumption of protein. Complex carbs can also do this when eaten in excess.

In conclusion: avoid all avoidable causes of disease and do not lament those you cannot avoid.


Disease arises based on internal conditions that are subject to the complex interactions between environment, social, psychological stressors, constitutional tendencies and the state of the nervous, endocrine and circulatory systems. The viability of disease depends on the cultivation of the human ecosystem. As charak explains, the garden relies on good seed, good weather, good soil, and good water. If these elements are not available in the right proportions, then there opposite is available and that breeds disease.
The process of disease is as follows:

  1. Pragnaparad leads to inappropriate behavior
  2. This leads to digestive weakness which generates ama
  3. Ama obstructs all or some of the channels in the body and mind and obstructs vata from moving normally
  4. Vata’s movement becomes erratic, angry and moves pitta, kapha, tissues and wastes in all directions
  5. It settles in a weak area and generates disease

The six stages of disease

  1. Accumulation – in the seat of the dosha with characteristic symptoms. Doshas are easiest to remove at this stage.
  2. Aggravation – organs are compromised and need nourishment. If the organs are weak the previous stage may be skipped
  3. Overflow – the doshas escape and the flow of vata becomes pratiloma where if moves against the flow. The sequence of the disease path moves from internal/visceral, external/peripheral and medial/marma. The digestive tract is affected first, then the six tissues are affected, then all the essential organs – especially the heart and the brain – are effected.
  4. Location – A previously weakened tissue becomes burdened with the doshas in excess. In western medicine this is the stage in which the disease is diagnosed
  5. Manifestation – the disease becomes recognizable
  6. Specialization – the specifics of the illness present their doshic correlations.

We all make mistakes. Action is imperfect. When a mistake is made, we can reflect and appraise in order to not create an erroneous habit. The presence of balance, health and harmony are indications that the corrective process of ayurveda is being utilized. By using the 20 gunas we can continuously insulate ourselves against mistakes. This insulation must also take place in the mind. Keeping the mind centered can be achieved through affirmation, visualization or mantra. Through a centered mind that we can use Ayurveda to counteract the influence of ignorance.