Agni is the most important concept of Ayurveda diet.
Agni literally means ‘fire’.It is the root of English word ‘ignite’.It is one of the five ‘mahabhutas’ or great/ fundamental elements.It refers broadly to our ability to assimilate all aspects of life including food,experiences,emotions etc. It manifests at all levels namely cells, tissues and organs. In the gut it represents our digestive power.
Strong agni is Ayurveda’s most important indicator of good health.
If our agni is strong we are able to digest food efficiently and easily assimilate our daily experiences.Present in each and every cell it helps in metabolism at cellular level.Agni in our body mirrors that in the universe.If we imagine a wood fire burning outside ,a strong fire will result in the wood being burnt properly.Similarly if our ‘agni’ is strong we will burn our fuel properly and not produce any toxic residue or ‘ama’ which is the root cause of all diseases.Even our strong emotions/daily eperiences if not assimilated properly will result in ‘ama’.
On the other hand proper’ function of ‘agni’ will result in the production of ‘ojas’ or vital nectar of life which moves around throughout the body sustaining physical self as well as balancing the mind.
The reason why ‘agni’ is of foremost importance while explaining an Ayurveda diet is that even high quality(satvic) food will not result in good health if agni is not good.
Agni has been divided into 13 types according to function and site of action.These are-
1 Jatharagni-one agni present in stomach and duodenum.It is the main agni that controls other 12
2 Bhutagni- 5 agnis from 5 fundamental elements.Each and every cell in our body as well as the nutrients that we eat are made up of 5 elements.So this agni is present in all the cells as well as nutrients.
3- Dhatwagni- 7 agnis present one in each dhatu or the building blocks of the body.
Jatharagni is categorised into 4 types according to its performance of digestion.
Samagni- Normal/state of balance
Vishamagni-abnormal/ erratic and unstable
Mandagni- decreased/functions at minimal rate