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Concept of Jatharagni/Bhutagni/Dhatwagni in Ayurveda

By Dr Prasuna, MD (Ay); (PhD)

Agni is a key factor in transformation of consumed ahara viharadi dravyas of vijateeya origin to sajateeya nature and converts the food consumed and produces energy. Hence the term comprehends various factors which participates and regulate the course of digestion and metabolism or any transformation in the tissue of an organism.

The first ruk of rigveda starts with “agni meele purohitam” means agni is purohita, here pura means who leads ahead, pura also means body1 ; agni is the protector of the body1. In Bhagavdgeeta the lord says that he himself takes the form of Agni in the living organisms and digests the four types of food they consume.

There is no fundamental difference in physical and biological fire or Agni, except that the latter is associated with living organisms. Every living organism has to undergo process of constant changes to meet the survival. This constant process of change is either for yielding energy (catabolic) or synthesizes the tissue (anabolic). Chakrapani described Agni as ‘Antareerya dravyam pachanti’ (cha.chi/15/13 chakrapani) 2 which bringsmolecular change.

In ayurvedic treatises lot of importance has been given to Agni. One of the eight branches of Ayurveda Kaya Chikitsa itself is equated with Agni maintenance (‘kayasya antaragni chikitsa kayachikitsa iti’). Charaka mentioned that Agni is the important key factor for ayu, varna, bala, swasthya… etc. Hareeta described that if the agni itself is bala, if the agni is in proper condition, the person won’t suffer from any disease3.

Agni is a key factor in transformation of consumed ahara viharadi dravyas of vijateeya origin to sajateeya nature and converts the food consumed and produces energy. Hence the term comprehends various factors which participates and regulate the course of digestion and metabolism or any transformation in the tissue of an organism.

The definitions from Vachaspatyam, Sabda kalpadruma, unadikosha, Agni has been described as the one who carries everything, moves everywhere, which can metamorphoses substances, which can bring transformation is substances, assimilates, which gives and takes, which has the capacity to enter into minute channels, which burns, which glows etc4,5,6. All these definitions of Agni clearly states that Agni is the important key factor for transformation.

Agni takes several forms to digest the micro and macro food material. Depending on the chief site of action Agni is divided into Jatharagni, Bhutagni and Dhatwagni.

Jatharagni: Means the Agni located in the jathara. The functions of jatharagni include the breakdown of food we consume into its elemental level and separation of sarabhaga (nutrient part) by way of absorption through intestinal villi and mucosa and enter the lymph or the blood and mala bhaga eliminated through anus. These include physiochemical process starting from mouth to end of the GIT.

Kayagni is the prime agni and controls its attributes located at various levels. The researches carried out by Dr.N.S.Tiwari BHU, 1969, hypofunctioning of jatharagni (by reduced diet and pancreatic ligation) it was observed that it resulted in hypoactivity/suppression of endocrine glands.

Bhutagni: The body is made up of panchabhutas and it is maintained and nourished with bahya panchabhotika amshas. To convert such alien amshas as part of the body there is a process of paaka, this is attributed to bhutagni. So, all the exogenous substances must be subjected to bhutagnipaka to become endogenous. The bhutagni action is not limited up to G.I. tract only; it extends up to the dhatus also. Its main action is to convert the vijateeya substance to sajateeya form to make it available for assimilation. Chakrapani has commented that by the action of bhutagni, vilakshana-gunas i.e. altogether new qualities, arise in the substances. These new qualities pertain to sajateeya dravyas8.

Dhatwagni: Dhatwagnis are 7 in number each located in its specific dhatus. After bhutagni paka the adhya ahara rasa circulates in the body. It is selected by specific dhatus by kalekapota nyaya and subjected to its own dhatwagni to form tulya dhatu vriddhi.

Vagbhata mentioned that the kayagni amshas are located in the dhatus. They are responsible for the vriddhi and hrasa. If dhatvagni is severe there will be more catabolic process and less dhatu9. According to charaka these dhatvagnis are located according to its own srotas2. According to chakrapani dhatwagnis are also a form of bhutagnis2. By only sthana visesha we called it as dhatwagni.

Vagbhata described that when agni through bhutagni medium enters into the dhatus becomes dhatwagni (A.H.Sa3/60)9. These dhatwagnis are located in its own tissues according to is own srotas, either to form new tissue (anabolic) or to deliver its functions (catabolic). Hence if dhatwagni gets more vriddhi, tissue delivers more action and thereby more catabolic activity (dhatukshaya) or if dhatwagni is of low profile only tissue synthesis takes place resulting in dhatu vriddhi.

Vagbhata further described 3 malagnis also. Arundatta mentioned that there are nearly 15-2000 Agni’s-saptashu sira sateshu, saptamagni satani, panchasu mamsa peshi satashu cha panchamagni satani9

Under dhatwagni starting from mitochondria all enzymatic factors and catalysts participating in chain reactions in the tissue to yield energy and the anabolic steroids, responsible for growth also to be considered, all endocrines, paracrines including intercellular and intracellular enzymes can be considered as dhatwagni amshas8. If we consider the quotation of arunadatta as mamsagnis are 500, snayavagnis are 700 and enumerated up to 1500-2000, is obvious that agni molecules are existing allover the body, which helps in the development and the decay of that tissues, so innumerable as above.

The Bhutagni and Dhatwagni are partly regulated by samanavata. Thyroxine, epinephrine, insulin and all other hormones, chemical messengers and enzymes participating in metabolism are humoral factors under influence of pitta (and kapha) which are ultimately regulated by vata, feedback mechanism of neuro humoral chain/mechanism.

If these Agni’s fail to perform their optimum function or over active, their sub normality and over activity leads to agnimandhya and teeskhnagni (Bhasmakagni) at different levels i.e. at Jatharagni, Bhutagni and dhatwagni levels. Dalhana first mentioned that agnimandhya can happen at dhatu level also.10 (Su.Su.15/35 Dalhana).


There are innumerable agni’s in the body or agni performs its functions residing at different places and it has given different names at different places and as per its work. Wherever agni is present there is always a chance that agnivriddhi/kshaya can happen at that level. If this Agni fails to perform its optimum function, its sub normality leads to agnimandhya at different levels11.

Dalhana was the first one to describe that ama can form even at dhatu level. “dhatwagnibhirapakaadaama ityucyate” -(Su.su15/35.Dalhana).

“swasthanasthasya kayagneramsa dhatushu samsritah

Tesham sacha ati deeptibhyam dhatu vriddhi kshayodbhavah”

-A.H. Sutra 11/64

The agni is situated at various dhatus. This agni’s teja decides either dhatu’s vriddhi or mandhya. (Dhatu vriddhi i.e. more mala bhaga and less sara bhaga).

The following points will support the concept of agnimandhya i.e. Jatharagni, Bhutagni, Dhatwagni mandhya in hypothyroidism.

Jatharagni level: Its Main Function Includes digestion and assimilation of food constituents.

Features of Mandagni

a. Agni mandhya(Diminished power of digestion)

b. Ajeerna (Indigestion)

c. Vistambha (Constipation)

d. Arochaka(Anorexia)

e. Amlapitta(Hyperacidity)

f. Asya vairasyam(Nausea)

g. Adhmanam(flatulence)

Bhootagni level: Atankadarpana commentary of Madhavanidana mentioned the word bhutagni vikruti. The role of bhutagni in conversion of the consumed panchabhoutika ahara to body tissue, i.e. the vijateeya (exogenous) substances entered into the circulation are to be converted as sajateeya (endogenous) substances to facilitate dhatus to accept and nourish the tulya panchabhoutika sareera dhatus/tissue 12. Ama can form if there is any fault in the available dhatu or due to the fault in respective bhutagni/ dhatwagni.

Jwara, Seetapitta, Manda, Kotha, Aruchi, Alasya, Tandra, allergic manifestations come under bhutagni mandhya11.

Dhatwagni level:

1. Rasa Dhatu: Rasagni’s main function is to Supply of absorbed nutritive material to all body tissues for growth and repair.

Features of Mandagni at rasa dhatu level

a. Asradhha(Disinclination for food)

b. Aruchi(Anorexia)

c. Asya vairasya(Disgeusia)

d. Arasajnata(Ageusia)

e. Hrilllasa(Nausea)

f. Gaurava(Heaviness)

g. Tandra(Drowsiness)

h. Angamarda(Malaise)

i. Jwara(fever)

j. Tama(fainting)

k. Pandu(Anemia)

l. Sroto avarodha(Obstruction to the channels of circulation)

m. Klaibya(Impotency)

n. Sada(Asthenia)

o. Krisangata(Emaciation)

p. Akalavali, palita(Premature appearence of wrinkles and gray hair)

As artava is the upadhatu, menstrual irregularities (oligo menorrhoea, amenorrhea) come under this.

2. Rakta dhatu: Raktagni is Responsible for tissue nutrition, adequate haemopoeisis, which in turn gives luster to the body.

Features of Mandagni rakta dhatu level

a. Kusta(obstinate skin diseases including leprosy)

b. Visarpa(acute spreading diseases of the skin including erysipelas)

c. Pidika(pimples)

d. Raktapitta(a disease characterized by bleeding from differene parts of the body)

e. Asrigdara(menorrhagia)

f. Vidradhi(abscess)

g. Guda medhra asya paka(inflammation of the rectum, phalthus and mouth)

h. Neelika(blue moles), vangya(freckles)

i. Switra(leucoderma)

j. Kamala(jaundice) etc.,

3. Mamsa dhatu: Mamsagni maintains of adequate muscle mass, physical strength and greasyness to the skin.

Features of Mandagni at mamsa dhatu level

a. Adhimamsa(granuloma)

b. Arbuda(myoma)

c. Piles, uvulitis, tonsilitis

d. Galaganda, gandamala(goiter, cervical adenitis)

e. sloughing of the flesh, boils, and inflammation of the epiglottis etc.,

4. Medo Dhatu: Medogni with adequate fat and sweating gives unctuous skin &physical strength.

Features of Mandagni at medo dhatu level

a. Prameha(obstinate urinary disorders including diabetis mellitus)

b. Sthoulya(obesity)

c. Galaganda(goiter)

5. Asthi Dhatu: Asthyagni creates healthy bones, joints, body hair, nails etc. physical and mental activeness.

Features of Mandagni at asthi dhatu level

a. Hypertrophy of the bones and teeth

b. Cracking sensation in the teeth and pain in the bones

c. Discoloration, and morbidity in the hair of the body, nail as well as beard.

6. Majja Dhatu: Majjagni gives adequate unctuousness of body and maintains fertility.

Features of Mandagni at majja dhatu level

a. Pain in the joints

b. Giddiness

c. Fainting

d. Manifestation of deep-seated abscessess in joints

7. Sukra Dhatu: Sukragni Maintains fertility and libido of the individual. Irrespective of sex, every human being possesses sukra dhatu. So these features are common for both men and women.

Features of Mandagni at sukra dhatu level

a. Klaibya(impotency)

b. His progeny (if any) will be sick, sterile, short lived and disfigured.

c. Abortion or miscarriage.

So all the diseases are directly or indirectly related to agni only. “sarverogaimandagnau” –meaning all diseases rooted in mandagni, i.e. malfunctioning of agni system in the body.

As discussed earlier Hareeta clearly states that if the agni is in proper condition, the person won’t suffer from any disease. So the treatment to all these diseases due to hypo-function of agni is to trigger the agni at their respective places.


1. Bhagavadgita

2. Charaka Samhita with Ayurveda Dipika Vyakhya, edited by Yadavji Trikamji; Chaukhambha Orientalia, Varanasi.

3. Harita samhita

4. Vachaspatyam,

5. Shabda kalpadruma

6. Unadikosha

7. Text book of physiology by Chattarjee

8. Concept of ama- by Dr MSrinivasulu, Chaukhambha Sanskrit series, Varanasi

9. Ashtanga Hridaya by Vagbhata with sarvanga sundari and ayurveda rasayana commentary, chaukhambha orientalia, Varanasi

10. Sushruta samhita with nibandha sangraha vyakhya; Chaukhambha Sanskrit series, Varanasi

11. e-book ‘Management of thyroid disorders in Ayurveda’-Dr VV Lakshmiprasuna

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