Dhoopana Karma in ayurveda is the procedure that deals with dhoopana i.e fumigation made by burning herbs or products of animal origin that act as medication and help treat various health conditions. Since Vedic times, Dhoopana has been regularly used to sterilize home and surrounding environment and is a much welcomed tradition in households of India. It is a primitive approach to reduce microbial load in the surroundings or specific areas of body and achieve a sterile healthy state. Thus it is a method that helps to maintain optimal health in both internal and external environments of human.
I strongly feel that it is a much underestimated branch of Ayurveda which holds immense potential in treatment of unknown energies, air-borne infections and disease of unknown aetiology. Air born infections are much more common in daily life than vector-borne infections. Through a thorough knowledge of this methodology, one will surely welcome its inclusion in daily life in one form or another. Aromatherapy and spas also seem to take some inspiration from this basic concept that was defined by Acharya Kashyapa in Vedic times.
Innumerable references of Dhoopa are present in varied Vedic texts of Atharva Veda, Astanga hridaya, Astanga samhita, Charak Samhita, Kashyap Samhita and Sushruta samhita. Dhoopa can be taken either via direct inhalation or can be absorbed from skin either from entire body or specifically on affected body parts like ear, anus or open wounds. Thus it has great healing properties. Elements from both plants and animal origins are taken in varied calculated combinations as per Kashyapa Samhita to treat different disease or serve various purposes.
Classifications In Ayurvedic Texts
Rishi Kashyapa has mentioned its varied importance encompassing psychological, medicinal and aesthetic aspects in Kashyap Samhita where he has dedicated one full chapter to Dhoop Kalpa. He classified Dhoopana in 3 sections on the basis of its action or Karma:
1. Dhoopana : When used for specific purpose.
2. Anudhoopana : (subsequent fumigation)
3. Pratidhoopana : (anti fumigation): the procedure done after dhoopana to prevent recurrence of disease.
Other classification can be made on the source of origin:
The animal origin e.g. hair, nails and horns of animals have been used in Dhoopana Karma as they have Keratin structure which contains of Sulphur. Cow excreta when dried is used to ignite dhoopana as a fuel and is considered to emanate positive energies and combating negativity. Animals excreta also acts as fuel for good combustion and its smell drives away many unwanted organisms from the surroundings.
Minerals origin. Hartal Arsenic Trisulphide and Manashila Arsenic Disulphide have been used for Dhoopana Chikitsa i.e. Therapy as disinfectants.
In Sushruta samhita, interestingly, there is a mention that during a war, a king should be careful enough as the enemy can try to vitiate food, water, smoke, lands or air. Hence medicinal fumigation can handle Air-borne contamination or microbial load as most diseases are caused by this route (Auopasrgika roga– communicable disease).
Similarly Acharya Kashyapa has mentioned a story where demons were harassing the health of small children in olden times. Then the Vedic seers went to Agni devta or Fire God for a solution and that’s when they were offered Dhoopana Therapy as an answer.
Principal Concept of Dhoopana
- A Dhoopa is composed of – Agni (fire) and Vayu Mahabhoot Pradhaan Dravyas (Ingredients having dominance of Air element in them).
- These Dravyas or ingredients have properties of Ruksha, Sheeta, Laghu and Vishada.
- Above properties of predominant Air element in the ingredients enable them to spread rapidly and show good combustion and great volatility which in turn reduces air contamination and reduces microbial load.
Uses of Dhoopana
Below are some of the instances where Dhoopana has been used since Vedic times:
- For repelling mosquitoes and poisonous insects.
- For treating contagious air-borne diseases.
- Disinfecting clothes and beddings.
- For disinfection of Kumaragara (neonatal intensive care unit).
- To fumigate operation theatres and labour rooms in Vedic times.
- Sterilization of pots that contain medicinal formulations like Asavas and Aristhas.
- For sterilization at homes and environments.
- Treatment of female genital infections.
- Its vasodilator, thrombolytic, anesthetizing and anti-inflammatory actions also help in treating Piles.
- Beautification and aesthetic treatments for hair, skin in human.
- Holistic upliftment in poojas (praying to deity), rituals and Indian ceremonies to promote positive energies.
- Treating Psychological problems, epilepsy.
- To treat skin conditions, skin wounds, ear infections.
- Treat fevers due to Vata dosha.
- To treat Balagraha (Infectious disease in children).
- Its use has also been mentioned in cases of Retained placenta in delivery (Aparasanga).
- Treat various graharogas that is diseases of unknown aetiology.
- Helps combating disorders caused by ill energies and unknown bad omens that no one is aware of.
Method of Collection
There is a specific methodology for collection and preparation of Dhoopana items/ agents.
- Person: Ideally a Vaidhya (Ayurveda practitioner) should do the collection of items.
- Timing: All ingredients used in Dhoopana must be ideally harvested during either Pushya (aka Poosa or Tishya) nakshatra timing as not only is it considered auspicious but provides nourishment for all ingredients.
- Direction: Place of growth of these ingredients should be in Uttar disha (north direction) or Agneya (south-east direction).
- Preparation: Ingredients are pound to make a powder.
- Storage: in a clean safe place.
- Carrier Agents or Fuel: Dhoopana has to be fired finally and the best fuel considered for this purpose is cow dung because it causes even combustion and releases steady smoke. However now-a-days, charcoal, coconut shells or even electrical appliances are being used as fuel for Dhoopana.
- Main ingredients of Dhoopa commonly are Ghruta, Laksha, Vacha, Haridra, Daruharidra, Guggul, Sarshap and Nimba. These carry anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, antibacterial and deodorant properties.
- Most of the Dhoopa formulations have a source of combustible ingredient e.g. ghee which acts as a potentiator or activator of formulation.
Various medicinal combinations of Dhoopa are presented below however there are many more combinations of Dhoopdravyas (formulated powders) with numerous references in different books/ samhitas:
1. Agneya Dhoopa: Consists of Ghruta (ghee) and Gobala (Cow’s hair).
Uses: for all diseases.
2. Grahpah Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Sarpa Nirmok (snake’s shed off skin), Grudhra Vit (Vulture excreta), Vacha, Kaushik Vit (Owl excreta) and Hinga (Ferula foetida).
Uses: for treating Epilepsy and Graharoga (disease of unknown aetiology).
3. Kumar Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Laksha (Laccifera lacta), Sarshap (Brassica alba), Arjak pushpa (flowers of Ocimum sanctum), Ushira (vetiveria zinaniodes), Sarjaras (Vateria indica), Bhallatak (Semecarpus anacardium), Sauviranjana, Tagar (Veleriana wallichii), Hinga, Vacha, Tamalpatra (Cinnamomun tamala), Vidang (Embelia Ribes) and Daruharidra (Berberis Aristata).
Uses: helps proper development of children.
4. Moha Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Guggul (Commiphora wightii), Chorak (Angelica galuca), Siddharthak (Brassica alba) and Varahi Kanda(Dioscorea bulbifera).
Uses: for becoming more attractive.
5. Shishuk Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Jalamusta, Granthaparni (Leonotis Nepetaefolia), Ela (Elettaria cardamomum), Tagar (Veleriana wallichii), Hartal (Yellow orpiment), Manashila (Realgar), Shatapushpa (Anethus sowa), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) and Hrivera (Coleus vettiveroides).
Uses: for treating all diseases.
6. Sarvarogshasya Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Ushira (Vetiveria Zizanoides), Netrabala (Coleus vettiveroides), Nagakesar (Mesua ferrea), Padmak (Prunus Cerasoides) and Sarjaras (vateria Indica).
Uses: treating all diseases.
7. Sukhaprada Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Vasuka, Vacha (Acorus calamus), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris), Bharangi (Clerodendrum serratum), Daruhaldi (Berberis Aristata) and Jalamusta.
8. Mahodaya Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Kukkutanda (hen’s egg), Siddharthak (Brassica alba), Vacha (acorus calamus) and Vanar loma (monkey’s hair).
Uses: treats all disease.
9. Apasmar Nashan Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Nimba patra (Azadirachta indica), Akshata (unbroken whole rice), Uluk shakrut (Owl’s faeces), Bhasa vishtha (faeces of a variety of owl) and Laksha (Laccifera Lacta).
Uses: to cure epilepsy.
10. Swastik Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Jati pushpa (Jasminum grandiflorum), Nameru, Shirish pushpa (Albizia lebbeck) and Shallaki (Boswellia serrata).
Uses: used to impart auspiciousness.
11. Sarvarogahana Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Go bala (Cow’s hair), Mesha bala (Aries hair), Tulasi patra (Ocimum Sanctum), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Basta Bal (Goat’s hair) and Ashvaghna patra (Nerium indicum).
Uses: combat all illnesses.
12. Shree Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Laksha (Laccifera lacta), Sara, Sarpa tvak (snake’s shed off skin), Bilva (Aegle marmelos) and Siddharthak (Brassica alba).
Uses: imparts prosperity.
13. Arishtha Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee); skin, fruit, flowers, roots and leaves of Nimba (Azadirachta indica).
Uses: for all diseases.
14. Karna Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Vacha (Acorus Calamus), Ela (Elettaria cardamomum), Sarshap (Brassica Alba), Brihi tusha (rice husk), Pippali (piper longum), Kapitvacha (monkey’s skin), Kushtha (Saussurea lappa) and Kapiloma (monkey’s hair).
Uses: to treat graharogas (disease of unknown aetiology).
15. Punya Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Aja tanuja (goat’s body hair), Goshrunga (horns of cow), Mesha tanuja (Aries body’s hair) and Kunjar danta (elephant tusk).
Uses: imparts auspiciousness.
16. Brahma Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Kusha (Desmostachya bipinnata), Siddharthak (Brassica alba), Brahmi (Herpestes monniera) and Laja (puffed rice).
Uses: to treat all graha rogas (disease of unknown aetiology).
17. Varun Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Tulasi (Ocimum sanctum), Shal (Shorea robusta), Chandan (Santalum album), Laksha (Laccifera lacta), Shreeveshtak (Pinus roxburghii), Padmak (Prunus cerasoides) and Devadaru (Cedrus deodara).
Uses: treats Sleshma rogas (joint disease) in summer season.
18. Maheshwar Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Nameru (Calophyllum inophyllum), Bilva (Aegle marmelos), Guggul (Commiphora wightii), Devadaru (Cedrus deodara) and Yav (Hordeum vulgare).
Uses: to treat graharogas.
19. Gana Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Siddharthak- white mustard seeds (Brassica alba), Akshata (whole unbroken rice), honey and Jati pushpa (Jasminum grandiflorum).
Uses: treats disorders caused by Bhutas.
20. Uttam Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Khara bala (Donkey’s hair), Siddharthak (Brassica alba), Soma (Camphor), Bheda Shrunga (Aries horns), Khara Mutra (donkey urine), Aja paya (Goat’s milk) and Shehad (Honey).
Uses: offers protection from bad energies and unknown energies.
21. Dashanga Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Tagar (Veleriana wallichii), Guggul (Commiphora wightii), Siddharthak – white mustard seeds (Brassica alba), Basta loma (Male goat’s body hair), Bhallatak (Semecarpus anacardium), Bhurjapatra (Betua utisis), Vacha (Acorus calamus) and Kushtha (Sassurea lappa).
Uses: treats all diseases, graharogas (disease of unknown aetiology) and especially useful for epilepsy.
22. Bhadrankara Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Ushtra bala (hair of camel), Chatushpad nakha (nails of 4 limbed animals), Haya bala (horse’s hair), Khara bala (donkey’s hair) and Rushabhak.
Uses: helps balance Kapha dosha, spreads auspiciousness and also aids in treating of diseases of unknown origin
23. Chaturangika Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Vasa (fatty tissue of animals), Majja (animal bone marrow), and Laksha (encrustations of lac insect laccifera lacta).
Uses: it helps in improving health of thin emaciated people and children and also those suffering from disease of unknown aetiology
24. Rakshoghna Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Hinga (Ferula foetida), Bhikshu sanghati (cotton robe of bhikshu or seers which is usually saffron coloured), Siddharthak(Brassica alba), Sarpa tvak (Shed off skin of a snake), Dev Nirmalya (plant offered to Gods like flowers or auspicious herbs) and Akshata (whole unbroken rice).
Uses: imparts protection from ill energies
25. Grahanashan Dhoopas: 5 formulations are given below
1. Consists of Ghruta (ghee) and Guggul (Commiphora wightii).
2. Made from Ghruta (ghee) and Sarshap (Brassica alba).
3. Made of Ghruta (ghee), Krushna Agaru (Aquilaria agallocha).
4. Comprises of Ghruta (ghee), Shara (Ceratophyllum submersum), Ikshu(Saccharum officinarum), Kusha (Desmostachya bipinnata), Kasha (Saccharum spontaneum) and Darbha (Eragrostis cynosuroides)
5. Made from ghruta (ghee) and Devadaru (Cedrus deodara).
Uses: all of these help to treat graharogas (disease of unknown aetiology).
26. Sarvavisha nashaka Dhoopa: consists of Ghruta (ghee), Tagar, Kutha, Shirisha and Bhujakpati shira .
Uses: To eliminate all sorts of Vishas (toxins or poisons).
Thus Dhoopana Karma or therapy is a very powerful Ayurvedic eco-friendly tool with widespread and far-reaching benefits for purification and disinfection along with its ability to protect from the unknown bad energies that surround human time to time. I feel we need to understand and make this a part of our daily lives more often to lead a healthy fulfilling life.
Dhoopana dravyas (formulated powders) are available in the market for varied purposes. These dravyas should always be carefully stored in dry air-tight containers. This helps to keep them useful and formula stable for 2 years easily. One needs to be careful that it doesn’t change its original colour and smell.
Commercialy Found Dhoopa
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