From part I [add hyperlink to part I], we understand Agni to be that which is the power for life. It is what drives all metabolic functions of the body, and is responsible for all chemical and energy transmutations of the body. It enables the mind to perceive and think, the nervous system to emit nerve impulses, the heart to beat, the eyes to see, food to digest.
In Ayurveda, Agni is the single most important marker for overall health. Health is a result of balanced Agni, and all states of disease are a result of weak or imbalanced Agni in the body.
Hence, a central tenet of Ayurveda involves strengthening and balancing Agni as a means to restore health and wellness.
Agni is divided into two main types in the body. Macro-agni or Jataragni, and micro-agni or sub-agnis.
Jataragni refers to the digestive and metabolic processes of the stomach and intestines. It is the process of breaking down food and its absorption into the body. The macro-agni of Jataragni is what regulates all other sub-agnis within the body, which are the micro metabolic processes of cells.
If Jatargani is balanced and healthy, then the other forms of Agni within the body are in control and equilibrium. But if Jataragni is weakened, then all other sub-agnis in the body become disturbed.
To illustrate, when Jataragni is weak, then food is not properly converted into a form that can be absorbed, assimilated, and utilized by cells in the form of nutrition and energy. In this state, the cells cannot take up nutrition from foods. This compromises anabolic cellular processes such as protein synthesis, cellular reproduction, and tissue formation. Further, due to poor conversion of food, undigested matter accumulates in the body as ama, or waste. This buildup of ama leads to toxicity in the body.
Weak and imbalanced Jataragni gives rise to all pathological conditions that lead to disease and illness in the body. Hence, a central tenet of Ayurveda involves balancing and enabling proper functioning of Jataragni, the body’s major Agni.
If balancing the body’s major Agni, Jataragni, is Ayurveda’s central mechanism for health and wellness, can this help us better understand Agni’s role in nature?