What is Prakriti and Vikriti?

I often get asked, what is my prakriti? And I often find myself explaining to others the difference in Ayurveda between prakriti, meaning nature, and vikriti, meaning imbalance. Prakriti isn’t simply which predominant dosha am I. Prakriti is about your essential nature. When a Vaidya, or Ayurvedic physician tells you that your illness is due to Vata-Pitta, for example, then that does not mean your prakriti is Vata-Pitta. This means that your vikriti is Vata-Pitta.

“Sharir indriya sattva atma. Samyogo dhari jivitam. Nityagascha anubandascha. Paryayair ayur uchyate.” This quote from Charak Samhita means, “the body, sense, mind (sattva), self. The togetherness of these sustains the quality of life. These are the ongoing, holding together qualities. These are said to be synonyms of life (ayu).” This is prakriti, the wholeness. In Prakriti Vigyan (Vigyan meaning theoretical knowledge), wholeness systematically expresses itself, from ego to intellect to mind and then to the five elements beginning with space, air, then fire, water, and then earth. Prakriti is the natural functioning of the human physiology. Thus, Prakriti Vigyan is “the science of understanding how wholeness expresses into the physiology, in proper sequence.” Vikriti Vigyan is “the science of understanding how expression could get out of sequence.” Vikriti is essentially being deviated from the wholeness and it is thus imbalance. In this state, the sequential unfoldment of wholeness will occur in a disorderly fashion because instead of being self-referral, it is disease referral. Vikriti Vigyan looks at how close or far one is from the state of perfect health or balance. Prakriti Vigyan takes a look at the source, the wholeness, which is closest to perfect health.