What is Dhauti?
Dhauti Kriya, simply Dhauti, is one of the six yogic cleansing techniques or Shatkarma. Specifically, it is a cleaning process that purifies mainly the digestive tract.
The Sanskrit word धौति (dhautī) means a yogic cleaning activity that includes washing a strip of cloth, swallowing it through the mouth, and drawing it back. Though it refers to the process of internal cleaning with a strip of cloth, yoga texts provide many types of cleaning techniques.
Types of Dhauti
The following classification is according to Gheranda Samhita. Dhauti is four-fold. They are;
- Antar Dhauti (Internal washing)
- Danta Dhauti (Purification of teeth)
- Hrid Dhauti (Purification of the heart region)
- Mulasodhana (Purification of rectum)
Let me to give a concise record of these characterization alongside steps and advantages.
The term Antar means inside or internal. Hence, Antar Dhauti means internal cleansing or purification. It mainly refers to the process of cleaning mainly the digestive tract and intestines.
Again, Internal cleansing is four-fold. They are;
- Vatasara Dhauti (Purification by air)
- Varisara Dhauti (Purification by water)
- Vahnisara Dhauti (Purification by fire)
- Bahiskrita Dhauti (Cleaning done externally)
It means purification by means of air. The steps of doing it are as below.
Contrac the mouth like a crow, swallow the air and fill the stomach with it. Move it internally. Finally. release it through the lower passage. This is a brief outline of the cleaning process by air. The detailed steps should only be obtained directly from a competent Guru.
This practice purifies the body and removes all the diseases. Moreover, it increases the gastric-fire.
It means purification by means of water. The procedure is similar to purification by air.
Drink water slowly and fill the stomach with it. Then, move the water internally. Finally, expel it through the lower passage. The process involves a sequence of yoga postures known as Shanka Prakshalana.
The detailed steps of the process should always be obtained from a Guru who is adept in doing this.
It is a great technique and the Yogi who is comfortable in doing this will purify his filthy body and make it shine.
Vahnisara or Agnisara Dhauti
It means purification by means of fire. This technique is popularly known as Agnisar Kriya. A simple description of the steps is as below.
Contract the naval region of the stomach towards the spine and release it. Similarly, repeat the process one hundred times. This is Agnisarkriya or fire process.
It burns all impurities and improves the digestive fire. Moreover, it is a rare and secret process usually a Yogi obtains from his Guru. It is the only process that gives a luminous body.
It is the most advanced process of cleaning. Only adept Yogis of ancient India knew how to practice it. I just reproduce the account of Gheranda Samhita for informative purposes.
Fill the stomach with the air by performing Kakanchu (Crow-bill) Mudra. Hold the breath and keep the air inside for one and a half hours. Then, force it down towards the intestines. Afterward, standing in navel-deep water, slowly draw the Sakti Nadi out and clean it with the hands. After removing its filth, draw it again into the abdomen. This process can be possible only for those Yogis who could retain the breath for an hour and a half.
As a result of this cleaning practice. the Yogi gets god-like body.
The Sanskrit term Danta means teeth. Simply it is dental cleaning. Interestingly, just compare the words Danta and dental. Both terms might have a common ancestor, I suppose.
Obviously, it is the process of cleaning teeth and the region around them. Again, it is five-fold. The five-fold cleanings are given below.
- Purification of teeth
- Purification of tongue
- The two ear-holes purification
- Purification of frontal sinuses
Purification of Teeth
It is an important process for Yogis. Rub the teeth with catechu powder until the dental impurities are removed. It should be the daily process in the morning for Yogis. As a result of this daily process, teeth are preserved.
Purification of Tongue
It is also known as Jihva Shodhana or Tongue cleaning. This process includes tongue elongation also. The elongation of the tongue removes old age, death, and diseases. The steps for cleaning and elongation are given below.
Join the index finger, middle finger, and ring finger. Then, put them into the throat. Clean the root of the tongue by rubbing it well, throw out the phlegm, and wash it. Repeat this till the impurities are removed.
After washing, rub it with butter and milk the tongue. Repeat the milking process again and again. Then hold the tip of the tongue with an iron instrument and pull it out slowly.
The Yogi should perform this cleaning and elongation process twice daily during sunrise and sunset.
Gheranda Samhita recommends the cleaning of ear holes by Index and ring fingers. If the ear holes are blocked by impurities, the yogi could not hear the mystical sounds during the advanced stages of yoga. Hence, it is important for the yogi to have ear holes without impurities.
Kapala Randhra Dhauti
Rub the region of the forehead near the bridge of the nose with the right thumb. As a result of this process, diseases due to the imbalance of phlegmatic humor are cured. Furthermore, it purifies the Nadis. Also, the Yogi gets the power of Clairvoyance. The Yogi should practice it daily after awakening from sleep, after meals, and in the evening.
The word Hrid means heart. Literally, this cleaning process refers to the cleaning of digestive tract. Again, it is classified into three processes.
- Dhanda Dhauti (Cleaning by Stalk)
- Vamana Dhauti (Cleaning by vomiting)
- Vastra Dhauti (Cleaning by cloth)
Dhanda means stalk. Hence, it is a cleaning process by using a stalk. The steps are as below.
Take a stalk of the turmeric plant, or plantain plant, or cane. After washing it, swallow it slowly into the esophagus holding the one end of the stalk. Then draw it out slowly. It removes all the phlegm, bile, and other impurities. Also, it removes all the diseases of the region.
Vamana means vomiting. Therefore, it is a cleaning process by vomiting. The process is also known as Kunjal Kriya.
In this practice, the Yogi drinks water and fill in the stomach. After a while, he should vomit them. It removes all the phlegm and impurities. The daily practice will ensure the absence of diseases due to the imbalance of phlegm and biles.
Vastra means a piece of cloth. So, it is a process of cleaning by means of a piece of cloth. This type of cleaning process is widely used today.
Take a long piece of cloth four-finger wider. Swallow it and keep it for a while. Then, take the cloth out.
This process removes all phlegm, bile, and impurities. Hence, the benefits of Vastra Dhauti include the removal of all the abdominal diseases, enlarged spleen, and skin diseases. Regular practice ensures good health, strength, and cheerfulness.
Mula Shodhana is the process of cleaning the rectum. If the rectum is with impurities, the flow of Apana Vayu gets blocked. This will result in diseases. Hence, it is very important to clean the rectum.
Take a stalk of the turmeric plant, insert it into the rectum. Clean it with water again and again. Instead of the turmeric stalk, one may use the middle finger of the left hand.
The benefits of Mula Shadhana incudes the removal of diseases like constipation, indigestion, and dyspepsia. Moreover, it increases the beauty and vigor of the body. Also, it increases gastric fire.
We have already seen the benefits of Dhauti as claimed by yoga texts. Is there any scientific evidence to confirm these claims? Yes! There is a lot of scientific evidence confirming the beneficial effects of these practices. Let us see a few of them.
- It removes the excess phlegm, bile, and impurities. As a result, it prevents many diseases like indigestion, constipation, gastritis, torpid liver, sluggish pancreas, renal complaints, and dyspepsia. many scientific studies confirm these effects.
- A study by Giridhar Yogeshwar suggests that the practice of Kunjal Kriya strengthens the heart and respiratory systems and is helpful in conditions like Asthma, cough, tonsillitis, and teeth diseases. Also, it is helpful even in conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and obesity.
- A study by Ragavendrasamy Balakrishnan et al concludes that voluntarily induced vomiting enhances the endurance of respiratory muscles, and decreases airway resistance. The study suggests that the practice can be used in the management of motion sickness and restrictive pulmonary issues like bronchitis.
- A study suggests that Laghu Shankha Prakshalana practice was found to reduce pain, disability, anxiety, and help to increase spinal flexibility.