Primordial Agni is the fire or driving force and light of creation. In essence, it is intelligent flow. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called it Creative Intelligence. It shows up on every level as transformation – the fires of dissolution and of creation.
The key with transformation is balance. Balance sustains the universe while allowing transformation. Too much fire and too much gets destroyed. Anger, frustration, acid reflux, and Pitta imbalance are some ways this manifests.
Too little fire and things are not digested properly. They go toward too much air and ungroundness (Vata) or an excess of sludge and inertia (Kapha).
Our body, emotions, and mind all digest their experiences. The body has trillions of microbes to aid us in digestion. Mind and emotions have similar life-forms on their level that help us process our experiences.
All of those beings use some value of transforming fire, agni for digestion. Our eyes are the senses attuned to fire and are the seat of the pitta dosha in the body. The simple act of seeing “digests” some of what we see.
We can have physical balance but emotional imbalance, and so forth. Evolution requires both dissolution of the old and growth of the new. This depends on balancing fire.
The primary digestive fire Ayurveda calls Jatharagni – it comes in a balanced form or a style influenced by the 3 doshas or tendencies to imbalance – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Few people have balanced agni.
Our body not only breaks down food into its molecules like proteins and sugars but can break it down into its subtle elements as needed. This allows the body to build almost any compound it needs – if things are all working right. Thus the body has 5 elemental agnis (Bhutagni), one for each of the elements.
Ayurveda also describes 7 stages of digestion, each level producing a progressively more refined kind of tissue (Dhatu). Each of those 7 also have an associated agni (Dhatvagni).
Food is first converted to plasma (Rasa). Finest plasma is converted to blood (Rakta). Finest blood into muscle (Mamsa). Finest muscle into fat (Meda). Finest fat into bone (Asthi). Finest bone into nerves (Majja). Finest nerves into reproductive fluid (Shukra). We might also say finest fluid into Ojas. This isn’t a “tissue” but shows up on the skin as a healthy glow telling us all is well.
The name of the tissue agni is the tissue + agni. For example, meda and medaagni.
A balanced digestion also supports Soma processing which aids in the refinement of perception, including the ability to experience all this.
If the system is plugged up, the process falters at some level and the more subtle tissues are not as effectively created.
This also ties into the 6 tastes. Ayurveda recognizes 6 tastes and suggests that if we have all 6 in a meal, it will satisfy the body. That makes sense as it ensures we include all 5 elements or building blocks.
Taste: Created by
Sweet: Earth & Water
Sour: Earth & Fire
Salty: Water & Fire
Pungent: Fire & Air
Bitter: Air & Ether
Astringent: Air & Earth
Rasa, taste, has a high importance in Ayurveda. It tells us the qualities and suitability of things we consume. It is one of the 6 Bhavas or birth influences. That has an influence on the dosha or way the body most easily becomes imbalanced. It is also the first tissue the body produces, plasma.
Prana is the life force, also known as Vayu or air. There are 5 primary styles of air in the body that complement the fires. Sama (even) prana brings life force to the digestive fires. It fans the flames.
Memorizing these details is only much use if you plan to become an Ayurvedic technician, helping people to rebalance their bodies. The point here is a general understanding so we support balanced fires that can digest all the “food” of our experiences. Otherwise, we build up a backlog, a sludge of undigested experiences. This leads to indigestion, overshadowing our current life. Undigested experiences repeat on us causing discomfort.
Strong, balanced fires will roast that sludge and clear the channels for flow.