History of Science in South Asia https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa <p>An Open Access journal for the history of all forms of scientific thought and action, ancient and modern, in all regions of South Asia.&nbsp;&nbsp; See further, <a title="Focus and Scope" href="/hssa/index.php/hssa/about/editorialPolicies#focusAndScope" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Focus and Scope</a>.</p> en-US Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:<br /><br />Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a  <a id="tinymce" class="mceContentBody " dir="ltr" href="http://creativecommons.org/" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> Attribution-ShareAlike license that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.<br /><br />Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's  published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.<br /><br />Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See <a id="tinymce" class="mceContentBody " dir="ltr" href="http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html" target="_blank">The Effect of Open Access</a>). wujastyk@ualberta.ca (Prof. Dominik Wujastyk) wujastyk@ualberta.ca (Dominik Wujastyk) Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 OJS http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss 60 Transmutations: Rejuvenation, Longevity, and Immortality Practices in South and Inner Asia https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/33 <p class="western" style="line-height: 150%;"><span style="font-family: Times\ New\ Roman, serif;"><span lang="en-GB">Wild and diverse outcomes are associated with transmutational practices: the prolongation of life, the recovery of youth, the cure of diseases, invincibility, immortality, enlightenment, liberation from the cycle of rebirths, and unending bliss. This range of outcomes is linked to specific practices taught in separate traditions and lineages in medical, alchemical, yogic and tantric milieus across South and Inner Asia. </span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times\ New\ Roman, serif;"><span lang="en-GB">These practices can be individual or collective, esoteric or secular, and</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times\ New\ Roman, serif;"><span lang="fr-FR"> occur in different places from hospital to village to monastery; they </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times\ New\ Roman, serif;"><span lang="en-GB">involve transmutations of substances as well as transmutations of the body. </span></span></span><span style="font-family: Times\ New\ Roman, serif;"><span lang="en-GB">Every expression by a particular lineage has a distinguishing articulation. Yet there are also very clear commonalities and interconnections between the traditions’ aims, methods and expected results. </span></span><span style="font-family: Times\ New\ Roman, serif;"><span lang="en-GB">In this special issue of HSSA, we examine transmutational practices and their underlying concepts in this wider context of South and Inner Asian culture. How do these practices and ideas connect and cross-fertilise? And conversely, how are they delineated and distinct? </span></span></p> Dagmar Wujastyk, Suzanne Newcombe, Christèle Barois ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/33 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Acts of Improvement https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/26 <p>In Sanskrit medical literature, <em>rasāyana</em> is defined as one of eight subject areas of medicine. The proclaimed aim of <em>rasāyana</em> therapies is to preserve or promote health and well-being, but also to prolong life, to halt degeneration caused by aging, to rejuvenate and to improve cognitive function. The term “<em>rasāyana</em>” describes the therapies that together constitute this branch of medicine; the methodology and regimen of treatment; and the medicinal substances and formulations used in these therapies.</p> <p class="Textkrper">In Indian alchemical literature, the Sanskrit term “rasāyana” is predominantly used to describe the final stages of alchemical operations, i.e.&nbsp; all that is involved in the taking of elixirs for attaining a state of spiritual liberation in a living body. Rasāyana in this sense describes a series of related processes, including the preparation of the elixir; the preparation of the practitioner; the intake of the elixir and finally, the process of transformation the practitioner undergoes after intake of the elixir.</p> <p class="Textkrper">In my paper, I present examples of rasāyana sections from a selection of medical and alchemical treatises to explore their connections and divergences. I also discuss how the connections between medical and alchemical rasāyana sections reflect the development of iatrochemistry in alchemical literature.</p> Dagmar Wujastyk ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/26 Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0600 Stretching Out Life, Maintaining the Body: Part I - Vayas in Medical Literature https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/31 <p>The representation of the process of human life is at the heart of questions about longevity, rejuvenation practices and possibly those which aim at immortality. The key term for “age” in medieval India is <em>vayas,</em> which means “vigour”, “youth” or even&nbsp; “any period of life”, that is to say&nbsp; exactly the same meaning as ours (duration of life). As a criterion for the examination of the patient, <em>vayas</em> is invariably divided into three periods: childhood, intermediate age and old age, precisely defined in the ayurvedic <em>saṃhitās</em>. It seems that <em>vayas</em> might be a relevant gateway to the cross-disciplinary understandings of age in medieval India, and therefore to the conditions of its (relative) mastery.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Christèle Barois ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/31 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 On the Meaning of Rasāyana in Classical Yoga and Āyurveda https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/32 <p>The present chapter deals with <em>rasāyana</em> in the discipline of Yoga. More specifically, it focuses on the meaning of the word <em>rasāyana</em> in the <em>Pātañjalayogaśāstra</em> (PYŚ, late fourth or early fifth century CE), the oldest surviving Sanskrit exposition of Yoga as a soteriological system of thought from a Brāhmaṇa perspective. By interpreting the two difficult and slightly obscure text passages of the PYŚ that mention <em>rasāyana</em> in the light of its older commentaries and on the basis of additional references to <em>rasāyana</em> and related conceptions in early classical āyurvedic and upaniṣadic literature, the chapter concludes that for Patañjali <em>rasāyana</em> was a magically longevity potion prepared from unidentified herbs. The PYŚ neither refers to <em>rasāyana</em> as a branch of Āyurveda nor to alchemy. Some commentators of the PYŚ, however, interpret Patañjali's mentioning of <em>rasāyana</em> differently. While Vācaspatimiśra in the later half of the tenth century follows the PYŚ closely, the eleventh-century commentator Bhoja relates <em>rasāyana</em> to alchemy. Finally, the eighth-century (?) commentator Śaṅkara relates Patañjali's <em>rasāyana</em> to Āyurveda. Even though this interpretation is probably at odds with the PYŚ, it is not at all a far fetched, since the obtainment of various superpowers played an important role in āyurvedic <em>rasāyana</em> from the time of earliest sources onwards.</p> Philipp André Maas ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/32 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Yogis, Ayurveda, and Kayakalpa https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/29 <p>How should we read claims about health and well-being which defy common sense?&nbsp; Are claims of extreme longevity to be viewed as fraudulent, or as pushing the boundaries of possibility for the human body?&nbsp; This article will consider the narrative and context around a particularly well-publicized incident of rejuvenation therapy, advertised as <em>kāyakalpa </em>(body transformation or rejuvenation)<em>, </em>from 1938. In this year, the prominent Congress Activist and co-founder of Banaras Hindu University, Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861–1946), underwent an extreme – and very public – rejuvenation treatment under the care of a sadhu using the name of Shriman Tapasviji (c.1770?-1955). The first half of the article will explore the presentation of Malaviya’s treatment and how it inspired a focus on rejuvenation therapy within Indian medicine in the years immediately following. Exploring this mid-twentieth century incident highlight some of the themes and concerns of the historical period, just out of living memory, but in many ways similar to our own.</p> Suzanne Newcombe ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/29 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Mastering Deathlessness https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/16 <p>The article presents some remarks concerning practices aimed at achieving rejuvenation, longevity and immortality described in the literature of the Tamil Siddhas, with special reference to the medico-alchemical stream of the tradition. The study is based on the philological analysis of selected representative works of Tamil Siddha literature, starting from the <em>Tirumantiram</em> of Tirumūlar (6-12th century). The <em>Tirumantiram</em> is generally acknowledged to be a root text of the Tami Siddha tradition and it contains passages that elaborately discuss the theory and practices of yoga, presenting them as a means of attaining longevity and immortality. It also contains references to medical practices. Further, relevant ideas about rejuvenating, life-prolonging and immortalizing methods found in selected texts of the medico-alchemical stream of the tradition are discussed. The literature of the medical and alchemical lore of the Tamil Siddhas, roughly dated to the period between the 16th and 19th centuries, abounds in practical recipes for the drugs (<em>kaṟpam</em>) for prolonging life. Certain items credited with extraordinary powers connected with rejuvenation and immortalization, such as triple salt (<em>muppu</em>), mercurial jewel (<em>racamaṇi</em>), human urine, special varieties of medicinal plants, etc. are particularly referenced to in the paper. Finally, the concepts relating to “the art of non-dying” (<em>cākākkalai</em>) taught in the works of Vaḷḷalār, the poet-saint born in 19th century and closely linked with the Tamil Siddha tradition, are outlined in the article.</p> Ilona Barbara Kędzia ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/16 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Tibetan Bonpo Mendrup: The Precious Formula’s Transmission https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/27 <p>The article presents the traceable history of the Tibetan Bonpo <em>mendrup</em> ritual practice in textual sources, as it has been recorded by the Bonpos themselves. These records are put into context with the current performance of the practice by the Bonpo exile community.</p> <p>The study aims to embrace all the relevant Bonpo historical material accessible, and thus deals with documents of a wide time spam, from the eleventh or twelfth century onwards until the early twentieth century. The Bonpo <em>mendrup</em> is a healing, longevity, rejuvenation and enlightenment-seeking contemplative meditational practice of the Tibetan tantric tradition with a strong emphasis on its medicinal component. It embodies various spheres of knowledge and their principles, as the Indian tantrism, a strong Buddhist cosmological organisational and soteriological framework, the Tibetan medical tradition, with embedded elements of alchemy and Tibetan indigenous religious notions. As the studied sources reveal, its origin can be traced to the intellectually vibrant times in Tibet of around the twelfth century, where all these fields of expertise came together. Thus the case provides an example of such a complex composed of tantra, medicine and alchemic influences specific for Tibet.</p> <p>Since then, the Bonpo <em>mendrup</em> can be followed by varied records in a number of Bonpo literary sources of different genres. These are compared with the present form of the ritual. The sources support the ritual’s anticipated transmission and practice throughout the history. They show that different ideas apply to its origin, and particularly its revelation as a treasure text, and that the ritual existed in varied forms, and was shared and imparted among different lineages of Bon. The most important finding is that the practice is actually traceable throughout the history, and likely have never ceased to be active over the centuries from the very early times until today.&nbsp;</p> Anna Sehnalova ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/27 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Reflections on Rasāyana, Bcud Len and Related Practices in Nyingma (Rnying Ma) Tantric Ritual https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/17 <p align="justify">The Tibetan term, <em>bcud len</em>, "imbibing the essence juice", is considered an equivalent for the Sanskrit term, <em>rasāyana</em>. But in Tibetan Buddhist ritual manuals, both terms occur, apparently with slightly different connotations. Practices classified as <em>bcud len</em> are frequently relatively short, and seem primarily designed for the use of individual yogis, usually as a subsidiary practice to complement their main tantric meditation. The production of <em>bcud len</em> pills which are said to sustain, rejuvenate and extend the life of the body, or even to bring immortality, is often an integral part of the practice. The term, <em>rasāyana</em>, is used in Tibetan transliteration (<em>ra s</em><em>ā</em><em> ya na</em>), not as a title or classification for a specific ritual practice or recipe for pills, but rather to refer to the processes of alchemical transformation of substances within complex ritual "medicinal accomplishment" (<em>sman sgrub</em>) performances which are generally communal. In this case too, pills are produced, of the broader "sacred elixir dharma medicine" (<em>dam rdzas bdud rtsi chos sman</em>) type. This paper will consider a range of the practices, and of substances used in the sacred medicinal compounds. &nbsp;</p> Cathy Cantwell ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/17 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 Tibetan Precious Pills as Therapeutics and Rejuvenating Longevity Tonics https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/15 <p>Tibetan precious pills are frequently attributed with a variety of efficacies, from “magical” powers, prevention of poisoning and infectious diseases, protection from harmful spirits and exposure to diseases while travelling, to rejuvenating and prolonging life through clearing the senses and promoting strength and vigor. They are prescribed as strong medicines for severe diseases, but are also advertised as rejuvenating tonics for the healthy. This paper explores the rejuvenating qualities attributed to precious pills in terms of how they are currently advertised, how rejuvenation is and has been explained in Tibetan works on precious pills, and how Tibetan physicians understand these attributes. How do these domains interact and refer to each other?</p> <p>I compare aspects of rejuvenation in precious pill formulas with contemporary presentations of precious pills online and on published leaflets given out to patients in India and elsewhere. In Tibetan medical texts certain precious pills that contain the complex and processed mercury-sulfide ash called tsotel in addition to a large variety of other medicinal substances are presented as “precious pills” or rinchen rilbu, and only some of those are said to have rejuvenating effects on the body; most are primarily prescribed for specific diseases. The practice of giving precious pills to the healthy emerges more prominently in eighteenth to nineteenth century manuals on administering precious pills (Czaja 2015), which parallels the establishment of influential medical and monastic networks that promoted the making of tsotel and precious pills. I argue that precious pills have more recently widened their specific therapeutic target beyond that of medicine into becoming popular pills for rejuvenation, even if they do not contain tsotel, as part of pharmaceutical commodification. I also show how presentations of precious pills as “rejuvenating” are deeply linked to their availability.</p> Barbara Gerke ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/15 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700 The Flame and the Breeze https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/30 <p>This is a preliminary report on the longevity practices discussed in a Bengali Islamic Yogic text by Haji Muhammad called&nbsp;<em>Nurjamal ba Suratnama</em>&nbsp;written in the last decade of the sixteenth century. This and other similar texts were authored by Bengali literati in the kingdom of Roshang that encompassed at the time both the Arakan and eastern Bengal. I first present the unique cultural and political context in which these texts were produced. Next I discuss the particular text and its author. In doing this I also review the scant scholarship that exists on the material as well as advancing a different and parallel analytic strategy by which the texts might, in my view, be opened up to a broader range of inquiries. In the two subsequent sections I use the proposed strategy of 'figural history' to interrogate two different figures of 'life' that are found in the text under investigation. The entire discussion of longevity practices is organized around these figures of life and I suggest that they need to be explored more fully in their individuality. The conclusion pulls the strings together and reiterates the case for studying the longevity practices in this and other similar texts using figural history as an analytic strategy.</p> Projit Bihari Mukharji ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/hssa/index.php/hssa/article/view/30 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0700