Presentation by Dagmar Wujastyk: Rasāyana in Sanskrit alchemical literature

01.08.2017

Presentation by Dagmar Wujastyk: Rasāyana in Sanskrit alchemical literature

In Indian alchemical literature, the Sanskrit term “rasāyana” is predominantly used to describe alchemical operations, i.e. all that is involved in the making and 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 and chemical processing of raw materials; the admixture and further processing of materials to formulate the elixir (this can involve ritual and the use of mantras); the preparation of the practitioner (cleansing procedures for body and mind); the intake of the elixir and finally, the process of transformation the practitioner undergoes after intake of the elixir.

However, many alchemical works also include rasāyana sections that describe a type of therapy similar in aims and methods to the rasāyana treatment known from ayurvedic medical literature. Further, when the term “rasāyana” is used to describe the characteristics or effects of a substance or formula, it very often seems to be applied in the medical understanding of the term rather than in the sense of elixir.

In my presentation, I will present examples of rasāyana sections from a selection of alchemical treatises to explore their connections to and divergences from ayurvedic literature. I will also discuss how medical rasāyana sections are positioned within alchemical works and examine how this reflects the development of iatrochemistry in alchemical literature.

Conference: Medicine and Yoga in South and Inner Asia: Body Cultivation, Therapeutic Intervention and the Sowa Rigpa Industry

Vienna, August 1-3, 2017

Co-hosted by the Dept. of South Asian, Tibet and Buddhist Studies, University of Vienna and the Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences

© Ayuryog 2015 - University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.1 & Hof 2.7 (Campus), 1090 Wien