We are not the only ones: The first procedure according to others

Dagmar Wujastyk

Perhaps you noticed at the end of the first AyurYog film on reconstructing alchemical procedures that the filmmaker thanks Dr Jinal Thakkar and Dr Parth Kale. These are the rasashastra experts with formal university training in India that Andrew Mason has consulted with.

Both have conducted their own experiments of the alchemical procedures and have documented the process. Dr Kale's pictures can be found on Instagram at Rasahriday. He followed descriptions of the procedures laid out in the Āyurvedaprakāśa, an iatrochemical text written by an author called Mādhava in the seventeenth century. Dr Thakkar's images can be found on her Instagram at drjinalthakkar. She completed the procedures a while back: it took her about a year to complete the first eight procedures. Dr Kale has done the procedures twice so far. He had help and was able to complete eight procedures within a few months each time.

To give you a comparison with our reconstruction, here are some of their pictures of the first procedure: steaming (svedana):


Dr Jinal Thakkar's images:



The sign reads "kalka" - paste. This is the herbal mixture that mercury will be placed into for the steaming process.


This is a bowl made of vaṭa - Ficus Indica leaves. The sign reads "vaṭa patra droṇa" - fig leaf vessel. Dr Thakker stitched the leaves together.


Here, the herbal paste is placed inside the fig leaf bowl. The mercury will b filled into it next, and then the whole thing will be tied up with cloth into a bolus.


This is the 'swing-device' (dolāyantra) that Dr Thakker used. The sign reads "pārada prathama saṃskāra (svedana)" - the first procedure for mercury (steaming)"



Dr Parth Kale's images:




Mercury is poured into a bowl made of a herbal paste. Yes, he is indeed pouring the liquid quicksilver right over his fingers. Mercury is toxic, especially its vapour. However, liquid metallic mercury is poorly absorbed by skin contact and even by ingestion (still not recommended!).




The herbal bowl and mercury are then tied into cloth.


The bolus is immersed in sour gruel and boiled. Here, Dr Kale did not use a lidded device.


After steaming, the mercury is mostly gathered in the cloth.


And this is the mercury retrieved after steaming.


Images with kind permission of Drs Kale and Thakkar.

We are not the only ones: The first procedure according to others

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