Mineral and Metal Anti-Aging Recipes in Rasaśāstra

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    The project examines alchemical materials and formulations meant to halt or reverse the aging process. Particular focus will include recipes containing gemological substances. In many cases gems such as rubies and diamonds were unavailable to alchemical practitioners who would instead use other materials to replicate the properties of the desired gemstones, which were then used. The project will explore the creation of such materials to examine how the substituted substances act as a genuine fill-in for the desired materials. The project compares how such changes and substitutions are used within medicine in order to transform the body into a desired state, much like the replication of gems.
    This project examines particular recipes for selected outcomes over time, from the 12th to 17th centuries. This will be the first project of its kind to compare particular usages within the texts to tell the story of alchemical development. The focus on rejuvenation therapies will be highlighted for several reasons. A) The vast majority of rasaśāstra texts contain at least some formulations for such outcomes. B) Rejuvenation within rasaśāstra shares terminology and philosophical ideas far outside medicine, with overlap in religious and yogic understandings of the body. C) The modern subculture of health and wellness includes a focus on anti-aging that uses many of the same plant (e.g. turmeric, shilajit, ashwagandha) and even mineral (e.g. diamonds, mineral rich clay, zinc) materials found in rasaśāstra recipes.
    To date, studies on Sanskrit alchemical literature are limited. This sub-field of South Asian medicine received some attention by the Romanian scholar Arion Roşu and several of his graduate students. Roşu's work (1986, 1997, unpublished), which is published in French, has not been continued and those graduate students (most notably White, 1996) have now retired. Rather that let this important field flounder, this project will pick up those threads and produce work in English that will break open the field to a new generation of scholars. Additionally, working at the intersections of tantric and alchemical studies will provide an audience. Tantric studies is a thriving sub-field of South Asian literature and religion, that currently stands on its own, with tantric works being compared to one another rather than the wider body of works it influenced. This project will demonstrate the interconnections between tantra and alchemy by revealing the ideas and practices that tie them together.
    StatusNot started
    Effective start/end date1/01/2531/12/27


    Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.