claude setzer cssetzer at
Sat Feb 1 03:59:42 UTC 1997

To: Members of the list:
31 Jan. 1997

There is a quite interesting book on this topic: Patanjali's Sidha Science
of Kalpa Medicine. I don't remember the author but it must have been
written 30 or 40 years ago. I saw it in the Indian collection of the
University of Virginia main library (around 1975 I believe). As I remember
it describes Ayurveda as a discipline not primarily related to disease, but
rather to physically structuring immortality (and enlightenment) into the
human body, and gave a living example of its success. It also talks about
the ancient Indian knowledge that later led to alchemy in Europe.(according
to the author) In that science, the ability to turn base metal or mercury
into gold was not the goal, but rather the test of the elixir of
immortality. (By the way, the process of turning mercury into gold is not
really that far fetched, a similar process of turning silicon into
phosphorous is used extensively today in semiconductor technology. Its
result, interestingly enough, is to make the semiconductor device have much
higher quality, and thus a longer lifetime...leading towards electronic
immortality.) I also believe there was at least the implication in this
book that this elixir was closely related to soma and the process of
physical transformation described by Sushruta.

At the conference in Bangalore, there was the claim that traditional (does
this mean ancient?) Ayurveda had no claim to a holistic system of spiritual
development that included meditation for perfection of the body. As I
recall, this book was one of many references I remember seeing that
disagree with that claim.

Claude Setzer

> From: Gary J Hausman <gjh8 at>
> To: Members of the list <indology at>
> Subject: Re: Amrtam
> Date: Friday, January 31, 1997 1:30 PM
> The relation between external alchemy (gold deposits in the earth, etc.)
> and internal alchemy (the alchemy of the body) is quite explicitly
> articulated in Chinese medicine, as well as South Indian Siddha
> For an entire volume on this topic, see part V, of Volume 5, of Science
> and Civilization in China by Joseph Needham on 'Physiological Alchemy.'
> Joseph Needham argues that Chinese 'physiological alchemy' was deeply
> influenced by Indian yogic practices.
> 			Gary Hausman
> 			Columbia University

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