Indian metallurgy, alchemy and tantra

Dominik Wujastyk d.wujastyk at UCL.AC.UK
Sun Jul 18 13:05:55 UTC 2004

In addition to David White's excellent and interesting "The Alchemical 
Body", there is a corpus of important writing on Indian alchemy by Arion 
Rosu, spread over several articles and decades.  A Festschrift for Dr Rosu 
is to be published quite soon, which will contain a bibliography of his 

I made a modest foray into this area myself 20 years ago, in the article 
"An Alchemical Ghost: the Rasaratnakara of Nagarjuna" published in the 
journal Ambix in 1984.  ( I studied the 
relationships between the three works: Rasaratnakara, Rasendramangala, and 
Kaksaputatantra (by Nityanatha Siddha, Nagarjuna Parvatiputra, and 
Nagarjuna Siddha respectively).  The first and last of these works are 
closely related textually.  There is no such text as "The Rasaratnakara of 
Nagarjuna", though it was discussed by P.C. Ray in his History of Hindu 
Chemistry.  He was misled by a very confused MS of the work from the 
Ranbir collection in Jammu.

There's a relevant book I've never read: Introduzione all’alchimia 
Indiana. By Arturo Schwarz (Bari : G. Laterza, 1984).

There are two institutions in London with exceptionally rich research 
collections on these topics: the Wellcome Library and the Warburg 


On Sat, 17 Jul 2004, Dean Anderson wrote:

> An archaeologist colleague of mine is studying early Islamic Persian
> metallurgy and metallic glazes. He made an interesting comment about how
> they set up special academies just to house European alchemists fleeing
> Christian persecution. That reminded me of the links I had seen about
> Indian metallurgy and alchemy being related somehow to tantra but I
> don't know much about it. I mentioned this and he felt that he was
> probably seeing some Indian influences in his work but didn't know how
> to track them down.
> Does anyone have any reputable sources on Indian metallurgy, alchemy and
> tantra from about the sixth to the tenth century AD?
> Dean Anderson

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