Sri Lankan Ayurveda

Osto, Douglas D.Osto at MASSEY.AC.NZ
Sat Aug 15 19:53:37 UTC 2009

Personally, I am certain that Papaver somniferum L. is not known before
the second millennium AD in India.  One can see how confused
medical authors are about it, even as late as the commentators on
Sarngadhara's Sarngadharasamhita (ca 1400).  The Sanskrit name is a
transparent borrowing from Greek.

To establish earlier existence in S. Asia, one would have to
tick several boxes, including,
1. convincing physical description of the plant
2. plausible account of it's effects on the human body (constipation,
3. plus the quality of being vyaapin.

Cf my essay on cannabis, that is relevant in terms of methodology for this
kind of study, and cites important earlier landmark studies, including one
by Meulenbeld:

Wujastyk, D. "Cannabis in Traditional Indian Herbal Medicine"
Salema, A. (ed.) Ayurveda at the Crossroads of Care and Cure. Proceedings
of the Indo-European Seminar on Ayurveda held at Arrábida, Portugal, in
November 2001 Centro de História del Além-Mar, Universidade Nova de
Lisboa, 2002 pp. 45-73.

Dear Prof. Wujastyk,

Thank you and others for your references to Sri Lankan Ayurveda. In reference to your above mentioned article, I have come across a herbal medicine mentioned in Sri Lankan Ayurveda called "Modana Modaka". Have you heard of this? I suspected that it might be either cannabis or some opiate.


Dr. Douglas Osto
Religious Studies and Philosophy Programmes
School of History, Philosophy and Classics
Massey University
Private Bag 11 222
Palmerston North
New Zealand
ph: +64 6 356 9099 ex. 7608

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