Rasāyana, रसायन is a Sanskrit word, with the literal meaning: Path (āyana) of essence (rasa). It is a term that in early ayurvedic medicine means the science of lengthening lifespan, and in later (post 8th-century) works sometimes refers to Indian alchemy. The name of the science of Indian alchemy or proto-chemistry, is more. In Indian Alchemy Dr. Mahadihassan attempts to elucidate the point that Alchemy is a science through which the higher states of being reveal themselves with. INDIAN ALCHEMY OR RASAYANA- IN THE LIGHT OF ASCETICISM AND GERIATRICS Subsequent Edition by Mahdihassan S from Only Genuine.

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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. The numbers within brackets given in the text denote references as given in the bibliography. The first number indicates the serial number in bibliography and subsequent numbers the volume and page numbers. SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR The study of alchemy during the past century in the West has been dominated for the most part by a scientistic spirit that is totally impervious to the extra- spatial dimensions of reality and blind to the language of symbolism through which the higher states of being rwsayana themselves within the matrix of the spatio- temporal world.

Except for a few out-standing works such as the penetrating study of Titus Burckhardt1 most modern writings have tried to reduce alchemy to a proto-chemistry or at best a psychology which is, however, divorced from the world of the Spirit.

Alchemy is of course related to a science of the soul and kndian also alfhemy bound in certain of its aspects to the early history of chemistry and metallurgy. But it cannot be reduced to either the study of materials pure and simple or of the psyche divorced from pneuma.

It is a science that alchmy directly related to the extra-spatial and temporal levels of the universal hierarchy and therefore totally beyond the reach of any of the profane methods employed during the past century in its study. Strangely enough, there has been a great deal of interest in alchemy of late as a result of the appearance l. Sa signification et son image du monde. It is a science of the cosmos and of the soul, related at once to cosmology, the process of spiritual realization and hence traditional psycho- logy3 medicine, metallurgy, chemistry and also art.

Coomaraswamy, e Lipsey, Princeton. Scanned by CamScanner xiii their accidents. The alchemical perspective has been directly concerned on the one hand with minerals metals and aurification, with all that the element gold symbolizes in the natural domain. In some civilizations the one aspect has been emphasized, and in others the other. But seen from the highest point of view and in the light of the most universal principles of alchemy it can be said that there is a profound unity within the alchemical perspective, whether one is dealing with Alexandrian, Chinese, Indian, Islamic or Western alchemy.

The earlier historians of alchemy such as von Lippmann believed that, alchemy was brought to India by Muslims. Later research indiah unveiled references to alchemy ante-dating the rise of Islam, and it is now conceded by most scholars that Indian alchemy has a alchemh more ancient history than imagined until now and that it is in fact closely related to certain forms of Yoga, especially Tantrism, with which it became closely associated later, to the extent that ro power to perform alchemical transmutation came to be considered ineian one of the siddhis of Yogis.

The influence of Islamic alchemy in the Indian world was a later alcbemy which complemented an already existing tradition. Considering the dearth of material on Indian alchemy, it is with pleasure invian one welcomes the appearance of the present work by Dr.

Mahdihassan whose research on Chinese and Islamic alchemy is already known to students of the field. Mahdihassan Scanned by CamScanner xiv is to be especially congratulated for making clear the nexus between alchemy and medicine, a relation that is often disregarded by those rsaayana to the well- known studies of Alexandrian alchemy with their sole emphasis upon the mineralogical and the metallurgical aspects of alchemy.

He has thus helped to re-establish the balance that should exist in seeing alchemy as being related to the mineral world on the one hand and the world of plants on the other, both of course acting as foundations for concerns that ultimately belong to another domain of reality. Mahdihassan applied to his study of Rasayana or Indian alchemy, which he sees essentially as geriatrics and closely bound to the life of ascetics in the wilderness and elderly people left by themselves in remote places.


Mahdihassan is not concerned so much with this relation as with the medico-pharmaceu- tical practices which have always accompanied alchemy in ndia as well as in Tibet and China, not to speak of certain schools of Islamic alchemy.

To this concern he To this day there are practising alchhemy in Persia in such J? The present work is, therefore, a valuable addition to the literature of alchemy and provides another perspective from which Indian alchemy and through it Chinese and even Islamic alchemy can be studied. It is our hope that this and similar works will provide the constitutive elements from which incian complete and total picture of the science of alcbemy can be constructed, a science that is concerned at once with the cosmos and the soul, with minerals and plants, and finally with the healing art and the art of making things.

Mahdi- hassan is to be congratulated for providing valuable material for the creation of alcgemy total image of that arcane discipline which is at once an art and a science and which deals ultimately with man himself as a substance that is to be transmuted and made worthy of the immortality for which he is destined through his own theomorphic nature.

The subject made a strong appeal to me in so far as a chemist should know the early history of his science which is alchemy. I have therefore not spared any energy collecting authentic views, contacting contem- porary alchemists, who were only a few, as surviving authorities, and critically deducing conclusions, finally all presented in this monograph.

On the whole I feel it is as good an account as I can offer at the moment. But the tragedy of what is good is that there can be something better.

I myself could have improved upon what is offered here if I had access to the selected literature I had accumulated during several years. Among them were reprints of valuable articles, corres- pondence and publications of three authorities to whom I am indebted rasyaana much information as also for encour- agement.

Needham of Cambridge, Prof. Pagel of London and Prof. All this literature was at Pabna, Bangladesh, but my residence was looted. I had therefore to start my work afresh and I am aware it is neither the last word on the alcbemy, nor the last but one. Graubard has kindly presented me a copy of his valuable book, Astrology rasayanw Alchemy, alxhemy two fossil sciences.

Scanned by CamScanner xvii The one point where I radically differ with authorities is the baciV y ner Wlth most o, nimism, Dualism and Monism as would be interpreted by their orthodox adherents. Others have tried to rationalize what by nature is incapable of such aalchemy approach. For instance soul is a sort of code-word for what essentiaHy differentiates the living and the dead. In the pages that follow soul is looked upon as the power which is all-becoming, all-changing and, above all, enabling things rassayana grow and reproduce.

For the pur- pose of history of alchemy this definition fully suffices. Creation proceeded from a primordial soul and the Universe was its incarnation. The alchemists, Islamic and European, conceived it as primordial substance, Ineian Matter.

The Cosmic Soul and Prime Matter are two phases of the same entity. One is reminded here of Oswald who pronounced that, matter is what we indixn and energy is what we think. Today we admit matter can change into energy and vice versa. Our popular notion of rasayanx starts with two entities, the word of God contacting a clod of earth, which begins to grow and shape itself as though the clod had become an embryo.

The alchemist tried to rehearse creation with two corresponding opposites. Soul was extracted from donors richly endowed with it, as plants are, and infused it in solid vehicles like metals. A calcined metal was a herbo-metallic com- plex but, as is being explained here, also a hermaphro- dite by constitution, and autonomous by function as a ferment.

Full text of “Indian Alchemy Or Rasayana By S. Mahdihassan”

The best preparation deserved to be called Ferment-gold. It was perfect in so far as gold, the vehicle, is fire-proof. And it is fire-proof because it grows so fast that any injury due to heat is repaired at the same time. Ferment-gold, however, cannot resist the high temperature at which gold melts. Ferment-gold was live-gold, heat-resistant, but not fire-proof whereas gold as metal is fire-proof. Let us here consider awards of honour e.

Indian Alchemy or Rasayana : In the Light of Asceticism and Geriatrics

Yet the judge feels justified in selecting for the best award a vehicle which is the most permanent of all metals. Likewise when the alchemist has changed a base metal, say once into silver, and on another occa- sion into gold, he has produced in the latter case a superior drug.


He could claim his art having reached the stage of perfection for gold as a metal is fire-proof whereas silver is not.

Extending this idea when silver is enlivened, as Ferment-silver, and gold, as Ferment-gold, the latter must obviously be better in every respect. Such authors trying to modernize ideas based on Animism and Dualism have given us a distorted picture of alchemy.

In as much as the alchem- ists have suffered thereby Iindian have fears that my own inter- pretations may meet the same fate. Rasayaba have therefore felt it expedient to repeat myself though it is detri- mental to style. It is assumed that the human mind loves to be entertained by legends and mythologies.

Legends start popularizing new ideas in a beautiful form. After alchemy was introduced, but not yet popular, as in the days when Alberuni lived in India, legends existed implying gold as a raswyana capable of growth and self-repair. The full impact of alchemy upon mytho- logy remodelled god Shiva so that we can say, alchemy modified Shiva before Shiva modified Rasayana, thereby creating alchemy in India.

Brahman and Atman, as the two fractions of soul as a whole. Brahma’n indain identified as Growth-soul or male sub-soul, and Atman as Soul-corporeal or female sub-soul. Their union means fusion of opposites which results in creative energy capable of conferring rejuvenation, resurrection and immortality. For it to change and enliven a metal into Ferment-gold is a trivial achieve- ment. Indian philosophy is made allchemy explain theore- tical alchemy since both are founded on Dualism merging into Monism.

The conception of a ferment, dual-natured but as one and that of a hermaphrodite, indissoluble and as one, show how Dualism developed into Monism. In Indian Monism, Brahman incarnates alchrmy into Atman; they are like mirror images, they are not identical, just as two poles of a magnet are not, yet one cannot exist without the other. With such attempts I feel I could not have gone deeper into theore- tical alchemy bringing Indian Rasayana and Indian Upanishads, each unique in nature, together as the pro- Scanned by CamScanner XX ducts of the same thinker.

Holding such views I certain ly do not endorse the popular view of the origin of alchemy pronounced by authors like A. Here it is being shown that the ascetic, hankering after rejuvenation, founded Rasayana which developed into alchemy rasayaba, hanker- ing after immortality, established Upanishadic philo- sophy.

Lust for life made the alchejy dream of eternal youth in this world and rasayxna him to Rasayana and alchemy. That part of the book which is written last and yet read before the book itself is the Alcnemy.

This is best written by one who knows the subject and also the author. I beg to dedicate the monograph to Dr. It is my pleasant duty to thank both these authorities once again here.

I am fortunate that it is being published by the Institute of History of Medicine and Medical Research, New Delhi, whose President, Hakim Abdul Hameed Sahib has also dedicated himself jndian advance such knowledge for its own alhcemy.

Naturally he has placed me under a great debt of gratitude. I must also thank Mr. Jawed Mirza for his patience rasqyana perseverance in typing the manuscript- S. Differential approach of a scientist and a historian. Alchemy has been a science of some sort and it also claims a history. Accordingly, if we approach its past, alhcemy are called upon to do justice to it, first as a scientist and next as a historian. The historian seems to be mainly concerned with events and his anxiety is limited to their documentation.

What leads to events does not seem to interest him. Let us consider two decisive battles of the world. One at Waterloo as a crushing defeat of the French which could properly account for the subsequent changes in the face of Europe. The other was fought, inat Plassey, in India, which rela- tively was a skirmish.

Yet the battle established once for all British Power in India which continued to expand until the whole sub-conti- nent came under its domination.

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