B. Mukherji's The Wealth of Indian
Alchemy and Its Therapeutic Uses (Second Revised Edition) transports you to the
great wealth of Indian alchemy and its profound therapeutic applications. This
two-volume set contains the English translation of the renowned Rasa Jala
Nidhi, a beloved treatise on Rasa Sastra. This book delves into the depths of
early Indian medicine, providing extensive processes for refining mercury and
exploring its medicinal benefits. It is an excellent resource for scholars,
researchers, and practitioners of alchemy and traditional Indian medicine, with
its scientific theories and old wisdom.
From the Jacket
The main concept of Rasa sastra is to transform base/lower metals into noble/ higher metals and to strengthen and maintain the body tissue in a healthy state and to cure the diseases. Therefore to achieve Lohavedha (transformation of metals) and Dehavedha (transformation of body tissues) this system of Rasa Sastra was evolved and developed. The Rasa sastra has laid stress on the Rasayana concept of Ayurveda to promote positive health through prevention of ageing and diseases. The present book is the revised English translation of the Rasa Jala Nidhi. As the name denotes this book is the ocean of Rasa Sastra giving procedures for purifications of mercury, medicinal uses etc.
New Introduction to Revised Edition
The Indian culture and civilization, one of the oldest civilizations of the universe, is still alive not only because of the glory it achieved in the field of abstract thought and spirit, but also in the different fields of science and material progress. Ayurveda, ‘the science of medicine’ is such a branch of science in which the Indians attained the greatness. Discovery of this science was the result of the eternal endeavourement of human being keeping himself free from different types of miseries including diseases. The scope of this traditional science of the medicine is very vast. It has eight well known branches, namely
1. Kaya cikitsa or internal medicine;
2. Salya tantra or surgery;
3. Salakya tantra or treatment of the diseases of head and neck, including ENT;
4. Agada tantra or toxicology;
5. Bhuta vidya or treatment of afflictions with evil spirits, and other psychic diseases;
6. Bala tantra or paediatrics;
7. Rasayana tantra or geriatrics including rejuvenation therapy; and
8. Vajikarana tantra or the science of aphrodisiac.
Later on, Ayurveda developed a different, but very important branch, viz. Rasa sastra or Iatro-chemistry.
In the opinion of the author of present work, the ancient glory and greatness of ayurveda was neither due to its progress in the above-mentioned eight branches, nor due to the excellence of herbal drugs, which the well-meaning physicians have been trying to revive, but due to the exceptional and unique progress which ayurveda made in the region of Medical Chemistry or Rasa sastra (rasa = metals and minerals in general and mercury in particular, sastra - knowledge or science). Thus, rasa sastra is the branch of ayurveda which deals with the processing and therapeutic use of metals, minerals and allied products. Mercury has the power to assimilate (rasanat) all the other metals and is effective (rasyate) in preventing and curing the process of aging, pain and even untimely death, so it is called rasa. Apart from this, rasa sastra or Iatro-Chemistry includes the description, processing and therapeutic use of drugs belonging to the categories of mah “a rasas (major varieties of rasa, e.g. maksika, vimala, capala or bismuth, rasaka or zinck ore, copper sulphate, cinnabar, antimony, mica, lapis lazuli and tourmaline), uparasas (subsidiary metals and minerals, e.g. sulphur, alum, red ochre, etc.); sadharana rasas (drugs generally used in the processing of mercury; e.g. white arsenic, ammonium chloride, etc.); dhatus (metals, e.g. gold, silver, copper, tin, zinc, lead and iron); dhatus (metals, e.g. gold, silver, copper, tin, zinc, lead and iron); upadhatus (subsidiary metals and mineral products; e.g. copper pyrite, iron pyrite, bronze, vermilion, mineral pitch); ratnas (gems and jewels), uparatnas (subsidiary gems and jewels); sudhas (calcium compounds); lavanas (salts); ksaras (alkalies); visas (vegetable products having acute toxic effects, e.g. vatsanabha (aconite), arsenic, etc.); and upavisas (vegetable products having less toxicity).
In the forefront of all these substances was mercury. Because of its miraculous rejuvenating and therapeutic effects, it was alluded to be the seed of Lord Siva. Like vegetable products, these metals, etc. are also composed of five mahabhutas (basic elements, viz. akasa, vayu, tejas or agni, ap or jala and prthvi). The main difference lies in the use of these metallic preparations is - their therapeutic efficacy in minute doses by which they are capable of curing obstinate and incurable diseases. Besides, these remedies are found very effective for the preservation and promotion of positive health and prevention of diseases. They are also found to be very effective as rejuvenating agents and aphrodisiacs. It was the rasa-vidya or science of alchemy which rendered treatment of diseases by surgical instruments almost useless superfluous. In addition to curing critical conditions, these metallic and mercurial preparations were also considered more superior for the treatment of common diseases in comparison to the medicines prepared from herbs and vegetable drugs, because 1. of their usage in small dose; 2. not being unpalatable; and 3. producing therapeutic effects instantaneously.
The Iatro-Chemistry pertains to two different aspects for its usage, namely:
1. Deha siddhi : for this purpose, mercury and other metals are used after appropriate processing. Thus, mineral, metallic and mercurial preparations are used for the maintenance and promotion of positive health, i.e. for rejuvenation (rasayana) purpose as well as for the prevention and cure of the several categories of simple as well as obstinate diseases. It results in longevity leading to the attainment of salvation while alive (jivan mukti).
2. Lauha siddhi : This aspect of alchemy is to attain the perfection in transforming the base metals into noble metals like gold and silver with the help of processed mercury. For the purpose of lauha siddhi, only mercury is effected. It has to undergo 18 stages of processing step by step. These 18 stages of processing in the parallel of rasa sastra (iatro-chemistry) are called astadasa samskaras, details of which are furnished in Ayurvedic classics.
This science of alchemy has all along been an ascetic chemist of India, and is described in several Ayurvedic texts. There were many such chemists even in the author’s time. They are in the habit of preparing from time to time only as much real gold as is actually necessary for the base substances.
Before processed mercury is administered to a human being for the purpose of deha siddhi, it is to be tested on metals through lauha siddhi. As has been stated before, mercury has to undergo 18 samskaras for the purpose of lauha siddhi. These samskaras also make this metal free from toxicity and therapeutically potent. At the end of the first 16 samskaras, the processed mercury is added to the ordinary metals in minute quantity, and further processed. If this mercury could cause the transformation of ordinary metals into gold or silver, only then the rejuvenating effect of mercury is ensured, and can be administered to human beings not only for rejuvenation but also for attaining salvation while still alive (jivan-mukta). This test is the seventeenth step of samskara. Before the administration, the body of the person is to be purified by the administration of different types of elimination therapies. This is the eighteenth or last step.
The fact which is thinkable here is that the drug should be assimilated specially by the affected tissues for producing therapeutic efficacy. But metals and minerals, according to mahabhautika composition have a different structure than the dhatus (tissue elements) of the body. If these are used in raw form or in unprocessed form, they will not be assimilated to the tissue elements of the body, and are likely to produce serious toxic effects. This is the reason, that is why different types of processes like sodhana, marana, etc. are performed to make then easily digestible and assimilibale, i.e. homogeneous to the body cells as well as non-toxic and more potent.
Most of the modern scientists think that rasa vidya or science of alchemy (transmutation of base metals into noble ones), is only a myth, which human being can never achieve, but for which he has always attempted. This science was in practice in different European countries also. Some scholars claim success, and some others consider then to be an imagination. But in India, it is not considered as myth.
An important historical demonstration of this operation was held in 1942, before a gathering of national leaders by Pt. Krsna Pala Sarma. A disciple of this saint, who is no more alive, and who wanted to remain anonymous, had described the methods followed by Pt. Krsna Pala Sarma. An inscribed evidence of this demonstration is available in two marble plaques fixed in the wall of the yajna veda (altar for fire sacrifice ceremony) behind the Laksmi Narayana temple, known as Birala Mandira, in Delhi. This statement is originally in Hindi, English translation (by Vaidya Bhagwan Dash) of which is given below:
“In the month of Caitra (name of the month according to the Hindu calendar corresponding to March-April of the Vikram Samvat 1999 (1942 A.D.), one Sri Krsna Pala Sarma, Rasa Vaidya Sastri, originally hailing from Punjab came from Rsikesa to Delhi to demonstrate the practical method of preparing gold out of mercury. On this occasion, the secretary of Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Mahadev Desai, Gosvami Ganesa Datta and Sri Jugala Kisora Birala (The noted industrialist of India) were present. In front of them, 200 tolas or 2.5 seers (1 tola = 12 grams approx.) of mercury was mixed with one tola of the powder of a drug (identity undisclosed) and the whole thing was kept over fire for half an hour. Thereafter, the mercury became gold. This process was repeated, and as such 18 seers of gold was prepared.”
Again in another plaque in the same place, the statement is as follows:
“On the first day of sukla paksa (bright fortnight) in the month of Jyestha (May-June) of samvat 1998, i.e. 27th May, 1941, Pt. Krsna Pala Sarma in our presence (names of these persons are given below) prepared one tola of gold from out of one tola of mercury in Birala House, New Delhi. The mercury was kept inside a fruit of ritha (Sapindus trifoliatus). Inside this, a white powder of some herb, and a yellow powder which were perhaps one or one and half ratti (one ratti = 125 mg) in weight were added. Thereafter, the fruit of rithas was smeared with mud and kept over fire for about 45 minutes. During that process, the fire was made stronger with the help of a fan. When the charcoal after ignition became ash, water was sprinkled over it. From inside the fruit which originally contained mercury, gold came out. In weight, the gold was 1 to 2 rattis less than one tola (originally used). It was pure gold. We could not ascertain the mystery behind this performance. The nature as well as the identity of both the powders which were added to the mercury were not disclosed to us. During the whole experiment, Pt. Krsna Pala was standing about 10 to 15 ft. away from us (site of performance). During this time, Sri Amrta Lala V. Thakkara (Chief secretary, Akhila Bharatiya Sevaka Sangha) Sri Gosvami Ganesa Dattaji of Lahore, Secretary of Birala Mill in Delhi, Sri Khemaka, Chief Enginer, Mr. Wilson, and Sri Viyogi Hari were present. We were all surprised to witness this performance. Seth Sriman Jugala Kisora Birala was kind enough to show us this performance.
Signed: 1. Amrta Lala V. Thakkara
2. Sita Rama Khemaka
3. Viyogi Hari
Margasirsa Krsna 5, Samvat 2000, Delhi. (This was perhaps the date of installation of the plaque).
Late Pt. Krsna Pala Sarma, Rasa Vaidya Sastri learnt this technique from a saint named Narayana Svami. But in the absence of a suitable disciple, according to him, he did not teach this technique to any body.”
These incidents of preparing gold prove the reality of the technique of lauha siddhi (transformation of base metals into gold with the help of processed mercury), which is not merely a myth of course, this technique is kept secret to prevent its misuse by anti-social elements.
The history of this important and miraculous science is an old as the history of mankind. This began to be cultivated by the ancient Aryans as early as the beginning of the present kalpa (the world from the time of its last reconstruction to the current years), which according to the Indian puranas (which are nothing, but the records of the ancient events of special importance on account of their moral, social and religious significance) is about 1955885030 years. On the other hand, according to the belief of educated people of modern times, the oldest civilization cannot be older than 25 thousand years B.C. This assumption would, however, seem to be most illogical to those who have entered into the spirit of the ancient Indian culture. Thus, the history of Rasavidya is more than 1,95,500,0000 years old.
First of all, we have found the origin of the science of alchemy in the Vedas, the oldest repository of human knowledge, as ayurveda being the one of the upavedas (subsidiaries to the Vedas).
The Rg Veda describes iron in the context of the preparation of an artificial leg. The Yajur Veda invokes the blessings of metals (like iron, lead, tin and gold, among others) to bestow with good health and longevity. The Atharva Veaa has classified the whole treatment or cikitsa into four categories, viz. (1) atharvani, (2) angirasi, (3) daivi, and (4) manusyaja or manusi of these, daivi cikitsa or treatment of divine origin has been explained in the subsequent alchemical texts to be dealing with metallic including mercurial preparations for the prevention as well as cure of diseases. In one of the mantras (incantations) of Atharva Veda, presence of metals, like iron in different tissues of the body has been described. In this mantra, tin in calcined form (trapu bhasma) is also mentioned. This indicates that the metals were being reduced to bhasma form, at that time.
Thereafter, we found fragments of two books, i.e., (1) Ramarajya, and (2) Rasendra Cintamani (different from ‘Rasa cintamani’ compiled by Ananta Deva Suri) written by the great king Rama Candra (the Hero of Valmiki Ramayana). It appears from these fragments that chemistry of medicine approached a very high state of perfection at the period of king Rama Candra. He learnt the science of chemistry from Kala Natha, a sage living in the forest, during the 14 years of Rama’s excile. King Rama Candra was called Dandaka Natha, on account of his living in the Dandaka forest for several years. (Dhunduka Natha, a saint of Saivite sect, during 14th cent. A.D., also composed Rasendra Cintamani. But according to the author, Dandaka Natha was king Rama Candra, who composed Rasendra Cintamani. According to Indian history, Lord Rama was flourished at least, 9,00,000 years back.)
Another book found of that time was ‘Arka Prakasa’ authorship of which was attributed to Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka, who was killed by Rama Candra in battle. This is an excellent booklet containing a comprehensive treatment of all sorts of diseases with the help of tincture only. It contains at least, one recipe for the preparation of a mineral acid keeping this in view, we can easily deny and not accept the assumption of Dr. Sir P.C. Roy that probably Indians came to learn the preparation of mineral acids from the Portuguese. The fact is that mineral acids are not to be used in mercurial and metallic medicines. That is the reason, why the Dr. Roy did not find any reference to these acids in ancient books on Rasa Vidya.
Several Ayurvedic texts were composed thereafter, most of them are not available unfortunately. The extant Ayurvedic classics were composed prior to 7th century B.C.
In Caraka Samhita (according to some historians, it was composed during 13th century B.C.), drugs are classified into three categories. Of them, third category includes gold, iron rust, copper, iron, tin, silver, lead, realgar, orpiment, gems and jewels, among others. Caraka has prescribed mercury, sulphur and copper pyrite for internal use also. In the same way, Susruta samhita (prior to 7th century B.C.; according to some, 14th century B.C.) has described mercury and sulphur as external medicaments, and different metals and minerals (like gold, silver, bell metal, tin, etc.) for medicinal purpose.
After these classics, a significant and most authentic reference to alchemy is made in Kautilya’s Arthasastra during 4th century B.C. (according to some, during 16th century B.C.). Along with the description of different types of metals, gems jewels, one variety of gold, viz. Rasa viddha suvarna (gold prepared by transmutation of base metals with the help of mercury) was described there. This shows that this type of gold was available in the market and people knew the techniques of lauha siddhi (conversion of base metals into gold and silver with the help of processed mercury) even before that period.
During the 5th century B.C., i.e. Buddhist period this science of alchemy was in glorious condition. In the forefront of this glory were the Buddhist monks. At that period, salya tantra (surgery) and panca karma (an important branch of ayurveda, which includes emetic, purgative and inhalation therapies as well as the amivasana and niruha types of medicated enemas) were viewed as a form of violence (himsa). The practice of both of these branches was banned or discouraged for the propagation of their religion. Compassion for all living beings, which also includes medical care, was an essential part of their teachings. Therefore, they endeavoured to find alternatives for curing obstinate surgical diseases. This provided an emphasis to the progress of rasa sastra or Iatro-chemistry or the science dealing with therapeutic uses of mercury and other metals. As a by-product, the science of lauha siddhi or transmutation of base metals into gold and silver with the help of processed mercury, also been emphasized. In the forefront of these physicians was the great Buddhist philosphor - Nagarjuna, considered to be the father of Iatro-chemistry. He endeavoured to make the entire universe free from miseries by the use of processed mercury.
During the medieval period (Mohamedon period), the whole country was exposed to the state of anarchy and confusion. Internal peace of country-people was disturbed being in a state of constant fear for loss of life, property and honour. This period was the darkest age of Hindu culture and civilization in the Indian history. This resulted the arrest of the progress of trade, commerce and learning. With the uncertainity of trade and commerce, difficulties in obtaining rare metals were increased. Therefore, physicians in villages, took to the practice of medicines prepared from herbs only, especially in view of the fact that they were much cheaper than medicines prepared from metals. The race of chemist physicians became gradually extinct. Thus, chemistry of medicine come to be almost forgotten. It continued, however, to be cultivated to some extent only by some yogis in the forests, where there was no chance of meeting with obstacles. But in the absence of encouragement and scholarships by the state, the science could not be systematically attained glory during this period. Even existing works were destroyed.
From 9th century A.D. to 20th century A.D., innumerable works on rasa vidya or iatro-chemistry were composed. Some of them are not available now, but some others have been preserved. Of these preserved books, Rasa Ratna Samuccaya (by Vagbhata, 3rd century A.D.; according to some, during 13th to 15th cent.) A.D., and written by Vagbhata other than the writer of Astanga Hrdaya), Rasa Hrdaya Tantra (by Govinda Bhagavatpada, 13th cent. A.D.), Rasa Sara (by Govindacarya, 13th cent. A.D.), Sarva Darsana sangraha (by Madhavacarya sect. Rasesvara darsana 14th cent. A.D.), Rasendra Kalpadruma (by Rama Krsna Bhatta), Rasa Kaumudi (by Jnana Candra) and Rasakamadhenu (by Cudamani Misra) - ail composed during 16th cent. A.D., and Ayurveda Saukhyam in Todarananda Series (composed by Todaramalla, the minister of Mughal king Akbar, 17th cent. A.D.) and Ayurveda Prakasa (by Madhava Upadhyaya, 17th cent. A.D.) - all these books provide and elaborate description of the processing of mercury both for the purpose of lauha siddhi and deha siddhi (producing rejuvenating effect, i.e. making the body free from aging process and diseases, leading to the state of salvation during alive, i.e. Jivan mukta). These and several other works also describe the classical method of treatment with the help of mercurial and metallic preparation as well as the preparation of bhasma (calcined powder).
Similarly, during 20th cent. Many important work were composed on rasa sastra of them, Parada Vijnaniya by Vasudeva Mala Sankara, Rasayana Sara by Syama Sundaracarya, and the present work - Rasajalanidhi by Bhudeva Mookerji are of much importance. The existence of several lost works composed on rasa sastra, is known only from quotations taken therefrom by subsequent authors.
All these details are provided only in view to emphasise that the science of Alchemy, especially the technique of lauha siddhi (conversion of gold from base metals) is not merely a myth, but it is a factual reality. The technique, however, is kept secret and well guarded to prevent its misuse by anti-social elements. Herodotus testifies to the fact that, at his time, there were yogis in India, who used to spend an unbelievable long life by the use of some mercurial preparations.
As physics and chemistry explain the rationality of different drugs used in modern medicines, so the saints in Indian philosophical works, explain the appropriateness of the processing to make metals, etc. non-toxic and therapeutically excellent by ancient Ayurvedic chemists.
In allopathy, some metallic preparations were in use in the past, but they were abandoned or banned subsequently because of producing toxic side effects. That is why, the modern scientists metallic and mineral preparations. This is so, because of their ignorance about the elaborate pharmaceutical procedure followed by Ayurvedic chemists in processing these metals, mercury, etc. and making them absolutely free from toxicity, and making them homogenous to the body before using as medicine. To remove this ignorance, and to enlighten the subject, the present work will prove very useful.
It is only the security of the glorious Indian moral, cultural and intellectual greatness which can enable us to recognize the advancement and greatness of this great science - Iatro-chemistry. On the other hand, this important branch of science is a necessary pre-requisite for the study of all other subjects of human culture. But it is a matter of pity that this science has not yet been considered a subject fit for being taught even in the greatest of the Indian universities.
The present valuable work is compiled by Bhudeva Mookerji, a devout student of ayurveda, who came in the contact with a yogi. In his own words, “I came to be in contact with a yogi from whom I learnt much more than could be found in the existing books on Indian chemistry, each of which is incomplete, incoherent, incorrect, and in many cases misleading. The instructions which I received from my preceptor yogi, have enabled me to arrange methodically the materials found in the existing books on chemistry, which were mostly in a chaotic state, and have been neglected for several centuries past….Personally, I consider the chemical system of Indian medicine as of divine origin. It is not a science in the ordinary sense of the term….it is a super-science, and as such, is based on something higher than observation and experiment - call it inspiration, revelation, or what you will. It is not possible, even for a very careful and devoted student of Rasa vidya to explain, in many cases with a view to attain an end in view. Neither is it possible for us to make any material addition to what has been transmitted to us from time out of memory. I have, no doubt, any one who has been able to enter into the spirit of Rasa vidya, would feel constrained to endorse these views.”
According to the author, the central idea upon which the whole structure of the Hindu chemistry is based or erected is the fact that by special process, during jarana samskara (process of digestion or swallowing), mercury digests and assimilates gold without any appreciable increase in weight. Syamasundaracarya, the author of Rasayana Sara also claimed the same fact having his personal experience. But even Dr. Sir P.C. Ray, had written History of Indian Chemistry with the aim of proving the world that the ancient Hindus knew a good deal of chemistry much earlier than the other races of the world, failed to enter into this spirit of Rasa vidya. The above statement (digestion and assimilation of gold by mercury without any increase in weight) no doubt, will appear to the readers highly dogmatic, paradoxical and revolting this valuable work claims that this fact is based on a practical experience, and an arduous research carried on for several years. However, this can be justified only by the faithful performances of the operations described in the present work.
It has been made clear by rasacaryas (chemist-physicians) that the primary aim of rasa vidya or Iatro-chemistry is not to convert base metals into gold and silver (i.e. dhatu vedha or loha siddhi). This technique is only a method of testing the potency of mercury, and thereafter, it should be used for rejuvenation therapy. In fact, wealth (gold) acquired by this technique is not supposed to be utilized for any personal benefit, but only for charitable purposes. If used for personal purpose, it was considered to be a sin. This is the reason, most saints used to select the disciples carefully and disclose them the proper technique. If suitable disciple was not available, then they used to prefer to keep the process secret, and die with their knowledge.
This science had its special philosophical background which is known as Rasesvara darsana. According to this darsana, the body of human being is very important inasmuch as, with the help of this, one can perform several activities for the development of his own soul as well as the society, and for the realization of the ultimate truth. It is the processed mercury which helps in bringing stability and endowing strength to the body (deha) of the being. This also helps in tuning of the mind to become free from worldly attachments. This type of mind is capable of realisation of ultimate truth leading to jivan mukti (salvation still while alive). Apart from, judicious use of these metallic preparations can obviate the need for surgery in several ailments. Thus, the patient becomes free from risk-factors, and several diseases which has been claimed as incurable in modern medicine system (allopathy), can also be successfully cured by these preparations. Several such recipes are described in the present work. How these recipes were prepared, it is also explained in this book.
The present work considers this science of alchemy to be of divine origine, as its source are unknown. But as the successful results of its techniques are available from reliable practitioners, the authenticity of this science becomes an established fact. The results are miraculous, but they can be analysed on rational grounds. For each and every substance has a peculiar power interest within which can be multiplied a thousand fold in combination with other substances by a number of processes outlined in ancient treatises. For example, by undergoing certain processes, mercury along with processed sulphur acquired potency capable of transforming base metals into gold just as in the case of male and female, the union of semen and ovum, by the process of copulation acquires the potency of productivity. According to tantrika symbolism, mercury is said as Rasa-linga (the phallic form of Siva made of mercury); sulphur as the vagina (the generative organ of the female) representing Siva and Sakti; Rasasala is the laboratory, the sacred alter where the chemical process or copulation (maithuna) is carried on. The tantric analogy which compares the chemical process to the sexual intercourse imparts sanctity to the Science of Chemistry.
Keeping in view the above-mentioned factors and incomparable greatness of the subject, the present encyclopaedic work - Rasa-jalanidhi (lit, Ocean of Iatro-chemistry) - dependent mainly upon the teachings of (the author’s) ascetic preceptor as well as the existing books on chemistry, will surely be prove ‘an ocean of Indian chemistry of medicine’. This will be a mile-stone in the history of ayurveda, especially in Rasa-sastra (the great science of Iatro-chemistry) for the students and research-scholars of ayurveda as well as Indian culture and civilization in India and abroad.
Acupuncture & Acupressure (196)
Gem Therapy (21)
Original Texts (229)
Therapy & Treatment (147)
Tibetan Healing (128)
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend