Monday, 22 June 2020

AYURYOG TIMELINE | A shared history of Yoga and Indian Medicine


Today, we launched this significant piece of research, which is an output of the AyurYog Project:

AyurYog Timeline: The entangled histories of Yoga and Indian medicine (Ayurveda).

[Best viewed on a computer rather than a mobile phone.]

This interactive web-based resource is based on the latest philological and modern sociological research of the AyurYog Project.

Use it to learn about some of the key milestones and historically significant events that have shaped the entanglement of Yoga and Indian medicine (Ayurveda).

Curated by Jacqueline Hargreaves ( and Dr Suzanne Newcombe.

With special thanks to Prof. Dagmar Wujastyk, Dr Jason Birch, Dr Christèle Barois, and Dr Patricia Sauthoff.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

ALCHEMY RECONSTRUCTION | Preparing Ingredients

By DAGMAR WUJASTYK | A special guest from the AyurYog Project.

Copper sheet coated with salt and lemon and roasted over a fire.

Watch the pevious steps in the reconstruction of the medieval alchemy of the Rasahṛdayatantra.

The fifth procedure in the Rasahṛdayatantra calls for a copper paste (śulbapiṣṭi), which is then subjected to a sublimation process. The making of the copper paste is not described in any way. We can infer from the text that it has to contain mercury, presumably the mercury that has undergone the first four steps. And, given that it is called ‘copper paste’, copper would suggest itself as another ingredient.

Andrew Mason noted that he had been taught to always purify copper before applying it, so he suggested to do so for the fifth procedure, even though the text does not actually specify that the copper of the copper paste must be purified.

One of the innovations of Indian alchemy is the concept of processing materials to make them fit for purpose. The procedures we are showing in the documentaries focus on the refinement of mercury, but we should note that other materials are also subjected to various procedures before they are applied in the making of the mercurial elixir. The texts often state that an ingredient is purified (śuddha), which means it has been subjected to detoxifying and potentiating procedures. The term ‘purified’ may not quite evoke the right image: A purified material does not necessarily look more clean and it does not have to be more pure in chemical terms. Rather, its properties are supposed have changed for the better. The purification procedures are meant to make substances safe for human consumption, as well as ensure their efficacy as reagents. Mostly, this concerns metals and minerals, but also organic poisons.

There are different ways of purifying copper, and Andrew tried out different versions. We weren’t quite sure what the copper available to alchemists would have looked like. India has a very long history of metallurgy and it is likely that copper was available on the market in sheets or as a powder, though it may have been necessary for alchemists to procure copper from its natural source.

Copper is one of the few metals that can occur in nature in a directly usable metallic form.

Andrew started out by using sheets of copper.

Copper sheets.

Copper sheets are coated with salt and lemon juice and roasted.

Copper sheets boiling in urine and five salts.

Copper sheets after treatment.

But then the rasashastra practitioners from India told him they would use copper powder for the mercury-copper paste, so he decided to make copper powder.

Making copper powder: copper sheets are melted in a furnace.

Copper in the furnace.

The copper powder would then be subjected to a different purification procedure as well.

Copper powder is boiled in a 'swing-device' (dolāyantra).

The colour of the liquid changes as the copper is boiled.

Copper powder after procedure.

Washed copper powder.

The following films show: 1) a purification procedure applied to copper sheets, 2) a procedure for making copper powder, and 3) a purification procedure applied to copper powder. These represent a departure from the text of the Rasahṛdayatantra, but on the other hand, it seems likely that some purification procedure would have been carried out.

Purifying Copper Sheets

Making Copper Powder

Purifying Copper Powder

At present (mid-June, 2020), Andrew is still working on the fifth procedure, which consists of several steps with several different apparatuses. We hope to have a film ready in a couple of weeks.

Watch the pevious steps in the reconstruction of the medieval alchemy of the Rasahṛdayatantra.


Untangling Traditions

What is the role of the teacher?

Medicine and Yoga in South and Inner Asia

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

MANUSCRIPTS | Yoga on Leaves


This film was shown as part of the Embodied Liberation II, a virtual exhibition at the Brunei Gallery SOAS University of London.

MANUSCRIPTS | Yoga on Leaves

This film offers the viewer a visceral experience of working with palm leaf Sanskrit manuscripts on Yoga. The philological fieldwork of the Hatha Yoga Project requires searching through hundreds of catalogues and unpublished manuscripts in order to locate, identify, transcribe, and collate a text before a critical edition and annotated translation into English are possible.

The fieldwork took place in many libraries, museums, and private collections across India between 2016 and 2019. This film provides the viewer with an intimate behind-the-scenes view at one of these locations.

Producer and Photographer: 
Jacqueline Hargreaves

Hatha Yoga Project Researchers: 
Dr Jason Birch, SOAS University of London and Dr SVBKV Gupta, École française d'Extrême-Orient.

Dr Tejasvini Jangda

"Not Much To Say-39688" by David Fesliyan on the album, Fesliyan Studios.
AdRev for a 3rd Party (on behalf of Fesliyan Studios (Fesliyan Studios)); AdRev Publishing.

Length: 11 minutes.

Monday, 8 June 2020

LONGEVITY | A Timeline of Ayurveda and Yoga


This is a visual tour of an exhibition by the AyurYog Project, which was postponed due to COVID19. 

LONGEVITY | A Timeline of Ayurveda and Yoga.

This timeline highlights some of the key milestones and historically significant evidence in the entangled histories of yoga and Ayurveda. It is a visual expression of the extensive philological research of the AyurYog Project.

The video contains small font and is best viewed at a high resolution, High Definition (1080p) format.
Please select this option in the settings at the bottom of the Youtube player panel.

Jacqueline Hargreaves (

AyurYog Project (, University of Vienna.

Sound: No Audio.

Length: 35 minutes.

LONGEVITY | A Timeline of Ayurveda and Yoga.
A visual expression of the extensive philological research of the AyurYog Project.

00:00  •  LONGEVITY | A Timeline of Yoga and Ayurveda
01:25  •  [400–200 BCE]  Early Buddhism: Pāli Canon and Mahāvastu
02:11  •  [100–500 CE]  Carakasaṃhitā
02:57  •  [300 CE]  Suśrutasaṃhitā
03:51  •  [400–500 CE]  Pātañjalayogaśātra
04:55  •  [700 CE]  Aṣṭāṅghṛdayasaṃhitā
06:00  •  [600–700 CE]  Dharmaputrikā
07:06  •  [1000–1100 CE]  Kālacakratantra and the Vimalaprabhā
09:52  •  [1100 CE]  Amṛtasiddhi
10:40  •  [1200 CE]  Amaraugha
12:41  •  [1200–1300 CE]  Vasiṣṭhasaṃhiitā
14:44  •  [1200–1300 CE]  Vivekamārtaṇḍa
16:59  •  [1300–1400 CE]  Yogayājñavalkya
20:59  •  [1300 CE]  Yogabīja
22:57  •  [1400 CE]  Yogatārāvalī
23:49  •  [1400 CE]  Gorakṣaśataka
24:41  •  [1400 CE]  Khecarīvidyā
26:52  •  [1450 CE]  Haṭhpradīpikā
28:03  •  [1500 CE]  Āyurvedasūtra
29:12  •  [1600 CE]  Yuktabhavadeva
30:22  •  [1737 CE]  Jogapradīpyakā
31:33  •  [1850 CE]  Haṭhasaṅketacandrikā
32:20  •  [1800 CE]  Satkarmasaṅgraha