Chemistry and Chemical Techniques in India

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Item Code: NAD682
Author: B. V. Subbarayappa
Publisher: Centre For Studies In Civilizations
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 818758601X
Pages: 408 (71 B/W & 22 Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.0 inch X 8.5 inch
Weight 1.39 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

The volumes of the Project on The History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization aim at discovering the main aspects of India's heritage and present them in an interrelated way. These volumes, in spite of their unitary look, recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The Project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In fact contributions are made by different scholars with different ideological persuasions and methodological approaches. The Project is marked by what may be called 'methodological pluralism'.

In spite of its primary historical character, this Project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by many scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization like India.

This volume presents a succinct account of chemical knowledge and techniques in the Indian culture-area from prehistoric times to about the eighteenth century AD.

Metals and metal-working; dyes and pigments; coinage; rocks and minerals; cosmetics and perfumery; ceramics and glass; paper-making; pyrotechnics and the like were among the important chemical practices that were fostered by artisans and craftsmen who scaled peaks of excellence specially in metallurgy. Indian alchemy which came up as a part of tantrik tradition soon transformed itself into medicinal chemistry and added a veneer of mineral and metallic medicines treated with plant extracts.

A notable aspect of Indian chemical practices in the ancient and medieval periods was their interrelationship with religio-philosophical ideas as well as cultural embellishment. Such practices, though mainly endogenous, were not devoid of some exogenous influences from time to time.

The authors who are experts in their fields, have portrayed the different nuances of Indian chemistry and chemical techniques based on extensive archaeological data as well as literary sources with their scholarly and integrated interpretations.

The volume is a source book of great value to interested scholars and general readers alike.

About the Author

D.P. CHATTOPADHYAYA, M.A., L.L.B., Ph.D. (Calcutta and London School of Economics), D. Litt. (Honoris Causa) researched, studied Law, Philosophy and History and taught at various Universities in India, Asia, Europe and USA from 1954-1994. Founder-Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981-1990) and President-cum-Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1984-1991), Chattopadhyaya is currently the Project Director of the multidisciplinary 96-Vol. Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilizations (PHISPC) and Chairman of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations (CSC). Among his 32 publications, authored 17 and edited 15, are Individuals and Societies (1967), Individuals and World (1976). Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx (1988), A nthropology and Historiography of Science (1990), Induction, Probability and Skepticism (1991), Sociology, Ideology and Utopia (1997), Societies, Cultures and Ideologies (2000), Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Society, Value and Civilizational Dialogue (2002) and Philosophy of Science, Phenomenology and Other Essays (2003). Besides, he held high public Offices like Union Cabinet Ministership and State Governorship.

B.V. SUBBARAYAPPA (b. 1925) is Honorary Director of the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the Indian Institute of World Culture, Bangalore. He was formerly Executive Secretary of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi; Project Co-ordinator and Member Secretary of the National Commission for the History of Science in India; Director, Discovery of India Project, Nehru Centre, Bombay.

He is the author and editor of several books on history of science in India and has published over seventy papers on this subject in national and in ternational journals and other publications. He is now the President of the Science Division of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science, related to UNESCO. He is also an elected Member of the International Academy of History of Science, Paris and recipient of Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bologna, Italy.


This volume of the Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, which has been so imaginatively planned and ably edited by Dr B.Y. Subbarayappa hardly needs a foreword. But I gladly accede to the editor's request because of my respect for his scholarship.

Stability and change are among the two most important aspects of all natural objects. Even chose who maintain that nothing is and that everything flows are in practical terms, obliged to admit the difference between relative permanence and relative change. Physical objects, ordinarily viewed under three heads-solid, liquid and gaseous-are not permanently and strictly separated from one another. They keep on interacting in various ways and measures. Chemical bonds hold atoms together in molecules and solids. Bonds are of a wide variety, ranging from weak to metallic, and explain the relation between stability and change. The rudiments of chemical dynamics, which studies time-dependent phenomena, and those of biochemistry concerned with the substances and chemical processes that work in living organisms, were known to scientists of the ancient and medieval periods.

While some of the changes observed in nature are due to seasonal or climatic variations in heat and cold, i.e. thermodynamic in character, some other changes are consciously brought about by human beings. Practical necessities such as the cooking of food, preparation and preservation of food, medicine and drink, manufacture of metallic alloys require us to know the first principles of what we call chemistry these days. Chemistry which developed as an independent branch of knowledge mainly due to the works of Antaine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-94) and John Dalton (1766-1844), has ancient and medieval ancestry in medicine and alchemy. All scientific theories are rooted in human needs and practices. Theories of chemistry are no exception to this general rule. Without knowledge of chemical practices, most branches of the ancient knowledge intimately related to ways of life, viz., manufacture of agricultural implements, weaponry, pottery, perfumery, gemmology and metallurgy, cannot be understood. The two most important characteristics of civilization, script and urbanization, are also closely linked to chemical knowledge. Without papyrus, birch-bark, paper and ink people would not have been able to write. Even for rock inscriptions, people needed specially prepared .instruments in most cases.

Naturally obliged to adjust themselves to their environment and climatic conditions, humans had to acquire the skills and means necessary to be free from disease and the dangers posed by brute physical forces and calamities. It is no surprise that all types of societies, 'primitive' and 'developed', evolved different branches of medicine from the earliest times. Some of the information provided by chemical ecology, which studies the interaction of organisms, animals and plants, was already known to pre-modem societies. All forms of organisms are endowed with chemical sense and react to chemical stimuli as a result of the general property of excitability inherent in all living matter. Chemo sensitivity enables them to identity, among other things, their food, poison and mate, and also to regulate their movement and behaviour. The principles and practice of yoga and tantra, it is claimed, enable one to deepen, heighten and strengthen one's biochemical sensitivity and activities. Environmental conditions and forces, rightly understood and appropriated, help one somatologically, psychologically and spiritually.

The importance of chemistry is to be found not only in our attempts to understand the evolution of organic life from inorganic matter, but also, and perhaps more so, in scientific accounts of the emergence of the human mind and the process of acculturation. Its principles are at work in organic evolution which is marked by a combination of adaptation, natural selection and mutation. The concepts of differentiation, integration and increasing complexification are often used to describe this process of evolution. Both philosophers and scientists have contributed to our understanding of evolution-its characteristics, phases and causes.

Some of our daily needs-medical, household and technological-cannot adequately be met without application of the principles of chemistry, it is but natural that development and discovery continued in both chemical theories and practices. In some of the important treatises of the period between AD 800 to AD 1100 we come across the details of many metallic preparations. For example, in the works of Vrnda and Cakrapani, the authors describe how parpati-tamram (combination of sulphur, copper, the pyrites and honey), rasamrtacurnam (preparation of sulphur, mercury, honey and butter) and tamrayoga (copper combined) are made. The search for the vital elixir of life was common to the alchemists of India, China, Tibet, Central Asia and West Asia. Health, wealth, vigour and longevity were sought after, not only for biological and medical reasons, but also as a spiritual quest.

The name of NagazjuI).a figures prominently in India's tradition of alchemy Authorship of the famoustlintric work, Rasaratnakara, is often attributed to him. Historians sometimes confuse the identities of Nagarjuna the alchemist, and NagazjuI).a the defender of madhyamika Buddhism. Besides Rasaratnakara, another important treatise on the subject is Rasamava. Other noted works of the time are Rasahsdaya, Kakacandefvarimata, Rasacinuimani and Rasaratnasamucciiya. In fact, between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries a number of works on tantnc medicine and chemistry were produced. Many of these Indian works on alchemy have been translated into Tibetan.

It is also true that during this period the Hellenic system of medicine, interpreted and enriched by the Islamic thinkers of West Asia and Central Asia, reached India and got established here. The support and influence of the Islamic rulers and nobility contributed much to its acceptance by the people. Analytical studies of the uniim system show that it borrowed substantially from the Ayurvedic system. Cultural borrowing is common to all neighboring civilizations. The base materials, organic and inorganic, are in many cases common. This may be said also of the products of the siddha system. This is hardly surprising because the human body, its functioning, disorders and their causes are due to more or less similar environmental conditions, food habits and ways of life. Also not so surprising is the fact that the history of medicine and chemistry in India, as in other civilizations, is closely related to philosophy and theology. The distinction between the natural and the supernatural, the empirical and the transcendental, did not receive precise and quantitative attention of the scientific writers of the time.

I am sure this volume edited by Dr B.Y. Subbarayappa and authored by him (in part) and some very eminent scholars in the field, will be received well by everyone interested in the history of science in Indian civilization. Collectively they have placed us all in deep academic obligation towards them.


The origin of the human pursuit of enriched material living can be traced back to neolithic settlements in which, apart from practical attempts at small agricultural practices, the production of pottery, ornamental beads and the like added a new dimension to the settled life. In course of time there emerged gradually certain empirically sustained practices which we now call chemical techniques-metallurgy and metal-working, dyeing and glass-making. It was not long before other chemical techniques such as fermentation and distillation, cosmetics and perfumery gemmology, dyestuffs and pigments, were accomplished along with improved methods of mineral-processing and metallurgy. Each culture-area endeavoured in its own way to attain excellence in some chemical practices in the context of not only availability of the desirable raw materials but also of socio-cultural necessities.

The vast Indian culture-area witnessed several notable chemical techniques even in the Indus Valley Civilization or Harappa Culture (c. 2750-1900-1600 Be). Ever since, the story of such techniques and of the emergent chemical knowledge has been an enchanting one, especially the saga of alchemy, metallurgy, dyes, pigments, cosmetics and perfumery. This volume, through its twelve chapters written by experts in the concerned fields, attempts to recapitulate this long story, based on the available archaeological data and numismatic and" literary sources.

We are beholden to the authors who have contributed such scholarly chapters and deeply appreciative of their cooperation in agreeing to the editorial modifications. They participated in a seminar (in March 1996) and presented a perspective on their chapters for mutual appreciation and critical comments, which were of great value to the volume as a whole.

We are grateful to Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya, the eminent Director of the Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization (PHISPC), for his constant guidance and unfailing encouragement throughout the preparation of this volume. Our sincere thanks are due to Professor Bhuvan Chandel (Project Coordinator) and Professor Ravinder Kumar (Academic Coordinator), as well as to the staff of PHISPC for their help.

The financial support provided to the Editor by the Wellcome Trust for studying in the library of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine (London) and in Bodlien Library (Oxford) is gratefully acknowledged. This enabled him to study several sources, primary and secondary, which resulted in the reinforcement of certain chapters wherever it was found necessary. The Editor is thankful to the Indian Institute of World Culture, Bangalore, for providing him with facilities for his work.

The permission given by the National Museum and the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, for the reproduction of illustrations (Chapters II and IX) is gratefully acknowledged

General Introduction

It is understandable that man, shaped by Nature, would like to know Nature. The human ways of knowing Nature are evidently diverse, theoretical and practical, scientific and technological, artistic and spiritual. This diversity has, on scrutiny, been found to be neither exhaustive nor exclusive. The complexity of physical nature, life-world and, particularly, human mind is so enormous that it is futile to follow a single method for comprehending all the aspects of the world in which we are situated.

One need not feel bewildered by the variety and complexity of the worldly phenomena. After all, both from traditional wisdom and our daily experience, we know that our own nature is not quite alien to the structure of the world. Positively speaking, the elements and forces that are out there in the world are also present in our body-mind complex, enabling us to adjust ourselves to our environment. Not only the natural conditions but also the social conditions of life have instructive similarities between them. This is not to underrate in any way the difference between the human ways of life all over the world. It is partly due to the variation in climatic conditions and partly due to the distinctness of production- related tradition, history and culture.

Three broad approaches are discernible in the works on historiography of civilization, comprising science and technology, art and architecture, social sciences and institutions. Firstly, some writers are primarily interested in discovering the general laws which govern all civilizations spread over different continents. They tend to underplay what they call the noisy local events of the external world and peculiarities of different languages, literatures and histories. Their accent is on the unity of Nature, the unity of science and the unity of mankind. The second group of writers, unlike the generalist or transcendentalist ones, attach primary importance to the distinctiveness of every culture. To these writers human freedom and creativity are extremely important and basic in character. Social institutions and the cultural articulations of human consciousness, they argue, are bound to be expressive of the concerned people's consciousness. By implication they tend to reject concepts like archetypal consciousness, universal mind and providential history. There is a third group of writers who offer a composite picture of civilizations, drawing elements both from their local as well as common characteristics. Every culture has its local roots and peculiarities. At the same time, it is pointed out that due to demographic migration and immigration over the centuries an element of compositness emerges almost in every culture. When due to a natural calamity or political exigencies people move from one part of the world to another, they carry with them, among other things, their language, cultural inheritance and their ways of living.

In the light of the above facts, it is not at all surprising that comparative anthropologists and philologists are intrigued by the striking similarity between different language families and the rites, rituals and myths of different peoples. Speculative philosophers of history, heavily relying on the findings of epigraphy, ethnography, archaeology and theology, try to show in very general terms that the particulars and universals of culture are'essentially' or 'secretly' interrelated, The spiritual aspects of culture like dance and music, beliefs pertaining to life, death and duties, on analysis, are found to be mediated by the material forms of life like weather forecasting, food production, urbanization and invention of script. The transition from the oral culture to the written one was made possible because of the mastery of symbols and rules of measurement. Speech precedes grammar, poetry prosody. All these show how the 'matters' and 'forms' of life are so subtly interwoven.

The PHISPC publications on History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, in spite of its unitary look, do recognize the differences between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. It is not a work of a single author. Nor is it being executed by a group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In conceiving the Project we have interacted with, and been influenced by, the writings and views of many Indian and non-Indian thinkers.

The attempted unity of this Project lies in its aim and inspiration. We have in India many scholarly works written by Indians on different aspects of our civilization and culture. Right from the pre-Christian era to our own time, India has drawn the attention of various countries of Asia, Europe and Africa. Some of these writings are objective and informative and many others are based on insufficient information and hearsay, and therefore not quite reliable, but they have their own value. Quality and view-points keep on changing not only because of the adequacy and inadequacy of evidence but also, and perhaps more so, because of the bias and prejudice, religious and political conviction, of the writers.

Besides, it is to be remembered that history, like Nature, is not an open book to be read alike by all. The past is mainly enclosed and only partially disclosed. History is, therefore, partly objective or 'real' and largely a matter of construction, This is one of the reasons why some historians themselves think that it is a form of literature or art. However, it does not mean that historical construction is 'anarchic' and arbitrary. Certainly, imagination plays an important role in it.

But its character is basically dependent upon the questions which the historian raises and wants to understand or answer in terms of the ideas and actions of human beings in the past ages. In a way, history, somewhat like the natural sciences, is engaged in answering questions and in exploring relationships of cause and effect between events and developments across time. While in the natural sciences, the scientist poses questions about nature in the form of hypotheses, expecting to elicit authoritative answers to such questions, the historian studies the past, partly for the sake of understanding it for its own sake and partly also for the light which the past throws upon the present, and the possibilities which it opens up for moulding the future. But the difference between the two approaches must not be lost sight of. The scientist is primarily interested in discovering laws and framing theories, in terms of which different events and processes can be connected and anticipated. His interest in the conditions or circumstances attending the concerned events is secondary. Therefore, scientific laws turn out to be basically abstract and easily expressible in terms of mathematical language. In contrast, the historian's main interest centres round the specific events, human ideas and actions, not generallaws, So, the historian, unlike the scientist, is obliged to pay primary attention to the circumstances of the events he wants to study. Consequently, history, like most other humanistic disciplines, is concrete and particularist. This is not to deny the obvious truth that historical event and processes consisting of human ideas and actions show some trend or other and weave some pattern or other. If these trends and patterns were not there at all in history, the study of history as a branch of knowledge would not have been profitable or instructive, But one must recognize that historical trends and patterns, unlike scientific laws and theories, are not general or purported to be universal in their scope.

The aim of this Project is to discover the main aspects ofIndian culture and present them in an interrelated way. Since our culture has influenced, and has been influenced by, the neighbouring cultures of West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia and South-East Asia, attempts have been made here to trace and study these influences in their mutuality. It is well known that during the last three centuries, European presence, both political and cultural, in India has been very widespread. In many volumes of the Project considerable attention has been paid to Europe and through Europe to other parts of the world. For the purpose of a comprehensive cultural study of India, the existing political boundaries of the South Asia of today are more of a hindrance than help. Cultures, like languages, often transcend the bounds of changing political territories.

If the inconstant political geography is not a reliable help to the understanding of the layered structure and spread of culture, a somewhat comparable problem is encountered in the area of historical periodization. Periodization or segmenting time is a very tricky affair. When exactly one period ends and another begins is not precisely ascertainable. The periods of history designated as ancient, medieval and modern are purely conventional and merely heuristic in character. The varying scopes of history, local, national and continental or universal, somewhat like the periods of history, are unavoidably fuzzy and shifting. Amidst all these difficulties, the volume-wise details have been planned and worked out by the editors in consultation with the Project Director and the General Editor. I believe that the editors of different volumes have also profited from the reactions and suggestions of the contributors of individual chapters in planning the volumes.

Another aspect of Indian history which the volume editors and contributors of the Project have carefully dealt with is the distinction and relation between civilization and culture. The material conditions which substantially shaped Indian civilization have been discussed in detail. From agriculture and industry to metallurgy and technology, from physics and chemical practices to the life sciences and different systems of medicines-all the branches of knowledge and skill which directly affect human life-form the heart of this Project. Since the periods covered by the PHISPC are extensive-prehistory, proto-history, early history, medieval history and modern history of India-we do not claim to have gone into all the relevant material conditions of human life. We had to be selective. Therefore, one should not be surprised if one finds that only some material aspects of Indian civilization have received our pointed attention, while the rest have been dealt with in principle or only alluded to.

One of the main aims of the Project has been to spell out the first principles of the philosophy of different schools, both pro-Vedic and anti-Vedic. The basic ideas of Buddhism, Jainism and Islam have been given their due importance. The special position ac- corded to philosophy is to be understood partly in terms of its proclaimed unifying character and partly it is to be explained in terms of the fact that different philosophical systems represent alternative world-views, culture perspectives, their conflict and mutual assimilation.

Most of the volume editors and at their instance the concerned contributors have followed a middle path between the extremes of narrativism and theoreticism. The underlying idea has been this: If in the process of working out a comprehensive Project like this every contributor attempts to narrate all those interesting things that he has in the back of his mind, the enterprise is likely to prove unmanageable. If, on the other hand, particular details are consciously forced into a fixed mould or pre-supposed theoretical structure, the details lose their particularity and interesting character. Therefore, depending on the nature of the problem of discourse, most of the writers have tried to reconcile in their presentation, the specificity of narrativism and the generality of theoretical orientation. This is a conscious editorial decision. Because, in the absence of a theory, however inarticulate it may be, the factual details tend to fall apart.Spiritual network or theoretical orientation make historical details not only meaningful but also interesting and enjoyable.

Another editorial decision which deserves spelling out is the necessity or avoidability of duplication of the same theme in different volumes or even in the same volume. Certainly, this Project is not an assortment of several volumes. Nor is any volume intended to be a miscellany. This Project has been designed with a definite end in view and has a structure of its own. The character of the structure has admittedly been influenced by the verity of the themes accommodated within it. Again it must be understood that the complexity of structure is rooted in the aimed integrality of the Project itself.

Long and in-depth editorial discussion has led us to several unanimous conclusions. Firstly, our Project is going to be unique, unrivalled and discursive in its attempt to integrate different forms of science, technology, philosophy and culture. Its comprehensive sespe, continuous character and accent on culture distinguish it from the works of such Indian authors as P.C. Ray, B.N. Seal, Binoy Kumar Sarkar and S.N. Sen and also from such Euro American writers as Lynn Thorndike, George Sarton andJoseph Needham. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that it is for the first time that an endeavor of so comprehensive a character, in its exploration of the social, philosophical and cultural characteristics of a distinctive world civilization-that of India-has been attempted in the domain of scholarship. Secondly, we try to show the linkages between different branches oflearning as different modes of experience in an organic manner and without resorting to a kind of reductionism, materialistic or spiritualistic. The internal dialectics of organicism without reductionism allows fuzziness, discontinuity and discreteness within limits.

Thirdly, positively speaking, different modes of human experience-scientific, artistic, etc., have their own individuality, not necessarily autonomy. Since all these modes are modification and articulation of human experience, these are bound to have between them some finely graded commonness. At the same time, it has been recognized that reflection on different areas of experience and investigation brings to light new insights and findings. Growth of knowledge requires humans, in general, and scholars, in particular, to identify the distinctness of different branches of learning.

Fourthly, to follow simultaneously the twin principles of: (a) individuality of human experience as a whole, and (b) individuality of diverse disciplines, are not at all an easy task. Overlap of themes and duplication of the terms of discourse become unavoidable at times. For example, in the context of Dharmasastra, the writer is bound to discuss the concept of value. The same concept also figures in economic discourse and also occurs in a discussion on fine arts. The conscious editorial decision has been that, while duplication should be kept to its minimum, for the sake of intended clarity of the themes under discussion, their reiteration must not be avoided at high intellectual cost.

Fifthly, the scholars working on the Project are drawn from widely different disciplines.. They have brought to our notice an important fact that has clear to our work. Many of our contemporary disciplines like economics and sociology did not exist, at least not in their nresent form. Just two centuries ago or so. For example before the middle of nineteenth century, sociology as a distinct branch of knowledge was unknown. The term is said to have been coined first by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838's. Obviously, this does not mean that the issues discussed in sociology were not there. Similarly, Adam Smith's (1723-90) famous work The Wealth of Nations is often referred to as the first authoritative statement of the principles of (what we now call) economics. Interestingly enough, the author was equally interested in ethics and jurisprudence. It is clear from history that the nature and scope of different disciplines undergo change, at times very radically, over time. For example, in India by "arthasdastra' does not mean the science of economics as understood today. Besides the principles of economics the Arthasiistra of ancient India discusses at length those of governance, diplomacy and military science.

Sixthly, this brings us to the next editorial policy followed in the Project. We have tried to remain very conscious of what may be called indeterminacy or inexactness of translation. When a word or expression of one language is translated into another, some loss of meaning or exactitude seems to be unavoidable. This is true not only in the bilingual relations like Sanskrit-English and Sanskrit-Arabic, but also in those of Hindi-Tamil and Hindi-Bengali. In recognition of the importance oflanguage-bound and con text-relative character of meaning we have solicited from many learned scholars, contributions, written in vernacular languages. In order to minimize the miseffect of semantic inexactitude we have solicited translational help of that type of bilingual scholars who know both English and the concerned vernacular language, Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Bengali or Marathi.

Seventhly and finally, perhaps the place of technology as a branch of knowledge in the composite universe of science and art merits some elucidation. Technology has been con- ceived in very many ways, e.g., as autonomous, as 'standing reserve', as liberating or enlargemental, and alienative or estrangemental force. The studies undertaken by the Project show that, in spite of its much emphasized mechanical and alienative characteristics, technology embodies a very useful mode of knowledge that is peculiar to man. The Greek root words of technology are techne (art) and logos (science). This is the basic justification of recognizing technology as closely related to both epistemology, the discipline of valid knowledge, and axiology, the discipline of freedom and values. It is in this context that we are reminded of the definition of man as homo technikos. In Sanskrit, the word closest to techne is rata which means any practical art, any mechanical or fine art. In the Indian tradition, in &nvatantra, for example, among the arts (kala) are counted dance, drama, music, architecture, metallurgy, knowledge of dictionary, encyclopaedia and prosody. The closeness of the relation between arts and sciences, technology and other forms of knowledge are evident from these examples and was known to the ancient people. The human quest for knowl- edge involves the use of both head and hand. Without mind, the body is a corpse and the disembodied mind is a bare abstraction. Even for our appreciation of what is beautiful and the creation of what is valuable, we are required to exercise both our intellectual competence and physical capacity. In a manner of speaking, one might rightly affirm that our psychosomatic structure is a functional connector between what we are and what we could be, between the physical and the beyond. To suppose that there is a clear-cut distinction between the physical world and the psychosomatic one amount to denial of the possible emergence of higher logic-mathematical, musical and other capacities. The very availability of aesthetic experience and creation proves that the supposed distinction is somehow overcome by what may be called the bodily self or embodied mind.


List of IllustrationsIX
Table of TransliterationXI
General IntroductionXIX
An Overview1
1History of Metallurgy in India23
2Copper, Bronze and Brass: Their Technology in Antiquity and Impact on Indian Religions and Culture54
3Coinage in India-A Perspective106
4Indian Megaliths and Iron148
5Dyes and Pigments in India: Historical, Social and Material Perspectives173
6Chemistry in the Conservation of our Art Treasures209
8Rocks and Minerals in Indian Art and Culture245
9Indian Alchemy: Its Origin and Ramification263
10The Tradition of Cosmetics and Perfumery293
11Paper and Written Communication311
A Note on Glass in India332
Abbreviations and Glossary337
General Bibliography344
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