The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats: An Ecological Theme in Hindu Medicine
The theory of humors, vital fluids whose proportions in the human body determine its health and temperament, is far from outdated. And what we sometimes think of as a modern concern with ecology and alternative medicine is really as old as the traditional medical techniques of the classical West of South Asia. It is to the latter that Francis Zimmermann turns his attention, in a remarkable evocation that combines Sanskrit studies and anthropology. He reconstructs and exposes the linkage between humors, persons, and soils in classical Hindu medicine. His work will interested those involved in the areas of medical anthropology, medical anthropology, medical history, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and South Asian studies. It will also be valued for the vivid and accurate descriptions it offers of a few basic ideas our time has borrowed from Hindu culture: flower power, vegetarianism, non-violence, and the comic dimensions of the human body. In classical Ayurvedic medicine, a comprehensive view of the whole human person included the patient’s humoral integration into the surrounding soil. The Jungle was the most crucial environment, and the Jungle was – and is – the dry land of the Punjab and the Delhi Doab, an open vegetation of thorny shrubs. The polarity of dry lands and wet lands framed not only the whole Ayurvedic materia medica but also the more general conception of a comic physiology governed by Agni (the sun) and Soma (the dispenser of rain). Clearing the land and draining the body were two aspects of one and the same art of managing the transactions of all sorts of vital fluids, saps, juices, savors, and humor. Medicine in the context of thought and practice associated with the Jungle was, and still in modern India, a kind of agriculture.
“No work on any of the hindu science compares with Zimmermann’s in range, grasp, or implications… I count it among this century’s most important intercultural achievements of scholarship. Zimmermann writes precisely and gracefully, sometimes with deli
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|Dimensions||10 × 11 × 12 cm|
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