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titles of Indian alchemical texts
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Rafal T. Prinke
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 Posted: Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 08:43 pm
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Looking more closely at some of the books on Chinese and Indian alchemy, I noticed a curious difference in writing conventions of historians of both traditions. Those writing about Chinese alchemy tend to always give a translation of any treatise title they mention -- usually quoting them in original Chinese characters, Latin transliteration and English translation (Needham, Sivin, Pregadio). On the other hand, the authors awriting about Indian (tantric) alchemy almost never translate their titles and typically only refer to them in Latin transliteration (Ray, Mahdihassan, Wujastyk, White).

I wonder if anyone knows of English translations of the following titles of the most important of those texts:

Rasārṇava -- the only one White translates (and in two ways in two publications, as "Flood of Mercury" or "Ocean of Mercury", so close enough)
Kākacaṇḍeśvarīmata
Rasendra Maṅgala
Rasaratnākara
Bhūtiprakaraṇa
Rasahṛdaya Tantra
Rasopaniṣat
Rasendracūḍāmaṇi
Rasaprakāśa Sudhākara
Rasaratnasamucchaya
Anandakanda

Alan Pritchard
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2012 07:56 am
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I have these on file:

Rasa-jala-nidhi, or, Ocean of Indian chemistry & alchemy

Rasajalanidhi: the wealth of Indian alchemy & its medicinal uses

Rasārṇavakalpa = Manifold powers of the ocean of rasa

Rasarnavam; or, The ocean of mercury and other metals and minerals

These are the ones for which there are English versions.

I do have others, but they do not seem to have English translations of the titles (but may do in the body of the article or book)

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2012 07:57 am by

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2012 09:37 am
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Anandakanda = root of bliss (name of one of the chakras also?)

Rasendra Maṅgala - auspicious ornament of mercury according to David White: [ http://books.google.com/books?id=6HEnefQRLb4C&pg=PA164&lpg=PA164&dq=rasendra+mangala+mercury&source=bl&ots=VUN6RlN-l1&sig=gYQZkTuhNWwaVDDx-7mS1xFt0Go&hl=en&sa=X&ei=emZHT_TxI8GX8QPX0_S3Dg&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=rasendra%20mangala%20mercury&f=false]


The relevant Oxford Bibliography (subscription required) might help:

http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195399318/obo-9780195399318-0046.xml;jsessionid=5E253B2DCA11DD85FAB4341BD44ABAA5


Work them out yourself using this:

http://www.sanskritreader.de/rasavidya/index.php?contents=abfrage&lng=en


The leading Western authority seems to be the Dutch scholar Meulenbeld whose magnum opus 'History of Indian Medical Literature' includes, I understand, an extensive treatment of Indian alchemy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrit_Jan_Meulenbeld

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2012 12:42 pm
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I suspect it's the polysemous nature of Sanskrit that discourages attempts at translations of book-titles originally in that language:

http://bhairavatantra.com/sanskrit/page86/page86.html

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2012 05:26 pm
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Rasaratnākara = Ocean of Mercury

http://univie.academia.edu/DominikWujastyk/Papers/152766/An_Alchemical_Ghost_The_Rasaratnakara_by_Nagarjuna

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2012 05:26 pm by Paul Ferguson

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2012 05:26 pm
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Rasopaniṣat = Secrets of Mercury? (Upanishad = inner teaching, secret wisdom)

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2012 05:31 pm by Paul Ferguson

Rafal T. Prinke
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2012 08:22 pm
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Thank you, Alan. Of these, Rasārṇavakalpa is considered by White (Alchemical Body, 428) to be a late compilation and thus outside the "classics". The Rasa-jala-nidhi is the title of a modern compendium of alchemical and medical texts in Sanskrit with partial English translations and thus not a classic either (which White calls "useful"). Vols. 3 and 4 are on Archive.org -- but it seems they do not contain treatises but just (unreferenced) aphorisms, systematized and translated. Maybe the other volumes have full texts of treatises. Anyway, it is only the Rasarnava (Ocean of mercury) that may be counted among the classics.

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2012 08:23 pm by Rafal T. Prinke

Rafal T. Prinke
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2012 08:43 pm
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Thank you, Paul. I have missed the translation of Rasendra Maṅgala in White! Thank you also for finding the others. Of these, the Anandakanda as the "chakra for the Glastonbury landscape, specifically within the Albion figure" is a bit suspicious but "ananda" certainly is "bliss".

I know about Meulenbeld's work but unfortunately do not have access to it. But as it is obviously for specialist scholars, I have a feeling it does not have translations of titles, either :( His bibliography itself is online with free access but it does not include comments and discussion.

The German Rasavidya project is really nice. I read an article by the author but did not know it is already online. But again titles without translations! :) But his project is interesting and the results of dating the relative chronology of those texts by computer anaysis is fascinating -- he has tabulated results agains the opinions of leading scholars here: http://www.sanskritreader.de/rasavidya/index.php?contents=inhalt_datierung

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2012 08:43 pm by Rafal T. Prinke

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat Feb 25th, 2012 11:15 am
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Alberuni on Indian alchemy:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/cul/texts/ldpd_5949073_001/pages/ldpd_5949073_001_00000243.html

Rafal T. Prinke
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 Posted: Sun Feb 26th, 2012 05:05 pm
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Thank you, Paul. There was a short article by Martin Elevey, Alberuni and Indian alchemy in Chymia 7 (1961), 36-39 with quotations from the same edition -- but it is always better to check the original for any clues he may have missed.

Last edited on Sun Feb 26th, 2012 05:06 pm by Rafal T. Prinke


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