Rasa Jala Nidhi, vol 2: Minerals (uparasa)

by Bhudeb Mookerjee | 1938 | 28,803 words | ISBN-10: 8170305829 | ISBN-13: 9788170305828

This second volume of the Rasa-jala-nidhi deals with the purification, incineration and medicinal uses of various minerals (uparasa), as well as preventing faults due to misuse. It is continued in the third volume which deals with the various metals. The Rasa-jala-nidhi (“the ocean of Iatrochemistry, or, chemical medicine) is a compendium of Sansk...

Preface

Little did I think at the time I set to myself the gigantic task of compiling, in 10 volumes, a book which has already been considered to be the most systematic and comprehensive treatise on the almost best, abstruse, and little known science of Hindu chemistry, that it would be received by the educated public with anything like enthusiasm. My diffidence on this direction was due, no doubt, to a strange but much evinced mentality, developed by a great majority of the present day Indians who are in the habit condemning much of the social and cultural achievements of their forefathers without even taking the trouble of examining them critically, so much so that everything which is unknown and un-intelligible of these people is denounced as dogmatic, unscientific, and superstitious. But fortunately for me, facts have relied my expectation, at least partially. The encouragement which I have been receiving from the really educated and patriotic section of the Indian public, irrespective of caste, creed, or community, has elicited in me a faint ray of hope that time may come when my countrymen will turn their eyes inwards and try to revive the ancient Indian culture, not only in the departments of language, philosophy, religion, mathematics, and social, socio-religious, and sociopolitical laws which have already received some mention, but also in the departments of material Sciences including the science of medicine, which, even in its degraded and much neglected condition, human claim an incomparable superiority to all other systems of medicine known to the world. It is indeed very gratifying to note that the first volume of Rasa-jala-nidhi has met with much appreciation not only in India, but also in foreign countries.

It is a pity that no Indian University has hither to given any attention to the study of Indian Chemistry and Indian medicine which are more important than the other branches of Indian culture. It is very difficult to foresee whether any of our Universities will ever come to realize the importance of the branches of ancient Indian culture, but, if men like Sir Chimanlal Setalvad, the present Vice-Chancellor of the Bombay university, continue to be at the help of University affairs in India, time may come when my dream of the resurrection of the moribund India sciences may be fulfilled.

Whatever that may be, the publication of any work involves immense commercial possibilities. It is a matter of common knowledge that a great many of the allopathic drugs are prepared from Indian herbs, the properties of which the allopaths came to learn from the Indian books on herbal medicines but unfortunately, the allopaths have not yet had the opportunity of knowing that by far the greater portion of the literature on Indian medicines is still a terra incognita not only to them but to many of the practitioners of Indian medicine themselves.

Of the innumerable metallic medicines prescribed in books on Indian Chemistry, Rasa-sindura or ordinary sulphide of mercury (wrongly called “makara-dhvaja” which is prepared out of sulphur and mercury which has digested gold, i.e. swallowed some gold without any increase in its original weight so much so that the gold, thus swallowed can by no means be separated from the swallowing mercury, Vide, pages 76 to 99, 105-116 and 134-135, vol, 1), is the only one that has been brought to the knowledge of the allopaths who have found it very efficacious as a general tonic. This medicine is now being prepared by some foreign chemists and used extensively by the Indian Allopaths. My publication will afford these and other chemists an opportunity of preparing many other metallic drugs, a lot of which are much more efficacious than Rasa-sindura which is only one of the common-places of metallic preparations prescribed in books on Indian chemistry. This may open up a new avenue of commercial intercourse between India and the rest of the world leading to the revival of Indian Chemistry in foreign countries at least, if not in India itself. Let truth triumph, no matter how, when, and where.

Prof. Arthur Becket Lamb of the Harvard university has kindly suggested to me the desirability of pointing out the ancient sources of information on which my compilation is based. This is a point to which I had given a careful consideration at the time I put the work in hand. The difficulty which stands, in the way of my accepting the suggestion is peculiar to the manner in which Indian Chemistry has been transmitted on the subject, hitherto discovered, claims originality: the author of every one of these books says that he is only a compiler, and there is nothing to disbelieve him, because all of these books have much in common with one another. It is manifestly evident that all of them drew on a common mass of materials transmitted by preceptors to disciples from time out of memory. All that the ancient Hindus really cared for was knowledge without a scrupulous enquiry as to when and by whom a particular truth was discovered. There is another reason why I found the task of assigning sources of my information almost impossible. The existing books are so much wanting in method, so fragmentary, incomplete, and so full of mistakes made by generations of scribes that I had to correct the ancient texts to a great extent and to supply the missing links from the materials I collected from my preceptor who has got his own manuscript notes on the whole science, so much so that much of the language used in these volumes is my own composition, although the materials supplied are by no means of modern origin—they have been handed down to us by our remotest fore-fathers through generations of chemists most of whom have hitherto been ascetics retiring into the forests. It will be evident to a careful student of Hindu chemistry that the verses quoted in the texts and those composed by myself have been so intermingled with one another that it is practically impossible to give references to works laid under contribution, in every case. Such being the case, all that is possible for me is to furnish my readers with a list of books and manuscripts consulted, and this I propose to do after I have completed the compilation of all the volumes.

I consider it to be a pleasant duty to express my heart-felt gratitude to Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sir Chiman Lai Setalvad, Vice Chancellor, Bombay University, Dr. Gerald Druce, author of “History of science”, Dr. Nagaoka of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research. Tokyo, Prof. H. K. Sen of the Calcutta University, Mr. Arthur Edward Wait, Prof. L. M. Dennis of the Cornell University, Prof. A. B. Lamb of the Harvard University, and many other well-known scholars, who have encouraged me by their sympathetic appreciation of my ambitious work.

I am also indebted to Pandit Nritya Gopal Panchatirtha, and to Professors Kshitish Ch. Chatterjee M. A. and Satkari Mookerji M. A. of the Deptt. of Sanskrit, Calcutta University, not only for the help they rendered to me in correcting the proof sheets but also for several suggestions received from them. The encouragement which I have received from the following members of the Institute of Hindu Chemistry also deserves mention Prof. Ramnarain Kayasth M. Sc. B. Ag. of the Nagpur University, Messrs. Girija Nath Mookerji B. Sc., Asstt. Analyst, Calcutta Corporation, Anindra Nath Chatterji, Sarojnath Bagchi, Ganapati Chakravarty M. A. and Upendra Nath Dutt (who has taken the trouble of compiling the Appendix to the present volume).

41-A Grey Street, Calcutta,

BHUDEB MOOKERJI

The 26th September 1927

Conclusion:

Rasasastra category This concludes ‘Preface’ included in Bhudeb Mookerjee’s Rasa Jala Nidhi, vol 2: Minerals (uparasa). The text includes treatments, recipes and remedies and is categorised as Rasa Shastra: an important branch of Ayurveda that specialises in medicinal/ herbal chemistry, alchemy and mineralogy, for the purpose of prolonging and preserving life.

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