Year : 2014 | Volume
: 35 | Issue : 2 | Page : 218-
Review on "Rasashastra" written by Andrew Masan
Executive Editor - AYU, I.P.G.T. and R.A., Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India
Executive Editor - AYU, I.P.G.T. and R.A., Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat
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Nishteswar K. Review on "Rasashastra" written by Andrew Masan.AYU 2014;35:218-218
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Nishteswar K. Review on "Rasashastra" written by Andrew Masan. AYU [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Sep 20 ];35:218-218
Available from: https://www.ayujournal.org/text.asp?2014/35/2/218/146262
The subject related to Rasashastra and medical astrology is presented lucidly under four parts and 22 sections in 556 pages. Rasashastra's subject material is presented in 336 pages under three parts. In this monograph, scientific validation related to drugs dealt in Rasashastra are incorporated.
Part I-Information about Ayurveda in general, metals and Visha (toxins) was included in Part I. To explain the question: "What is Rasashastra?" the author chosen Sagar Manthan (churning of the milky ocean). It is further quoted that "in this skillfully woven tale of Gods, demons, damsels, and magic we are introduced to the origins of immortality, Ayurveda, astrology, herbs, purification techniques, auspicious techniques, auspicious gemstones, the Rahu-Ketu myth and of course the origins of Visha and its ultimate transmutation into Amrita (divine nectar)." In fact, origin of Visha cannot be equated with origin of Rasa (mercury) which is quoted as Rudra Virya (energy or semen of Lord Shiva). Rasashastra (1.3 chapter) was interpreted by the author as medical alchemy and also referred as "Science of mercury." The chapter was discussed with relevant quotes from Rudra Chamakam.
The author made a precise statement that "Learning the basic principles of Ayurveda is quite simple; however, learning to use that knowledge diagnostically can take a lifetime. Ayurveda is a science of life, and the best way to understand it is to become a student of life," which is absolutely true. In the chapter of origin of Visha the author discussed harvesting of Jangama (animal) Visha and described Chinese medical system about usage of scorpion (boiled and sun dried) in liver disorders.
Part II-Rasashala design was discussed well with additional information such as Sarpabhayahara Asreeyaa Yantra, pictorial description of Vastupurusha and Samudrika Sahstra. While furnishing details of testing of Bhasmas the author would have given Sanskrit terminology such as Rekhapurnatva, Apunarbahva, and Uttama, as quoted in authentic Rasashastra texts.
In the diagram of sample Puta (p. 144) earthen vessels were depicted which appears to be like Damaruyantra. For Puta purpose, two Saravas, which are discoid in shape, are generally utilized. Temperatures in relation to various Putas were nicely presented (p. 146-148) in graphs and photos. Under the topic of automation (man vs. machine) the author made a significant statement that "introduction of machines would not be a shrewd move." In support of this he quoted one scientific study, which has concluded that hand prepared material (Rasasindoor) showed little or no detectable levels of mercuric toxicity in the urine of tested animals, whereas Rasasindoor produced through nonhuman intervention proved to have measurable levels of mercury in the urine of animals. The author would have furnished references of this study that enriches its authenticity.
Part III-Quick reference guide for Rasa materials (90 substances) is highly useful to have bird's eye view about the content of Rasashastra. Text furnished an additional information about ancient Tibetian sources of mercury. X-ray Diffraction (XRD)/Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis for Makardhwaja, Hingula, Sulfur, Shilajit, Rasamanikya, Diamond Bhasma, Akika Bhasma, Blue Sapphire (EDX), Deer horn Bhasma, Pearl Bhasma and Peacock feather Bhasma. X-ray images (guide to nacresation) given (p. 269) for cultured marine pearl, will marine pearl, and fresh water pearl are informative. Among the plants Dattura, Aconite and Bhallataka only were mentioned along with the purification procedures. Under Rasa formulae, 19 formulations were discussed along with Anupana and posology. Apple juice is suggested as Anupana for Jawahar Mohra Bhasma, which is rarely described in Ayurvedic classics and Rasashastra text books. In the chapter entitled "Rasashastra in Media" the relevant portions of Journal of the American Medical Association report authored by Dr. Robert B. Saper was included. Contamination of formulation was discussed with the examples of Pishti and Bhasma of Nagapashana.
Part IV-The part of celestial connections (p. 337-478) dealt in detail about Jyotisha (The science of light), medical astrology, planetary gemstones, diseases in relation to Nakshatra (star), etc., Discussing relevance between Rasashastra and Jyotisha the author quoted that, in India both Jyotisha and Mantra are employed before, during and after manufacturing process. A detailed Appendix (p. 479-539) was added and included miscellaneous Rasa information. In a nutshell the information about the subject of Rasashastra was presented in an explicit manner with a relevant scientific validation. This monograph serves as a useful reference material both for student as well as researcher of Rasashastra.
Author deserves all appreciation as the content reflects meticulous efforts made by author in presenting the subject in a systemic manner.