History of Science and Philosophy in Premodern India
A conference in honour of Prof Dominik Wujastyk,
Singhmar Chair in Classical Indian Society and Polity

This two-day conference will explore the interplay between science and philosophy in the premodern period of South Asia. The region, known for its diverse cultures and dynamic intellectual traditions, has made significant contributions to various scientific and philosophical domains. Our international group of speakers, experts in the fields of Indic philosophy and the history of science, will shed light on these contributions, exploring the interconnectedness of knowledge systems in premodern South Asia and examining the philosophical underpinnings that guided scientific inquiry in the region.

What
 Conference: 
History of Science and Philosophy in Premodern India 
Where
History, Classics, and Religion  
University of Alberta 
Business Building 2-09
Edmonton, AB, T6G 2R6 
When
 May 17, 9:30 AM - 6:00 pm
 May 18, 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
The Felicitation Volume for Dominik Wujastyk is now published:

Maas, Philipp A. und Cerulli, Anthony (Hrsg.): Suhṛdayasaṃhitā: A Compendium of Studies on South Asian Culture, Phi­losophy, and Religion. Dedicated to Dominik Wujastyk, Heidelberg: Heidelberg Asian Studies Publishing, 2024 (Studia Indologica Universitatis Halensis, Band 28). https://doi.org/10.11588/hasp.1386

The Open Access online version can be downloaded at https://hasp.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/catalog/book/1386
CONFERENCE PROGRAMME

Friday, May 17

9:30 Welcome and introduction

Session 1 - Chair: Dagmar Wujastyk 

10:00 Philipp Maas – The Religious Orientation and Cultural Identity of Early Classical Ayurveda

10:30 Cristina Pecchia – The Doctor, the Patient, and Their Interaction: Reading the Carakasaṃhitā


11:00 coffee break

Session 2 - Chair: Lisa Allette Brooks 

11:30 Martha Selby – The Cipher of the Gene: Narratives of Sex Determination, Twinning, and Heredity in Early Sanskrit Medical Literature.

12:00 Tulika Singh – The Yogic Body as a Nonnormative Body: Perceptions of Bodies with Extraordinary Capabilities in Early South Asia

12:30 Jane Allred – For the Benefit of Mind, Body, and Speech: Preliminary Remarks on the Medical Texts Attributed to Pūjyapāda Devanandin


13:00 lunch break

Session 3 - Chair: Jacqueline Hargreaves

14:30 Dagmar Wujastyk – The Forge and the Crucible: Images of Alchemical Apparatuses on Alchemical Manuscripts

15:00 Patricia Sauthoff – Cannabis in Traditional Indian Alchemy

15:30 Jason Birch – Fifty Unknown Verses on Yoga: An Early Attempt to Synthesise Pātañjalayoga with Haṭha and Rājayoga


16:00    coffee break


16:30 Felicitations

17:00 Keynote by Dominik Wujastyk


Saturday, May 18


9:15 Welcome

Session 1 - Chair: Philipp A. Maas

9:30 Kenneth Zysk – Crow omens and early Indian ornithology

10:00 Stefan Baums – Whatever Happened to Gāndhārī?: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the “Gāndhārī Orthography”

10:30 Wendy Philipps-Rodriguez – Sequencing, Assembling, and Annotating: A Genomic Approach to Text Genealogy


11:00 coffee break

Session 2 - Chair: Cristina Pecchia

11:30 Alessandro Graheli – The Choice of Devanāgarī

12:00 Deepro Chakraborty – Texts on Phonetics from Kashmir: Kashmiri engagements with the śikṣās of Pāṇini and Āpiśali

12:30 Elisa Freschi – Does One Have the Right to Sacrifice? Deontic Concepts in Mīmāṃsā


13:00    lunch break

Session 3 - Chair: Martha Selby 

14:30 Patrick Olivelle – Revisiting the Issue of Spurious Smṛtis: The Case of apasmṛti in Medieval Texts

15:00 Beth Rohlmann – Kapila and Vallabha on the Banks of the Sarasvatī: Envisioning Philosophy and Theology in the Heart of the Gujjāra Mandala in Medieval Gujarat

15:30 Neil Dalal -- Advaita Vedānta and Lucid Dreaming: Constructing a Philosophical Analogy


16:00    coffee break

Session 4 - Chair: Patricia Sauthoff

16:30 Lisa Allette Brooks – Bodies in Practice: Translating Sanskrit Medical Knowledges

17:00 Frederick M. Smith – Translation and Retranslation: Thoughts on Methodology, with Respect to the Mahābhārata




This conference is made possible through the generous support of the Saroj and Prem Singhmar Endowment Fund
and SSHRC Connection Grant 611-2023-0705
ABSTRACTS (ordered in alphabetical order by speakers' last names)

Jane Allred (PhD candidate, University of Alberta)

For the Benefit of Mind, Body, and Speech: Preliminary Remarks on the Medical Texts
Attributed to Pūjyapāda Devanandin


Pūjyapāda Devanandin was an accomplished Jain scholar who lived in Karnataka in
roughly the fifth to sixth centuries C.E.. While best known today, for Sarvārthasiddhi, a
commentary on Umāsvati’s Tattvārthasūtra, and Jainendravyākaraṇa, one of the oldest non-
Pāṇinian texts, there is also an undefined number of medical texts attributed to him over the
centuries. This talk aims to make sense of these attributions: to evaluate the veracity of these
claims, and to explain what the status of a medical authority contributed to the historical memory
of this foundational thinker. An early citation of a certain Pūjyapāda as a medical authority in
Ugrāditya’s Kalyāṇakāraka provides an important clue. Eric Gurevitch has recently discussed
Ugrāditya’s attempt to reconstruct an authentic Jain medical tradition, concordant with Jain
ethical standards, especially vegetarianism. Crucially, Ugrāditya’s rationale for supposing this
tradition lies in the Jain metaphysical principle of non-onesidedness being central to the method
of the medical classics of Caraka and Suśruta. Devanandin himself was an early innovator of this
concept, with one of the first appearances of the term being in his commentary on Umāsvati’s
work. The principle of non-onesidedness is also crucial to his grammatical project, which begins
with the meta-rule that realization of grammatical processes (siddhi) stems from non-
onesidedness. Whatever medical expertise Pūjyapāda Devanandin actually possessed, the idea of
him as a medical authority provided a powerful dimension to his hagiography; as an expert in
those sciences beneficial to three aspects of the person, body, mind, and voice, he played the role
of a cultural hero to the Jains of medieval Karnataka—a foundational thinker who preserved the
teachings and principles of the Jina for the good of all people. While it is impossible at this time
to corroborate the veracity of any texts ascribed to Pūjyapāda, which if they exist at all, exist
only as manuscripts, it seems unlikely that one person could be responsible for the volume of
texts attributed to him. Paralleling a similar explosion of medical texts to a mythic Patañjali in
second millennium, we may hypothesize that a majority of such texts were medieval writings
authored either by someone who had the title Pūjyapāda, or who used the name to ground their
text in the Karnataka Jain tradition.


Stefan Baums (Assistant Professor, LMU)

Whatever Happened to Gāndhārī?: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the “Gāndhārī Orthography”

The earliest Buddhist texts were originally transmitted in a variety of Middle Indo-Aryan dialects and eventually translated into Sanskrit (as well as numerous non-Indian languages). The only completely preserved Indian Buddhist canon – that of the Theravāda Buddhist school in the Pali language – underwent a thorough process of standardization and preserves little trace of the original linguistic diversity of the Buddhist tradition. Texts in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit still echo this diversity in the garb of an ever more standardized language, but it is only the numerous recently found Buddhist manuscripts in Kharoṣṭhī script from the ancient region of Gandhāra (modern Pakistan and Afghanistan) that preserve for us a full and contemporary picture of linguistic diversity within a Buddhist textual tradition in the centuries immediately BCE and CE. Here we find, under the cover of the modern designation “Gāndhārī,” a variety of northwestern Indo-Aryan dialects, numerous substrate influences from mainland Indo-Aryan languages, and a Sanskrit superstrate that slowly gained in strength until the eventual abandonment of Kharoṣṭhī and Gāndhārī for literary purposes. This linguistic diversity is in turn both revealed and obscured by an array of different orthographic practices found in these earliest South Asian manuscripts. In this talk, I will explore the different shapes that this complex interaction of language and orthography took in ancient Gandhāra, highlighting a particularly interesting case in which the orthography if one particular Gāndhārī manuscripts reveals a regional phonetic feature also described in a Vedic Prātiśākhya.


Jason Birch (Senior Research Fellow, SOAS)

Fifty Unknown Verses on Yoga: An Early Attempt to Synthesise Pātañjalayoga with Haṭha and Rājayoga

The Yogapañcāśikā is an unpublished and unstudied Sanskrit text on yoga. Although the text is largely unknown, it may be important in the history of yoga as an early attempt to integrate Haṭha and Rājayoga with Pātañjalayoga. Unlike other compilations on yoga from the early modern period, the Yogapañcāśikā is a short work of merely fifty verses that cites only the Pātañjalayogaśāstra. It teaches an aṣṭāṅgayoga: the first four auxiliaries are Haṭhayoga, and the second four, Rājayoga. It is a Śaiva work that aims at raising kuṇḍalinī, uniting Śakti with Śiva and attaining jīvanmukti followed by videhamukti when the yogi’s karma is completely extinguished.
This talk will attempt to answer the most obvious questions about the codex unicus and the Yogapañcāśikā itself. It will also provide a short overview of the contents of the work and some comments on their historical importance.


Lisa Allette Brooks (Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Alberta)

Bodies in Practice: Translating Sanskrit Medical Knowledges

This paper explores ethnography and attentiveness to contemporary embodied experience as tools in the interpretation and translation of early Sanskrit medical treatises. Can these practices play a constructive role in historical and philological research? Drawing upon readings of Suśrutasaṃhitā manuscripts in Prof. Dominik Wujastyk’s Suśruta Project, this paper considers the ways in which ethnographic research may inform our reading of the treatise in both constructive and in misleading ways. I suggest that embodied experience and research can provide a fruitful ground for considering aspects of anatomical knowledge and the multispecies practice of leech therapy as set forth in the Suśrutasaṃhitā. I will also consider the ways in which dehistoricized and decontextualized study of contemporary practice and knowledge formations can mislead us in interpretation and translation.


Deepro Chakraborty (PhD candidate, University of Alberta)

Texts on Phonetics from Kashmir: Kashmiri engagements with the śikṣās of Pāṇini and Āpiśali

Based primarily on unstudied manuscript materials, this presentation aims to give an account of the Kashmiri scholarship on the Sanskrit discipline of phonetics known as śikṣā. This paper will focus particularly on six texts on phonetics. These are the Kashmiri versions of two seminal śikṣā texts—the Pāṇinīyaśikṣā and the Āpiśaliśikṣā, two anonymous commentaries on them, the manuscripts of which are found only from Kashmir, and two versified adaptations of these śikṣā texts by Kashmiri authors—the Pāṇinīyaśikṣāślokavārttika by Vasukra (10th century ?) and the Varṇaśikṣāsaṅkṣepa by Jagaddhara (late 14th century). The anonymous commentaries and the versified texts by the Kashmiri authors have not been edited or studied yet. Through an initial examination of these texts, the presentation will engage in philological debates surrounding their dating, authorship, and the original version of the śikṣās attributed to Pāṇini and Āpiśali.



Neil Dalal (Associate Professor, University of Alberta)

Advaita Vedānta and Lucid Dreaming: Constructing a Philosophical Analogy

This talk formulates the lucid dream experience, the phenomenon of waking up to the dream while remaining within the dream state, as a source of analogical insights when placed in dialogue with Advaita Vedānta. Lucid dreaming is ideally suited to illustrate a complex interactive account of Advaita’s metaphysics and epistemology. The lucid dreaming insight also provides a unique phenomenological analogue of awakening to a deeper reality of self and world. I contend that employing lucid dreaming as a philosophical illustration potentially resolves conceptual paradoxes that some scholars and rival philosophical traditions consider to be endemic contradictions in Advaita Vedānta’s conception of liberation while living—particularly being disembodied despite continuing embodiment, and maintaining a nondual recognition amidst dualistic experience.


Elisa Freschi (Associate Professor, University of Toronto)

Does one have the right to sacrifice? Deontic concepts in Mīmāṃsā

This talk will explore deontic concepts in Mīmāṃsā, focusing on the contributions of Kumārila and Maṇḍana, but also looking at Mīmāṃsā-influenced Dharmaśāstra, especially in the work of Medhātithi and Vijñāneśvara. I will start with how prescriptions (vidhi) and prohibitions (niṣedha) are not mutually definable and then move on to how permissions (anujñā) are not defined as the counterpart of prohibitions. In other words, for Mīmāṃsā authors it is not the case that whatever is not prohibited is permitted. I will then focus on permissions and how they are defined and interpreted. This will show how Vedic permissions are always considered to be exceptions to previous prohibitions or negative obligations. Last, I will consider how Mīmāṃsā authors can deal with what Euro-American authors consider to be "free-standing" permissions, such as "Every human being is allowed to attend school until 18". Could this concept have some resemblance with the Mīmāṃsā category of adhikāra?


Alessandro Graheli (Assistant Professor, University of Toronto)

The Choice of Devanāgarī

Philological considerations are mostly about retrieval, analysis, and interpretation of data, or about editorial strategies in the choice of variants. The typographical decisions needed for the output of the philologists's efforts, by contrast, are seldom addressed and discussed, even when such decisions are increasingly taken by the philologists themselves in the digital age of camera-ready productions. The liminal decision of choosing either of Devanāgarī or Roman script and the selection of one among the many available fonts to typeset either script are mostly and uncritically taken for granted. In fact, while in South Asia editions are customarily typeset in Devanāgarī, elsewhere Roman script has often been the Indologist's choice.
This election of the script is influenced by technological, philological, sociological and even ideological factors. In this paper I examine the reasons in support of the use of the two scripts and discuss the criteria for the evaluation of the available fonts for the sake of typesetting Sanskrit literature. I will touch upon related typographical aspects, advocating the importance of reflecting on the functional aspects of typography.


Philipp A. Maas (Research Associate, Leipzig University)

The Religious Orientation and Cultural Identity of Early Classical Ayurveda

This presentation tackles the entanglements of medicine, religion, and cultural identity in early classical Ayurveda. Scrutinizing the Carakasaṃhitā in particular, it looks at previous scholarship and advances new ideas about the religious orientation of ayurvedic physicians in the first century CE. This analysis leads to the conclusion that already the author of the older text strata of the Carakasaṃhitā adroitly combined religious conceptions of late Vedic Brāhmaṇism with religious ideas from the śramaṇa milieu of Greater Magadha, possibly to create wide acceptance for the newly emerging ayurvedic system of healing. The hybridity of Ayurveda is, thus, apparently not the result of the Brahmanization of a system of healing that originated in the śramaṇa-milieu but emerges from more complex historical processes, in which different medical currents were integrated into ayurvedic schools. To disentangle this complex process, the presentation contextualizes the mythological account of the origin of longevity therapy (rasāyana) in Ayurveda as presented in Carakasaṃhitā Cikitsāsthāna 1.4 with the early historical account of Indian physicians in Strabo’s Geography.


Patrick Olivelle (Prof. Emeritus, UT Austin)

Revisiting the Issue of Spurious smṛtis: The Case of apasmṛti in Medieval Texts

Scholars have called certain smṛtis cited in medieval texts as spurious or apocryphal. Others have
strongly objected to this evaluation of smṛtis and accused those scholars of engaging in pseudo-
theology. My paper deals with the indigenous category of apasmṛti, or spurious/false smṛti,
found in polemical contexts in a variety of medieval texts. How do we compare this theological
category to the scholarly rejection of various so-called spurious smṛtis? That will be one focus of
the paper.


Cristina Pecchia (Research Associate, Austrian Academy of Sciences)

The Doctor, the Patient, and Their Interaction: Reading the Carakasaṃhitā

This paper examines the interaction between doctor and patient as it emerges from the Carakasaṃhitā.
In this foundational work of Ayurveda, the modes and goals of such an interaction are mostly a matter
of inference. Information can be gleaned from passages on the values, obligations, and expectations of
the doctor and the patient, as well as from discussions of topics relating not only to disease, but also to
situations that might lead someone to suffer from disease. These passages and discussions show that
the preventive and therapeutic framework of Ayurveda values the interaction between doctor and
patient, in which communication is an important aspect. Furthermore, the doctor’s agency also
depends on a set of emotional-relational skills linked to ethical values that are sometimes specific to
Ayurveda’s primary goal of maintaining and restoring health. Given the caring attitude of the doctor
in addressing patients as agents of their own health, the relationship between the ayurvedic doctor and
the patient seems to correspond to a rather nuanced paternalistic model.


Wendy Phillips-Rodriguez (Research Fellow, Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

Sequencing, assembling, and annotating: a genomic approach to text genealogy

After some years looking into the transmission process of a section of the Mahābhārata (ca 1000 lines of the Dyūtparvan) by means of traditional and computerized methods, this paper will be an assessment on the following issues: 1) What is the standing of the traditionally made Mahābhārata critical edition against the current state of research in stemmatology? and 2) What can we learn from this case study and how can we use it to portray a bigger picture on cultural evolution? Chances are that besides borrowing electronic tools developed to study biological evolution, textual scholars could also profit from concepts and epistemological approaches that have proved useful in the biological sciences.


Elizabeth Rohlman (Associate Professor, University of Calgary)

Kapila and Vallabha on the Banks of the Sarasvatī: Envisioning Philosophy and Theology in the Heart of the Gujjāra Mandala in Medieval Gujarat

The Sarasvatī Purāņa, a Sanskrit composition produced in medieval Gujarat, is preserved in both Vaişņava and Śaiva recensions. The central theological argument of the Vaişņava recension relates the story of Kapila and the foundation of the Samkhya darśana from the Bhāgavata Purāņa and locates the events of Kapila’s life just north of Patan, the medieval capital of Gujarat. The texts re-fashions the Samkhya teachings of the famed Kapila Gīta into a treatise on the merits of Vaişņava bhakti with specific reference to the regional religious traditions of Gujarat, with a particular emphasis on the theology of Vallabha. While the appeal to the beloved Bhāgavata Purāņa is clearly an assertion of theological authority, it is also an articulation of an expressly Gujarati identity for the sage Kapila. It is through this process of inter-textual dialogue that the Sarasvatī Purāņa articulates a uniquely regional religious vision while simultaneously claiming a larger and longer theological heritage. From a cosmological perspective, the text asserts a vision of the River Sarasvatī and the royal capital of Patan as the center of medieval Gujarat and, indeed, the cosmos.


Patricia Sauthoff (Assistant Professor, Baptist University Hong Kong)

Cannabis in Traditional Indian Alchemy

In 2002 Dominik Wujastyk began his paper “Cannabis in Traditional Indian Herbal Medicine” with the line, “To discuss cannabis is to step into an arena of fierce and lively contest.” Much has changed over these last 20-some years, with legalization efforts moving well past the medical and allowing for recreational use. However, the fierce and lively contest remains. Discussion of cannabis remains a taboo subject, even as usage grows.
In this presentation I will respond to and provide updates to Wujastyk’s paper by examining in depth the description of cannabis found in the 12th or 13th century medico-alchemical Ānandakanda. Among the many topics related to cannabis, the ĀK discusses its mythology, cultivation, associated mantras, medical uses, medical preparations, and dangers in 186 verses within a chapter devoted to 38 divine plants. Discussing the dangers and effects of cannabis described in the ĀK will lead to a discussion of the level of intoxication provided by this cannabis and an indication that inebriation was not the goal.
Additionally, I will respond to the mainstreaming of cannabis and cannabis-related products by introducing a the marketing materials for a cannabis-infused perfume that uses the scent profiles of cannabis alongside other plants often found in rasaśāstra recipes, such as black pepper, cedar, and sandalwood.
Finally, I will discuss the ambiguities in the terms used for cannabis in Sanskrit, ambiguities which have led readers to believe the substance was used long before we have historical evidence to prove this. I will also compare these ambiguities the debates about cannabis terminology in the Americas, where the commonly used word “marijuana” is itself a subject of intense debate. The presentation ends with a nod to Dominik in the form of an anecdote about a popular colloquial phrase used to describe cannabis associated with jazz musicians, in which I will debunk the origin of the phrase “jazz cigarettes.”


Martha Selby (Sangam Professor of South Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, Harvard University)

The Cipher of the Gene: Narratives of Sex Determination, Twinning, and Heredity in Early Sanskrit Medical Literature

In Sanskrit texts across genres, we encounter the linguistics of lineage, of the vamsa, the ablatives of the Upanidsadic “begats,” but how do we make sense of Ayurvedic notions of heredity and “the gene”? First, there appears to be a distinction in Ayurvedic literature between lineage and heredity. “Lineage” stands in for “succession,” and how we understand concepts such as gotra and vamsa, which really speaks more to one’s sense of “clan” and family history over long stretches of generations and centuries, whereas “heredity” seems to be a smaller and much more intimate concept and is “what passes” from parents to offspring in the “procreative act of generating an individual.” Through the examination of three short sutras in prose on congenital malformations in the Caraka-samhita, I hope to demonstrate what seems to be an early understanding of genetics as we know them through the examination of vocabulary and grammar of these passages in terms of “seeds,” “parts of seeds,” “parts of portions of seeds,” and “one spot on the parts of portions of seeds,” understood, as they are, within a classical understanding of the corruption of substance through the derangement of the dosas. As a second example, I will also examine the sutras on twinning and on other multiple birth phenomena.



Tulika Singh (PhD candidate, University of Alberta)

The yogic body as a non-normative body: Perceptions of bodies with extraordinary capabilities in early South Asia

This paper aims to show that while bodies with extraordinary capabilities were considered ‘perfect’ in early South Asia, they were not conceptualized as normative or ideal. Focusing on yogic bodies, this study explores the perceptions of bodies with extraordinary powers in the context of normative and non-normative bodies in early South Asia. The paper first shows that the descriptions of yogic powers in sections like the mokṣadharma in the Mahābhārata and the vibhūti pāda in the Yogaśāstra mark a distinction between characteristics of extraordinary bodies and those of ideal bodies, as represented in contemporary normative texts like the Manusmr̥ti and Kāmasūtra. This distinctionindicates that a body with exceptional capabilities is perceived to possess powers beyond the abilities of a perfect, normative body. The paper then reflects on how the ‘special’ powers of a yogic body can contribute to its conceptualization as a non-normative body, wherein the body acquires a ‘special’ status in society due to the presence or lack of certain abilities that are markedly different from the perceived norm. By examining the connection between conceptions of exceptional capabilities vis-à-vis normative and non-normative bodies, this study introduces a new perspective to the existing studies on extraordinary and ‘supernormal’ powers in early South Asia.


Frederick M. Smith (Prof. Emeritus, University of Iowa)

Translation and retranslation: thoughts on methodology, with respect to the Mahābhārata

What began in 1970 as a translation of the newly completed critical edition of the Mahābhārata by Professor J. A. B. van Buitenen of the University of Chicago, was left unfinished after his untimely death at age 51 in 1979. James Fitzgerald has added one volume to van Buitenen’s original three volumes, with one more (the Mokṣadharma section of the Śāntiparvan) forthcoming shortly from the University of Chicago Press. But the annotated translation of the rest of the epic still remains unfinished. It has now been taken over by several scholars, including me, to be published by Primus Books in Delhi rather than the University of Chicago Press. The simple reason for this, although not relevant to my talk today, is because pressure on academic publishers is so heavy today that many long running series have been cancelled. At this point, with broad advances in Mahābhārata scholarship and general advances in Indological scholarship nearly everywhere, we are justified in thinking of this as a retranslation project. To this end, I have looked into both translation and retranslation theory within literary studies in order to more fully grasp what we are undertaking. I would like to present a few of my thoughts on this topic. Retranslation theory is a recent development, emerging in the late 1980s and 1990s (see references below), augmenting the wealth of sources we have on translation theory. It largely addresses theories and practices of retranslation of eighteenth and nineteenth century continental European literature, and to a lesser extent classical Greek and Latin literature. It has not been employed to examine recent translations of South Asian (or to the best of my knowledge any Asian) classical literature. More directly, retranslation of a classical Sanskrit text (or a Sanskrit text of any period and genre), must be more than an attempt to produce a more perfect philological product, important as this surely is. It must also consider the weight of both a necessarily broader spectrum of translated texts and theoretical approaches that nuance, rather than redefine, what translation means and can bear in the twenty-first century. I have thought about this in undertaking my translation of the last five parvans of the Mahābhārata and the translations of the other parvans not represented in the Chicago series.

I should mention at the outset, however, that one of my guideposts for these thoughts on retranslation lies in an ostensibly unrelated area of discourse, the history of photography. My primary source for this is the noted photographer Mark Klett, who has generated a subfield called rephotography, which involves both revisiting old sites and superimposing sections of old images on new images of the same site taken with much more advanced photographic and scientific techniques. What from the old is superimposed over the new? How are old photographs or translations used in composing new ones? How are old photographs and translations recontextualized in composing new ones? The parallels are striking; it’s worth thinking out of the box in our own blindered fields and subfields.


Dagmar Wujastyk (Associate Professor, University of Alberta)

The Forge and the Crucible: Images of Alchemical Apparatuses on Alchemical Manuscripts

In this paper, I will describe and analyze images of alchemical devices on a selection of alchemical and medical manuscripts, showing how these images provide clues to the various connections between Indian medical and alchemical traditions. The use of technical illustrations seems to be closely linked to the transmission of alchemical knowledge and technologies to other disciplines, with particularly strong links to medicine. I will explore in what ways technical drawings may have been used for both interdisciplinary and intercultural scientific communication.


Ken Zysk (Prof. Emeritus, University of Copenhagen)

Crow omens and early Indian ornithology

This paper entails a critically edited text with accompanying translation of the earliest known collection of crow omens from South Asia. The content reveals a blend of empirically based knowledge and religious ritual, which also has its basis in empirical observation. In this way, the text represents an early form of “ornithology” in the South Asian context. In this paper, we shall try to illustrate the ornithological mode of thought contained in this text.

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