Entangled Histories of Yoga, Āyurveda and Alchemy in South Asia

01.06.2015 - 31.05.2020

Leitung: Dagmar Wujastyk

ERC Starting Grant


  • Christèle Barois (01.07.2015 - 31.05.2020)
  • Jason Birch (01.06.2015 - 31.08.2015)
  • Suzanne Newcombe

The project will examine the histories of yoga, ayurveda and rasaśāstra (Indian alchemy and iatrochemistry) from the tenth century to the present, focussing on the disciplines' health, rejuvenation and longevity practices. The goals of the project are to reveal the entanglements of these historical traditions, and to trace the trajectories of their evolution as components of today's global healthcare and personal development industries.

Our hypothesis is that practices aimed at achieving longevity, physical rejuvenation and transmutation constitute a key area of exchange between the three disciplines, preparing the grounds for a series of important pharmaceutical and technological innovations and also profoundly influencing the discourses of today's medicalized forms of globalized yoga as well as of contemporary institutionalized forms of ayurveda and rasaśāstra.

Drawing upon the primary historical sources of each respective tradition as well as on fieldwork data, the research team will explore the shared terminology, praxis and theory of these three disciplines. We will examine why, when and how health, rejuvenation and longevity practices were employed; how each discipline’s discourse and practical applications relates to those of the others; and how past encounters and cross-fertilizations impact on contemporary health-related practices in yogic, ayurvedic and alchemists’ milieus.