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Medicine Within the Cultural Ecosystem. Some Remarks on Tamil Siddha Medico-Alchemical Literature From Cultural-Ecological Perspective.


· Ilona Kędzia Jagiellonian University (Cracow, Poland)


07/29 | 11:00-11:20 UTC+2/CEST


In this paper, in connection with the methods of cultural ecology, I will examine the concept of Tamil Siddha medicine as an integral part of the local cultural ecosystem, mirrored in selected textual sources of Tamil Siddha medico-alchemical literature. My research will be based in particular on the study of chosen works ascribed to Yākōpu alias Irāmatēvar (ca. 17th-18th century), one of the prominent Tamil Siddhars. The texts of the Siddhar are usually composed in the form of practical manuals, transmitting various recipes and advises dedicated to adepts of medicine, alchemy and yoga. It may be expected that the traditional science of medicine, with its rich collection of materia medica comprising local herbal and animal products, as well as lifeless matter in form of minerals, is intrinsically tightly connected with the local environment. I will therefore investigate how such connections are expressed in the texts. Moreover, I will consider how the local nature, represented in the medico-alchemical Siddha literature by the notions related to the indigenous natural ingredients, is perceived from within the Siddha tradition, with the special reference to one of the key-ingredients used in Siddha lore called “the triple salt” (muppu), and its depictions in the texts. I will furthermore explore the Siddha worldview underlying the described practices, according to which human being may be seen as an inseparable entity of the universe of interconnected and mutually interacting components.