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Soulless Matter, Seats of Energy

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Soulless Matter, Seats of Energy: Metals, Gems and Minerals in South Asian Traditions investigates the way in which Indian culture has represented inorganic matter and geological formations such as mountains and the earth itself. The volume is divided into four sections, each discussing from different angles the manifold dimensions occupied by minerals, gems and metals in traditions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The various chapters offer a rigorous analysis of a variety of texts from different South Asian regions from a range of perspectives such as history, philology, philosophy, hermeneutics and ethnography. The themes discussed include literature (myth and epics), ritual, ethics, folklore, and sciences such as astrology, medicine, alchemy and cosmetics. The volume critically reflects on the concept of “inanimate world” and shows how Indian traditions have variously interpreted the concept of embodied life and lifelessness. Ranging from worldviews and disciplines which regard metals, minerals, gems as alive, sentient or inhabited by divine presences and powers to ideas which deny matter possesses life and sentience, the Indian Subcontinent proves to be a challenge for taxonomic investigations but at the same time provides historians of religions and philosophers with stimulating material.
Chapter 5 is freely available under Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0here

Published: Aug 15, 2016

Section Chapter Authors
List of Figures Fabrizio Ferrari, Thomas Dähnhardt
List of Tables Fabrizio Ferrari, Thomas Dähnhardt
Introduction Fabrizio Ferrari, Thomas Dähnhardt
Section One: Myth and Ritual
1. Five Stones – Four Rivers – One Town: The Hindu Pañcāyatanapūjā Mikael Aktor
2. A “Sulphurous” Śakti: The Worship of Goddess Hiṅgulā in Baluchistan Francesco Brighenti
3. From Iron to Sapphire: Indian Myths and Rituals about Saturn, the Implacable Lord of Celestial Spheres Monia Marchetto, Manuel Hoefer
Section Two: Science and Health
4. Mineral Healing: Gemstone Remedies in Astrological and Medical Traditions Anthony Cerulli, Caterina Guenzi
5. Mercury Tonics (Rasāyana) in Sanskrit Medical Literature Dagmar Wujastyk
6. When Ngülchu is not Mercury: Tibetan Taxonomies of 'Metals' Barbara Gerke
Section Three: Power and Devotion
7. In Search of the Sadhu’s Stone: Metals and Gems as Theraputic Technologies of Transformation in Vernacular Aesceticism in North India Antoinette DeNapoli
8. Deg Tegh Fateh: Metal as Material and Metaphor in Sikh Tradition Eleanor Nesbitt
Section Four: Body and Embodiment
9. A Little Lipstick Goes a Long Way: Chit-chatting with Women in the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata Deeksha Sivakumar
10. Ratna: A Buddhist World of Precious Things Mattia Salvini
11. When Earth Comes Alive: Earth-Bodied Beings in Jain Tradition Ana Bajželj
End Matter
Index Fabrizio Ferrari