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Dr. Joel Brereton, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Spring 2008

ANS 361 • Ayurveda: Classical Medicine of India

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31120 T
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
GAR 0.128

Course Description

At the end of this seminar-style class, you will have gained a confident sense of the overall shape of the history of traditional medicine in India, as well as its strengths, weaknesses and its changes through time. You will know about the intellectual and practical resources that were available to patients and their doctors at different times in history, and how ayurveda has always adapted and changed, and continues to do so in the modern world, both in India and internationally. In this course you will read and discuss some of the oldest medical writings in the world, and learn how physicians struggled to understand the human body, and how they constructed a systematic view of health and disease that could help them predict the course of illnesses and guide them in recommending therapies. Physicians in the past, as today, were often this-worldly people who were more interested in curing their patients than in developing philosophies. Yet beside chapters on surgery and drug treatment, epidemic diseases and aphrodisiacs, the earliest ayurvedic authors also engaged in fascinating discussions of how we know what we know, how to conduct a fair and objective professional debate on medical matters, and a completely novel version of the eightfold path of yoga.

Each week, one student will serve as discussion leader and provide the other seminar participants with an 8 to 10-page "topics paper" in advance. Two other students will be asked to respond with a formal written commentary of 2 to 3 pages, and discussion will proceed from there. Formal presentations of research in progress will be held during the final 2 weeks of the semester.

Grading Policy

One topics paper (8 to 10 pages in length) plus presentation: 20% Two reaction papers (2 to 3 pages in length) plus presentation: 30% total (15% each) Formal oral presentation on research paper in progress: 20% Final research paper (20 to 30 pages in length): 30% Required core books: Items 1, 2, 5 from the list above.


1.Dominik Wujastyk, The Roots of yurveda: Selections from Sanskrit Medical Writings, London, New York, etc.: Penguin Group, 2003, 3rd ed. 2.Kenneth G. Zysk, Asceticism and Healing in Ancient India: Medicine in the Buddhist Monastery, vol. 2 of Indian Medical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1998, 2nd ed., first published 1991. 3.Julius Jolly, Indian Medicine. Translated from German and Supplemented with Notes by C. G. Kashikar; with a Foreword by J. Filliozat, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1977, 2nd ed. 4.Sudhir Kakar, Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: a Psychological Inquiry into India and its Healing Traditions, London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1982. 5.Guy Mazars, A Concise Introduction to Indian Medicine, vol. 8 of Indian Medical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006. 6.Francis Zimmermann, The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats: an Ecological Theme in Hindu Medicine, vol. 4 of Indian Medical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999, first published 1987. 7.Readings packet. Selected articles relevant for course background and discussion. 8.Gerrit Jan Meulenbeld, A History of Indian Medical Literature, Groningen: E. Forsten, 1999-2002, 5v. Just kidding. Seriously, although this is much too long and dense to read through, you should know what this book is, and how to look things up in it. Think of it as a dictionary. Other, more topic-specific readings will be recommended for each week.


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