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Color, Complexion, and Prognosis in an Early Sanskrit Medical Manual

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Title:Color, Complexion, and Prognosis in an Early Sanskrit Medical Manual
Authors:Selby, Martha Ann
Date Issued:2013
Publisher:University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for South Asian Studies
Citation:Selby, Martha Ann, "Color, Complexion, and Prognosis in an Early Sanskrit Medical Manual." Paper presented at the Center for South Asian Studies 30th Annual Symposium, "Sensing South Asia," April 17-19, 2013.
Abstract:Medical and cultural practices associated with what we might call “prognosis” are a part of daily existence in contemporary India, but prognosis as a medical discipline was first delineated in an elaborate way in the Indriya-sthana, which constitutes the fifth book of the Caraka-samhita, the earliest medical manual in Sanskrit, composed at some point during the first or second century C.E. The Indriya-sthana is called such for two possible reasons. First, the indriyas are the six organs of sense – sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mind – and this part of the text brings all six senses into account in the prognostic process. The physician must rely on his sensory perceptions in arriving at a prognosis, and must also calculate his patients’ prognoses by evaluating their own sensory faculties, as well. Second, Sanskrit commentators explain that the word indriya is derived from indra, and old synonym for prana, or “vital breath.” This paper will explore various indicators of confounded perception, how the materials in the Indriya-sthana’s twelve chapters form a regular semiotic system, and how they ultimately detail and early formulation of a “poetics” of reading the dying body.
Rights:Selby, Martha Ann
Appears in Collections: 2013 South Asia Spring Symposium Presentations

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