Somatic lessons: Myth and the body in Sanskrit medical literature

Cerulli, Anthony Michael

     The human body is the general lodestone for enquiries about life in general, and about health and illness in particular, in the classical medical tradition of India, Ayurveda. Yet despite the body's centrality in Ayurvedic medicine, there is not a single discursive method for talking about or representing the body in the Sanskrit medical sources. The most atypical, and arguably the most complex, type of discourse used to characterize the body in Ayurveda is mythic discourse, or what I call "medical mythologies." In this dissertation, I examine three elaborate medical mythologies in Ayurvedic literature--on fever, miscarriage, and the king's disease. Looking at the associations between medicine, society, and religion that the compilers of Ayurveda presented and developed in the tradition's medical myths, this study explores and explains somatic representation and the notion of patienthood in the classical Sanskrit medical sources.

Doniger, Wendy