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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 70-74

Contribution of text Rasapaddhati in the history of Indian alchemy: A review

1 Department of Rasashastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana, Datta Meghe Ayurved College, Hospital & Research Centre, Nagpur, India
2 Department of Kaumarabhritya, Mahatma Gandhi Ayurved College, Hospital and Research Centre, Salod(H) Wardha, India

Date of Web Publication21-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Bharat Rathi
Department of Rasashastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana, Mahatma Gandhi Ayurved College, Hospital and Research Centre, Salod, Wardha 442001, Maharashtra.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JISM.JISM_31_19

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Background: Rasapaddhati is a classical Sanskrit text related to Rasashastra, which mainly deals with metals, minerals, and mercurial preparations flourished during the medieval period to achieve Dehavada (attaining long and healthy life by using mercurial preparations) and Lohavada (conversion of lower metals into precious metals such as gold and silver). Later knowledge of Rasashastra extended to the therapeutic application in various diseases. Rasapaddhati is a fifteenth-century alchemical treatise written by Acharya Bindu comprising the personal experiences of the author in the field of alchemy. Aims and Objectives: This work is a humble attempt to summarize the key features of text Rasapaddhati, its contents, and contribution in the development of Indian alchemy. Materials and Methods: A review of Rasapaddhati was performed on Siddhiprada Hindi commentary by Siddhinandan Mishra and published by Chaukhambha Orientalia in 1987. Results and Conclusion: It is written in Shardulvikridit Chhanda and is completed in 236 verses. The key features of Rasapaddhati include the classifications of minerals, metals, precious stones, description of mercury, and its various processes and 49 herbal and herbomineral formulations with therapeutic applications in various diseases.

Keywords: Acharya Bindu, herbomineral formulations, Indian alchemy, Rasapaddhati, Rasashastra

How to cite this article:
Rathi B, Rathi R, Pusadkar S. Contribution of text Rasapaddhati in the history of Indian alchemy: A review. J Indian Sys Medicine 2019;7:70-4

How to cite this URL:
Rathi B, Rathi R, Pusadkar S. Contribution of text Rasapaddhati in the history of Indian alchemy: A review. J Indian Sys Medicine [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Dec 1];7:70-4. Available from: https://www.joinsysmed.com/text.asp?2019/7/2/70/271411

  Introduction Top

Rasapaddhati is a classical Sanskrit text related to Rasashastra. Rasashastra––a branch of an Ayurveda pharmaceutics––mainly deals with metals, minerals, and mercurial preparations flourished during the medieval period, that is, seventh century AD to fifteenth century AD.[1] The main aim of this research was to achieve Dehavada (attaining long and healthy life by using mercurial preparations) and Lohavada (conversion of lower metals into precious metals such as gold and silver).[2] However, during the course of time, knowledge of Dehavada and Lohavada started to decline and limited this alchemical knowledge up to therapeutic applications in various diseases. This was the period when numbers of books were authored based on therapeutic applications of metals, minerals, and mercurial preparations.[3]

Rasapaddhati is considered as one of the important texts in Rasashastra, comprising the personal experiences of author in the field of alchemy. In this study, a humble attempt has been made to review text Rasapaddhati, its contents, and contribution in the history of Indian alchemy. The text Rasapaddhati was written by Acharya Bindu. The author has introduced himself in the very first verse of the text. The book is written in Shardulvikridit Chhanda. There is no direct reference obtained regarding the time period of the author. The text Ayurved Prakash, which was written in sixteenth century, has quoted references from Rasapaddhati; hence, it is believed that this text was written in the fifteenth century.[4]Acharya Siddhinandan Mishra also stated the same period in his book Ayurveda Rasashastra.[5]

  Commentaries and Commentators Top

  1. This text was first revised and edited by Acharya Yadavji Trikamji in 1924 and published by Nirnay Sagar Press, which is unavailable today.

  2. Hindi commentary named Siddhiprada was written by Acharya Siddhinandan Mishra and published by Chaukhambha Orientalia in 1987 and its second edition was published in 2005, which is available to the scholars. This scrupulous edition has been taken into contemplation for writing this paper.[6]

  Observation and Results Top

After reviewing the text Rasapaddhati, it is found that the whole text is written and completed in 231 verses. It mainly comprises Parad samskar, its shodhan, jaran, Saran, kraman, and types of murchhana. Description of Maharasa, Uparasa, Ratna-upratna, Dhatu, and description of few diseases ended with 49 herbal and herbomineral formulations. The detailed description is given in [Table 1].
Table 1: Detail description of the contents of Rasapaddhati as per verses

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  Discussion Top

In total, two commentaries have been written on Rasapaddhati . Of these two, the commentary written by Siddhinandan Mishra is available today. Siddhinandan Mishra, by writing the Siddhiprada Hindi commentary in a lucid language, has appreciably put on the value of Rasapaddhati.The commentator, Siddhinandan Mishra, has given an extraordinary contemporary clarification of blemishes of mercury mentioned in other Rasaśāstra texts and also added detailed and valuable information regarding the other aspects of mercury, metals, minerals, and gems.

As the text is written in verses, contents are described in continuation and not divided distinctly in the chapters. Although this text is written after Rasaratnasamuchhaya, the classification of Maharasa and Uparasa is only found and that too in an appropriate order. The description of Sadharanras is totally excluded. In Ratna varga, classification of nine ratnas is given but the description of Hirak and Mukta regarding its types, blemishes, sources, and properties of superior quality is given in detail but lacking its pharmaceutical aspects, that is, Shodhan and Marana processes. In the whole text, not a single verse is dedicated to Paribhasha (definitions), Yantra (equipments and instruments), Musha (crucibles), and Puta (traditional furnace), which are considered to be basic concepts of Rasashastra. Overall the text is lacking with systematic and proper arrangement of the rasa drugs.

The whole text is described in verses and in Sardulvikridita chhanda. Chandas refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). Prosody is the study of the tune and rhythm of speech and how these features contribute to meaning. The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focuses on the study of the poetic meters. Sardulvikridita refers to a type of syllabic meter (vṛtta), as described in Chapter 16 of Natyashastra. In this meter, the first three, the sixth, the eighth, the twelfth, the thirteenth, the fourteenth, the sixteenth, the seventeenth, and the nineteenth syllables of a foot (pāda) are heavy (guru), whereas the rest of the syllables are light (laghu). Sardulvikridita falls in the Atidhṛti class of prosody (rhythm-type), which implies that verses constructed with this meter have four padas (“foot” or “quarter-verse”) comprising 19 syllables each.[7] In Rasapaddhati, all the verses are in four lines or four padas.

Author is of the opinion that Acharya has described only 8 Parad samskar which is required for the Dehavada. The remaining 10 Samskaras are for Dhatuvada purpose. The same is reflected in last verses (150–231), where formulations were described having wide therapeutic applications. Parad astasamskar includes tedious processes that are time-consuming. It also leads loss of mercury in every step of Parad astasamskar. Hence, Acharya suggested one Parad samskar in place of Astasamskar, which is easy to perform and devoid of mercurial loss. Although two methods of extraction of mercury from Hingula are described, particularly the first method is feasible where Paribhadra or Jambiri nimbu swarasa is used as Bhavana dravya. In the second method, seven Bhavana of bile of peacock is advised.

In the very first verse, author clearly mentioned that this text is compilation of previous literature of Rasaśāstra. However, the description of Maharasa and Uparasa is not matched with the description of previously written texts such as Rasaratnasamuchhaya, Rasaprakash sudhakar, and Rasarnava, where eight drugs are classified each in Maharasa, Uparasa, and Sadharan rasa groups based on the affinity of these drugs toward mercury. Nonetheless, Acharya Bindu has stated only six drugs in Maharasa group, three drugs in Uparasa group, and none in Sadharana rasa group. This may be because of Rasapaddhati mainly deals with the therapeutic aspect (dehavāda) only. The classification of rasa drugs mentioned in Rasapaddhati is briefly summarized in [Table 3].
Table 3: Classification of Rasa drugs according to Rasapaddhati

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In Dhatu varga description, it is mentioned that solo use of Rajat (Silver) and Nag bhasma should be contraindicated in practice. According to Rasashastra if Naga (lead) and Rajat are used without proper purification and incineration as per advised in Rasashastra texts, it will cause various diseases such as Kushtha (various skin diseases), Gulma (abdominal tumors), Ruja (pain), Meha (diabetes), Pandu (anemia), Jwara (fever), Tridoshaprakopa (vitiation of all three dosha),[8]Mrityu (death),[9]Udara (ascitis),[10]Sandhishula (joint pain), Pakshavadha (hemiplesia), Anaha (flatulance), Avabahuka (stiffness of shoulder),[11]Kandu (itching), and Anilasada (anorexia).[12]

In text Rasapaddhati, verse numbers 150–231 are mainly dedicated to the formulations, which are herbal and herbomineral in nature. Of these, 29 formulations are indicated only for Jwara Chikitsa, which is advised to administer according to doshic predominance. Thirteen formulations are for Kasa, Swasa, Kshaya, Rajyakshma, Prameha, Arsha, Grahani, Kamla, Apasmar, Kushta, Udarrog, and some other conditions, two formulations are for Vajikaran, and one formulation is for Rasayan Chikitsa [Table 2]. Thus, broad use of formulations in various disorders shows its practical applicability, so Chikitsavada in Rasapaddhati is also given importance. This also indicates that author was in favor of rasa chikitsa, which is carried out with rasaushadhis. Most of the formulations are prepared by giving Bhavana. Bhavana is an important Samskara (processing) and can be helpful in developing pharmaco-therapeutically potent medicine. It is a specific procedure in which the material (powder) is thoroughly mixed with the liquid media (decoction and herbal juice) and levigation is carried out till complete absorption of liquid into the powder. It also helps in transformation of the coarse powder into finer state by particle size reduction and impregnation of properties of Bhavana dravya and homogenization leading to modification of properties of the end product. Thus, because of Bhavana process, a small dose of a drug may be made to produce maximum bioavailability.[13] In the text, in few formulations the dose is mentioned as 2–3 valla. According to Sharangadhar, 3 gunja or ratti constitute 1 valla. Thus, 2–3 valla is equivalent to 6–9 ratti, that is, 750–1125mg in metric equivalent. This dose may be high for few formulations comprising arsenic or lead or Vatsanabh, for example, Jwarari rasa, Mahamrigank rasa, and Chaturmukh rasa; hence, these can be administered in low dose. Few formulations are described to take in kolasthi matra or Mudga praman matra. This dose needs to be corrected in metric equivalent for better understanding.
Table 2: Formulations described in Rasapadhhati and their therapeutic applications

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  Conclusion Top

The Rasapaddhati is the only classical text of Rasashastra described in Shardulvikridit Chhanda. The book is mainly based on Dehavada. It provides elaborate explanation of numerous rasayogas regarding preparation and therapeutic applications, which still remain unexplored by the physicians of modern era.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Ray PC. History of Chemistry in Ancient and Medieval India. Kolkata, India; Indian Chemical Society; 1956. p. 114.  Back to cited text no. 1
Rajput DS, Suryavanshi P, Suryavanshi S. Basic principles of Rasashastra––the Indian pharmaceutics of herbo-mineral preparations. Inter J Appl Ayurved Res 2016;2:1262-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Sharma P. Ayurved Ka Vaigyanika Etihasa. 5th ed. Varanasi, India: Chaukhambha Orientalia; 2001. p. 489.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sharma R, Gupta V, Bedarkar P, Galib R, Patgiri BJ, Prajapati PK. Overview on Ayurved Prakash: a text book on Indian alchemy. J Res Educ Indian Med 2013;XIX:29-36.  Back to cited text no. 4
Mishra S. Ayurvediya Rasashastra. 5th ed. Varanasi, India: Chaukhambha Orientalia;1994. p. 40.  Back to cited text no. 5
Mishra S. Rasapaddhati, Siddhiprada Hindi commentary. 2nd ed. Varanasi, India: Chaukhambha Orientalia; 2005.   Back to cited text no. 6
https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/shardulavikridita. [Last accessed on 2019 Feb 3].  Back to cited text no. 7
Mishra S. Anandakanda, Siddiprada commentary, Choukhamba Orientalia.Varanasi, India:Kriyakarana Vishranti; 2008. p. 726.  Back to cited text no. 8
Shastri S. Rasasanket Kalika, English commentary. 1st ed. Varanasi, India: Choukhamba Krishnadas Academi; 2005. p. 20.  Back to cited text no. 9
Basavaraj B. Basavrajiyam, Chapter 25. Choukhamba Sanskrita Pratishthana;Varanasi, India: 2005. p. 405.  Back to cited text no. 10
Shastri K. Rasatarangini, Rasavigyana Hindi commentary. 11th ed. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarasidas Publication; 1979. p. 457.  Back to cited text no. 11
Mishra S. Rasendrabhaskar, Siddhiprada Hindi commentary. 1st ed. Varanasi, India: Choukhamba Orientalia; 2009. p. 79.  Back to cited text no. 12
Rathi B, Rathi R. Pharmaceutical standardization of Bakuchi vati: a modified dosage form of Dhatryadi Yoga. Int J Res Ayurveda Pharm 2017;8:57-61.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]

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