The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India

Paperback | December 1, 1998

byDavid Gordon White

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The Alchemical Body excavates and centers within its Indian context the lost tradition of the medieval Siddhas. Working from previously unexplored alchemical sources, David Gordon White demonstrates for the first time that the medieval disciplines of Hindu alchemy and hatha yoga were practiced by one and the same people, and that they can be understood only when viewed together. White opens the way to a new and more comprehensive understanding of medieval Indian mysticism, within the broader context of south Asian Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam.

"White proves a skillful guide in disentangling historical and theoretical complexities that have thus far bedeviled the study of these influential aspects of medieval Indian culture."—Yoga World

"Anyone seriously interested in finding out more about authentic tantra, original hatha yoga, embodied liberation . . . sacred sexuality, paranormal abilities, healing, and of course alchemy will find White's extraordinary book as fascinating as any Tom Clancy thriller."—Georg Feuerstein, Yoga Journal

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From Our Editors

Beginning in the fifth century A.D., various Indian mystics began to innovate a body of techniques with which to render themselves immortal. These people called themselves Siddhas, a term formerly reserved for a class of demigods, revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike, who were known to inhabit mountaintops or the atmospheric regions. ...

From the Publisher

The Alchemical Body excavates and centers within its Indian context the lost tradition of the medieval Siddhas. Working from previously unexplored alchemical sources, David Gordon White demonstrates for the first time that the medieval disciplines of Hindu alchemy and hatha yoga were practiced by one and the same people, and that they ...

From the Jacket

Beginning in the fifth century A.D., various Indian mystics began to innovate a body of techniques with which to render themselves immortal. These people called themselves Siddhas, a term formerly reserved for a class of demigods, revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike, who were known to inhabit mountaintops or the atmospheric regions. ...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:614 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.3 inPublished:December 1, 1998Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226894991

ISBN - 13:9780226894997

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Note on Transliteration
Abbreviations
1: Indian Paths to Immortality
2: Categories of Indian Thought: The Universe by Numbers
3: The Prehistory of Tantric Alchemy
4: Sources for the History of Tantric Alchemy in India
5: Tantric and Siddha Alchemical Literature
6: Tantra in the Rasarnava
7: Corresponding Hierarchies: The Substance of the Alchemical Body
8: Homologous Structures of the Alchemical Body
9: The Dynamics of Transformation in Siddha Alchemy
10: Penetration, Perfection, and Immortality
Epilogue: The Siddha Legacy in Modern India
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

From Our Editors

Beginning in the fifth century A.D., various Indian mystics began to innovate a body of techniques with which to render themselves immortal. These people called themselves Siddhas, a term formerly reserved for a class of demigods, revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike, who were known to inhabit mountaintops or the atmospheric regions. Over the following five to eight hundred years, three types of Hindu Siddha orders emerged, each with its own specialized body of practice. These were the Siddha Kaula, whose adherents sought bodily immortality through erotico-mystical practices; the Rasa Siddhas, medieval India's alchemists, who sought to transmute their flesh-and-blood bodies into immortal bodies through the ingestion of the mineral equivalents of the sexual fluids of the god Siva and his consort, the Goddess; and the Nath Siddhas, whose practice of hatha yoga projected the sexual and laboratory practices of the Siddha Kaula and Rasa Siddhas upon the internal grid of the subtle body. For India's medieval Siddhas, these three conjoined types of practice led directly