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Recipes for ImmortalityHealing, Religion, and Community in South India$
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Richard S Weiss

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195335231

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195335231.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2021

The Loss and Recovery of Medical Knowledge

The Loss and Recovery of Medical Knowledge

(p.167) 7 The Loss and Recovery of Medical Knowledge
Recipes for Immortality

Richard S. Weiss (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In Tamil-speaking south India, and in South Asia more generally, secrecy as a mode of disseminating knowledge has undergone a radical change in value, from its consideration as a moral duty that keeps powerful knowledge in the hands of the good, to its regard as a selfish act that has led to the disintegration of a unified Tamil community. This chapter documents the historical trajectory of obfuscation in siddha medicine, a history that is just one instance of more general debates in South Asia about whether the proper locus of knowledge is in public or private spheres, in the archive or in the home. It argues that the function of secrecy as a strategy for garnering prestige is now served by another form of concealed knowledge—that is, Tamil medical knowledge that has been lost in the ravages of time.

Keywords:   secrecy, morality, national medicine, medical education, guru, traditional education, experience, decaying manuscripts, loss, nostalgia

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