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On Hinduism$
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Wendy Doniger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199360079

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199360079.001.0001

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Medical and Mythical Constructions of the Body in Sanskrit Texts 1

Medical and Mythical Constructions of the Body in Sanskrit Texts 1

(p.78) Medical and Mythical Constructions of the Body in Sanskrit Texts1
On Hinduism

Wendy Doniger

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the concept of the human body in Hinduism by analyzing three Sanskrit texts: medical texts, The Laws of Manu, and the Puranas. It first considers the doctrine of the three humors, tackled in Hindu medical texts such as the Charaka Samhita, and closely related to the Hindu belief that all matter, including the human body, is composed of the three elements of lucidity (sattva), energy (rajas), and torpor (tamas). It then looks at Manu’s attitudes toward the body, in particular offering a chilling image of it. The Puranas offer several explanations of conception and birth that are different from the ones discussed in Manu and the medical texts.

Keywords:   human body, Hinduism, Sanskrit texts, medical texts, The Laws of Manu, Puranas, three humors, Charaka Samhita, conception, birth

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