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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

When the Vaidya Met the Doctor: Medical Exchanges in 17th–19th Century India and the Reimagining of a Great Medical Tradition

Responsible for the postdoc project: Dr. Dagmar Wujastyk
Funded by: URPP Asia and Europe
Project duration: September 2011 – August 2014
Research Field: Entangled Histories


The goal of the project is to discover and document the intellectual forces that so dramatically changed the representation of Ayurveda in seventeenth- to nineteenth-century indigenous South Asian medical literature after the practice of European medicine became widespread in South Asia. The focus will be on Sanskrit-language publications by South Asian scholar-physicians, where these ideological and scientific changes and responses were mainly played out. I shall survey the different genres of works on Ayurveda that were published in this period, and I shall trace the changes to ayurvedic medicine and the self-image of its practitioners that resulted from the encounter that occurred with European medicine. Furthermore, I shall study the exchanges between ayurvedic physicians and European doctors in all relevant contexts, charting the reception and interpretation of European medical thought in the Sanskrit literary corpus of medicine.