Note: This is a project under development. The articles on this wiki are just being initiated and broadly incomplete. You can Help creating new pages.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medical lore of Hinduism, rasa shastra is a process by which various metals and other substances, including mercury, are purified and combined with herbs in an attempt to treat illnesses. Its methods correspond to the alchemy familiar in the Mediterranean and Western European worlds.
The methods of rasa shastra are contained in a number of Ayurvedic texts, including the Charaka Samhita and Susruta Samhita. An important feature is the use of metals, including several that are considered to be toxic in evidence-based medicine. In addition to mercury, gold, silver, iron, copper, tin, lead, zinc and bell metal are used. In addition to these metals, salts and other substances such as coral, seashells, and feathers are also used.[
The usual means used to administer these substances is by preparations called bhasma, Sanskrit for "ash". Calcination, which is described in the literature of the art as shodhana, "purification", is the process used to prepare these bhasma for administration. Sublimation and the preparation of a mercury sulfide are also in use in the preparation of its materia medica. A variety of methods are used to achieve this. One involves the heating of thin sheets of metal and then immersing them in oil (taila), extract (takra), cow urine (gomutra) and other substances. Others are calcined in crucibles heated with fires of cow dung (puttam). Ayurvedic practitioners believe that this process of purification removes undesirable qualities and enhances their therapeutic power.