Alchemy and Yoga

Key information

7:00 PM to 8:15 PM
Virtual Event

About this event

Dagmar Wujastyk

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In the tenth century CE, alchemists in India began to compose works about their craft, defining both its goals and the methods with which to achieve them. This new genre of literature set practices that were previously the stuff of legend within a framework of a scientific discipline with formal boundaries. This vibrant new discipline was both spiritual and practical. Its practitioners considered goals such as making gold, lengthening lifespan, attaining superhuman powers and entering transcendent states achievable through technical means. Indian alchemists developed a set of procedures they believed would transform organic and inorganic materials into substances with the power to transmute base metals to noble ones, and ordinary humans into perfected beings. In the early alchemical treatises, we find mention of yogic practices as alternatives to the alchemical metallurgical practices, with the attainment of special powers and transcendent states presented as common goals.

In this talk, Dagmar Wujastyk will explore alchemical methods for attaining yogic goals, and examine overlaps between the disciplines of Indian alchemy and medieval forms of yoga.

Speaker Biography

Dagmar Wujastyk is Associate Professor in History and Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Alberta in Canada. From 2015-2020, she was the Principal Investigator of the Ayuryog project, which examined the historical connections and entanglements between the South Asian disciplines of yoga, ayurveda and alchemy. Her research has focussed on longevity and rejuvenation practices in ayurveda and alchemy. She is currently editing a sourcebook of Indian alchemy, with translations from a range of Sanskrit alchemical texts.