Know Thy Body, Know Thyself: Decoding Knowledge of the Ātman in Sanskrit Medical Literature

Anthony Cerulli, Brahmadathan U.M.T


This essay discusses a central assertion in the Caraka SaṃhitÄ about the origin of mental distress and the eleventh century commentator CakrapÄṇidatta's interpretation of that assertion.  We argue that CakrapÄṇi's reading of Caraka is dependent on the polythetic meaning of Ätman in classical India and classical indian medicine, and we suggest that CakrapÄṇi's hermeneutical innovation is to claim that knowledge of oneself as a physical body is primary to, and indeed funadamental for, all other types of knowledge about one's self as an embodied, transmigratory entity.    

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