This is the sixth episode of the podcast "Becoming Modern: Healthcare and History in India". We focus on a highly familiar but misunderstood topic - the history of Ayurveda - and explore why despite the wonderful diversity of the subcontinent’s medical history, we have come to honor just Ayurveda and a few other traditions while ignoring the rest. We discuss this history by focusing on a problematic cognitive framework which has been internalized by most elite Indians including those who write popular forms of history: “Orientalism”. How did Orientalism during the British colonial period radically change the ways in which people in the subcontinent looked at their past and present? How does Orientalism continue to shape how we frame our history and culture, including the history of medicine and healthcare? Learn more by tuning in!
This episode is hosted by Kiran Kumbhar and features the historians Pratik Chakrabarti, Sabrina Datoo, and Projit Bihari Mukharji. Chakrabarti is a Professor at University of Houston, Datoo is a Visiting Professor at Hamilton College, Mukharji is a Visiting Professor at Ashoka University, and Kumbhar is a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University.
The audio excerpts used in this episode are from the following movies (in order): Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015, writers: Kabir Khan, Parveez Sheikh); Anand (1971, writers: Gulzar, DN Mukherjee, Bimal Dutta); Swades (2004, writers: Ashutosh Gowariker, MG Sathya, et al).
Book “Medical Marginality in South Asia: Situating Subaltern Therapeutics”, edited by David Hardiman and Projit Bihari Mukharji
Article “Modern Ayurveda in Transnational Context” by Maya Warrier
Article “Bengali Ayurbed: Frames, Texts and Practices” by Projit Bihari Mukharji
Article “Imagining Indian Medicine: Epistemic Virtues and Dissonant Temporalities in the Usman Report, 1923” by Sabrina Datoo
Book “Asceticism and Healing in Ancient India: Medicine in the Buddhist Monastery” by Kenneth Zysk
Book “Old Potions, New Bottles: Recasting Indigenous Medicine in Colonial Punjab” by Kavita Sivaramakrishnan
Twitter thread on the history and origins of Ayurveda, by Kiran Kumbhar
Article “Brahmanizing Ayurveda: Caste and Class Dimensions of Late Colonial Ayurvedic Movement in Upper India” by Saurav Kumar Rai
Chapter titled “Perceptions of the Past” in the book “Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300” by Romila Thapar
Book “Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India” by Gyan Prakash
Article “The British Colonial Origins of Gravity-Defying Ancient Indian Achievements” by Kiran Kumbhar
Article “Orientalism and the Modern Myth of ‘Hinduism’” by Richard King
Book “Western Science in Modern India: Metropolitan Methods, Colonial Practices” by Pratik Chakrabarti
Book “Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution” by Kancha Ilaiah