The Practice of Texts examines the uses of the Sanskrit medical classics in two educational institutions of India’s classical life science, Ayurveda: the college and the gurukula. In this interdisciplinary study, Anthony Cerulli probes late- and postcolonial reforms in ayurvedic education, the development of the ayurvedic college, and the impacts of the college curriculum on ways that ayurvedic physicians understand and use the Sanskrit classics in their professional work today. His fieldwork in south India illuminates the nature of philology and ritual in the ayurvedic gurukula and showcases how knowledge is exchanged among students, teachers, and patients. The result, Cerulli shows, is that the Sanskrit classics are presented and applied differently in the college and gurukula, producing a variety of relationships with these texts among practitioners. By interrogating the politics surrounding the place of the Sanskrit classics in ayurvedic curricula, this book reveals a spectrum of views about the history and tradition of Ayurveda in modern India.
“A valuable scholarly contribution. The Practice of Texts provides a vivid account of the philological conversations between the vaidya-gurus and their students. By documenting how the gurukula system operated for two millennia, Anthony Cerulli demonstrates how it continues to impart a medical education that remains relevant today.” SREE PADMA, author of Vicissitudes of the Goddess: Reconstructions of the Gramadevata in India’s Religious Traditions
“By explaining the changing role of the gurukula, The Practice of Texts makes an important contribution to the histories of science and education in late- and postcolonial India. Beyond that, Cerulli offers new ways of conceptualizing the cultural uses of texts, which will be useful to scholars of India more broadly.” BRIAN COLLINS, Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy, Ohio University
ANTHONY CERULLI is Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He is author of Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature.
Cerulli, A. 2022. The Practice of Texts: Education and Healing in South India. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.120
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