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A History of Hindu Chemistry Vol 1/The Ayurvedic Period/Chapter 4

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Chemistry in the Vagbhata.

A typical example is contained in the following recipe:

Sulphate of copper, red ochre, realgar, orpiment sulphate of iron, &c., are recommended for external application for genital sores.

Preparations of Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron and Lead

Gold, copper, silver, iron or tin are to be taken with the myrobalans, rock-salt and honey, &c.

Gold, silver, copper and iron are to be taken in conjunction with bitumen and milk.

Take 64 parts of stibium[1] and one part each of copper, iron, silver, and gold; now roast them in a closed crucible, &c.[2]

Take 30 parts of lead, 5 parts of sulphur, 2 parts of copper and orpiment each, 1 part of tin and 3 parts of stibium. Now roast them in a closed crucible.[3]

[Here as well as in the preceding sloka, we have distinct mention of अन्धमूषा or a crucible with the lid on. This is one of the preparations which can be brought into line with those of the Tāntric and Iatro-chemical periods.]

Preparation of Alkali and Caustic Alkali[4]

[As Vāgbhata borrows his method of preparation of alkali almost word for word from Susruta, it is quite superfluous to reproduce it here.]

Use of Mercury

Take equal parts of mercury and lead and make them up into a collyrium with their equal weight of stibium and camphor.[5] [This is perhaps the only instance in which the mention of mercury is found.]



  1. "स्रोतोञ्जन" Srotonjana is evidently stibnite or the native sulphide of antimony (See p. 53); Dutt translates it, we know not on what grounds, as calx-spar.
  2. Uttarasthánam, Ch. XIII, p. 20-21.
  3. Ibid, Ch. XIII, p. 31-32.
  4. Sútra., Ch. XXX.
  5. "Uttarasthánam," Ch. XIII, 36. This very formula, with but slight variations, occurs also in Rasaratnasamuchchaya, Ch. xxiii, 46.