Conference: Medicine, Religion and Alchemy in South India – Resources and Permutations of Siddha Traditions and Siddha Medicine

SFB 1070 ResourceCultures: Socio-cultural Dynamics and the Use of Resources

An International Conference
Medicine, Religion and Alchemy in South India
Resources and Permutations of Siddha Traditions and Siddha Medicine
25 – 27 July 2019 | Hohentübingen Castle | Tübingen University

South Indian Siddha Medicine is arguably the least researched and understood among Indian medical systems. The same might be said for other Siddha traditions as found in South Indian textual sources and lived practices. This may be due to complex interrelations of diverse subjects including alchemy, philosophy, astrology, therapies, ritual practices, etc., as well as to the synthesis of various strands of traditions throughout different periods of South India, including yogic principles, different schools of thought, or the influence of different therapeutic philosophies. This conference aims to bring together specialists on South Indian medical, alchemical and religious traditions, all described or understood as “Siddha” and to palpate the permutations, varieties, and, above all, interrelations of different Siddha traditions and their relations to other Indian traditions from various interdisciplinary social science perspectives, including anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, religious studies and Indology.

In collaboration with Dept. of Anthropology; Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
Sponsored by SFB 1070 “ResourceCultures”, Subproject C06
Venue: R119, Inst. für Ur- und Frühgeschichte & Library, Dept. of Anthropology,
Hohentübingen Castle



25.07.2019: Day 1

@ R119, Inst. für Ur- und Frühgeschichte, Hohentübingen Castle

3:00 p.m. Panel 1: Siddha Essentials, Essences

Chair: Kanchana Natarajan

V. Sujatha: Understanding Medical Syncretism: Subjectivity, Medical Knowledge and Institutions in Contemporary Siddha

Brigitte Sébastia:
From the Siddha Corpus to Siddha Medicine: An Exploration of Manuscripts Digitised for the Project EAP 810 “Conservation, Documentation and Preservation of the Knowledge of Siddha Medicine”

T. Dharmaraj: Imagining the Buddhist Practitioner by Habit – The Thoughts of Iyothe Thass  

Discussant: Roman Sieler


26.07.2019: Day 2

@ Library, Dept. of Anthropology, Hohentübingen Castle

9:00 a.m.: Panel 2: Colonial (Trans)formations

Chair: Brigitte Sébastia

Christèle BaroisThe Usman Report as a Resource for Siddha Medicine, Yoga and Alchemy

D.V. Kanagarathinam:Emergence of ‘Siddha System’: Nature, Ambiguity and Contest in Colonial Tamil Region

Gary Hausman: Indigenous (Ayurveda and Siddha) Clinical and Pharmaceutical   Research in Twentieth-Century Madras State, India

Discussant: T. Dharmaraj


2:30 p.m.: Panel 3: Alchemy and Medicine

@ Library, Dept. of Anthropology, Castle Hohentübingen

Chair: T. Dharmaraj

Ilona Kędzia: The Triggers of Transformation: Some Remarks on Extraordinary “Salts” in selected Medico-Alchemical Texts of Siddha Yākōpu

Justus Weiß: Muligaikappu: Life Forces and their Protection in Tamil Siddha Pharmacology: Perspectives from a Family Tradition

Roman SielerMercurial Medicines: Is Siddha Medicine without Mercury possible?

Discussant: Layne Little


27.07.2019: Day 3

@ Library, Dept. of Anthropology, Castle Hohentübingen

9:00 a.m.: Panel 4: Religion

Chair: Roman Sieler

Kanchana Natarajan: Virgin Creatrix / Bountiful Womb: Siddha Equivalence towards Women

Nina Rageth: Kaya Kalpa Yoga: The Remaking of an Esoteric Siddha Tradition through a Hindu Guru Organization

Layne R. Little:
Nine Poisons and a Broken Promise: Changing Narrative, Cultural Loss & the Commodification of the ‘Navapashanam’ Icon at Palani

Discussant: V. Sujatha

2:30 p.m.: Wrap-up discussion, plans for future networking and publication

Roman Sieler

I am a Medical Anthropologist interested in non-codified and manual medical practices in South Asia. My interests also include Tamil Studies and the history of medicine. Currently, I am a full-time postdoctoral researcher and part of a collaborative research centre at Tuebingen University.

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