Look Inside

Modern and Global Ayurveda- Pluralism and Paradigms

FREE Delivery
Delivery Ships in 1-3 days
Item Code: UAF758
Author: Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick M. Smith
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9789393214621
Pages: 361
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 390 gm
Book Description
About The Book

Modern and Global Ayurveda provides an overview of the relatively recent history of Ayurveda in its modern and globalized forms. One of the traditional medical systems originating on the Indian subcontinent, Ayurveda is fast becoming a transnational phenomenon. Contributors to this volume include both scholars and practitioners of Ayurveda. The wide range of perspectives they offer include the philosophical, anthropological, sociopolitical, economic, biomedical, and pharmacological. Issues such as the ideological clashes between “classical” and “modernized” Ayurveda, the “export” of Ayurvedic medical lore to Western countries, and the possible “reimport” of its adapted and reinterpreted contents are covered and prove particularly relevant to contemporary discussion on the integration of complementary and alternative health care.

"This book is a really good overview of contemporary Ayurveda: the colonial transformations; the formation of Ayurvedic colleges, institutes, and associations in response to the allopathic influence; the capitalist and global marketing procedures that affect the packaging and distribution of Ayurvedic pharmaceuticals; the global outreach into Europe; and the impact ofAyurveda on New Age religion and thought with a special focus on Maharishi Ayurveda.

About the Author

Dagmar Wujastyk is an independent scholar pursuing her PhD in Indology at Bonn University, Germany. Frederick M. Smith is Professor of Sanskrit and Classical Indian Religions at the University of Iowa and the author of The Vedic Sacrifice in Transition: A Translation and Study of the Trikaṇḍamaṇḍana of Bhaskara Misra.


It is with great joy and a deep sense of satisfaction that I set out to write this foreword for the volume on modern and global Ayurveda edited by Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick M. Smith. The origins of this volume go back several years, to 2002, when I was director of the Dharam Hinduja Institute of Indic Research (DHIIR), a specialist research institution based at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (see http://www.divinity.cam.ac.uk/CARTS/ dhiir). As part of its brief, the institute was committed to studying questions of multiculturalism, with special reference to issues of health and medical concerns, and with a focus on Indic (i.e., South Asian) traditions of knowledge. On this basis, we started our Indic Health and Medicine Research Programme, which ran from October 2000 to September 2004. For the first couple of years we concentrated on issues relating to the modernization of yoga, and in 2002 we added research work on Ayurveda.

In the same year the DHIIR was most fortunate in securing the cooperation of Dagmar Wujastyk (then Benner) as research assistant for the Ayurveda project, and she played a major role in organizing two DHIIR events on this topic: a specialist workshop that took place in December 2003 and the July 2004 public conference, on the proceedings of which the present collection is substantially based. Due to her involvement in the project, Wujastyk was the natural choice when we came to select an editor for the proceedings. The participation of Frederick M. Smith as coeditor also was secured early on, and from then onward the two editors have worked very hard to gather together the best possible expertise in the field. The excellent result of their work is in your hands: a unique, timely, useful, engaging volume that will be of great use to academics, to Ayurveda practitioners, patients, and students, and to other interested parties alike.

As will be apparent, our work at DHIIR focused on two of the aspects of Indic culture that are most popular in the English-speaking world and elsewhere across the developed world: yoga and Ayurveda.

We found, however, that while many people were interested, and often involved in the practice of these disciplines, there was very little awareness of their modern history, and of the social and ideological trends that drove their most recent developments.

Therefore, as in the case of yoga, our priority was to carry out work that would open up new areas of understanding and bring clarity to topics that, while well known at some level, were often misunderstood, or approached in simplistic fashion. Such considerations informed our decision to concentrate on the more modern and contemporary aspects of Ayurveda, and eventually a useful subdivision between "Modern" and "Global" Ayurveda emerged, the former a process taking place on South Asian soil from the nineteenth century onward, the latter a more recent phenomenon linked to transnational export trends and the commercialization and acculturation of this ancient medical science in places other than the subcontinent (for more details on these two aspects of Ayurveda, see the Introduction).

We also wanted our work to be relevant to as many people as possible. We were, for example, aware that efforts were afoot in the United Kingdom to put together a legal regulatory framework for the practice of Ayurveda. A publication such as this can be invaluable in this context: if used skillfully, it can truly help decision makers in their reflections, as it provides accurate and unbiased information on centrally relevant topics. In these cases the usefulness of academic research is immediately apparent: better information and contextualization of the topic is bound to create more informed and realistic discussions and to result in better laws and regulations in due course. Indeed, the usefulness of such efforts is demonstrated by the following anecdote. A number of key representatives of Ayurveda in the United Kingdom had been thinking of getting together to form a professional association. In 2004 they attended the DHIIR public conference on which the present publication is partly based. Hearing the presentations there brought home to them the urgency of the matter. They also got in touch with reliable experts and sympathizers with whom they have been collaborating since. They are now key players in UK ayurvedic circles and are well represented by the interest group they eventually set up, the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association (see http:/ /www.apa.uk.com).

Other individuals directly involved in medical practice and studies, whether ayurvedic or otherwise, also will find this volume of great interest. Its mixture of firsthand, critical accounts from informed ayurvedic practitioners and full-fledged Ayurveda scholars is noteworthy. Such an engaged, "real life" scholarship (as it were) mirrors the work and concerns of an institution that matches-and surpasses-the DHIIR Ayurveda project's original aims, the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine. The IASTAM was, and perhaps remains, "the only international organisation in the field of Asian medicine making a serious attempt to embrace both academics and practitioners" (see http://www.iastam.org). Indeed, many of the contributors to this volume are active members of the IASTAM, and it is good to know that now that the DHIIR no longer exists, alternative, lively, forums remain where such constructive discussions and activities can be carried forward.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of the coauthors of this collection. Many years of research and of medical, scientific, and institutional practice are distilled in these pages, from the four corners of the globe. We are privileged to be able to share in this communal pool of knowledge and scholarship. It is my heartfelt wish that this knowledge may be of help to further human happiness and well-being.


Ayurveda, the indigenous medical system of India, dates back at least 2,000 years in its codified form and has roots that are much deeper still. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, It is stretching well beyond the boundaries of its homeland. Because it is fast becoming a transnational and multicultural phenomenon, it is time to examine Ayurveda's interface with modernity and the pluralistic approaches and new paradigms it has developed to meet the challenges of its new diasporic presence.

Developments within Ayurveda during its long and varied history, the addition of new theories and practices to the established ones, their interrelations and the interweaving of medical thought with constantly mutating religious, political, and cultural climates, form a rich and complicated pattern of medical and social history. What we intend to present here is an account of recent developments in the long history of Ayurveda, which is to say its development in the face of three major challenges: (1) British colonialism and the dominance of allopathic medicine, (2) the pressures of modernization, and (3) Ayurveda's diaspora into the world beyond the boundaries of South Asia.

We will present the relatively recent history of modern and global Ayurveda from a number of perspectives that sometimes contrast and sometimes complement each other. The terms modern Ayurveda and global Ayurveda do not denote unified knowledge systems but rather serve as umbrella terms for a number of disciplines based on or concerned with ayurvedic knowledge. These include, for example, various forms of ayurvedic practice, ayurvedic pharmaceutical research, drug development and industrial production, and academic textual research (both for botanical and pharmaceutical research and for a broader understanding of ayurvedic theory).

"Modern Ayurveda" is here understood to be geographically set in the Indian subcontinent and to commence with the processes of professionalization and institutionalization brought about in India by what has been called the nineteenth-century revivalism of Ayurveda (Leslie 1998; Brass 1972; Jeffery 1988). Modern Ayurveda is characterized by a tendency toward the secularization of ayurvedic knowledge and its adaptation to biomedicine, and at the same time by attempts to formulate a unitary theory based on doctrines found in the classical ayurvedic texts.

"Global Ayurveda," on the other hand, refers to ayurvedic knowledge that has been transmitted to geographically widespread areas outside of India. Here we may differentiate three broad "lineages" of ayurvedic globalization: the first is characterized by a focus on the ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, beginning with the dissemination of ayurvedic botanical and pharmaceutical lore in the sixteenth century. The study of ayurvedic pharmacopoeia has developed into a full-blown scientific discipline as well as into a hugely profitable pharmaceutical industry in a global market. In line with the ideologies of modern Ayurveda, interest groups concerned with ayurvedic pharmacopoeia stress the "scientific" bases of Ayurveda and promote a secularized discipline stripped of its religious and spiritual connotations.

The second lineage of global Ayurveda is identified in the more recent trend of a globally popularized and acculturated Ayurveda, which tends to emphasize and reinterpret, if not reinvent, the philosophical and spiritual aspects of Ayurveda. This type of Ayurveda has been dubbed "New Age Ayurveda" (Zysk 2001; Reddy 2000). Zysk defines its characteristics as follows:

1. attributing a remote age to Ayurveda and making it the source of other medical systems

2. linking Ayurveda closely to Indian spirituality, especially Yoga

3. making Ayurveda the basis of mind-body medicine

4. claiming the "scientific" basis of Ayurveda and its intrinsic safety as a healing modality

Another important characteristic of New Age Ayurveda (which it shares with some forms of modern Ayurveda in urban settings) is a shift in self-representation from reactive medicine that cures ills to preventive medicine that offers a positive lifestyle index.

New Age Ayurveda is particularly prominent in the United States, and increasingly in Northern Europe. Furthermore, it has been reimported into India in the shape of "wellness" tourism that caters both to foreign tourists and urban, middle-class Indians. This has been described by Jean Langford (2002) and is examined further by Manasi Tirodkar in this volume. Thus paradoxically, despite its emphasis on spirituality, New Age Ayurveda has given rise to a new commercialized form of Ayurveda, emphasizing wellness and beauty as fundamental components of good health. Its commercial offerings encompass a range of cosmetic and massage treatments provided in beauty salons and spas, over-the-counter products (mostly cosmetics and nutritional supplements), and do-it-yourself or self-help literature (i.e., guides on beauty treatments, nutrition, and fitness). Selby (2005) describes how Ayurveda, twinned or even merged with yoga into "Ayuryoga," has become a branded commodity in North American spa culture. While the unprotected name "Ayurveda" is used freely in this context, it is not necessarily used to denote a real connection with premodern ayurvedic knowledge but often rather seems to stand for vague notions of "exotic" or "Eastern" self-cultivation. Thus we may find a spa offering a full-day treatment entitled "Ayurvedic Bliss," which in this case means "Luxury Spa Pedicure, Aromatherapy Salt Glow Body, Exfoliation and Hot Stone Back Massage," treatments that are not found in classical ayurvedic texts. As Sita Reddy (2004) has pointed out, images of the "exotic East" play a crucial role in certain sectors of the marketing of ayurvedic products or treatments.

A third, independent line of global Ayurveda originated in the context of the then-new scholarly discipline of Indic Studies in the early nineteenth century, when Orientalist scholars began to take interest in ayurvedic literature. While the first scholarly documentation on Indian medicine in the form of botanical encyclopedias was not concerned with the conceptual framework of Ayurveda, these scholars were interested in preserving, or even reviving, knowledge of Ayurveda as a historical and philological discipline. Spurred by the notion of a second renaissance inspired by an Indian antiquity, they set out to discover the roots of Indian medicine, printing and translating the medical texts and writing summaries of their contents. The scholars so involved-including Thomas Wise, Franciscus Hessler, Gustave Lietard, Palmyr Cordier, and Julius Jolly-were mostly medical men, trained in Western medical science.' Their work, however, seems never to have been directed at making practical use of the knowledge gained from the texts in regard to the more theoretical aspects underlying ayurvedic medicine. However, scholarly editions and translations of Sanskrit medical works have been important contributions to formalized ayurvedic education and research.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at help@exoticindia.com
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through help@exoticindia.com.
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories