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The ELIXIR OF LIFE, also known as ELIXIR OF IMMORTALITY and sometimes equated with the philosopher\'s stone , is a potion that supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and/or eternal youth . This elixir was also said to cure all diseases. Alchemists in various ages and cultures sought the means of formulating the elixir.

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 1.1 China * 1.2 India * 1.3 Europe

* 2 Names * 3 In popular culture * 4 See also * 5 Footnotes * 6 References

HISTORY

CHINA

Xu Fu 's first expedition to the Mount of the immortals . By Utagawa Kuniyoshi .

In ancient China, various emperors sought the fabled elixir with varying results. In the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
, Qin Shi Huang sent Taoist alchemist Xu Fu with 500 young men and 500 young women to the eastern seas to find the elixir, but he never came back (legend has it that he found Japan
Japan
instead). When Shi Huang Di visited, he brought 3000 young girls and boys, but none of them ever returned.

The ancient Chinese believed that ingesting long-lasting precious substances such as jade , cinnabar or hematite would confer some of that longevity on the person who consumed them. Gold
Gold
was considered particularly potent, as it was a non-tarnishing precious metal; the idea of potable or drinkable gold is found in China by the end of the third century BC. The most famous Chinese alchemical book, the Danjing yaojue (Essential Formulas of Alchemical Classics) attributed to Sun Simiao (c. 581 — c. 682 CE), a famous medical specialist respectfully called “King of Medicine” by later generations, discusses in detail the creation of elixirs for immortality (mercury, sulfur, and the salts of mercury and arsenic are prominent, and most are ironically poisonous) as well as those for curing certain diseases and the fabrication of precious stones.

Many of these substances, far from contributing to longevity, were actively toxic and resulted in Chinese alchemical elixir poisoning
Chinese alchemical elixir poisoning
. The Jiajing Emperor
Emperor
in the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
died from ingesting a lethal dosage of mercury in the supposed " Elixir of Life" conjured by alchemists. British historian Joseph Needham compiled a list of Chinese emperors whose deaths were likely due to elixir poisoning.

INDIA

Amrita , the elixir of life has been described in the Hindu scriptures (not to be confused with Amrit related to Sikh religion (see Amrit Sanskar
Amrit Sanskar
)). Anybody who consumes even a tiniest portion of Amrit has been described to gain immortality. The legend has it, at early times when the inception of the world had just taken place, evil demons (Ashur) had gained strength. This was seen as a threat to the gods (Devas) who feared them. So these gods (including Indra
Indra
, the god of sky, Vayu, the god of wind, and Agni
Agni
, the god of fire) went to seek advice and help from the three primary gods according to the Hindus: Vishnu
Vishnu
(the preserver), Brahma
Brahma
(the creator), and Shiva
Shiva
(the destroyer). They suggested that Amrit could only be gained from the samudra manthan (or churning of the ocean) for the ocean in its depths hid mysterious and secret objects. Vishnu
Vishnu
agreed to take the form of a turtle on whose shell a huge mountain was placed. This mountain was used as a churning pole.

With the help of a Vasuki
Vasuki
(mighty and long serpent, king of Nagloka) the churning process began at the surface. From one side the gods pulled the serpent, which had coiled itself around the mountain, and the demons pulled it from the other side. As the churning process required immense strength, hence the demons were persuaded to do the job—they agreed in return for a portion of Amrit. Finally with their combined efforts (of the gods and demons), Amrit emerged from the ocean depths. All the gods were offered the drink but the gods managed to trick the demons who did not get the holy drink.

The oldest Indian writings, the Vedas
Vedas
(Hindu sacred scriptures), contain the same hints of alchemy that are found in evidence from ancient China, namely vague references to a connection between gold and long life. Mercury, which was so vital to alchemy everywhere, is first mentioned in the 4th to 3rd century BC Arthashastra
Arthashastra
, about the same time it is encountered in China and in the West. Evidence of the idea of transmuting base metals to gold appears in 2nd to 5th century AD Buddhist texts, about the same time as in the West.

It is also possible that the alchemy of medicine and immortality came to China from India, or vice versa; in any case, for both cultures, gold-making appears to have been a minor concern, and medicine the major concern. But the elixir of immortality was of little importance in India (which had other avenues to immortality). The Indian elixirs were mineral remedies for specific diseases or, at the most, to promote long life.

EUROPE

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Dell' elixir vitae, 1624

According to Theosophy
Theosophy
and related mystical traditions, St. Germain was reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also a reputed creator of the Elixir.

NAMES

The Elixir has had hundreds of names (one scholar of Chinese history reportedly found over 1,000 names for it), among them Amrit Ras or Amrita , Aab-i-Hayat, Maha Ras, Aab-Haiwan, Dancing Water, Chasma-i-Kausar, Mansarover or the Pool of Nectar, Philosopher\'s stone , and Soma Ras. The word elixir was not used until the 7th century A.D. and derives from the Arabic name for miracle substances, "al iksir". Some view it as a metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g., Jesus's reference to "the Water of Life " or "the Fountain of Life "). "But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) The Scots and the Irish adopted the name for their "liquid gold": the Gaelic name for whiskey is uisce beatha , or water of life.

Aab-i-Hayat is Persian and means "water of life". "Chashma-i-Kausar" (not "hasma") is the "Fountain of Bounty," which Muslims believe to be located in Paradise. As for the Indian names, "Amrit Ras" means "immortality juice," "Maha Ras" means "great juice," and "Soma Ras" means "juice of Soma." Soma was a psychoactive drug, by which the poets of the Vedas
Vedas
received their visions, but the plant is no longer known. Later, Soma came to mean the moon. "Ras" later came to mean "sacred mood experienced listening to poetry or music"; there are altogether nine of them. Mansarovar
Mansarovar
, the "mind lake" is the holy lake at the foot of Mt. Kailash in Tibet, close to the source of the Ganges.

IN POPULAR CULTURE

Main article: Alchemy
Alchemy
in art and entertainment

The elixir of life has been an inspiration, plot feature, or subject of artistic works including animation , comics , films , musical compositions, novels , and video games . Examples include L. Frank Baum\'s fantasy novel John Dough and the Cherub , the science fiction series Doctor Who
Doctor Who
, Harry Potter and the Philosopher\'s Stone , and the popular manga Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist
.

SEE ALSO

* Ageing
Ageing
* Al Khidr
Al Khidr
* Ambrosia * Cup of Jamshid * Death Becomes Her
Death Becomes Her
* Elixir * Fountain of Youth * Genealogies of Genesis * Holy Grail * Lazarus Pit
Lazarus Pit
* Magu (deity)
Magu (deity)
* Panacea * Rejuvenation (aging)
Rejuvenation (aging)

FOOTNOTES

* ^ Medieval Science, Technology And Medicine: An Encyclopedia, A Glick, T.F., A Livesey, S.J., Wallis, F., Routledge, p. 20 2005 * ^ "Tan chin yao chueh – occultism". britannica.com. * ^ I. K. Poonawala. "ĀB ii. Water in Muslim Iranian culture". Encyclopaedia Iranica . Retrieved 12 February 2012.

REFERENCES

This article includes a list of references , related reading or external links , BUT ITS SOURCES REMAIN UNCLEAR BECAUSE IT LACKS INLINE CITATIONS . Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (October 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message )

* Heart of the Earth: The Elixir of Life, second novel in the trilogy by Richard Anderson * Al-Khidr, The Green Man * Alchemy
Alchemy
and Daoism * Naam or Word, Book Three: Amrit, Nectar or Water of Life * Needham, J., Ping-Yu Ho, Gwei-Djen Lu. Science and Civilisation in China, Volume V, Part III. Cambridge at the University Press, 1976. * Turner, John D. (transl.). The Interpretation of Knowledge

* v * t * e

Alchemy
Alchemy

CONCEPTS

* Alkahest * Azoth
Azoth
* Chrysopoeia * Classical planets (Suns ) * Elements * Elixir of life * Homunculus * In art and entertainment * Philosopher\'s stone * Substances * Symbols

BRANCHES

* Daoist * Hindu * Islamic * Spagyric * Iatrochemistry * Chemistry

MAGNUM OPUS

* Nigredo * Albedo * Citrinitas * Rubedo

PROCESSES

* Calcination
Calcination
* Ceration * Cohobation
Cohobation
* Congelation * Digestion * Distillation
Distillation
* Fermentation
Fermentation
* Filtration
Filtration
* Fixation * Multiplication * Projection * Solution
Solution
* Sublimation

ALCHEMISTS

* Agastya
Agastya
* Arthur Dee * Cleopatra the Alchemist
Cleopatra the Alchemist
* Fulcanelli * Ge Hong * Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa * Isaac Newton * Jābir ibn Hayyān
Jābir ibn Hayyān
* John Dee
John Dee
* Albertus Magnus
Albertus Magnus
* Khālid ibn Yazīd * Bernard of Treviso * Mary the Jewess
Mary the Jewess
* Michael Maier * Nicolas Flamel * Ostanes * Paracelsus
Paracelsus
* Rhazes
Rhazes
* Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
* Roger Bacon
Roger Bacon
* Wei Boyang * Zosimos of Panopolis

WORKS

* Alchemical Studies * Atalanta Fugiens * Aurora consurgens * Baopuzi
Baopuzi
* Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit * Cantilenae Intelectuales de Phoenice Redivivo * Cantong qi * Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz * Cyranides * De Alchemia * Den vises sten * Deutsches Theatrum Chemicum * Emerald Tablet * Fasciculus Chemicus
Fasciculus Chemicus
* Greek Magical Papyri * Hermetic Definitions * Hermetic Journal * Hermetica * Kitab al-Kimya * Leyden papyrus X * Liber Ignium * Musaeum Hermeticum * Mutus Liber * Occult Chemistry * Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis * Parabola Allegory * Psychology and Alchemy
Alchemy
* Rosary of the Philosophers * Septimana Philosophica * Splendor Solis * Suspicions about the Hidden Realities of the Air * The Hermetical Triumph * The Mirror of Alchimy * The Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine * Theatrum Chemicum
Theatrum Chemicum
* Theatrum Chemicum
Theatrum Chemicum
Britannicum * Tripus Aureus * Turba Philosophorum * Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits

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