Nagarjuna (metallurgist)



Nāgārjuna () () is considered one of the most important Buddhist philosophers, and in some traditions he is known as an Indian metallurgist and
alchemist Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: χυμεία, ''khumeía'') is an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscience, protoscientific tradition that was historically practiced in Chinese alchemy, C ...


There are conflicting traditions of Nagarjuna as a founder of the
Mahayana ''Mahāyāna'' (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhism, Buddhist traditions, Buddhist texts#Mahāyāna texts, texts, Buddhist philosophy, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India (c. 1st century BC ...
sect of Buddhism, and Nagarjuna the alchemist. Chinese and Tibetan literature suggests Nāgārjuna was born in
Vidarbha Vidarbha (Pronunciation: Help:IPA/Marathi, id̪əɾbʱə is a geographical region in the east of the Indian state of Maharashtra and a Proposed states and union territories of India#Maharashtra, proposed state of central India, comprising th ...
, and later migrated to the nearby
Satavahana dynasty The Satavahanas (''Sādavāhana'' or ''Sātavāhana'', International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration, IAST: ), also referred to as the Andhras in the Puranas, were an ancient Indian dynasty based in the Deccan Plateau, Deccan region. Mos ...
. One tradition is that rasasiddha Nagarjuna was born in
Gujarat Gujarat (, ) is a States of India, state along the Western India, western coast of India. Its coastline of about is the longest in the country, most of which lies on the Kathiawar peninsula. Gujarat is the List of states and union territories ...
and was a
Jain Jainism ( ), also known as Jain Dharma, is an Indian religions, Indian religion. Jainism traces its spiritual ideas and history through the succession of twenty-four tirthankaras (supreme preachers of ''Dharma''), with the first in the current ...
in his past life. He later travelled to various places in South India and established many laboratories. There are evidences found of his experimental laboratory in village Nagalwadi in
Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha) is a states and union territories of India, state in the western India, western peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. Maharashtra is the List of states and union te ...
state. According to some evidences he was working on immortality and knew the extraction of iron and mercury. There is much confusion about this author in the secondary literature. A 1984 study of manuscripts and printed editions connected with the alchemist Nāgārjuna found that his name is associated with a work titled ''Rasendramaṅgala'' but that the manuscripts of the ''Rasaratnākara'' are uniformly ascribed to a different author, Nityanātha Siddha.


Because many historical authors have written under the name Nāgārjuna, and many works on medicine and alchemy have been ascribed to this figure, scholars recommend distinguishing the alchemical Nāgārjuna from the second-century Buddhist philosopher of the same name. Manuscript works with the claimed authorship of Nāgārjuna include: Jīvasūtra, Rasavaiśeṣikasūtra, Yogaśataka, Kakṣapuṭa, Yogaratnamālā and several other works (Meulenbeld lists over fifty). Traditional accounts hold that Nāgārjuna practiced ayurvedic alchemy ( rasayāna). Kumārajīva's biography for example, describes Nāgārjuna making an elixir of invisibility, and Bus-ton, Taranatha and Xuanzang all recount that he could turn rocks into gold. The most recent comprehensive discussion of the complicated text-historical issues connected with the name Nāgārjuna is given in the ''History of Indian Medical Literature''.

See also

* Rasavātam *
History of metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent The history of metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent began prior to the 3rd millennium BCE and continued well into the British Raj The British Raj (; from Hindi ''rāj'': kingdom, realm, state, or empire) was the rule of the British Crown ...


{{DEFAULTSORT:Nagarjuna Indian alchemists 10th-century alchemists