Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature
In ayurvedic medical practice, the ways in which and the reasons why people become ill are often explained with stories. This book explores the forms and functions of narrative in Āyurveda, India’s classical medical system. Looking at narratives concerning fever, miscarriage, and the so-called king’s disease, Anthony Cerulli examines how the medical narrative shifts from clinical to narrative discourse and how stories from religious and philosophical texts are adapted to the medical framework. Cerulli discusses the ethics of illness that emerge and offers a genealogy of patienthood in Indian cultural history. Using Sanskrit medical sources, the book excavates the role, and ultimately the centrality, of Hindu religious thought and practice to the development of Indian medicine in the classical era up to the eve of British colonialism. In addition to its cultural and historical contributions to South Asian Studies, the medical narratives discussed in the book contribute fresh perspectives on medicine and ethics in general and, in particular, notions of health and illness.