Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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i88                        ALBERUNPS INDIA.

boisterously exulting over their make-believe science,
are not to be blamed for occupying themselves with
alchemy, for theiy motive is simply excessive eagerness
for acquiring fortune and for avoidingmisfortune. Once
a sage was asked why scholars always flock to the doors
of the rich, whilst the rich are not inclined to call at
the doors of scholars. "The scholars," he answered,
" are well aware of the use of money, but the rich
are ignorant of the nobility of science." On the other
hand, ignorant people are not to be praised, although
they behave quite quietly, simply because they abstain
from alchemy, for their motives are objectionable ones,
rather practical results of innate ignorance and stupidity
than anything else.

The adepts in this art try to keep it concealed, and
shrink back from intercourse with those who do not
belong to them. Therefore I have not been able to
learn from the Hindus which methods they follow in
this science, and what element they principally use,
whether a mineral or an animal or a vegetable one. I
only heard them speaking of the process of sublimation,
of calcination, of analysis, and of the waxing of talc,
which they call in their language tdlaka, and so I guess
that they incline towards the mineralogical method of
Tlie science They havc a science similar to alchemy which is
of Rasayana. q^^j^g pcculiar to them. They call it Basdyana, a word
composed with rasa, i.e. gold. It means an art which
is restricted to certain operations, drugs, and compound
medicines, most of which are taken from plants. Its
principles restore the health of those who were ill
beyond hope, and give back youth to fading old age, so
that people become again what they were in the age
near puberty; white hair becomes black again, the
keenness of the senses is restored as well as the capa¬
city for juvenile agility, and even for cohabitation, and
the life of people in this world is even extended to a
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