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Chapter Summary

The bathing ritual taught by the goddess is in itself very interesting, and the list of medicinal herbs gathered and prepared for the bath is of great value for the study of botanical terminology in Sanskrit and Chinese, and of the history of ancient pharmacopoeia. Why does Sarasvatī teach a ritual medicinal bath? While in the Yajur Veda Sarasvatī gave rebirth to Indra, here the medicinal bath is intended to lead to the highest perfect awakening. In terms of medicinal matters, it is clear that behind this ritual bath lies a long tradition of Vedic medicine. Āyurveda is based on keeping the humours of the body in a state of equilibrium, a theory traceable to Buddhist Pali literature. Probably because of Sarasvatī's well established identity and connections with water and healing, the instructions for the bathing ritual were placed in the mouth of the goddess of eloquence and knowledge.

Keywords: knowledge; ritual bath; Sarasvatī; Vedic medicine; Yajur Veda



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