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The Sikh Foundations of Ayurveda

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This paper explores how Sikh scriptures establish a unique claim to Ayurvedic knowledge. After considering Ayurvedic creation myths in the classical Sanskrit canon, passages from Sikh liturgical texts are presented to show how Ayurveda is refashioned to meet the exigencies of Sikh theology. The Sikh texts are then analysed through their relationship with general Puranic literatures and the historical context of Hindu-Sikh relations. Finally, the Indian government’s current propagation of Ayurveda is scrutinised to demonstrate its affiliation with one particular religion to the possible exclusion of others. The Sikh example provides a glimpse into local cultures of Ayurveda before the professionalisation and standardisation of Ayurvedic practice in India’s post-independence period and may serve as a model for understanding other traditions.


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