Anthony Cerulli

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2012/2013
discipline History
Fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies at Hobart & William Smith Colleges

Research project

Medical Education in the Gurukula: The Practice of Classical Texts 
and the Production of Local Traditions in South India

 

The traditional institution of medical education in South India is the gurukula, which is a Sanskrit term meaning “family of the teacher.” Students in a gurukula study with a teacher (guru), while living with the teacher’s family (kula); they usually study a collection of texts from the Sanskrit sources of Ayurveda, India’s classical medical system, as well as important vernacular classics. Today, the gurukula is moribund in South India, save a few locations in Kerala. In the 20th century, the number of medical students seeking gurukula training declined rapidly. Hence, there are few adequately trained students to carry on the tradition as teachers of prominent medical families pass away. To document the ways in which medical teachers have transmitted 2000-year-old methods of textual practice and education into the modern era before the last remaining family lines are gone, this project introduces urgently needed research and will produce a book on the gurukula and the history of medical education in South India and contemporary Kerala.
The student-teacher relationship in the gurukula is at the center of the present project. In particular, I look at the ways in which teachers and students use and produce medical texts. To analyze what I call “the practice of texts” in the gurukula, two modes of expression—Sanskrit orality and vernacular commentarial writing—provide the theoretical framework of the project. Through these two lenses, ethnographic accounts of two active gurukulas in central Kerala will preserve the textual practices of the institution, while philological work will recover and make available a number of vernacular commentaries in Malayalam and Manipravalam.
In this project, the modern history of the medical gurukula is linked to the colonial and postcolonial influence of biomedicine in India, especially on the curricula of Ayurvedic Colleges.
The promotion of biomedicine during the British colonial era has had numerous systemic effects on the understanding and expectations of classical Ayurveda in India today. I address two effects in particular: portrayals of medical education in the gurukula as old and unviable in the competitive, globalized medical marketplace, and the reimagining of classical Ayurveda as an indigenous, precolonial science, which is packaged as the banner of independent (post-1947) India’s contribution to the global scientific community.

Biography

 

Anthony Cerulli is currently Fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. Last year he was a Fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies. He holds a Ph.D. in History of Religions from the University of Chicago.

Selected publications

 

Medical Texts and Manuscripts in Indian Cultural History, with K. Preisendanz and D. Wujastyk (eds), Manohar Publishers, New Delhi, 2013.

 

‘The Joy of Life: Medicine, Politics, and Religion’, in A. Cerulli, K. Preisendanz and D. Wujastyk (eds), Medical Texts and Manuscripts in Indian Cultural History, Manohar Publishers, New Delhi, 2013.

 

‘Zoroastrianism’, in Lawrence Sullivan (ed.), Religions of the World: An Introduction to Culture and Meaning, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2013.

 

Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2012. 

 

‘On the Allegorization of Action for Health’, Journal of Indian Medicine, vol.5, no.1, 2012, pp.25-35.

 

‘Calculating Fecundity in the Kasyapa Samhita’, in F. Ferrari (ed.), Health and Religious Rituals in South Asia: Disease, Possession and Healing, Routledge, London, 2011.

 

‘Ayurveda’, in K. A. Jacobsen (ed.), The Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume II: Texts, Rituals, Arts, and Concepts, Brill Publications, Leiden, 2010. 

 

‘Know Thy Body, Know Thyself: Decoding Knowledge of the Atman in Sanskrit Medical Literature’, with U.M.T. Brahmadathan, Journal of Indian Medicine, vol.2, no.3, 2009, pp.101-107.

 

‘Narrative Wellbeing: Anandarāyamakhin’s The Joy of Life (Jīvānandanam)’, Indian Journal of History of Science, vol.44, no.2, 2009, pp.231-246.

institut

junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline History
2017
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Visual and Performing Arts
2017
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline History
2012
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Cognition
2016