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Heating Metallic Compound To Fine Powder To Make it Medicinally Potent – Hindu Science


Prolonged heating of a metallic compound or mineral for several hours or days or weeks to make it more refined and medically potent is known as putapaka in Hinduism. The end product of the process is bhasma, an extremely fine powder. This extremely light bhasma, when thrown on water, spreads itself as a thin film on it.

This fine powder is supposed to possess physical and chemical properties that make it beneficial to bodily tissues through what is called its bio-availability.

The Process
After a particular metal or mineral is processed elaborately with chosen herbs, sulphur, selected minerals, lime juice and other extracts, the resulting substance is subjected to prolonged heating.

The source of heat is generally cow dung cake and depending upon the number of cow-dung cake used, as well as the way in which they are heated in a particular manner, the desired degrees of heat are sought to be given to the substance.

The substance itself is placed in an earthen container and closed by another container or a lid, and the two sealed with mud plaster. It is then placed generally at the center of a heap of cow dung cakes in a pit and heated.

Several types of putas are employed for processing mineral or metallic substances in order to obtain the medicinally most efficacious compositions.

They are heated in what is called mahaputam, a cubical pit – three feet in length, bread and depth – which is dug out and filled with cow-dung cakes.

An earthen crucible containing he desired substance to be heated is kept sealed in the middle of the heap of cakes.

Various types of pit used in heating 
  • In gajaputam, the cubical pit is twenty-two and a half inches in length, breadth and depth.
  • Mahaputam, a cubical pit – three feet in length, breadth and depth.
  • Varahaputam – eighteen inch cubical pit (18inch length, breadth and depth.
  • Kukkutaputam – fifteenth inch cubical pit.
  • When husk is used as a source of heat instead of cow dung it is known as Bhandaputam.
  • When solar heat is used it is known as suryaputam.

Gold powder is obtained first by rubbing gold with mercury and lime juice, washing it with water and then rubbing it with sulphur and finally, subjecting it to prolonged heating fourteen times, each time for several hours. Likewise, several kinds of incinerated powders are prepared.

Some fine powders like mica and copper are consumed even by the healthy in very small quantities, to increase memory and to maintain physical health at a high level, as well as to achieve longevity.

Even today, the process is employed for preparing some fine powder (bhasma) by traditional ayurvedic practitioners, either to be administrated as such in minute quantities or as additives to certain rejuvenating compositions.

Source – Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VIII page 356 – 57 – IHRF



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