Elixir of life

The elixir of life, from Arabic: الإكسير, also known as the "elixir of immortality" or "Dancing Water" or Persian: "Aab-e-Hayaat آب حیات" and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create life. It is related to the myths of Enoch, Thoth, and Hermes Trismegistus, all of whom in various tales are said to have drunk "the white drops" (liquid gold) and thus achieved immortality. It is also associated with the Qur'an's Al Khidr ('The Green Man'), and is mentioned in one of the Nag Hammadi texts. [Turner, John D. (transl.). [http://www.webcom.com/~gnosis/naghamm/intpr.html The Interpretation of Knowledge] . Retrieved 4 May 2006.]

History

No such potion has ever been discovered though alchemists in ancient China, India, and the Western world spent a great deal of time and effort on it.An elixir can be referred to as the 'Quintessence of life' or by other names – quintessence being reference to the five elements of Chinese alchemical philosophy or a theorized fifth element in European alchemy. In other cultures, alchemical philosophy would deem less or more elements (four in most of Europe, thirty-six in India).

China

In Ancient China, various emperors sought for the fabled elixir with various results. In the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shi Huang sent Taoist alchemist Xu Fu with 500 boys and 500 girls to the eastern seas to find the elixir, but he never came back (legend has it that he found Japan instead). The ancient Chinese believed that ingesting long-lasting precious substances such as jade, cinnabar or hematite would confer some of that longevity on the person who consumed them. Gold was considered particularly potent, as it was a non-tarnishing precious metal; the idea of potable or drinkable gold is found in China by the end of the third century BC. The most famous Chinese alchemical book, the Tan Chin Yao Ch’eh ("Great Secrets of Alchemy," dating from approximately 650 AD), discusses in detail the creation of elixirs for immortality (mercury, sulfur, and the salts of mercury and arsenic are prominent) as well as those for curing certain diseases and the fabrication of precious stones.

Many of these substances, far from contributing to longevity, were actively toxic. Jiajing Emperor in the Ming Dynasty died from ingesting a lethal dosage of mercury in the supposed "Elixir of Life" conjured by alchemists. British historian Joseph Needham compiled a list of Chinese emperors whose death was likely due to elixir poisoning. Chinese interest in alchemy and the elixir of life declined in proportion to the rise of Buddhism, which claimed to have alternate routes to immortality.

It has been anecdotally suggested that Laozi, the founder of Daoism stated that tea is one of the ingredients to the elixir of life. In fact, the fermented tea-based Kombucha was originally known in Chinese as "The Tea of Immortality".

India

AMRIT or AMRUT has been described in the hindu scriptures which are the oldest compiled source of information known to humanity. Anybody who consumes even a tiniest portion of amrut has been described to gain immortality. The legend goes that, at the very early times when the inception of the world had just taken place, some demons had gained strength. This was seen as a threat to many other gods who feared for their lives. So the these gods(including indra-the god of rain, vayu-the god of wind, agni-the god of fire)went to seek advice and help from vishnu(the preserver),bhrama(the creator)& shiva(the destroyer). They suggested that amrut could only be gained from the samudra manthan(or the churning of ocean) for the ocean in its depths hid mysterious and secret objects. Vishnu agreed to take the form of a turtle on whose shell a huge mountain was placed.

Qith the help of a mighty and long serpent the churning process was started at the surface of the ocean. The gods pulled the serpent from one side which had coiled itself around the mountain. The demons pulled it from the other side.(the churning process required immense strength and hence the demons were persuaded to do the job- they agreed but in return for a portion of amrut). Finally with the combined effort of the gods and demons, amrut emerged from the depths of the ocean. All the gods were offered the drink but the gods managed to trick the demons who later didn't manage to get any part of the holy drink. The oldest Indian writings, the Vedas (Hindu sacred scriptures), contain the same hints of alchemy that are found in evidence from ancient China, namely vague references to a connection between gold and long life. Mercury, which was so vital to alchemy everywhere, is first mentioned in the 4th to 3rd century BC Arthashastra, about the same time it is encountered in China and in the West. Evidence of the idea of transmuting base metals to gold appears in 2nd to 5th century AD Buddhist texts, about the same time as in the West. Since Alexander the Great had invaded India in 325 BC, leaving a Greek state (Gandhara) that long endured, the possibility exists that the Indians acquired the idea from the Greeks, but it could have been the other way around. [http://www.crystalinks.com/alchemy.html "Alchemy"] . Retrieved 4 May 2006.]

It is also possible that the alchemy of medicine and immortality came to India from China, or vice versa; in any case, gold making appears to have been a minor concern, and medicine the major concern, of both cultures. But the elixir of immortality was of little importance in India (which had other avenues to immortality). The Indian elixirs were mineral remedies for specific diseases or, at the most, to promote long life.

It is also known to Sikhs as Amrit, the Nectar of Immortality (see Amrit Sanskar).

Middle East

The term "elixir" is derived from the Arabic الإكسير "Al-Ikseer", which itself may have come from the Persian "Aab-e-Hayaat" آب حیات. This was due to the efforts of Arab and Persian alchemists in the medieval Near East in finding an elixir of life. Though they never found it, they contributed to advances in Arabic medicine.

Europe

The Comte de St. Germain, an 18th century nobleman of uncertain origin and mysterious capabilities, was also reputed to have the Elixir and to be several thousand years old.

In April 2008, a group of young scientists demonstrated, in a Portuguese program of television (RTP - Abciência, Elixir of immortality), that it is possible to immortalize yeast cells. Thanks to the expression of "immortality genes" by biomolecules that exist in a vegetable extract, they had proved that they can hinder the death of yeast in fatal conditions of stress. Fact|date=June 2008

Possible Recipes

Throughout the past two millenniums, countless recipes for the "Elixir of Life" have been written in books by well established and respected early chemists. While some are extremely complex and laced with symbolism, others are very simple.

For the sake of your own research, or simply for entertainment value and historical recording of early chemistry/alchemy methods, here is one of the most popular methods of manufacturing both the "Elixir of Life" and the "Philosopher's Stone" which was said to convert lead to gold or silver.

This is the preferred method used by the 3 main secret alchemy societies today: The Rosicurican Order (ROS) = dew, the Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Order of the Morning Star (refers to Venus which rises just before the sun when the grass is wet with the most dew).

From the book "The Secret Teachings of All Ages" comes a recipe which uses simply sea salt dissolved in morning dew and digested until a black powder precipitates, which is then calcined to become gray, and again dissolved in more dew and digested until it whitens, and melts on a hot silver plate like wax, and deliquesces when exposed to humid air or morning dew for several hours. It's then a white liquid called "The Philosophical Mercury" and is already able to be used for the perfect curing of a variety of diseases with unwavering success, and enhances the memory and thinking power of the mind, while also opening up the doors of psychic perception into the spirit world, allowing the alchemist to hear and see beings which can only be seen in the ultraviolet spectrum of light, and were labeled as "elemental spirits" by the alchemist.

This white "virgin's milk", or "Philosophical Mercury" is also able to dissolve metals into a solution which will begin to putrefy and become black, just like organic living matter decomposing. After it becomes black, it goes through several impressive color changes labeled "the Peacock's Tail" by the alchemists, and ends as white or red depending on which metal is used.

While most would assume gold must be used to make the red stone which can transmute lead to gold, and likewise silver for making the white stone, other alchemists seem to be describing antimony for gold and bismuth for silver (bismuth being heavier than lead).

Names

The Elixir has had hundreds of names (one scholar of Chinese history reportedly found over 1,000 names for it.), including (among others) Amrit Ras or Amrita, Aab-i-Hayat, Maha Ras, Aab-Haiwan, Dancing Water, hasma-i-Kausar, Mansarover or the Pool of Nectar, Philosopher's stone, and Soma Ras. The word elixir was not used until the 7th century A.D. and derives from the Arabic name for miracle substances, "al iksir." Some view it as a metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g. Jesus' reference to "the Water of Life" or "the Fountain of Life"). The Scots and the Irish adopted the name for their "liquid gold": the Gaelic name for whiskey is uisge beatha, or water of life.

Note: Aab-i-Hayat and Aab-i-Haiwan are Persian and both mean "water of life". "Chashma-i-Kausar" (not "hasma") is the "Fountain of Bounty", which Muslims believe to be located in Paradise. As for the Indian names, "Amrit Ras" means "immortality juice", "Maha Ras" means "great juice", and "Soma Ras" means "juice of Soma"; Soma was a psychoactive drug, by which the poets of the Vedas Veda received their visions, but the plant is not known any more. Later, Soma came to mean the moon. "Ras" later came to mean "sacred mood, which is experienced by listening to good poetry or music"; there are altogether nine of them. Mansarovar, the "mind lake" is the holy lake at the foot of Mt. Kailash in Tibet, close to the source of the Ganges.

ee also

* Alchemy
* Al Khidr
* Ambrosia
* Cup of Jamshid
* Elixir
* Fountain of youth
* Holy Grail
* Ma Gu
* Philosopher's stone
* Rejuvenation (aging)
* Universal panacea
* Serge Voronoff

Footnotes

References

* Heart of the Earth: The Elixir of life, second novel in the trilogy by Richard Anderson
* [http://khidr.org/ Al-Khidr, The Green Man]
* [http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~panopus/jeannie/alchemy%20&%20daoism.html Alchemy and Daoism]
* [http://www.ruhanisatsangusa.org/naam/naam_amrit.htm Naam or Word, Book Three: Amrit, Nectar or Water of Life]
* Needham, J., Ping-Yu Ho, Gwei-Djen Lu. "Science and Civilisation in China", Volume V, Part III. Cambridge at the University Press, 1976.
* Turner, John D. (transl.). [http://www.webcom.com/~gnosis/naghamm/intpr.html The Interpretation of Knowledge]


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