Elixir of life

The elixir of life , also known as elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher’s stone , is a potion that supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and / or eternal youth . This elixir was also said to cure all diseases. Alchemists in various ages and cultures sought the means of formulating the elixir.



In ancient China, various emperors sought the fabled elixir with varying results. In the Qin Dynasty , Qin Shi Huang feels Taoist alchemist Xu Fu with 500 young men and 500 young women to the eastern seas to find the elixir, but he never came back (legend has it that he found Japan instead). When Shi Huang Di visited, he brought 3000 young girls and boys, but none of them ever returned.

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 ​​drinking or drinkable gold is found in China by the end of the third century BC. The most famous Chinese alchemical book, the Danjing yaojue (Attributed Forms of Alchemical Classics) to Simiao (c 581 – c 682 CE), [1] [2]a famous medical specialist respectfully called “King of Medicine” by later generations, argues in the creation of elixirs for immortality (mercury, sulfur, and the salts of curing certain diseases and the manufacture of precious stones.

Many of these substances, have been actively toxic and resulted in Chinese alchemical elixir poisoning . The Emperor Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty died from ingesting a dose of mercury in the “Elixir of Life” conjured by alchemists. British historian Joseph Needham compiled a list of Chinese emperors whose deaths were likely to elixir poisoning citation needed ] .


Amrita , the elixir of life has been described in the Hindu scriptures (not to be confused with Amrit related to Sikh religion (see Amrit Sanskar )). Anybody who has been consumed in this way has served to gain immortality. The legend has it, just had taken place, evil demons (Ashur) had gained strength. This is a threat to gods (Devas) who feared them. So these gods (including Indra , the god of sky, Vayu, the god of wind, and Agni , the god of fire) went to seek advice and help from the primary gods according to the Hindus: Vishnu (the preserver), Brahma (the creator), and Shiva(the destroyer). They suggest that they could only be gained from the samudra manthan (or churning of the ocean) for the ocean in their mysterious depths and secret objects. Vishnu agreed to take the form of a turtle on a huge mountain was placed. This mountain was used as a churning pole.

With the help of a Vasuki (mighty and long snake, king of Nagloka) the churning process began at the surface. From the side of the gods pulled the snake, which had coiled itself around the mountain, and the demons pulled it from the other side. As the churning process required immense strength, hence the demons were persuaded to do the job-they agreed in return for a portion of Amrit. Finally with their combined efforts, Amrit emerged from the ocean depths. All the gods were offered the drink but the gods managed to trick the demons who did not get 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 on the basis of AD Buddhist texts, about the same time in the West.

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


According to Theosophy and related mystical traditions, St. Germain has been reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also reputed creator of the Elixir.


The Elixir has had hundreds of names, Amrit Ras or Amrita , Aab-i-Hayat, Maha Ras, Aab-Haiwan, Dancing Water, Chasma-i-Kausar , Mansarover or the Pool of Nectar, Philosopher ‘s Stone , and Soma Ras. The word elixir was not used until the 7th century AD and derives from the Arabic name for miracle substances, “al iksir”. Somewhere in the world ( eg , Jesus’s reference to “The Water of Life ” or “the Fountain of Life””But who drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water (John 4:14) The Scots and the Irish adopted the name for their “liquid gold”: the Gaelic name for whiskey is uisce beatha , or water of life.

Aab-i-Hayat is Persian and means “water of life”. [3] “Chashma-i-Kausar” (not “hasma”) is the “Fountain of Bounty,” which Muslims believes 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 received their visions, but the plant is no longer known. Later, Soma came to mean the moon. “Ras” later came to mean “sacred mood experienced listening to poetry or music”; there are altogether nine of them. Mansarovar , the “mind lake” is the holy lake at the foot of Mt.

In popular culture

Main article: Alchemy in art and entertainment

The elixir of life has been an inspiration, plot feature, or subject of artistic works including animation , comics , films , musical compositions, novels , and video games . Examples include L. Frank Baum’s fantasy novel John Dough and the Cherub , the science fiction series Doctor Who , Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone , the popular manga Fullmetal Alchemist , and the movie Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva of the popular Professor Layton franchise.

See also

  • Aging
  • Al Khidr
  • Ambrosia
  • Cup of Jamshid
  • Death Becomes Her
  • Elixir
  • Fountain of Youth
  • Genealogies of Genesis
  • Holy Grail
  • Lazarus Pit
  • Magu (deity)
  • Panacea
  • Rejuvenation (aging)


  1. Jump up^ Medieval Science, Technology And Medicine: An Encyclopedia, A Glick, TF, A Livesey, SJ, Wallis, F., Routledge, p. 20 2005
  2. Jump up^ “Tan Chinese yao chueh – occultism” . britannica.com .
  3. Jump up^ IK Poonawala. “IB ii Water in Muslim Iranian culture”. Encyclopaedia Iranica . Retrieved 12 February 2012.

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