The Belly and the “Bad Mind”
This chapter discusses popular notions of health, with a focus on perceptions of how different drugs are digested and on the humoral balance between the “hot” belly and the “cool” mind. The first principle of Bengali body concepts is that the belly is the somatic center of good health. For Bengalis, health depends on the proper alignment between the belly and the mind. In this alignment, the belly is a “hot” source of energy that needs to be controlled by the “cool” sovereignty of the mind. The opposition between “cool” mind and “hot” belly is based on a humoral worldview. Indian Ayurvedic humoralism is based not on four but on three humors (tridosha) called vata, pitta, and kapha. Pitta tends to be hot and kapha to be cold, while vata is in-between.
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