Ventricles S1 E3: Vaidyas with Wristwatches

How do everyday technologies change our understanding of our own bodies? The pulse is a diagnostic tool common to many medical traditions, including Ayurveda, an ancient medicine of South Asia. In this episode, Professor Projit Mukharji tells us how the pulse has been understood by Ayurvedic practitioners (vaidyas) over time. He explains how pulse-taking changed when mechanical clocks, specifically the pocket watch and wristwatch, became a widespread technology in colonial India. Finally, this episode features a story by physician Dr. Melanie Baskind, and an excerpt of an interivew with Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta, a practitioner of Ayurveda.

Audio credits: Special thanks to the Yogahealer podcast, for letting us feature their episode on pulse diagnosis, and The Overseas Ensemble, a collaboration between composer Paed Conca and Sarigama, for use of their music


Cerulli, Anthony. “Storytelling and accountability for illness in Sanskrit medical literature.” Disease, Religion and Healing in Asia. Routledge, 2014. 98-114.

Hardiman, D., & Mukharji, P. B. (Eds.). (2013). Medical marginality in South Asia: situating subaltern therapeutics. Routledge.

Mukharji, Projit Bihari. Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Sciences. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Mukharji, Projit Bihari. “Olden times: Watches, Watchmaking and Temporal Culture in Calcutta, c. 1757 – 1857” in On Modern Indian Sensibilities: Culture, Politics, History, eds. Banerjee-Dube, Ishita, and Sarvani Gooptu, Taylor & Francis, 2017.