AYURVEDA AND SRI LANKA'S INDIGENOUS MEDICAL SYSTEM

Ayurveda is an ancient natural science of healing. AYUR means life, VEDA means knowledge, and together they form AYURVEDA – the knowledge of life. Ayurveda is not only the science but also a philosophy of life which promote the art of living together with nature. It holds the precious knowledge how to heal the body, mind and soul.

Although the origins of Ayurveda lie in India, historical evidence prove that Sri Lanka had its own valuable medical system. This system is known as Sri Lanka's native medicine with its own encyclopedia of medical plants, herbs, spices and healing techniques. Like Indian Ayurveda, the Sri Lankan system is based on a series of prescriptions handed on by physicians from generations to generations over a period of 5000 years.

Historical Indian Ayurveda texts mention “Pulasthi Rishi”, a Sri Lankan skilled physician who participated in the first conference of the rishis (the seekers of knowledge) held in the Himalaya kingdom. His son, the emperor Rawana who ruled Sri Lanka around 4394 years ago, was a skilled physician who wrote the Arka Prakashya, Kumarathantraya and Nadi Prakashaya medical books. Throughout the years the Ayurvedic physicians held a noble position in the country's social hierarchy due to their royal patronage. From this legacy derived a well-known Sri Lankan saying: “It you cannot be a king, become a healer.”
With the arrival of Buddhism, the relationship between Ayurveda and the royalty continued to influence the political aspects of Sri Lanka. King Devanam Piyathissa (247 BC) established a hospital for the Buddhist monks at Mihintale in Sri Lanka. Today the Mihintale Ayurveda Hospital is recognized as both the first hospital in Sri Lanka and the oldest hospital to date in the world. Also, king Buddhadasa (398 AD), one of the most influential and admired physicians, contributed to the Veda Shastra by writing the Sarartha Sangrahaya, a comprehensive manuscript used by Sri Lankan physicians today.
These are only some of the many historical references to our ancient traditional medical system. With the arrival of the Indian emperors and conquerors, the two medical systems were united into the traditional Ayurveda system used today.
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