Ayurveda in Ceylon
Considered by many to be the oldest of the healing arts, the word ‘Ayurveda’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Ayus’, meaning “life” and ‘Veda’ meaning “knowledge or science”. Ayurveda is a holistic approach that treats the root cause of illness, in body, or mind. The knowledge of Ayurveda is believed to come direct from the Gods, passed on to the saints and sages of India during sessions of deep meditation.
Ayurvedic treatment is dispensed based on the distinct pattern of energy or Dosha possessed by all individuals. The three Doshas – Vatha, Pitha and Kapha are present in varying degrees in every one of us. Ayurveda aims to improve overall wellbeing and emphasizes the expunging of toxins from the body. Ayurveda has proved to be successful with some of even the most chronic diseases. Ayurveda offers countless advantages, not least of which is that it has absolutely no side effects.
The Ceylonese Ayurvedic tradition is a mixture of Desheeya Chikitsa (traditional Sinhala medicine) the Ayurveda and Siddha systems of India and the Unani medicine of Greece. The ancient Kings, many of whom were also prominent physicians, placed complete faith in Ayurveda and ensured nationwide respect for, and faith in the science.
King Buddhadasa (398 AD), whom the Mahawamsa credits with several remarkable operations on both men and animals, is renowned for writing the Saratha Sangrahaya, a comprehensive manuscript containing most of the Ayurvedic medical knowledge available in the country at the time. In modern day Sri Lanka, physicians still use this work today for reference purposes.
Ayurveda was not only revered by Royalty for its medicinal value – the Royals also put Ayurvedic secrets to good use for therapies that restored and rejuvenated for long lasting beauty. The most famous depiction of Ceylonese loveliness can be found in Sigiriya. The 200-metre-high Sigiriya rock functioned as the palace and fortress of King Kassapa, and houses what are now some of the most recognisable images of Ceylon – the nubile damsels that form the famed Sigirya frescoes.
The Royals of ancient Ceylon gave Ayurveda its due reverence, and the people of the island followed suit. Today, in our fast paced modern world, Ayurveda provides people from all over the globe with the answers to hitherto unanswerable questions, and the knowledge that our kings and queens possessed thousands of years ago – that with Ayurveda – benefits abound and healing is truly all encompassing, restoring balance, providing inner peace and calming body, mind and soul.