Thai Monks History
Buddhism and Medicine:
“The search is not in a foreign God, but to develop one’s own internal God”.
Buddhism and Traditional Medicine are closely related. To slightly understand this relationship, we briefly explain its origin:
Ayurveda literally means “science of life” and has its origin in India, more than 3000 years ago when Hinduism and a strong yogi culture flourished. The Ayuveda reached its zenith later on when Buddhism flourished in India. Many Hindus became Buddhist monks and practiced Ayurveda as a way to express compassion for others.
Two hundred years after Buddha’s death, Indian Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism and sent many monks abroad to expand it. Some travelled to the Southeast Asian settling in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. As time went by, this kind of Buddhism became known as Theraveda Buddhism. Others travelled to the north and eastern India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan.
Over time, Buddhism practiced at the north and eastern India became known as Mahayana Buddhism.
Many of these missionaries practiced the Ayurveda, so not only instructed people on religious matters but they also provided medical aid, including the use of medicinal herbs and physical therapy or massage. Over time, Ayurveda was integrated with the local medical practices where the missionaries were installing themselves.
With the expansion of Buddhism in Thailand, Ayurveda mingled and enriched the local medical, thereby creating the Thai Traditional Medicine.
During the life of Buddha, he received the care of an Indian ayurvedic doctor, called Jivaka Kumar, which was considered the most important physician of his time. With time became so famous that he was considered “the father of medicine” Buddhist monks on their expansion also exported their devotion to him. Nowadays Thailand still keeps devotion to him. Practitioners of Thai massage recite some prayers in Pali in his honour before starting work.