Sri Lanka developed its own Ayurvedic system based on a series of prescriptions handed down from generation to generation over a period of 3,000 years. The ancient kings, who were also prominent physicians, sustained its survival and longevity. King Buddhadasa (398 AD), the most influential of these physicians, wrote the Sarartha Sangrahaya, a comprehensive manuscript which Sri Lankan physicians still use today for reference. Some are believe the age of “Hela wedakama” comes from the great King Ravana as most of the real traditional medicine practitioners still worship the King Ravana inorder to obtain the permission prior to start treatments for the patients or prior to start making medicines according to the ancient traditions.
Ancient inscriptions on rock surfaces reveal that organized medical services have existed within the country for centuries. In fact, Sri Lanka claims to be the first country in the world to have established dedicated hospitals with the capability of performing surgeries even for the animals. The Sri Lankan mountain Mihintale still has the ruins of what many believe to be the first hospital in the world. Old hospital sites now attract tourists, who marvel at the beautiful ruins. These places have come to symbolize a traditional sense of healing and care, which was so prevalent at that time.
Historically the Ayurvedic physicians enjoyed a noble position in the country’s social hierarchy due to their royal patronage. From this legacy stems a well-known Sri Lankan saying: “If you cannot be a king, become a healer.” Along with Buddhism, the interrelationship between Ayurveda and royalty continues to influence politics in Sri Lanka. However, most of the traditional values of Sri Lanka had been died with the invasions of Dutch, Portuguese and English Nations.