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 Post subject: Oldest documented Hospital system (4 B.C) in Sri Lanka
 Post Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:18 am 
Ancient Sri Lankan culture -
The oldest documented Hospital system (4 B.C) was in Sri Lanka


@ Lahiru Weligamage

There were all kinds of doctors as well as all kinds of deceases on earth since the dawn of life. But, when did the "Hospital system" was introduced? Oldest documented (4th century B.C.) plus archeological data of such a system is being found in Sri Lanka.

Foundations of hospital structures are found in Mihinthale(1500 years ago), Medirigiriya(1100 years ago), Alahana pirivena ..... Additionally, tongs, scissors, miniature scales used to measure quantities, herbal bathing tubs made out of granite.. etc proves that the documented medical procedures were actually practiced by ancient Sri Lankans (Even though Da Vinci drew sketches of planes, parachutes, submarines...etc, they were just imaginary; Therefore we need proof when we talk, don't we?). The ancients treated for General illnesses, Eye illnesses, Tumors, Poisoning, Rabies, Mental illnesses.. etc in the age of Kings.

Among the documented evidence lay:

    - Records on herbs used as anesthetics
    - Records of doctor & king, King Buddadasa (340-368 A.D.) who even
    - performed surgery on delicate organs like brain and on animals like serpents...etc (Choolawansa chap37 verses 124-130)
    - King Buddadasa himself wrote a Saaraartha Sangrahaya and it includes information on identifying deceases, procedures making medicine, surgical equipment, methods of treatment...etc
    - King Parakramabahu the Great(1159-1180 A.D.) ordered, to appoint a male-nurse to assist and a female-nurse to supply food for each & every resident (indoor) patient (Choolawansa chap 73 verses 34-48)
    - King Parakramabahu established a Unit consisting of Specialist doctors. He himself observed patients and methods of treatment occasionally and when he found the methods of treatment and handling of instruments were inadequate, it is recorded that he taught them how and if it was needed, new ways were attempted. (Choolawansa chap73 verses 48-52)
    - When he invaded Ramanghgha Deshaya (Burma), it is recorded that medicine, medical equipment to remove arrow heads, chemical compounds to purify muddy water and well-behaved nurses were sent together with the soldiers.

Making a livable environment and means of Sanitation

For people to be healthy, the environment and infrastructure should be up to the standards. Unless there is access to safe drinking water, a community is at high risk; this is noteworthy for a people who use water collected from rain felt months ago! Therefore the temple complexes were built around natural springs (fountains) to safeguard the water sources and filtering water before drinking, was a code followed by Buddhist monks. They also identified the importance of drawing a line between "drinking water" and "consuming water". Kuttum Pokuna, Ranmasu Uyana, Triple-pond system.. proves just that.

Spitting or Urinating on soil, water or green life was considered bad. It is a rule the countrymen had to follow. Mahavansaya states that King Pandukabhaya (437-367 B.C..) appointed 500 city-cleaners, 200 garbage-cleaners, 15 dead-body removers and 15 graveyard-keepers when he was Planning the City of Anuradhapura. When it comes to lavatory systems, the urine were sent through 3 pots containing of Sand, burnt calcite and charcoal respectively to purify before it touches the soil (People are not taking things like these as serious unless, you use IUPAC-chemical names; so see for yourself). There were separate structures to urinate and to discard anal wastages and they were water-sealed! A huge distance was maintained between the wells and lavatory structures.

Mathematical and Astronomical Knowledge

You can't build 'bisokotuwa'or 'canals which drop 6 inches for every 1 mile it flow', without a knowledge of mathematics (trigonometry) and means of precise measuring. Knowledge on 'Calculation & Measurement' [Ganitha-Minith] was among the many essential things a prince should learn. Singhalese knew and practiced both concepts of perception; 'dividing an object to its smallest part' and 'Looking at an object as a whole' but they emphasized the on the latter meaning. Maheemithiya [Measuring Earth] was a book on geometry and trigonometry which explains the mathematics used in constructions. Use of mathematics can be seen at dagabs (pagoda), lakes, statues ...etc. Events in the sky were observed and recorded for the purpose of astronomical and calendrical purposes and also for the purpose of finding the position by observing the movement of stars (especially for sailors) requires good understanding of coordinate mathematics (geometry). A branch of astronomy developed into a prophetic system which is what westerns now know as Astrology. (However, if you know what Butterfly effect means you can not deny astrology.)

In astrological calculations, distance and position are calculated by degrees and time and for accurate predictions, time needed to be measured to 1/540,000 of a second. Knowing the precession of earth, deviation of earth's axis from the orbital plane, knowledge of moon's nodes are not something all civilizations knew. These factors were also taken into account at Singhalese astrological calculations. Therefore it is evident that Singhalese people do not need to yell saying "We knew that the earth orbits the sun, moon orbits the earth or we knew the sun revolves around the galactic center". Astrology claims the universe is 432 billion years old (450-500 bil. according to current scientific data). Year was 365 days 6 hours 13 minutes 46 seconds (Scientific data states 365 days 6 hours 12 months 36.5 seconds) and the difference may be due to orbital velocity changes. Therefore astrology is not what we define now, it is something more than predictions on your marriage.

Astrological Hindu chronology

100 Brahma years (Parama aayusha)= 315 360 x 109 human years
24 Brahma hours = 8640 x 106 human years
Brahma day-time / night-time= 1000 Maha yugas = 4 320 000 human years
Badra Culpa = 71 Maha Yugas
1 Maha yuga= 4,320,000 years
[consisted of Krita yuga (1728000), Thethra yuga (1296000), Dvapara yuga (864000) and Kalee yuga (432000) in order].

Sinhalese Time units
216000 seconds = 3600 minutes = 60 hours = 1 day

And in calculting very large amounts, the following was used;

10 x decade 1 hundred
100 x hundred 10 thousand
100 x ten-thousand 1 million (10 lakhs)
100 lakhs 1 kootiya
100 lakhs x kootiya prakootiya
100 lakhs x prakootiya kooti prakooti
100 lakhs x kooti prakooti nahutha
100 lakhs x nahutha nin nahutha
100 lakhs x nin nahutha agbohinee
100 lakhs x agbohinee bindu
100 lakhs x abbudha nirabbudha
100 lakhs x nirabbudha ahaha
100 lakhs x ahaha abba
100 lakhs x abba atta
100 lakhs x atta sogandhika
100 lakhs x sogandhika uppula
100 lakhs x uppula kumudu
100 lakhs x kumudu prandarika
100 lakhs x prandarika paduma
100 lakhs x paduma kathana
100 lakhs x kathana maha kathana
100 lakhs x maha kathana asankya / sara sanka kalpaya

Buddhist chronology states that time period between two subsequent Buddhas is one Sara-Sanka-Kalpa.

Every-day knowledge

Just by listing to the sound of specific birds they knew a drought is ahead (Distribution of sound waves is different under different weather conditions). When they hear the sound of Pita bird they knew the monsoon rain is approaching (The bird uses monsoon wind to fly to Sri Lanka).

By investigating the nests of crows, they knew the amount of rain they're going to receive(number of eggs is proportionate to rain).

Similarly, they observed if bees sense a rainy season is ahead, they build their hives only in safe-indoors. North-eastern monsoon has a pattern of a rainy period followed by a two-week (approximately) drought and rain again.

By observing when belithora trees emerge (Belithora Wessa), they knew when to cultivate (If sowed in the first rainy time the seeds would die).

During the two seasons of cultivation, when the land is not cultivated plants of Legiuminose order (Cassia occidentalis-thora/ Mimosa pudica-pila/ Thephrosia purpurea-nidikumba..) were allowed to grow freely (To enrich the soil with Nitrogen).

Diospyros affinin- kalawel / Anamirta coculas -thiththawel...were planted around paddy fields (when they mix with paddy-water, the water becomes harmful for plant-eating insects eg-Orceolia oryzane/ Atherigona oryzane/ Tryporyza incertulus... ).

When the insect attack is severe, he builds an alter(to Gods?) and places various kinds of seeds on it; the truth is, birds attracted to the seeds finds a much tastier meal, insects.

Drying and preserving food in honey allowed long-term storage and was often used to preserve meat (mostly in Vedda communities) & cereal.

The ways they used to catch fish is quite odd but it helped in maintaining the ecological equilibrium. If it's a lake they put Diospyros embroypteris- thibiri leaves / Randia dometorum- kukuru mahan fruit / Derris scandeus- Kalawel roots to paralyse fish; they float in a while and the fishermen can pick the right fish of right size. and if it's a stream they place the one-way trap(kemana) which has 1/3 of it above water. Either way he gets the chance to select the eatable-adult-fish so that the rest can be released back to the environment.

They knew the signs of environment. They did not need any Shaman's magic to carry their lives forward.


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