King Buddhadasa

King Buddhadasa was a great ruler (341-370 A.D) and a popular physician in Sri Lanka. The king was a very pious king who was devoted to religion. The king was a great physician and a surgeon; he always carried a case of surgical equipment whenever he was on the State Elephant out of the palace.  The king was always ready to help whoever needs medical attention. There are many stories describing the medical skills of the king and various occasions that he used his skills to heal people.

This is one of the famous stories about the kindness of this great king. One day, when King Buddhadasa was riding on his State elephant on the way to Tissawewa tank, where he used has a bath and performs water sports, witnessed a snake that was stretched out on a huge white anthill. The snake lay there like a pole and seemed to be suffering from some internal trouble. The king got down from his elephant and in his compassion and addressed the snake.

“I see that thou art suffering and I would like to help thee if thou wert not inclined to bite me in thy sudden attacks of rage. How can I touch thee without being hurt by thee?”  The snake seemed to understand the King’s word’s put his head into a hole in the anthill and lay quite still so that the King could take his instruments out, open the snake’s body, take out the diseased part, and applies some healing ointment; thus the snake was cured.

It is said that in gratitude the snake gave the king a very precious gem, which he set in the eye of a stone statue in the Abhayagiri Temple.

According to the historical evidence, again that he cured a monk who was so afflicted with rheumatism that he was quite crippled. No doctor could cure him and so his fellow monks applied to the Rajah and in a short time, the monk was cured by the skill of his treatment.

According to the Mahawamsa, once a man had swallowed some frog spawn with the water which drank from a pond and one of the frog’s eggs had entered his nose and had got up into his head. There it had hatched out and in rainy weather, the frog was croaking and gnawing in the man’s head. The king skillfully cut the man’s head open, took the frog out, closed the wound, and applied such good ointment that it was healed very soon.

More similar cures Buddhadasa is said to have made and he was always so successful in them that the sick people began to crowd his palace. So in his good-heartedness and because he could not possibly attend to everybody, he built hospitals and taught and employed medical men in all the larger villages and very often he inspected the hospitals himself and saw that the patients were well attended.

The king had written a book on medical science (Sarathasngrahaya) and his physicians had to study it. And this book, written in Sanskrit and practised even at present. The King Buddadasa also founded an asylum for the crippled and blind and incurable and he provided for their support.


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