Intangible too sharpens knowledge - Dr. K.S. Dahanayake | Sunday Observer

Intangible too sharpens knowledge - Dr. K.S. Dahanayake

21 February, 2021

This is the second part of the interview with Dr. K.S. Dahanayake (MBBS, DLM, MD) on the topic of health and its link with diet as well as the mental and spiritual condition of a person. The first part appeared last week.

Dr. Dahanayake is trained in Clinical Forensic Medicine and Forensic Pathology, a discipline of Modern Allopathy.

He is promoting holistic Lankan traditional medical knowledge combined with the use of Buddhist meditation practices, as was done traditionally in the country, for the wellbeing of the body and mind.

Dr. Dahanayake cited as a case study, a yet ill-understood and untreatable ailment in Western medicine called Craniosynostosis which had occurred in a child of a close relative of his in 2009 and cured in one and a half years through the Hela Nila Wedakama (HNW) medical tradition. He said that the disease was characterised by gross congenital deformity of skull, affecting brain development, resulting in a permanently handicapped child in the course of the disease and that the only treatment through Western medicine was the difficult reconstructive skull surgery which comes with a questionable outcome owing to a high risk of life threatening post-operative complication or permanent disability.

Dr. Dahanayake explained the landmark event of the child being cured in 18 months with the use of HNW which made him learn this medical tradition, in addition to his Western medical expertise.

Q: Many early 19th century Western medical specialists who researched into ancient Ayurvedic medical expertise had extolled their preciseness. The Ancient medical scientists were sages and their lab was the mind. Your views?

A: This is a universal phenomenon. Traditional Medical Practice (TMP) of a country is based on nature healing practices linked with dietetic measures and herbal-based knowledge. Ayurveda and Allopathy had also been traditional disciplines belonging to their regions, ancient Northern India and ancient Greece.

During the 19th century and even before and after, the historical travel movements by means of colonisation or trade since millennia have influenced medical knowledge.

The result was a loss of the deep-rooted philosophy understood by the forefathers of their TMPs. It is basically owing to the degrading of knowledge originally acquired intangibly by the deep meditating mind power that the founders of medicine originally used. This was lost upon the influence of colonisation and industrialisation which saw business tycoons in powerful Western nations investing in the medical industry, especially after the First and the Second World War, making it the medical ‘industry’ as we know it now.

Q: What is the impact Western colonisation had on Deshiya Chikitsa medical tradition and Ayurveda?

A: The Traditional Medical Practices (TMPs) of their countries of origin which had been subjected to western colonisation were replaced with residual bits and pieces of colonial European knowledge pertaining to Allopathy.

We need to understand the historical contexts and focus on Allopathy to comprehend this phenomenon. The golden age of Greece belonging to the 400th century BC tailing off up to 3rd century BC had been terminated by ‘religious wars’.

The rebellions or dictators caused sages who were responsible for establishing heritage knowledge to become extinct by demolishing the holy places they lived in. From that era, the religion-centred holistic-ethical based Hippocrates linked medical system started breaking down to bits and pieces. Now, we can hardly find Hippocrates in Western medicine which does not even seem to acknowledge their founder, having stopped the classical Hippocrates oath.

Q: Could you speak of the evolution of traditional medical sciences to the point we are at now where the industrialised business version of Western science is the dominant player?

A: Owing to degrading human ethics and spirituality along with the knowledge, such as that of the natural healing power, the Europe, including Greece was darkened with ill-health from the 5th century to the 14th century.

The most serious pandemic in the history: the Plague or Black Death started in the early 14th century and claimed 200 million lives - over 50 percent of the European population. The average lifespan of a European had come down to 35 years. This was not the case earlier. Ancient people had long lives irrespective of curable diseases.

In Europe, the period from the 14th century was named the ‘renaissance’ and considered the ‘golden age” of Europe. Philosophers and theoreticians who came into prominence under the blessings of kings during the time were of the view that they needed to be come out of ‘ignorance’ by means of acquiring the ‘knowledge’.

Instead of gaining knowledge via enlightening and regaining the mind power under their spiritual backgrounds, what emerged was the new obsession for excavating and searching for physical evidence of ancestral knowledge, such as those buried under the ruins of ancient monasteries of sacred cities.

They engaged in observing and giving opinion in the form of explaining, interpreting and predicting phenomena in nature, using physical evidence-based knowledge. Following the theoretical knowledge that was conceptualised during the renaissance, the next generations of theoreticians kept on building up and expressing theories on health and diseases, weather, agriculture, food, marking the origin of Western ‘science’.

The ancient sciences of regions such, as the East, became invalidated and food and herb based traditional medicine that worked with a deep understanding of the human body, developed over thousands of years was classified as ‘alternative.’ The end of world war two led to a whole new set of world order. We can see that Western science played a big role in this.

Traditional agriculture was undermined and chemical agriculture introduced. This destroyed the soil as well as traditional seed varieties, much of it playing a dual role as food and medicine. This has made our country a home of invalids with even young children ill with diabetes which Western Allopathy cannot cure but ‘maintain’ by means of ‘management’.

Chemical induced food which makes people sick has become an ‘industry.’ Medicine has become an ‘industry’ which thrives on having many sick people. Our traditional culture of the people resilient in mind, body and spirit, is now largely lost. Yet it is hard to eradicate this knowledge from the veins of a nation and some of it still exists, such as Hela Nila Wedakama.

It is our collective national duty for the sake of the people and the nation to protect, conserve and promote this knowledge and not give into cynicism. We should not adopt the mindset of the colonists and doubt our medical tradition which was deeply woven with the Buddhist concept of loving kindness.

Q: Advanced Western science does have its positive side, isn’t it?

A: Of course. What I oppose is the developing of a science without spirituality.

Has Western science reinvented a knowledge system? They could only find what is remaining in the undermined ancient civilisation and re-invented it with modern technology. With all this, Western medicine does not have definitive treatments. What we see is unintentional unhealthy outcomes owing to the lack of appropriate dietary interventions.

Western medicine is about the management of non-communicable diseases and infections; not their total cure.

For example, severe Craniosynostosis. What Western medicine can do is to manage or control the disease creating a lifetime treatment i.e. drug, vaccine, antibiotic, supplement dependency leading to a life affected by undesired adverse outcomes via a vicious process leading to what is called ‘iatrogenic’ diseases which amount to the third leading cause of death.

The causality and diseases have not yet been established with so-called technological advancement.

Yet, traditional medicine was decried as ‘unscientific’. Superior humanistic qualities, such as loving kindness have been undermined by the greed, power and competition.

Q: Could you further elaborate?

A: The European greed for knowledge monopoly and resources was the invasive cancer we call colonisation; this cancer compelled Europeans to invade the other regions where prosperity and longevity were superior. This is the case of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was historically known for its superior quality knowledge on maintaining human wellbeing.

For example, Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher in the first century had highlighted the fact that the people of Taprobane had been spending a long life above 100 years in a background of rich natural resources. This has been written by him in the 24th chapter of Naturalis historia, the first encyclopaedia of the world.

We also know what Robert Knox had to say about the health practices of Sri Lankans in the 17th century. Upon invasion and colonisation by Europeans who inveigled these nations with their own concepts and theories pertaining to the ‘new science’, the traditional non-western world was injected with the feeling of inferiority about their heritage knowledge. They started doubting it.

Sri Lanka started losing the identity of its indigenous medical knowledge of one of the oldest civilisations. Today, we are witnessing the results of the loss.

Q: Western science is sitting in judgment of traditional sciences, isn’t it?

A: Generations of hybrid scientists the world over and especially in countries which were former colonies were created under European influence. The new world order created after World War Two led to the West subtly and overtly and through strategic means, exercising control over the indigenous knowledge of countries, such as Sri Lanka.

They started creating rules on how traditional medicine should be promoted. The studying and even teaching of diagnostic and therapeutic principles of TMP were passed onto the people whose consciousness was not attuned to it.

Suppose someone needs to cut and study the cross-sectional view of a ripe tomato. He uses his blunt knife to ‘cut’ the tomato and studies it and explains it. But he doesn’t realise the fact that he had crushed the tomato with a blunt-edged knife and had studied a distorted cross-sectional view.   He educates the society with that knowledge.

‘Sharpness’ of knowledge depends not only on the tangible knowledge perceived by the five senses, but also on the intangible knowledge realised through a well trained mind as perfected through Buddhism and related spiritual meditation related expertise.