Grand Instructor of Thai Traditional Medicine: Phra Rheesi Chiwok Komaraphat

Phra Rheesi Chiwok Komaraphat, also known as Mor Yai, was a physician. He was born in Rajgir, an ancient city in the northeast Indian state of Bihar to a courtesan by the name of Salwadee who, in the middle of the night, ordered her servant to throw the baby away. However, at dawn, one of King Pimpisan’s sons, Prince Ampai and his guards happened to come across the abandoned child. The prince asked his guards if the baby was still alive and was told “still alive,” hence, he named that baby “Chiwok” meaning “alive.” The prince brought the baby back to the palace and raised him there thereby giving him the surname Komaraphat meaning “a child who was raised in the royal court.”

When Chiwok grew up and knew he was actually an orphan adopted by the prince, he was determined to seek the arts to support himself. Therefore, he asked for permission to leave the palace and travelled to Taxila, currently Rawalpindi District in Pakistan, where he was accepted as a student of a famous medical doctor Thipamokk. He studied for seven years before asking for permission to return to Rajgir. Doctor Thipamokk asked Chiwok to enter the forest and bring him a plant that cannot be used for treatment. Chiwok obliged. He entered the forest and tested every plant and returned empty handed. When doctor Thipamokk asked him what he had brought back, Chiwok replied “nothing” and explained that every plant in the forest is capable for use in treatment. Doctor Thipamokk then said “You have graduated then.” On his way back to Rajgir, Chiwok stopped and healed a rich man’s wife who had suffered severe headaches for many years. In return the rich man gave Chiwok 16,000 pieces of gold, slaves and a carriage to bring him safely back to Rajgir.

Upon returning to the palace, Chiwok brought the gold and rewards he received and presented them to Prince Ampai as gratitude for raising him. However, the prince rejected those presents and asked Chiwok to keep them instead. Not long thereafter, Chiwok treated and cured King Pimpisan from hemorrhoids and was appointed the Royal Physician. King Pimpisan also rewarded Chiwok with 500 royal women and many jewellery. This time round it was Chiwok who turned down those rewards and asked King Pimpisan to consider it as his service to the kingdom. However, he did accept the mango garden which he converted into a temple and presented it to Lord Buddha and His disciples. Rajgir was hit by diseases and Chiwok quickly went around helping and healing the people.

Besides practicing medicine, Maha Chiwok was also dedicated to the Dharma with strong faith in Lord Buddha. He visited Lord Buddha frequently to learn and practice the Dharma. He followed the teachings of Lord Buddha and practiced well that Lord Buddha bestowed on him the title of the Ethical One. At the same time, he was granted permission to serve as a physician in the Sangha to help maintain the health of all monks. Subsequently, he even extended his services to worshippers and devotees thereby becoming known as Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat, “The Grand Master of Traditional Medicine” and is revered by the general public until today.

What it is now

Phra Rheesi Chiwok

At present, there has been considerable archaeological evidence unearthed, one of which is the Thammarajiga Stupa which is said to be the earliest Buddhist footprint in Pakistan. It is believed to have been built during the time of the Ashoka the Great of the Moriya Dynasty in order to enshrine the relics of the Lord Buddha. Aubsequently, it has been expanded in the 2nd century AD during the reign of King Kanishaka.

In addition to archaeological remains that have already discovered in both Rajgir, India and in Taxila, Punjab, Pakistan where the medical school Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat studied, there is practically nothing left with regards to the legacy of traditional medicine in those areas. On the contrary, only the medical textbooks of Taksila or the medical texts written by Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat have been passed down for more than 2,500 years in the present Suvarnabhumi land, especially the Kingdfom of Thailand which underscored the source of honouring Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat as the Grand Instructor of Thai Traditional Medicine.

Honouring Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat

There are many temples making and consecrating statues and amulets of Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat for believers. The most popular temple is Wat Intharawihan, Bang Khun Phrom, Bangkok followed by Wat Khok That, Thai Traditional Medicine Association Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. The purpose is common, plain, and simple. They are for good health and speedy recovery from illness.

Since there is no distinction between practitioners and believers with regards to the charm for Phra Rheesi Chiwok Komaraphat; and since the charm only pertains to good health and speedy recovery from illness, we find it no harm sharing it with our readers as follow:

Kattar Bucha Phra Rheesi Chiwok

Om Namo Chiwoko Sirasa Ahang

Karunikon Sapa Sathanang O Sathatip Pamang Tang

Papaso Suriyanjan Tang Ko Mun Pacho Paka Say Si

Wanthami Panthito Su May Tasa Aroka Sumana Homi

This charm may be recited daily, both day and night, after paying homage to Lord Buddha.