What is Ancient Thai Massage or NUAD BO-RARN?
Ancient Thai massage or Nuad Bo-Rarn finds its origins in Ayurvedic medicine and yoga from India. A complete Ancient Thai massage incorporates a combination of acupressure, energy meridian work, and assisted yoga-like stretching with the primary purpose of stimulating the body’s natural healing process. Ancient Thai massage does not use any oil, the client wears comfortable clothing that allows for movement, and treatment is given at ground level on a mattress.
H i s t o r y
We are a small family of highly trained and highly accomplished massage therapists. All of our teachers have real experience in the professional world of massage therapy, several at the highest level of spa service. After extensive careers abroad, our lead teachers returned to their native Thailand and, while still maintaining their healing work on clients, started to devote their passion for massage into teaching others. After managing the renowned Old Medicine Hospital for a number of years, we became frustrated by large class sizes and the beast of business, so in 2009 we decided to branch out and open SVG. Here we have the freedom to cap class sizes to a maximum of 7 students, ensuring quality instruction and promoting the intimate, tight knit, family experience that is fundamental to the learning environment that we work hard to create.
Our “Father Doctor Shivago”, the founder of the lineage of Thai medicine
The principal figure in Thai Medical Lore is Shivagakomarpaj or Shivago, claimed by Father Doctor as the founder of their healing tradition 2,500 years ago. In the Pali, Shivago’s biography begins when the urban council of Rajagaha, inspired by the charms of a courtesan in Vesali (India), petitions King Bimbisara to install a courtesan of their own. They hire Salavati, with her utmost beauty of complexion and clever dancing, singing and lute playing. This courtesan soon becomes pregnant, however. She delivers in secret, and discards her son in an old winnowing basket a trash heap, where he lies at the mercy of a flock of crows. The king’s son, Prince Abhaya, comes across the baby, and moved by compassion, takes him into his home and names him Shivaga (alive) komarpaj ( meaning “master of the medical science of the treatment of infants”).
When Shivago grows up, he runs away to Taxila, an important town in the Northwest, where he studied with an unnamed medical master for seven years. At the end of this period, he is tested by his teacher, who asks him to find something within a yojana (about nine miles) radius that is not medicinal. Shivago searches the area and proclaims that everything he sees is medicine, and thus passes the test and is given the blessing of his mentor. Shivago then sets out homeward, but along his way, he stops to heal a merchant’s wife, whose family rewards him with 16,000 in cash, two slaves, and a chariot, all of which he presents to his benefactor, Prince Abhaya, upon his return.
Back in Rajagaha and living in the royal palace, Shivago’s fame increases with each client he takes. The Mahavagga lists six patients in all. One of six patients, in the most dramatic passage of the biography, a merchant of Rajagaha is treated for a fatal disease of the head by trepanation, having made the householder, the merchant lie down on a couch, having strapped him to the couch, having cut open the skin of his head, having opened a suture in the skull, having drawn out two living creatures, showed them to the people.
However, the climax of the biography of Shivago is the sixth and final episode, a cure administered to the Buddha himself. Shivago is approached by the Buddha’s attendant, Ananda, who tells him that the Buddha has an affliction of the doshas of his body, and that he desires a purgative. Shivago first tells Ananda to lubricate, the Buddha’s body for several days (meaning ingest oils), after which a mild purgative of medicines mixed with white lotuses is administered nasally, causing the Buddha to purge twenty-nine times. After purgation, the patient bathes in hot water, purges a final thirtieth time, and is prescribed a liquid diet of juices until his body returns to normal.
Although the cures attributed to Shivago do not have much in common with Thai medicine today, Shivago is propitiated as the “Father Doctor of medicine”. The worship of Shivago involves aspects of orthodox Buddhist and popular religious practice and comprises a major part of the devotional life and identity of the traditional Thai healer.