We are the official seat of the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage in the West. We have an exclusive sister-school relationship with the prestigious Thai Massage School Shivagarkomarpaj, affectionately known outside of Thailand as the "Old Medicine Hospital." Students graduating from our program receive certificates that bear the seal of the Shivagarkomarpaj Lineage and opportunity to intern classes with our sister schools in Thailand. Our certificates are reciprocally recognized by the Old Medicine Hospital and by the Ministry of Public Health of the government of Thailand.
As the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage seat in the West, our responsibility is to be your bridge to the Thai healing traditions. Our commitments include:
The Thai Institute has the unique distinction of representing the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage outside of Thailand. Our Executive Director, David Roylance and his wife Sararut, have been asked by the Chaichakan family to carry forward the teachings of the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage as the official sister school of the Thai Massage School Shivagakomarpaj - "Old Medicine Hospital." With the support of the lineage's founding family, the Thai Institute of Healing Arts is inheritor of the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage, and is dedicated to providing students with the most authentic learning experience possible.
What is lineage?
Most traditional Thai healers trace their lineage back to the "Father Doctor" Jivaka Komarabhacca, the Buddha's personal physician. In addition, one's direct lineage of teachers is considered an important indication of authenticity and a mark of high quality. The Shivagakomarpaj Lineage is one of the most respected and widespread lineages of Thai massage in the world today.
The Old Medicine Hospital is located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chiang Mai is a center for the study and practice of traditional medicine of all types. There are perhaps more Thai massage clinics per square kilometer in Chiang Mai than anywhere else in the country. Among these, the Old Medicine Hospital was the first having the most long-standing and prestigious reputation. It has long been one of the most prestigious traditional medicine centers in Thailand, and was the first in Chiang Mai to open its doors to Western tourists wishing to learn Thai massage.
We honor Ajahn Sintorn Chaichakan as the founder of our tradition of Thai massage, and as our primary teacher. (Ajahn is an honorific title given to respected teachers, and is usually translated as ("Master Teacher".)
Ajahn Sintorn was the founder of the Old Medicine Hospital and of the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage. He first studied traditional Thai medicine at Wat Pho in the late 1950s. Upon completing the degree in 1958, he stayed on as a teacher for four more years. Before that time, Wat Pho did not teach Thai massage, and at the personal request of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), Ajahn Sintorn was instrumental in starting the massage program to complement the herbal training Wat Pho had offered for many years.
In 1962, he returned to Chiang Mai and began to practice medicine at small dispensaries on the grounds of several city temples. At this time, the government of Thailand was only interested in supporting Western medicine, and Thai traditions were kept alive by their association with Buddhist institutions. Living in the north of Thailand, Ajahn Sintorn adapted his practice of massage and herbal medicine to incorporate aspects of northern culture. One important change he made to the Wat Pho massage routine was to slow it down, he says to suit the "laid-back style" of Chiang Mai natives. He also focused on local herbal knowledge, incorporating treatments that were not part of the Wat Pho tradition into his pharmacopoeia.
In 1973, Ajahn Sintorn purchased land just outside of Chiang Mai center and established the current facility. With only a small grant from the government to start up, the institution was quite small at that time, with only 10 in-patient beds. From these humble beginnings, the institution's traditional medicine hospital grew to the current size. In the 1990s, the program graduated an average of 60-70 Thai students per year in traditional medicine, and the Western students of Thai massage numbered well into the hundreds. Today, the Old Medicine Hospital is part of both national and regional efforts to standardize and regulate the massage industry, to improve safety and authenticity of traditional health care in the years to come.
Ajahn Sintorn remained the director of the Old Medicine Hospital
facility until his passing away on Oct 18, 2005. His son, Ajahn
Wasan Chiachakan is the current
In 2011, the Thai Institute of Healing Arts was officially recognized as the seat of the Shivagakomarpaj Lineage in the USA.. Ajahn Wasan traveled to the USA to visit David Roylance and the sister school in Arlington, VA. Ajahn Wasan and David traveled throughout the Washington, D.C. area before Ajahn Wasan returned back to Chiang Mai, Thailand where they both rejoined 2 weeks later to plan the 50th Anniversary celebration of the lineage for both institutions.