The Historical Roots
Traditional Thai Massage (Nuad Phaen Boran) has a long history of therapeutic healing. Tracing
the evolution of healing practices in Thailand, one discovers that the earliest roots of Thai
Massage do not lie in Thailand but in the ancient traditions of India.
The legendary founder is believed to have been a doctor from northern India, known as Jivaka
Kumar Bhaccha. He was a contemporary of the Buddha and personal physician to the Magadha
King Bimbisara over 2500 years ago.
Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha
Looking back at the tradition of Thai massage it is very clear that it was always considered to be a
spiritual practice, closely connected with the teachings of the Buddha. Until fairly recently it was
the Wat, the temple, where massage was taught and practiced. Even today one of the most
important massage schools in Thailand is at Wat Pho in Bangkok. The establishment of legitimate
massage facilities outside of the temples is a recent development. The giving of massage was
understood to be a physical application of metta, the Pali (and Thai) word used in Theravada
Buddhism to denote „loving kindness“ - and devoted masseurs still work in such a spirit today.
A truly good masseur performs his art in a state of meditation and mindfulness. He starts with a
puja, a meditative prayer, to centre himself, to connect, to invite guidance and to come into a
state of clarity, emptiness and heart connection.
A treatment is based on awareness, mindfulness, concentration and compassion.
Its spiritual and philosophical aspects - such as a steady equanimous mind (vipassana) and a
loving compassionate heart (metta) are significant aspects of its holistic approach. Its a sacred
dance between two people to heal and be healed.
“ … a complete development process that allows to become an intuitive, perceptive
instrument - able to come in resonance with the patient and everything that lies deep
within him (…) Becoming competent in responding to that individual’s deepest needs.”
Asokananda (Harald Brust, 1955-2005)
Asokananda was the first person who did write about Thai massage in English. He dedicated his life to spread
the gift of Thai massage to the rest of the world.
It’s through him that the Sunshine Network awoke, one of the most famous Thai Massage Schools
from Chiang Mai, North Thailand.