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 line ages of Thai massage in the world today.
About the "Old Medicine Hospital"
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 has
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.
About Ajahn ("Master") Sintorn
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").
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
dispensary 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
healthcare in the years to come.
Ajahn Sintorn remained the director of the Old Medicine Hospital facility until his
passing away on Oct 19, 2005. His son, Ajahn Wasan is the current directors.