Pandit G. P. Wickramarachchi

Pandit G. P. Wickramarachchi, the founder of the Gampaha Wickramarachchi Ayurveda Institute is respected by all not only as an eminent Ayurvedic physician but also as an outstanding person who devoted his whole life for the well-being of Ayurveda in Sri Lanka. He is well-known for his excellent service to the nation, accomplishment in Ayurveda field, leadership in Ayurveda medical profession in Sri Lanka and participation in professional scholarly activity.

Early life and education

Gabriyal Perera Wickramarachchi was born on 28 September 1889 in Nadungamuwa, Gampaha. He hailed from a reputed family of physicians, being the third son of Velum Perera Wickramarachchi, an indigenous medical practitioner and his wife Sara Nona Dharmawathi. He was educated at Henegama Government School and afterwards at Uttharamulla Pirivena.

He was a brilliant student of the Vidyodaya Pirivena at Maligakanda, a well-known Buddhist institute at the time. He obtained the Degree of Pandit from this Pirivena under the guidance of Venarable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thero, one of the greatest scholars of the country in the 20th century. Further, he continued his medical training under his father, a distinguished Ayurvedic physician of the country.

In 1917, he sat for the notary exam and became a notary, and in the same year he was chosen as the first recipient of the scholarship awarded by the Eastern Medical Sciences Fund for higher studies overseas. He was fortunate to enter Jamini Bhushan Ray Ashtanga Ayurvedic Vidyalaya in Calcutta, India where he continued his medical education under the great Kaviraj Jamini Bhusana Roy, one of the most renowned scholars of Ayurveda in India. He obtained his degree of LAMS (Bheeshagrathna, Hons) from Ashtanga Ayurveda College of Calcutta in 1920 and the degree of Kaviranjan from Kaliya Ayurveda Bavan in 1921.

Pandit Wickramarachchi married Adhikari Appuhamilage Sumanawathi Jayasundara in 1924. They had one son and three daughters.

Establishment of Gampaha Siddhayurveda Vidyalaya

After his return from India, Pandit Wickramarachchi started his professional career in Gampaha and became the most brilliant Ayurvedic Physician during that era.

It was a time of deterioration of Sinhalese culture and Ayurvedic system of medicine. Four centuries of foreign rule had led to a neglect of many aspects of indigenous culture. This was particularly true of Ayurveda medicine. However, from the second decade of the twentieth century onwards, there was a movement for revival. This movement came in the wake of an agitation for political independence.

It is in this background that Pandit Wickramarachchi established Gampaha Siddhayurveda Vidyalaya (present Gampaha Wickramarachchi Ayurveda Institute) in 1929. The setting up of the Vidyalaya was an important landmark in the movement for the revival of Ayurveda in this country.

He maintained the Vidyalaya at his own expenses and no fees were charged from the students even for accommodation. With the intension of expanding the medical education, Pandit Wickramarachchi started the drug manufacturing unit (Rasayana Drug Manufacturing Company) and Dhathawya Chikitsalaya attached to the Vidyalaya in 1932.

He was able to maintain the institute at his own expenses for over thirty five years.

Contribution in clinical practice

His general philosophy about a physician was that he should look at the entire patient and spectrum of problems and not concentrate on single organ system or mere symptoms – a well-established principle of Ayurveda. He was the consultant physician for tuberculosis at the time.

The most important aspect which set Pandith Wickramarachchi apart as a truly outstanding physician was his keen interest in exploration of new strategies for effective clinical practice. In fact, he had a distinguished career in the overall field of Siddayurveda medical education. He is one of the few individuals ever to make a major contribution in the development of Ayurveda in Sri Lanka.

Other professional contributions

Popularly known as Wickramarachchi Veda Ralahami, he was a well disciplined devout Buddhist and rendered his service as the Editor of Sinhala Bauddhaya from 1914 to 1917 on request of the Buddhist revival leader, Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala. His contribution for journals, magazines and newspapers was enormous. He wrote six books on Ayurveda medicine; even today some of his books such as "Bojana Sangrahaya", "Lakdiva Raktha Roga Sangarahaya" are extremely popular among Ayurvedic medical practitioners who consider them as classics.

He published "Raktaroga Samgraha", a very useful book which expounded the concept of skin diseases from Ayurvedic perspective. He was the Editor of Samacara, the Journal of Siddhayurveda Vidyalaya.

Equipped with excellent knowledge of oriental languages, Pandit Wickramarachchi held many responsible positions in Sri Lanka Ayurveda Congress, Ayurveda Medical Council, Ayurveda Research Council etc. His tenure as Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ayurveda Congress was outstanding. He was also the Ayurveda representative of the Das Guptha Commission appointed in 1947.

Later, he became the Dean of the Faculty of Science of Vidyodaya University.

Appreciation of his work

During his lifetime, Pandit Wickramarachchi was honored with multiple awards. In recognition of his great service to the country, the Vidyodaya University conferred on him the Honorary Degree (Honoris Causa) of Ayurveda Chakravati in 1960. Further, as a token for his services to the motherland, he was nominated as a member of the Council of Senate by the Government of Ceylon in 1957.

Although holding high position both in society and government, he never forgot his responsibility in promoting Sinhalese Buddhist Culture and Ayurvedic system of medicine in Sri Lanka. He treated everyone alike and thousands of physicians scattered throughout the country (many of whom under the title ‘Gampaha Dispensary’) today are witness of his great service.

He was kind, humble, and compassionate. He was broadminded and his interests were not limited to Ayurveda medicine. For example, he was a scholar on Buddhist philosophy. He extended his service for 46 years in the Gampaha Siddhayurveda Vidyalaya.

Pandit Wickramarachchi died peacefully on 29 March 1975 at his home in Gampaha. No more fitting an epitaph could be given to Pandith Wickramarachchi than Acharaya Charaka’s words which he, a man with profound knowledge of Ayurveda classics, liked to cite: “A physician who succeeds to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can best treat diseases.”


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Last Updated on Friday, 27 October 2017 07:18

 

 


 

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