Unforgettable Reward

Two Venerated Indian Tuskers Were Gifted to Our Tradition in 1950s by a Maharaja in Mysore, India.

A Tale of Gratitude ...

In the annals of history, stories of gratitude and goodwill often transcend time and borders. One such remarkable tale revolves around the gifting of two majestic elephants, Nadungamuwe Raja and Nawam Raja, to the Neelammahara traditional Psychiatry healer’s tradition in Sri Lanka which classified and identified twenty two psychopathologies one of the world’s oldest psychiatry disease classification. This branch focuses on indigenous Sri Lankan medicine and is deeply rooted in the country’s traditional healing practices. It incorporates herbal remedies, diet, and various therapies specific to Sri Lankan culture .This extraordinary gesture of appreciation stems from the compassionate care provided to India’s Mysore Maharaja’s daughter during her battle with mental illness. In this story, I delve into this heartwarming story of gratitude and its enduring legacy.


This is a very popular story among elephant lovers in Sri Lanka.The reader, you might think why this story is relevant to this web page. Yes go through this patiently until the end and let me know whether this is relevant or not.

This story was a frequent reciting story of my late father Ayur Dr.D.S.Hettige founder of Manasa Ayurvrda Hospital (නීලම්මහර වේද මැදුර ) , since I was small. Probably he would have done that with a hidden subconscious intention to motivate me, the only son in my family. Because he had uncertainty that I would not take over his Nobel profession as that had happened to many Ayurveda generations in Sri Lanka leading a vacuum no one to carry forward this system of medicine. And what is peculiar is, this sacred system is not given out of family tradition, not even to a family unless he or she is physically, mentally socially, culturally, religiously, academically disciplinary and ethically fit to carry out this forward.

There were many other rich medical traditions similar to above existed. When you go through the history of Sri Lankan health care system it was rich and diverse and this holistic system has been practiced on the Island for centuries. This advanced system featured the world’s first hospital, known as the “Mihintale Hospital.” Established in the 3rd century BC by King Devanampiya Tissa, this hospital marked a pioneering era in healthcare. It provided specialized care, with separate wards for surgery, obstetrics, and personalized treatments by skilled physicians called “Vaidyas.” This early commitment to holistic well-being showcased Sri Lanka’s historical dedication to healthcare and healing, leaving a lasting legacy in the annals of medical

history. Notably, the renowned traveler British sea captain, Robert Knox, in his book “An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon” (published in 1681), observed that “all old Sri Lankan people were doctors.” He highlighted their deep-seated tradition of healthcare and healing, with most elderly individuals possessing knowledge of herbs, roots, and leaves for various ailments, showcasing Sri Lanka’s rich heritage in healthcare. “Baisajjamanjusa” One of the ancient classical text book in traditional medicines which was written 2nd BC, which received a special title as national heritage by UNESCO in 2012, categorically insisted the all majority of Sri Lankans their physical health was preserved by Traditional Si Lankan medicines and Mental health was preserved by thripitaka or pali cannon in Buddhism. It is a very interesting research area to looking to how ancient Sri Lankans were possess rich, civilized and diverse intellectual capacities and cultural heritage. Indeed, ancient Sri Lankans were accomplished in the construction of large architectural sites, including massive tanks and reservoirs, and they had a sophisticated irrigation system that allowed them to supply rice to not only their own population but also to regions in South East Asia. The construction of extensive irrigation networks, such as tanks, canals, and reservoirs, was a remarkable engineering feat of its time. One of the most impressive examples is the “Parakrama Samudra” or “Sea of Parakrama,” a vast reservoir built during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great in Polonnaruwa. This reservoir covered a large area and played a crucial role in agricultural development by providing water for rice cultivation. The ability to manage water resources in this way allowed for surplus rice production, which could be traded with neighboring regions. Sri Lanka’s role as a rice supplier to South East Asia is a testament to its advanced agricultural practices and the efficiency of its irrigation systems. It highlights the importance of Sri Lanka’s contributions to regional trade and agriculture during ancient times.

The paragraph highlights the remarkable achievements of ancient Sri Lankans in agriculture, medicine, and engineering, despite the absence of modern medicines and vitamins. It underscores the effectiveness of their traditional knowledge, particularly traditional Sri Lankan Ayurveda medicine, in preserving physical and mental well-being. The interconnectedness of physical and mental harmony was recognized, with practices like meditation and yoga playing a role in maintaining overall health. In summary, the accomplishments of ancient Sri Lankans demonstrate the power of traditional knowledge and holistic approaches to health.

The Maharaja's Daughter (A Struggle with Mental Illness)

Coming back to our orginal story, I remembered my father was exaggerated how they went to Mysore province in India to receive this unforgettable reward of gratitude. That was my father’s one and only foreign trip as he was having Aviophobia. Mysore (or Mysuru), a city in India’s Karnataka state, was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399-1947. The palace blends Hindu, Islamic, Gothic and Rajput styles,

There was a young mentally ill girl age 22 from a maharaja family in India, was referred to our institute by Colombo Ayurvedic hospital in 1950s when my father was a young enthusiastic student under Rev. Dr.Dehiwala Dhammaloka who was a eminent reverence mental specialist in traditional medicines and was very popular locally and regionally at that time .This girl had been treated by many western psychiatrists in India,Singaopre and United kingdom with no improvement. So they decided to seek the help of our tradition and come to Sri Lanka.


In the early 1950s, India’s Mysore Maharaja faced an agonizing dilemma. His beloved daughter was grappling with a severe mental illness that had defied conventional treatments of the time. Desperate for a solution, the Maharaja sought assistance far and wide, eventually leading him to the shores of Sri Lanka as instructed by his close friend Macmillan, the governor friend of him from United Kingdom.To seeks the assistance of Neelmmahara Traditional Psychiatry treatments known to the world over even during that time . Sri Lanka, renowned for its ancient traditions of healing and desheeya chikithsa, beckoned the distressed Maharaja. His quest for a cure brought him to the Neelamahaara tradition, a revered institution deeply rooted in Sri Lankan culture. This tradition encompassed a holistic approach to healthcare, blending the realms of physical and mental well-being with spiritual wisdom.

Journey to Healing: Where Royalty Found Peace in Neelammhara (නීලම්මහර) Village

The Compassionate Care: The Maharaja’s daughter was welcomed into the serene and spiritually infused atmosphere of Neelammhara Village which is located ten miles away from the Capital city of Colombo. It is a picturesque, calm and serene place, possessed a natural tranquility.
Here, she received compassionate care that extended beyond the confines of conventional medicine. The healing process encompassed meditation, herbal remedies, yoga, and the soothing touch of Ayurvedic treatments. It is a common fact that rural communities in Sri Lanka often have tight knit social network, which can provide valuable social support to individuals who are psychologically disturbed .The healers in my tradition and practitioners were driven by a profound belief in the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit.

A Miraculous Transformation: As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the Maharaja’s daughter began to experience a remarkable transformation. The holistic care, the tranquility of the surroundings, and the spiritual guidance all played a role in her journey towards recovery. The dark clouds of mental illness gradually receded, unveiling the light of hope and healing.

An Invitation to India: A Journey Deferred: The happy Maharaja’s family eventually returned to India, leaving behind an invitation. It was an invitation extended to My Father and his revered guru, Rev. Dr. Dehivala Dhammaloka Thero, and his assistant, Rev. Dehiwala Buddharakkitha. However, due to their busy schedules, this journey was delayed by a year and a half.

A Journey to Remember: Crossing Borders and Bonding Hearts: In the early 1950s, the four travelers set sail to India, their destination being the Mysore state. In an era when communication was a laborious process, each letter from the Maharaja served as a reminder of the invitation. Upon arriving in Danushkody via a cruise, they were greeted with a warm, red-carpet welcome.

Reuniting with Their Patient: A Joyous Reunion: To their delight, they discovered that their former patient was now married and expecting a child. Their hearts swelled with happiness at the sight of her newfound well-being.

A Rare Opportunity: As a token of gratitude, the Maharaja invited them to an elephant orphanage at the end of the five days journey, where they were asked to select two adorable elephant calves. My father’s team was astounded when Maharaja announced that these two elephants were a gift of gratitude to Neelammahara tradition for completely curing his daughter. Probably Maharaja would have known about the my guru’s loving kindness and empathy extended towards entire mankind in this universe including animal.
These young elephants were destined for a remarkable role – they would have the rare privilege of carrying the casket containing the sacred tooth relic.

Legacy of Gratitude, The Gift of Elephants: Overwhelmed with gratitude for the life-changing care provided at Nellammahara, the Mysore Maharaja sought to express his appreciation in a meaningful and symbolic manner. Thus, the decision to gift two magnificent elephants, Nadungamuwe Raja and Nawam Raja. These elephants, revered in Sri Lankan culture, embodied strength, wisdom, and grace.
The gifting of Nadungamuwe Raja and Nawam Raja transcended borders and cultures. It remains a testament to the enduring power of compassion and holistic healing in Sri Lanka .

A Humble Request: Ethical Concerns:
Amidst the jubilation, a humble request was made by my father Dr. D.S.Hettige . He implored that neither the identities of the Maharajas nor their daughter be revealed, out of respect for ethical considerations.

A Timeless Tale: Today, this story remains etched in the hearts of Sri Lankan elephant lovers and those who cherish tales of compassion and gratitude. It serves as a reminder that acts of kindness and healing can forge bonds that transcend time and cultures, leaving an indelible mark on the pages of history and a great reward, respect and tribute to Neelammahara Psychiatry tradition.

The story of Nadungamuwe Raja and Nawam Raja stands as a testament to the boundless potential of compassion and holistic healing. It is a tale of two nations united by gratitude and a belief in the transformative power of care that extends beyond the confines of conventional medicine. In the spirit of this enduring legacy, we are reminded that acts of goodwill and appreciation have the power to transcend time and borders, fostering unity and healing across the world.

Two Iconic Characters :You Might wonder why these two elephants were so sacred among Sri Lankans and why they were call majestic elephants cause Nadungamuwe Raja and Nawam Raja were two famous elephants and called “two majestic elephants” due to their size, strength, and significance in cultural and religious festivals. Nadungamuwe Raja was renowned for being one of the tallest elephants in Asia, and both elephants were prominent participants in Kandy traditional processions and carrying the casket of sacred Tooth Relic , making them iconic and earning them the title “majestic elephants” in Sri Lankan culture.

About my Village (Neelammahara)

Our village was a very small village at that time .Though geographically it is huge there were few families compared to these days, According to my father’s recollection there has been a population about 50 families in a area of 60 hectares .Around 200 people.(According to the village headmen’s statistics there 721 families and 2500 people presently living in my village ). Majority of these people make a living out of taking care of the mentally ill patients handed over to them by the Dr Priest who was the Guru of my father. Because Manasa hospital (නීලම්මහර වේද මැදුර ) didn’t have enough facilities to accommodate much patients at that time .Those family members were paid as long as they looked after the patients .These payments were mostly not by money but by rations and their day today needs. If the patient is really aggressive or hostile towards care takers there were young guys who were ready to take that challenge and look after the patient in a humane way until patient’s insight become normal. I am really fortunate being able associate and share some of their exiting and unforgettable experiences which they faced many years back. Cause some of these heroes are still living and they are in their 90 s .Being heard these unforgettable incidents which these care takers had to gong through many years back is like a psychiatric patient management text book for me .You might wonder how they were able to managed acute psychiatric patients without sedatives or tranquilizers at that time .They were taught some subtle strategies and techniques of managing acute patients, which have been endemic to our tradition. One example being hit by a small cane charmed by a special mantra if the patient is really hostile aggressive and uncontrollable. I am fortunate to witness how my father was using this technique on patient’s .Unbelievable I would use the word surrender and obey rather than sedate


I remember my father and my guru Ayur Dr Indrasena De Alwis ,One of the genius fellow Doctor in our tradition who is more senior than my father, who had an amazing teaching skills and who introduced the theoretical concepts of our tradition to the university of indigenous medicine in 1977 .I started my learning when I was going to Scholl, I was 16 years old then) recollecting their memories during our lectures, about Rev.Dr. Neelammahara Dhammaloka Thero .He was supposed to be a very power full character in every way ,Being a doctor, Socially and politically. Once he received summons from court to give evidence before court of law regarding a patient who escaped from the hospital while being treated and behaved violently at home and damaging neighbor’s property. After Rev, had sent a letter to the judge stating the reasons for enabling him to participate, judge had decided to create a virtual court at our temple premises one day and heard the case and evidence were taken. It was a true story and the whole village aware of that and speaks with dignity. The road which leads to our temple was a small gravel path at that time. It was one power full politician at that time who made that road a tarred road. His son was cured from a mental illness which he had been suffering from,