First Hospital in the World
Ancient Sinhalese possibly created the first ever concept of a hospital in the world (a public space to medically treat its citizens)! Archaeologist’s have found that once King Pandukabhaya (400 B.C.) fortified the Kingdom of Anuradhapura, he went on to build multiple hospitals and lying-in-medical clinics for the people. Sadly, the remnants of the ancient hospital in Anuradhapura are in ruins. However, the ruins of the Ancient Hospital in Mihintale, built by King Sena II of Sri Lanka (853-887 AD) are still standing if you wanted to visit it.
Several Sinhalese Kings of Ancient Sri Lanka are known to be practitioners of medicine. One such ruler was King Buddhadasa (340–368 AC). He was said to have knowledge in general medicine, surgery, midwifery and veterinary medicine. As stated above, all citizens regardless of caste and creed were allowed to be treated. King Buddhadasa was famous for conducting a surgical operation on a low caste woman in order to deliver her child. Even animals were given care as it is documented that a tumor from a snake’s belly was surgically removed !
The Kings’ creation of the hospitals to care for his subjects are said to have been inspired from Buddha’s teachings of showing compassion to all beings. Its amazing because as kings, they could have used their wealth for their own personal pleasure, but Ancient Sinhalese Kings thought otherwise.