Om Namo Shivago.....
So begins the Wai Khru, the opening Prayer and Ceremony of Thai Massage.
Traditional Thai Massage is more than just a massage, it is a spiritual and meditative practice with strong roots in Buddhism, and the Wai Khru is an integral part of it. Before starting a massage we give thanks and pay our respects to our ancestral teacher Doctor Shivago and pay hommage to Buddha himself.
Wai Khru translates literally as 'Respect Guru'
The Chant is in Pali, an ancient Indian language, the same which is used in Theravada Buddhist ceremonies. The Wai Khru is not unique to Thai Massage, it is practised throughout Thailand and in all the healing arts and martial arts.
There are many versions of the Prayer, all slightly different but with the same underlying meaning. Below is one of the most common versions, with an English Translation.
FATHER DOCTOR - SHIVAGO KOMARAPAJ
Om Namo/ Shivago/ Silasa/ Ahang/ Karuniko/
Sapa Satanang/ Osatha/ Tipa Mantang/ Papaso/
Surya Jantang/ komalapato/ Paka Sesi/ Wantami/
Bantito/ Sumetaso/ Aroka/ Sumana Omi
Piyo Tewa/ Manus Sanang/ Piyo Proma/ Namut Tamo/
Piyo Naka/ Supan Nanang/ Pinin Siyang/ Nama Mihang/
Namo Puttaya/ Navon Navien/ Nasatit Nasatien/
Ehi Mama/ Navien Nawae/ Napai Tang Vien/
Navien Mahaku/ Ehi Mama/ Piyong Mama
Na A/ Na Wa/ Roka/ Payati/ Vinas Santi
We invite the spirit of our Founder, the Father Doctor Shivago, who comes to us through his saintly life. Please bring to us the knowledge of all nature, that this prayer (mantra) will show us the true medicine of the Universe. In the name of this mantra, we respect your help and pray that through our bodies you will bring wholeness and health to the body of our client.
The Goddess of healing dwells in the heavens high, while mankind stays in the world below.
In the name of the Founder, may the heavens be reflected in the earth below so that this healing medicine may encircle the world.
We pray for the one whom we touch, that he will be happy and that any illness will be released from them.
It is chanted in Traditional Buddhist Style, here is a manuscript of the Prayer
And below is a video of a chanting ceremony at the Old Medicine Hospitial, School of Thai Massage in Thailand.
For Practitioners and Teachers of Thai Massage, the Wai Khru is an important part of the practice. It helps calm the body and the mind, and prepares you for the healing session to come. It creates a respectful and humble environment to work in, whilst reinforcing the work we do through prayer, reflection and meditation. As I said Traditional Thai Massage is so much more than just a massage.
If you want to know more about the Wai Khru, Bob Haddad for Thai Healing Alliance has written a very interesting essay all about it here.