“Man’s greatest obligation is to help people and save humanity.”

67-year-old W. K. Wijeratne from Kasanthota in Godakawela, has been saving lives with a dying art of indigenous healing, for over 44 years. Wijeratne, who kept the tradition alive since his father’s death, is now passing his knowledge on to his son, with the hope of not letting this ancient healing technique vanish from memory.

“After my father passed away, I decided I needed to carry on saving lives, because I saw how many people depended on him. I knew they would be left helpless if someone didn’t continue his work. I also knew that this traditional healing practice was fast disappearing and I wanted to prevent that. I wanted to protect our Sri Lankan heritage and preserve it for the future, and that is why I have been voluntarily practicing this healing method for so long.”

Wijeratne, a qualified Ayurdvedic toxicologist, says that it is his privilege to be able to save people using the knowledge gained from ancient manuscripts. “I take it as my responsibility to save people, because not everyone has the ability to save lives and contribute to society in this manner. For instance, when my patient is a breadwinner of a family and I nurse that person back to health, I don’t just save that life, I save a whole family from falling into hardship.”

As he is an expert in using traditional methods to expel poison from the body, most of Wijeratne’s patients seek his help when they suffer from snake bites, wasp and bee attacks and ailments of the nervous system. “I use age old formulae to nurse them back to health. I forage in the forest for the herbs I need and continue to make the formulae myself.  Most of these formulae are very expensive to make, but I have managed to continue this healing method, even with the economic hardships I face.”

While healing is his passion, Wijeratne earns a living through farming. Extending his social service beyond healing the sick, he has been actively serving as the secretary of the local Farmers’ Association for 24 years. His tireless efforts over the years have contributed immensely to the wellbeing of the farmer community in the area.

His greatest fear is that this traditional healing practice will disappear from the country as people have lost their appreciation for traditional medicine. However, he is determined to carry forward this legacy for as long as he can, saving countless lives, whom he says other medical practitioners would have otherwise pronounced incurable or dead. “I don’t do this for the money. I do this out of compassion for the sake of humanity. Regardless of the obstacles that I may face, I will take this traditional healing method forward into the future.”

As an indigenous healer and a farmer who has dedicated his life to help people, Wijeratne says one should not live a selfish life and should work toward serving the community. “Man’s greatest obligation is to help people and save humanity.”