What is Rue-si Dat Ton? What is its Origin and History?
[ Rue-si Dat Ton ]
What is Rue-si Dat Ton?
Rue-si Dat Ton is an ancient Thai system of self care developed by hermit/ascetics over the millennia. Although often referred to as ‘Thai Yoga,’ RDT is actually quite different from traditional yoga. This unique practice is comprised of self-stretching, vigorous exercises, self-massage, meditation, mantras, breathing and acupressure techniques. There are approximately 300 techniques (including variations) in this system.
Rue-si means ‘hermit, recluse, or ascetic’ in the Thai language. Dat means ‘to bend, straighten, or flex.’ Ton means ‘one’s self or one’s body.’ Therefore the Thai term Rue-si Dat Ton can be translated as ‘Ascetic Self-Stretching.’ However, there is much more to Rue-si Dat Ton than just stretching.
Ruesi are spiritual teachers who live in natural, secluded places like forests or caves to concentrate, clean their minds, and pursue enlightenment. They are keepers of ancient knowledge of the world passed down through the ages mostly by oral tradition. This wisdom spanned subjects such as natural medicine, alchemy, tantra, astrology, yoga, mathematics, palm reading, music, etc. Countless people have sought help, wisdom, and healing from Ruesi, who held a status similar to the level of which we respect doctors today.
What is the Origin of Rue-si Dat Ton?
Ruesi spend many hours every day sitting cross-legged in meditation. Sitting like this for a long time can cause discomfort and pain. Being in seclusion often meant that they were forced to deal with ailments on their own. So in order to heal themselves and understand the various aspects of their physical, energetic, and psychic bodies – Ruesi experimented on and studied themselves. They developed hundreds of techniques to help alleviate a wide variety of disorders and to achieve & maintain homeostasis. It was through the modification of these techniques by Ruesi so that they could be applied to other people, that Thai Traditional Massage was developed.
RDT is the Foundation of Thai Traditional Massage
Rue-si Dat Ton is the origin of Thai Traditional Massage. Therefore, it should be requisite for anyone who practices Thai Traditional Massage to have a solid foundation (or at the very least a basic understanding) in Rue-si Dat Ton. After all, how can one truly know another, if one does not know oneself? And furthermore, how can one heal another most effectively if one cannot heal oneself? The Rue-si Dat Ton system is a reliable means to understanding the body on a much deeper level.
Rue-si Dat Ton is Therapy for the Therapist
The massage profession is a very physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding one. It can easily take its toll on the therapist if not managed properly. Consequently, a sizable part of massage education focuses on the utilization of proper body mechanics so as to avoid personal injury. Protecting the energy of the therapist in order to avoid burnout is also a major focus point. It is also recommended that massage therapists receive massages regularly themselves and engage in Yoga, Tai Chi, or similar practice in order to maintain their health, fitness, and overall wellbeing. The Rue-si Dat Ton system is a complete solution that addresses all of these issues.
The History of Rue-si Dat Ton
After Establishment of the Chakri Dynasty
The early beginnings of Rue-si Dat Ton is largely unknown and shrouded in mystery. Most of what is known about the history of this ancient practice emerges in the late 18th century, with the coronation of the Thai King Rama I in 1782. He successfully established a new capital in Bangkok after the old capital of Ayutthaya (and much of the knowledge contained within) was destroyed in 1767 by invading Burmese armies. Thus began the Chakri Dynasty which is still reigns in Thailand to this day.
Over the course of ten years (from 1831-1841), five centuries worth of Thai knowledge in various subjects (including Rue-si Dat Ton) was then etched into marble, stone tablets.
Wisdom Etched in Stone
A major goal of King Rama I was to restore and protect Thai culture and wisdom. Therefore, he decreed that all knowledge of ancient Thai arts and sciences should be acquired from all corners of the kingdom and brought to the temple at Wat Pho. Over the course of ten years (from 1831-1841), five centuries worth of Thai knowledge in various subjects (including Rue-si Dat Ton) was then etched into marble tablets. Wat Pho still has a collection of 1,431 inscriptions from that project today which are known as The Epigraphic Archives of Wat Pho.
Rue-si Dat Ton Statues
Another particularly important project included in this initiative was the sculpting of numerous clay statues which portrayed Ruesi performing their techniques. The torch of this responsibility was passed and carried onward by each successive king. For example; in 1836 King Rama III supervised the rebuilding of new Rue-si Dat Ton statues. They were made from a more durable material because the old clay statues were more susceptible to deterioration by the weather. Over eighty statues were created demonstrating various techniques. Unfortunately, in the years following their completion, most of those original statues were lost, stolen, or destroyed.
The Making of a Manuscript
Also commissioned by King Rama III was an 1838 manuscript commonly referred to as “Samut Thai Khao” (currently located at the National Library in Bangkok) which serves as the original source text on Rue-si Dat Ton. This manuscript is a compilation of illustrations and poems detailing the eighty techniques as demonstrated by the original statues at Wat Pho. It’s likely that earlier texts existed but were destroyed along with the old capital of Ayutthaya. If earlier texts exist, they haven’t been uncovered yet or are still unknown to us. Although this text highlights 80 Rue-si Dat Ton techniques, there are nearly 300 (including variations) in the system as we know it today.
Our mission is to seek out and gather all knowledge pertaining to Rue-si Dat Ton from legitimate sources far and wide. We plan to consolidate and refine the information, address the extinction issues stated on our website, and put it into digital form. This ensures not only that it will be preserved, but that its healing wisdom will be accessible around the world. We aim to fulfill the dreams of Kings. We greatly appreciate any and all support in this seemingly impossible quest that has been riddled with complications throughout the centuries. Thank You.
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