Jos Buttler will play the opening match in India and then return home, missing the final three Tests.
Archer and Stokes were themselves rested for the current series against Sri Lanka as part of England’s policy of giving all their multi-format players a rest during the post-Christmas winter schedule. Burns also missed the Sri Lanka Tests on paternity leave.
bairstow rested decision for the start of the series leaves England with fewer selection headaches than they might have anticipated.
Zak Crawley has been moved up to open alongside Dom Sibley in Galle, but looks set to move back down to No. 3 – where Bairstow has batted – with Burns back at the top of the order.
England will announce a squad for the final two Tests against India in due course. Jos Buttler is expected to be rested for those matches.
Squad for first two Tests: Joe Root, J Archer, M Ali, J Anderson, Dom Bess, S Broad, Rory Burns, J Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, B Stokes, Olly Stone, C Woakes.
England will also be taking six reserves with them to India to cover for illness or injury, all of whom are currently with the squad in Sri Lanka.
Reserves: James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.
Olly Stone has been retained in the squad to provide Joe Root with a second genuine pace option after Archer.
Bairstow currently averages 69.00 in his two Tests in Sri Lanka, following a matchwinning hundred in his previous appearance in the country on the 2018-19 tour.