He is personal physician to the XIV Dalai Lama for 17 years now and he works out of the Tibetan Institute of Medicine and Astrology (Men-Tsee- Khang), located in Dharamsala, established in 1961 at the initiative of the Dalai Lama.The genial and gentle Tsewang Tamdin welcomes me and serves steaming hot Loong herbal tea, for ‘calmness and relaxation.’ That’s the thing about Tibetan medicine – it’s about calming down before diagnosis, treatment and dismissal. This ancient healing system – called Bodkyi Sowa Rigpa, the healing science of Tibet – looks at you with its 3,000 year-old-eyes,full of wisdom and compassion, and is in no hurry at all.And the cost? Laughable,compared to practitioners of modern medicine. “We charge minimum, and our medicines, too, are inexpensive and completely herbs-based with absolutely no side effects.” Sounds like a dream. But then how do Tibetan medical practitioners make enough money? The good doctor says,”I don’t feel the compulsion to eat in five-star hotels or to own several properties.Our needs are simple; there is enough to go around. The main aim of Tibetan medicine is healing with the spirit of service and compassion.” The other interesting thing is that Tibetan medicine and astrology are entwined. All students of astrology study a bit of medicine and all students of medicine study a bit of astrology.” This is not about individual horoscopes, but the year-long almanac that guides various aspects of healing from growing herbs, their collection and preparation of medicine to ingesting it.
Position of planetary bodies impact the potency of herbs and their intake,” explains Tsewang Tamdin. Also, there is something called seasonal pulse in Tibetan medicine – according to the four seasons,organs pulsate. All external treatments like massages are also given taking into account the almanac and the seasons.”For example, the Golden Needle therapy that is given on top of the head will be done when the stars are favourable,” he says. Gyueshi is the fundamental text of Tibetan medicine. According to this tradition, malfunctioning of three bio-energies disturbs mind and body. These three (hot and cold disorders) are: Loong, Tripa and Baekan often generated by desire, hatred and delusion. And Tibetan medical practitioners are expected to possess six qualities: intelligence, compassion, commitment, dexterity, diligence and morality. Tibetan medicine treats patients in four stages: behaviour and lifestyle, diet, internal medicine and external therapy.” When we apply external therapy like massage and hydrotherapy, then all these depend on the individual.And we consult the chart made by our astrology department here in Men-Tsee- Khang. It is not about individual horoscope, but sometimes we ask for date and time of birth to enable more targeted treatment.” And what is that famous ‘precious pill’? “It is a multi-component pill which the west may call as multivitamins. But it is very different; it’s a combination of multiple herbs to be taken once on a favourable day, according to your body nature, for prevention and treatment.And simultaneously, one has to avoid pungent foods like garlic and non-vegetarian items. Physical rest is recommended.So it’s a package,not just popping a pill!
(To be Continued)
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