Department of Sowa Rigpa

Department of Sowa Rigpa, Tibetan Science of Healing, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies was established in 1993 to fulfil the following objectives:

1. To preserve the Tibetan art of healing and promote/contribute better health care of the society.

2. To teach and provide opportunity to study the knowledge of Tibetan Medicine for the younger generation of exiled Tibetan community, trans-Himalayan people and foreign scholars and students who are interested in Tibetan arts of healing.

3. To equip and prosecute further research on ancient Tibetan art of healing in order to upgrade the unique medical system. Sowa Rigpa or the science of healing has a long history in Tibet. It is an indigenous medical system of Tibet. Sowa Rigpa is greatly influenced by religion, culture, way of life and environment. It is mainly based on Bon and Buddhism.

The centuries-old traditional medical system that deals a complex approach to diagnose the illness by examining urine, pulse, tongue and eyes. With the pulse diagnosis it is possible to check the balance of the three basic energies mentioned earlier, as well as the condition of the different organs. The medicines in this tradition are prepared from natural elements, e.g., herbs and minerals. Physical therapies such as massage, acupuncture and moxabustion are practiced to treat illness.

Sowa Rigpa medical system is based upon a combination of the Indian, Persian, Greek, the indigenous Tibetan, and Chinese medical systems. It is widely practiced in Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh and Indian Himalayan regions, China and Mongolia as well as in parts of Europe and North America recently.

Prior to the induction of Buddhism to Tibet, Shenrap Miwoche, the founder of Bon religion taught Bhum-shi, the main medical text, which is studied in some parts of India, Tibet and Nepal. Among the twelve fields of science Phen-Shes-sMen-Ched was considered as the basic text of the science of healing.

After the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet, this medical system embraced the traditional Buddhist beliefs that all the illnesses are the results of the "three poisons" of the mind: ignorance, attachment and hatred. The disease can be the result of the imbalance of these three energies i.e. Wind energy, Bile energy and Phlegm energy.

Wind energy is present in the nervous system, the sensory functions, breathing, digestion, movement and circulation. Wind energy also regulates the mental comfort and stress.

Bile energy controls the regulation of heat in the body, liver function and blood circulation. Phlegm energy regulates the cold energy in the body. It also regulates the fluids, hormones and the lymph system. These three energies are the result of emotions and fundamental attitudes that are conditioned by primordial ignorance. When the basic energies are imbalanced by emotions, seasonal changes, diet or behavior, they can give rise to many different kinds of disease.

After the Bon medical tradition, Tibet saw the emergence of new medical tradition with the visit of two Indian physicians Vijay-gaje and Bimala-gaje in the 4th century, during the reign of the 28th king of Tibet, Lhathothori sNyentsen (374-492) The king invited them to his court. Vijay Gaje was married to the princess Lhacham Yedkyi Rolcha. They had a son called Dung-gi-Thorchogchen. Later he became first Tibetan physician. However, the practice was confined only to the king's court.

During the reign, Songtsen-Gampo the great (617-650) and Trisong-Deu-Tsen ( 742 AD) invited several foreign physicians, Dharma Raj, Hashang Maha Kyinta Santigarbha, Guhevajra, sTong-gSum-Gangva, Hashang-Bal, Hangti-Pata, Hala-shanti, Seng-mDo-Vod-chen Khol-Ma-Ru-Tse, Dharm-Shila from India, China, Persia, Drugu, Dolpo and Nepal respectively. Eventually, the first International conference on Tibetan medicine was held at Samye monastery in the year 728. This conference was participated by Yuthok Yonten Gonpa-I, Drangti-Gyalnye-Kharphuk and many other renowned Tibetan physicians.

The great Rinchen Sangpo (958-1056) translated Astangahrdayam by Vagbhata in to Tibetan.

Yothog Yonten Gonpo-I, went to Konpo and established there the first medical institution called Ta-Na-Dug medical college, which is considered to be first medical school in Tibet. The tradition of conferring different degrees like sMen-Pa-bDus-Ra-Wa, Ka-Chu-Pa, Rab-Jams-Pa, and Bhum-Ram-Pa were also instituted during that period. Many scholars believe and consider that he was the basic architect of the rGyud-Shi.

Yuthog Yonten Gonpo-II (1126-1202) composed rGyud-shi based on the draft of the text of the Yuthok-I of the eighth century, which eventually became the principal text for all Tibetan Medical practitioners, except some ¬Bhum-shi practitioners in India, Tibet and Nepal. Eventually, few new traditions emerged from the 14th century.

In the 17th century, during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama many medical schools like Sorig-Drophen-Ling, Drangsong-Duspai-Ling, Lhawang-Chok school and Sangphu-Nyima-Thang school were established after his enthronement

The Regent Sangye Gyatso (1653-1705) sought to standardize the theory and practice of medicine in conformity with the wishes of the fifth Dalai Lama, and established the Chogpori College of Medicine on the Iron Hill adjacent to the Potala Palace. He composed a number of medical works including a famous commentary on the rGyud-shi called Vaidur-sNyonpo and executed 79 Medical paintings.

During the thirteeth Dalai Lama, (1895-1933) a new college of medicine and astrology called sMen-Tsee-Khang was established in Lhasa in the year 1916. At present this institute is one of the premier medical institutions in Tibet and China.

At present there are quite a few Sowa Rigpa Tibetan Medical Institutes functioning in modern Tibet and India. These institutes are devoting their energy to preserve this unique healing system for the benefit of mankind.

Research Projects
1. Effect of Bhot herbal compound on abdominal disorder, Management of hepatitis and liver disorders. Research on Diabetes Mellitus.
2. Women's Health, jointly with Dr. Lesie R.Jaffe,USA and Dr. Tsering Youdon, BTMS.
3. "Comparative study on rGyud-shi.
4. Drug standardization (Tibetan Medicine).
5. EDMG Project: A project to protect the medicinal herbs found in the Himalayan region on 16,000 ft above sea level in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, at a space of 5.47 acres.

Scholarly Assistance
Department faculties are engaged with the exchange programs and lecture series to the national and international Universities such as Emory University USA, Tasminia University Australia, Smith College USA, Wankong Digital University South Korea etc.

1. Clinic, contributes to the better health of the society and facilitate the students for practical course.

2. Pharmacy: Pathology Lab: The objective to establish the lab is to make the students familiar with the modern medical technology.

3. Medicinal Herbal Garden: A herbal garden called Kalachakra Medicinal Garden has been established to grow medicinal herbs for practical purposes as well as to study the possibility of planting more herbs in this environment. More than a hundred variety of herbs has been planted in this garden. It is also the aim that the students may be taught to identify the herbs, their characteristics and places where they could be found in India.

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