By Tenzin Sangmo
Amchi Yeshi Dhonden receives Padma Shri from President of India, 2018/file
DHARAMSHALA, April 12: Padma Shri recipient and a former personal physician to the Dalai Lama, Dr. Yeshi Dhonden, has stopped practice from the beginning of this month due to old age and health reason.
Dhonden has gained popularity for his treatment of cancer patients. His small clinic in an alley in McLeod Ganj has served as a source of hope for cancer patients and families for years. He is known to examine patients' urine and medical reports to diagnose.
“Sowa-Rigpa” commonly known as the Tibetan system of medicine is one of the oldest, living and well documented medical tradition of the world. Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa was enlisted as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in November last year.
Assembly of worried families with patients forming long queue outside the clinic in the early hours of the day to secure tokens for consultation is a common sight. It could take anywhere from days to a month to get an appointment.
Dhondhen was conferred the prestigious Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award
by the government of India on the 69th Republic Day for his distinguished service to the public in the form of medicine. “The plan had always been to help others and follow the directions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said of his motivation for being in the profession for all these years.
Dhondhen’s assistant told Phayul today that Dr. Dhonden wanted to stop now as his weakening memory is detrimental to the practice. Patients were informed at the beginning of the year about the impending retirement.
Dr. Yeshi Dhonden was born in Tibet in 1927 and trained under the then physician of the 13th Dalai Lama prior to Tibet’s annexation in 1959 by China. After fleeing to India along with thousands of Tibetan refugees, Dr. Yeshi was one of the founding members of the Men-Tsee-Khang in exile, here in Dharamshala.
He served as the Director of the institute until 1979 after it had been operating successfully in the Tibetan diaspora. Today, the Tibetan medicine is considered as a viable medicine treating thousands around the globe as well as a growing clientele.