By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 27: The death of the foremost Tibetan traditional doctor, Ven. Yeshi Dhondhen's passing away has attracted mass mourning as people from all walks of life pass on messages of condolence and remembrance in memory of the 92-year-old who passed away on Tuesday here in McLoed Ganj, where he ran his small clinic that became a lifeline for many who had lost all hopes after receiving allopathic medication.
The President of the Central Tibetan Administration Dr. Lobsang Sangay said he was “profoundly sad” about the passing away of the renowned medical practitioner. He said, “May he be reborn soon and continue to serve humanity. I had the privilege of meeting him on several occasions. Dr. Dhonden’s contribution to expanding the reach of Tibetan medicine and extending its benefits to thousands will be long remembered.”
A long time patient Robyn McClintock wrote on Facebook, “I feel very blessed to have known him and received treatment for four years. He saved my life and healed my kidneys. I was able to get off dialysis. Blessed Doctor we send prayers for passing over”. An admirer Cheryl Kumar Templeton wrote, “A great healer, a simple, kind, patient and perfect soul. A man who gave his all to rich and poor alike.”
The nonagenarian passed away at 2:53 am local time on Tuesday morning at his residence with his close aides besides him who said that he was having respiratory problems the day earlier. The cremation will take place on Friday, sources said.
Earlier in April, his aides announced that Dr. Yeshi Dhonden will no longer hold consultation due to old age and health reason, marking an end to decades of treating patients from around the world who come to him as a last resort in many cases.
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 helmed the institute as its first director.
Dhondhen was conferred the prestigious Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honor
by the government of India on the 69th Republic Day for his distinguished service in the field of Sowa Rigpa. “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.
The Tibetan medicine is considered as a viable medicine treating thousands around the globe as well as a growing clientele. “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 2018.