By Tenzin Dharpo
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, flanked by Indian and Tibetan dignitaries, at the 100 years celebration of the TMAI, Tsuglakhang courtyard, March 23, 2016. Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, March 23: The Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama today pointed towards a possible failure on the part of the Central Tibetan Administration's department of health and the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute in providing healthcare to the Tibetan public. “It appears that there has been a significant failure by Health Department and the Tibetan medicine section of the Men-Tse-Khang in tackling issues related to preventive measures in healthcare. While there are many Tibetans in the settlements that are afflicted with various ailments, we engage in pomposity here. It would be 'grand on the outside but shallow inside' if we put on grand proceedings here while there are lagging in our work on the ground. I may yet live for ten or fifteen years more, you all have the responsibilities now,” the Tibetan leader said at the centenary celebrations of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute here.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the patron of the institute, along with Indian and Tibetan dignitaries including Himachal Pradesh Forest Minister Sri Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Ayurveda Minister Sri Karan Singh, Sri Ravi Thakur (MLA), Tibetan PM Lobsang Sangay, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament Penpa Tsering, officials of the Central Tibetan Administration and the general public attended the event at Tsuglakahang courtyard here today.
The centenary of establishing Men-Tsee-Khang in Lhasa on today’s date by the thirteenth Dalai Lama also marks 55 years of re-establishing Men-Tsee-Khang in Dharamshala and the 320 years of establishing the Chagpori Medical College in Lhasa under the tutelage of the current 14th Dalai Lama and his predecessors.
His Holiness, however, said that the Tibetan people’s struggle in all spheres of life in exile has borne result. “Against the overwhelming hardships that we faced in exile, we have poured in together our determined efforts and unified endeavor. It has been almost 57 years and Men-Tsee-Khang is part of that struggle. We have all worked tirelessly and honestly and, often putting the public goal before and the results is considerable,” said His Holiness.
While expounding on the importance of the traditional Tibetan education that includes the sowa-rigpa (traditional Tibetan medicinal science), His Holiness reiterated the importance of not just praying to the masters who wrote the texts but rather study and dwell on the written wisdom of those masters for the furtherance of oneself and the science.
“The Tibetan medicine is truly effective on a wide range of ailments especially those related to preventive diagnosis,” said the 80 year old Tibetan leader. On a lighter note, His Holiness said that his knowledge of Tibetan medicine is at par with that of substandard Tibetan physician as he has consumed considerable amount of pills over the course of his life and is well aware of which medicine to take for different ailments.
The Director of Men-Tsee-Khang Tashi Tsering Phuri said, “It’s a collective effort,” while thanking his staff and students for having made it this far. He said, “We rejoice because we did our best to achieve a level and at the same time we rededicate our services, firmly believing in the noble goal to benefit humanity.”
He recounted what the His Holiness had said when he first reestablished the institute in exile, “His Holiness had said then ‘Right now, Men-Tsee-Khang is very small facing acute problems in terms of money and man power but some thirty, forty years later, Tibetan medicine will speak for itself’.”
As of now, the medicine production unit in Dharamshala is struggling to cater to overwhelming domestic demands from its own 55 operating clinics in India and Nepal. The institute has begun to tread on collaborative ventures with a few Indian states and has projects in the pipeline to bolster export demands abroad. Besides the medicine and treatment of patients from many countries, the institute also boasts of a respectable college that produces doctors trained in the traditional Tibetan medicine.
The journey of the institute in exile had modest beginnings with only one doctor and a few monks. That doctor; formerly a personal physician to His Holiness, Amchi Yeshi Dhondhen, was today felicitated for his contribution to Tibetan medicine and the institute.
The Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute intends to engage in outreach programs in India and abroad in the near future. In keeping with the mission statement to provide accessible health care to the people regardless of caste, creed or color, the staff of the institute have pledged 100 hours of their salaries towards the same.