Himalayan region medical system
Himalayan region medical system goes well beyond the notion of medicine in the narrow western sense. It forms a part of their culture and tradition, in which "Buddhism" is the prevailing influence. Health and spirituality are inseparable and together they reveal the true origin of any sickness. The art of healing is, therefore, a dimension of the sacred life style of Bhutanese people. The system of medicine used in Bhutan is known as "Sowa Rigpa". Today, this medical system is practiced in many countries, but owing to its origin and development in ancient Tibet, it is, currently, known throughout the world as Tibetan Medicine. It is believed that at the beginning of time, the art of healing was a prerogative of the Gods, and it was not until "Kashiraja Dewadas", an ancient Indian king, went to heaven to learn medicine from them, that it could be offered to man as a means to fight suffering. He taught his progeny the principles and the practice of healing, and this knowledge was spread and perpetuated as an oral tradition until Lord Buddha appeared and gave specific written teachings on medicine. These were recorded in Sanskrit and became part of early Buddhist sacred writings. When Buddhism was first brought into Tibet in the 8th century by Guru Rimpoche, some of these medicinal texts were translated into Tibetan language and enlightened rulers of that country became interested in the subject. They started promoting the development of the art of healing by organising meetings on medicine to which they invited healers not only from the whole of Tibet and surrounding Himalayan countries, but also from China, India and the Muslim world. It is reported that at these conferences all the different systems were examined and the best practices adopted and incorporated into the newly born Sowa Rigpa, which was then handed down from one generation to the next. This tradition was further enriched by the contribution of great Tibetan doctors, including Gyuthog "The Elder," in the 8th century, and one of his descendents, Gyuthog "the younger", who lived in the 11th century. The later made a notable contribution in spreading the celebrated Gyu-shi or "Four Medical Tantras" and its commentary, the "Vaidurya Ngonpo". The four medical tantras, which were originally Sanskrit texts dating perhaps from the 4th century, are unanimously considered to be the basic work of Tibetan medicine. It was under the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama that the Chagpori medical school, soon to become a famous centre of healing, was found at Lhasa.