A Brief History of Men-Tsee-Khang College
Men-Tsee-Khang Sowa-Rigpa College and Hospital at Tibetan Medical & Astro. Institute of H.H. the Dalai Lama based in Dharamsala was founded on 2nd June 1961 under the visionary guidance of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The institute initially started with a doctor and an astrologer with ten students on two separate campuses in Dharamsala called Chopra House and Glenmore Cottage. Dr. Yeshi Dhonden and Ven. Dukhorwa Lodoe Gyatso were the forerunners of Medicine and Astro-Science Schools. In 1967, the two schools were merged together as Men-Tsee-Khang, Tibetan Medical & Astro. Institute in Mcleod Ganj and shifted to the present location in 1982 where the headquarters of the institutes operates. It is a pioneering Sowa-Rigpa College in India that basically offers Graduate Courses on Tibetan Medicine (Menpa Kachupa – BSRMS i.e. Bachelor of Sowa-Rigpa Medicine and Surgery) and Tibetan Astro-Science (Tseepa Kachupa). Since the inception of the college till date, 19 medical batches totaling 366 medical practitioners (333 Tibetans, 22 Indian citizens of the Himalayan region, and 11 foreign nationals) have graduated. Sowa-Rigpa medical practitioners are registered under CCIM, the Ministry of Ayush, and the Government of India. They are actively serving at the main institute in Dharamsala and its 60 branch clinics scattered all over India and Nepal, of which 11 are in the state of Himachal Pradesh, our home for the last 60 years.
Aims and objectives
The main aim and objective of the College is to preserve and promote the rich and valuable ancient system of Sowa-Rigpa and Astro-Science for the benefit of the whole humanity. At Men-Tsee-Khang Sowa-Rigpa College, traditional methods of inculcating knowledge through memorization of the root texts, the introduction of medicinal herbs grown in their natural habitats and dry medicinal substances, medicinal compounding techniques and so forth goes hand in hand with the adoption of the latest pedagogic methods of modern science and technology. Moreover, to further advance and widen the medical knowledge of students to complement in their understanding of Tibetan Medicine, the students also learn the basics of Modern Bio-Medical Science from our regular faculty member of the subject with a set syllabus. In addition, the Medical experts of different medical fields at Emory University School of Medicine, USA have been visiting our college since 2013 to teach our students for two weeks every summer on different bio-medical subjects like anatomy, pathophysiology, psychiatry, pharmacology, diagnostic methods, and so forth. Our medical students also attend a weeklong program to observe the complete regional anatomy practical, physiology practical, and observation of pathology and anatomy museum, etc. at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College at Tanda. They also avail essential clinical observation sessions at Tibetan Delek hospital – our collaborative local allopathic practice in the vicinity of Men-Tsee-Khang. Moreover, the students also study basics of the Botany and pharmacognostic studies.
Sowa-Rigpa and Tibetan Astro-Science enjoy a deep relationship with Tibetan Buddhism and in particular, the six qualities of physicians mentioned in the Tibetan Medical text is very much a subscription from Tibetan Buddhism. As knowledge and understanding of Tibetan Buddhism is very important, we have a regular faculty of Buddhist Philosophy. Nonetheless, we have been inviting Tibetan Buddhist scholars at regular intervals to teach and educate our students on the related subject. In particular, our college has been carrying ‘Yuthok Nyingthik’ ritual practice introduced by the then chant master of Chagpori Medical College, Venerable Dr. Tenzin Palchok (late) on either the 10th or 25th lunar day of each month to prosper and flourish the practice of these two traditions. Similarly, efforts are made to have all our students blessed with ‘Yuthok Nyingthik’ initiation from highly revered Buddhist Masters such as Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche (late), Kyabje Ganor Rinpoche, Kyabje Tai Situ Rinpoche, and so forth. In short, Men-Tsee-Khang College is an advanced learning center of Tibetan Medicine and Tibetan Astro-Science where traditional and modern teaching techniques are beautifully interwoven and it can be proudly said that the students studying at our college are eligible graduates of Tibetan Schools in terms of both academic and moral aspects.