Chagpori Tibetan Medical Institute

Chagpori Tibet

Sowa Rigpa
Sowa Rigpa, or the science of healing, has a long history in Tibet. Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the Elder (708-833) and Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the Younger (1126-1202) were both important figures. Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the Younger wrote many books about the Gyu Zhi (Tibetan: rGyud bZhi), or the Four Medical Tantras and he considered spiritual practices, yoga and meditation to be an integral part of medical training. His collected teachings, known as the Yuthok Nyingthig, are studied and practiced today. Later the Janglug and Zurlug (the Northern and the Southern) schools of medicine became influential, but by the seventeenth century the Fifth Dalai Lama became concerned that traditions were declining and he therefore asked his physician and Regent, (Desi) Sangye Gyatso (1653-1705), to establish a Medicine Buddha monastery on the hill called Chagpori, or Iron Mountain, close to the Potala. It was said to be the soul-mountain (bla-ri) of Vajrapani, one of the 'Buddhas of the three families'.

Desi Sangye Gyatso
The Fifth Dalai Lama did not live to see the completion of Chagpori and its opening on 6 May 1696. Desi Sangye Gyatso, who was the most powerful person in Tibet at the time, personally supervised Chagpori, he taught the monks and wrote important commentaries on the Gyu Zhi, which are still standard works of the Tibetan medical curriculum today, and he commissioned a series of 77 medical thangkas to illustrate them, which were painted and kept at the monastery, the first of their kind. He knew and practised both the Zurlug and Janglug medical systems and transmitted them. As a result, he is regarded as one of the great forefathers of Tibetan medicine.