Aims and Objectives
The cardinal aim of this department is to preserve our ancient knowledge of Tibetan Medicine and Astrology as well as to make the wisdom available to interested enthusiasts by compiling an extensive collection of literary resources and by translating important texts on these two systems into English and other languages.
In an attempt to do analytical research on seminal texts and various commentaries, deep study is done on the research papers dealing with comparative study on the principles, terminologies, styles, expression, etc. Differences seen between various commentaries are studied keenly and put to the notice of the public. Answers and clarifications are provided, when required, to various articles posted by foreign sources on Tibetan Medicine and Astrology, so that the authenticity and the originality of these ancient sciences are maintained intact.
Compilation of Old Manuscripts
Repeated attempts with an extensive excursion was done to procure old manuscript from various sources such as monasteries and libraries, which has Buddhist influences, around the countries to restore ancient manuscripts and also to preserve those which are in the danger of going untraceable. Individuals who are known to possess rare manuscript are requested to bring them in for this noble cause. Apart from it, attempts are also made to explore and gather information about all texts that has been published till date. Archives of synopsis and other publication details are carefully catalogued on the literary pieces that have been successfully gathered. Investigation is done to trace the whereabouts of some important texts which are not available in our time.
Documentation of Articles
Any pieces of work on Tibetan Medicine and Astrology, which appears in any form such as journals, periodicals, magazines, online articles, advertisement, seminaries and interview excerpts, are closely watched and documented. The blending of traditional Tibetan practitioners with modern education gives an opportunity to interpret and compare traditional Tibetan sciences in parallel with other traditions as well. This pursuit helps to find a norm on the usage of terms so that a certain level of standardization could be achieved.
Revival and Preservation of Rituals
There are many rituals which are considered very important in the practice of Tibetan Medicine and Astrology. To better understand the purpose of such traditions and the lineages of various rituals, a serious study of gathering information and going deeper analysis into the significance of such practices are made by actively engaging with individuals who possess these traditional instruction and transmissions.
A team of Tibetan doctors who are fully trained in the system of Tibetan Medicine and who also have a good command on the English language are actively engaged on the translation of the 'Gyueshi' (rgyud bzhi) into English language. 'Gyueshi' is the fundamental text of Tibetan Medicine that is believed to be first drafted by the Seniior Yuthok Yonten Gonpo in the 8th century B.C. and later edited in the 12th century by the Junior Yuthok Yonten Gonpo. 'Gyueshi' contains four Tantras which were written through one hundred and fifty-six chapters covering five thousand and nine hundred verses.
The team came out with the first translated work of the first two Tantras 'The Root Tantra and The Explanatory Tantra' in 2008 and it was released on the occasion of 73rd birthday celebration of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama at the main temple in Dharamsala by Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin, the 'Kalon Tripa' chief of the Central Tibetan Administration.
This book was received with much admiration by the enthusiasts of this medical system that one thousand copies of the maiden publication went completely out of stock in a matter of one year and few months. The second revised edition of 'The Root Tantra and The Explanatory Tantra' was published and one thousand copies of it were again made available on 23rd March 2011 during the commemoration of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Men-Tsee-Khang in exile.
The second translated work of this department is the 'The Subsequent Tantra' which is the last Tantra of the 'Gyueshi'. The book was released on 23rd March 2011 by Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin, the 'Kalon Tripa' chief of the Central Tibetan Administration in the presence of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama at main hall of Men-Tsee College on the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Men-Tsee-Khang, Dharamsala. One thousand copies of this translated work were printed.
Translation of the 'The Oral Instruction Tantra' which is the third Tantra of the 'Gyueshi' is still in process and will come out in three volumes. As this part of the 'Gyueshi' deals with multitude of disorders and contains the biggest section, it obviously will take time to wind up the whole task. However, the team is working undeterred with full determination to make it possible and thereby, in a passage of few years, a set of five-volume books of English translated treatise of 'Gyueshi' will see the light of the day.
Along with the translation of 'Gyueshi', the team is also working on the translation of the Tibetan Medical Dictionary titled 'Bodlug Sorig Tshig Zoe Chhenmo' and translation of other documents related with Tibetan Medicine.
Total number of 119 publications has been printed so far by this department, which include large and small sized books in both English and Tibetan languages on seminal texts, commentaries and others. Twenty-five of these are rare and old manuscripts and nineteen are reprints of previously existing publications. There are seven publications in English. So far, seventeen journals have been published. There are twenty-one publications on Tibetan Astrology and the rest of thirty-three are on various topics of Tibetan Medicine and Astrology.
One of these many publications is the 'Gyueshi' (rGyud bshi), the seminal text on Tibetan Medicine. 'Gyueshi' has had the history of numerous printing sources, known as 'Printing Blocks' in ancient times. Scriptures were printed on handmade paper by placing them and tracing the print from the woodblock print. Some of the well-known Tibetan sources are from Narthang, Potala, and Dathang Monastery, established by Surkhar Lodoe Gyalpo in 1564. There is also the Dhege printing block, edited by Tsultrim Rinchen in 1729 and Chakpori or Lhasa Men-Tsee-Khang printing block, edited by Surkhar Nyamnyid Dorji and his disciple Dorje Gyaltsen in 1888, which later was revised by Ugyen Tenzin and Palden Phuntsok in 1892. Other foreign sources include the Khelkha printing block of Mongolia and Peking Syung-chi-see printing in China.
As it is evident from the availability of numerous printing blocks, 'Gyueshi' was subjected to few alterations in spelling and sentence structure when reprinted over the years. Those printing blocks were thoroughly examined and edited with reference to its various commentaries. After making few amendments on some of the skipped words and spelling errors, a completely new accessible, handy and user-friendly book form was published by this department.
The 50th anniversary of Men-Tsee-Khang in exile witnessed the launch of another website on Tibetan Medicine and Astrology - www.mentsee.org - by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on 23rd March 2011. The medium of instruction is in Tibetan and it covers various topics on Tibetan Medicine and Astrology. The main tabs of the website are Homepage, Speeches, History, Principle Treatise, Medicine Formulation, Treatment, Astrology, Articles, News, Photo Gallery, Audio/Video Gallery and Comments. As the various tabs available on the website speak for itself, all efforts are made to share the results of the researches and all other products of this institute through this medium. It aims to facilitate students and researchers to have an easy access to Tibetan Medicine and Astrology, and also to give health advice and astrological guidance to the public.
Various sources like the internet and texts are explored and the materials obtained are archived in both printed and digital forms for the purpose of compilation of old manuscripts, and to revive rare and old texts.
Since independent and diverse use of terminologies of Ayurveda, Unani, Chinese Medicine, Allopathic Medicine and Astrological terms, with reference to Tibetan Medicine and Astrology, is creating an inverse effect on the understanding of traditional Tibetan sciences; a serious work is going on for the standardization of terminology by compiling and performing research on meanings, and coverage of the new terms.
To revive and preserve ritual practices in Tibetan Medicine and Astrology, authentic sources like renowned Lamas of various religious sects were approached. Monasteries and libraries are visited where the ritual objects and manuscripts could be obtained. These rituals include fire offering, medicinal benediction, medical point measurements, religious offerings, religious songs and ritual dances.
Compiling first-rate articles on Tibetan Medicine and Astrology which features in various mediums such as magazines, conferences and websites are done. Maintaining drafts on treatment methodologies by experienced Tibetan physicians, who have carried out the treatments on basis of firsthand clinical experience, backed with a proper theoretical credential is an important work done in this department.
Research work is being done on age-old treatises and authentic new articles by contemporary authors. Programs are developed to present those works to the world by means of printed and digital media through the Mentsee website.
A completely new designed catalogue on the existing treatises on Tibetan Medicine and Astrology from our archive is under the process of publication.
As one can find many commentaries on the pulse examination and urine analysis, two most essential diagnostic methods of Tibetan Medicine, written by many eminent scholars; this department is working hard to compile these commentaries and to make it possible that the students, physicians and researchers of Tibetan Medicine can easily catch hold of them.
There are diverse views on the origin of 'Gyueshi'; some consider it as a teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni while some firmly believe it as a composition by the Senior Yuthok Yonten Gonpo and later edited by the Junior Yuthok Yonten Gonpo. There are also a section who believe that it was translated from Sanskrit text and still others who cling to the view that it was reproduced from 'Bumshi'(an ancient Bon medical scripture believed to have been taught by the Tonpa Sherap Mevoche). In order to establish the actual origin of this important text, this department is presently undertaking a literary research to this effect.
A rich book shop, located within the premises of Men-Tsee-Khang, Dharamsala, is under the supervision of this department and all books published from this institute are put here for sale to the public. The shop also keeps a good stock of all herbal products which are brought out from the Herbal Products Research Department of this institute.