India, the centre of diverse alternative therapies and systems, houses retreats for the Tibetan science of healing.
Sowa Rigpa, a school of Tibetan medical, astronomical and astrological thoughts, is among the many forms of alternative healing, which is found in India. Owing to geographical proximity and cultural links, the Tibetan culture, whether in form of its handicrafts, food or other things, has found resonance and a solid position in India. Sowa Rigpa, which is referred to as a Tibetan system, is considered to be an ancient science of healing. Still not as popular as Ayurveda and other such traditional medicinal systems, Sowa Rigpa is an alternative therapy that presents itself as a great option.
The ancient Tibetan science of healing, Sowa Rigpa is considered one among the five traditional sciences. The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), India, states, “Gyud-Zi (four tantra), the fundamental text book of this medicine, was first translated and enriched in Tibet with its own folklore and other medical traditions, like Chinese and Persian.” The pulse, iris, tongue as well as physical energies are some of the determinants for a diagnosis under such a system, which is complementary to and compatible with other systems of medicine. Practitioners of Sowa Rigpa refer to changes in diet and lifestyle, with herbal remedies and other therapies as the source for healing of the patient. Considered an art, philosophy as well as science, Sowa Rigpa dates back to ancient times and is being preserved, practiced and propagated by a few institutes in India.
Men-Tsee-Khang, India’s oldest and most established institute for Sowa Rigpa, hopes to preserve, promote and practice Sowa Rigpa. They are also being involved in research and collaboration with scholars and institutes in India and abroad between different healing systems, and are also looking to produce Tibetan medicines in an environmentally sensitive manner. These are the important goals in the development of this ancient healing system. With over 50 clinics across India, this is one institute to visit in the country for a consultation, counselling and a deeper idea of this system of medicine.
Beyond the hills of Little Lhasa
McLeodganj in Dharamsala, in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, is the place of residence for the Dalai Lama, considered the political and spiritual head of the Tibetan Buddhists. It is, thus, no wonder that this place, also nicknamed, ‘Little Lhasa’, is by default the centre of all Tibetan establishments in the country. Tibetan healing centres and physicians are to be found in large numbers in this hill town. Ladakh region, in the northern Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, is another major centre for the practice of Sowa Rigpa. The eastern Indian hill stations of Darjeeling and Kalimpong have also seen the practice of this ancient science.
However, cities across India too are now host to Sowa Rigpa clinics, where physicians await those looking for different ways to tackle a disease. Men Tsee Lhang is located across the country, with centres in cities like New Delhi, the capital of the country, Mumbai, the capital of Western Indian state of Maharashtra, Itanagar, in the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. In cities such as New Delhi, Lhunkhang Tibetan Healing Centre is one such example, located in Majnu Ka Tila area, which is a refugee colony for Tibetans. Tibetan Medical Centre in Bengaluru, the capital of the southern Indian state Karnataka, is also a city-based centre for experimenting with this form of medication.