By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 12 April 2019
Known for curing cancer, Dr Yeshi Dhonden has stopped seeing patients due to his advancing age and declining health, according to a notice from his clinic.
He stopped practicing from 1 April 2019. The clinic is now open only to existing patients for refilling their prescriptions.
Dr Dhonden, 92, was awarded the Padma Shri award by President of India Ram Nath Kovind in March 2018, for his contributions in the field of medicine through Sowa Rigpa — the traditional Tibetan medicine. Padma Shri is the fourth-highest civilian award in India.
He served as personal physician to the Dalai Lama for about twenty years, from 1963 to 1980. At the same time he was both Director and Principal of Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute (TMAI).
Tibetan medicine has attracted many people from around the world to McLeod Ganj. Dr Dhonden, an icon of Tibetan medicine and practices, was among the most sought-after practitioners.
Born on 15 May 1927 into a peasant family in a popular medical lineage, in Lhokha, south of Mt Kailash, he was sent to a monastery at the age of six. At age 11, he joined the Chakpori Institute of Tibetan Medicine, in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and for nine years studied the four root texts of Tibetan medicine.
When he was 20, he was recognised as the best in his class at the Institute, and was made an honorary doctor to the Dalai Lama. After the Chinese invasion of Tibet he followed the Dalai Lama to India in 1959.
Dr Yeshi Dhonden was appointed Director and Chief Medical Officer when the Dalai Lama started Men-Tsee-Khang in exile in Dharamshala in March 1961. Dr Dhonden served in that capacity till 1966.
He started his own private clinic in McLeod Ganj in 1969. He is best known for curing cancer patients, who have shared their testimonies of the success of his treatment.
On each working day (with Saturdays off), he was seeing 50 patients at his clinic. Patients from all over the world, some with very serious ailments, came to him, and many report miraculous healing.
Following an examination that includes pulse reading, visual diagnosis such as tongue and urine, and getting the history of the patient, the doctor prescribed Tibetan medicines composed of various herbs and occasionally minerals, and provided dietary and lifestyle recommendations for curing the patient.
Dr Yeshi Dhonden has authored three books: Health Through Balance: An Introduction to Tibetan Medicine (1986), Healing from the Source: The Science and Lore of Tibetan Medicine (2000), and The Ambrosia of Heart Tantra (2006).
Minor edits on 26 November 2019.