DHARAMSALA, 26 Nov: Padma Shri awardee and former personal physician of the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama has passed away today during the wee hours of the morning at his residence here.
Dr Yeshi Dhonden has reportedly complained of respiratory difficulties yesterday and his family members were at his bedside when he breathed his last at 2:53 am this morning.
The elderly Buddhist monk famous globally for treating cancer patients through traditional Tibetan healing (Sowa Rigpa) treatment turned 92 earlier this year and gave up his medical practice due to old-age health reasons in April.
Men-Tsee-Khang, the premier institute of Tibetan medicine, also known as Sowa Rigpa (the science of healing) has organised a prayer service for the deceased earlier this morning.
While condolences poured in from across the social media platforms from Tibetans and the physician’s patients after the news of his passing away spread like a wildfire, the Health Kalon(minister) of CTA, Choekyong Wangchuk and the Director of Men-Tsee-Khang, Tashi Tsering as well as local Tibetans visited the late Amchi’s (doctor) home to morn and pay their respect.
His cremation will take place at the crematory in McLeod Ganj on Friday morning.
Born on 15 May, 1927 into a peasant family with a long line of medical practitioners in Namro, a village in Lhokha in the Traditional Tibetan province of U-Tsang, he was ordained as a monk at the age of 6. He joined Chakpori Institute of Tibetan Medicine in Lhasa, studied medicine for 9 years and began practising when he was 20.
After fleeing to India after the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, he served as the Director and Chief Medical Officer of Men-Tsee-Khang (Tibetan Medical & Astro Institute) from 1961 to 1966 when the Dalai Lama re-established it here in Dharamsala. Besides, he also served as the personal physician of the Dalai Lama for nearly two decades till 1966.
The nonagenarian, often referred to as Sangye Menlha (Medicine Buddha) for his prowess as a Sowa Rigpa physician, later opened his own clinic at Mcleod Ganj in 1969 and has treated patients with diseases such as AIDS, cancer, Hepatitis, Brain Tumors, Multiple Sclerosis among others.
In 2018, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind conferred India’s fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri of Medicine to Dr Yeshi Dhonden for his contributions to the field of medicine through traditional Tibetan medicine.
He was the second Tibetan to receive the prestigious award from the Indian government after Geshe Ngawang Samten.