Thousands of years ago, Buddha, with his teachings on medicine, laid the foundation for Tibetan medicine. These teachings are later written down in the four tantras, the “Gyu Shi” scriptures.
Adjacent to the Potala palace and named after the hill on which it was built, Chagpori was the first college of Tibetan medicine in Tibet.
It was founded in 1696 in accordance with the wish of the fifth Dalai Lama by his first minister Desi Sangye Gyatso who also wrote important commentaries on the “Gyu Shi”, the basic text of Tibetan medicine, which are still in use as standard works in medical education today, and as a result he is regarded as one of the great forefathers of Tibetan medicine.Chagpori was a monastic college where only monks could be trained as doctors and it focused on spiritual approaches to healing.
Although it enjoyed a high reputation well beyond the borders of Tibet it was eventually completely destroyed during the invasion of 1959, as the Chinese viewed the school as a particular threat because of the strong connection with Buddhism.
Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche re-established the Chagpori tradition by founding the Chagpori Tibetan Medical Institute in Darjeeling in India in 1992. Under his guidence it was extended to include a pharmacy for herbal medicines and several clinics.
Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche was one of the few doctors outside Tibet, who has been educated according to the old Chagpori lineage. He saw it as his goal in life to maintain this unique tradition of Tibetan medicine and regularly came to the West to teach and to treat patients.
Currrently (2005), thirty young doctors have graduated from the institute in Darjeeling while there are twenty students in training, mainly Buddhist nuns, who are able to receive an education only because the students are financially supported by Western sponsors.
With deep sadness we have to inform you that Ven. Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche passed away on the 11th May, 2005. Rinpoche went quietly into a deep meditation in which he remained untill the 15th. The cremation, aswell as the 49th day ceremony took place in Gangtok.
With his passing, not only has one of the last great teachers from the Chagpori lineage left us, but also a great Buddhist teacher who was an example of living compassion. Many dear memories and a gratefulness to have known him so closely will remain with us.
May his wisdom mind continue in us.
With the blessing of Dr. Trogawa Rinpoche she opened her own practice in Amsterdam in 1999, and in 2003 was awarded the Chagpori certificate marking the successful completion of her studies.
Nel de Jong worked as an individual and group therapist from 1975 to1987 when she moved to India for ten years. In 1989, she started to study Tibetan medicine in Dharamsala, at first as the private student of the Tibetan doctor Barry Clark, and then from 1992 she was enrolled in the five-year training of the Chagpori Tibetan Medial Institute, Darjeeling.
This was followed by five years practical training in herb-collecting, medicine-making and working in clinic in India as well as in Amsterdam, according to the Chagpori tradition.
Article for the 25-year Chagpori jubilee magazine, Nov. 2018