The article presents one Tibetan doctor's perceptions of practicing Tibetan medicine in various different national contexts. In each context we find a localized form of Tibetan medicine that in various ways is subject to the transformative forces of modernity and scientization. His story catalogues the historical changes that have occurred in Tibetan medicine in last forty years from the perspective of a medical practitioner who has experienced them directly. These changes have presented strong challenges to its theoretical and practical basis and to the social organization of the tradition. The article assesses the extent to which Tibetan medicine can still be said to be a unified field of knowledge and practice.
Diversity in Unity: The Changing Forms of Tibetan Medicine
Colin Millard studied social anthropology and wrote his PhD thesis on learning processes in a Tibetan medical school. In recent years he has carried out extensive fieldwork in Nepal, India, and Tibet on Tibetan medicine, Bon medicine, and the healing rituals of Bon nagpa householder priests. His main research interests are medical anthropology, the anthropology of ritual and religion, Asian medicine, Tibetan medicine, Tibetan society and culture, Bon religion and culture, ethnobotany, and the anthropology of South Asia and Himalaya. He is currently an honorary research fellow at Cardiff University and senior research associate in the School for Social and Political Science at Edinburgh University.
Lobsang Sokstang is a senior practitioner of Tibetan medicine. He began his training as a child in his village in East Tibet and then with his uncle in Lhasa. Following this he gained degrees in Tibetan medicine from Lhasa University in Tibet and Dharamsala Men-Tsee-Khang in India. He has extensive experience of Tibetan medical practice in Tibet and India. In 2000 he was awarded the menrampa title in Dharamsala, an award equivalent to a professorship in Tibetan medicine. In 2001 he moved to the United Kingdom, where he runs clinics of Tibetan medicine for the Tara Institute of Tibetan Medicine.