Amchi Tsewang Smanla
The Ladakh Yuthog Medicinal clinic is run by Amchi Tsewang Smanla. Tsewang Smanla is from the village of Nurla which is situated eighty-six kilometres west of Leh along the Indus valley. He comes from a family medical lineage which goes back six generations. He started his training with his father when he was very young. He remembers that people in his village would encourage him by calling him "little amchi". His study followed a standard apprenticeship pattern. It involved memorising the main medical text (the Gyushi), teachings on it by his father, and learning about medical practice, and collecting and making medicines through working as his father's assistant. He didn't look upon medicine as a career option; he did it simply because he was following his family tradition. He was examined according to the traditional pattern for amchi in Ladakh. When the teacher considers that the prospective amchi is sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced, an examination is arranged. His exam took place outdoors in the fields in front of his village, where his knowledge of medical theory and practice was publicly assessed by a board of senior amchis.
Along with his father he has studied with numerous prominent Tibetan doctors including, Dr Pasang Yonten, a past principal of the Men Tsee Khang in Dharamasala, Dr Trogawa Rinpoche, the founder of the Chagpori Tibetan Medical Institute in Darjeeling, and other experienced Ladakhi amchi.
Tsewang has also spent many years carrying out activities to support amchi practice in Ladakh. In 1984 Tsewang was appointed as Chief Amchi to coordinate the Amchi support programme of the NGO Leh Nutrition Project (LNP), an organisation set up by Save the Children Fund UK. The amchi program had two aims: first to directly support the provision of health by amchi in Ladakh's remote villages; and second to develop professional capacity building amongst amchi. Tsewang ran the programme between 1984 and 1997 when it was closed by LNP. During this time he implemented a multi-faceted programme to support Ladakhi amchi including twice yearly seminars in Leh and other locations which involved workshops on Tibetan Medicine and instructions by biomedical doctors on a range of topics. A number of officials from other Tibetan medical institutions in India were also present and gave talks on various subjects, these included Trogawa Rinpoche and Pasang Yonten.
Following the end of the LNP amchi support programme, Tsewang continued to support amchi practice through his own organisation The Yuthog Foundation for Tibetan Medicine which he had established in 1982. He has travelled extensively in Europe, particularly Germany, mainly giving seminars and workshops and giving advice to patients.
To see a short video about Tsewang Smanla and Tibetan Medicine (Sowa Rigpa) .... Please click here.