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Tibetan doctor gets Padma Shri – the fourth highest civilian award in India

January 29, 2018

By Shri Puril

Times of India, January 26, 2018 - Nonagenarian Yeshi Dhonden, a Tibetan monk who used to be personal physician to the Dalai Lama, was on Thursday selected for the Padma Shri — the fourth highest civilian award in India.

Ninety-year-old Yeshi Dhonden is foremost expert of Sowa Rigpa, the Tibetan herbal medicine that combines ancient healing systems of India and China.

Dhonden is the backbone of health tourism in Dharamshala. People from across the globe visit his clinic in McLeodganj, just a km from the residence of the Dalai Lama. The Yeshi clinic has been operating for over 48 years.

Dhonden, the founder of Men-Tsee-Khang, or the Tibetan Medical College, treats about 80 patients a day and sometimes they have to wait for over three months to get an appointment for a consultation.

According to Ashwani Bamba, president of McLeodganj Hoteliers' Association, said a large number of people come to McLeodganj only to consult Dhonden. "People come here in routine to meet him. I bet if three flights are coming to Dharamshala, then half of these are booked with his patients or people who want to seek an appointment," he said.

Dhondhen has treated thousands of patients. "He doesn't ask for X-rays or any lab reports. He just checks the pulse and urine of the patient and can tell you the effect of the disease," said Tenzin, one of the staffers at the Yeshi clinic.

Deepak Deewan, who owns a travel agency in McLeodganj, recalled that people earlier used to queue up right from 3 am to get an appointment token.

"Everybody in the town knew that the queue to get a token started from midnight. All patients needed to get a token to be able to meet him for a consultation and these were limited. They used to give about 65 tokens daily," he said.

Lobsang Wangyal, a Tibetan activist and director of the Miss Tibet pageant, said Dhonden perhaps arrived in India the same year as the Dalai Lama. "It is a matter of pride for the whole Tibetan community that he is going to get Padma Shri," he added.

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