Sayantani Deb

Ayush is considered an alternative healthcare system. It is an acronym for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-rigpa and Homoeopathy. The Ministry of Ayush was established on November 9, 2014, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the vision of reviving the profound knowledge of our ancient systems of medicine.

Though Ayurveda, Yoga and Homoeopathy are often heard in various parts of the region, Sowa-Rigpa is still unknown to many.  It is one of the oldest and well documented medical traditions of the world which is primarily practised in Tibet, Magnolia, Bhutan, some parts of China, Nepal and the Himalayan regions of India, including Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

“Sowa-Rigpa consists of two words: Sowa is healing and Rigpa is knowledge. Sowa-rigpa is a knowledge of healing that is linked with the Buddhist traditional medicines,” says Dr Thinley Namgyal, Assistant Professor of the National Institute of Sowa Rigpa, Leh, on the sidelines of the first B2B Conference and Expo on Traditional Medicine under Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) recently held in Guwahati.

Sowa-rigpa is related to Buddhist philosophy and it came from Shakyamuni Buddha. Many Tibetan scholars had also contributed towards the Sowa-Rigpa. “In modern India under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the Sowa Rigpa got a huge boost. The National Institute of Sowa Rigpa, Leh was recently established with the aim to enlighten people about this ancient system of medicine,” he said.

The foundation stone of the institute was laid by Sarbananda Sonowal in September 2022 who believes the institution will also provide a much-needed modern platform for propagating the rich Indian medicinal heritage Sowa-Rigpa through quality research and education.

Benefits of Sowa Rigpa

With the amendment of the Indian Medical Council Act 1970 by the Parliament in 2010, the Sowa Rigpa system of medicine is recognized by the Centre along with the other Indian systems of medicine (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy). There are over 1,000 practitioners of Sowa-Rigpa in India, who mostly reside in the Himalayan regions, with Dharamshala and Ladakh being the main centres.

Speaking about the benefits of Sowa-Rigpa, Thinley says, “It greatly helps in relieving health problems such as acute gastritis, acidity, constipation, loose motions, peptic ulcer rheumatic arthritis etc. Besides, it helps in dealing with various gynaecological, and psychological issues.”

“The younger generation is taking more interest in traditional medicine because nowadays people prefer natural herbs and cures,” he adds.

Namgyal Institute of Tibetology offers a 5-year course in Bachelor of Sowa-Rigpa Medicine and Surgery.

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