Yuthok Yonten Gonpo

Yuthok Yonten Gonpo

Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the Younger (1126-1202), born in Tibet, learned medicine from his father, and started practicing it when he was only eight years old. He also studied under the nine physicians who were the lineage holders of the medical traditions which had reached that period directly from the 8th century through oral transmission. These physicians were renowned experts in the art of healing (gSowa Rigpa). He traveled to India via Nepal six times to further learn about the Gyud-shi and its related branches of medicine and medical spiritual studies. Details of his travels, of his superhuman powers and of his ability to perform miracles can be found in his biography. He brought many essential medical treatises to Tibet which were the essence of the ocean of Indo-Tibetan medical science. He wrote a number of medical treatises including the rGyadpa-chechungi-snyingpo-bsduspa on Vagbhata’sAstanghrdayaPawoe snyingpo-sduspai mdo-gnaskyi-‘grelpa-mthongwaimelong, ‘Clear mirror commentary‘, on Vagbhata’s ‘Five self clearing pulsology‘, Laglen-podchung, ‘Minor practical book‘, Mengag-shoggril-skorgsum, ‘Three oral transmission bundles‘, rGyudchungwa, ‘Minor tantra’, and Nyamsyig-budonma,‘Practical experience written for sons’.

He is especially revered and loved to this day for having prepared and edited the final version of the Gyud-shi translated as the ‘Four glorious medical Tantras‘, or the ‘king’ or ‘pinnacle’ of medical science, which contains 156 chapters. He wrote two different annotated texts of the Gyud-shi, one with golden ink for his sons, and another one in black ink for his disciples. He also composed the Chalag-bchorgyad, ‘Eighteen supplements‘ of the Gyud-shi and gave it to his heart disciple Sumton Yeshe Zung.

Yuthokpa taught the ‘Yuthok Nyingthik (gYuthog-snyingthig) cycle of teachings in the latter part of his life to physicians and to the patients who wished to gain liberation in one lifetime. He passed on his lineage to his fortunate disciple Sumton Yeshe Zung, who was himself an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. His disciples, the great Sumton and the scholar Bumseng, Yuthok’s own son, passed his teaching lineage of the Four Tantras to other disciples and these teachings are the living tradition of Tibetan Medicine still followed today. Sumton Yeshe Zung held the main medical transmission as well as the Yuthok Nyingthik, the spiritual tantric practice, while Yuthok’s son, Bumseng, continued his father’s tradition at home, holding the seat of the Goshi-rethang house, teaching and spreading the wisdom of the Gyud-shi to his children and disciples. Sumton Yeshe Zung’s lineage became the main holder of Yuthok’s medical and spiritual tradition and, through his efforts, it spread like a banyan tree and pervaded the Tibetan medical system like perfume in sandalwood. Throughout generations, Tibetan people have loved and respected Yuthok for his kindness and they consider him to be an emanation of the Medicine Buddha and the father of Tibetan Medicine.

This medical system has always been and remains a powerful force in Tibetan culture because of its heart concept that medical practice joined with loving kindness is an essential medicine for both the patient and the physician and an important branch of the bodhisattva’s way of life.