Four Medical Tantras
The Four Medical Tantras (Wyl. rgyud bzhi) were compiled by Yuthok Yönten Gönpo in the ninth century and then rediscovered by Drapa Ngönshé in the eleventh century. They are:
- Root Tantra (rtsa rgyud)
- Explanatory Tantra (bshad rgyud)
- Instructional Tantra (man ngag gi rgyud)
- Subsequent Tantra (phyi ma'i rgyud)
Gyu-shi consists of four tantras, or volumes: the root tantra, explanatory tantra, instructional tantra and the subsequent tantra. The root tantra gives an overall view of the whole treaty; the explanatory tantra describes in detail the human body, discussing embryology, anatomy and physiology; the instructional tantra contains ninety-two chapters which deal with the causes, symptoms and treatment of a variety of diseases, and the subsequent tantra elaborates on diagnosis and pharmacology.
In addition to the four tantras, the treaty has two concluding chapters which summarise its contents. This gives a total of 156 chapters with 5900 verses - and a fully qualified Tibetan doctor has to study them indepth for at least seven years and memorize about forty chapters. Since the times of Youthok Yonten Gonpo the Younger, many renowned scholars have created a number of commentaries, discussing and developing issues which had been codified in Gyu-shi.
At present, a variety of publications are issued and seminars are organised for medical specialists from all over the world with a view to exchanging experiences and perceiving medical issues from various perspectives. In the result, Tibetan physicians not only have at their disposal the immense treasure of traditional knowledge but are also versed in modern approaches to medicine.
- The Quintessence Tantras of Tibetan Medicine, translated by Dr. Barry Clark (Ithaca: Snow Lion 1995)