Elder Yuthog Yonten Gonpo
In order to test his knowledge, the King Me-Agtsom summoned him at the age of ten for a debate with the famed Tibetan physician Drangti Gyalnye Kharphug and many others. Yuthog emerged victorious and became supreme among the nine eminent physicians of Tibet.
His clever answers to the visiting scholars, such as Shanti Garba of India and Tongsum Gangwa of China, earned Yuthog a great reputation amongst them, and he was respected by all as an emanation of the medicine Buddha.
He established Tibet's first medical institute called "Tanadug" at Kongpo Manlung in the south in 763 A.D., which no longer exists. He devoted his whole life to the propagation and promotion of Tibetan medical science.
At a young age, he quickly became an extremely good doctor, continuing his studies of medicine with other masters as well. Because of his excellent medical wisdom, he was offered the position of the King’s personal physician; and so became the personal physician of King Gungsong Gungtsan.
My father is in a very bad condition and he needs urgent treatment. You who have such great compassion, you who treat all sentient beings equally, please help my father!”. “Where is your father now?” Dreje asked her.
“He is in that high rock", she pointed to a large rock on the peak of the high mountain.
“That is too far for today, I’ll come tomorrow”. Dreje thought, there isn’t enough time today to climb the high mountain and the large rock. She continued “Don’t worry, you can travel with my scarf” she said and immediately put the scarf on the floor.
When he stepped on the scarf, Dreje found himself already inside of the massive rock.
The seeds hit and wounded me” and the spirit opened his dress and showed his abdomen. Then Dreje said "I can cure you this time, but you’ll have to promise me that you won’t disturb the people’s fields any more”. The spirit said "I will promise you and I won’t do any bad things in the future".
Please come to the bridge tomorrow". The next day Dreje went to the bridge but the girl did not appear. He thought it was unusual as normally, the spirits don’t lie so he decided to wait for a while. Then he saw something being carried by the river and it stopped next to the bridge.
When he went down to see what it was, it was a big bag of turquoise. He knew it was the gift from the spirit girl and took it home.Of course the bag was wet, so he put the big turquoise pieces on the roof of his house to dry.
When some of the local people saw that their doctor’s roof was covered with turquoise, they began to call him doctor of The Turquoise Roof i.e. "Yuthok" (gYuthog). In Tibetan, ‘Yu’ means turquoise and ‘thok’ is roof.
Dreje continued to travel to many Himalayan regions for study and research. During his travels, he met human and non-human sages and learnt countless different ways of healing and about natural medicines.
In the village, he met a young girl who asked him “Are you a doctor?
So he went to their home and checked her father’s condition, where he diagnosed and easily treat his condition. When the patient was cured, they were so happy and appreciative of his help that they offered a lot of gold.
So, he travelled back into the forest where he met the Dakinis and immediately offered them the gold. Interestingly, the main Dakini then announced that they didn’t really need the gold, that in fact, it was a lesson to show Yuthok the value and preciousness of the Dakini’s teachings.
It was important that he should have the correct appreciation of their teachings.
This is the complete medicine and spiritual union practice, which is so rarely received. Dreje was overjoyed to receive all the Medicine Dakini teachings and wanted to transmit and preserve all those important teachings and wisdom in Tibet.
At a young age he was seen to be very talented and learned all medical knowledge from his father, including the theory of the five elements, diagnostic methods, pulse reading and urine analysis, life style and diet, external therapies and methods for wound healing.
This power enabled him to see a patient’s body from head to toe and inside as well, as though they were made of clear glass.
With your guidance I have learnt the general medicine,
I have studied and gained the knowledge,
By the deeper practice, I can see the real illness,
With many patients I have gained the knowledge of practice.
I can accomplish all patient’s wishes,
This is the gratitude of all Rigzins,
Can command the cold and hot imbalances,
To cure without contradiction,
Make diagnosis with pulse reading,
Use remedies that work directly on the imbalance.
Curing the external with moxa and blood letting,
Healing wounds without surgery.
I kindly work with patients without any pride,
Tirelessly working with patients,
Equally cure all patients,
If don’t keep that promise, the Doctor is wrong,
If I pretend and tell lies, the Doctor is wrong,
If lazy and taking alcohol, is wrong Doctor.
Pretending to know things, is wrong Doctor.
Blind cure is wrong Doctor.
Shouting without knowing anything is wrong Doctor.
Give advice without experiences, wrong Doctor.
Mixing hot and cold is wrong Doctor.
Giving wrong cure is wrong Doctor.
Without knowing external therapy, is wrong Doctor.
Contradicting word and practice is wrong Doctor.
If he likes alcohol, then wrong Doctor.
If he likes sin, wrong doctor,
Practice sexual misconduct, then wrong Doctor,
Using wrong speech and causing problems, then wrong Doctor,
Don’t know how to prepare formula, then wrong Doctor,
Knowing right words and meanings, then good Doctor.
Using good antidote, then good Doctor,
Precise practice is good Doctor,
Having supreme compassion is good Doctor.
Dreje Bazar was happy and proud of his son’s knowledge and skills. He prophesised that his son and their family lineage would continue for many generations and that they will develop and spread Tibetan medicine all over Tibet to benefit countless people.
On the 10th day of the Monkey month and in the Monkey year, a very strong light radiated from the east and entered in her heart. Then many medicine Dakinis, protectors and sages came to her and said that the Medicine Buddha would be born soon.
Everyone was very happy. His parents called him Yonten Gonpo meaning the Lord of Knowledge, and they hoped that he would become a great physician with the full knowledge of Traditional Tibetan Medicine, to carry on their family lineage.
Yonten Gonpo was a happy and calm baby and his parent’s found him pleasant and easy to raise. One day, at the age of three, he declared to his mother “I feel pity, compassion.” His mother asked “For whom?”, his reply was “For all patients (who are suffering with illness)”.
On another occasion, he said to his mother “Look into space”. His mother said “Who is there? I can’t see anybody.” Yuthok said “I can see Medicine Buddha, Medicine sages and Medicine Dakinis.” It was then that his mother became aware that Yuthok her son, was receiving visions of Medicine Buddha and other beings.
When she told her husband about her, he knew it was a sign that he should pass on the family lineage teachings to his son. And so, he shared the transmission of the family’s practices with his son. From that time on, Yuthok Gonpo gained a vast knowledge and his medical practice advanced extensively.
Five years later, the King of Mei Ag Tsom invited him to the Samye Palace. There, Yuthok’s medical expertise was tested against many other older Tibetan doctors. Without fault, Yuthok showed his exceptional understanding of Traditional Tibetan Medicine such that the King offered him the position of head doctor.
At the Palace, Yuthok was asked to cure many difficult cases of patients.
A paralysed person came to Yuthok requesting a cure. After checking the patient’s pulse, Yuthok said that what he needed was stretching and he offered to stretch out the patient using the King’s horse.
When the King asked him about the patient’s cure, Yuthok replied "The patient was not moving about and so his muscles were stiff. This was causing breathing problems and paralysis for the patient, so I got the man to stretch his muscles and now his lungs are fine."
In his home town, there was a doctor named Kungyuk.
After performing pulse reading and urine analysis, Yuthok advised that the illness was not dangerous and gave her some powder to inhale. Immediately after inhaling the powder, she sneezed strongly and a peace of rotten radish came out from her vagina. Then Yuthok explained to her about normal sexual behaviour and she was cured completely. After this, Kungyuk) began to believe and respect in Yuthok’s extraordinary skills.
By 15 years of age, the King Trisong Detsan invited Yuthok to his palace to cure his eye problems. When Yuthok went to the King, he explained “There’s a bigger problem here, if you’re not careful, you might develop a toxic growth.”
While he was in Samye, Yuthok visited a famous Ngakmo who was called Tokpai Randrol. She greeted him saying "You are the emanation of the Medicine Buddha. All people who have connection with you will be reborn in the realm of Medicine Buddha." She then asked to know about Yuthok’s spiritual experience. After hearing about his experiences, she was delighted and shared the transmission of the Dakinis practice with Yuthok.
At the age of 20, Yuthok had a long and intensive debate with nine qualified doctors from all over Asia. The Chinese doctor asked him about the history of Tibetan medicine. Yuthok explained that since the period of King Kha Thothori Nyantsan, there had been a strong tradition of Tibetan medicine and it had continued until this time.
Further Studies in Asian Countries
One day, at the age of 25, Yuthok had a vision of a young girl who said "Dr Yuthok, you should go to India." Yuthok decided to do so, even though the King wanted him to remain in Tibet, but Yuthok wanted to visit India to learn more about medicine.
Before his first journey to India, Yuthok went to meet the great Guru Padmasambava, to receive teachings from him, a mantra protection and a medicine protection. On his journey, he met the Nepalese doctor Bhanashilaha who welcomed Yuthok to Nepal. Yuthok stayed with the doctor in Nepal for several months, and in that time, he visited many patients and studied Nepalese Medicines. While there, he met the famous Tibetan translator Berotsana who advised him to study medicine with Chandra Deva.
By the time Yuthok returned to Tibet, he had acquired a great deal of new knowledge as he had studied in India for three years and also spent time in Nepal on the way. Upon his return, the Tibetan King was very happy to see him and welcomed Yuthok. Once home, Yuthok used and applied his new skills on his patients with excellent results.
When Yuthok was 35 years old, a white man came to him in his dreams and said “Yuthok, go to India”. He knew then that this was his second chance to go to India, and so he did. This time in India, he met with 101 Indian physicians and scholars; he studied and exchanged his knowledge with all of them, which greatly deepened his knowledge.
When he returned to Tibet again, he then began to share his knowledge with nine other scholars. His teaching method was to have his students study general medicine during the day and then Dharma teachings at night.
After taking the medicine, the King was completely cured, and was so happy that he offered Yuthok gifts of magnificent pearls and other gemstones. After this success, Yuthok was inspired to offer an extensive teaching on the mercury medicine.
After that, Yuthok travelled to Drak Yerpa to follow a five day retreat in Padmasambava’s ave. During his retreat, he had a vision of Lhamo Dudtsima who told him that his family lineage would continue and, there would be another Yuthok. She also described his disciples and family lineage; past and future.
For this practice, it’s very important to follow primary practices such as Medicine Blessing and Mind Introductions etc., and Yuthok gave these teachings to his disciples, telling them to practice them thoroughly. He gave them permission to spread the teachings to other people n the future.
One day, the Nepalese King was very ill so he invited Yuthok to visit Nepal to cure him. Yuthok journeyed to Nepal with his people where they met with the Nepalese physician Shrisnaha. Yuthok then consulted the King and checked his pulse. He told the King that he had a cold condition. Shrisnaha disagreed, saying his condition was hot, not cold. He suggested the King should avoid these four poisons: sun light is the poison of skin, salt is the poison of bones, alcohol is poison of muscles and sex is the poison of body.
But Yuthok said that if he avoids them completely, he would just become more imbalanced, and he recounted the story of a Yogi who decided to avoid those same four poisons, only to then become very ill. The Bodhisattva Tara came to the Yogi and instructed him to make use of those four poisons, after which the man was cured.
Shrisnaha said “I don’t believe you”, so they consulted a famous Nepalese sage asking him which one of them was right. The sage said Yuthok was right. The King then followed Yuthok’s instructions, and was cured by Yuthok’s treatment. Shrisnaha was surprised by Yuthok’s healing knowledge and decided to commence studying with Yuthok. Later on, after studying successfully with Yuthok, the local people referred to Shrisnaha as the second Yuthok of Nepal.
When Yuthok reached the age of 38, he travelled to India for the third time, staying there for four years. On the way to India however, Yuthok stopped in Nepal for six months, where he received teachings in tantric studies and Dzogchen from Parbahati Mahamudra. Later on, in India, he received a vision of the Medicine Buddha’s pure land and received teachings from him.
When the Hindi master challenged Yuthok to a debate, Yuthok won the debate. When the Hindi master sent a paper horse, Yuthok visualized fire and burned it. At last, the Hindi master transformed himself into a bird and flew away.
But Yuthok transformed into an eagle and chased him. The Hindi master then transformed into a fish, but Yuthok transformed into a fisherman and caught him. Finally, the Hindi master did not know what else to do, so he decided to become a Buddhist.
The King Trisong Detsan offered the place of Kongpo to Yuthok to allow him the opportunity ti develop his medicine project. Kongpo is located in the east of central Tibet and is well known for having a very good climate and natural medicine resources such as wild plants, flowers, minerals and salts as well as many wild animals. Yuthok took up residence in a place called Menlung, which is a small area in Kongpo.
Now 42 years of age, Yuthok entered into a three week retreat in Menlung. On the fifteenth day of his retreat, he saw a great white light and inside the light, there appeared the Medicine Buddha, surrounded by many other Buddhas. In this vision, the Medicine Buddha gave Yuthok further teachings and prophecies.
By the time he reached the age of 50, Yuthok had 300 disciples which he had taught the ‘Four Medical Tantra’ teachings and of most importance, he established a medical school system very similar to what’s currently taught in western universities today.
This system of teaching medicine still exists in Tibet today. Yuthok founded Tanadug Medicine School in Kongpo Menlung, where he had 1,000 disciples. Yuthok also received an invitation from the Chinese King who invited Yuthok to visit China, which he did, curing many sick people including the King himself.
One day, Yuthok was doing a Dudtsi medicine practice and a girl came to him in a vision, advising him to go to Odiyana. Yuthok headed the advice of the vision and went at once. In Odiyana, he met the Great Guru Padmasambava. By that point, the people thought Yuthok must be a Bodhisattva after having travelled three times to India and once to Odiyana.
When they went to check on him, Yuthok knew they’d come to observe him and his body transformed into a rainbow. But when his people couldn’t find him, everyone thought he might have died and his body been carried away.
Marriage of the Rainbow Body Doctor
One night, Yuthok had a vision - a red man came to tell him that he should do a retreat for six months in a specific cave in Amdo. It was difficult to locate the cave but Yuthok eventually found it. It was in the Lachi snow Mountain where he encountered many wild animals; wolves came as close to him as domestic dog or cats.
But Yuthok was kept from any danger due to the care of his protectors. The Lachi Mountain was covered in deep snow, so Yuthok performed Tummo practice for three weeks and all snow melted away around him. He stayed in that cave in meditation for three years and three months.
Finding the cave and doing the retreat was the foretold auspicious sign, which meant Yuthok’s teachings would spread throughout the Amdo region. When he finished the retreat, Yuthok visited his home town of Todlungkyina. The people were so happy to see him, they offered him a lot of food.
Yuthok said "I don’t eat meat and I don't drink alcohol". Here, for the first time, he gave teachings on Gana Puja saying that without the base of a really stable meditation practice, nobody should eat meat or drink alcohol.
Many of his disciples and patients had direct contact with Yuthok and thus asked him many questions, which Yuthok kindly and precisely answered; this ensured everybody was satisfied. Yuthok especially focused on giving advice to his students in their spiritual practices. Later, Yuthok returned to his medicine land Kongpo Menlong and again, all the people from that region were happy to welcome him. Where ever Yuthok travelled, the people were always happy to see him and welcomed him with all their hearts.
When Yuthok went on a long retreat at Yasang Mountain, he had a vision of Rahula who offered him the method and treatment of Rahu provocation. Additionally, Rahu promised that he would always protect Yuthok's teachings.
Then Yuthok travelled to Ngari in West Tibet with 250 people. He treated many people using medicines, mantras, visualizations, etc. In that region, there was a good physician called Thuchen, but he was jealous of Yuthok and he asked one of his disciples to go to Yuthok and quiz him about his knowledge.
So the disciple went to meet Yuthok and asked him many questions, which Yuthok answered willingly and precisely. The disciple was surprised by Yuthok’s wisdom and then decided to follow Yuthok in order to study more.
Yuthok told the disciple "Don’t worry about the black magic, all is illusion and like a dream. If you remember this well, the black magic won’t affect you." But the students wanted to do some protection rituals and so Yuthok taught them how to protect from magic attacks - they were never affected from the attack.
Yuthok also journeyed to China with his disciples on a pilgrimage to Wuthai Mountain, where he studied and researched Chinese herbs and therapies. One day, due to heavy rain and snow, he became lost and no one could find him, however Yuthok had found his way into a cave. In the cave, Yuthok had a vision of Tara who gave him a teaching of Medicine Dharma.
When Yuthok returned back from China, he met a lady who was a Ngakmo who was from Chayul and her name was Damey Mentsun. She said her father has passed away when she was five years of age and he had been a doctor.
Yuthok explained that there were not many women studying Tibetan medicine. He told her that in order to become a good doctor like her father, she would have to study Tibetan medicine well and always keep compassion and wisdom foremost in her life. That is important for all doctors.
She followed Yuthok’s teaching and then asked him for spiritual teaching. Yuthok taught her the medicine Dakini practice which she was to practice every morning to avoid laziness and desire and to have positive intention. She studied and worked very hard and after her long & studious effort, she became the most important lady disciple of Yuthok.
When he returned to his land, he gave the Medicine transmission to his three sons. He then went on a personal meditation retreat and there, he visited Nirvana with his wife Dorje Tsomo; his children and disciples were surprised by his journey to Nirvana.
Through his spiritual practices, Yuthok voyaged to the pure land of the Medicine Buddha and received Medicine and teachings from the Medicine Buddha. He and his wife went to Odiyana where they met Guru Padmasambhava.
It was there where he gave spiritual teachings and offered advice to doctors. Then Yuthok went for a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and on the way, he cured many sick people. He also went to Nepal where he taught and also cured many people.
One day, his student Palden Lhundrub asked Yuthok how many books he had written, Yuthok told him that he’d written about 30 books on Medicine, Astrology and spiritual practices. To this student, he gave a teaching on the Mind according to Rigpai Ralkor Nga.
When Yuthok was 120, he wrote the final medical book called Nyamtig Thongba Dontan and gave his final teaching to his disciples. He told them that he would soon go to the Medicine Buddha’s pure land where he would continue his activities.
Their bodies dissolved into light and rainbows, natural sounds were heard, the earth moved, five coloured lights were seen, a clear sky was experienced and it rained flowers for three months – all these are the signs of the highest realization.