Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the Younger, A Great Tibetan Physician

As a three year old child he used to behave as a doctor in the midst of other children: he would feel the pulse and examine the urine, and recognize herbs and minerals used in pharmacology. At the age of eight he began to study Tibetan medicine with his father, and Buddhism, arts and language, etc., with other teachers, becoming exceptionally learned in everything he studied.

One night, when he was fourteen, he dreamt of a deity called Drupa’i Lhamo who came to him dressed in blue and holding a vase filled with nectar. “The Medicine Buddha” she said, “told me to bring you this vase filled with nectar. Please drink the nectar it contains”. When the boy drank the nectar, his body became pure and limpid like crystal. Then she made the following prophecy, “In two years from now, you will encounter the Four Tantras of Medicine. These tantras will enable you to accomplish the benefit of many beings.” Awakening from that dream, he felt extremely happy.
This boy was to become one of the most famous Tibetan doctors and masters, Yuthok Yonten Gonpo. He was born in the village di Goshi Rethang in Western Tibet, on the eighth lunar day of the last summer month of the year 1126. His father was Khyungpo Dorje and his mother Pema Oden.

The day after Yuthok had the dream of the goddess Drupa’i Lhamo, a Geshe called Roton came to him and asked to be treated for a severe case of rheumatism in the legs. Yuthok treated him successfully. Later, Roton went to Central Tibet where he stayed for two years. There he contracted a malignant disease which he tried to cure unsuccessfully with different treatments, and it was only with the help of Upa Dardrak, a renowed doctor from Central Tibet, that he resolved the problem. Roton came to know that Upa had the transmission of the Four Tantras of Medicine and studied all the Four Tantras and their commentaries with him. From Upa he also received the three traditions of the practice of the Medicine Goddess and the permission for the practice of Nochin Shanglon, the special guardian of Tibetan Medicine and doctors. When Roton returned to Western Tibet, he thought that if he transmitted the Four Tantras to Yuthok, Yuthok would be able to preserve and propagate them. Roton and Yuthok discussed the content of the Four Tantras and the medical knowledge not found in them. Roton showed a remarkable knowledge that convinced Yuthok to study the Four Tantras with him. For a while Yuthok kept the knowledge of the Four Tantras to himself and did not teach them to others.

At the age of eighteen he travelled to India for the first time. There, in a place called Kuda’i Ling he met the Dakini Mandarava and received the Cahnglo Nakpo Tantra from her. Then he proceeded to Varanasi where he studied the Eight Branches of Healing, the Somaradza, and other treatises on Medicine. In Ceylon, on the Vulture Peak and in other places of the Indian subcontinent he studied in depth traditional medicine as well as Buddhist philosophy.
He returned to Tibet when he was twenty-one and dedicated himself to clinic work and to teaching medicine to his students. But at the age of thirty-one he had a dream in which, in a state of clarity, the goddess Dutsima advised him to make another trip to India which would be of great importance for his future work for others. He followed the advice he received in his dream. In India, he was tutored by the wisdom Dakini Mandarava, who transmitted to him the Seventy Five Tantras connected to the Eight Branches of Healing. In particular he received an exceptionally profound teaching on the tantric way to realization which was like the heartblood of the dakinis and a prophetic indication concerning the propagation of that teaching. This special teaching later came to be known as Yuthok Nyingthig, The Innermost Essence of Yuthok.

Having returned to Tibet, he became a matchless doctor and master and became renowned as Yuthok Yonten Gonpo or Yuthok “Lord of All Qualities”. He composed The Essence of the Extended and Brief Eight Branches of Healing, the treatise on the Examination of the Pulse, the Three Manuscripts on Medicine, the Small Tantra, the Medical Experience for Students, and two commentaries on the Four Medical Tantras, the Eighteen Supplements to the Four Tantras. He transmitted all his teachings and writings in their entirety to Sumton Yeshe Zung, but his accomplished disciples were very numerous, almost three hundred.
One day he was invited by the governor of Western Tibet. There he taught medicine for four months as well as the Centrist View of Buddhist Philosophy and the Dzogchen or Self-Perfection system. Then he gave a series of empowerments, including the Medicine Buddha, the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities, Hevajra, Vajra Kilaya, the guardian of Medicine, the Sages of Medicine. Those who participated in these teachings and empowerments saw Yuthok in different forms, some as a yogi, some as a sage, some as a great scholar etc., in the midst of rainbows, fragrant perfumes and music. Fresh Arura fruits, golden in color, fell for an hour within the walls of the Governor’s residence. The people rushed to gather the Arura arguing among themselves. Yuthok remarked that if the people had not disturbed the Goddess of Medicine with their greedy attitude, the rain would have brought other special medicines.

When his main disciple, Sumton Yeshe Zung asked Yuthok the meaning of such special signs, Yuthok explained to him that the signs had three meanings: outer, inner and secret. In an external sense they indicated that there was no-one in Tibet and India who could match his knowledge; in an inner sense they showed that he had attained the eight great powers (fast walking etc.,) and; in a secret sense they meant that he was one and the same with the infinite mandalas of all buddhas. In particular these were signs that he was an emanation of the doctor of the Buddha, of Padmasambhava, Ashvagosha, Padampa Sangye, Virupa, the famous doctor Kyebu Mela, and in Tibet of Srongtsen Gampo, Yuthok the elder, and Gampopa.

Throughout all his life he selflessly dedicated himself to others, not only by teaching but also donating the medicines that he prepared to the sick and clothes to the needy.
Once when Yuthok went to pay homage to a self-originated statue of Buddha, from the heart of the statue light resounding with the mantra of the medicine Buddha spread everywhere. At the end the light dissolved in the head of Yuthok. He remained a while absorbed with his gaze lost in contemplation and then called upon his student, Sumton Yeshe Zung and told him, “You have been together with me for twelve years. Now if you have any doubt that has not been resolved please tell me now, I may soon depart for another land.” Sumton was shocked and cried at the thought of his master passing away. “You don’t need to cry, I will live for sometime more. I told you this just for making you aware of the transitory nature of life”. Sumton paid homage to the master and made a symbolic offering of the universe, then asked him the ultimate teaching that would unable him to become a Buddha. In answer,Yuthok taught the guru yoga contained in the Yuthok Nyinthig.

When he reached the age of 76 he summoned all his disciples and gave them teaching and presented them with many gifts. On that occasion he recounted in brief his life story in the following so

Hey! Listen fortunate ones!
Listen well, people of the world,
In particular, you who are gathered here.
Even though you have listened much before
All these were meaningless illusory words,
Today you will listen to what is really meaningful.
Even though you have seen much before
These were just designs of false and deceptive visions,

Today, that which you see will purify the two obscurations.
If you do not know who I am,
I am the emissary of all Buddhas,
I am the refuge of all beings.
All the animate and inanimate world
Is pervaded by my body, voice and mind.

The illusory form of this body
Is of the nature of a host of sacred deities;
Its materiality is intrinsically pure.
And like a rainbow, it cannot be grasped, yet
Like the moon’s reflection on the water, it appears everywhere.

The empty sound of my voice is the song of the echo
Reverberating with the sound of the eighty-four thousand Dharmas,
It manifests as a rain of teaching for those who need to be guided,
And sets all beings on the path that ripens and liberates.

In the clarity and emptiness of my mind, the ineffable authentic state,
Bliss is omnipervasive, arising unceasingly and,
Emptiness and compassion are undifferentiated
Hence, the phenomena created by mind are naturally liberated.

Through the shortest instant of time
In an instant I am a fully awakened Buddha.
In an instant I travel to hundreds of Buddha fields,
In an instant I encounter hundreds of Buddhas,
In an instant I manifest hundreds of emanations
In an instant I guide hundreds of beings
And I accomplish the totalities and masteries.

With a faith that does not know uncertainties
Pray without having any doubt!
Even though the cataract of impure vision
Prevents you from seeing all these qualities of mine,
In the ordinary perception shared by everyone
I am the doctor who, with the medicine of skilful compassion
Cures the inner mental illness of the three emotions,
The outer illness of the three humors, Wind, Bile and Phlegm:
The title “doctor” applies to me.

I explain the Buddhist canon and its commentaries by heart,
With logic I overcome the challenges of fundamentalists,
I issue the banner of victory of the Buddhist doctrine:
The title “scholar” applies to me.

I went to Sri Parvata and
Robbers created obstacles on my way
But with a gaze I paralyzed them all,
The title “siddha” applies to me.

On my way to Oddyiana, flesh eating dakinis
Sent meteorites and lightning to strike me,
I made the threatening gesture and all the dakinis collapsed:
The title “siddha” applies to me.

On my way to Ceylon
The boat fell apart in the midst of the waves,
I flew like a bird and also saved my companions:
The title “siddha” applies to me.

When I went to the Kali forest
The vapour of venomous snakes spread like dark fog,
I meditated on compassion and the fog quickly vanished,
The title “siddha” applies to me.

When I went to Persia
I encountered the army of the Mongols;
So I penetrated the rocky mountains back and forth,
The title “siddha” applies to me.

When I visited Swayambhu
I competed with the Bonpos in magic;
For half a day I remained sitting in space:
The title “siddha” applies to me.

I went from Bodh Gaya to Tibet
Taking only a single day
Carrying a fresh flower as gift:
The title “siddha” applies to me.

At the place of Tshongdu Kormoru in Western Tibet
I prevented the sun from setting and
Caused a rain of Aruras, golden in color, to fall:
The title “siddha” applies to me.

It would be endless to recount all the events of my life.
For one who has gained mind freedom
There are no disturbances caused by earth,
Water, fire and wind, gods and demons etc.,
And by animate and inanimate enemies.
He flies in the sky swifter then birds,
He dives in the waters with nothing to stop him,
He penetrates mountains like a meteorite or lightning.
In the midst of fire he is the fire god.

The beings of the degenerate age are of little merit
And few are those who meet and listen to me.
Those who see, listen, think, touch me and have faith in me
Create the sprout of the spirit of enlightenment,
Purify negativities accumulated throughout eons,
Overcome obstacles and adverse condition of this life,
Liberate themselves, liberate others and liberate both;
And liberate all their followers.

I will connect to happiness even
Those who, harboring negative views, harm me,
Hence, I will lead them from happiness to happiness.
There is no doubt about this.

If you give up your heart and mind to me
Beseech me in a sincere way
Overcome your lack of faith and
Hope in me as a refuge throughout your life
Immediately your two obscurations will diminish.
Upon meeting me in reality, in vision or in dream,
I will reveal the path to the temporal and ultimate goal.

All of you present now and the students to come
My sons, and disciples Remember this!
For the time being my work of training beings in this world is complete;
I will now go to the pure land of the Medicine Buddha.

Then Yuthok gave much advice to his student doctors. Thereafter, much light came from the sky intertwined with a net of rainbows, filling the entire sky. That radiance touched his body and, floating in the sky, he departed to the pure land of the Medicine Buddha, without leaving any mortal remains.

Freely rendered in a concise from: gYu thog gsar rnying gi rnam thar by Dar mo sman rams pa, published by mi rigs dpe skrung khang, 1982, Bejing, China.Thanks Dr Nida Chenagtsang
Dr.Nida Chenagtsang

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