cure, the Tibetan way
Pulse reading is the key to diagnosis
Sarvesh won accolades for her picture on the Kargil war
it like Bhavani
in the sky
Lavlin Thadani’s next documentary is on
problems of old age
Care and cure, the Tibetan way
Patients from all over the country, and even abroad, are turning to Tibetan medicines, reports Vibhor Mohan from Dharamsala
The Tibetan system of medicine has, over a period of time, become very popular due to its ability to deliver quick results. Patients from across the region wait for their turn in long, serpentine queues at the half-a-dozen Tibetan clinics in Dharamsala. After diagnosis, they continue their treatment by seeking consultation by post or through e-mail. Tibetan practitioners rely on traditional methods of diagnosis to pin-point the cause of the ailment—pulse reading and the examination of the urine sample and the skin. "For us, the pulse is not just a measure of the heart beat, it leads us to the ailing part of the body," says Dr Tsewang Tamdin, Deputy Director of the Men-Tsee-Khang or the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute (TMAI), Dharamsala.. "Our medicines score over allopathic drugs because they do not have side-effects and are not slow acting," he adds.
Therefore, feels Tamdin, it would be wrong to term the Tibetan system as an alternate system of medicine because except for surgery or accident cases, there is a cure for every disease. A seven-year course in Tibetan medicine and astrology is run by the institute. The TMAI has nearly 60 seats in the two batches of medicine it offers and the teaching is purely in Tibetan. Students studying traditional medicine get a five-year Kachupa degree or Bachelor of Tibetan medicine and surgery, while students studying astrological science attain a five-year Tsipa Kachupa degree or Bachelor of Traditional Tibetan astronomy and astrology. The TMAI runs two clinics, one each in Dharamsala and McLeodganj.
Among the private practitioners in McLeodganj, the Dr. Lobsang Dolma Khangkar Memorial Clinic and Dr Yeshi Dhonden’s Tibetan Herbal Clinic draw the maximum patients. Continuing the legacy of Dr Dolma, whose name had once become synonymous with Tibetan treatment, is her daughter, Dr Passang Gyalmo Khangkar. She says most of her patients turn to Tibetan medicines after they fail to get the desired results with allopathic drugs.
"Most Tibetan medicines are made from the same herbs as in ayurveda, the difference lies in the proportion of their use in the formulation. I don’t have anything against the modern sophisticated equipment and seek an X-ray report if there are problems establishing the cause," she says.
In fact, she adds, many of her patients bring reports of their medical tests along with their case history. "From common ailments to lung and liver cancer, the Tibetan system has treatment for all diseases. In fact, the number of Indian and foreign patients outnumber Tibetans at my clinic," she says. Dr Dhondun is known for helping cure chronic diseases. A large number of HIV patients come to him for treatment. "Most of these are drivers from Punjab or as far as Nagaland. Several Indians working as drivers in Dubai are also getting treatment for HIV infections after allopathic drugs proved futile," he says. Dhondun needs a translator but he makes it a point to know the patient’s lifestyle to detect any behavioural disorders as a part of the diagnosis.
"The reason why the Tibetan system has lived on is the fact that it had a cure for even the most recent diseases like dengue, plague and SARS. Allopathic research for some ailments is still in its nascent stage," he says.
Between six to 70 herbs are used in a medicinal formulation and most practitioners have a choice of up to 300 medicines to prescribe from. "The ability of Tibetan medicines to cure all kinds of cancer is unmatched. We even get patients with oral cancer from Gujarat," says Dr Dhondun, who was formerly the Dalai Lama’s private physician.
A cancer patients, on the condition of anonymity, says that doctors at the local government hospital had virtually given up on her. "They asked me to go home and take rest, which meant I didn’t have much time. But thanks to the Tibetan treatment, I have lived a healthy life for five years since then," she says.
Gurdial Singh, a patient of blood cancer from Ferozepore turned to Tibetan medicines after an extended allopathic treatment proved futile. "I hope the herbal medicines work," he says. A day before seeing a Tibetan medical practitioner, a patient needs to have a restricted diet, avoid meat and coffee. He should also sleep on time so that no unwanted indicators are shown in his urine and on the surface of his skin. Although both body and mind are seen as a single unit in the Tibetan system, says Tamdin, the treatment is very specific. "In allopathy, you have only high-grade or low-grade fever. There could be 10 different types of fever as per the Tibetan diagnosis, all affecting different parts of the body. The treatment varies in each case," he says. though the Chinese and ayurvedic systems are based on the same lines, the Tibetan system stands out because it also deals with psychological aspects as well. Along with curing the disease, a Tibetan practitioner would also go into the root cause of the problem," chips in TMAI director Dr Dawa Choedon. "Many Indians come to us with depression due to marital disputes or professional problems, we also provide them counselling," says Tamdin.
As far back as the 4th century, people in Tibet used to apply residual barley from Tibetan beer on swollen parts and knew the benefits of applying hot water in case of indigestion and using melted butter for bleeding.
A qualified Tibetan practitioner is also trained to use astrology in case of doubt. The practice of Tibetan astrology is believed to have begun after the spread of Shri Kalachakra Tantra, which was taught by Lord Buddha at Shri Dhanyakataka in Southern India in 881 BC. The Tibetan astrologers deal with only the external kalachakra tantra, which leads with creation of the universe, its cosmology, the positions of the planets, starts, sun and moon; the five elements and chronological studies.
prize-winning photojournalist, was a typical baniya bahu trapped
in an unhappy marriage. Divya A. profiles
the gutsy woman who reordered her life and now lives on her own terms.
A woman’s remarkable sensibility to capture the extraordinary; her intelligence to seize the opportune moment and her sensitivity to feel the measure of every impression is a true reflection of her inner essence. Gravitating towards vivid, true-to-life colours is Sarvesh, 46, an award-winning photojournalist. After breaking free from the trap of marital abuse, she worked towards finding herself.
Her parents married her off at a tender age of 17, and this baniya girl spent almost a decade behind the invisible bars of a joint family, being subjected to physical and mental abuse by money-mindedhusband and in-laws and blamed for not being able to bear children. As she puts it, "Life was simply hell."
Her parents refused to bail her out; after all, a married daughter is unwanted, no matter what. "I was a typical baniya bahu, my world confined to home and hearth," she recollects, adding, "For 10 years, I put up with it all, I had no alternative." But one day she took a total U-turn and fed up to the core, decided to break free. She took up stitching and knitting orders to support herself. Soon after, she left her husband’s house and took refuge with a women’s organisation, Saheli.
With independence, came achievement. She now exuded a new-found confidence. As fate would have it, a friend introduced her to photography. It was love at first sight. "Once I had the camera in my hand, I never looked back," she fondly remembers. "And the same day, I cropped my hair," she says, ruffling her short hair.
She moved to a rented flat and invested all her earnings and savings into photography. She soon gained fame as a photographer. At present, Sarvesh is counted amongst India’s ace photographers. She has captured the thundering guns of Kargil; the trembling tragedies of Bhuj and Uttarkashi, the rigours of the Himalayan car rally and even pictured the darker side of India during the riots in Sitamarhi and Moradabad.
The national dailies have published hundreds of her news pictures. But her real passion is to feature the shakti of Indian women, be it a hardworking housewife or a glamorous professional. "I have always tried to capture the smile that lights up a woman’s inner power," she quips. Besides, she loves mountaineering, having trekked upto 17,000 feet in the Uttarakhand Himalayas.
Sarvesh has had six solo exhibitions in the past, and a couple of group shows. She even won the award by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for her coverage of the Kargil conflict. She has been awarded by the Hindi academy and honoured by various NGOs. Recently, FujiFilm sponsored her six-day long photo-exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, clubbing her with five other famous female photographers of India.
Now every month, without fail, she packs her rucksack and takes off to a corner of India, revelling in the exhilarating experience of being free and being able to choose her destination.
Write it like Bhavani
Vimla Patil meets the young woman behind the dialogues of Black
The brilliant success of 27-year-old Bhavani Iyer, a total Mumbai product, who has written the riveting screenplay of the mega-successful film Black made by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, needs to be celebrated. People in the film industry are prophesying that Rani Mukherjee will win all the awards for 2005, thanks to the sensitive dialogues written by Bhavani.
"I was born to books and literature," says the enterprising young woman, "My father had books all over the house. I began reading Shakespeare at seven and knew I would be a writer. I tried copy writing but did not like it. I tried editing Stardust but got bored. Then luckily, I met Sanjay Leela Bhansali through a friend and got to write the screenplay of Black. I feel perseverance pays in life. Whatever a woman wants, she can get if she does not give up. I worked relentlessly till I got my chance."
She is proud of Black because the film’s success is a sign that film-goers are ready for a change. It has won appreciation from international audiences. With the mushrooming of multiplexes all over urban India, different categories of viewers are choosing the kind of films they prefer to see. Sex-based, sleaze-filled films, which rake in the money with steamy scenes and exposure of the female body are just a short-term trend, feels Bhavani. In the long run, media efforts can succeed only if they have a wider vision of human progress than merely sexual titillation.
Cinema has a tremendous influence on the masses and therefore can be a powerful platform for spawning positive change, for offering future possibilities and sensitive portrayals of situations and for opening windows in people’s minds. The writer with a spark says, "I want to be known as a powerful screenplay writer now. I am working on other films too."
Pie in the sky
When Lavlin Thadani’s first collection of poems, Moments, hit the stands, Amrita Pritam declared "Lavlin is a poetess of rare sensitivity, I feel she ‘s my soulmate.’ Lavlin has also made a mark as a documentary film-maker. Her latest film You Be The Sky, screened recently at the UN headquarters, revolves around the transformation of the inner self through Vipassana. The protaganist is Kiran Bedi who introduced Vipassana while manning Tihar Jail. Each of Lavlin’s films revolves around the struggles faced by people. Jeet dealt with the entire problem of witch branding in rural India, while in Karvatein she used Amrita Pritam’s storyline to show how one man fools two women. When they realise that they have been taken for a ride, they throw him out of their lives and decide to live together. A well-received docu-drama by Lavlin— Karmawali— was India’s entry at the Cannes. She is now busy trying to reach out to those affected by the tsunami. As she says "It’s not just the financial aspect that the affected are in need of, they ought to comforted emotionally as well. I ‘m starting a series of theatre workshops for the affected children at Pondicherry and also a special website for them". Lavlin’s next project is a documentary focusing on the problem of old age "The biggest problem during old age is that of acute loneliness and its that I’m trying to address."
— Humra Quraishi
Trophy for Phulkari
Balli Bajwa recently returned from an exhibition organised by the Magna Publishing House at the Asiad Village, Delhi. She won the second prize at what is supposed to be the biggest exhibition in India where art meets style. Recipient of the award for ‘The Society Collection-2005’ for her efforts to preserve and promote phulkari, she says, "I am an Army Officer’s wife so I have always been experimenting with ideas. Phulkari attracted me, as it was a dying art and was being commercialised. I decided to help the village artisans and also make it a business. I started in March,1997 and have a good clientele. I have diversified into stoles, lehanga-cholis, suit-lengths, long jackets, kurtis etc. It takes about one and a half month to complete one piece and I have to keep up a circulation of 100-120 pieces per month in winters. In summers, the production goes up to 160-175 as the days are longer and it is comfortable for the workers. I am experimenting with designs in phulkari and am mixing and matching the traditional designs with the market trends. The traditional phulkari had four basic colours – orange, mustard, green and red, I have started using pastel shades too. Besides cotton, I have diversified into tusser and crepe, which is a sell-out.
About the response of the people she says, "It varies from region to region. In Bombay the genuine buyers come on the first day for they want to buy the best pieces. A Parsi lady, in my last exhibition in Mumbai, came and bought seven pieces and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked her what she would do with so many pieces she said she had liked them and thus bought them . She would decide later. In the Northern part, higher sales are recorded during the last days. So, the response varies and one has to be patient for you are promoting a culture, authentic pieces which are handed from one generation to another.’