Tibetan Engli H Dictionary Of Tibetan Medicine And A Trology Pdf
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How has this form of correlation influenced understandings of physiology and notions of treatment efficacy? Such debates are not new. Tibetans have a history of adopting and creating technical terms from different languages and cultural backgrounds Gaffney A historical and textual study of the creation of Tibetan medical terminology would require a careful comparison of Sanskrit originals and their Tibetan translations, including their commentaries,3 as well as research into medical terminology of the Dunhuang manuscripts and Zhang Zhung medical literature.
Early on in the history of Western scholarship on Tibetan medicine, Obermiller noted that the underlying epistemologies on which the meaning of Tibetan medical terms is based can get lost in a literal translation process, particularly since a strictly philological approach can often fail to include living oral traditions : Literal translation efforts have at times resulted in the adoption of terms that make the meaning of the original medical Tibetan terms ambiguous Obermiller : 16— Nevertheless, literal translations of basic medical terms, such as chinpa for liver, are common and accurate, even though the understanding of the physiology and function of the organ might differ significantly between biomedicine and Tibetan medicine.
Nevertheless, since there is no uniform agreement on how to translate these terms, authors are continuously challenged to address the issue and justify the position they take. Despite some early Greek influences on Tibetan medicine Beckwith ,6 these translations remain eurocentric because they miss the polysemous meaning of the terms.
Tokar, a Western practitioner of Tibetan medicine practising in New York, argues that Tibetan medical key concepts should be left in their original language and understanding supported by detailed definitions of these terms. The next section discusses how the complex nature of certain Tibetan medical concepts and practices has inspired amchi to use and translate biomedical terms into Tibetan. Translation Issues in Lhasa and Dharamsala Despite their advocacy for using Tibetan terms, doctors of Tibetan medicine have also shown a tendency to find biomedical equivalents for them.
This is partly a result of contemporary Tibetan medical practitioners being increasingly exposed to patients of diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds e. Most of these patients have a lay understanding of the biomedical concepts of anatomy, physiology, diagnosis and treatment. It is often the fact that patients use both Tibetan and biomedicine that necessitates discussions among amchi, and with their patients, about Tibetan medical terminology.
Translations are not only a matter of vagueness versus accuracy but are embedded in larger political and economic structures. In Indian Men-Tsee-Khang clinics, such records are not a standard requirement but are collected by amchi who are interested in providing biomedical proof for the effectiveness of Tibetan drugs.
In the following, I briefly look at published ethnographic examples from Lhasa Adams and Dharamsala Prost b that highlight some of these translation dynamics. Prost presents views from Tibetan doctors in Dharamsala, who are confronted with the choice of either conforming to the requirements of standard biomedical terminology used in clinical trials or retaining Tibetan terms and expressing confidence in their own medical system, which is enjoying a growing popularity in India and abroad Prost b: However, the process of translating medical terms is not straightforward and needs a careful nuanced approach.
I would agree with Prost that there is certainly a striking difference between the way translations are carried out in Dharamsala and Lhasa, but this apparent distinction should not lead to premature generalizations on either side. There are, in fact, important differences in how these translation processes play out among patients and physicians and even among the community of medical practitioners themselves.
There is scope for more valuable research here, and I only introduce two examples from existing publications to sketch the landscape.
Adams shows that among Tibetan medical practitioners at the Lhasa Mentsikhang, the views on translating and interpreting certain anatomical structures differ sharply. She illustrates this point by citing the example of how the three invisible channels, tsasum, are translated. In India, the range of translation methods that are found in recent Tibetan medical literature e. For legal reasons, some Men-Tsee-Khang amchi have been stressing the differences between Tibetan and biomedical equivalents of certain diseases, such as diabetes, something that has not been adopted by the general lay patient population, which continues to use Tibetan or biomedical terms without much differentiation Prost b: In sum, processes of translation between biomedicine and Tibetan medicine are marked by ongoing negotiations between conservative and progressive elements, which are linked to wider political and religious agendas.
The involvement of religiously trained monks in such translation projects has given the translation of Tibetan scientific vocabulary in India more of a religious grounding. Tibetan medical terms are derived from terminology connected to diet, behaviour, the environment, astrology, philosophy and medical history. These terms often overlap in their meaning with technical terms from anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, therapy and pharmacology see, for example, Drungtso and Drungtso .
That there are different interpretations of medical terms in texts and in practice is a characteristic of Asian scholarly medical traditions Hsu Apart from the polysemy of many medical terms, the character of the Tibetan language itself has influenced ways of translating and creating medical terms. The Tibetan language is monosyllabic in nature, and meaning is basically syllabic.
In the past, this language characteristic enabled Tibetan and Indian translators to form entirely new compound words as equivalents for Sanskrit medical terms. Today, it offers possibilities to create new words for biomedical terms in the Tibetan language. However, it also makes translations of Tibetan medical works into other languages extremely difficult: a sentence in which the meanings of all monosyllables are known may not make any sense at all if the technical meanings of the compounds are not identified.
Any deeper textual analysis would require a careful comparison with Sanskrit Ayurvedic terminology, or even earlier works from Dunhuang, and for these texts to be contextualized within medical practice of that time.
Since the s, Tibetan medicine has been exposed to an increasingly globalized interest. Nowadays, Tibetan physicians often teach and treat patients abroad. While for Tibetan Buddhist studies, there are schools for translators and various dictionaries for specific Buddhist terminology, Tibetan medicine still lacks adequate publications of translations of key medical literature,8 although by now some useful Tibetan-English medical dictionaries have appeared for example, Drungtso and Drungtso .
In the global encounters between Tibetan amchi and biomedical practitioners and patients, the recurring problem for amchi is to find adequate explanations or equivalents for Tibetan medical terms in order to communicate with non-Tibetan speaking patients, students or biomedical colleagues.
Attempts have been made by Tibetan scholars and Tibetan medical practitioners to address these problems by enlarging the corpus of Tibetan medical terminology in various ways. In the following, I sketch a few of these attempts. The labels use Tibetan terms for all major blood vessels, organs, bones and muscles. The subtle channels, as well as the organ systems which relate to vulnerable points, such as the ones depicted on one of the seventeenth-century medical paintings, do not appear here see Parfionovitch et al.
The monosyllabic nature of the Tibetan language makes the creation of these new medical terms quite simple. However, the debates surrounding these anatomical perceptions are more complex, as outlined above. The anatomical sketches by Wangdu are similar to the plates published in Lhasa in in the medical book The New Dawn Sowa Rigpa Compendium Gso rig snying bsdus skya rengs gsar pa ,9 see discussion by Prost b: — Both works reflect approaches taken in the TAR to introduce the biomedical anatomical gaze to the Tibetanmedical curriculum.
However, Tibetan doctors in Indian exile have developed a different strategy to deal with biomedical terms. This analysis is partly based on the published proceedings of a Men-Tsee-Khang conference on clinical research on cancer and diabetes in Tibetan medicine Men-Tsee-Khang ; cf. To understand which methods of correlation, translation or transliteration are available to amchi and to come to an understanding of how they impact on medical dialogue, I outline two methods used in these conference proceedings.
The biomedical term is linked to a Tibetan term, but is not reduced to an equivalent. This allows the Tibetan term to retain a definition in its own right.
Inserting biomedical terms into the Tibetan text without transcribing or translating them into Tibetan requires the amchi to be bilingual. The visual image of the text already clearly separates biomedical from Tibetan medical terms and the two medical systems are standing apart, although the biomedical terms are then explained in Tibetan. Interestingly, the publication is not consistent in applying the methods it introduces. Some of the terms appear in their Tibetan transcription only, while others also have the Tibetan equivalents.
It remains unclear if these are individual choices by the various contributors and if so, what these choices are based on. In sum, the published papers do not present a uniform system of translation of biomedical terms.
A further detailed analysis of this work, combined with ethnographic research, might reveal some of the reasons underlying these ambivalences.
I wish to point out with the above examples that correlating biomedical terms with Tibetan terms is not a straightforward issue. The following ethnographic account will elucidate my point in more detail. My research was located in the urban centres of Kalimpong and Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Indian state of West Bengal, a region with which I had been familiar since Several thousand Tibetans live in Kalimpong and Darjeeling.
Locally called Bhutias, they arrived during the Tibet trade along the Kalimpong—Lhasa trade route, which was closed in Others are post refugees or recent newcomers. Both towns have a Men-Tsee-Khang branch clinic with mostly Dharamsala trained amchi working on a rotational basis. Students there use the same textbooks and mainly follow the Men-Tsee- Khang curriculum and sit for their final examinations at Men-Tsee-Khang in Dharamsala.
They differ, however, in terms of their approach to practice. In spring , the amchi working at the clinic of the Chakpori Medical Institute in Darjeeling told me that he does not send his patients for biomedical blood tests, nor does he measure the blood pressure of patients. Instead, he focuses on classical Tibetan diagnosis, such as pulse and urine analysis.
He does not look at the biomedical reports that his patients frequently bring along for consultations, but refers them to a biomedical doctor. He explained that the Tibetan system is exclusive and cannot be mixed with biomedicine.
Such medical exclusiveness is unusual in the Darjeeling Hills, home to multiple Indian and Nepali ethnic groups. Amchi Jamyang was born in Nepal. He was working at the Kalimpong Men-Tsee-Khang branch clinic at the time of my fieldwork and we developed a fruitful working relationship over the course of many visits.
We also kept in touch through e-mail and phone after he was transferred to Jaigon at the India-Bhutan border. While there are various reasons why people use Tibetan medicine, Amchi Jamyang and other amchi I met were used to treating patients with severe cases in which biomedicine had failed.
Thus, it was not unusual for patients to walk into his consultation room with their biomedical reports, X-ray images, ECGs and blood test results. According to Amchi Jamyang, this happened especially in Indian urban areas he worked in the Indian cities Bangalore and Siliguri before coming to Kalimpong. The Men-Tsee-Khang teacher at the time was a Tibetan biomedical practitioner who was able to explain biomedical concepts to the students in Tibetan. Amchi Jamyang also kept a few biomedical books in English in his clinic and studied biochemistry and physiology.
In addition, he had a sphygmomanometer on his desk and regularly checked the blood pressure of his patients during consultations. Tibetan pulse diagnosis was the most important diagnostic technique for Amchi Jamyang, and he prescribed only Tibetan medicines. Due to his special interest in astrology, he also consulted the Tibetan calendar to select an auspicious date for special treatments, such as moxibustion.
He referred Tibetan Buddhist patients to the nearby monastery when he felt a divination and ritual treatment were necessary. Nevertheless, Amchi Jamyang often sent patients for blood tests, which provided him with easier and clearer parameters with which to test the effect of Tibetan medicines.
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A historical and textual study of the creation of Tibetan medical terminology In sum, processes of translation between biomedicine and Tibetan medicine are 'Ways of Studying Tibetan Medical Literature', Tibetan Medicine Series 3–
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NCBI Bookshelf. Hofer T. Phonetic spelling is followed, in parentheses, by the Wylie transliteration. Democratic Reforms; a series of reforms implemented in central Tibet after the Dalai Lama escaped to India, crucially including the redistribution of land, which began in Tsang in Institute of Medicine and Astrology; the original building of this institution is in Lhasa dating to ; Men-Tsee-Khang is the roman spelling of the foundation in Dharamsala, North India; used in general for Tibetan medicine hospitals in Tibet.
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