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Origin Narratives of the Tibetan Medical Tradition

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History, Legend, and Myth

image of Asian Medicine

The three excerpts translated below were selected from two of the earliest sources depicting the origins of medicine in Tibet. Despite their differences in terms of detail, style, and genre, each narrative emphasizes the Buddhist origins of either the Tibetan medical tradition itself, the tradition of canonical Buddhist medicine that was transmitted from India to Tibet, or even the entire field of healing knowledge. Read separately, each narrative promotes a distinct account of the origin and transmission of medical knowledge among mythical, legendary, and historical figures in India and Tibet. Read together, however, these three accounts depict attempts at the reconciliation of several competing narratives that were developing in the medical schools of twelfth- and thirteenth-century Tibet and that continue to affect the representation of the Tibetan medical tradition today.

Affiliations: 1: Coe College


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