Yutuo Nyingma Yonten Gonpo was born in 708 AD into a medical family in Duilung, near Lhasa. His great-grandfather served as the imperial physician of King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, his grandfather served as the imperial physician of Tibetan kings Gongri Gongtsen and Mangsong Mangtsen, and his father served as the imperial physician of Songtsen Gampo.
Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo, born into a family with a long lineage of medical practitioners in Duilung, near Lhasa, made significant contributions to Tibetan medicine and is renowned for his knowledge, humility, and compassion.
His life and accomplishments can be summarized as follows:
Early Education: Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo began learning Tibetan and receiving medical education from his father at a very young age. His family had a strong tradition of serving as imperial physicians to Tibetan kings.
Victory in Debates: At the age of 5, he participated in medical debates and emerged victorious against renowned Tibetan doctors, earning him the position of royal doctor to Prince Trisong Detsen and making him the foremost among the nine famous doctors in Tibet.
Compassion and Ethics: Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo exhibited compassion and noble medical ethics from a young age. He even treated the daughter of a rival doctor who had animosity towards him, demonstrating his commitment to the well-being of patients.
Continued Education: Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo embarked on a journey to India, where he studied under various renowned teachers and mastered a wide range of medical treatises, including those from Indian and Han traditions. He showed humility by seeking knowledge and guidance from these experts.
Return to Tibet: After several years of studying and travelling, he returned to Tibet, where he treated patients and shared his knowledge with disciples, contributing significantly to the development of Tibetan medicine.
Imprisonment and Exile: Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo faced persecution due to the ongoing conflict between Buddhism and Bon religions in Tibet. He was arrested and imprisoned but was later exiled to Luoyu, where he continued to practice medicine and preach Buddhism.
Return to Prominence: Following the death of his persecutor, he was welcomed back to Tibet and received recognition and rewards for his contributions to medicine and Buddhism.
Further Education: He made multiple trips to India to continue his medical studies, learning from eminent teachers and acquiring extensive knowledge in various medical treatises.
Contributions to Tibetan Medicine: Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo compiled the “Four Medical Classics,” a significant medical masterpiece that integrated the knowledge of Tibetan, Indian, and other medical traditions. This work elevated Tibetan medicine and laid the foundation for its development as a distinctive field with theory and practice.
Continued Practice and Teaching: Throughout his life, he practised medicine, treated patients, and imparted his expertise to disciples, further enriching Tibetan medical knowledge.
Pilgrimage and Learning: Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo embarked on a pilgrimage to Mount Wutai, where he received special medical training and teachings. He continued to practice medicine in various regions.
Legacy: Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo’s contributions to Tibetan medicine, humility, and his compassion left a lasting legacy. He is often revered as a figure of great wisdom and compassion in the field of medicine and Buddhism.
Yuthok Nyingma Yonten Gonpo’s life exemplifies the pursuit of knowledge, compassion for patients, and dedication to the advancement of medical science, particularly in the context of Tibetan medicine. His “Four Medical Classics” remains a significant reference in the field to this day.