World’s Oldest Surviving “Medicine” System Gets Government’s OK

NEW DELHI – The world’s oldest surviving system of medicine called “Sowa-Rigpa” -popular in the country’s Himalayan region and said to be taught by Gautam Buddha himself – got official approval from the Indian government Thursday.

The decision to approve it as part of the Indian medicine system was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and later announced by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

The government’s decision came following representations from many quarters for granting recognition and legal status to the system.

Sowa-Rigpa, commonly known as ‘Amchi, is one of the oldest surviving systems of medicine in the world and is practiced in India in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling in West Bengal, Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, a statement issued here said.

According to the statement, the theory and practices of Sowa-Rigpa are similar to Ayurveda and also include few principles of traditional Chinese medicine.

“The fundamental text book of Sowa-Rigpa is believed to have been taught by Buddha himself and is closely linked with Buddhist philosophy,” it said.

To give the system legal sanction, amendments will be carried out in sections 2,3,8,9 and 17 of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970.

“It is expected that the legal recognition of Sowa-Rigpa will lead to the protection and preservation of this ancient system of medicine and will help in its propagation and development,” the statement said.

“This will also open new vistas leading to collaborative research and scientific validation of the Sowa-Rigpa system, besides conservation and protection of the medicinal plants used in the system,” it said.

Also, its recognition will lead to setting up a mechanism to regulate its education and practice.