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Medicinal Mandala: Tibetan Medicine in Ritual

With Anna Sehnalova

Sunday, March 23, 2014
11:00 AM–12:30 PM

Scholar Anna Sehnalovareports on the nature of a healing ritual intended to pacify the whole universe.

The Tibetan medical system derives from different spheres of knowledge and is tightly tied to religion, philosophy, cosmology and tantric practices. This complexity is expressed and “replayed” by the ritual. Within the cosmological framework for the medicine, both medical concepts and medicinal substances, as well as the act of healing become ‘mandalised’. Similarly, human body and Buddhist philosophical concepts are fitted into the mandalic organizational scheme. Its purpose is to embrace and position every entity in order to make the whole unit, i.e. body, universe etc., balanced.
In order to demonstrate the close link between Tibetan medicine and ritual, scholar Anna Sehnalova draws on unique research that shows the Mendrub (sman sgrub) healing ritual, as performed at the Bönpo Triten Norbutse Monastery, Kathmandu which she witnessed in December 2012. Mendrub is one of the rarest performed rituals within Bön and Tibetan Buddhist and medical traditions. For the Bönpos it is also the biggest, most important and most expensive ritual. How the ritual is conducted and how its final produced medicine processed dictates the degree to which the resulting medicine becomes empowered as a miraculous substance representing a universal remedy. The ritual performance is intended to pacify the whole universe.
Anna Sehnalova is currently pursuing her PhD in Tibetan Studies at the University of Oxford, UK and Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. She became interested in the field after two years living, studying and travelling in Tibetan regions of China, Nepal and India. She is most fascinated by people’s reflections on the environment and nature, wild plants and animals, the ways of understanding them and approaching them through religion, ritual, literary expressions and oral traditions. Topics she focuses on include Bön, sacred landscapes and Tibetan medicine.

Bodies In Balance: The Essentials

A full weekend of talks and demonstrations on the rich subject of Tibetan medicine and concepts of wellbeing. Scholars, medical practitioners and experts meet to share their experience in eleven separate presentations. For those who wish to immerse themselves in the concepts of Tibetan medical practice, this is the weekend for you.
A conference to deepen your appreciation of the exhibitionBodies in Balance: The Art of Tibetan Medicine.

See Full Schedule