As I wait, I wonder what he looks like — a monk's reddish robes, benign face, glasses, measured gait, calm tone? A stocky man in his 40s rushes in, his baggy trousers and shirt proclaiming his busy day, and leaps to the chair across. I blurt out, “Are you Dr. Dorjee?” His eyes twinkle, “Yes, yes. Can you give me five minutes to finish this consultation?” It takes less than that to construct his profile: energetic, animated, ready for any question, confident. If the crowd outside is any indication, Dorjee Rapten Neshar is a remarkable medicine man.

His official biodata: Born in Tibet, came to India with parents when he was five, finished school, took a science degree in Mussoorie, and joined the Tibetan Medical College, Dharamshala in 1981 because his parents said so. He completed five years of the Tibetan Medical System (TMS) with outstanding results, trained under Dr. Tenzin Cheodrak (former chief physician to the Dalai Lama), and worked and travelled with him. In 1988, he began clinical research at the Tibetan Medical and Research Centre in Bylakuppe, Karnataka. His healing powers spread, and when a sponsor set up a Medical Centre in Bangalore for cancer research, Dr. Dorjee became its CMO. He is on international research organisations, has written books and was at the TM clinic at Chennai's C.P. Ramaswami Centre, treating more than a 100 patients a day on ailments from common cold to cancer.

Based on astrology

What, I ask, is “Astrology” doing in the name Men-Tsee-Khang (Medical and Astrology Institute), his headquarters in Dharamshala? “Tibetan medicine is based on the five cosmic elements,” he begins. Our body system, the vegetation and the inanimate world are all affected by the cosmic world and celestial changes. Roots, fruits, leaves and flowers we collect for medicine depend on seasons. Tibetan medicines are made using astrological calculations. The hour for surgery is calculated on how life energy moves in the patient's body. An “inauspicious” time would lead to complications. “Your problems arise from karmic influences,” he says. “You inherit some; aggravate others with bad lifestyles and by popping pills. And there are serious illnesses needing proper treatment.” TM aims at restoring the equilibrium between the microcosm of our body system and the macrocosm of the external environment.

Yes, Sowa-Rigpa or Tibetan medicine is similar to Ayurveda in theory and practice, while including the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. The fundamentals are believed to have been taught by the Buddha himself. “Ayurvedic preparations are mostly from shrubs and trees but Tibetan medicines are from high-altitude herbs.” He offers an invitation: “Come in August. Watch them being collected in the mountains beyond Manali.”

He gives a diagnosis demo. He holds the wrist firmly, closes his eyes and “reads” the pulse. Sometimes it's both the wrists. He quizzes you about lifestyle, food habits and body functions. “His diagnosis is amazingly accurate,” said a patient. “He said I had a nagging headache, low backpain, stomach back-up and incipient high cholesterol. All true.” If need be, he orders a urine analysis.

“We tell everything to the patient in a positive way,” says Dr. Dorjee. “We tell them how they can gather a lot of punya (credit) on just one day of their life.” The treatment is holistic, meant to channel, balance and stimulate the chakras (body energy). It is individualised, depending on your constitution and personality type — solar or lunar. It heals your body, mind and spirit.

For stress, “Focus, read your mind and find out why you're stressed,” is his Rx. “Do analytical meditation. You'll see the reason for stress is stupid.” He shares a method employed successfully by prisoners in occupied Tibet. “They visualised rain, thought of torture as relieving karma. The enemy gives you strength, misery is purification.” Try and transform yourself, aim at becoming a better human being.

What's the very first step? He rattles off briskly. Eat the traditional way. Are all that bread, butter, cheese and cakes compatible to your constitution? Prevent blood pressure, stay away from salt, artificial drinks, coffee and fried stuff. Do breathing exercises. Stay active. Let your pranic energy flow. Don't nag or interfere. Control speech. Show tolerance, compassion, forgiveness. “City life is bad,” he adds. “Drink Tibetan tea. It will clear your head.”

He recites medical passages as he writes the prescription. You can't escape being touched by his sincerity and kindness. “Last year, the Government of India recognised Tibetan medical practices,” he says. “Studies at AIIMS have proved its efficacy.” I ask, “Where did you learn to speak English?” The twinkle is back: “From my patients.”

* Diagnosis is by checking the pulse, urine, colour of the tongue, the sclera of the eye, and sensitivity of body pressure points.

* Imbalance of the five cosmo-elements and the three humoral energies (wind, bile, and phlegm) cause illnesses.

* Treatment includes herbal preparations, refined metals and stones, dietary changes, spiritual advice, lifestyle changes, meditation, breathing exercises and yoga.

* Major surgery is not part of TMS.

* Tibetan medicines are safe and show no side effects

Dr Dorjee can be contacted at drdorjee.neshar@gmail.com or at 080-23496190