Gyaltsen Druknya - Co-Founder and President
Gyaltsen Druknya was born in a nomadic family in Dola, a small Tibetan village in Amdo. In 1983, after the third grade, he left school to study under His Eminence (H.E.) the 4th Tashi Rinpoche, one of the highest lamas at Kumbum Monastery in Amdo. Given his natural talents and intelligence, he was accepted by H. E. Tashi Rinpoche, who besides his scholarship and learning in Buddhism, had a special gift in Tibetan medicine and was considered an expert on the subject. Kumbum Monastery became Gyaltsen‘s home of learning and maturity. Besides learning Tibetan Literature and Buddhism, he had a keen sense of passion for Tibetan medicine which Rinpoche taught him with care. He was also fortunate to learn under Gyayak Rinpoche, the personal tutor of the 10th Panchen Lama. Given his diligence and devotion, Gyaltsen became H. E. Tashi Rinpoche’s main assistant at the monastery. Later, Gyaltsen traveled to Lhasa, then to India and Nepal and had a wider education and perspective on life. His mission in life has always been to be of service to his people back home.
In 2001, Gyaltsen was able to come to Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. In Charlottesville, he met and married Tashi Dolkar, who had been brought up and educated in India. Today, they have a son and daughter and own a salon business in downtown Charlottesville. Gyaltsen is versatile and engages in several productive and educational and cultural programs in collaboration in the United States through Professor Jeffrey Hopkins'' Uma Institute for Tibetan Studies and American Heritage Voices. At the same time, he endeavors to raise funds for the revival and construction of monasteries in the Kham and Amdo regions of Tibet. Together Gyaltsen and his wife continue to support young Tibetans in Tibet with their education and health.
In 2001, Gyaltsen reconnected with his roots in Tibetan Medicine through Dr. Kunchok Gyaltsen and the Seattle-based non-profit organization ‘Tibetan Healing Fund‘ (THF). Gyaltsen’s passion and skill in conducting major fundraising campaigns for THF made the establishment of the Tibetan Natural Birth and Health Training Center in Repkong, Amdo a reality. Through his work with THF, maternal and child health care for thousands of Tibetan women and children is now available.
In 2009, Gyaltsen hosted Dr. Otsang Tsokchen of the Arura Tibetan Medical Group in Tso-Ngon (Qinghai) and Dr. Kunchok Gyaltsen during their visit to Charlottesville. Dr. Tsokchen was impressed with Gyaltsen’s personal achievements and his capacity to support Tibetan culture, healthcare, and religion. And, they soon became very close friends. Dr. Tsokchen invited Gyaltsen to be his Arura representative in the U.S. and to establish a non-profit organization for a Tibetan Medical Center to preserve and promote this knowledge and skill in the US. This became a reality in 2010 when they founded Arura Medicine of Tibet in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In April of 2012, Gyaltsen arranged a major conference in collaboration with the University of Virginia entitled "Symposium on Tibetan Medicine and Meditation" for over 500 participants. He was able to invite and host many American leaders in Tibetan Studies to this symposium, including Professor Robert Thurman from Columbia University, Professor Judith Simmer Brown from Naropa University, and others. As well as, nine prominent Tibetan doctors who are leaders in Tibetan Medicine inside Tibet also joined this cross-cultural event.
In July of 2013, Gyaltsen organized a delegation from Charlottesville to travel to Siling (Xining) and attend the "Western and Tibetan Medical Professionals'' Dialogue on Compassionate Care of the 21st-century Medical Care" at Tso-Ngon University Tibetan Medical College, Qinghai Province in the People’s Republic of China. Delegates consisted of local Arura Board members and medical professionals from the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville community, including Dr. Leslie Blackhall (Professor of Palliative Medicine at UVA), cardiologist Dr. George Beller, the former Mayor of Charlottesville, David Brown, and others. They visited all of the Arura Tibetan Medical Group branch institutions, including Tso-Ngon University Tibetan Medical College, Tso-Ngon Provincial Tibetan Medical Hospital, Tso-Ngon Provincial Tibetan Medical Research Institute, and the Arura Pharmaceutical Company’s production facilities. During their tour, members discussed and exchanged ideas about bringing Tibetan Medicine to the United States. At the same time, Dr. Beller attended the “Western & Tibetan Dialogue – Heart and Mind" at Tso-Ngon University Tibetan Medical College. This was a meeting of many professionals and Dr. Beller’s attendance made provincial headline news in China.
In May 2014, Gyaltsen opened the office of Arura Medicine of Tibet in the historic downtown mall of Charlottesville, Virginia. This new facility will enable the expansion of the practice of Tibetan Medicine in Charlottesville as well as ongoing academic collaborations with the University of Virginia. It is the first step in realizing Arura Medicine of Tibet’s goals to create a center for the education and training in Tibetan Medicine and other subjects of Tibetan studies and to provide wellness care to the greater community using the valued and tested methods of this ancient wisdom of Tibet.