Composed while its author was the ruler of Tibet, Mirror of Beryl is a detailed account of the origins and history of medicine in Tibet through the end of the seventeenth century. Its author, Desi Sangye Gyatso (1653 - 1705), was the heart disciple and political successor of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and the author of several highly regarded works on Tibetan medicine, including his Blue Beryl, a commentary on the foundational text of Tibetan medicine, The Four Tantras. In the present historical introduction, Sangye Gyatso traces the sources of influence on Tibetan medicine to classical India, China, Central Asia, and beyond, providing life stories, extensive references to earlier Tibetan works on medicine, and fascinating details about the Tibetan approach to healing. He also provides a commentary on the pratimoksha, bodhisattva, and tantric Buddhist vows. Desi Sangye Gyatso's Mirror of Beryl remains today an essential resource for students of medical science in Tibet.
Desi Sangye Gyatso (1653-1705), the heart disciple of the Fifth Dalai Lama, became the ruler of Tibet at age twenty-six and held sway over the country for over twenty-five years before his tragic death in a power struggle with the Mongol chieftain Lhasang Khan. A layman his entire life, he was a thorough administrator, overhauling the structure and regulations of the major Geluk monasteries and setting up many new institutions, such as the renowned Tibetan Medical Institute in Lhasa. He famously commissioned a set of seventy-nine medical paintings, and he composed White Beryl, an authoritative work on all aspects of astronomical calculation and divination practiced in Tibet at his time.
"Gavin Kilty is known to readers of The Library of Tibetan Classics as the translator of Khedrup Norsang Gyatso's study of Kalacakra tantra. The present volume makes another highly significant contribution to our understanding of yet another domain of Tibetan knowledge, namely, the origin and development of the Tibetan health sciences. Desi Sangye Gyatso, the author of the Mirror of Beryl, was the most powerful man in Central Tibet and had access to the very best library resources. His 1703 work is a tour de force, built as much on what earlier Tibetan scholars had written on the subject as on his immediate knowledge of the field. Gavin Kilty's translation is as elegant and accurate as his earlier work and is a testimony to his fine understanding of the original Tibetan text. This is a truly wonderful book, one that I and others will no doubt consult with pleasure time and again for years to come."
– Leonard W. J. van der Kuijp, Professor of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, Harvard University