Historically, Men-Tsee-Khang or Tibetan Medical and Astrology Institute (TMAI) was first established in 1916 by the 13th Dalai Lama in Lhasa, Tibet. After the Chinese occupation of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, followed by some 80,000 Tibetans, took shelter in India. In order to preserve the rich Tibetan religious and cultural heritage, His Holiness re-established traditional Tibetan institutes of scholarship and learning in exile.
Thus, in March 1961, His Holiness the Dalai Lama re-established Men-Tsee-Khang (TMAI) at Dharamsala. The primary objective is to preserve, promote and protect the traditional Tibetan system of medicine (Sowa-Rigpa) and astrology, which has been practiced down the ages for centuries. The institute initially started with a doctor, an astrologer and ten students, enrolled in two schools: Chopra House and Gleenmore Cottage. In 1967, the two schools were merged into what we now know as Men-Tsee-Khang or Tibetan Medical & Astro. Institute. At that time, it was located in Mcleod Ganj. The institute was later shifted to the present location in 1982.
The TMAI aims to preserve, promote and practise Sowa Rigpa, the traditional Tibetan system of medicine, astronomy and astrology. The mission statement of TMAI also includes education and higher studies in the fields of Tibetan medicine and astrology, research and collaboration with scholars and institutes in India and abroad between different healing systems, and to produce Tibetan medicines in an environmentally sensitive manner.
The TMAI headquarters at Dharamsala consist of numerous academic and administrative departments. The institute is run by a governing body of ten members, which includes Health Kalon as a chairman (served by the officiating officer from the Central Tibetan Administration) and a secretary (served by the director of the TMAI). The institute today employs 521 staff members which includes Administrative, Medical, Astrologer and temporary workers.
The institute at present runs a wide network of 54 branch medical clinics across India. Out of which, 36 are based in Tibetan settlements and 18 in cities and rural areas.