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Archive for the month “March, 2016”

Book Review Title: The Sacred Jewel of Bhutan

Kyichu Book

Book Title: Kyichu Lhakhang

Publisher: Gatshel Publishing

Pages: 172

A book that starts with a supplication prayer the ending of which says, “What is written here is offered as nectar to the ears of the faithful ones. Having prayed thus, we hereby offer an explanation of this sacred jewel called Paro Kyicu Lhakhang.”

Therefore, the book researched and edited by Dungchen Sangay Dorji, Supawan Pui Lamsam, Kesang Choden Tashi Wangchuck and Pema Wangdi with magnificent photos contributed by Chotiwat Punnopatham, Chongmas Rajabhandarak and Supawan Pui Lamsam actually tells the history behind the construction of Kyichu Lhakhang at Paro in Bhutan.

Many of us who have read the history of Bhutan know that Kyichu Lhakhang was built by the Tibetan Dharma King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th Century and that is it. Now I come to know that Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the 108 monasteries built in order to subjugate the large supine demoness, upon whose heart the Jokhang in Lhasa fell. Out of the 108 monasteries, two were built in Bhutan; one is Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro and the other one is Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. It is believed that all the 108 monasteries were miraculously built in a day by artisans who were emanations of the Dharma King Songtsen Gampo himself.

As you flip through the pages, you will discover why the Dharma King Songtsen Gampo conceived the idea of 108 monasteries and who were the principal people involved in identifying the solutions to ensure the propagation of the Buddha Dharma.

One will also find the historical background of how the Monarchs of the Kingdom of Bhutan were spiritually linked to and guided by many eminent Buddhist masters thereby ensuring the peace and prosperity of the Kingdom and its people including the history behind the famous raven crown worn by the Kings of Bhutan.

It is believed that many Treasures were hidden in Paro Kyichu Lhakhang by the famous 8th century Tantric master Guru Padmasambhawa who introduced Vajrayana Buddhism in the Kingdom of Bhutan including other Himalayan regions such as Nepal, Sikkim, Ladakh and Tibet. Many of these treasures were later discovered by the Treasures Revealers who were the emanations of Guru Rinpoche himself or the emanations of his 25 principal disciples. How, by whom and what are some of the treasures revealed at the Kyichu Lhakhang are clearly detailed out in the book.

One will also find the roles played by many great people in protecting and maintaining the sanctity of the Kyichu Lhakhang, the most important being the true patron of the Dharma Her Majesty The Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, the Dharma King of Bhutan His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and His Holiness Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche . I quote the editors, “Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck is truly the giver of life and the Goddess of Prosperity, Lakshmi Dipam, for the Kingdom of Bhutan and its people. She has given ceaselessly with unprecedented faith to strengthen and sustain the Dharma and welfare of the people through her innumerable activities. She has touched many lives and inspired others with her grace, magnanimity and wisdom.”

Thus, the book is humbly dedicated to the 85th Birth Anniversary of Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck and for her long life and to celebrate her ‘exemplar brilliance and steadfast commitment to the Kingdom of Bhutan.’ The book is also to celebrate ‘the auspicious occasion of the 50th year of Terton Jigme Lingpa’s most sacred Kagye Yongdu Thukdrub Palchen Dupa Drubchen.’  in Kyichu Guru Lhakhang.

The Book is divided into three parts. Part I of the books takes the readers through four chapters starting from the Conception, Sublime Blessings, The Revelation of Profound Treasures to Bodhisattva Luminaries and Emanations. Part II of the book details about the The Wish Fulfilling Jewel-The Sanctum of Jowo Lhakhang and The Sanctum of Old Guru Lhakhang. Part III of the book talks about the The Precious Gem- The formation and the creation of New Guru Lhakhang, The Sanctum of New Guru Lhakhang,  and photos that have been captured from the surrounding and preparation towards the Kagye Yongdu Thukdrub Palchen Dupa Drubchen as well as the scenes from the Drubchen itself. The preface by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche Ugyen Tenzin Jigme Lhundrup briefs out the significance of Kyichu Lhakhang and the important roles played by the Dharma Patrons.

The detailed history of Kyichu Lhakhang with magnificent pictures is recorded in this book for posterity. Knowing the significance of Kyichu Lhakhang in connection to the Jokhang in Lhasa and knowing that the Jowo statue at the Kyichu Lhakhang having the same sacredness and blessings as that of the Jowo statue at the Jokhang in Lhasa make it even more valuable for the Bhutanese to appreciate and preserve what we have in hand now-The Sacred Jewel of Bhutan.

The book is recommended for every individual as a sacred treasure in your homes to be liberated from the samsara and to be gifted to your children in the same token. It is also highly recommended as reference in all school libraries. The cost of the book is Nu.3500 and all proceeds from the sale of the book will directly go to Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck’s temple restoration project and her various Dharma activities.

“May all auspicious circumstances occur and wishes be fulfilled for those who come into contact with Kyichu Lhakhang, the Saccred Jewel of Bhutan.”- (pg. 128, Editors.)


Book Review Title:The Bodhisattva King in action

20160322_170716“Have you ever heard of the name ‘Hotel Mike’?” I asked this question to a colleague at work and she said it could be the name of a mid level hotel at one of the places that I visited lately. “Well, even I came to know about this only very recently. In fact only after my return from the trip” I told her. Now that made her a bit curious and she prompted me to spill the beans. I asked her ‘have you heard of the book titled ‘The Bodhisattva King’ by Tshering Tashi and Thierry Mathou? She said, ‘I saw that in your office.’ “Then, take the book, turn to page number 235 and spot the article ‘The Buddhist warrior- The Strategist who saved the sovereignty of the Nation’ by Tshering Tashi and you will discover the secrets behind ‘Hotel Mike.’” I said.
For now let me tell you ‘Hotel Mike’ is none other than His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck. This was the code name given by the senior officers of the Armed Forces to the Supreme Commander-in Chief who led the Low Intensity Conflict- Operation Flush Out against the militants in the southern belt of our country in December, 2003. Reading for the first time the inside story of the Operation Flush Out had me go emotional and teary eyed. It brought back memories in flashes. 15 December 2003 is the date I will never ever forget in the history of Bhutan and in my own life. This was the day our great fourth led a small team of true sons (my husband played his own role as a militia volunteer) and daughters of Palden Drukpa to save guard and ensure the sovereignty of our nation. Tshering Tashi (who was a militia volunteer himself) tells this and more about the King who risked his life and put himself at the forefront to ensure the continuity of livelihood of the people in those regions and also to protect the overall independence of our country.
I picked this up as my favourite article out of the many articles shared by great thinkers, scholars, activists, politicians, individuals and many more who shared personal moments with His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The first write up that caught my attention though as I was just flipping through the 368 pages of the book was by someone I came to know as a good human being, a great soul and a great person by the name Chimi Zangmo. Sometimes the so familiar names and sometimes the not so familiar names catch the attention of the readers. It did so in my case. Then and there I read the ‘Moments’ by Chimi Zangmo because I am filled with curiosity to know what she has to tell us about Hotel Mike. She talks about a ‘hope’ implanted in a teenager who lost her father and was lost in confusion. It was then our very own Hotel Mike who lifted the spirit of this young teenager and made her what she is today- a very kind and compassionate soul herself reflecting the very virtues that implanted hope in her.
However, the article that caught my attention and mesmerized me the most is a special tribute by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Written in two pages, short and sweet, the tribute reveals a lot about an outsider’s outlook with regard to our Hotel Mike. I read a lot about this bold and beautiful, courageous and iron lady and watched many movies about her and Michael Aris but then here I get to read her thoughts about our great fourth and that is it.
What is the symbolism of the Bhutanese Monarchy? What do you understand by Cakravartin King? If you wish to find out more, then come out of your shell and read this article titled ‘The Cakravartin-King: Symbolism of the Bhutanese Monarchy’ by Aum Francoise Pommaret. It enlightened me and I am sure so will it do to every readers. I have never even heard of the word ‘Cakravartin’ until I read this book. So it got me more interested and took me deeper into the article. The term Khorlo Gyurwa Gyalpo sounded so musical to my ears. You may want to read further to understand better about the concept.
And another not so familiar writer that caught my attention was this- Afroze Bukht who contributed the article titled ‘The Story of a Living Legend’. He thus writes, “In 1963 when I visited Bhutan, I had the honour of calling upon on the Queen Mother in Dechencholing Palace. I remember seeing a young boy scampering across the lawns of the compound. Later on I Iearnt that the young man was the Crown Prince. His demeanour and his gait portrayed him as a man of supreme confidence. It was that trait which would come to his rescue when he was called upon to shoulder the responsibilities of the kingdom at the tender age of sixteen years.”
Lee Kwang Boon is another familiar name in the book whose article I enjoyed reading. It sounds very genuine and right from the heart. Likewise as you flip through the 368 pages of the book you will come across many eminent contributors who shared their personal testimonies of the foresight and wisdom of a wise leader who has come to be known as The Bodhisattva King.
I have read many books about His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo but in ‘The Bodhisattva King’, Tshering Tashi and Thierry Mathou have attempted to capture and record testimonies from people of all walks of life to unveil the many reasons as to why His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wanghuck is considered as The Bodhisattva King.
And yes you would not want to miss hearing about the King from none other than Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck-the Royal Queen Mother of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. There is a ‘Special recollection of the birth of a King of Destiny’ by Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck.
All in all, I have come to the understanding that this book is a product of careful supervision of Her Majesty The Royal Grand Mother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck- the Queen Mother of His Majesty The King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. One will find rare and personal collections of Her Majesty The Royal Grand Mother’s Pictures in this book. I get a feeling that Her Majesty The Royal Grand Mother spent her precious time conscientiously working on this book in her effort to record not only the intrinsic details but also to give away something to the people of Bhutan for the preservation of the Tashigomangs.

And I quote the authors, “Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck- The Queen Mother of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and His Majesty the Fourth King have strived to conserve the arts and preserve Bhutan’s unique culture and traditions. Bhutan is known today for its vibrant living culture because of the concerted efforts, love and care of Their Majesties. All profits from the sales of this book will go towards Her Majesty’s efforts in reviving the tradition of the Lam Manips and preserving the Tashigonmangs or portable shrines, a national treasure on the brink of extinction.”
‘The Bodhisattva King’ is worth 1000 kilos of gold and is recommended as a rare collection in your homes and a great reference in the school libraries. The cost of the book is Nu.5000.00 and remember that its non-profit based. All proceeds from the sales of the book will go towards a great cause under the wise leadership of Her Majesty The Royal Grand Mother.

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