Book Review Title:The Bodhisattva King in action
“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.