The Picture that tells a story…
A story of a King who is known as ‘The People’s King.’ Somewhere down the history of Bhutan, we would be telling the story to our great great grand children that Bhutan in its 21st Century had a King who was lovingly called as ‘The People’s King” by its citizens and known as the ‘Dragon Kingdom’s People’s King’ by the world.
The moment I opened my Face Book, this was the first post that welcomed me and then every post on my wall had gone viral with this picture. I searched for His Majesty’s FB page to see the post only to realize that this was just one of the pictures from the entire post from HM’s FB Page.
But the fact that people picked this photo out of the many on the post says a lot about how much this picture has impacted the thoughts of the Bhutanese Citizens including mine. I for once was like, wow!!! This pic deserves a story and so am I here with the picture story for posterity at least for myself, for my children, my grand children and great grand children.
We have had five generations of Kings since Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously crowned as the First King of Bhutan not to forget the ground work laid down by Desi Jigme Namgyel for the very foundation of the Wangchuck Dynasty.
Each of the Kings had his unique charismatic ways of building Bhutan- the Bhutan that we see today.
For instance, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck at the age of 17, had to lead his troops to fight against the then Paro Penlop Tshewang Norbu. His father Desi Jigme Namgyel left him to take care of himself, his family and the entire country at the very youthful age of 21 years old. At 23 years old in 1885 he had to lead 2400 troops in a series of battles that ultimately ended in Changlimithang. And it was in 1907 that people of Bhutan unanimously elected his as the first hereditary King of Bhutan.
Son of Sir Ugyen Wangchuck, Jigme Wangchuck ascended the throne at 21 years old in 1926. He focused more on powerful central government formation and infrastructure development and enhanced bilateral relationships with India.
Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck is known as the father of modern Bhutan. He is also known as the father of modern education in Bhutan. He is still survived by His Queen in the form of Her Majesty The Royal Great Grand Mother. (Personally I revered as my Khandoma)
He was the King who removed slavery systems in Bhutan. He was the King who granted lands to the landless in Bhutan and made all equal. He was the one who removed taxations too. Surprisingly he also became at the age of 23 years old.
Fourth King His Majesty King jIgme Singye Wanghcuck had to take over the country even at a very young age. He was only 16 when his father left him. He had to take over a country when it was left in the midst of its third year plan. He is the King who introduced the developmental philosophy of Gross National Happiness over Gross Domestic Product. He is the King who brought about the significant changes we see in Bhutan now. He is the King who tried to live the values of all his former forefathers. He is the King who put himself at the forefront at the time when Bhutan had to flush out the militants from the country.
He is the King who made one of the most self-sacrificing decisions of his life- that of abdicating the throne for the sake of democracy of Bhutan.
No where in the world have we read or heard of a story where a King gave up his crown for the sake of his country. For this very reason, he is known as The Bodhisattva King, The Dharma King, and Chenrezig in its true form.
And now we have our ‘The People’s King” in the form of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. He is truly deserving of the name and title that both at the national and international level are calling him. He has his own different ways of connecting to the people and the country. And who knows may be it is the way that best suits the time now. We love our King who can walk down to the level of common people and hold their hands. We love our king to whom we feel comfortable to speak up our needs and doubts. We love our king who is ready to listen to any concern of our people. We love our king with whom feel connected. We love our king to whom we feel we can reach out to- A King like no body else.
Its been over a decade His Majesty reigned Bhutan in its most glorious form and I have a lot to write but for now let me just focus on this particular picture.
The picture here is of an old lady with His Majesty- the photo depicting of a victim of windstorm that took place in Punakha. It is my personal observation but I see the old lady more in commanding force and His Majesty more or less listening. Where in the world would a King listen to the command of an ordinary people? I think it happens only in Bhutan.
The photo not only made me write this this article, it made me more emotional, more connected, and left me feeling more luckier that I am born in Bhutan and that I am a proud citizen of Bhutan.
This article is dedicated to my two gems of children Osel Norbu Dema and Yonten Jigme Tshering and to their children and their grand children as well as great grand children. I want them to know that they are living under such protective forces in Bhutan that they will never feel the need of another protection.
Palden Drukpa Gyalo.
Disclaimer: I am neither a Historian nor an Academic. I wrote this post purely as a Citizen and from a Citizen’s perspective and as spontaneously as it came into my mind. So nay errors in dates and history if you find, please kindly feel comfortable to correct me.