The history unfolds
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel was born in 1594 and was enthroned as the 18th Drukpa linage and hereditary prince of the traditional Drukpa Kagyu seat and estate of Ralung in UTsang province of Tibet.
On the 10th day of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar which falls on 16th April in 2016, Bhutan commemorates the death anniversary of Zhabdrung and the people of the kingdom pay tribute to the man who united the country and laid the foundation for its laws and customs.
At this time, legend states that a protective deity appeared before him in the form of a raven and directed him to go south to Bhutan. He was 23 years old when he entered the country at Gasa.
As Western Bhutan already had a strong Drukpa Kagyu presence, the abbot-prince was welcomed by many of the leading families and soon he was able to establish himself as a spiritual and temporal leader of the region.
A sacred relic of Avolokitsvara, known as the Rangjung Kasarpani1 that Zhabdrung had brought with him from Tibet and interred in a chapel at Punakha Dzong.
Zhabdrung made it a priority to construct a number of fortresses (known as dzongs) at strategic sites. In addition to serving a defensive function, these dzongs also housed a monastic body and civil authority. The first structure of this kind was built in 1629 on a ridge overlooking the Thimphu Valley at Semtokha, and it has continued to serve as a template for all future dzongs right up to the present time. Including Semtokha, seven dzongs were built by Zhabdrung. These were located at Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Thimphu, Paro, Trongsa and Dagana.
Zhabdrung had strongly consolidated his control of the western regions. He had not only made the area safe from outside attack, but also established a system of laws based closely on Buddhist principles of virtue. Furthermore, he introduced a tax system and established the Choesi (dual) system of governance, whereby the temporal and the religious authority were separated.
In 1651, Zhabdrung was ill and he subsequently passed away on 10th day of th 3rd Bhutanese month.
In order to prevent possible civil unrest or opportunist attacks from Tibet, the death was kept secret for fifty-eight years. The public were merely informed that the leader had entered retreat.
This year it has been 400 years since Zhabdrung arrival in Bhutan and Zabdrung Kuchoe is considered very auspicious as we celebrate to the naming ceremony of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey in Punakha. As His Majesty The King announced the name of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey history unfolds and we have a have secured and bright future ahead.