Ex­hi­bi­tions on Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel in­au­gu­rated

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Dorji Norbu

2016 marks the 400 years of the legacy of Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel. To com­mem­o­rate and pay trib­ute to the Zhab­drung, Her Majesty Gya­lyum San­gay Cho­den Wangchuck in­au­gu­rated two ex­hi­bi­tions at the Royal Tex­tile Academy on 21st of Septem­ber 2016.

The first exhibition ti­tled “Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel: The Found­ing Fa­ther” dis­plays sa­cred relics be­long­ing to the Zhab­drung and some of his rein­car­na­tions. Sa­cred relics from Gasa, Jaro­gang, Sim­tokha and Hongt­sho Tashigang have been brought to­gether for the first time for this exhibition.

The sec­ond exhibition is “Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel: A Bi­og­ra­phy Through Kuthangs. The nine­teen Kuthangs on dis­play is a pic­to­rial bi­og­ra­phy that epit­o­mizes the amal­ga­ma­tion of tra­di­tional artis­tic skills, rev­er­ence and grat­i­tude.

Her Majesty high­lighted dur­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the exhibition that Zhab­drung is the founder of our na­tion, our “Drinchen Gi Pham” and that “it would be dif­fi­cult to imag­ine Bhutan to­day with­out the strong foun­da­tion of unity, iden­tity and na­tion­hood laid down by the Zhab­drung.”

Ac­cord­ing to the press re­lease from the Royal Tex­tile Academy the exhibition was pos­si­ble through the in­put of many stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing Cen­tral Monas­tic Body, the Royal Gov­ern­ment, Depart­ment of Cul­ture and many other who worked be­hind the scene. The academy fur­ther thanked the own­ers and cus­to­di­ans of th­ese relics for loan­ing th­ese ar­ti­facts for the exhibition and pro­vid­ing a rare op­por­tu­nity for the gen­eral Bhutanese pop­u­la­tion to pay their re­spects and rev­er­ence to our found­ing fa­ther.

The exhibition “Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel: The Found­ing Fa­ther” will be open for six months while the sec­ond exhibition, “Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel: A Bi­og­ra­phy Through Kuthangs” will be open till the end of Oc­to­ber 2016.

Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel (1594-1651) is con­sid­ered one of the in­car­na­tions of Aval­okites­vara, the Bud­dha of com­pas­sion. As the rein­car­na­tion of Kuenkhen or Om­ni­scient Pema Karpo, Zhab­drung was con­sid­ered the head of the Drukpa school of Ma­hayana Bud­dhism.

He is sin­gu­larly ac­cred­ited for Bhutan’s ter­ri­to­rial and po­lit­i­cal uni­fi­ca­tion un­der the ban­ner of Drukpa lin­eage. He es­tab­lished the dual sys­tem of gover­nance which sep­a­rated tem­po­ral of Bhutan as a na­tion state was en­hanced through the con­struc­tion of Dzongs or fortresses, in­sti­tut­ing of monas­tic com­mu­ni­ties, in­tro­duc­tion of unique cul­tural and re­li­gious prac­tices which are preva­lent to this day.

Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel was born in 1594 in Gar­dong, the monas­tic es­tate of Druk Jangchubling in cen­tral Ti­bet. His fa­ther Mipham Tem­pai Ny­ima was the mem­ber of the no­ble Gya fam­ily and mother Sonam Pal­gyi Bhutri was the pa­tron of the Gelug school of Ti­betan Bud­dhism. Zhab­drung’s di­vine con­cep­tion was bode with aus­pi­cious signs and he was named Ngawang Jigme Dragpa Chogle Nam­per Gyal­wai Palzang at birth by his pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther Mipham Ch­ogyal.

Zhab­drung started his ed­u­ca­tion un­der the tute­lage of the em­i­nent Drukpa scholar and mas­ter of Astrol­ogy Lhawang Lo­doe. Zhab­drung took his Bud­dhist vows as an ar­dained monk at the age f 8 years. A re­mark­able stu­dent Zhab­drung com-

pleted most of his ed­u­ca­tion and monas­tic train­ing by the time he was 13 years of age.

The recog­ni­tion of the in­car­na­tion of Kuenchen Pema Karpo was highly con­tested and he faced strong op­po­si­tion by Pagsam Wang­pon of the pow­er­ful Chongye fam­ily. With sup­port from the Tshangpa ruler, Pagsam Wangpo was for­mally en­throned as the of­fi­cial rein­car­nate.

Fol­low­ing a dream in which a raven lead him south­ward, Zhab­drung was com­pelled to flee Ti- bet to ful­fill the prophecy of Guru Pad­masamb­hava in ‘Lhomen’- the historic name for Bhutan.

Zhab­drung ar­rived in Bhutan in 1616. He trav­elled through Gasa and Goen bless­ing lo­cal pa­trons and devo­tees. He grad­u­ally reached Thim­phu through Lingzhi.

Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel is ac­cred­ited for the es­tab­lish­ment of Bhutan as an in­de­pen­dent sov­er­eign na­tion by uni­fy­ing Bhutan un­der one lead­er­ship and in­tro­duced po­lit­i­cal re- forms and a new sys­tem of ‘Choe-Sid-Nyi­den’ was ini­ti­ated by which power and au­thor­ity was shared be­tween the spir­i­tual and sec­u­lar heads.

Af­ter suc­ces­sive vic­to­ries over the in­vad­ing Ti­betan forces, Zhab­drung be­gan con­sol­i­da­tion and ex­pand­ing his power within Bhutan. In 1620, the con­struc­tion of Cheri monastery was ini­ti­ated to house the re­mains of Yab Ten­pai Ny­ima and es­tab­lish the first monas­tic school in the coun­try.

Con­se­quently, many dzongs or fortresses were built to con­sol­i­date power, es­tab­lish con­trol and au­thor­ity over the var­i­ous dis­tricts in Bhutan. Sim­tokha Dzong was built in 1629 to ren­der con­trol over Paro to the west and Trongsa to the East. In 1637, Pu­nakha Dzong was built in Ti­bet and was re­garded as the sub­sti­tute to Ralung monastery in Ti­bet and was named Dewachen­poi Pho­drang or the ‘Palace of Great Bliss’

Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel en­tered into a strict re­treat in 1651 in Pu­nakha and even­tu­ally passed away dur­ing the re­treat. It is be­lieved that he passed away on 30 April 1651 cor­re­spond­ing to the 10th day of the 3rd month of the Bhutanese cal­en­dar year. Zhab­drung Ku­choe or the death an­niver­sary of Zhab­drung Ngawang Nam­gyel is ob­served on this day ev­ery year.

The exhibition was ini­ti­ated un­der the per­sonal guid­ance of Her Majesty, Tex­tile Mu­seum and Royal Tex­tile Academy with sup­port from the Cen­tral Monas­tic Body and Home Min­istry.

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