Zhabdrung Rinpoche

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Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung

Zhabdrung (also Shabdrung; Tibetan: ཞབས་དྲུང་Wylie: zhabs-drung; "before the feet of"), was a title used when referring to or addressing great lamas in Tibet, particularly those who held a hereditary lineage. In Bhutan the title almost always refers to Ngawang Namgyal (1594–1651), the founder of the Bhutanese state, or one of his successive reincarnations.

Ngawang Namgyal[edit]

Main article: Ngawang Namgyal

The lineage traces through the founder of the country, Ngawang Namgyal, a high Drukpa Lineage lama from Tibet who was the first to unify the warring valley kingdoms under a single rule. He is revered as the third most important figure behind Padmasambhava and Gautama Buddha by the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Ngawang Namgyal established the dual system of government under the "Great Tsa Yig" legal code. Under this system, political power was vested in an administrative leader, the Druk Desi, assisted by a collection of local governors or ministers called penlops. A religious leader, the Je Khenpo, held power over monastic affairs. Successive incarnations of the Zhabdrung were to have ultimate authority over both spheres.

However, after the death of Ngawang Namgyal in 1651, power effectively passed to the penlops instead of to a successor Zhabdrung. In order to forestall a dynastic struggle and a return to warlordism, they conspired to keep the death of the Zhabdrung secret for 54 years. During this time they issued orders in his name, explaining that he was on an extended silent retreat.[citation needed]

The passing of the 1st Zhabdrung is modernly celebrated as a Bhutanese national holiday, falling on the 4th month, 10th day of the Bhutanese calendar.[1][2]

Successor Zhabdrungs[edit]

Eventually, the ruling authorities in Bhutan were faced with the problem of succession. To neutralize the power of future Zhabdrung incarnations, the Druk Desi, Je Khenpo and penlops conspired to recognize not a single person but rather as three separate persons — a body incarnation (Ku tulku), a mind incarnation (Thu tulku or Thugtrul), and a speech incarnation (Sung tulku or Sungtrul). In spite of their efforts to consolidate the power established by the original Zhabdrung, the country sank into warring factionalism for the next 200 years. The body incarnation lineage died out in the mid-18th century, while the mind and speech incarnations of the Zhabdrung continued into the 20th century. The mind incarnation was the one generally recognized as the Zhabdrung.[3]:26–28

Besides the mind incarnation, there was also a line of claimants for the speech incarnation. At the time the monarchy was founded in 1907, Choley Yeshe Ngodub (or Chogley Yeshey Ngodrup) was the speech incarnation and also served as the last Druk Desi. After his death in 1917, he was succeeded by Chogley Jigme Tenzin (1919–1949).[4] The next claimant, unrecognized by the Bhutan government, lived at Tawang monastery in India and was evacuated to the western Himalayas during the 1962 Sino-Indian War.[3]:28

Another line of claimants to be mind incarnations of Ngawang Namgyal existed in Tibet, and is now represented by Namkhai Norbu, who resides in Italy.

List of the Principal Reincarnation Lineages of the Zhabdrung[edit]

Lived Name Birthplace Reign
1594—1651 Ngawang Namgyal[5] Ralung, Tsang, Tibet 1616–1651

Zhabdrung Tuktrul[edit]

"Mind" reincarnations of the Zhabdrung.

Lived Name Birthplace Reign
unidentified reincarnation[6] [7] Göyul, southern Tibet
0. 1689—1713 Kunga Gyaltshen [8] Merak Sakteng, eastern Bhutan
1. 1724—1761 Jigme Drakpa I [9] [10] Dranang, Tibet
2. 1762—1788 Chökyi Gyaltsen [11] Yarlung, Tibet
3. 1791—1830 Jigme Drakpa II [12] Bumdeling, eastern Bhutan (now Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary)
4. 1831—1861 Jigme Norbu [13] Drametse
5. 1862—1904 Jigme Chögyel[14] Drametse, eastern Bhutan
6. 1905—1931 Jigme Dorji[15] Dakpo Domkar, eastern Bhutan
7. ??? n/a
8. 1939—1953 Jigme Tendzin Chogay n/a
9. 1955—2003 Jigme Ngawang Namgyal n/a
10. b.2003 Jigdrel Ngawang Namgyal n/a

Zhabdrung Sungtrul[edit]

"Speech" reincarnations of the Zhabdrung.

Lived Name Birthplace Reign
1. 1706—1734 Chokle Namgyel [16] [17] Dagana, southern Bhutan
2. 1735—1775 Shākya Tendzin[18] Kabe, western Bhutan
3. 1781—1830 Yeshe Gyeltsen[19] Thimphu, western Bhutan 1807—1811
4. 1831—1850 Jigme Dorje[20] Bumthang, central Bhutan
5. 1851—1917 Yeshe Ngödrup [21] Bumthang, central Bhutan
6. 1919—1949 Jigme Tendzin[22]

Zhabdrung deposed and exiled[edit]

In 1907, in an effort to reform the dysfunctional system, the penlops orchestrated the establishment of a Bhutanese monarchy with Ugyen Wangchuck, the penlop of Trongsa installed as hereditary king, with the support of Britain and against the wishes of Tibet. The royal family suffered from questions of legitimacy in its early years, with the reincarnations of the various Zhabdrungs posing a threat. According to one Drukpa source, the Zhabdrung's brother Chhoki Gyeltshen (who had been to India) challenged the 1926 accession of King Jigme Wangchuck. He was rumored to have met with Mahatma Gandhi to garner support for the Zhabdrung against the king. The 7th Zhabdrung, Jigme Dorji was then "retired" to Talo Monastery and died in 1931, under rumors of assassination. He was the last Zhabdrung recognized by Bhutan; subsequent claimants to the incarnation have not been recognized by the government.[3]:27[23]

In 1962, Jigme Ngawang Namgyal (known as Zhabdrung Rinpoche to his followers) fled Bhutan for India where he spent the remainder of his life. Up until 2002, Bhutanese pilgrims were able to journey to Kalimpong, just south of Bhutan, to visit him. On April 5, 2003, the Zhabdrung died. Some of his followers claim he was poisoned,[citation needed] while the Bhutanese national newspaper, Kuensel, took pains to explain he died after an extended bout with cancer.[citation needed]

His successor, Jigdrel Ngawang Namgyal, was born in 2003.

Sources[edit]

  • Karma Phuntsho (2013). The History of Bhutan. Nodia: Random House India. ISBN 9788184003116. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Holidays of Bhutan Spring/Summer". Far Flung Places & Bhutan Tourism Corporation. 2011-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  2. ^ "Public Holidays for the year 2011". Royal Civil Service Commission, Government of Bhutan. 2011-04-26. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  3. ^ a b c Rose, Leo E. (1977). The Politics of Bhutan. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-0909-8. 
  4. ^ Yab Ugyen Dorji; Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (1999). Of Rainbows and Clouds: The Life of Yab Ugyen Dorji as Told to His Daughter. Serindia Publications. p. 13. ISBN 0-906026-49-0. 
  5. ^ "ngag dbang rnam rgyal". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  6. ^ Yoshiro Imeada (2013) p.23,33
  7. ^ Karma Phuntsho (2013) p.295—6
  8. ^ Yoshiro Imeada (2013) p.38—42
  9. ^ "'jigs med grags pa". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  10. ^ Yoshiro Imeada (2013) pp.55—8
  11. ^ "chos kyi rgyal mtshan". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  12. ^ "'jigs med grags pa 02". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  13. ^ "'jigs med nor bu". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  14. ^ "'jigs med chos rgyal". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  15. ^ "'jigs med rdo rje". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  16. ^ "phyogs las rnam rgyal". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  17. ^ Yoshiro Imeada (2013) p.44—5
  18. ^ "shAkya bstan 'dzin". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  19. ^ "ye shes rgyal mtshan". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  20. ^ "'jigs med rdo rje". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  21. ^ "'ye shes dngos grub". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  22. ^ "'jigs med bstan 'dzin". TBRC. Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  23. ^ Rongthong Kunley Dorji (2003). "My understanding of Shabdrung". The Bhutan Today. Retrieved 4 March 2009. 

External links[edit]