Monday, August 28, 2017

Part II: Striking Similarities between Zhabdrung and Genghis Khan.

Continue from yesterday's post.....

7.Troublesome youth: When his father, a minor Chieftain died, Genghis khan succeeded his father in his early teen. But the tribe didnt support him. Though they were temporarily abandoned but they left for some other safer place.

Zhabdrung had also succeeded his grandfather as the abode of Ralung Monastry in Tibet in his early teen but soon a dispute over the reincarnation of Pema Karpo, a Buddhist scholar, led him to flee from Tibet for Bhutan. Tsang leader supported Paksang Wangpo as the real reincarnation and they rejected the popular believe of the people that Zhabdrung was indeed the real incarnation. Thus the Fear of losing his life he makes an immediate  exit for Bhutan. 

8.Very religious yet tolerant to many religions: There was freedom of religion in the warlord’s Kingdom. The Great Genghis Khan gave everyone the right to choose their religion because his empire was so large that consisted people who followed all major religions. 

In 1627, when two Portuguese Jesuits Fr. Casella and Fr. Cabral were on their way towards Tibet they met with Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Zhabdrung strongly encouraged them to stay and had even given them a room in Cheri Monastery to use it as a Chapel. They were allowed to preach the Christian faith to the locals which clearly indicates that he was an open minded person and someone who could tolerate other religions too.     

9.Highly respected as the Founding Father: They are highly revered as the founding fathers of their nation. Genghis Khans mighty statue is built in honor of the Great leader. The statue is located on the bank of Tuul River some 54 km east of the Mongolian Capital Ulaanbaatar.

And coming back home, the dead remains of Zhabdrung Rinpoche is preserved in a secluded temple inside the Punakha Dzong and is visited by kings and lay men alike in times of joy and difficulties to receive blessings and wisdom.  


When I was sharing this similarities with my history students one of them stood up to claim that Zhabdrung must have copied everything from Genghis Khan. I promptly replied, it could be also purely coincident because these two men lived in two different era. Mr. Khan in 13th century (1200s) and our Ngawang Namgyel during the 17th century (1600s). 

A student at the back requested me to share the differences. I replied by saying that there are but a few differences. Genghis Khan is credited for killing approximately 40 million people and we don't have any record suggesting such brutal nature of Zhabdrung. In fact he always used his spiritual powers than military might to bring enemies at home under his control.

The other different is that Zhabdrung married only once and history points out that he was very loyal and caring husband. Because when he made up his mind to enter into permanent retreat he arranges a suitable husband for his wife so she is not left all alone. On the other hand, the Great Genghis Khan never respected the institution of marriage. 

After conquering a state he would order his generals to bring the most beautiful women among the lot for him. This was a routine affair for the warlord. Thus he is also credited to have fathered many thousand children. One record suggest 36 million men from eastern Europe to eastern China trace their genes to one man: The Great  Genghis Khan as their sole ancestor

When the bell rang I still remember clearly that I reiterated the fact to the whole class that the discourse wasn't to compare the generals. They were great in their own rights and highly respected in their own countries. I said, ‘ …by no means I am comparing them but I am simply sharing with you all what appears to me as an interesting set of facts that depict striking similarities between the two Great Generals’. 

Photographs courtesy:  Concern copyright holders.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Striking Similarities: Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and The Great Genghis Khan.

This is a long overdue blogpost I desperately wanted to write. I could finally complete writing it this afternoon. The findings have been already shared with my history students at the beginning of this years academic session. It was intended to arouse interest and garner appreciation for history as a subject.  

I was  mesmerized when I realized that there are a lot of striking similarities between Genghis Khan and our very own Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Genghis Khan is a title so is Zhabdrung Rinpoche.  Zhabdrung Rinpoche means "At whose feet one submits" and the former title when translated would mean " Oceanic Ruler " or "universal Ruler".

So what are the similarities?

1.Similar Appearances: Digital (real) photographs are not available to confirm their similar facial feature but the narrations and the available sketches prove that both the gentlemen had long bushy beard which dangles loosely down till their torso. 

2.Political and cultural unification (and development): After both the leaders assumed full control over the country, they started consolidating their state by framing laws, ensuring equality and justice and developed culture and traditions.  

3.They had to leave the place of their origin: Zhabdrung, like Genghis Khan, left his place of origin and established himself in the foreign land where both of them could garner high respect and great recognition. Had they never leave their places, Zhabdrung would have been just known as the eighteenth abode of Ralung Monastry in Tibet and the Great Genghis Khan merely a Minor Chieftain of a small tribal people in Mongolia.
Ralung Monastery inTibet. 
4.Immensely Celebrated Military Generals: The life they lived was very rich as they had multiple task and roles to execute. But these two gentlemen find themselves surrounded in military engagement throughout their lives. Thus, they were first a military man and then a civilian. Historians call them military Generals!
Warriors of the Great Genghis Khan

Paazaps of Zhabdrung Rinpoche.

5.Almost Similar war Tactics: Genghis Khan and Zhabdrung had used similar war tactics. However Zhabdrungs intention was only for defense purposes while former opted for attack and defense purpose as well. 
While advancing towards enemy front, Genghis Khan's warriors would tie a small log at the tip of the tail of horses they rode. The log touching the ground would blow the dust in the air creating a dust storm giving enemies a sense that a huge army is advancing towards them. This caused many kingdoms and states to submit to the Great Genghis Khan.

The warriors are instructed to form groups and take turn as they shoot arrows attacking their enemies. It assured continues and heavy attack on the enemy within a short span of time. The picture below may help you understand better.
When defending the borders of Bhutan against as many as six Tibetan invasions, Zhabdrung did use similar tricks to make believe the advancing Tibetans that a large number of Army is present to garrison the Drukgyel Dzong.

Hundreds of scare crow resembling Bhutanese armed personals were strategically placed in and around the Dzong. And the small Bhutanese Armed personals were instructed to enter the Dzong from the back door and then they had to show their presence in the Dzongs court yard and repeat the act continuously from dawn to dust so that it looks like a large army is awaited to give Tibetans a crushing defeat. History says, after the incident, the Tibetans never dared to come close to the garrisoned Dzong ever.

6.Their Mysterious death and stories related to it: Zhabdrung's death was kept as a secret for 59 years. We dont know exactly when he died. It is said that a handful of close associates were present when the death was made confirm after twelve years since he embarked into his permanent retreat in 1651.
Similar fate is being recorded of the Great Genghis Khan. While his dead body was escorted by his guards to an unknown location high in the mountains, the guards murdered the onlookers for it was Genghis Khans dead wish that his burial place shouldnt be known to anybody. 

To be continued......

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Unofficially official National Flag Day Celebrated

Early afternoon of 8th August, after the programme got over, I had mailed enough photographs for a National news agency to telecast the programme but it was hold back owing to the ‘date’. 

The news agency said the date is not authentic as it is not reflected in our Government Calendar. Thus they wanted to have a research done on it first and then run the story. Fair enough I said. But I wish they should have looked into the objectives and intentions rather than fixing their eyes on the date.

Come on ....Every day is auspicious to celebrate our Nationhood for that matter. We don’t look for dates to thank our monarchs, pay tribute to our leaders and celebrate our achievements. Though 8th of August, according to my research, has its own valid reason to stand out as the auspicious day to mark it as our National Flag Day. 

According to Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga and Dorji Penjore, His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck had initiated the design of our flag (The Origin and Description of The National Flag and National Anthem of The Kingdom of Bhutan, The Centre for Bhutan Studies, 2002) and was first made use of it during the signing of Indo Bhutan Treaty of 1949 on 8th ofAugust! 

The celebration at my school turn out to be an instrumental one in reinforcing and redirecting the essence of our age old culture and tradition, love and loyalty for our kings and our mother land. 

Indeed a momentous day celebrating our own Nationhood. With our National flag elegantly dancing in the air there was a sense of patriotic joy radiating profusely from the faces of our students and teacher colleagues. The ambience created by the songs, poems and hundreds of Flag fluttering together while National Anthem was sung gave million reasons to be proud of ourselves. All in all it reminded and help keep us all rooted to the core of who we are as Bhutanese: humble, caring, respectful and loving.    

Children were asked to bring Bhutanese cuisines of their choice for lunch and in the process they came to know the names, experienced the tastes and they learnt the origin of the cuisines. 

They were also instructed to bring and donate flower pots along with flowers to the school teaching them value of volunteerism, donation and to become environmentally conscious.

Songs of praise were sung and poems were recited to mark the day. The gathering was also informed about the reason and purpose to observe the day and they were also briefed on the detail of our National flag.

Commemorating Flag Day, the mid-term academic toppers were also presented with School souvenir as a token of acknowledgment for their hard work.

 As per the main stream media, there is a lot of cultural reinforcement Initiatives undertaken lately by different Schools across the country, various departments and our own esteemed Thrim Throm Education office. 

 From a teacher colleague of mine, I hear zulukha School and lately Changzamtok school have unanimously agreed that all lady staff of the schools would wear full kira at least once in a week. A fair arrangement to revive wearing full kira which with change of time had been side lined.

The other day I saw on BBS another story. All applauds to the Trashiyantse Dzongkhag Education office's humble attempt to re-orient teaching fraternity of the District with regard to our traditional Bhutanese dining custom using 'toray' and phob. The inclusion of summer vacation training camps for students to teach them about various traditional games and sports and not to forget; the esteemed Thromde Education Office requiring all schools to adhere to their infamous Tracksuit policy that they framed exhibits one prime goal-Preservation of culture and Tradition which is one of the pillars of Gross National Happiness.   

I know culture and tradition is of utmost importance. More importantly for Bhutan for reasons best known to ourselves. But how you stream line that matters. Rather than bulldozing ideas and propagating a list of "must dos" for schools which often result into unhealthy debates and blame game- I have a suggestion here.   

The Flag Day Celebration is culturally a thing of the western world so there is a tendency in our children to accept whole heartily, love it and enjoy the programme. The response for and the event held at my school was an unambiguously a successful one.  Thus, I see an opportunity to blend in all cultural aspects of our kingdom, be it cuisine, folktales, customs, textiles, sports, history, music and dance when we celebrate our National Flag Day- Because they say a National Flag Stands firmly to represent a  country! 

For event of this magnitude to happen across the country, I have this strong wish to see 8th of August on our Government Calendar marked as National Flag Day from next year. Concern authorities need to step forward to endorse and especially I would place an earnest appeal to Ministry of Education to take an active role to make this Day happen, for the benefit of all because we know schools play dynamic role to make or marr a society .

Why we should celebrate Flag Day:

  1: To remember our fallen heroes.

 2. To show gratitude to our monarchs.

  3: To relearn the flag's minute detail and its significance. 

4: To impart a sense of belongingness towards ones country.

 5: To celebrate our collective achievements as a nation.

 6: To revive some cultural essence and traditional etiquette by making children bring Bhutanese cuisines for lunch.

 7: To reinstall environmental consciousness among students through donation of flower pots to school. 

 8: Helping them understand the importance of nature.

 9: To inculcate the good virtue of charity and brotherhood.

 10: To inculcate the priceless values of Thanks giving, respect, love, care, gratitude, collaboration.

 What we could collectively enjoy and achieve on 8th of August as a school, a seat of learning, there is no reason why we shouldn't be celebrating the Flag Day next year (and every year to come) with greater zeal even if it doesn't make it on government calendar.

By the way, there was more than what my eyes could see….it’s my limited language skill and limited vocabulary that really couldn’t capture the real feelings and emotions we felt in the heat of celebrating the first ever Flag Day in my School( and perhaps  in the  Country).

Picture courtesy  (Some pictures) and teacher colleagues. 

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