History

Bhutan was called with different names by her peoples and by neighboring nations in the past. The immense botanical richness and forest comparatively to Tibet (China), she was known as the Menjong (country of medicinal herbs) by Tibetans. Yartsha Goen Buup (Cordycepts) harvesting has grown in its popularity and the harvest is being exported to many countries. Tibetans also called her by the name Monyul (the country of darkness). She was known as the Thsenden kaypaijong (country where cypress grows) by Bhutanese themselves.

               In 12th century, when Tshangpa Jarey (1161-1211), ancestor to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, was around Nam valley (today at Kyechu valley), he had a omen of nine dragons flying with thundering sound and flowering rain from sky. Thus, he named her as Drukyul, the lanf of Thunder Dragon. This name is prominent this days. To the outside world, she is known as Bhutan. Bhutan is mispronounced word of Bhu-uttan (high land) y British India Company. Therefore Bhutan is a British Legacy.

Pre history – before 7th century
Bhutan history before 7th century lacks records and everything is associated with oral tradition. There are many interesting myths, legends and folk tales of Bhutan. The stone tools and Megaliths (erected stones) are evidence to suggest that Bhutan was inhabited as long as the 2nd millennium BC.

Early historic period – 7th century
Buddhism came to Bhutan before the arrival of Guru Rimpoche. It is believed that the 1st Buddhist King of Tibet, Songtshen Gampo built 108 Buddhist temples to subdue a demon who was residing in Himalayas within a time of 24 hours. Jampa Lhakhang at Bumthang and Kyechu Lhakhang at Paro are two of the 108 temples built by him. Bonism was strongly in practice.

8th century – visit of Guru rimpoche
Guru Rimpoche visited Bhutan in 746 A.D. His visit led to the spread of tantric Buddhism. He brought the Tantric Buddhism in the country and his meeting with another spiritual consort Moenmo Tashi Khiudroen, the daughter of King Sindhu Raja.
That time, Sindhu Raja or Kuenjom was the ruler of Bumthang. He was defeated by King Nabhudhara from the southern plains of India and away from his Kingdom in India. Nabhudhara sent his forces to attack Sindhu Raja at Bumthang. Sidhu Raja sought help from the local deities in his up-coming battle. The battle was lead by his son, Taglamembar. Battle was lost once again and Taglamembar was killed. He got infuriated and started desecrating the sites of local deities. Nedhag Shelging Karpo, the chief of local deities, became furious and made Sidhu Raja very ill.and everything tried to cure him failed. One of his official heard about Guru Rimpoche in Nepal and immediately officials were sent to invite Guru Rimpoche.this is the reason for Guru’s visit to Bhutan. Guru subdued the Nedhag Shelging Karpo. He mediated between Sindhu Raja and King Nabhudhara and a truce was signed between them at Nabje Korphu. A testimony of their oath still stands at Nabji today on a black stone pillar bearing the handprints of Guru Rimpoche and the two Kings.
Later, Guru Rimpoche visited Bhutan several times. It is believed that there isn’t a place where Guru has not visited in Bhutan. He hid many religious texts and treasures all over the country. He prophesized that the treasures and religious texts will be discovered by Tertons(treasure discoverers) in the past. Several Tertons came and discovered many of Guru’s treasures. Guru Rimpoche Hid those treasures with a purpose of continuity of Buddhism.

12th century
Gyalwa Lhananpa visited Bhutan and established and led the foundation of the Lhapa Kagyupa. He is person who initiated Dzong system in the country.
Drukpa kagyud school was brought to Bhutan by Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo (1184-1251). His four sons, Dampa, Nyima, Gartoen and Wangchuk played very important role in the spread of Drkpa Kagyud in the country. Drukpa Kagyud is the state religion of the Bhutan. Their where many sects of Buddhism in the country but they were gradually dominated by Drukpa Kagyud sect.

13th to 17th century
many other Drukpa masters visited Bhutan after Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo. They all greatly contributed in the spread of Buddhism in the country. Ngawang Chogyal, brother of Drukpa Kuenley came from Tibet and constructed Chimi Lhakhang at Punakha. Jakar Dzong was built by Ngagi Wangchuk, great grandfather of Zhabdrung. Zhabdrung’s father, Tempa Nyima and grandfather, Mepham Chogyal also visited Bhutan. There are many tales from Drukpa Kuenley(the Devine madman). The locals and the tourists enjoy to hear the tales of drukpa Kuenley. The popular Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) discovered treasure from the lake pool (Mebartsho) in Bumthang.
Medieval Period: Emergence of Bhutan as Nation State
Zhabdrung Ngawang namgyal came to Bhutan in 1616 when he was twenty three years old. He brought the sacred Rangjung Khasarpani, a self-created image of Chenrezig (Avaloketeswara) from Tibet. The image was formed from the vertebrae of Tshangpa Gyarey and it is housed at Punakha Dzong today. He built many Dzongs in the country. The most popular ones are the Semtokha Dzong, Punakha Dzong, Paro Rimpung Dzong and the ruin of Drukgyal Dzong.
The great saint from Tibet, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal introduced the systematic scheme of governance in Bhutan. He introduced the dual system of governance with the Je Khenpo as the spiritual head of the nation and the Desi (Dev raja), as the head of the temporal aspects. He unified the country.

20th century
In 20th century, Monarchy system was established with the coronation of Ugyen Wangchuck as the first king of Bhutan in December 17, 1907.

Translate »