Jarog Dongchen

Dust had just begun to settle after the first war was fought between the Tsang Desi of Tibet and Bhutanese troops near Paro Hungrel Dzong. The Tibetan troops had returned humiliated to their country but vowed to avenge it. Peace returned to the country and Zhabdrung Rinpoche had some time to rededicate himself to prayers and teachings.

However, the peace was short-lived because Lam Kha Nga, Kathogpas, Chazampas and other religious followers whose importance had diminished burned with jealously as Zhabdrung became popular among the local residents. They waged war against Zhabdrung to reclaim their past glories.

Preparation went on discreetly to wage war against Zhabdrung. Supporting Zhabdrung’s opponents were landlords of Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang. They too were not happy with Zhabdrung’s growing influences in their territories. In fact some of the representatives of these disgruntled religious figures had gone to Tibet to seek help from the Tsang Desi of Tibet. They knew that the Tsang Desi Karma Tenchong Wangpo would help them because the then Tsang Desi’s father was a bitter rival of Zhabdrung.

Zhabdrung was in Chari then when the war against Bhutan was declared. A total of four contingents of army arrived from Paro and Goen while one arrived from Bumthang. When Zhabdrung heard the news of arrival of the Tibetan armies from north and his Bhutanese rivals waging war from the south, Zhabdrung felt disturbed that the initial prophecy of Buddhism flourishing in Bhutan may not have been correct. In order to avoid bloodbath, Zhabdrung suggested to his most trusted official, Umze Tenzin Drugyel, who later became the first Druk Desi. To consider peaceful negotiations.However, he told Umze Tenzin Drugyel not to involve Zhabdrung and the deity Pal Yeshey Gonpo in the negotiation. Zhabdrung, however, had more important things to do than fight the battle. He had the responsibility to save the sacred treasures of Rangjung Khasarpani from the hands of the Tibetans. One of the reasons for the Tibetans to wage war against Zhabdrung was because Zhabdrung had brought many sacred treasures from Tibet which they wanted to take back. However, when Zhabdrung claimed his rights and refused to return the treasures, Tibetans found reasons to wage war against him.

So Zhabdrung left Thimphu along the ancient route and went towards the present day Jargang crossing over Khotokha and Jela. Along the way, he left some treasures in Wachina dzong and the rest he carried towards Jargang. His intention was to save the nangtens or the treasures at all cost.

When he reached Jalachongdragtsen, he was received by the people of that area with tea and other refreshments. After tea, Zhabdrung, wanted to confirm whether Buddhism could actually flourish in Bhutan given the frequency of war waged by the Tibetans and the existence of large number of rivals within Bhutan itself. His initial prophecy was confirmed. He also left his footprint in a pit at a place called Shong which still exists between Jargang and Aula.

In meanwhile, the Tibetan armies which has arrived at Thimphu rampantly vandalized the present day Simtokha Dzong which then was known as Sanga Zhabden Phodrang. Umze Tenzin Drugyel’s attempt to negotiate had come to an utter failure and there was no option but to fight.

However, the resistance from handful of armies which were formed with the volunteers and loyal band of Zhabdrung’s patrons were no match for the Tibetan armies owing to their huge number. Further, the Tibetans were also supported by the Zhabdrung’s rivals in Bhutan.

The Tibetan armies captured Sanga Zhabden Phodrang, the present day Simtokha Dzong, and forcefully entered inside. While they were inside the dzong, they vandalized the dzong and also attempted to loot all the treasures left inside. It is being said that the Dzong caught fire and there was a huge explosion as the gun powder inside the Dzong caught fire. The explosion killed the Tibetan general, his officers and many of his men.

Those who stood guard outside were captured and the rest surrendered since the leaders had been killed when the Dzong collapsed. The armies of the rival leaders fled too but those who could not flee were captured.

Ever since the first war was fought with Tibetans, many inauspicious sign had occurred in Bhutan including the epidemic that followed which killed many people in Bhutan. However, the greatest loss suffered during the war was the collapse of the Simtokha dzong which was not even five years old then.

Meanwhile, Zhabdrung had reached the present day Jargang and was putting up at his old hostess Zompachugmo’s house. Although he was treated with grand hospitality, his mind wandered off to Tibetan War. He was even contemplating to leave for India with the treasure when Jarog Dongchen before Zhabdrung and informed him of the fate of the Tibetan armies and also that of his rivals. Upon hearing the news of his enemy’s defeat, Zhabdrung felt relieved. He named the small stream where he heard the good news as Deychu, the stream where he experienced relief. Jarog Dongchen is a personal deity of Zhabdrung who is usually seen in the form of raven. Jarog Dongchen also volunteered to protect the country from future wars from Tibetans and requested Zhabdrung to return to Chari for the benefit of all sentient beings. The stream and rock where Zhabdrung sat and heard the news still exists to this day.

Zhabdrung returned to his hostess’s house and sought permission to return to Chari when the hostess pleaded him to stay saying that her village does not have any religious figure who would teach them dharma. Zhabdrung although could not stay promised to send a representative and it is being said that when the first Penlop was appointed in the country, it was in Jargang. The name Jargang is the shortened version of the name Jarogang which Zhabdrung had given to the fields of his hostess Zompachugmo. It was a tribute to the deity Jarog Dongchen, the emanation of Pal Yeshey Gonpo.

Zhabdrung is believed to have made two statues which resembled him from the breakfast and tea he was served by his hostess. One of the statues flew away as soon as it was made and it is believed to have disappeared inside a tree at what is now Tsirangtoed. It is believed that the people of Tsirangtoed would be highly beneficial in helping dharma flourish in the area. People of those times in other neighbouring areas also believed that the good grain harvest in their place is because of this incident.

The other statue along with the gift of conch, drilbu (the bell) and a cymbal still exist in the Jargang Lhakhang. Zhabdrung is also known to have planted his walking stick to foresee whether he would be able to sustain in Bhutan or not. If the staff grew into tree, it was taken as good omen where he would flourish and if it died, it was taken as bad omen. However, the walking stick is known to have grown into cypress tree and it still exists today.

Some of the treasures left by the Zhabdrung for safe keeping in Jargang monastery was later brought to Wangduephodrang as sacred treasure for the Dzong and is believed to be kept at Lama Lhakhang.

Zhabdrung also planted a seed from the jackfruit, which was offered to him after lunch. He commanded his hostess that when the tree started bearing fruits, it should be sent to him wherever he would be. It became tradition for the family and the generations later to send jackfruit every year as an offering to Punakha whether Zhabdrung was there or not until recent past. The jackfruit tree still exist there (but I am not very sure if it bears fruit or not.)

Zhabdrung returned to Chari in Thimphu and as he was conducting prayers and rites for the dead soldiers in the war, he was also blessed with divination of Pal Yeshey Gonpo, his personal protective deity.

The crown worn by our monarchs today represents Jarog Dongchen, the deity. It protects our monarchs from all vices and enemies. This was first made and offered by Lama Jangchub Tshongru to Jigme Namgyel, the father of the first King Ugyen Wangchuk. Since then it has been associated with the Bhutanese crown. Lama Jangchub Tshongru was Jigme Namgyel’s root guru.



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