Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Prophecy and Persecution: Version One of the Life and Death of Terton Drukdra Dorji

All Bhutanese know that the birth of His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was prophesied by Terton Drukdra Dorji. It is also believed that Terton Drukdra Dorji left detailed prophecy concerning Bhutan. One such prophecy is the proper  maintaining of Pasa Tumdra Ami Ney that will ensure perpetual friendship with India. 
Unfortunately, Terton was murdered by two Bjabchu men through  open proclamation by 8th Druk Desi. Many want to know why but there is hardly any written document or Namthar of Terton Drukdra Dorji to know the reason behind. Nevertheless, there is some oral account of this story. 

Even though Terton Drukdra Dorji has been associated with some critical visions concerning modern Bhutan, his biography today remains hard to locate if it was there at all. However, in many places of Chukha District where the Terton spent many years conducting religious services, oral accounts of the Terton’s life are recounted to these days. 
According to one of these versions, while the Terton was residing at Lungchu-tse, Tsalu-na 
and other sacred sites (sbas gnas) conducting beneficial activities for the sentient beings, a vicious rumour spread that he was destined to retrieve a Treasure from Paro Chumophug called gnam lcags ‘o ma’i ral gri. 
Getting wind of the persistent rumour, the reigning 8th Desi, Druk Rabgye (1707-1719) called the Terton and asked if it was true that such a Treasure was destined for him to which he answered that it was indeed the case. The Desi then consulted his omniscient in-house priest who said that should the Treasure be retrieved, then the days are numbered for the two of them to see the white clouds and drink the chilled water. He reasoned that in their previous lives, they were not on good terms with Zhabrung Rinpoche and so resorted to malignant dedication against him because of which when they were reborn, they were well placed to do harm to his state. 
The Sungkhorb further submitted that since the Treasure had the potential to naturally eliminate malignant beings, they should contrive against the possible retrieval of the Treasure. He pointed to the fact that in the Nyingma tradition, for a being to fully realize his potential partner, he needs an appropriate consort. The most appropriate consort in this regard was a lady with beard called Khasa Bjeru Zhoem from Paro Nap Khasa. 
However, in place of this lady, the Desi by force made the Terton to establish relation with his own maid who had signs of all nine evils from Wang Khasa and the two of them to retrieve the Treasure. Upon arrival at Chumophug, the inauspicious union led to all the Treasures vanishing into thin air. But hidden from the perception of all people present, three relics (‘phel gdung) of the Buddha presented themselves into the palms of the Terton.
According to The History of Bhutan by Dr. Karma Phuntsho, Terton Drukdra Dorji demonized Druk Rabgye by identifying him as Lhazang Lupal, an evil minister in Thri Songdetsen’s court and also predicted that Druk Rabgye will ‘in the beginning honour Kuenga Gyaltshen like hat, in middle use him like clothes and in the end take him off like shoes’. For this bold claim, Drukdra Dorji lost his life.
On his return, the Terton reached Paro Dhop Shari where he instructed the leading family there to mould the image of either a Buddha or Guru Rinpoche in which the relics should be enshrined in the offering bowl. At some future time, the relics will proliferate and emerge via the nose. Upon hearing that such a statue had been made, some evil-minded people vandalized it in the hope of extracting the relics. They were unsuccessful in their design and claimed that this was false. Upon inspection later, it was found that the relics had in fact moved till the neck of the statue. 
Thus, fearing the exposure of more critical facts, which could threaten their position as Desi and priest, they made an arbitrary decision to exile the Terton who subsequently was made to go to the southern borderlands where it was believed his impact would be negated by the sheer remoteness of the place. 
On route to his destination, he first reached the place that is nowadays called Damchu where the people from Chapcha and Lobneykha were raising their horses in a serene meadow. The people could not however reside in the place, as there was no clean water source. To this predicament, the Terton informed to the delight of the people that there was a Karmic relation between him and the people there from their past lives. So, he will create a sacred water source while they should arrange for ration. Both parties thus heralding an auspicious relation, which was to last to this day, subsequently fulfilled this arrangement. 
Following the traditional route, the Terton next arrived at Tsimasham where he practiced Abidharma (mngon pa) for three months leaving behind his bodily imprints. Moreover, in a nearby place, he left his footprints as well as that of his mount and created sacred water source because of which place became auspicious and today the Dzong of Chukha is located in this place. 
Subsequently, the Terton arrived at the place where now the dam of the Chukha Hydro Power Project is located. Even though the people say that the stone-pile the height of a three-storied building is called Dho Jangchub (Awakening Stone), it is actually the Bumpai Ney (Hundred Thousand Secret Site) where it is prophesized that a hundred thousand monks will assemble in the future. The Terton then visited the waterfall resembling water offering that is just opposite the site of Bumpai Ney and retrieved Treasures thus turning the site into a sacred grove for the faithful. He also left imprints of his foot as well as that of his horse apart from creating sacred water source. 
Then just before he reached Gedu, he left the imprint of his mount in a place called Lachugang. To the pleasant surprise of the construction workers who tried fruitlessly to dislodge the boulder bearing the imprint during the laying of the national highway along that stretch, the boulder stood firm despite the use of rock explosives. Therefore, the road was made around the boulder and today travelers can see the unscathed imprints for themselves. 
After performing these miraculous feats in various places along the highway, the Terton reached a place called Labarma in Bongo Gewog where he meditated in a cave on the Troetroema cliff where he again founded a natural sacred spring source. Following the traditional path, he then reached the border area in a place called Passakha. 
According to the accounts of the people, the reason why the Terton had to go to this place was because this was an outlying area away from the purview of the government at the centre and thus it was a safe haven for those who escaped the heavy tax burden of the state or fugitive figures like the Terton himself. It was the auspicious fruition of Karma which led the Terton to the sacred site of Lhamo Ekajati called Aum Kangchigmai Ney where he spent years on end practicing and propagating the Dharma. 
Later the Terton made the determination to return to the Centre to which Aum Kangchim raised objection saying that obstacles to his life could result from this adventure. However, the Terton was adamant at which point, Aum Kangchim said that even she was a tenth bhumi Bodhisattva and her objections cannot be dismissed thus. She took many wrathful forms to get the Terton to consent, but instead the Terton miraculously created ritual object (dmar gtor) in negation of her powers. The sacred stone, which we can still see, is believed to be the remnant of this object. 
In fulfillment of his destiny, the Terton made the fatal return journey during which Lhamo Ekajati accompanied him till the village of Agay Lakha in the guise of his riding horse. The footprints of the Terton and the Mount along with the marks made by his staff can be clearly seen on the sacred stone in this village. As predicted by Lhamo Ekajati, misfortunes accrued to the Terton’s life force as he was confronted with two assassins from the village of Bjabchu at the cliff of Troetroema. However, all known weapons to mankind could not inflict harm on the Terton, and while the assassins were pondering, the Terton who through his visions knew that his time was now at its end, instructed the assailants to try the famous method of bloodless death in the Himalayas by way of choking. Saying thus, the Terton gave his belt to the two men who used it to stifle the Terton and then stuff silk scarves down his throat thus assassinating the saint in water pig year of 1713. Thus the cliff, which was formerly called Troetroema, was in grief called Trongtrongma (bkrongs, an honorific word for assassination). 
After the regretful passing away of the Terton was conveyed to the Tsamdra Trulku Je Ngawang Drub, he sent his disciples to receive the earthly remains (sku gdung) of the Terton from the cliff. On the first day of the journey, the body was received at Tsimasham where the BOC station is located today. The spot is said to be strangely barren as if burnt but due to development activities, this cannot be attested any longer. On the second leg of the journey, the bodily remains were received at a stone slab near the Chabcha Dzong. 
The next day, preparations were made to receive the remains in Tshamdrag. However, this could not be done as the body showed sign that its final resting point was at that particular place. Therefore, presided over by the Tsamdrag Trulku,
it was decided that the Terton was to be cremated near the Chabcha Dzong. It was then that the body lent itself easily to be laid for the final rites. After the cremation, a strong gust of wind took all the ashes (spur thal) upwards to the heaven at which point the Tsamdrag Trulku begged for some residue to be left for the benefit of the sentient beings and managed to secure a handful. With the relics thus secured and the Terton’s own saintly clothes (bla chas), a reliquary stupa was built at the location as an object of faith which is believed to fulfill all enlightened wishes.
This account of the passing away of the Terton to the realm of no bounds is the first of two versions of the life and death of Terton Drukdra Dorji as narrated by the elders. 

Visions, Prophecies and Leadership: Oral Accounts of the Life and Death of Terton Drukdra Dorji  by Thinley Jamtsho, Dendup Chophel and Sangay Thinley. Journal of Bhutan Studies, Vol.31, Winter 2014 

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