Monday, February 11, 2019

Shari Pangkha monastery and its deity Gase Bumrip

Last year I have visited Shari Pangkha monastery, which is located on a hilltop. It was around one hour drive through a rough feeder road from my wife house at Gase Tsho Wom. On reaching the monastery the place was found to be so scenic and can view three gewogs Gase Tsho Gom, Tsho Wom and Nahi from there.

There were few monks who took care of us serving tea and taking around the monastery. Unfortunately the monastery Lam was not there as he went to attend Melam Chenpo at Rajir, India. My effort to write on this sacred monastery went in vain as no monks there could explain however you try to dig them.

Drubthob Sonam Gyeltshen built Gase Shari Pangkha Lhakhang, sometime during the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Drubthob remained low profile as he spent most of his life ascetic. 
It is evident that many drubthobs and gomchens had meditated at Shari Pangkha in those days as several ruins of hermitages are still seen within the vicinity of the main Lhakhang. 

The monastery hosts the chamber of the local deity, Gase Bumrip. Unlike most local deities, Gase Bumrip looks serene, peaceful and nonviolent. He puts on a cowboy like hat and mounts on a white horse and a horseman named Leki Phuntsho leads the horse. 
According to oral reference, Gase Bumrip was a just, fair and compassionate deity and he would sympathize with poor and humble people whenever rich and powerful dominated them. In those days, like anywhere else, Gaselo also had the tradition of masters and slaves and often-cruel masters abused their slaves with extreme discrimination and manhandling. Often, the masters without their consent would slaughter pigs and cattle owned and raised by the slaves and they would only be given bones, horns and skins in reward. 
One fine day it so happened that the slaves and the masters had a rare moment to play ‘degor’ against each for the very first time at Gase Khamina. Usually, slaves were not even allowed to cross their shadows, forget playing games together. The masters undermined the slaves. The team of masters invited Gase Bumrip, the local deity to side with them. They offered ritual cakes and other offerings to appease the deity. The slaves offered nothing, as they were not allowed to. However, as the game began, the slaves defeated the masters straight in all three games and taught them a huge lesson that human beings were all equal and he treated them so. Leki Phuntsho, the horseman of Gase Bumrip as it appears to be with the statues now, was believed to have been vanished on that day from the playground and later divinations from astrologers and shamans traced, he was hand-picked by Gase Bumrip as his horseman. It was also believed that Leki Phuntsho, one of the players of the slaves’ team was handpicked on purpose to pass on a message to the masters that he disliked the discriminating behaviors of the cruel masters. 
Since then it was believed that the masters had relatively become mild towards their slaves. Practise of slavery existed until the third King of Bhutan officially abolished serfdom in 1958.
The present monastery was built by Dasho Passang Dorji and carried out a grand investiture ceremony. On entering the monastery one can see many images of the ceremony on a notice board.
If you happened o be at Gaselo, please visit the sacred monastery.

Reference courtesy: Dasho Gaseb Kinley Wangchuk.