Monday, February 18, 2019

Visited Sha Radrap, a guardian deity of Wangdue Phodrang.

As my parents and family are from Wangduephodrang dzongkhang, time to time seeking blessing from Sha Radrap is of paramount importance. For we the people of Wangduephordang, which is generally known by name Shar, Radrap is the source of great peace and prosperity. On the other side he is also very fearful. Radrap no doubt has became from time immemorial a household deity for the people of Wangdue. 

After offering butter lamps and incense I prostrated to the lama and than at the altar and finally received blessing from the Radrap. I than requested and roll 3 set dice. No. 5 was compounded and it was believed to be a good sign. It was a blessing number from the 5 Radrap's manifestation present in the Monastery.
The old monastery is a three storied building which houses the Radrap's statue on the top floor. The moment one enter; one is immediately come in face to face with the fearful Radrap. 
From a layman's conception the deity has three manifestations. He assumes the form of a king, a monk and a btsan known as Dupo Tiyag. The king and the monk are the benign manifestations responsible for the provision of peace, happiness and prosperity. 
On the contrary, Dupo Tiyag with his fiery wrath acts as a destructive agent to punish people whose faith in Radrap turns shallow. The bull sacrifice and the brGya tsar ritual are conducted to assure that the wrath of Dupo Tiyag is not activated. However, now this practice has been stopped and meat is purchased and offered. 
As for the peaceful manifestations, they are content with fumigation, erection of white flags without inscriptions and libations (gser skyems).
Around him are his manifestations:
(1) In front of him is the white peaceful guardian of treasures (gter bdag)
holding a bowl containing jewels. Riding on a white horse he moves around providing food and wealth to the subjects of Radrap.
(2) On the right is the black wrathful three-eyed Dupo Tiyag. His responsibility is to destroy the enemies of the deity with the sword in his right hand and a mountain-sized tusk.
(3) The rider of Tanag Tingkar (rta nag rting dkar), “a black horse with white hooves,” Dushag Nagpo (bDud zhags nag po), stationed on the left, captures and tames evil people with the black rope from which his name is derived.
(4) Nearby is a monk robed in yellow with a bowl in his left hand and a stick with stupa on the top (mkar sil) in his right. He preaches and guards the Dharma.
(5) At the back is the great warrior Magpon Chenpo Lutsen Pelzang (dMag dpon chen po Klu btsan dpal bzang). He has a red wrathful face, three eyes and pointing hair. In his right hand is a spear, and in his left a snake (to be used as rope). Riding on the sunrays he destroys the enemies of Radrap and help people who seek refuge in him. 
You will also see A Mermaid who has offered the land for building the Monastery as per the caretaker. 
The people of Wangdue regularly conduct rituals in honor of Radrap. Prayer flags are also hoisted. In all family annual ritual, appeasement rituals to Radrap are a must. In doing so people believe that he will reward with prosperity, success, good health and happiness. 
All in all, the faith of the people and the power of Radrap can be summed in three sentences:

"Go for trade; he is the merchant. Reside in the village; he is the chieftain. March to the battlefield; he is the general."

Sha Radrap is omnipresent and all-powerful. During archery and other games, many contestants seek the help, strength and the skill of the deity for victory. 
The blessing of Radrap is sought for safety even when making long journeys and while going to a new place. 
Even people from other parts of Bhutan who are stationed in the area frequently visit Radra Nekhang and receive his blessing.

By the why how did Radrap become the guardian deity of Wangdue Phodrang?
Originally this deity was a Tibetan btsan. In the eight century when Guru Padmasambhava visited Tibet this btsan promised to be the guardian (gter bdag) of his treasures. As a mark of appreciation, Guru named him Genyen Chenpo (dge bsnyen chen po), the great upasaka. This, however, is not a feature that is unique to him as many such figures were made to take vows to protect the Doctrine of Buddha. 

Then, in the thirteenth century, in Druk Ralung (‘Brug ra lung) in front of Phajo Drugom Zhigpo (Pha jo ‘Brug sgom zhigpo), this treasure guardian of Guru rededicated his service to the protection of the Dharma. Thereafter, he became bound by oath (dam can), to protect the Doctrine of Buddha. 

At an unspecified period, when Mendi Phud Nidup, a trader from Khothangkha village went to Tibet, he met this btsan. The trader, realizing the power of the btsan, tempted him to come to his village as their general (dmag dpon) and deity. On being asked to describe the mountain in his village, which was offered as the abode, the man said:
“The summit is the blooming place of chuga (chu kha) flowers.
The middle is the singing place of khuju ngyoem (khu ju sngom). 
The base is the growth place of patsha damru (dpag tsha ‘dam ru”.

As the chuga flower blooms only in the highlands and cane shoots and elastostoma in the lowlands we can understand the enormity of the mountain with its base in the sub-tropical zone and its summit among the cold high peaks. 
The trader said this with the intention of igniting the interest of the btsan to come to Bhutan. 
Having tempted the deity, the two journeyed to Bhutan. A little before entering into the territory of Bjena gewog , when they reached a small pass the btsan complained that he was feeling lethargic (dz: tser yang ‘tseraw mas) . This gave the pass the name the “lethargic mountain” (tser las la). 

On reaching another peak the btsan moaned that he was feeling sick (dz: na yang naw mas). So the mountain was named the “sick mountain” (na ri mu).
On encountering the third peak the trader announced that this would be the abode. But when the btsan reacted strongly, saying that it was much smaller than the one described, the trader admitted that he had told him a lie and the peak acquired the name the “lie mountain” (dz: shob la). 
Even today these mountains are referred to by the same appellations. 

Continuing a little further the two reached a place from where the present abode could be seen. So, the trader informed the btsen that the peak, which was visible from where they were standing, was the abode where chuga flowers bloomed. In comparison with the high mountains of those in Tibet, this one in Bhutan appeared rather small to the btsan, which provoked him to comment:
“it just has the height of a goat” (dz: ra bzum chig rang mas). 
Thereafter, the peak became the abode of the btsan and it was named “goat-like mountain” (ra ‘dra sgang). The btsan too was given the title Radrap which is derived from the name of the mountain”.
 He then settled on the peak and became the deity of the people in the locality. 

I really enjoyed the visit after a long time.
To know detail about the Sha Radrap and conduct of different festivals, please go through the research conducted by Mr. Tandin Dorji.
Reference: 
THE CULT OF RADRAP (RA DGRA), “NEP” OF WANGDUE PHODRANG (BHUTAN) by Tandin Dorji Curriculum Officer, CAPSD, Paro, Bhutan