Monday, November 18, 2019

An Outlandish Master, Exile and Death: Version Two of the Life and Death of Terton Drukdra Dorji

All Bhutanese know that Terton Drukdra Dorji prophesied the birth of His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. It is also believed that Terton Drukdra Dorji left detailed prophecy concerning Bhutan. 

Unfortunately, two Bjabchu men through open proclamation by 8th Druk Desi murdered Terton. 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 are two oral account of this story. The first one I have already posted earlier and this is the second version.

In the medieval days, Bhutan was divided by the factional self-interests of the Desi and regional Penlops (dpon slob). Around that time, Terton Drukdra Dorji was residing at Lungchutse above the Dochula mountain pass.
As the pass roughly forms a geographical division between the west and east of the country, warlords residing on one side of the pass harbored suspicions that the Terton was aiding the warlords of the other side and vice versa. This tense situation came to a head when in a heated altercation; the Terton stabbed the Changangkha Lam on his ribs with his hand-held ceremonial dagger. For this assault, the Terton was incarcerated and sent to Chabcha Dzong where the Penlop who was from Dokhachu Goenpa was a deeply pious man.
Even though the Terton was technically a prisoner, the Penlop treated him with great reverence, offering him a place of honour in his personal altar and entertaining him with special foods and drinks at night even though during the daytime, the Terton had to be lodged in a cell below the central tower (dbu tse) of the Dzong. This secret arrangement was soon leaked to some evil-minded people who reported the whole affair to the government, which immediately transferred the Penlop to the remote borderland with a demotion as some sort of border minder (sa srung pa). 
The Terton was recalled to Paro where he was unceremoniously bundled in a leather rucksack and cast away in the river. Upon the exposure of the lapses on the part of the Penlop who served the Terton disregarding the higher order, the Terton assured the Penlop that he should feel secure even in his new posting as Aum Kangchim
who was his secret consort would look after his welfare. 
As the Terton was destined to live longer for the benefit of sentient beings, fortune favoured him. An elderly fisherman and his younger friend were at this time setting fish traps in a ravine river called Changchang Yarlokma when the rucksack got struck in the trap of the younger man to his utter dismay. He cursed his luck for landing a useless catch and was about to set it afloat again when the elder man offered to exchange his fishes for the sack. However, when they opened load, a corpse appeared inside because of which they were about to cast it away again. However, to their relief, the Terton introduced himself and instructed the two men not to do him harm. In appreciation of the instant change in the behaviour of the two men, the Terton said that all the negative merits they earned so far from their debased occupation will be absolved with his rescue in their hand. 
The two men thus returned home as changed men while the Terton roamed the jungle in search of food and shelter. The place was named Beyul Kinzang (Auspicious Secret Place). As summer approached, the heat became overwhelming and the Terton moved upwards till he reached the confluence of Thimphu chu (river) which swirled from the right and the Tshechu Lum chu moved from the left and came upon a beautiful mini- island like the location of the Punakha which he named Gawaithang (Happy Plain). Then the Terton continued to move till he reached the Kekema village from Arugang where he asked the people what the name of the place was. The people answered that the village was called Kekema on which the Terton said that a more suitable name should be given to the place and thus named it Phatshuma. 
After Phatshuma, the Terton headed towards Bongo in the guise of a lay priest, but on the way, he suffered extreme fatigue and hunger. However, a group of cow herders saw his plight and offered boiled milk and nourishment because of which the Terton rejuvenated and again asked for the name of the place to which the herders replied that it was Patalakhu. The Terton said that a more suitable name for the place would be Sonamthang (Meritorious Plain) as the people there accrued great merit by hosting him. Today it is believed that even the poorest household in this place has a few head of cattle because of the Terton’s blessings. 
Just before the Terton reached the village of Bongo, he turned to have a last glance at Pasakha. The spot from where he did so is today called Semdang-gang as he experienced a feeling of clarity there. Then upon reaching the village that is today Bongo
, the Terton said that the village is located on the head of the treasure trove of Namsey (Vaishravana) and thus named it Bongo (bang mgo). From Bongo, the Terton reached the place that is called Jungley today. The name is an onomatopoetic corruption of the name given by the Terton to the place, which he called Joen-ley after the deities there welcomed him with greetings. While the Terton was in meditation at this place and contemplating building a bridge to connect the two deep valleys of Bongo and Miritsemo, some people who harbored ill feelings for the Terton relayed reports of the Terton’s escape and his sojourn in this place. 

Upon getting this intelligence, the Desi issued edict that were relayed from one village to another by designated errands in these places. The message was that whichever person was successful in eliminating the Terton will not only see his tax obligations to the government pardoned, but by virtue, his whole village will be written off as well. 
When this incentive laden message reached Jabchu Mepisa, two misguided men thought that now their whole village could get rid of taxes owed to the government for generations to come and thus decided to take on the challenge. They departed from their village with this evil plot and upon reaching Miritsemo, another accomplice called Ap Takchung joined them who said that he knew where the Terton was and thus, the partners-in-crime reached Joenley. 
Upon reaching the village, they feared an encounter with the famed strongman of this village called Drodrew who might foil their plot. So, they deviously went to his mother in a bid to deceive her. They pretended to ask for her son, but the old woman who was roasting rice told Ap Takchung to give his hand which she then put inside her armpit and held it there. Ap Takchung was unable to free himself from this hold and so, the old woman told Ap Takchung to return for if he was no match to an old woman, he might well be grievously injured by her son should an encounter occur. 
However, the three men would not concede and so they hatched a plan to secretly carry off the Terton together with his meditation hut. Ap Drodrew heard the commotion while they were attempting to do so, and with the strongman in their pursuit, they had to abort their plan and flee to safety, which they did by crossing the river, which acted as the village boundary from where trespassing was not allowed. So, Ap Drodrew had to give up his pursuit at this point but he took a boulder from there as a representative of the Terton which the elders of the village attest to but which is no longer there for us to see. 
Upon reaching the cliff previously known as Troetroema, but which nowadays is called Trongtrongma, Ap Takchung returned home to Miritsemo, thus not becoming a part of the heinous act. The two men from Jabchu would not back down and they tried to execute the Terton in vain as all their weapons failed. Seeing their persistence and knowing that his time was now up, the Terton instructed two men to use his own scarf and stuff it down his throat. The two men accordingly wrapped the scarf around their sword and stuffed in down the throat of the Terton thus suffocating the Master to death. 
The earthly remains of the Terton was then carried to where the Chukha Hydro Power Project is today located on the first day. The next day, the body of the Terton was received above where the present-day BOC station of Tsimasham is located at a spot called Lam Seou Drangsa where preparations were made to offer the customary meals to the ethereal remain of the Terton when it blurted that the person who will offer the meal is on his way referring to the Tsamdrag Trulku who was then actually coming to receive the Terton. 
A preparation for the night was made at a place near the Chabcha Dzong. The next day, it proved humanly impossible to lift the body and a report was sent to the Desi to that effect. The Deb (sdep, an alternative word for Desi) then sent words that should that be the case, preparation for the ceremonial cremation should be made immediately at the same location.
The cremation was conducted the same day. As with the first version, when a windstorm struck and blew away all the ashes, only a handful could be saved which the Tsamdra Trulku entreated the Terton to leave behind for the benefit of the sentient beings. A reliquary stupa was then built with this relic as the main content.

And thus end the second version of the oral accounts of the life and death of Terton Drukdra Dorji. 

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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