The Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang or The Punakha Dzong is the best representation and symbol of Bhutanese civilization and the Bhutanese state.
It carries religious and cultural significance with various relics like Rangjung Kharsapani, including relics associated with Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel. Reflecting its broad character the Dzong also houses relics associated with the pre-eminent Nyingma sect master Terton Pema Lingpa.
Equal to its religious appeal is its political importance from the time of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel when many theocratic and lay rulers of Bhutan looked at the Dzong for legitimacy.
So if the Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang is comparable to the body of the Bhutanese civilization, the Wangchuk Dynasty in the last hundred years or so has become its heart, beating and sustaining the larger civilization and state around it.
On Saturday 16th April the Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang saw three of its illustrious heart sons in the form of His Majesty the King, His Majesty the Fourth King and His Royal Highness The Gyalsey representing the present, past and the future.
It was only appropriate that on a cloudy day the clouds parted and let the sun shine through on the gathering in the Dzong at the exact moment when His Majesty the King took the podium to announce His Royal Highness The Gyalsey’s name.
This has been yet another auspicious sign in a series of auspicious tendrels, from this year being the birth year of Guru Rinpoche to the 400th year of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel’s arrival in Bhutan.
The well maintained Dzong with all its national relics and treasures intact is by itself going through its own Golden Age in a reflection of the Golden rule of the Wangchuck Dynasty. Both fires and floods representing fire and water have been overcome to take the Dzong to ever greater glory.
In the Dzong’s courtyard, the eminent dignitaries and leaders of Bhutan from politicians to senior bureaucrats assembled in peace and without any of the usual hostility or awkwardness associated with power play in other states. There was a united sense of purpose.
Outside the Dzong, the ordinary people who had come to pay their respects and witness the event were happy and content.
The respect and love shown by all for the three heart sons was not only genuine respect but there seemed to be something approaching near worship.
The ultimate compliment that great Kings can have in history is to become deified and worshipped by their people down the ages, as their endeavors result in great happiness and contentment for the people. This shows the power of good governance, as subjects whose lives are transformed cannot but help devote themselves to that source of happiness and pride.
In Bhutan the Wangchuck Dynasty is already approaching that near myth status given the great exploits of its Kings and the positive changes brought about in the lives of even the most ordinary people.
Another feature of the day was how members of the Royal family of different generations from the children of His Majesty the Second King to the current generation interacted with each other.
It was touching to see His Majesty the King offer HRH The Gyalsey to Her Majesty the Queen Grandmother for some wishes and blessings as HRH The Gyalsey was surrounded by Their Majesties The Queen Mothers.
In that sense the Royal Family has been a model family for Bhutan with many worthy examples to emulate.
His Majesty the Fourth King as a great and good father voluntarily stepped aside to not only usher in democracy but also allow His Majesty’s son enough time to get experience and reign well.
His Majesty the King on the other hand has shown such a level of genuine love, respect and devotion for His Majesty’s father that such emotions and gestures belongs to an earlier age.
It is worth mentioning that in an age of new wealth and new money many parents are spoiling their children rotten. On the other hand it says something when even the youngest children of the Royal Family are well behaved and respectful.
There is genuine sense of humility and good grace among the Royal Family members who seem to exude a strong sense of responsibility.
One of the reasons for the success of the Wangchuck Dynasty is that the successors to the throne have never had it easy but are put under strong discipline and etiquette from an early age. They are also put under tremendous pressure from a young age and instilled with a strong sense of responsibility to the nation and its people. This is true for all our Kings till date.
This could be seen when His Majesty said that when the time comes for HRH The Gyalsey to serve the country, HRH must always place the concerns of the country above all else and serve his people justly with great love and dedication.
His Majesty stressed that HRH The Gyalsey has a sacred responsibility to build a harmonious and just society, and thereby, fulfill all the aspirations of his people.
His Majesty importantly also said that HRH The Gyalsey must live such a life as a good human being and serve his country in a manner that it will be exemplary and worthy of emulation.
HRH The Gyalsey will be lucky in having a father like His Majesty the King to guide and teach him.
Among the many qualities that define his Majesty The King, if there is one that stands out, it is a high sense of devotion to the country and its people. His Majesty the King is not a leader who believes in half measures and so His Majesty has not only thrown himself in, heart and soul into the cause of Bhutan but has now dedicated his infant son to it. There is no sign of greater devotion and love for the nation and its people than this.
“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”