Bhutan woke up on 6 February 2016 to the joyous news of the birth of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey in the late hours of the night before.
As the nation welcomes the Sixth heir to the Golden Throne, it is an appropriate time to reflect on the pivotal role of our visionary Kings in forging the destiny of Drukyul. The Monarchs of Bhutan – each and every one of them – came with just the right attributes for the times. There is every reason to believe that The Gyalsey will follow the pattern set by his legendary forbears.
Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck was chosen by the representatives and leaders of the Bhutanese people to be installed as the first hereditary King at a time when perpetual internecine conflicts threatened to tear the puny, geopolitically fragile and fragmented country apart. He provided mature and steadfast leadership, greatly enhancing Bhutan’s profile as a unique and sovereign entity in the eyes of powerful neighbors to the north and south.
His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck the second King came with a commanding personality and a strong sense of discipline requisite for consolidating the power of the central government. He also sowed the seeds for reform and modernization.
Events outside made the Third King Jigme Dorji put a decisive end to Bhutan’s isolation. While he wanted his people to reap the benefits of modernization, he was acutely aware of the imperative to preserve Bhutan’s unique traditions, spiritual and cultural heritage.
The central theme of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singey was devolution of power back to the people, which he did after more than three decades of inspirational leadership and painstaking groundwork. His glorious reign culminated in his crafting a unique and progressive Constitution that proclaimed Bhutan a Constitutional Monarchy. The manner in which he dealt with two monumental challenges that posed existential threats to the nation firmly confirmed every legend that he was indeed the King of Destiny in Guru Rinpoche’s prophecy.
Within a brief span of time on the Throne, His Majesty Jigme Khesar has earned the epithet of the People’s King. While he leaves day-to-day affairs of governance to an elected government, he has taken on an unprecedented, even insurmountable role for himself. He has pledged to serve his people as a father, brother and son. Those who are rendered destitute and homeless or lived as landless peasants all their lives know firsthand that he was not making empty promises. His every thought, word and deed is embodiment of his compassion and abiding love for his people and commitment to furthering the nation’s interest.
Coming as he does from the Wangchuck lineage, is it then can anyone harbor any doubts that the Gyalsey too is destined for greatness? Tributes from eminent astrologers and teachers have pointed out irrefutable phenomena of astrological, numerical and cosmological alignments signifying the auspiciousness of The Gyalsey’s arrival.
As we welcome our Gyalsey and we look back at each of our great Monarchs, we cannot help but be grateful for our collective good karma. Their vision, wisdom and sterling leadership has ensured peace, progress and increasing welfare and happiness for the people of Bhutan for over a century.
The Monarchy is still the ultimate Guardian of Drukyul and its people and will continue to be so. Our Kings have successively taken service to the country and people as their sacred duty to newer and higher planes. As they did so, they have regarded the power and authority as a Norbu which was entrusted to them by the people and which they felt beholden to use only in pursuit of the welfare and happiness of the people.
The birth of The Gyalsey should serve to remind every Bhutanese that, the future is upon us. The world is moving faster, becoming more integrated and we are a part of this swift flowing current. As His Majesty never ceases to remind us, no matter how vulnerable we might seem, how daunting the challenges appear, if we are united in our thoughts and we strive for excellence in our deeds, Bhutan will continue to go from strength to strength.
And so, as the people of Bhutan are united in rejoicing the birth of our Gyalsey and in praying for the present and future glory of the Palden Drukpa under wise, enlightened leadership of our Monarchs, we must also reflect on the role and responsibility that each one of us is called upon to play.
The best way to show gratitude to them and to express our genuine love for the Gyalsey is to accept the role that we are now called upon to shoulder as responsible, responsive and empowered citizens of a 21st Century Drukyul.
Together – with great leaders and model citizens of a democratic state, Bhutan can indeed fulfill its promise as a beacon of peace, prosperity and happiness not just for ourselves and the region but for the rest of the world.
The writer is a retired diplomat.