The eighth edition of Mountain Echoes began yesterday in the capital with the liberating Drametse Ngacham (dance of the drums), where twelve men who represents Guru Rinpoche’s entourage, celebrate the victory of religion. Students of Royal Academy of Performing Arts performed the dance.
Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, patron of the annual literary event, graced the opening session to speak on, ‘The legacy of Zhabdrung: The spiritual and temporal’ along Khenpo Sonam Bumdhen, lecturer at the Institute of Science of Mind in Thimphu and chief of research and translation under His Holiness the Je Khenpo.
Her Majesty and Khenpo Sonam Bumdhen began the session by providing introductions on the founder of Bhutan and gradually delved into Zhabdrung’s legacies as a spiritual and supreme statesman of the country.
“Zhabdrung Rinpoche came at a time when there were social disorder, political turmoil and continued instability in the country. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel was the immediate reincarnation of the greatest Drukpa and meditation scholar of his era in Tibet called Kuenkhyen Pema Karpo, and he was also the 17th Prince Regent of the Drukpa Ruler Council,” said Sonam Bumdhen Khenpo.
Her Majesty said that it was the ‘fortune of the South’ (Bhutan) that Zhabdrung was destined for Bhutan who was undoubtedly the greatest unifier of the temporal and spiritual matters in the country. “When I speak and think of Zhabdrung, I feel blessed. Zhabdrung means at ‘whose feet one submits’ and I submit to his feet everyday in gratitude,” expressed Her Majesty.
Her Majesty gave a brief historical account of the event when two priests visited Bhutan in 1627. “Zhabdrung had just come out of his three year retreat and they described that Zhabdrung’s hair was three feet 8 inches long and his beard reached his chest. The Jesuit priests saw him carving an image on the sandalwood of the Buddha and they also happened to see a thangka of Buddha that he had painted which was of the highest quality and he was also said to be engaged in embroidery works.” Her Majesty said Zhabdrung offered a chapel in the Chari Monastery for them to use for worship, which indicates the tolerance Zhabdrung had for other religions.
The four day Literary event includes renowned speakers like the Australian author Markus Zusak, known best for his international best-seller, The Book Thief, writer and performance poet and author, Ruskin Bond, Indian author Ashwin Sanghi, India’s only Emmy-nominated journalist, Barkha Dutt along with several other prominent Bhutanese faces from various professions.