Thinley Namgay

The recent visit by senior monks from the Central Monastic Body to Ladakh, led by Tshogki Lopon Sangay Khandu, further strengthened the enduring friendship between the two Buddhist societies.

A 13-member delegation explored significant Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh, including Thrisey, Tagna, Thimis, and Alchi Goenpas.

The team held meetings and discussions with Ladakh’s spiritual masters, the Ladakh Buddhist Association, and other prominent organisations.

The historical bond between the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan and Ladakh traces back to the late 16th century. Zhabdrung Rinpoche of Bhutan sent his disciple Jamgoen Ngawang Gyeltshen to Ladakh, which sparked a deep connection.

Jamgoen Ngawang Gyeltshen established Tagna Goenpa in Ladakh, significantly influencing the promotion of the Drukpa Kagyu religion and fostering ongoing exchanges between the Buddhist scholars and monks of both societies.

The Tagna Goenpa has been under the care of Tagna Rinpoche, a Ladakhi figure. Presently, the 15th reincarnation of Tagna Rinpoche, who is 12 years old, is pursuing studies at Dodeydra Shedra in Bhutan.

The people of Bhutan and Ladakh hold the monasteries and Buddhist masters in high esteem, fostering a strong spiritual bond despite geographical distances. The Drukpa Kagyu sect remains dominant in both regions.

A member of the delegation and the Secretary of the Yonten Duetshog at the Central Monastic Body, Namgay Dorji said, “This high-level visit further promoted the age-old friendship between the two Buddhist societies.”

He said, “One of Bhutan’s Je Khenpos (chief abbot) was a son of Ladakh’s late King Singye Namgyal.”

Apart from visiting religious sites, the delegation also participated in tshokhor activities.

Expressing their admiration for Ladakh’s well-preserved Buddhist culture and tradition, Namgay Dorji said, “As a monk, the trip was rewarding. We want to thank the organisers for their warm hospitality.”

The tour was organised and funded by the Indian Embassy in Thimphu and the International Buddhist Confederation in Delhi.

The Bhutanese delegation also visited Delhi and received blessings from the Buddha’s relics preserved at the Delhi Museum.

The visit from the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan serves as a testament to the historic friendship between Bhutan and India.

Bhutan and India share a profound spiritual connection. The introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan is credited to the great Indian Buddhist Master Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. In Bhutan, Guru Rinpoche is revered as the Second Buddha. Places like Odisha and Revalsar in Himachal, associated with Guru Padmasambhava, hold a special place in the hearts and minds of Bhutanese devotees.