With the erratic waves of nerves caused by the Covid-19 crisis in people around the globe, it is comforting to sense a calming response in the Buddhist world. Practitioners in numerous countries have been meeting online to chant in unison prayers like the Vajra Guru Ngag (mantra) in the hundreds of millions and the mamos prayer, which is a powerful supplication to none other than the wrathful form of Pelden Lhamo, to pacify turmoil.
In Bhutan, the dratshang and the wider spiritual community have been performing sacred ceremonies for all of humanity as well as all sentient beings. The Bhutanese population has been safeguarded from the Covid-19 crisis by a strongly professional response from officialdom, under the guidance of His Majesty The King. Our populace draws resilience from our spiritual practices – from the protection of our Guardian Deities.
On June 30 – the 10th day of the Monkey month – the day when the Buddhist world observed the Trelda Tshechu (སྤྲེལ་ཟླ་ཚེས་བཅུ་), the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche, hundreds of thousands of Bhutanese pilgrims offered prayers at lhakhangs around the country and at altars in nearly every family home. The Trelda Tshechu marks the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche, the spiritual master and divinity who many follow as the patron saint of Bhutan.
For devotees and practitioners of Vajrayāna Buddhism, which Guru Rinpoche introduced in Bhutan, the 10th day of the Monkey month, is a day to be consciously aware of Guru Rinpoche’s transcendental and enlightened state, embodying wisdom and compassion. That is the offering, the prayer, and the practice.
It was on this day, with Buddhist practitioners in Bhutan and around the world circumambulating lhakhangs, prostrating to the Guru, and offering butter lamps, that Bhutan celebrated the naming of His Royal Highness Jigme Ugyen Wangchuck, our second Gyalsey who was born on March 19, 2020.
After a profoundly simple ceremony, His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, and their two princes attended the Gongdhue Tshechu performed by the Zhung Dratshang in Trashichhodzong. It was a powerful moment for all of us as our karmic links and all our aspirations from many past lives converge in the spirit of Guru Rinpoche.
Jigme means fearless, the strength drawn from a crystal clear mind when one has realised the ultimate truth and is therefore not scared of illusion.
Ugyen comes from Ugyen Guru Rinpoche and it also echoes the figure of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, the first Monarch of the Wangchuck dynasty.
Wangchuck conveys the Buddhist sense that encompasses qualities beyond the worldly concept of Majesty. This dynastic name is believed to have been established by Jigme Namgyel’s (father of Ugyen Wangchuck) Guru, Jangchub Tsundrue.
His Royal Highness Ugyen Wangchuck is a Royal Child of destiny – his origins rooted in the past and his calling to be determined by the blessings of our Guardian Deities, the aura of our Kings, and the good fortunes of the Bhutanese people.
History has also taught us that our future generations will inevitably live through some degenerate times. Those will be times when a small and vulnerable country like Bhutan will only survive and thrive under the leadership of such figures of destiny –personalities with strength and vision, energy and alertness, flexibility and vitality – leaders who carry the resilience of the past as they determine the future.