Why we do what we do:

The Rinchen Nadun (རིན་ཆེན་སྣ་བདུན་) or saptaratna are seven precious emblems, which are said to occur with the rise of a universal monarch or chakravartin (འཁོར་ལོ་བསྒྱུར་བ). The historical Buddha, as a new born child7 is said to have been prophesied to either become a universal monarch if he remained a king or an enlightened saint if he renounced worldly life. A universal monarch is said to possess all the marks and tokens of a great man and righteously rule over the world and even celestial realms. The seven precious emblems are said to be special phenomena associated with the universal monarch. They also represent the seven aspects of enlightenment including mindfulness, wisdom, diligence, joy, pliability, concentration and equanimity.

The Precious Wheel (འཁོར་ལོ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་)

This is the greatest possession of a universal monarch made up of gold and having a thousand spokes, although in drawing only eight spokes are drawn to symbolize the eightfold path. It represents both secular and spiritual sovereignty. With great power and radiance, it leaps in all directions and leads the monarch’s army. The wheel helps the universal monarch travel across all continents.

The Precious Jewel (ནོར་བུ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་)

The precious jewel is a smooth, radiant, eight-sided gem in the form of blue vairdurya or lapis lazuli. It has the luminosity to light things in the dark and grants all wishes made by the monarch and his subjects. It retains the harmony of things and dispels misfortunes such as draught, hailstorms, floods, etc. and emits rays which can cure all diseases and untimely death.


The Precious Queen (བཙུན་མོ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་)

Born in the noble family, of good temperament, excellent personality, neither overweight nor skinny, she is a charming and beautiful woman. She has the characteristics of a divine woman, her breath with the fragrance of lotus, her skin soft like fine silk, her body exuding sandalwood scent, her limbs and fingers so fine and tender. She is devoted to her husband and has feminine qualities such as innate wisdom and kindness.

The Precious Minister (བློན་པོ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་)

The precious minister is a person of integrity, wise and intelligent. He has the vision to see far ahead and the patience and ability to listen and analyse. He understands the intentions of the monarch and aspires to promote the welfare of others. He is capable of enhancing the prosperity of the country and of winning the goodwill and friendship of other countries.

The Precious Elephant (གླང་པོ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་)

Of ash white colour and decorated with golden ornaments, the precious elephant has extraordinary strength of a thousand ordinary elephants and is the lord of all elephants. It possesses seven powerful limbs including the four legs, a trunk and two tusks. It is fearless and unassailable in battles and can travel with the monarch on its back across all continents at enormous speed. It is obedient, peaceful, serene and gentle.

The Precious Horse (རྟ་མཆོག་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་)

The precious horse has the marks of a divine steed and is powerful, swift and even capable of flying miraculously in the sky. Known as the “one with the power of clouds” and decorated with golden trappings, its form is perfect with beautiful hair and mane, elegant limbs and tail, and light and unfaltering hooves. It is very obedient and easy to ride.

The Precious General/Citizen (དམག་དཔོན་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་)

The precious general or citizen of a monarch has personal integrity, is judicious, intelligent with a divine vision to bring about peace and prosperity in the kingdom. The general possesses military prowess to defend his kingdom and mastery of the art of warfare. He understands the intention of the monarch and fights for truth and justice, and eschews causing harm to others. When there is no need for war, the general removes the armours and lives a peaceful life as a righteous citizen.

The representation of the seven precious emblems are often included in the Bhutanese religious offerings. They are offered during ceremonies to bring fortune and prosperity such as the installation of a ruler.

Dr Karma Phuntsho is the President of the Loden Foundation, director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’ Cultural Documentation and author The History of Bhutan.


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