Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The controversies sparked by and around Central Monastic Body of Bhutan.

2015 seems to be a year of Dratsang woes. Several months back,  4 venerable Lopens of Dratsang sent a condemnation letter to the Prime Minister regarding the project," Slaughter House."  The sting was not that Dratsang naturally objected to killing of animals but that the Lopens chose to directly challenge a political policy of the Government. The incident was surprisingly well handled by the Government by denying the existence of such a project tiled " Slaughter House" but continuing with the policy initiatives to reduce meat import. At the same time the Dratsang also seems to have brought about some inner administrative personnel changes at its Secretariat perhaps to prevent similar political gaffe in the future or fix accountability of the ill advised move.

This time the Dratsang is furiously trying to put down a kind of wildfire news about an impending earthquake that was instigated by an ecclesiastical  written order from the Dratsang requiring all 205 geogs of Bhutan to conduct Prayer Rituals to ward off national or was it natural calamities which most people presumed to be a major earthquake. There was not much room for other speculations. The public had been badly shaken by Nepal earthquakes in April this year and constant talk of the region's vulnerability to more quakes. Moreover other natural calamities like landslides and floods are part of monsoon season that did not warrant such unprecedented precautions.

I do not know why the Dratsang took an unprecedented step to ask all 205 geogs to perform Prayer Rituals between 25th August to 8th September,2015. This was never done before. Even during the ULFA
BODO clean up campaign such an order was not issued. Quite sometime back I did hear that all religious institutions led by the 20 Dzongkhag Rabdeys were performing Prayer Rituals for the Nation and these Prayers I thought had culminated on 13th August coinciding with 29th day of the 6th Bhutanese month with a Tor Jhab which is the Chasing Away Misfortune Prayer Ritual. This 205 geog Prayer Ritual order seems to have come after that.

His Holiness the 70th Jhe Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra is on a kind of leave of absence for meditation pursuit. And the venerable Dorji Lopen has been officiating the duties of Jhe Khenpo since the 1st day of Bhutanese 12 month that coincides with 31st of January,2015.

The most learned venerable Dorji Lopen may be more into the religious duty of the Jhe Khenpo than that of administrative affairs. So very possibly the highly accomplished spiritual master may not have been the initiating source of the slaughter house letter or the 205 geog letter. And in the last almost 2 decades of active reign as Jhe Khenpo, His Holiness Trulku Jigme Choedra never directly condemned the temporal policies of the Government. Even when the monks of all categories were denied voting rights, His Holiness maintained a holy silence. And till date His Holiness had never to my recollection issued an order for the 205 geogs to perform Prayer Ritual. The religious duties of Prayers were always for the religious institutions.

The Central Monastic Body of Bhutan is deeply revered as an holy institution of national faith. However, within the ecclesiastical enclave, internal politics could also be a part of such an ancient part of its existence. And the kind of presently  seemingly existing vacuum at the top hierarchy could provide opportunistic displays of divergent thoughts. It can also be a sign of divided house though the two top highly respected holy figures may not even be aware of such politics.

Whatever may be causing these spiritual hiccups, I feel deep unease about the kind of premonition that His Holiness is alleged to have sensed. Maybe through divinity, maybe through dreams or disturbances during meditations. One thing for sure is that it is not in the personal nature of His Holiness to make public forecasts of an impending earthquake or any other specific national or natural disaster even if he is made aware of such through some divination means. Such an holy soul does not cause helpless panic among the populace. However, as a responsible Guru and as a duty of a Jhe Khenpo, His Holiness would do all he can to avert or reduce the impact of any such possible disaster upon the nation and the people. Therefore , any religious advice that directly comes from His Holiness should be simply conveyed in its actual wording form without any kind of add-ons and most diligently adhered to by the Dratsang and the nation. We are just into the seventh month of Female Wood Sheep year and there is more to go. May the constant Prayer and Rituals ward off any impending national, natural or human disasters during the remaining period of this pivotal year.

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