Saturday, September 5, 2015

A King and a Destiny called Bhutan.

In celebration of 60 years of a King's life, I share few personal  experience with the royal Person.

There are many speculations about ecclesiastical origin of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Some say it was Guru Padma Sambhava who prophesied his birth yet others say it is written in Terton Druda Dorji's golden script. At one time there was a strong rumour that the present reincarnate of Gyelsey Tenzin Rabgye recognised the King as the reincarnation of the 1st Dharma Raja of Bhutan known as Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.  There is also a tale that was hardly retold and now not at all. That is that after two Princesses were born to His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and his enthroned Queen Her Majesty Queen Keasang Choden Wangchuck, the King sought heavenly intervention through prayers to Terton Drudra Dorji for a son. And Prince Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born.

All these may be myth or fabricated adulation to a Buddhist King. I can never tell but I am still intrigued. As a born and brought up Buddhist, all these are faith striking and therefore, undeniable, yet not possible to authenticate with great certainty. What I can with certainty declare is that with so many feats of his own accomplishments there really is no necessity to seek powers beyond the royal person himself as testimony to his great qualities.

He is a Prince but not a royal ego prince. I found him to be just a heavenly noble prince since my first encounter with him at Namseling Palace. Polite almost to a fault with an ever present fleeting smile on his royal countenance that beguiled the presence of an incredibly sharp mind with a legendary memory. He never forgot a face and can recall the minute details of a supposed to be a long ago forgotten conversation of no great significance. He would play pranks on friends or should I say colleagues but he never looked down upon a colleague.

He was trained to be humble from birth and possess a self being of true saintly approach to life, a quality that enabled a crown prince to take in stride the frugality of livelihood existence. It may sound incredible but he did live through a hermit princely life. Nothing of opulence touched his life. A down to earth person who simply cherished being just one among the crowd.

At Namseling Palace exclusive School he had all his class mates sharing his one multipurpose room ( bed room cum sitting room). That is except for me. I was invited but I opted for the room that had a view of the temple of Nyerchen Dangkarla far away on a summit of a towering hill. My family had traditional ties of Faith with the Deity of that Temple. I was so grateful and reassured upon coming to a totally new place and suddenly discovering that I had the Dangkar Chen watching over me. Also I did not interpret the invitation as royal command. Same thing happened when on a week end I was " invited " to accompany the entourage on a short hunting trip. Oh !  Sorry I don't like hunting animals. Now tell me how can I not love and admire the royal person who not just tolerated my odd man out character but I was accepted as I was. His Majesty helped me to be a more comprehensive person.

Let me add just one more incident involving me. Not to make it a story of my life but to provide another important insight to the incredible human being the crown prince. He was presented with a light motor bike of Japanese make by the King probably. And some stupid person borrows it in the dead of the night without so much as by your leave and worse damages it. The young prince was naturally extremely disappointed and we the student colleagues at Ugyen Wangchuck Academy were totally put off by the act of the obnoxious person. Few wanted to teach the character a physical lesson. Finally the crown Prince turned to me. What do you think? I share the same sentiment Dasho but then I am not the future King I responded. The irony of life is that a good King has to be more patient and more forgiving than all of his subjects. I hated what I had to say and my colleagues surely had all the right to be disgusted with me. But that was the end of the matter. All of us school mates were older than the crown prince. Most by 3 years including myself but we learnt a lot from His Royal Highness through everyday such intimate experiences.

In my humble view the Prince lived through a poor man  princely livelihood. I do not think there was any kind of fixed weekly or monthly personal allowance for him from the Government or from their Majesties his royal parents.  His basic needs were taken care of but the Crown Prince just wasn't granted any monetary allowance to spend freely as he deemed. I could get by because I was born on a farm where everyday existence was a struggle. But for someone born a prince ! And yet he gracefully lived and enjoyed his hostel life like any of us.  Perhaps it is such unbelievable and basic livelihood life style during his young formative years that has made huge imprints in his outlook of life. Happiness is more relevant to life than material wealth. The world may be quite amazed as to how the King at such young age could expound Gross National Happiness philosophy. Maybe it was not a philosophy to him. For all I know it could be simply a realisation by him that he was happier as Crown Prince with his basic needs met than as King with all the wealth, power and anxieties.

A short quote of a remark from the royal lips could demonstrate how pragmatic he was than thousand of other pages of reasonings  and examples. Quote, " The Mercedes car is comfortable to travel in but its so expensive. Toyota is far more reasonably affordable." Unquote. There used to be two blue coloured Mercedes cars probably bought for VIP foreign dignitaries  visit.

Even today he travels along the rugged mountain roads in a Toyota Land Cruiser. His Majesty lives in a forested corner of Thimphu Valley, a kind of a hamlet community consisting the King and few royal members with a small contingent of service and security people.  The place is a little distance away from my traditional home of pounded mud wall. The King's home is a  one storey cottage fashioned from blue pine timber. There are few more similar shelters for others.

The King's homely humour remains the most irresistible charm. At one time I had stopped to give way to the royal convoy coming from the opposite direction. His Majesty stopped and graciously spent few minutes to inquire how I was. And out of blue, he said we are neighbours but you never drop in at my place. Then he extended his hand to grant me a warm hand shake. Did I receive the audience of my King on the road between Haa and Thimphu or was I in Heaven being received by Lord Buddha Himself !  Such is the magnanimity and humanness of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He is of course a King but of the divine kind. And it is this  divine quality that overpowers one and all no matter who you may be a President or an Ambassador or a humble farmer in some remote corner of the Kingdom.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck said of his father, " there never was and there never will be a King like Jigme Singye Wangchuck ". I found King Jigme Singye Wangchuck to be a human jewel. Not the kind that many Bhutanese are fond of lipping in public about the King being the national jewel. Simply a person with royal understanding of human nature and who has no qualms of being one among the crowd because that is where he is able to gauge the true pulse of life, nation and his people. To me he represents the earthly spirits of the Triple Gem.

Thank you Your Majesty for simply being such a down to earth personality. Always open to another view, another way of doing things in better way and the ability to adapt knowledge and information you acquire to national needs. For being the bravest general and most pious teacher and loving father to answer the call of all kinds of occasions and situations. May the Kingdom be guided always by the nobleness of your blood and wisdom.

A tribute to 60 years of the life of a great human being who I met as a young carefree prince, witnessed as he guided the nation through peace and turmoil and introduced the concept of gradual democratic ways of governance and finally abdication in favour of his able successor to lead the Kingdom in an era of constitutional Democracy and people elected government.

A true account of a small part of a King's journey that I had the privilege and honour to share and experience. The greatest respect for a person lies in being honest with him. And I do have the greatest  respect for my Kings and my Country.

Today the 5th of September, 2015 is a good day. And being Saturday makes it even more brighter. So I have chosen to share a personal account of a personal side of the King. May his qualities brighten that of all who chance upon this personal glimpse shared in the spirit of a tribute.

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