Perhaps the most imposing landmark of Thimphu the Capital of Bhutan. I had visited Kuensel Phodrong twice before but was not able to see the inside of the temples. The Day of the First Sermon of Lord Buddha turned out to be a great day. The Temples were opened for visitors and worshippers. And on top of that I received what I had hoped for - a chance contact with the spiritual being who made Kuensel Phodrong possible.
The morning part of the day was devoted to Prayers of my own for the Day. And it was in the afternoon that my wife and I set out for Kuensel Phodrong. By then we hoped the crowd would be thinner. There was a short light drizzle. I accepted it as purification blessing.
It was still quite populated but the complex is vast and serenity was there for one seeking it. There were many in traditional dresses and equal number in western clothes both outside tourists and Bhutanese. Very few carried kami but for our age and purpose Kamni was a necessary part of attire. The environment was all peace and happiness and differently attired gathering made the atmosphere so free and open. The younger generation though in western dress were no less respectful in terms of obeisance and faith once inside the temples. The picture strengthened my hope in the future. I hope that my own grand, great and greater grandchildren too would come to the temples regardless of how they would be attired to seek refuge and guidance.
The essence is faith and belief not style and attire. The comfort of the larger society maybe of different desire but in all honesty, clothes make no difference. Afterall Lord Buddha was naked to the bones during the six years pursuit of Enlightenment and Jesus Chirst was nailed naked to the Cross. Torn jeans and slim dresses could be sore to human traditional eyes but blessings will come in measured doses of faith and sincerity.
I had really hoped to see the inside of Kuensel Phodrong though the complex was enchanting even at the outside. And view of Thimphu extraordinary from Buddha Point. The top level temple was said to be still under completion but the temples at the lower two levels were open for worshippers as as well as for curious visitors.
The upper level temple had the statue of " Nampar- Nangsey" ( I hope I heard the senior Lama correctly). The figure had four heads and surrounded by other holy figures. These are enclosed by huge pillars. It was possibly to view the statues individually if one circled the pillars. One worshipper complained about the obstructions caused by the pillars. The senior Lama explained the necessity of the pillars to support the huge Buddha statue atop the temple structure but it did not have an appeasing impact.
It is easier to be wise at the hindsight. Still I just thought maybe there would be a complete change of appearance if the statues circled the Pillars rather than the other way around. The floor space within the Pillars could be tiled blue to represent a lake and a Jangchub Shing in the centre.
Prayers were being conducted in the lower temple. Upon inquiry, I found out that venerable Lam Tshering Wangdi the Lam who initiated and implimented the Kuensel Phodrong Project was himself leading the Prayers. I asked the Gelong what Prayers were being conducted and who were the sponsors. He said in the morning it was the 16 Arhats and in the afternoon Prayer Offerings to Buddha Himself. As for sponsors, he did not know though he thought it was a Dasho. Later I found out that the sponsor was an association of Chhali officers ( of Monger Dzongkha living in Thimphu ). The Temple indeed was devoted to Lord Buddha and the 16 Chief Disciples. There were more than 16 statues lining the two sides of centrally seated Buddha statue. At one far end was a statue of Shabdrung. "A little different looking I remarked " . And an elderly man accompanying probably his grand daughter with her own baby said " possibly younger Shabdrung ". I think he was right. The face was longer and more fuller and younger looking though the chin was adorned with the unique moustache and long beard. " The Arhats are all Chinese looking and the Khendums outside are Bhutanese looking " my wife thought aloud. The Arhats did look ancient whilst the Khendums vibrantly beautiful. So wisdom to ancient ChineseTeachers and beauty to Bhutanese ladies, I suppose.
Kuensel Phodrong is a huge complex by any standard. And it is amazing. The project is still in continuous build up. One could be hard pressed to even dream of such a wonder. And so I did wish to pay homage to the Lam Inspiration the venerable Lam Tshering Wangdi. Normally with religious figures, I simply bow down from afar but after seeing so much of his ingenuity in real demonstration, I had to have a closer contact to feel the aura. And just as I thought such an occassion would be too slim, the Lam began giving Wang with a relic enclosed in a glass Chorten. I still do not know what relic it was but I got the blessing from the one I wanted - a close contact just for a second.
I am aware that the venerable Lam is not a declared Trulku and moreover I believe he is sort of married. In fact I am told that his consort is also quite an outstanding achiever herself. But it is not such personal details that such a personality need be measured against. I feel simply awed by Kuensel Phodrong and Trulku or not, venerable Lam Tshering Wangdi made it all possible. He dreamt of it. He garnered funds for the project and most importantly he turned the dream into reality. If he is not a born Trulku then he is a self realised Trulku.
I know so little of the Project and even less about the spiritual personality behind it. Maybe in the near future one may get to read about this wonder project and wonderful Buddhist Saint who made it all so truly real. There is another great living Soul in the East at Takila Guru Statue Complex. The Lam who has been responsible for the Miracle in the East. I hope in the near future, It would be possible to receive Blessing from the other spiritual personality. I am in no position to arrange such disposition. But some days things just fall in place as it happened on Friday the 8th of July, 2016.