Buddhist Country and Reincarnation Believing

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As mentioned by Kowalewski, “Bhutan is an outpost of Tantric Buddhism” which means Bhutan is the only remote state that follow Tantric practice which is a part of Mahayana Buddhism. The reason for the author to state this quote is because of the people of Bhutan believes in the heroic figure of Mahayana Buddhism like Guru Padmasambhava, who was born from a lotus flower and spread Tantric Buddhism in Bhutan during 8th century. One of the most credible leader or founder of Bhutanese state Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, was said to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara (the Buddhist god of love and compassion) and the main hero in the heart of the Bhutanese making them to follow Buddhism.

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The reason behind author saying Zhabdrung is the reincarnation of God Avalokiteshvara is because of his behavior towards people and the way he eats. As stated by Phuntsho, that Zhabdrung use to have only milk and fruits as his meal. He is an animal lover and a caring leader. May be because of this attitude of Zhabdrung people recognize him as the reincarnation of the God of love and compassion. May be Zhabdrung is having only milk and fruits because he is a monk, he studied in Buddhist school which led him not to go for meat.

According to Chakravarti, the fourth king of Bhutan is the reincarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel the Buddhist god who looks after the living being with love and care. He is considered to be the reincarnation because of his attitude of being kind and caring for his people. Likewise, Phuntsho, have reported that the 2nd king of Bhutan, His Majesty “Jigme Wangchuck is the rebirth of Mindu”. Mindu was a Mahayana Buddhist lama and a religious advisor to Ugyen Wangchuck who died before Jigme Wangchuck was born. This could be just a myth to make people believe in religion saying the king of Bhutan are the follower of Buddhism and the reincarnation of Buddhist Lama and God. As a result, making Bhutanese to bow under king and not going against king thinking it as a sin.

As reported by Chakravarti (2003) that Bon is a religion, which invokes the spirits by chanting and offerings to keep out the evil things, spells and magic formulas. Author believes that this practice of offering to both living and non-living things was existing in Bhutan from long before. This religion was existed long before the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel came to Bhutan from Tibet. The religion gets widely spread towards the neighboring countries like Bhutan, Nepal and India during the time of King Lang Dra Ma of Tibet in 17th century.

As supported by Phuntsho, King Lang Dra Ma of Tibet and his ministers was a follower of Bon religion. As a result, they send his brother who was the follower of Buddhism send to exile to Bhutan, making Bhutan the mixture of different religion. Relation is said to be in a written form where the community can beliefs, practice and it should involve god, but Bon is a spiritual practice of people which may or may not involve god but they do involve spirit. Therefore, Buddhism can replace Bonism because Bonism could be the Spirituality rather than a religion.

Similarly, stated in (the Centre for Bhutan Studies, 2004), there are two types of Bon practice namely Bon Kar and Bon Nag. Bon Kar means white, and they are those who do not engage in animal killing. Bon Nag is Black and refers to those engaged in activities like animal sacrifices and black magic or occult power. The author believes that this practice is still going on in certain part of Bhutan in this modern era due to their believes; If they do not offer any kind of sacrifices to the local deities than there will be death, rise of disease or famine (Allison, 2019). The reason for Bonism existing in Bhutan could be because of believes as mentioned earlier which afraid people to change religion or stop practicing Bonism.

According to Dorji (1994), Lhotshampa is the name of people from south of Bhutan. The origin of them are from India and Nepal. During that time there was slavery in India were Bhutanese brought numbers of them as working people known as “Jowo for males and Jaam for the female”. The third king of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck banned the act of slavery and gave equal rights like Bhutanese with properties with the freedom of religion. This act of King towards his people show that he could be the reincarnation of Buddhist lama or god, who do not differentiate among people. There is also other tribe who follows some same culture like Lhotshampa called “Tabab-Damteb” whose origins are from North Bengal, India. They are said to be living in remote parts of Southern Bhutan and not being expose to modernization which makes them to continue them believes and culture.

However, Pulla (2016) stated that it was the “Gurung and Dorjee families” who were granted permission by the government of Bhutan to the Nepali migrate families to get settle in the south of Bhutan with freedom of religion and right to own lands. As this ethnic group was near to their origin that is Nepal and Darjeeling, they were progressing in terms of their culture. As author stated that “they are predominantly Hindu and some belongs to the Brahmin or Chetri caste; while the majority of the people of Nepal are Hindu”. As people from India and Nepal were welcomed by Bhutanese they had a freedom to continue their culture which still exist in Bhutan. Early 1940s the Lhotshampa started to experience major discrimination from the Bhutanese which led to changing of their religion from Hindu to Buddhism.  

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