Thursday, May 19, 2011

To be or not to be: The choice that the monks don’t have

A Novice Monk
The monk body in Bhutan is a revered institution. At the height of its power, it dictated everything from the religious to the political life of the country. Senior monks assumed political posts. Druk Desi Umze Tenzin Drugay, the first head of the first formal political set-up of a united Bhutan was, not surprisingly, a monk. Before him it was the great Zhabdrung who actually built the dual system of governance for the country. He, too, was a monk.  In fact, the monk body (sangha) as we know it now is his legacy. The first Bhutanese Dratshang was established at Chagri Dorjedhen in 1621 which was subsequently shifted to the Punthang Dewa Chengpoi Phodrang in Punakha.