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Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery


Forest Fire Volunteers From Sherubtse

It was 5’o clock in the evening of 20th December, and I could sense the icy air touching my dark skin. I saw someone quivering aside me and hear the chattering of teeth at the backside but none went missing from the freezing hall for hours. The goal behind tolerating the wintry atmosphere for hours inside old outsized hall was to ring the gong of alertness so to keep the communities awake about the causes and effects of wild flames. I thought if it were only an extravaganza then I would rather prefer to stay home and watch motion picture, but my innocent villagers may possibly have thought the other way. During the episode, I did not spot anyone dozing due to variety in the agenda of awareness or otherwise they would usually have forty winks even in the daylight. Usually during awareness gathering, the communities cannot wait long for age old method of monologue talking (blah, blah, and blah) but this time they were in high spirits to watch the angel like girls boogieing on the stage, and listen to the comedy of every boy. This group of artists, ladies and gentlemen, is ‘Forest Fire Awareness Volunteers’ from the oldest college of our Nation, the only legendary Sherubtse College or also known as ‘Shercol’. They are the final year members of disaster management team .
Relation between forest fire and Buddhism 
The awareness programme includes songs, dances, plays, presentations, and question-answering session. The show though presented in comic manner, in it the messages of how the wild flames starts and to what extend it spoils our livelihood were clearly in plain sight. The question and answering session was attention grabbing filled with laughter in every corner when answered wrongly and with a chewing gum as trophy aside applause. In other words, the programme is out of ordinary. The drama reflects of how wild flames starts by careless burning of agricultural debris, making fires for chasing wild pests at night, picnicking and throwing cinders into bushes after smoking. It also shows how the wild flames spread extensively when culprit after having fire accident leaves the scene without extinguishing it or informing to concern personal fearing about the penalties if caught.  At that very moment, the laughter was heard at the highest pitch which sometimes tells how true the drama was.
Drama on causes and effects of  Forest Fire
When the time stroke 8:30 o’clock, the college artists had lot more to display for the audience but gradually the applauding hands were lessening and cheering voices diminishing. The artists are to present the ‘Fire Rules, 2012’ which was the crux of the show but the walls and doors were not gifted with eyes and ears, so the anchor of the show thought that it would not be wise to continue the show with only about dozen of people as a audience. When majority of audience left the hall before the wrap-up of show, the artists felt dishonored by them. If I was one of them I also would have felt humiliated when suddenly huge audience disappears at a time. But I as a host official am here to typewrite my sorry message to dear artists (forest fire volunteers) of Sherubtse College, and also give explanation for why suddenly the hall was empty.  Unlike other places, any awareness show may not possibly be a hit in Drametse in night hours.  This is because most of the villages are dispersed far away from the Geog centre and they need to travel for more than an hour in the dark, and at home their children may sleep with empty stomach when they don’t reach on time to prepare dinner. Usually the farmers sleep early and wakeup when their cock makes the morning call. So, what I mean to say is that you my dear Shercol artists should not tell your junior mates in College about any show not working well in Drametse. This would otherwise be a discourage to any such informative and entertaining upcoming event in Drametse. Any forestry related awareness if scheduled in the day hours then I guarantee the coordinators with not less than 200 audience from my side and that’s a word of a man. Anyway, thanks to all the artists of Sherubtse for your show in Drametse.  
"Forgive for any grammatical errors"
Houseful audience before 8 PM


Forest Fire

Despite community awareness and stringent state laws, wild flame is one of the key cause of forest degradation in Drametse and Narang zones. The Forestry Extension office on average has recorded about two wild fire accidents in every twelve months for the last 16 years (1997-2012) of which 60% were experienced by Drametse alone. The figure of wild fire was highest in 1999 and 2002, and no such accident was traced in the year 2005 and 2009. Pertaining to the wild flame damage, about 80 % of the affected areas were Government Reserve Forest (GRF) and 20% of it falls under Community Forest (CF). However, the proportion of private lands affected was very negligible with only 0.40 hectare burnt by wild flame so far. Beside harm to forest crops, human causalities and damage to the public properties by the wild flames were also reported in the year 2012.
The extent of damage caused by wild flames was noted to be directly linked to the promptness of response by the public, timing of detection, environmental factors and geological conditions. Most of the forest fires were detected during night hours (almost 35% of the total accidents) making difficult situation to mobilize the fire fighters. Beside local communities and forest officials, there was no record of participation from civil servants, cooperative and private employees, businessmen and students though great numbers of them were noted within Drametse and Narang region. The cooperation from the government and private organization may have helped to reduce the average number of days taken to suppress forest fire, thereby naturally reducing the extent of damage caused by fire.

The detection rates of the offender were very negligible, and thereby welcoming another wild flames in the next season. The wild flames could be set deliberately for proper growth of grasses by local lemon grass oil distillers or can be accidental like use of wood torch at night, fire set to chase wild animals from fields, campfire set by road workers, etc. One of the humorous reasons I traced recently was that the farmers set fire on purpose to trim down vegetation cover so that they can get rid of wild pest from their fields. Whatever the causes may be, the timing for such flame accidents had ripened with wintry weather and browning of trees, shrubs and bushes. The hungry flames therefore can at any time hit our wild zones, and for the reason that I request local communities of Drametse and Narang to be extra cautious and also call for the hands of all the stakeholders if by chance such devastating calamity hit us.



After staying for almost a year in Drametse, now I know where I live. During the sunset, we cannot close the eyes to streams of frosty wind as the place is sited at brow of hill and there are not many woods to serve as windbreak. Being a rural area, the small marketplace shutdowns in the early hour as the local businessmen do not anticipate the downpour of nocturnal shoppers since there is no nightspot for the natives to hangout like in heart of capital, Thimphu. 

After the earthquake on 21/09/09, many shopkeepers with no choice live in temporary huts as their conventional two storey buildings were severely damaged during the time. However, it is one of the developed villages in the east with accessibility to elementary amenities like communication networks, broadband internet service, electricity, Banking facility from BDBL, ambulance service, Early Learning Center, and more. The curvy road running uphill will make travelers remember the ride through Darjeeling highway. The only difference is that the road of the former is unpaved, and though only 18 km in length, the minimum time span of the expedition would be an hour.

Environmentally, Drametse is unhealthy with very less tree cover due to steep gradient, sandy infertile soils, inadequate water supply, and heavy biotic pressures from both man and livestock. Therefore, it was in 1997 that government of Bhutan established community forest in Dozam (southern region of Drametse) so to implement participatory forestry management programme, and thereby documenting it to be the first such community based forest in the country. Though the forest condition is improving with such initiatives, the communities however extract house building timbers from distant places like Gyelposhing or from Kalapang due to immature timber stands in Drametse.

Historically, Drametse is one of the sacred sites of Peling tradition and its temple was consecrated in the year 1511 by Ani Chorten Zangmo, the granddaughter of Rigzin Padma Lingpa. Beside other relics and religious manuscript, it has stupa in which the body of Ani Chorten Zangmo was obscured.  In addition, the very famous ‘Drametse Ngacham’, meaning ‘Mask dance of drum from Drametse’ was recognized by UNESCO as Intangible World Heritage and thereby adding more colour in its culture. Today, Drametse is the seat of renowned Buddhist master His Eminence Sungtrul Rinpoche, Jigdrel Kuenzang Pema Dorje, the 11th speech emanation of Rigzin Padma Lingpa. So, I am fortunate that I live in a place where emanation of such great beings exists.


Benefit of Taking Refuge in Guru Rinpoche

These days, when told to tag along the footstep of Milarepa or the great Asoka, many would ask for one more paths to nirvana since those paths were thought to be built only to men destined to become treasured figures of the globe. The tales of flying yogis or a prince being enlightened under a tree were thousands of years old. Those stories are now fading and renouncing the worldly pleasures in search of eternal bliss is also losing ground. But the Vajra Guru Drupthop for a second time taught the world of how an ordinary man can be liberated without submitting yourself to much difficulty.

Vajra Guru Lam was some time ago an ordinary layman who was born in a Bon family. Having live out the Bonism way of life, he was one time in opposition to philosophy of lotus born prince of Uddyana, the great master. With no respect he spoke many slandering words against Bodhisattvas, especially to the Guru Rinpoche. But the fact of why such a doubting Thomas later took refuge in Padmasambhava was untold and remains as a mystery of the tale. It may be a contradicting situation but the lotus born prince would for all time sanctify those who remember him not considering who he is.

He the Vajra Guru Lam travelled into many vales and peaks in search of haunted sites like caves, cliffs, cremation grounds, etc. He meditated in those ghostly sites reciting the Vajra Guru Mantra to challenge evils and in the due course overcome the fears of death. A time came where he overwhelmingly achieved realization and liberation through recitation of the Vajra Guru Mantra. He then like a psychiatrist could read other’s mind and could also presage the future events for the reason that the locals called him as ‘Vajra Guru Lam,’ meaning the master of Vajra Guru Mantra.

In mid 1990s he turned out to be popular for his naked dance which was an atypical ritual art performed to eliminate all the sickness and catastrophes befalling a person. Therefore in some corners of Bhutan, particularly in my village (Korphu) he was known by the name ‘Pang Je Lam’ which means a master who shows the Phallus in crowd. His destitute lifestyle of wandering in woods and villages finally came to closing stage when his few rivals took away his eyesight by the art of sorcery. A master having rivals and they inflicting curse on him was just a twist of story resulted by karmic obscuration for disrespecting many Bodhisattvas in his younger age. The visually impaired master then settled his life in a haunted cave below Zhemgang Dzong where he spent years reciting the Vajra Guru Mantra.     

Fig: Vajra Guru Lama
He would have attended nirvana with rest of his stories untold to the universe if Urgyen Lama had not met him.  To him the stories of holy water oozing out of his hand prayer wheel  and seeing vision of Guru Rinpoche in Vajra land were revealed. As per the source, he the Vajra Guru siddha declared his death one week in advance on which it exactly becomes seven years from the time he saw Guru Padmasambhava’s vision, making the prophesy of recovering eyesight in seven years come true in view of the fact that he would see Guru Rinpoche after attending nirvana. Every crack of dawn was breathtaking to see three birds believed to be dakinis flying to circumambulate his body three rounds before flying off. More than thousand devotees poured down to pay their homage to the great Vajra Guru Drupthop.

At this verge, I humbly bow and go for refuge in Guru Rinpoche, the lotus born prince to clear away all our obstacles with power. I supplicate in the king treasurer reveler, the great Terton Padma Lingpa who blessed my land with compassion to lead us down the path of love. Lastly, I pray from my inner heart to your eminence the Vajra Guru Drupthop for being a paradigm to those who are yet to be enlightened.

You may also like article “A True Account of an Accomplished Practitioner of the Vajra Guru Mantra in Recent Times ”by Jigme Sherab, 2011


A Day in Wangduephodrang Farm

An extension agent ought to work in changing livelihood of farmers. Hence, to understand the lifestyle of a farmer, I was sent to work under a host family for about a month in one of the rural areas of Wangduephodrang District during my training period (March, 2011). It was often the most memorable part of any trainee’s college year for the reason that we tackled loads of thorny challenges while doing the work assigned by our host family. In college one has no other vital roles and responsibilities other than the studies, but in the farm there are lots of contractual obligations to be performed. A farmer gets engaged in several works in a single day so as to sustain their livelihood. During the occasion, I had seen a trainee be a milkman, a cowboy, a woodcutter, and lot more to study the incredible diversity within farming. 

College students assigned to build kitchen by a host family 
Potato plantation day would serve as a mere example of what a day in the farm might entail. The day started with a cup of tea. When I mention about the tea it do not mean that there was someone to wake me up with a cup of tea aside my bed. I still remember the day where I woke up when the sirens of alarm clock broke the silence of the dawn. Then I stumbled downstairs to get my face cleansed with water. Only after that I joined the host family to have a cup of tea. During the crack of dawn, Aum Yanka, the host mother went to feed the cattle. She walked me towards the cowshed with a bucket of food stuff. The cattle were fed with porridge like food. The two cows were milked by Aum Yanka and I was near her to note down the milk yield. At that particular instant I thought how could be my life if I were a milkman by profession. Before I was totally lost in the fantasy I heard Aum Yanka calling me to untie the calve. Ap Kinley, the host father cooked breakfast for the family. Sooner after the food was eaten, Agay Dengo, the oldest of the family took the cattle away from the village for grazing. Herding cattle was my routine assigned job but at that particular day I have joined the family to plant potato.

        Gelekha farm in Wangduephodrang
In the field, Aum Yanka sprinkled manure and Ap Kinley followed her to till the soil with power tiller. The steep gradient of the field leaves the use of other contemporary farm machinery out of question. But human hands and oxen cannot measure up to the challenge. Therefore, they somehow manage to use small machine like power tiller. I was instructed to be extra careful while sowing the seed. Chado, son of the host family was behind me to cover the sown seed with spade. Minute seemed to strike like a day and hour passed like a month for the reason that the farm works are easier said than done. 

I struggled to work in the field until the sun plunged down into west horizon. Though the work was incomplete, Ap Kinley decided to continue it in the next day. No sooner the rest was declared I have to rush into the forest to get back the cattle. Aum Yanka was ready with a kettle of tea for me when I returned home. It was six o’clock in the evening and I was incredibly tired. I couldn’t imagine what other seasons on the farm were like.

Dinner was served before I manage time to wash my body. Out here in the village, dinner was eaten in the early hours but I have no other alternative than joining them. I thought that I need some time to get myself adapted to their routine. After the dinner I sat near the fire to scribble down the daily report in my diary. Only at that moment I was reminded that I am no more a farmer but a trainee who was struggling in other's village to gain some practical knowledge on farming system. 

On the bed, I recollected upon my day. I was pleased to see that my host family truly operated together as a family with dedication and cooperation during the work hour. Each member had played a dynamic role allowing the potato plantation work to run smoothly. I was now equipped with some skills and knowledge to operate the farm. I now have an idea of how difficult a day on the farm is. Keeping such memories in my heart, I as a forestry extension agent would serve the farmers with full dedication.


Life, Death and Rebirth

This writing is not an attempt to craft my memoirs with invented tales or preach religion to the planet. It was my thought that it would to some extend make the readers believe in death and rebirth rather than gluing into a concept of single lifetime and habituating into wrongdoings. Otherwise, to enlighten on death and rebirth, I ought to dig heap of manuscripts or meditate for eons chasing the trails of Siddhartha. Forget about my big talk on it, I am not in the state to properly justify that why the memoirs of past live appears only during the babyhood and never can it be recalled when aged, except by a Bodhisattva. When cited about remembrance of past live during early ages, some readers may get confused that why not every person is gifted with such merits. In this case, I’m not the right person to shed light on to your doubt, may be you get advice from qualified individuals.

I was born in male metal horse year of lunar calendar in remote hamlet of Korphu during the time when a number of civilians were slaughtered by some rebellious group of people claiming to be southern Bhutanese. May be the timing I stepped into the world was premature since my birth coinciding hundreds of bloodshed was an omen to show that my past lifetime’s mission of practicing dharma has reached to closing stage. This statement is however my own assumption and not necessarily mean to be true, may be the spiritual tutors have their own opinion in this regard.

According to my late grandfather, during my early ages I used to declare that I am a Buddhist monk from Choekhor Rabtse Monastery, Trongsa. When young, locals tease me by the name ‘Gyalong’ for the reason that I always love dressing saffron shawl of a monk.  It was in mid 1990’s when I was taken to Trongsa, the place linked to my past life by my family to attend funeral of my late uncle. During the occasion, I was told to have cried while spotting a man riding on scooter which was supposed to be mine in the past life.

If truth be told, presently I don’t remember whether I declared myself as a monk or not and I’m certain that it’s too late for me to recall the past life again. During babyhood, the memoirs of past live are seen to overlap with current life may be because the baby’s life stage is close to previous life or his mind is crystal clear, not like the mind of adults that had been wrapped by dust of sins and self absorbed desires. This is what reincarnation means, and by definition it not necessarily means that the phenomenon happens only with spiritual masters.