April 1, 2010

Zungney Lhakhang, Bumthang

Source: Overlooked original lhakhang (Kuenselonline.com)








The Zungney lhakhang

Zungney Lhakhang, 31 March, 2010 - Apart from the vast stretches of lush plain valleys and serene landscapes, it is the spiritual landmarks that attract visitors, both tourists and Bhutanese alike, to Bumthang every year.
Of the many sacred monasteries and historic monuments that dot the region, most visitors to the dzongkhag fail to notice tiny Zungney lhakhang in Chumey, unaware of its spiritual and historical significance.

Every Bhutanese traveller or tourist, stopping by to buy yathra or visit the factory, walk past the monastery located just next to it.

The monastery is said to be one of the 108 temples the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo built in 659 AD or during the 7th century.  Legends have it that the monastery was built in a day.

Five of the 108 temples that Songtsen Gampo built are in Bhutan, of which four are in Bumthang and one in Paro.

He had built Kyichu lhakhang in Paro while Jampay, Kenchosum, Aaa Nying and Zungney Gaynen lhakhangs are all spread in Bumthang’s Choekhor, Tang and Chumey valleys.

It is believed that the monasteries were built after a supine demoness was trying to stop the spread of Buddhism in the valley.  The temples were built on land resembling the shape of the lying demoness.  Old timers said the three monasteries in Bumthang were built atop the main parts of the demoness’s  body.

Zungney Gaynen lhakhang’s caretaker Sonam Dorji said a religious text, known as ka-thang dey-nga, has all the names of the lhakhangs that the Tibetan King built within a day.

Sonam Dorji said a fire destroyed the lhakhang in the 8th century and that Guru Rimpoche rebuilt it.

“The inner structure has never been touched since Guru Rimpoche rebuilt it,” he said. “Even the murals, besides being renovated to preserve them, are as old as the inner structure.”

In the late 1960’s, Sonam Dorji said, the old lhakhang was left to ruin without anyone caring for it.

“Late scholar lam Pemala, who knew how sacred the monastery was, volunteered to take care of the it,” said Sonam Dorji, who happens to be the late lam’s nephew. “Since then our family has been looking after the moastery.”

Many bus passengers and travellers said they always thought the lhakhang was a mani dungkhor (prayer wheel house).

Sonam Dorji said there were only a handful of people, who knew about the lhakhang’s sacredness and they visited it frequently.

“It’s very small for people to notice,” Sonam Dorji said. “It is, nevertheless, very important that people know its historic background.”

It is believed that visitors to the lhakhang would gain wisdom and freed from evil that afflict them.

By Samten Yeshi

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