Namling Lhakhang or Guru Lhakhang

Description

Namling lhakhang is situated a few meters above the main road, on the left side of the settlement, amidst the trees. It is approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Bardo gewog center towards Buli. On the other way round, it is about 7 hours’ drive on the unpaved road from Buli towards Bardo gewog center.

History

The date of the construction of the temple is unknown because there is no written evidence. According to oral sources, the temple is believed to be about 200 years old and the present structure was built approximately 30 years ago.

The present one-storey temple was rebuilt under the command of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. Initially, the temple was a small hut with a thatched roof, without any murals to indicate its distinctiveness as a temple. Later, the temple was rebuilt with stones and mud, and the Gewog office provided CGI sheets for the roof, and Mr. Pema Wangdi from Khomshar did the wall paintings.

The temple area is also known for its Guru La-tsho (Soul lake of Guru), its Drupchu (accomplished-stream), animal footprints, a significant rock, and a self-arisen chorten (stupa). All of these have their own stories.

The Guru La-tsho, which is located about 30m north of the temple, was initially discovered by late lama Ugyen Chogyel, the disciple of Lama Sonam Zangpo (1888-1982). But, nobody took care of the lake and it was forgotten more or less. However, a few years ago, Kyabje Drubwang Padma Norbu Rinpoche (1932 – 2009) and also Terton Ganor Rinpoche (1942 –present) mentioned the presence of a La-tsho beneath the surface, and advised the community to take care of the La-tsho as it would bring immense benefit to the community.

According to oral sources, the Guru La-tsho was initially located a little above the present site. Since the people were unaware of the existence of the La-tsho, somehow the La-tsho was polluted. Therefore, it is believed that the La-tsho moved to the present location. Even at the present location, the area around the lake was not kept clean and the water dried. Khenpo Leki Tandin said he remembers seeing a small marshy area and nothing else. Later, after hearing the lama’s advice, Khenpo Leki Tandin and a group of people offered Riwo Sangchoe (Smoke offering) to purify the place, and hence the Tsho was revived in 2016.

The local people say that Khomshar is believed to have Ling zhi and Tsho zhi (4 places and 4 lakes). This La-tsho is one among the 3 lakes discovered so far in the area. The informants mentioned that when there is drought in the village, the villagers would go to the Tsho and splash some water at each other, and this would bring rain to the village.

The informants said that if people are lucky, they would see 2 Dungkars (conch) considered Pho (male) and Mo (female). The informants also believe that the Tsho has 3 sources of water: one hot, another warm, and the third one cold.

The informants also narrated a story about a sergi shomo (golden churn) that a Namling household received from the tsho. Namling household had 9 sons in the family, and one time, one of the sons saw a huge snake around the vicinity of the house, and so he killed it. And as a result of killing the snake, all the sons died there after. Later, it is said the sergi shomo was taken away by an unknown official.

The people in Namling village believe that there is a Tshomen (mermaid) in the lake. The dream of Tshomen is considered to be a bad omen.  Local people say that whenever a person in Namling gets sick, the person would often have a dream of Tshomen. The informants mentioned that Khenpo Thubten Dorji, 46, had a dream of an elderly Tshomen, which implies the existence of Tshomen in the lake.

A Drupchu is located about 20m below the temple, hidden in the woods. This Drupchu was discovered by an old man called Pala (who recited 10 million Mani and as a result of his accomplishment, he got a wisdom tooth) who saw the Drupchu in his dream. The informant said that Pala died in the 1940s.

Just above the Guru La-tsho, there are animal footprints, which are believed to belong to the guardian deity Terda Zorarakye’s riding horse and Palden Lhamo’s donkey.

Again about 100m up from the spot, there is a Chorten (stupa) hidden in the woods, which was believed to have emerged of its own. This stupa is one of the three chortens in Khomshar village that are self-arisen. The informant said that one more chorten was discovered recently in January 2018 near Khomshar Dratshang.

There is a huge rock on the way to the temple from the main road, which Lama Ugyen Chogyel discovered. He claimed that the letter Om (ཨོྃ) and Ha (ཧ), and an image of Phurpa (skrt. kila) could be seen on the rock. Unfortunately, no one has been able to see them so far.

Architecture and Art Work

The temple is a one-storey building built in the recent traditional style. It has only one room and has a wooden floor and the main altar is a simple wooden structure without any embellishment. The altar has Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) statue amidst ten Tshepamay (Amitayus) statues, each approximately 8 inches in size. The main relics of the temple are the hands and foot prints of Guru Rinpoche on the rock supposedly found beneath the floor of the temple. The walls are ornamented with paintings of Choelong Truelsum (Guru Rinpoche, historical Buddha and Avalokiteshvara), the guardian deity Terda Zorarakye, Lhamo Remati and the local deity Lhatsen Karpo.

A house adjacent to the temple is used as a kitchen.

Social and Cultural Functions

The rituals in the temple are conducted by lay practitioners, since the temple does not have any monks. The temple is looked after by the villagers, usually a person who is able to read Buddhist scripts is selected as the caretaker. The caretaker is exempted from Woola (compulsory community labour) for his service to the temple.  The following religious activities are performed at the temple:

  • Kangso rituals: Kangso ritual is conducted every month without fail to avert drought, famine, or sickness, or the destruction of fields by wild animals. In the past, the villagers had abandoned this practice of kangso, and all kinds of calamities befell the community. When the community sought divination to find out the cause of misfortunes, the people were asked to perform Kangso without fail. It is performed on the 8th, or the 15th, or the 30th of every Bhutanese month. Namling and Umling lhakhang take turns to perform the kangso If Namling lhakhang conducts the ritual on the 8th, then Umling lhakhang would perform either on the 15th, or the 30th of the same month, and vice versa.
  • A one-day community ritual (Mangi Rimdro) is conducted every month on rotation amongst the four lhakhangs: Namling lhakhang, Umling lhakhang, Wadang lhakhang and Samdhang lhakhang.

Informants

Khenpo Leki Tandin, 39, Namling, Khomshar, Zhemgang.

Sangay Dorji, 65, caretaker

Researcher

Sonam Jamtsho, Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2018

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