First visit since 2019 to Chimi Lhakhang in Punakha. Feeling blessed, and reminded not to be bogged down with social conventions, cultural norms or traditional thinkings and, instead, to practice dharma in its purest form, which are loving-kindness and compassion.
The sacred site is associated to lama Kunga Legpa Zangpo (1455–1529), who is more popularly known as Drukpa Kunley (འབྲུག་པ་ཀུན་ལེགས་) because he was a lama born in the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. He was known for his unconventional ways and wisdom of practicing the dharma, which bordered on being outrageous and profane with excessive sexual overtone. Thus he was known as the Divine Madman, but is one of the most favorite yogis in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.
He wandered looking for best wine and women. He came to Bhutan because he was told the best alcohol and the most beautiful girls were in Bhutan. He urinated in the temples and at solemn spiritual gatherings in the established monastic institutions in Tibet. He disturbed the large religious sermons with his antics and actions that defied basic social normal norms – including one that involved the king-terton Pema Lingpa. He challenged every lama and yogis of his time and defeated them in debates and religious discourses.
Popular legend has it that children and old people loved him. He had gifts for them all the time. They followed him when he showed up in their villages. He had no ego or inhibition of any kind, and people either ran away from him, or chased him away. He was last seen in front of Lhasa Jowo statue, where he left his slippers and his walking stick.
Behind his antics and exploits, and superficial assessments, lies a deeper meaning – of the danger social norms and cultural conventions taking over the true essence of Buddha Dharma. Of people confusing with culture over religion. Drukpa Kunley also decried hypocrisy and inhibitions. He rejected dogmas and decorum of any form. He simply refused to bend to the social order, and instead proposed the spiritial essence of Vajrayana Buddhism – loving kindness and compassion.
He was a bodhisattva. His pees turned into gold drops. He foretold the demise of many lamas. He played pranks on his cousin, Lama Ngawang Chogyel, by reading his materialistic thoughts and embarrased him by announcing them to the public. He helped Bhutanese communities and families get rid of evil spirits and demons. It is believed that he never died and instead dissolved into Lhasa Jowo (Buddha Maitraya) statue by entering through its nose.
Chimi Lhakhang was established by his cousin, the more conventional Lama Ngawang Chogyel, on the spot where Drukpa Kunley tamed the powerful demoness of Dochula. Chimi literally means “No dog” and refers to the demoness who turned into a dog, and which was vanished into the earth by Drukpa Kunley. A stupa now stands on that spot where the dog disappeared.
Chimi Lhakhang has been popularised as a Fertility Temple for its child-bestowing powers to childless couples. I personally know a few foreign couples who became proud parents after visiting here.
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