I made my maiden visit to Euthok Gonpa in Shaba yesterday. Somehow over the years I kept missing it as I would be rushing up to Dra Karp or Dongkala, and would be late by the time I was coming down.
Euthok Samdrup Choeling Gonpa, popularly known as Euthok Gonpa, is a mediaeval temple located in Paro Shaba. It is an important community temple guarded by a powerful local deity, who is the kay-lha (birth-deity) of the children born in the area.
If one bases on the fact that it was established by Terton Rigzin Jatson Nyinpo, the temple dates its founding to the late 16th or early 17th Century. The gonpa, which is now a monastery, is the first major spiritual abode on the same mountain as Dra Karp, Mendrup Gonpa, Dongkala, Bemri and Samtenling.
Euthok, which literally means “turquoise top” takes its name from the dream that founder-lama saw and in which he visioned a snake wrapped on a golden pillar with the turquoise on the top of the pillar. He then decided to call the temple Euthok Samdrup Choeling Gonpa – literally meaning “a wish-fulfilling religious centre adorned with a turquoise.
The most sacred relic of the temple is a set of Kanjur – the holy canon in Buddhism. Legend has it that the Kanjur was blessed by Sangye Menlha (Medicine Buddha) and thus is believed to help people recover from illnesses and health issues. The other story is that papers used in the writing of the Kanjur were made from a single tree that grew out of a strand of hair of Sangye Menlha.
“There are many but I know two people personally who have recovered from cancer after commissioning the reading of the sacred Kanjur,” says the caretaker monk. I have also heard about a tour guide who survived after seeking help here. The temple, in fact, receives a lot of requests for prayers for the sick.
We get invited for tea in the guest room. And I enquire more about the legends and stories of this under-rated temple (Paro Dzongkhag doesn’t even figure it on their website). I hear more amazing stories. I am simply awed, and glad that I dragged myself here this time.
“It is not even necessary to sponsor the reading of the whole set. You can either attend the annual reading session in May, or simply drop your nyendar. It is your faith and moelam,” he adds. I made an offering and asked him to include all the “twelve birth signs” – meaning everyone on the planet.
Other than that the temple is in a beautiful location with a mind-blowing view of Paro Valley. It has a nice courtyard, and wooden floors of the main altar that are over 200 years old. Everything feels old, holy and grand inside.
More on the Mountain
Euthok Gonpa is on the base of the mountain that was designated as Potala, the Abode of Avalokiteshvara, by none other than great yogi Thangtong Gyalpo (1385 CE–1464). While meditating on the summit, where now stands the Phurdo Gonpa, the yogi visioned this mountain as the abode of Chenrizig. Hence, there are numerous and important sites that have come up such as Samtenling (blessed by Longchen Rabjam), Bemri (or Bum-Ri), Dongkala, Dra Karp, Mendrup Gonpa, Neyphu Gonpa. The spiritual merit of visiting this mountain is the same as visiting the sacred abode of Potala.
Euthok Gonpa is the large monastery you see on the hill to the left as you pass the Shaba Bridge while driving from Paro to Thimphu. It takes 5-10 minutes by car from the bridge.
The Annual Reading
The annual reading of the sacred healing Kanjur takes place from the First Day to the Fifteenth Day of the Fourth Month of the Bhutanese calendar. You may want to visit the Gonpa on these days and participate by making offerings of food, fruits, money, wine and snacks.
If you go there, make a specific request to get the blessings of the Kanjur. In Bhutan, if you don’t have prior information, the caretaker monks do not reveal the most sacred relic of the temple – for whatever reasons.
A note of gratitude
The place was badly damaged by the 2011 earthquake, after which locals and the Lama, under the royal patronage of Her Majesty Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang, rebuilt this magnificent abode.
3 thoughts on “The Healing Temple of Paro”
Hi Tashi here,
It’s always my pleasure to read and take something from your article, this time about Euthok Gonpa.
Welcome la. I just realised I have mire time, means and interest, and many who live abroad especially like to be connected to these amazing stories
Next is Neyphu Gonpa