Saturday, September 5, 2015

Terton Sherab mebar and the Golden Cymbal

Terton Sherab Mebar, after arriving in Bhutan, was never taken seriously by the people. They disrespected his wisdom as he was too young. So the people dared him to perform a miracle in front of all, so that they believe him. The people pressurized him so much that he had to agree.

He told them,
“Come to see me after few days near the lake (I still can’t remember the lake, I guess it must be the tsho Gunapata). I will be meditating in the cave near the lake but there will not even be a drop of water in the lake. Instead you will find the lake floor filled with religious instruments of pure gold supported by a golden pillar. Cut the golden pillar and offer the pillar to Paro Dzong while you keep the religious instruments beside me”

He further added,
“the splinters can be shared among the villagers but be warned not to cut the pillar so high. Let not your greed take over you to cut the pillar in such a way that it produces more splinters and a much smaller pillar for the dzong. Meanwhile I will be in the state of meditation, so I can’t talk”
(I did my best to remember the lines as I was told but I am pretty sure I did not get them right)

The people agreed and returned after a week.

As told by the Terton, people saw him mediating in a small cave while the lake was dry. The lake floor was filled with the things he mentioned. The people did as they were told but their greed overtook their mind seeing the amount of gold. They placed the religious instruments beside the Terton and cut the golden pillar but the people cut the pillar higher and higher.

The Terton signaled them with his head and warned them as he could not talk but the people paid no heed and took out more pieces of gold from the Pillar.

The Terton could not hold anymore, so he opened his mouth and said not to do that. From his mouth, the lake flowed down into its rightful place and drowned the people. The Terton was, till now, holding the lake inside his mouth.

The other people of the village chased the Terton with anger. They wanted to kill him for his black magic (That is what they thought). Fearing for his life, the Terton ran away with the golden religious instruments. As the people neared him, the Terton threw the religious instruments one by one which formed into lakes. These lakes gave Terton sometime to run away but the people never gave up. (The lakes are said to be in north of Haa and Paro which resembles the religious instruments that the Terton threw)

Somewhere near the border of Paro and Haa, there was a great Dubthop who was meditating. He caught sight of the Terton being chased. He called them and settled the dispute with an agreement on a stone pillar (which still stands). The people agreed never to bother the Terton while the Terton promised never to cross the border.

After reaching Pangbisa, the Terton sat down on a stone and meditated. The main statue of Guru Rinpoche in the lhakhang (Pangbisa Ugyen Guru Lhakhang) is built on the very same stone where the Terton meditated.

The Guru statue in the lhakhang has another interesting history. Legend has it that the sculptor finished making the body (Guru Statue) but failed to come with head despite countless attempt. They felt defeated when there was a knock on the gate. The chief sculptor sent his assistant to open the door who informed him about three women with a clay Guru’s head. The chief wanted to see if the head fitted their statue, so asked his assistant to bring the head.

He put the clay head on the statue and it perfectly fitted. So he again asked his assistant to bring the women in so that he can pay but the women were nowhere to be found. The three women were believed to the Khadroms.

But the chief sculptor found out that the head was bended while trying, so he tried to take the head out and fix it well. No matter how hard he tried, he failed. At that time, the Guru statue spoke and told him that he is comfortable in that position. The Guru Statue is very unique to any other statues in other Guru Statues. 

After the Terton’s death in Baylangdra, in Wangdi, the peple of Pangbisa kept his dead body (kudung) as their main relic in the Lhakhang.

Once, the Paro Penlop aka Penlop Haap visited the lhakhang and found out the kudung. Sensing its importance and danger of being stolen, ordered the people of Pangbisa to donate it to Paro Dzong. The people refused, so the penlop negotiated. The people of Pangbisa will be waved off any form of tax for three years and will be given preference to sit in the VIP cabin during the Paro Tshechu.

After few years the kudung was taken to the Dzong, the people of Pangbisa realized that their precious relic which they bartered with the tax waiver was not justifiable. They wanted to have the kudung back but could not go against the Penlop.

They planned a secret act to steal it. The people of Pangbisa had a very good relation with the people of Woochu who were and are still known for their iron works (presently opposite Paro airport). They ordered precise iron rods with hooks at the end.

Meanwhile the kudung was kept in a wooden box in the Marchey Lhakhang of the Dzong which was at the ground floor of the Dema Lhakhang.

There was a monk from Pangbisa who garnered much admiration of the Dzong administration that he was appointed the caretaker of the Dema Lhakhang.

Every year the entire monastic body of the Dzong visited Kitchu lhakhang for a religious ritual (which is still practiced, that’s what I heard but I am not very sure what it is and when it is done)

The people of Pangbisa informed the caretaker of Dema lhakhang to refrain from going to Kitchu Lhakhang that day. The people came with the iron rods and a corpse made from clay so that they can steal the kudung and replace it with the corpse.

Once in the Dema Lhakhang, they made hole, the size of the kudung, and pulled up the kudung with the iron rod but realized that only the head would come out and not the whole body.

They were running out of time, so they cut the head of the kudung and replaced it with the clay heard from the corpse. They then put down the kudung with the clay head and sealed the floor of the Dema Lhakhang.

Nobody knew about the act.

During the time, the kudung was offered new Namzha (clothes) every three years. When the Penlop opened the box to offer new Namzha, they were shocked to find the Kudung with a clay head. The penlop tried to take out the clay head but failed. So he kept as it is thinking that it was a lungten (prophecy)

The Dzong administration people became very furious with the people of Pangbisa as no other would have done the ridiculous act than the people of Pangbisa. A war was planned against the people of Pangbisa.

The wise Penlop ordered his people to refrain from war against people of Pangbisa as the Kudung originally belonged to them. He advised them to get a special thing from Pangbisa as a return for the head of the kudung.

The special thing was a golden Reim (Cymbal) that the Terton brought from Lake Gunapata. (it is believed that the Terton threw the other one to save himself when people chased him and the Reim Tsho or the cymbal lake can be seen still today. It is shaped like a cymbal with a slight miraculous bulge in the center)

The Penlop had so much faith in the kudung that he tried to jump into the fire to save the kudung when Paro Dzong was raised by a major fire. The Penlop was knocked unconscious. When he regained his consciousness, the first thing that he asked was whether the kudung could be saved.

It is also said the Penlop did not eat for days as the kudung was lost.

That is how the Golden cymbal came to the Paro Dzong and the kudung’s head remained at Pangbisa. The golden cymbal is used in a special mask dance on the first day of the Paro tshechu which is conducted inside the paro dzong. The head of the kudung can still be found in Pangbisa Ugyen Guru Lhakhang.

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