Zhabdrung’s gifts

Zhabdrung's Zhabdrung

Here’s a story from Sombaykha to commemorate Zhabdrung Kuchoe:

Topche was a nyagay – a strongman. About two hundred years ago, he left his village, Nakhikha in Sombaykha, to serve in Zhabdrung Jigme Drakpa’s court.

In addition to being famous for his great physical strength, Boed Topche, as he was known, was also an exceptional swordsman. Legend has it that he would fight nonstop against the Zhabdrung’s enemies. And that at the end of each day, he would have to soak his hand in a bowl of hot water to dislodge the sword from his bloodied hand.

At the end of Boed Topche’s career, the Zhabdrung summoned him and commanded that, for his outstanding services, he could choose something – anything – to take back to his village. But Topche would not identify anything, insisting that serving the Zhabdrung was his reward.

When the Zhabdrung repeated his command for the fifth time, Topche gazed at a statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, a statue built by Zhabdrung Jigme Drakpa himself, and submitted that that statue would remind him of his master and lama.

The protector

As Boed Topche traveled to his village, farmers from all over Sombaykha gathered to welcome him back, and to receive and accompany the sacred statue in a ceremonial procession to Nyebji Goenpa. But as soon as the statue was installed in Sombaykha’s main monastery, the entire village became mute.

Upon hearing the incident, Zhabdrung Jigme Drakpa summoned Boed Topche and gifted him another statue to accompany the statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. That statue was of the Talo Gyalpo, the Zhabdrung’s guardian and a protector deity of the Punakha region.

Our elders tell us that Boed Topche ran from Talo to Sombaykha in a single day. And that the villagers were able to speak again soon after the Talo Gyalpo was also installed in Nyebji Goenpa.

Zhabdrung Jigme Drakpa’s statue of Zhabrung Ngawang Namgyal is still in Nyebji Goenpa. And Sombeps still worship it as their most sacred relic.

HM's Zhabdrung

But Nyebji Goenpa now has another precious Zhabdrung statue. Earlier this year, during the birth anniversary of His Majesty the King and about two hundred years after installing the Zhabdrung statue, the villagers in Sombaykha congregated to receive and install another image of Zhabdrung NgawangNamgyal. This one – a beautiful gilded bronze statue – was gifted by His Majesty the King.