Buddhist Heritage in Bhutan

Bhutanese in general are deeply religious people. The basic Buddhist belief of compassion and interdependence has allowed a society where people live in respect of his environment that constitute not only other people, but also all other living beings.

Buddhism came to Bhutan around the eighth century when Guru Padmasambhava, the great tantric Buddhist master visited Bhutan to subdue evil spirit and liberate human beings from demons.

Guru Padmasambhava, who had earned the peoples’ faith by vanquishing evil spirits, taught Buddhism in Bhutan. Today, many important temples and monasteries in the country are dedicated to the life and work of Guru Padmasambhava.

Buddhism had however, already become popular in India when a royal prince, Siddhartha achieved enlightenment by meditating on human life, suffering, disease, old age and death.

Siddhartha abandoned his wife and son, wealth and princely luxury and set upon the task to lift the curse of sickness, old age and death by meditating more than six years. When he had found the answers, Siddhartha is said to have achieved enlightenment.

Siddhartha’s teaching has since then evolved into Buddhism, crafted and molded by many of his followers and disciples.  Siddhartha, who later came to be called Lord Buddha is said to have taught anyone who came to him.

His teachings constituted compassion, emptiness, interdependence, impermanence and the abstinence of desire, which he had identified as the root cause of suffering.

Today Buddhism is recognized as the state religion, while allowing a secular system for people to practice other religions too. The chief abbot, the Je Khenpo overlooks the spiritual aspect of the country.

Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel instituted the dual system of governance, which include the secular and the spiritual in the 17th century. The secular looked after civil administration and politics while the spiritual handled religious affairs of the country.