Bhutanese Venerable Nyizer Trulku passes away

By Rinzin Wangchuk, Kuensel Online, June 15, 2005

Timphu, Bhutan -- The 67th Je Khenpo, His Holiness Ngawang Thinley Lhundup, passed away peacefully at his summer residence in Namgyal Chholing, Babesa, in Thimphu on June 10, at the age of 84. As His Holiness remains in thudam (meditation posture) his devotees remember the important era through which he guided the zhung dratshang (central monk body).

<< His Holiness the late Ngawang Thinley Lhundup

As the Je Khenpo, His Holiness Nyizer Trulku presided over the investiture ceremony when His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck became Trongsa Penlop in 1971. He then conducted the sacred enthronement ceremony when His Majesty became the fourth Druk Gyalpo on June 2, 1974.

On October 31, 2004, His Holiness presided over the investiture ceremony of the 16th Chhoetse Penlop, His Royal Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, in Trongsa dzong.

His Holiness was born at Changmaney in Trongsa on the eighth day of the fifth Bhutanese month in the year of the Iron Rooster. His contemporaries say that his birth was marked by many auspicious signs. At the age of seven he had shown innate spiritual qualities and recalled his former life as the trulku of Nyizergang in Sha, Wangduephodrang.

Nyizergang was the seat of Terchen Woogpa Lingpa who established Geduen Choling monastery for the propagation of the Buddha dharma. The Nyizer Trulku is the lineage of Woogpa Lingpa. Young Nyizer Trulku was named Thinley Lhendup by the 58th Je Khenpo, Sizhi Namgyal, when he was enrolled in the central monk body.

He studied the kilchog (religious conduct and liturgical practices) and successfully completed the Garthig-Yang-Sum (excellence in the performing arts and musical instruments). During that time he also received empowerment of the traditional Tsa-sum-gi Wang and admonition of Zogrim Kajachen Ngai Thri (five instructions of highest realisation) from Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji.

At the age of 17 he went to Tharpaling monastery in Bumthang to receive the teachings of Zhungchen (study of the 13 different philosophical texts) and intensive practices of the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition from the well-learned scholars including Khenchog Tenpa Rinchen, His Holiness Dujom Rinpoche, Dubgye Rinpoche, Shenyen Pema Tshering, and Chodra Lam Rinchen Dorji.

He also received the teaching of meditational practices at Dechen Duba in Sha from Dubwang Tenzin Jamtsho and, when he was undergoing meditational retreat, he was appointed as the Drabi Lopon of the Central Monk Body. He later served as the Dorji Lopon.

At the age of 50, His Holiness became the 67th Je Khenpo in 1970.

As the Je Khenpo, His Holiness is remembered as a strict disciplinarian who revived and strengthened the Garthig-Yang-Sum in the dratshang. His Holiness not only conducted blessings, teachings, and initiations (wang, lung, thri), he initiated many religious activities of historical significance throughout the kingdom.

Nyizer Trulku conducted seven thri (explanation of the four preliminary practices) during his lifetime.

His Holiness visited various historical and Buddhist sites in India including Bodhgaya, Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, Rewalsar (Tsho Pemachen in Himachal Pradesh), Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh) and Nagarjuna Konda including Amaravathi and Dhanakataka in Andhra Pradesh.

At the Nagarjuna University His Holiness gave a religious discourse to the university faculty members, local authorities, and many scholars. His Holiness also laid the foundation stone of a Druk Ngoen Dongachholing, a Bhutanese monastery in Bodhgaya.

Known as a great scholar His Holiness Nyizer Trulku, who served as the Je Khenpo for 17 years, was the longest serving Je Khenpo in the history of Bhutan. In 1986 he retired to a life of religious practice and meditation.

Elder monks describe the late Je Khenpo as a straight forward, no nonsense, and down to earth person who would not compromise the rules of the dratshang. Je Nyizer Trulku was also believed to be gifted with powers to cure dza (semi-paralysis), according to one of his students. ?He was blessed with the sacred nga (mantra) which very few people can master,? he said.

According to a village elder of Wangduephodrang the passing away of Je Nyizer Trulku was a great loss to the people of Shar Dargye (eight regions of Shar). ?He was a spiritual leader who performed all ceremonies, from small religious rites to major religious ceremonies without any regard for the social status of the people,? he said. ?Bhutan has lost a great person who is an epitome of a real spiritual master.?

As a mark of reverence, the members of the National Assembly stopped the session to light butter lamps and offer prayers for the late Je Nyizer Trulku on the morning of June 13.