No Wankchuks or Jigme Dorjee Wangchuk, the third king but Jigme Palden Dorjee, Kumar Saheb or his progenies Sonam Tobgey Dorjee and Ugen Dorjee were the main architecture of modern Bhutan, although this credit has always been given to Jigme Dorjee Wangchuk, the third king of Bhutan and his son and grandson.
Kumar Saheb’s ancestral and their loyal subjects of Nepali Bhutanese protected the southern border and took bold initiation for the process of modernization of the country but red carpet welcomed writers and flatters of Wangchuks who surrounded the palace twisted the fact to make happy to thankless Wangchuks kings and were given this honor for modernization of Bhutan. This is the example of great distortion of the history and it’s an act of sycophancy and eulogy.
Not only in past even today, the credit of bringing so called “unique democracy “has been given to King Jigme Singe Wangchuk, indeed it was the result of sacrifices of democratic struggle which began on 9th June 1988 when counselor Shree Tek Nath Rizal appealed to the King to stop ongoing process of ethnic cleansing in the shape of census exercise under pro forma “A” and “B”.
In the exercise of A&B, the scheme was led by Secretary Dorjee Tenzing who kept all Drukpas (non-southern Bhutanese) in pro forma A and all Nepali Bhutanese (Lhostampas) in pro forma B. Thereafter or after appeal of Rizal) these “A” and “B” converted to F 1-7 followed by categories 1-4 with join verification team of Nepal and Bhutan.
As said above, new beginning for democracy had begun when Shree Tek Nath Rizal was taken to “Dadi Makha” police station, Thimpu charging him as traitors against king. This prejudice enflamed and spread towards the eastern Bhutan and mass of this region also participated vastly in the latter course of movement started by Lhostampas when Rong Thong kinley Dorjee, Chhiku Dukpa, Thinle Penjor, Rinchen Dorjee, Gup Khilla along with Ramjam (sorry for not remembering his real name) and other permanent figures of “Gomgar” in Samdrup Dzonkhar and “Mongar” district had jumped on the demonstration for real democracy. In fact, Sarchops (the easterners) are more sufferers from language discrimination, cultural suppression and their political identity along with their right of being respected of majority stake holder of “Nigmapa” (a Buddhist faith of eastern Bhutan) religion since the Bhutan’s inception. So, they walk together neck in neck with Lhostampa (Nepalis of Bhutan) in all activities in the past and present.
As a result of new beginning, more than 100 thousand people (19% of population of country) were evicted at gun point from the mother land, more than 100 are still missing due to extra judiciary killing, more than 2000 people were forced to visit the cruel jail journey, many are still languishing in the prison (like above said respect worthy Ramjam) because of so called lifelong imprisonment. Hundreds had been assassinated like the gun bullet of Lhakpa Dorgee, the Dzongdah of Mongar in the day light. Mongar Dzongdah or culprit Lhakpa shot the pistol at the Gomchen Karma’s (a monk’s) chest in Mongar targeting the gathering. Same type of killing was done in the Lami Dara Bazar in Chirang and around half dozen of demonstrator were killed on the spot similar to the incident in Jalianwala Bagh Of India during British time but neither king nor the criminal could have been brought for the justice even after completing of so called unique democratic government’s five years by Jigme Y Thinley. In fact, inspite of this, Mr Thinlay shamelessly shows himself as representative of eastern Bhutanese and democratic prime minister of the country.
Prime Minister Palden or “Kumar Sahab” was the first son of Raja (vassal) Sonam Tobge Dorjee. He had to take the responsibility of southern administration because of his father’s poor health and untimely death. The same Kumar Sahab was addressed as Haa Tungpa along with a traditional rank of Bhutan agent in Kalebung or kalebung Raja or chamberlain in some occasion to follow the traditional hereditary rank of feudalism.
Until Jigme Palden Dorjee’s assassination on 5th April 1964 at 8.30 pm at Phunsoling government guest house through the bullet of third king’s pistol, which was given to his concubine Aji Yankee, the Jamindari (land lord and Land tenant) system in southern Bhutan was in vogue. There were four Dorjees on the series who took government Portfolios and were known as Ugen Dorjee , (Bhutan agent) Raja Sonam Dorjee (kalebung Raja or shree teen Maharaj), Jigme Palden Dorjee or Kumar Sahab or prime minister of Bhutan including Mr Lendup Dorjee or Lumpe (acting prime minister). Mr Lumpe , had been appointed officiating prime minister of Bhutan immediately after Jigme Palden Dorjee’s assassination but could not last longer on this post because his appointment was aimed to minimize the confusion within the royal family and chaos spread in the country and in India which was to be calm down.
While I am writing about Dorjees or Jigme Palden Dorjee’s contributions and role of Nepali Bhutnese in Bhutan notwithstanding the image of Kumar Sahab was not absolutely clear because of cruel assassination of Mahasur chhetri by his order. Mr Chhetri was put alive into Sunkosh River enveloping inside the raw cow skin bag due to Chetri’s active involvement in the ongoing democratic struggle from southern Bhutan in 1846-1969. This cruel act by him was probably to show his loyalty to Wangchuk king.
Kumar Sahab’s younger brother, Mr Lendup Dorjee, or the officiating prime minister was compelled to exile and had taken asylum in Nepal in 1964- 1972. He was accompanied by his sister Aji Tashi Dorjee, commissioner Rinchhe (the southern chief of SarBhang – “Sarpang”), southern Bhutan. Along with these big personnel many other high ranking officers such as army colonel (maxi Penjore or known colonel Wangdi In Nepal )and Mr Nado Rinchen , Gajaraj Gurung were exile who latter repatriated when king jigme singe Wangchuk ascended on Bhutan’s “Raj Gaddi) golden throne and lifted the entry restriction.
During Dorjees’ administration all the land occupied in tenant basis were given to cultivators and land ownership was awarded to them in the name of Dhuri and Sukumbasi Khajana (revenue) with their four corner boundaries of plots. In addition to this, the dwellers were honored by guarantying their cultural rights. For this, books relating to laws were printed in Nepali instead of English and Dzongkha. During that time, the Dzonkha language was not even born as a script of Bhutan.
Under Dorjees’ southern Bhutan , women of Nepali Bhutanese were not forced to work outside the house and their land periphery though men members of the family were to work on behalves of them (35 days for men and 35 days for women) in “Chunidom and Gungdawoola” (non-paid compulsory labor work as directed by government ). Such works needed members from the household to work at far site and remain away from their home.
To compensate above said hardship, Dorjee, brought citizenship act 1958 and commenced the ever first general census recording system in 1964. Also, they brought a program of student selecting for studying in Kalimgpong and Darjeeling from all over the country. They sent many Bhutanese for higher study under Colombo plan in different countries. Bhutan’s Colombo plan division was under the supervision of Aji Tasi (sister Of Jigme Palden Dorjee). She had initiated to get universal postal membership for the first time in the history. Before that Bhutan had mostly been a contactless place in the world.
In early 1960s, Mr Jigme Palden recruited every southern Bhutanese boys above 18 years in army and police compulsorily. He and his ancestral allowed marrying from outside of Bhutan such as from Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kalimgpong, Tibet, Lhadakh, Arunachal Pradesh or NEFA (North East Front of India) and Nepal. For this he clearly kept provision in the law of 1958 that spouses of Bhutanese boy automatically become citizen of Bhutan and could enjoy every right along with the heir ship of her husband in case of marrying with Bhutanese boy.
He also started Phunsoling - Chhunjome (confluence of Paro and Thimpu River) motorable road by determining eight thousand labors standby at work site until the construction is completed to Thimpu, Paro and Haa. To centralize the administration of the country, he remodeled the Tashichodzong and expanded its size to accommodate all ministries and departments, royal secretariat, Parliament house and summer station of Je Khempo by bringing labor force from southern Bhutan. If this was not done, third king would have done nothing in his status of serious ailment of heart disease. Among the Southern Bhutanese who were brought to construct this Dzong, Mr Tek Nath Rizal was the bulldozer driver to begin the foundation work of this central secretariat. Same Rizal latter became the royal advisory councilor of forth king from southern region and National assembly member from Lamidara constituency.
The Jamindari basis of governance under Dorjees remained until the King jigme Singe Wangchuk’s coronation. Still then the southern province was headed by Lhostam Chichhap (southern chief) and land revenue was collected in Dhuri system. More to this, in the national assembly of Bhutan the southern chief was honor as deputy minister until 1974 and the last southern chief was Mr Sangay Penjore (S Penjore) of Ganga Nagar in Tongsa district. This Office was abolished in 1973-74 after Dr. C. T Dorjee (Dr CT Dorjee who is the author of Bhutan history based on Buddhism) took over its charge as the capacity of GaylegPhung (HatiSar) RamJam (sub divisional officer). Latter, this charge was again taken by Dzonda Mr Ange in 1974-75 who was King Jigme Singe’s loyal body guard. Till then no Dzongdah was in southern territory of Bhutan. Before this, to assist the Dorjees there were Commissioners, border commissioner (Jhulendra pradhan), Deputy Commissioner (D.C) and Subdivision officer (SDO). Also, there were forest rangers, Divisional forest officers, chief labor officer and surveyors.
In the village level, Muktiyar (under him many Mandas) Bahidar (under Muktyar), Mandal, head of block (administration center of several villages) Karbari (assistance Mandal of sub area), Gaun Budo (under Karvari,) Chaprasi, and Bhelantary (voluntary) used to take government responsibility. In the same system, only Bhutanese who is allegiance to Dorjee or Wangchuk were required to take oath of faithfulness of king. As an exchange, Nepali Bhutanese would have got Bhutanese subject’s Status and were allowed to stay in Bhutan. Else, any person from foreign country if was to stay overnight, they needed to have a pass issued by Kalimgpong office, commissioner office or sub divisional office. In absence of written permission the stay was treated as big offense of punishment and person who allowed staying even one day / night used to be brought under barbarous cruelties.
Dasain, the main festival of Hindus has played a significant role with kingship and Hindu society. The fourth King Jigme singe Wangchuk used to celebrate Dasai as a national function until 1985 with Southern Bhutanese counselors (representative), officers and national assembly members. This festival was declared national holiday but the Tihar or Deepawali and other festival such as Bala Chaturdashi and Maghe Sankranti were regional celebrations of Nepali Bhutanese. In these merriments along with the occasion of national assembly or coronation Nepali garments were fully respected as their cultural attiring. Under this culture, Nepali used to dress in their traditional attire as males in Daura, Surwal and Topi and women in “Pharia”, Sari Chaubandi.
Accordingly, Mandals were treated as sole representative of Tongsa and Kalebung’s vassal and every household of local villages needed to go the Mandal’s “Dalan” (block head’s courtyard) with a “kosheli” (yearly gift to him) in every “Dasain”. Also, each and every houses of areas was to present either a whole bunch of banana or One “Sher of Chini” (a kilogram of Sugar), Or Perungo (kind of basket) of Kurauni (milk boiled down till the solid) or five bottle of “Raksi” (local wine) or a “Hakulo and Sapro” of the he goat (heart portion and solid one leg of the goat) as Dasai’s kosheli (gift) to Mandals. In addition to “Kosheli” , one house in a year needed to volunteer 5 labors or pay 5 rupees as “Bethi” fees (on the occasion of Mandal’s paddy plantation , all people of his area needed to contribute labor or special skills such of playing “Panchae Baja” and other)
According to Nepali tradition and customs of Bahun ( Brahman ) and Kshatriya, (second famous cast in the Brahmanical tradition ) was to go through 10 days mourned in case of “ Go hatya” (Killing of cow) by their hand . In this accidental or cow killing Mandal of each area used to issue a “Lipha Sudha” (a letter of Gohatya bereavement performance authority by taking 5 rupees as “Raj Danda” (kingly punishment). This bereavement system was allowed in southern Bhutan but people of northern Bhutan and eastern Bhutan used to eat dead beef or cow despite of being Buddhist.
Bahun, (Brahman) Chetriya and Sudra were expected to strictly their code of conduct according to “Varnasram” (four cast system in Hinduism). In case of any mistake by these castes, knowingly or unknowingly of eating chicken, pork or egg, wine and jand (local alcohol), they were subjected to perform Prayaschitya or Chandrayan (particular type of remorse). Also, for any religious activities big or small, Lhotsampas were allowed to Invite Sadhu (sage) Guru (religious teachers) pundit from India and Nepal for their guidance pertaining to big subjects of Hindus ritual.
In addition to Hindu in southern Bhutan, some Nepali Buddhist Bhutanese use to perform religious activities through “Gyabring or Paiju Lamas (monks)”. And, Tamangs were allowed to bring lamas from Nepal or Darjeling for “Ghewa”. Although, majority of Gurungs used to do puja and kriya (prayer and dead ceremonies) through Bahun in Bhutan contrary to Nepal’s Gurung. The reason behind this was that the vassal Garjan Gurung used to believe in Hinduism as per his Raj Guru who wrote Dal Chanda and Garjaman gurungs’ biography. Tamang Buddhists were allowed to learn their traditional education by inviting lama from outside, in case of their non-availability in Bhutan.
Rai used to do “Guru Dham” (kind of ritual). Limbus used to do, “Chinta”“Sergyam,” “Chyabrug”, (Dance) and Dhan Nach, (Dance). In addition to this, other castes (many other amalgamated casts) could participate in Maruni Nach (singing and dancing ceremony especially between Dasai and Tihar). Every Nepali Bhutanese were equally free to perform their traditional activities according to their system, such as, “Seuli jodne or Juwari”, “Balun” and “Khado jagaune” and “Bhajan” (Prayer or kirtan to god) in the special occasion of marriage or in Puran respectively. Dorjis or Shree 3 sarkhar (vassal) in kalebung were sole responsible for all affairs of southern Bhutan administration and foreign related matter of whole country till 1964 as the capacities of Chamberlin or “Deva jimpen or prime minister ” (a rank of officer as a close confident to king). Wangchuks were fully respected as “Shree 5” of a palace in Tongsha, Dechencholing and Paro. They(three Wangchuk kings) even may had not seen the area other than a mule tract to a Tongsa, Panache and Paro palace until the motor able road networking was constructed in 1962-64.
In the sequence of above said cultural activities “BIBAHA” (marriage) was considered one of the biggest festivities. During this day, couple was treated very special persons similar to king’s dignity. They used to have a Maher (flower shaped paper crown worn on the head of bride and bridegroom during the marriage ceremony) and allow to take process of walking like a king by having “Animate Baja “(a set of nine musical instrument including kettledrum) and gun firing salutes in front of their procession. The same sets of instruments also were performed in victories, welcome and welfare of big personalities and in several festivals.
“Jogs” (Who used to blown conch like sound giving musical instrument of bone )used to round at night by doing “parikrama” (circumambulation) to chase away ghosts and evil spirits from houses according to Nepali belief . They would have arrived in Bhutan in kartik (November – December) from Nepal as a representative of Guru Gorakh Nath, though, they need to obtain visiting permits from government.
Although, Dorji’s feudalist system has shown kindness to cultural activities but in the matter of absolutism of monarchy they were not smoother. So, often, southern Bhutanese had taken pioneer role to force them to become more flexible by doing appeal and agitation. For example, Lhotsampa had compelled to do needful “Satyagraha” (demonstration) against Dorjees or Wangchuks for real democracy and real constitutional monarchism. In such occasions, thousands of southern Bhutanese had to go to exile, jail and confronted with assassinated in all Blocks. For example , Gomchen Karma of monger , Rongthong Kuenle of Tashi gang , Cheku Dukpa of Samdrup Dzonkher , Bal Bahadur Gurung of Dagana , Mahasur Chetri of Chirang, Devibhakta Lamitare of Damphu , and Ganesh Prasai of Bokre , Pashupati Adhikari of lamidara , Dal Mardan Raya of Sarbhang , Muktinath Chpagai of Surey , DB Gurung of Samchi, Sabir Rai ( grandfather of Dr Bhampa Rai ) of Bada are the exemplary martyr or alive martyr of Bhutan . If their sacrifices was not there, the citizen ship act of 1958 was only a day dream as well land tenant and “ BEGAR” (compulsory labor policy) would have remain still burden of Bhutanese according to feudalism .