Tourists usually think of Pang Lha Sol as a glorious dance festival. But it has much deeper spiritual connects with the founding of the dynasty of Chogyals, or Dharma Rajas of Bayul Demajong
In the last week of August, I received a Whatsapp message with a video from my friend Yapchung Shangdarpa of Gyalshing, West Sikkim. The message said that a group of monks left from Yoksum for Dzongri to perform the Pang Lha Sol prayers there on September 2 this year.
The video showed the monks conducting a small prayer at the Norbughang throne at Yoksum before leaving for Dzongri.
It would take them three days of travel ending after a back breaking trek, to Dzongri (4,200 metres above sea level), one of the most exquisitely beautiful place in Sikkim.
Yapchung told me that there are some caves there where some monks live all the year round, but the monks from Pemayangtse move there via Yoksum for the Pang Lha Sol prayers every year.
Both the places are significant, rather, places of very high spiritual value.
And Yoksum is the place where NamkhaJigmed, or Lhatsun Chenpo, founded the Namgyal Dynasty in 1641.
It was Lhatsun Chenpo who had devised the Pang Lha Sol prayers and got it recored in the holiest text of Sikkimese Buddhism, the Neysol Prayer Book.
Last week, we had spoken about the Pangtoed Cham, or the Warrior Dance, whose intricate design had been received by the Third Chogyal, or Dharma Raja, Chagdor Namgyal, in his dream.
In Dzongri, such a dance is not held, but the intricate prayers are held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the Tibetan lunar calendar.
I first went to Yoksum for my Sikkim Tourism Website project in 2000. And from the word Go, I was mesmerised by the place.
We have said that the Sikkimese Lepcha patriarch Tekung Tek, and the Tibetan king Kye Bhumsa and their families had signed the Treaty of Blood Brotherhood at a sacred grove in North Sikkim called Kabi Longtsok.
My friend Yapchung of Gyalshing, by the way, is a descendent of Kye Bhumsa!
That was almost three hundred years before the founding of the Namgyal dynasty in 1640 (experts differ on the date).
Cutting short the intricacies of the spiritual lore of Sikkim, the High Incarnate Lama Lhatsun Chenpo, who was a spiritually overwhelming tantric Buddhist Master in Tibet, was guided to enter Sikkim crossing the Himalaya.
“Lhatsun Namkha Jigmed was guided by a swan across the mountains and he arrived at this place,” Yapo Sonam Yongda, one of the most learned scholars and a monk told me during the course of my research.
Most significant is that right on the top of the throne is a triangular piece of small stone. And guess what that is! Mount Khang Chen-Dze-Gna, the one who had been declared the highest protecting deity of Bayul Damajong, now called Sikkim. And it is for Khang Chen-Dze-Gna that the Pang Lha Sol prayers were devised by Lhatsun Namkha Jigmed
“Namkha Jigmed means ‘one who fears not the sky,” Yapo explained.
As you traverse a foliage hidden pathway from the dusty road outside Yoksum village, you walk into an amazing world vibrating with spiritual prowess.
I was wonderstruck to see that of the four levels, the highest part of the throne was meant for Lhatsun Chenpo.
The seat next to his was that for Chogyal Phuntsog Namgyal, the first official king of Bayul Demajong. And the other two seats at two levels were for Lamas Karthok Rikzin Chenpo and Ngadak Sempa Chenpo.
This defined the status of the Sikkim rajas. Dharma was above royalty, and the Chogyal, Dharma Rajas, would rule in the nameof ‑and guided by ‑Dharma.
This is why Lhatsun Namkha Jigmed’s seat was slightly above that of the Chogyal.
But most significant is that right on the top of the throne ia triangular piece of small stone. And guess what that is!
Mount Khang Chen-Dze-Gna, the one who had been declared the highest protecting deity of Bayul Damajong, now called Sikkim.
This is the precise symbolism of the significance of the Holy Mountain, and it is for Khang Chen-Dze-Gna that the Pang Lha Sol prayers were devised by Lhatsun Namkha Jigmed.
The throne is called Norbughang Throne, and faced opposite it by a massive white stupa, the Norbughang Chorten.
Yapchung explains to me that Norbu means “treasure of the Gods”; and Ghang means “Hilltop”.
This chorten was erected with hundreds of precious gems, relics of Buddhist masters, water from several holy rivers and lakes, including the nearby Karthok Lake, and soil from all corners of Sikkim being put inside it.
I realise now why the monks travelling to Dzongri start from Yoksum from Pang Lha Sol; from the founding seat of religious kingdom to the lap of Khang Chen-Dze-Gna!
On that first trip to Yoksum, I was advised by my friend Dorje Gyaltshen of the company Sikkim Eco Tours and Travels, to make a visit to Dubdi monastery.
It was a very steep climb up a small hill opposite the Norbughang complex. It gives me theshivers even now to think that Dubdi means “Retreat”, and this was originally the personal chapel of Lhatsun Namkha Jigmed!
It now has a small monastery built by Chogyal Phuntsog Namgyal II, where for the first time I encountered the various aspects of Guru Padmasambhava turning the dakinis into Dharmapalas!
(Concluding next week)
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Maverick story teller, the author just loves turning around what people write into stories.He has worked with several magazines, such as Sunday Mail, Mail Today, Debonair, The Sunday Indian, Down To Earth, IANS, www.sportzpower.com, www.indiantelevision.com etc. He also loves singing and cooking