The history of Bhutan | Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel | The life of the Shabdrung | Fleeing to Bhutan

Fleeing to Bhutan

Various prophecies supported the Shabdrung's intention to flee from Tibet to Bhutan. One morning he found a bundle of rice plants in his room, although rice does not grow in Tibet, and there had been no visitors from the south. Even the barley porridge he ate tasted of rice. The meaning of all these omen was clear: the Shabdrung should go to Bhutan, where his ancestors had built numerous monasteries and also had many followers.

Ngawang Namgyel also dreamt of a black raven - a form in which his protective deity Mahakala* appears - that was flying to the south.


One night he had a vision of his protective deities Mahakala and Palden Lhamo and they offered him the land to the south of the mountains as »heavenly realm«, where Buddhism would flourish in peace. In this heavenly realm the Bhutanese state was to develop.

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The raven-headed Legön Jaro Dongchen is one of the forms in which Mahakala* appears. This section stems from a wall painting from the ground floor of the Dungtse temple in the Paro valley.
Photo by Françoise Pommaret