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

The Shabdrung’s life

Ngawang Namgyel was born in Tibet in 1594 into the princely family of Gya*, who played an important role in the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was brought up in a monastic-religious environment and was given the title »Shabdrung«, which means »at whose feet one submits«, because of his religious accomplishments. Nowadays he is often referred to as »the Shabdrung« in Buthan.


He was recognised as the incarnation of the great Drukpa scholar Pema Karpo. Due to political power struggles his claim was disputed and he had to flee to Buthan. With his arrival in Buthan, in 1616, he was received by family and supporters of the Drukpa school. During the following thirty years he was able to gain control of all the small independent principalities and unified them to form »Druk Yul«, »country of the Drukpas«. In doing so he had to fight against both external and internal enemies. During the course of all his battles his protective deity Mahakala watched over him.

The Shabdrung created a unified cultural system as the basis for his realm. His last years, devoted to religious meditation, were spent in seclusion in the Punakha Dzong.

The history of Bhutan
.  Bhutan before ..
.  Shabdrung Ngawang ..
.  .  The life of the ..
.  .  .  The Shabdrungs youth ..
.  .  .  Fleeing to Bhutan
.  .  .  Entering Bhutan
.  .  .  At the end of the ..
.  .  .  Ngawang Namgyel, the ..
.  .  The unification of ..
.  .  The cultural heritage
.  .  A dark era
.  The monarchy
Bhutans religion
Gods and Sacred ..


Top |  Home |  Sitemap |  Search |  Glossary |  The Objects |  Tour |  Help

The Shabdrung, clay, painted; 17th century; H: 28 cm; loan from the Sammlung für Völkerkunde, St. Gallen
It's assumed that this statue is a true portrayal of the founder of the state.