Guru Rinpoche’s Birthday Celebrated in Bhutan

Birthday of Guru Rinpoche Date: July 2, 2010

The Birthday of Guru Rinpoche is a public holiday in Bhutan.

The kingdom of Bhutan is fondly known as the “land of thunder dragons” to their citizens. Buddhism is supposed to have been brought to Bhutan by the “Padmasambhava” or the “Lotus Born”. This is a different form of Buddhism with a tantric side to it. In Tibet and Bhutan, the Padmasambhava is referred to as Guru Rinpoche (“Precious Master”) or Lopon Rinpoche. His birthday is celebrated with great joy in Bhutan.

History of The Birthday of Guru Rinpoche in Bhutan

Tibet was expanding during 640 to 842 CE during which it absorbed the state of Zhang-Zhang, Nepal, China, and other territories around it. At the end of this time, in Bhutan, the famous “Tiger’s Nest” monastery was being built on a sheer cliff wall about 500 meters above the floor of Paro valley.

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Legend says that the local demons did not like the spread of Buddhism in to their land and they showed their wrath at night by destroying everything that would have been created during the day. The king, who became very sad, asked the Indian monastic. The monastic asked the good king to bring in the tantric mahasiddha called Padmasambhava from India to tame the local demons and get them bound to the Buddhist-dharma. Legend has it that the he flew there from Tibet on the back of a flying tigress for the purpose of the trip.

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The Padmasambhava traveled through Tibet during which he performed his duty of subduing demons and the local Gods. Padmasambhava had five female companions who were called the “Five Wisdom Dakinis” or “Five Consorts”. They had access to the master’s heart and practiced secret sexual rites which tamed the previous demons of Tibet and converted them into protectors of the country.

Bhutan’s Birthday of Guru Rinpoche Traditions, Customs and Activities

Monks and other citizens of Bhutan celebrate Guru Rinpoche’s birthday with traditionally decorated hand-carried effigies of the Guru and participate in associated religious ceremonies. The holiday is taken seriously by most citizens, celebrating Guru Rinpoche’s contributions to peace.


by Noel Moitre