A letter to a King
A SPECIAL TRIBUTE IN COMMEMORATION OF HIS MAJESTY DRUK GYALPO JIGME SINGYE WANGCHUCK’S 60TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY
“Once upon a time, in a distant kingdom crowned by mountains with peaks of pearls, lived a King, benevolent, magnanimous and wise.
It was a King better than any out of a fairytale, for he happens to be real, and so is the wonderland of a kingdom he reigned.” (Karma, Chamjekha; Kuensel, Nation’s Gem)
Many of our favorite stories begin with these four words, but never before have they prefaced in a story as great as the one we will tell you today. Ours is a story of dragons and kings; of a great visionary leader who, guided by inherent wisdom, lead a tiny mountain Kingdom into an age of progressive enlightenment. Ours is a story of a true bodhisattva and his pursuit of universal happiness.
As a mother reads to her child, she describes a mystical land far, far away where a boy became King. The boy was young at heart but his soul was wise for he had lived many lifetimes. The boy spoke to his people, not as a King dictating to his subjects, but as a loyal son speaking to his beloved parents. The boy King ruled a land where humans and animals live in peace with nature.
This is the story of our childhood. This is the story that has shaped our lives and our dreams. We’ve grown up listening to this story, and have come to know the words by heart. Today, dear Father, we have a story to tell You; one written in the hearts of every Bhutanese. It is a story about the bond between parent and child, the admiration between student and teacher, and the love of a people for their King.
On November 11th, we celebrated this story together as one nation, one family. We sat in the stadium at Changlingmitang, thousands of our sisters and brothers huddled close together against the cold night before dawn, so saturated in love and excitement that the chill couldn’t possibly penetrate us. Never before have we felt more proud to be Bhutanese. When the sun came up and bathed us in its warmth and our 5th Druk Gyalpo stood to address the Nation, our hearts burst with joy. We hung on His Majesty’s every word, and in true Bhutanese tradition, the words and events of that day will live on forever through our stories; each tale a little different from the last, woven together with a golden thread of adoration, duty, and faith.
“Today, we come together as a nation to celebrate a special day of national pride and jubilation—an occasion to reflect on our past achievements, take stock of our present responsibilities, and pledge our efforts in planning for our bright future… His Majesty always said that our sovereignty is upheld by our cultural heritage, and as a result even today Bhutan is suffused in our age-old values of self-discipline, responsibility and spirituality…His Majesty established firm foundation and institutions for democracy, good governance, and rule of law, to ensure the continuity and security of not one generation in one lifetime, but for all the future citizens of Bhutan. This is His Majesty’s greatest legacy.” (His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, November 11th, 2015 Address to the Nation)
Over the years we have looked to Your Majesty for guidance in difficult times. Instead of simply telling us the answer, You empowered us to seek the truth for ourselves. Your Majesty invested in our education, providing us with the tools to learn and grow and reassuring us that we were capable of answering the questions on our own. This has always been Your way; to teach us to think for ourselves, to stand on our own two feet, to seek a deeper understanding of our dreams.
Your Majesty said, “Children are our treasures. They hold the promise of the future and, therefore, it is only right that they should be given every opportunity to develop their physical mental and spiritual potential to the fullest extent, in an environment free of want and free of fear.” We heeded Your Majesty’s advice, and many of us went abroad to study in international institutions. In those faraway places we learned many skills and saw many different ways to live, but we ached for our homeland.
“Bhutan has come a long way, Your vision pulled a Nation along. You dreamed an impossible dream and made it come true. Your dreams helped us all to dream of what our nation could be… And as You lead by example, the people grew proud of being Bhutanese. You instilled in us the love for our own culture and traditions. On that fateful day, a youth not fully grown, You addressed the Nation and won all our hearts… Our King for all times.” (Sangay Choden, student; Kuensel, November 11th 2015)
Since we were little girls we have looked up to Your Majesty like a father. As we grew, so did our esteem for You. As we matured into women, we looked to Your Majesty as the embodiment of a true man—the one to which all husbands must be compared. And now that we have families of our own, the cycle repeats. To our daughters, You are their knight in shining armor. To our sons, You are a superhero. Your Majesty has always lead by example and we strive to teach our children the virtues that You exemplify: morality, humility, compassion. For those of us who are old and our smile lines cut deep wrinkles at the corners of our eyes, we look to Your Majesty as a mother looks at her grown son; deeply grateful to bear witness the evolution of such an honorable man.
“His Majesty strongly espoused integrity. From time immemorial, there exists an adage from Guru Rinpoche: With integrity, all our endeavors will bear abundant fruit. If the sacred commitment of integrity exists between King, country, government and people, it will benefit the country manifold.” (His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Nov. 11th address to the Nation)
Some people have called You a God, but it is far most astonishing to acknowledge that You are a human being. Your body is bound to the inherent nature of impermanence, but You have chosen the path of the Bodhisattva, rising above the human struggle of ego and greed. Your Majesty lives life as a child of the earth first, son of a King second. Driven by an unwavering sense of duty, Your Majesty leads not because of a belief in Divine Right, but because You believe that your people deserve a compassionate leader. Your actions prove that at our core, the human spirit yearns only for peace.
“Stories will be told of You. The national jubilation at Your birth; Your first public appearance; Your coronation in which the whole nation rejoiced, shared Your nervousness when You delivered your first address to the Nation, but at the end of which, all heads were held up high.
Rhymes of You will be composed. How You would hold frail hands and breathe life into them; have school children relay into Your ears what they studied; of smiles You brought to faces of people, on seeing which, how that mirrored Your own.
Songs will be sung in Your honor. Of the many lives You transformed and how the many lives You touched will translate into prayers for a monarch…” (Tempa; Kuensel, Nation’s Gem)
We are a Nation of mountains and trees, tigers and takin, cliffs and rivers, Druks and dragons. Together we are all citizens of this Kingdom, and You have protected our rights under the same constitution. The rocks, trees, mountains, rivers, and creatures of the forest, rejoice in Your name for You are their hero too. The Guardians’ prayers manifest in the crevices of ancient rocks; the frothy rapids of the rivers, the ripples of wind across still lakes, and the whispers of wind through remote valleys…dancing with the smoke of a thousand butter lamps.
Your Majesty’s story is all of our story. Bhutan and her King are one and the same. You are our father and we are Your children. Your Majesty is the child of us all. Your Majesty is our brother, our father. We are Your sisters and daughters. Your Majesty’s success is our success. Our pain is Your pain. Your Majesty’s happiness is our greatest wish, and our happiness is Your greatest gift to us. We live to emulate Your Majesty’s compassion and to share the love that abounds through our blessed country.
As we watch the outside world rupturing at the seams, Bhutan remains steady, tucked safely away in her Himalayan nest. As people abroad spread hate and fear, the Bhutanese persevere in love. United under the leadership and guidance of our Druk Gyalpo, we continue to choose the humble path of virtue, to serve the Tsa-Wa-Sum. May we earn enough merit in this life to be reborn a thousand times in this Kingdom, this sacred land of peaceful dragons and Divine Kings. YEE