Lo-Nga Ney

Description    

Lo-Nga Ney is situated high on the mountain between Khomshar and Bardo village under Zhemgang dzongkhag. It is about 2-hour journey uphill from the main road, and the main road is about half an hour drive from Dongag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery popularly known as Khomshar Dratshang. And it is about 8-hour drive on the unpaved road from Buli towards Khomshar Dratshang.

History

Lo-Nga Ney is considered a very sacred and untouched site of Guru Rinpoche, who was believed to have resided there for five years. Lo Nga means five years and Ney means sacred place, hence, the place is called Lo-Nga Ney. The oral history says that Guru Rinpoche along with his consort Khandro Monmo Tashi Khyuedron visited the site to meditate and tame evil spirits that caused misfortunes and deaths in the region.

The number and occasions of the visits of Guru Rinpoche to Lo-Nga Ney are quite confusing. According to the informant, Guru Rinpoche travelled five times to Lo-Nga Ney: Guru Rinpoche’s first visit to Lo-Nga Ney was before his visit to Tibet; the second was made via Sarpang, Nabji, then he made a trip to Buli and then to Lo-Nga. It was during this visit that Guru Rinpoche supposedly left his footprint, and Khandro, her oven at Buli, which can still be seen nearby Buli gewog office. The footprint on the rock is in the present Lo-Nga Ney direction, so people believe that Guru Rinpoche flew to Lo-Nga from Buli.

In fact, Yonten Dargye’s (2009) written account further consolidates that Guru Rinpoche made his first visit to Bhutan around 737-738 CE, via Nabji, Buli toward the Kheng region on the invitation of the Bumthang King Sindhu Raja (p.12,34). Furthermore, the informant said that Guru Rinpoche made the third visit on his way to Tibet, and subsequently, he returned to Bumthang via Singye Dzong and then to Lo-Nga Ney with his Tibetan Khandro Yeshey Tshogyel. Thus, the oral history about Guru Rinpoche’s visit to Bhutan from Tibet corroborates with Dargye’s written narrative about Guru Rinpoche’s second visit to Bhutan, which was made together with Denma Tsemang and Khikha Ratho from Tibet (p.9).

The informant also claims that Guru Rinpoche again visited Bumthang and then came back to Lo-Nga with Khandro Monmo Tashi Khyuedron. It was during this visit that Guru Rinpoche and Monmo Trashi Khyuedron spent 5 years at the Ney, and hence the name ‘Lo-Nga Ney’ (five years).

The local people say that Lo-Nga Ney is well known for its extraordinary healing power of the Drupchu (accomplishment-stream). The Drupchu apparently emerged after Guru Rinpoche urinated at that place and it is called Guru’s Drupchu. Similarly, about 5-10m below Guru’s Drupchu is the Khandroma’s Drupchu, believed to have emerged from Khandro’s Baga (Khandro’s genital). The Khandroma is said to be Dorje Phagmo (skrt. Vajravarahi). The villagers are of the opinion that these Drupchus have the power to heal internal and external wounds, cough, skin diseases, joint pain, back pain, and cleanse all impurities.

Furthermore, the informant mentioned another local belief related to the healing power of the Drupchu to treat goitres. A person has to break an egg on the rock which is 15m above the Drupchu, then come down to drink the Guru’s Drupchu, and move on without turning back. The goitre would somehow be healed. Many people from Khomshar, Langdurbi, Digala, and Mongar are said to have been cured. Mr. Rinchen Dorji, 72, is a living evidence in Khomshar whose goitre was cured after he broke an egg and drank from Guru’s Drupchu. However, Khenpo Thubten Dorji commented that “it may not be the breaking of an egg on the rock, but the  sacredness of the Drubchu that must have cured the goitre.”

According to oral sources, an amazing fact about these Drupchus is that, irrespective of the season, the sizes of the Drupchus remain the same. If a Riwo Sangchoe (Smoke Offering) and Sangs rituals are conducted for days, the Drupchus apparently become bigger than their normal size. On the contrary, if the Drupchus are contaminated then the Drupchus would dry within a day. Khenpo Leki Tandin made reference to a local hunter, Dechen Wangdi, 57, who was skeptical, did not accept the sanctity of the Drupchus. He defecated near the Drupchu and the Drupchu dried for 6 months. Later, the monks from Khomshar Dratshang came to perform Riwo Sangchoe for two days to purify the place, and the stream started flowing again.

In addition, Khenpo Leki Tandin also shared a personal story regarding the sacredness of Lo-Nga Ney. He said that the area near Lo-Nga Ney caught forest fire three times: one prior to 2011, one in 2011, and another in 2016. But he claimed that the fire never reached the spot where Guru Rinpoche and Khandro resided. Before the fire could reach Lo-Nga Ney, a torrential downpour would extinguish the fire. Thus, his narrative further establishes the sacredness of this Lo-Nga Ney.

Above the Drupchu, on the cliff is a spot where Guru Rinpoche was believed to have subdued demons. It is said that Guru Rinpoche left imprints of his body, hands, and feet on the curved rock in a sitting posture and the position of the imprints seem to indicate that Guru Rinpoche was facing Khomshar. People of that locality call this place Lo-Nga Draphu, which is also called Taktshang Drakar (white cliff). The local people consider this sacred place a second Paro Taktsang.

To the west is the main cave where Guru Rinpoche apparently meditated on “Thruee-kur”/“Tsalung,” and on the cave wall emerged a letter ‘ཧ’ (Ha), which is said to be a symbol of his spiritual realization. This letter is still evident on the cave wall today. Accordingly, the place came to be known as Guru Draphu (Guru’s meditation cave) or sometimes called as Hung Chen Dra. In addition, a self-embossed Reldri of Jampelyang (Wisdom Sword of Manjusheri) can also be seen on the cave wall.

The informant also narrated another story about an unnamed old man from Samdrup Jongkhar (supposedly aged more than 100 years), who apparently informed Khenpo Thubten about the letter at Lo-Nga Ney. The amazing part of the narrative is that the old man had never been to this place. Later, the monks from Khomshar Dratshang went and verified it to be true.

In the mid-20th century, a yogi called Lama Ugyen Chogyel, a disciple of the famed Lama Sonam Zangpo (1888-1982) meditated at the Lo-Nga Ney for 3 years, and many others followed his suit. It was during his time that the sacredness of Lo-Nga Ney and the benefits of the Drupchus spread in the locality. The site also has a Traenwa Depushuksa and a Khandroma Ney, but there is no footpath or any trail to the Ney.

Social and cultural functions

People come to Lo-Nga Ney to offer sangs (smoke offering), conduct Tshokor (feast offering), and pay homage to the sacred marks left behind by Guru Rinpoche. Because of its immense benefit, many people come and camp there for days to take bath in the Drupchus to have their illnesses cured.

Currently, there is no practitioner meditating in the cave and no retreat house. However, approximately 100m away from Hung Chen Dra cave, there is a new construction coming up.

In the future, Khomshar Dratshang in collaboration with Bardo gewog office has plans to make a small room for visitors, a place to make offerings, and to improve the existing footpath.

Informants

Khenpo Thubten Dorji Rinpoche, Founder, Donag Yoezer Dargayling Monastry, Khomshar, Zhemgang.

Khenpo Leki Tandin, Principal, Donag Yoezer Dargayling Monastry, Khomshar, Zhemgang.

Sangay Phuntsho, Associate Lecturer, CLCS, Taktse, Trongsa

References

Dargye, Y. (2009). Life of King Sindha [Chakhar Gyalpo] and the clear mirror of predictions. Thimphu: Kuensel Corporation Ltd.

Thinley, K. Guru Rinpoche’s exclusive sacred places in Bhutan. (P. Gyaltshen, Trans.). Retrieved on February 20, 2018 http://www.bhutanstudies.org.bt/publicationFiles/JBS/JBS_Vol34/5.Exclusive% 20Sacred%20 Places%20in%20Bhutan.pdf

Researcher

Sonam Jamtsho, Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, Taktse, Trongsa.

 

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