August 7, 2007

The Four Harmonious Friends : Thunpa Pun zhi

Thunpa Pun zhi or the Four Harmonious Friends which can be seen in Most Bhutanese Houses, Monastery, Lhakhangs, Dzongs, Office in the form of Painting or in Thanka, none but except for few people know the real concept and meaning of the painting which symbolize harmony and unity in a family or in the society.

The story of the four friends was an account Lord Buddha narrated to his disciples and it goes like this : Once in a forest in Varanasi, four animals, an elephant, a rabbit, a monkey, and a bird (partridge) disputed about the ownership of a tree where all of them happened to come to feed on. The elephant claimed it was his because he saw it first.

The monkey said that it was his because he had been feeding on the fruits of the tree. The rabbit claimed that he had been feeding on the leaves of the tree when it was a small sapling. The partridge who had been watching the argument said that the tree belonged to it because the tree wouldn't have grown if it had not spit out the seed from fruit it had eaten.

The elephant, monkey, and rabbit, all then bowed to the partridge and regarded it as their bigger brother. The four animals became friends and decided to share the tree together in peaceful harmony enjoying the beauty of the tree's fragrance, the nourishment of the tree's fruits, and the bounty of the tree's shade.

Other animals in the forest often saw them together with the partridge on top of the rabbit who was held up by the monkey who rode on top of the elephant. Henceforth, they were called "the four harmonious brothers". The four animals were looked upon as an example and peace regained in the forest.

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