May 30, 2007

A Tribute to His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk

June 2 1974, exactly 34 years ago, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk was formally crowned as the 4th Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan and becoming the youngest monarch in the world. On 2 June 1999, the Kingdom of Bhutan celebrated the 25th anniversary of the reign of His Majesty, During the momentous occasion, Bhutanese people commemorated the outstanding achievements of His Majesty's reign and paid homage to him for his efforts in promoting their prosperity and happiness. His Majesty's enlightened and energetic leadership has won him the affection and respect of the people of Bhutan, as well as the admiration of the world and was named as one of Time magazine's 100 People Who Shape Our World in 2006. His Majesty appeared in the May 8, 2006 issue of Time.

Everyone has this question to ask, Why did His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk abdicate? He has given us his reason. But we are still looking for more. Unless the Bhutanese people realize and accept it has an unparalleled act of self-sacrifice, no biographer, historian or scholar will find satisfactory reason that explains his royal abdication. Yet our basic human instinct is such that it refuses to accept self-sacrifice as a sufficient reason for anything. So unmatched is the virtue of self-sacrifice of peerless beings that it sits uncomfortably on the conscience of ordinary beings.

The Landscape of world history is punctuated by abdications. Emperors, popes, kings and queen have abdicated since classical antiquity to modern times. So it appears that His Majesty's abdication is just another episode in the chain of historical events. One the contrary, however, his royal deeds stands out illuminate the horizons of history skyline because it was an unequaled act of self-sacrifice. No other reasons such as old age, illness, policy failure, public hostility, scandal, ineptness or even lack of charisma can explain it. If self-sacrifice too is a weak explanation, we must then learn to live without one.

The Majesty of his being emanates not merely from having been a king. His Majesty is not natural to a monarch. It emanates from having won the hearts and minds of the people who he served rather than ruled. It emanates from his unquestioned faith in the ability of the Bhutanese people to control their own destiny. It emanates from having gained the respect of even peoples living far beyond our kingdom. It emanates from upholding the highest of virtues that befit a royal King.

By Abdicating the throne, His Majesty has not turned his back on the country and people he loves. So that the peace and happiness he has brought to This Kingdom continues to flourish, he has bequeathed upon us a royal heir, whose own Majesty takes after that of his royal father. Hence, our sense of eternal gratitude to a selfless monarch must express itself in sharing the royal vision articulated on the occasion of the 99th National Day, and in working towards achieving it.

Many people are beginning to look back at His Majesty's Reign across the decades to reflect on, talk or write about his deeds and achievements as if it were a bygone era confined to history. There is no doubt that history puts on record selfless deeds of such great leaders for posterity to emulate. However, the deeds and merits they generate transcend history and becomes dateless and timeless. In being an epitome of selfless service, the wisdom, compassion and leadership of His Majesty will be felt across the centuries and generations. As an icon par excellence, his Majesty and therefore the Monarchy, will continue to be the bedrock of our national conscience. The fact of our being the people of one kingdom centers on our identification with such peerless leaders that the scared institution of monarchy continues to bestow us with. That's why we have always believed in Monarchy and in His Majesty the King as the Symbol of the unity of Bhutanese people. We unites as the people of one kingdom through him and in him, through his illustrious forefathers and his royal heirs.

Exactly 99 years ago, the monarchy was established in Bhutan. Many old monarchies elsewhere in the world were disappearing then under various influences and guises. Our Monarchy was established by the signing of genja, an agreement between Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk, the first king of Bhutan and the representatives of the Bhutanese people from all walks of life. It contrasts with those monarchies which came into being by invoking the divine rights of kings or mandates of heaven. Precisely because our monarchy chose to locate itself as the pivot of unity among our people, it has withstood the test of times. It is the people-centredness of our monarchs and their reigns that this sacred institution succeeds in renewing and revitalizing itself without showing any sign of exhaustion.

Where a genja, a historic document, was submitted to Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk by the people, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk has now granted a tsathrim, another historic document, back to people. The significance of this reciprocal exchange in 99 years must not be lost on any Bhutanese. The first sentence of the genja begins thus : Lugnyis khrims bdag, 'Lord of Laws of the two traditions'. W see His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuk, the sovereign of the Kingdom revered as the lord of laws. In contrast, the first Article of the draft tsathrim reads, 'Bhutan is a sovereign Kingdom and the Sovereign power belongs to the people of Bhutan'.

Sovereignty, in many ways, concerns the source of laws. We are sovereign to the extent that we make and enforce our laws within our territory and our lives. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk has now located the centre of sovereignty in the people by empowering their elected representatives to the parliament to make laws. It is in this great and courageous act of voluntarily denying his royal being as the sovereign and in making his people the sovereign that we see a sacrifice of unfathomable dimension.

Such courage humbles us. Such sacrifice baffles us. But in knowing that such courage and sacrifice flow from no other person that His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk - a truly people's king - our faith and confidence in our society are strengthened. It is not just the Institution of monarchy but us as a society, us as peoples of one Kingdom that is renewed and revitalized. Now, we must heed the royal call of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk so that in following his vision, we work to create conditions that will perpetuate the peace and happiness for all the Bhutanese people.

The Article was based on Bhutan Observer News Published on 22nd December 2006.


Anonymous said...

You CAN really write ugen! Keep it up!
Kudos to your for the long one!

Anonymous said...

ugen, this is a wonderful blog you have put on. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for that.
Best wishes

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