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BOOK REVIEWA complete history * The History of Bhutan* by Dr. Lopen Karma Phuntsho. We have learnt History of our country in textbooks. But this one is a different presentation. The author being a fully ordained monk and a Oxford scholar has beautifully researched on Tibetan sources and other sources (in English) to give a complete journey of Bhutan from the time before the spread of Buddhism in the Indian Sub-continent. From the possible origination of different names with which the country used to be referred based on inhabitant of this land with oral myth to written proves. The author has done a tremendous job to give a scholarly convincing writing and has also given a pretty good detailed description of languages spoken by the people in Bhutan and their similarity and probable origin.The author has also given a picture of Bhutan in prehistoric period which has been a new learning for me.In the early historical presentation, book speaks about the two temples of Kichu and Jampa and also discussed about the visit of the Lotus Born Master, Guru Rinpoche and his contribution in spreading Tantric Buddism which can be reffered to as lighting a lamp of in the southern darkland "Mon." In this period Tibetan refugees is believed to have settled in the present day Bhutan. He also discussed about the origination of dungje and choeje. Quite a good chronology can be established of the period between the period of Guru Rimpoche and Ngawang Namgyal if we read investing good amount of time. Chronology of Tertons and visit of important lamas can also be traced from the book. Due to authors good interpretation and research in Tibetan sources, readers are given to understand quite well about whatever he has presented. The author has not just concentrated on Bhutan's journey but also simultaneously keeps his readers informed about the geopolitics of not only Indian Sub-continent but also the Tibetan plateau and China. In the medieval period the author talks about what the most Bhutanese consider Bhutan history is, the birth, conflict in Ralung and arrival of Zhabdrung Rimpoche. The author talks in a great detail about his birth, recognition, rival and conflict which we have known very less in our school textbooks. Arrival of Zhabdrung and unification of the present day Bhutan is also discussed with references to many historical records, biographies and oral myths which adds more quest on his readers to further read those records. The opposition faced by Zhabdrung in Bhutan from Lam Kha nga is also discussed in great details along with multiple Tibetan invasions. Throughout his writing the author has maintained Bhutan to be a sovereign land which was never ruled by a foreign power. The author also talks about more than one reasons of Zhabdrung's permanent retreat from 1651. By the time Zhabdrung went on retreat all the Major Dzongs were established and power consolidate with concentrated political system of Choedsidh.Author has also established a continuous chronology of Desi and Je- Khenpo and also the seat of Zhabdrung's golden throne claimant until the establishment of Monarchy. The author has given much in detail the International and internal conflicts of more than 2 centuries under 56 Desis and Dzongpons and Penlops. Contribution of Gongsa Jigme Namgyal and Sir Ugyen wangchuck is discussed in detail that I have ever read. In the later part the contribution of kings and reform that led Bhutan to this stage is delivered like a grand garlands of inspirational talks leaving his readers totally satisfied at the end. I found this book so informative that I would recommend every aspirant history learners to read it and reread it. Have a happy reading. A book review by Krishna Prasad Dhimal.
"So you think you're a Buddhist?""What makes you not a Buddhist?" By Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Khyentse Rimpoche is a Guru whom I always have deep reverence and faith. Rimpoche has always made dharma a little easier to understand(though I don't understand anything completely) and in his "What makes you not a Buddhist?" we are given to understand that all Buddhists are not clothed in red robes and shaved heads. We are given to understand four truths ( not four noble truth). Rimpoche highlights that one is a Buddhist if he or she can accept the following four truths: 1. All compounded things are impermanent.2. All emotions are pain. 3. All things have no inherent existence. 4. Nirvana is beyond concept. Explained with various examples and stories relatable to contemporary world bads to further understanding and realization. There are elaborated explanations on why these four truths are true and doesn't change whether we believe in them or neither were they created nor will it be destroyed in whatever circumstances. These were there before 2500 years ago and will be there for eternity. Buddha just found them and helped other beings to find them and that is what is essentially referred to as Buddhism nowadays. This book is of just 160 pages but it has a vast wisdom beyond religion. If we see this book as a Buddhist text it's a biased perception. It is universal and applicable for all not just humans but all sentient beings. Rimpoche, no doubt is a great teacher and a monk but also a very convincing writer who can make his readers ask questions to themselves and stop to think while reading. I had a good thinking and contemplation while reading this book and I couldn't stop myself posting some excerpt from the book on my social media account. I have just tried to give a brief outlook of the book. Reading it will,without any doubt, brighten your understanding of things better, if not Buddhism. I highly recommend every one to read this book not because I read it but because it must be read. At the end if not anything, you will close the book with a smile, even if not by its often, but by the self portrait of the author on the closing cover. Have a happy reading Reviewed by Krishna Prasad Dhimal.