Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Divine Madman


This morning, math returned in the form of a test.  I was a little scared, because if I do not get a score of 90% or higher, I must retake the test.  I gladly got a 93% and slipped right by.  After my math test, we kayaked the Mo Chhu again.  Dad and Kali started at the camp and Mom and I were driven by Karma to a section of easier water.  We would be picked up by Kali and Dad when they boated the upper section and floated to where we put in.  Mom started with me because she decided to take it easy for a day since her last kayak experience was not so good.  We jumped in our boats when we saw Dad and Kali floating down peacefully.  Everything went great and I avoided the middle hole on the hardest rapid!  

After boating, we drove to the village of Lobesa where we planned to eat lunch.  We wished to visit Chhimi Lhakang, the temple and monastery of Drukpa Kinley, the "Divine Madman," built in 1499.   This is the temple that people visit before and after they have a baby.  When a couple plans to have a child, they go to the temple for a blessing to insure they get pregnant and have a healthy baby.  When the child is born,  the family returns to the temple to receive a name for the newborn child.  In the temple, the couple picks up a small book and flips to a random page.  On the random page is a name for the child.  The Bhutanese believe that the Madman Saint chooses the child's name and blesses him.  I flipped to a page in the book, and the Divine Madman named me Kinley Gyaltshen.  This was interesting as this is the same name given to Karma's son.  It also is the same name as the Divine Madman.  I guess I fit in perfectly with the crazy side of the Bhutanese culture. 
In Bhutan, all couples do not have to pick their child’s name out of the Temple book.  Other times, the baby’s grandparents may pick the name.  Very, very, rarely do the parents decide.  Drukpa Kinlay, the Divine Madman, was known for his rowdiness, humor, and sexual jokes.  He brought a wooden phallus from Tibet and inspired people to use it as a symbol.  Now, many stores sell wooded phalluses and some houses have phalluses painted on them.  This symbol is thought to bring life, health, and fertility to the home.

When people visit Chhimi Lhakang temple, they get blessed by the wooden phallus that Drukpa Kinley brought with him from Tibet.  In the blessing, a monk taps you on the head with the phallus.  The Divine Madman introduced this tradition so that people would be happy and the human race would not die out as everybody was having babies.  I am not sure I want to share this with you, but, yes, I too was bonked on the head with the seven hundred year old silver wrapped phallus.


Walking through the rice fields back from the temple, we saw several kids playing and jumping in hay.  They were friendly and I took pictures of them and showed them the results on the camera.  With the children, was a group of adults thrashing and separating the rice harvest. As they trashed the grain, they let me watch and take pictures.  I am very prod of my work.  My pictures rock!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!  


  1. Was this an "all ages" post???

    Your photos do indeed rock! Love 'em!

  2. Great photos! Looks amazing. I'm not sure about painting phalluses on the side of my house, lol. I guess it would keep me from taking life too seriously! Have fun!

  3. Rohan,
    It's good to have you back online every day. Unfortunately, I got out of the habit of checking your blog each day. But, I'll try to now - until you get to rural India where it may be more difficult. Will you have good internet access while there?
    I continue to enjoy hearing of your travels and agree that your photos are wonderful.
    It finally seems like fall here - even a little chilly this am. We worked in the yard this afternoon and I planted some amaryllis for color and snow peas to eat. Even harvested some lettuce I planted a couple of weeks ago! Yum.
    Love, Grandma Doris

  4. It's "all ages" in the villages so I guess they don't mind!

  5. Hey PetrarchGal! Laura is that you? I was counting on you to paint the first one. I'll follow - haha!

  6. You are right, Rohan, your pictures are really good. Better and better every post!!

    By the way, I believe that Bhutan loosely translated means 'Land of the Wooden Phallus'. A rumored axiom from Bhutan that follows is "You may have a wooden phallus, but don't act like a stiff prick"

    Hey - don't blame me - I'm just sharing!

  7. Love the axiom, Andrew! Hey Rohan, my compliments on the great photos. Wow, I wish I could do so well with a camera. Have fun!