I just completed Dr.Karma Phuntsho’s History of Bhutan last Sunday. It is an auspicious moment by my reckoning, for we are left with just five days before we celebrate the 109th National day of Bhutan. Reading the book provided me a broader perspective of our nation building. It gave me a deeper understanding of our origins, the hard works and sacrifices of our forefathers, the countless internal conflicts, the numerous negotiations and mediation by Je Khenpos between rival factions and so on.
Nation building is a tiring process, especially if you view it from a scholarly point of view, by reading a well researched book on our history. It has taken centuries before we arrived at a point where our journey started with perpetual peace and happiness. Thanks to our wise elders, they made Sir Ugyen Wangchuck the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan on 17th December 1907 in Punakha. This historic day would set the wheel of peace and harmony running in the Southern Land of Medicinal Herbs.
Before Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck ascended to the Golden Throne, our country was in sheer disorder. Our people were heavily taxed by local chieftains with vested personal interest. Our nation was divided into numerous tiny factions. Peace and happiness were rare to be enjoyed as each warring factions made the people to fight every now and then. People were exhausted to death because of this disharmony.
Thanks to Sir Ugyen Wangchuk’s diplomatic skills, when he returned from Lhasa in 1905 after successfully mediating between the British Mission headed by Colonel Young Husband and the Ganden Phodrang of Dalai Lama, he won all admirations and accolades from people both within and without the country. Thanks to Raja Ugyen Dorji, who worked as a link between Bhutanese and the British for proposing Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk as the first King of Bhutan. Less than a year after his proposal, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned as the first Dragon King.
It is the blessing of our forefathers and successive monarchs, who are compassion personified, that our country enjoys happiness and peace to this day. It is our responsibility to pass this gift of happiness and peace to the next generation.
On this national day, let us remember our roots. Let us look back to the sacrifices of our forefathers. Let us reminiscence about the thoughts of wise man like Sir Ugyen Wangchuk who shaped the destiny of our country. And let us too, not forget that we have a huge responsibility on our shoulder to serve as a critical link bridging the 21st century with future and sailing in the murky waters of 21st century globalized world.