The Divine Madman

Bhutan travelogue: Chapter 12 | Read other chaptersSee photo gallery

The day I got blessed by a huge wooden phallus

↑ Fertility symbol painted on a house

Getting dropped off by our taxi from Thimphu at the Sopsokha village, we started off on a trail crisscrossing paddy fields. The idea was to head to Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built in honor of Lama Drupka Kunley, a.k.a. The Divine Madman.

It might be bizarre in most places in the world to see a building painted with a huge phallus, but in Bhutan, it is common to find mythical penises painted on walls or wooden replicas planted at the door. In this particular stretch as we passed through little hamlets, the penises murals could be seen almost at every other home. They all belonged to the Divine Madman!

From murals of penises to the Monastery of the Divine Madman

↑ The Chimi Lhakhang (Monastery), with young moms sitting behind me waiting for the priest

The Divine Madman is one of Bhutan’s favorite saints and he preached using songs, humor and outrageous behavior to dramatize Buddha’s teachings to the common man. This monastery was built in his honor after he subdued the demoness of the nearby Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom.’

↑ Monk entering the main temple. (The lad is ducking from the sun, they are not camera shy.)

This monastery is frequented by mothers-to-be who select the name of their future baby. There were several women with little babies there. In fact, me and my friend were probably the only male visitors there at that time! Making a small offering at the shrine would qualify you for a blessing from the Lama’s wooden and bone phalluses, which looked very interesting but I was not allowed to photograph them (or touch them either!) Oh well, I am happy to have received blessings in this unique way!

↑ Prayer wheel inside the monastery

PS: Do read about my post on Incan Temple of Fertility in Peru