Drangon Samten Choling Gonpa

Build On: About 15th century Category: Temple Address Trongsa

It is located at 2582m and is surrounded by mountains and few homes. It is 38 km from Trongsa town in the direction of Wangdue Phodrang (west) and a further 7 km along a rough road that heads toward Drangla village in the Black Mountains of Tangsibji gewog.
When Dorji Lingpa (1346–1405), the great Tibetan “treasure discoverer,” and Lama Tshulthrim Namgay, Dorji Lingpa’s first disciple in Bhutan, were preaching at Jampay Lhakhang in Bumthang, Dorji Lingpa told the Lama that he wished to build his seats in four different places. He said that although he would not be able to go personally, it would make no difference if Lama Tshulthrim Namgay founded the seats, so this is what transpired.
The word “Drang” means chest and “la” means hill; therefore, “Drangla” means hill on the chest. Drangla is said to be in a shape of a demoness lying down with her face up. The monastery is thought to have been founded by Lama Tshulthrim Namgay in the early 15th century under the command of Dorji Lingpa and in accordance with the place he saw in his dream – on the chest of a demoness. While he was residing at the location of his dream, some evil spirits obstructed him. Lama Tshulthrim Namgay managed to subdue them, but the spirits repeatedly obstructed the construction, so a new gonpa, founded by Lopen Khyentse Shengyen, was later (date unknown) shifted to its present location not far from the old one.

In 1902 Lama Tshundu Jungney (sometimes called Lam Dargay) and his brother, Lopen Tshering, enlarged the monastery to the state we see today. The statues were sculpted by Dungjid, the village sculptor. The wall paintings and masks were also made during the early 1900s.
Including the present lama, there have been fourteen different lamas taking care of the monastery. Although not renovated until recently, after it was partially destroyed by an earthquake in July of 2011, the government donated 5 million Nu. for the monastery’s renovation. Villagers and private donors also contributed.
Just below the monastery stands a chorten that is said to have been built by Lam Tshulthrim Namgay with the help of the villagers. The chorten was consecrated by Lam Changchub Tsongru (1817–1856), who was the root teacher of the Trongsa Penlop, Jigme Namgyal. Lam Changchub Tsongru went to Drangla in 1856 and there, according to Dorje Lingpa, he gave a Guru Dragpo initiation. The famous Buli Trulku Kachhab Namkhai Dorji (1883–1941), from the Dorji Lingpa lineage, also spent time at Drangla.
The monastery has a Kanjur (Buddhist canon), which a man named Tshering from Trongsa Dzong brought in from the famous Narthang monastery press in Tibet. To please his Tibetan lama Changchub Tsongru, Jigme Namgyal proscribed hunting, and he sent people to Narthang to get the Kanjur. Only then did the Lama agree to come to Bhutan. The Kanjur copies were later distributed to Drangla and Nyala.
The monastery once housed lay practitioners (gomchen), but their numbers slowly began to decline. Dawa Gyeltshen, the present lama, closed the lay practitioners’ institution and eight years ago began to take in monks from the community and Phobjikha; at present, there are twenty monks studying in Drangla Samten Choling Gonpa.
Architecture and Artwork
The monastery is currently undergoing reconstruction by a private contractor and is likely to be completed by 2018. It is a two-storey monastery built in the traditional Bhutanese style and surrounded by a few cypress trees, a guesthouse, and a Drolma Lhakhang (temple), in which the main statues are the twenty-one Taras (Drolma).
In the right hand corner of the upper storey, there were once wall paintings of Guru Rinpoche, the Five Dakinis, and Dorji Lingpa and his lineage. In the left corner, there were wall paintings of Long Life Buddha (Tshepame) and other long life deities. In the Gonkhang, the protective deities’ chapel, there were paintings of the Eight Protectors, Tenpa Chuni, and local deities.
On the first storey, the main statue is of Changtong Chentong (Thousand Hands and Thousand Eyes Avalokiteshvara). On the left side, there were once wall paintings of the Buddhas of Confession (Jangchug Tongshag), and in the upper corner were paintings of Neten Chudruk (Sixteen Arhats), Gyalwa Jamtsho Lhatshog, and the peaceful and wrathful deities according to Dorji Lingpa (Nyesok Kunjom Lhatshog). Presently, all statues, wall paintings, and masks are housed temporarily near the monastery.
Source : Bhutan cultural Atlas

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