Kingdom of Bhutan
Good morning, for December we will continue with some fun and frivolous documentaries will look at a royal documentary about the Kingdom of Bhutan. This could be a potential documentary to show in a geography class.
In Asia’s Monarchies: Bhutan, is the land of the thunder dragon. It is the symbol of Bhutan and is a Buddhist monarchy. Both the past and future come together. The King had given up absolute power and gave the people democracy. Each king had a crisis that they navigated carefully. Bhutan is ruled by the Wangchuck dynasty. It is an isolated kingdom known as the last Shangri-la.
The first king united Bhutan and the second king established the dynasty. The Wangchuck dynasty carefully negotiated politics and the lessons were learned from father to son. Michael Rutland was the former tutor of the Crown Prince. He was treated like an ordinary student. Part of the future king’s upbringing included learning lessons about monarchy from his father. The Crown Prince would stay with his father, the King, and was not isolated from his father. This means that the future kings were taught Kingship from a previous king.
The Fourth King made a momentous decision: he gave up absolute power. The people were shocked at the change and voted to remain an absolute monarchy. The feeling of the people is that the politicians cannot replace a king. They love their king and consider him the second buddha.
Buddhism is seen throughout Bhutan. It is difficult to separate Buddhism from Bhutan. An eclipse brings religion and superstition together. Rituals are performed to stop the moon from eating the sun and prayers are said for the royal family. Shrines are common in the homes of the Bhutanese. Wangchuck’s used religion to unite the people of the country. This link is a key to understanding the history of the Bhutanese royal family.
However, these were not the only rulers who ruled in Bhutan. Bhutan was home to priest-kings and monks. Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan through exiles of India, Tibet, and China. Buddhism is the most dominant religion in the country. A monk fled to Bhutan and became a political leader. He established fortified monasteries at strategic points. The monk believed that he could rule forever and would be reincarnated into the next king. However, the problem was finding the reincarnated leader. This could potentially lead to civil war in Bhutan.
Eventually, one of the lords’ monasteries-forts grew in wealth and power. It was though this lord the Wangchuk’s arose. It was an outside empire that finally turned its attention to Bhutan. The British wanted to end Russian dominance in the north and turned to Bhutan for help. Wangchuk acted as a guide for the British. He was knighted and then selected the first King of Bhutan in 1907. The new king was a political genius and united the crown with Buddhism. He adopted the raven as the symbol of his monarchy. It united the spiritual lineage of the monks with the political power of the king.
Wangchuk dedicated the rest of his life to uniting Bhutan and the second king finished the job. The second king started to win the hearts and minds of his subjects. He built new palaces and would travel to them to keep in touch with his people. However, there were challenges to the throne by other claims to the throne. They challenged the right of the Wangchuks’ to rule. The challenge was dealt with and the Wangchuk continued to rule.
If you would like to know more about Bhutan continue to watch this documentary. This would be a good documentary to show in both a history and geography class.
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