Lama Drukpa Kuinley

Kunga Legpi Zangpo (1455–1529) popularly known as Drukpa Kunley is one of the most revered spiritual masters in Bhutan.

Born in Tibet, he was an incarnate of the Indian mahasiddha Shawaripa and studied with a variety of persons, from ordinary individuals to religious masters like Pema Lingpa, Kinga Choki Jamtsho, Sonam Chokden and Choda Jamtso (7th Karmapa), to name a few.  

He embarked on a number of pilgrimages to such places as Tsari, Nenang, Labchi and Kailash before setting off for Bhutan.  Believing that the strict conventions were keeping people away from learning the true teachings of Buddha, he traveled throughout Bhutan using songs, humor and outrageous behavior, a fine example of the Tibetan tradition of ‘crazy wisdom’.

Kinley taught through songs

He was a womanizer and a liberal drinker. He would subdue demons by clunking them on the head with his penis along the way. He carried bow and arrows to kill animals.

He had a dog to help him hunt. Such bizarre and unorthodox ways of teaching earned him the nickname of the Divine Madman or The Saint of 5,000 Women.

At Chandana in Punakha, he caught hold of Pelzang Buthri by the neck on the floor. Toep Tshewang, Pelzang Buthri’s husband, rushed forth with a sword in his hand. Drukpa Kunley had the sword by his right hand and twisted it into a knot. Realizing that the man was no ordinary, Toep Tshewang surrendered his young wife.

Chime Lhakhang

In another incident, Drukpa Kinley subdued a demon of Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom” and trapped it in a rock at the location close to where the stupa stands. Ngawang Choegyal later built a temple in honor of his illustrious relative and named it Chhime Lhakhang.

Today, the temple is a popular fertility site where infertile couple from within and abroad come for blessing in hope of conceiving a child.

Phallus painting on a wall

Today, Drukpa Kunley has also become indelibly associated with a flying phallus suspended from the eaves and painted on the walls.

2 thoughts on “Drukpa Kunley: the Divine Madman

    1. He believed the strict conventions of Buddhist Practice were keeping people away from learning the true teachings of Buddha. To show that it is possible to be enlightened, impart enlightenment, and celibacy was not necessary for being enlightened, his teachings are humorous and unorthodox.

Leave a Reply

Next Post

Takin: The National Animal of Bhutan

Sun Feb 17 , 2019
The Takin, rare and associated with religious history and mythology, is the national animal of Bhutan.