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  Journal of Bhutan Studies, Volume 31, Winter 2014    


1. Early Happiness Policy as a Government Mission of Bhutan: A Survey of the Bhutanese Unwritten Constitution from 1619 to 1729 by Michael Givel and Laura Figueroa

Modern Gross National Happiness in Bhutan contains nine domains including: standard of living, good governance, time use and balance, community vitality, cultural diversity and resilience, ecosystem diversity and resilience, health of the population, education, and psychological wellbeing which address modern policy issues. The nine domains also balance material and spiritual concerns in a holistic manner. However, were the nine domains related to happiness policy before and after Bhutan became a nation? The unwritten constitution of early Bhutan, includes Nga Chudruma of 1619, the Tsa Yig Chenmo of 1629, the first Legal Code of 1652, and updated Legal Code of 1729. Happiness policy in early Bhutan promoted a view of a wise ruler providing governmental support so citizens may become enlightened due to Mahayana Buddhism. Happiness policy in Bhutan has evolved from an early Buddhist focus to a range of factors that maintain Mahayana Buddhist traditions balanced with modern societal requirements.

2. Visions, Prophecies and Leadership: Oral Accounts of the Life and Death of Terton Drukdra Dorji by Thinley Jamtsho, Dendup Chophel and Sangay Thinley

This paper is based mainly on a review of literature of the subjects under consideration particularly with regard to three existing source materials which present firstly the general theory of Treasure tradition and the visionary masters and then a corroborative account of Terton Drukdra Dorji (gter ston ‘brug sgra rdo rje, the main subject of this paper) and his entanglement with the Bhutanese powers in existing texts.

3. An Overview of Kurtöp Morphophonemics by Dr. Gwendolyn Hyslop

Kurtöp is an East Bodish (Tibeto-Burman) language of Bhutan that is still endangered as people shift from the village to centers of commerce outside of the Kurtöp-speaking region. While it has been described to some extent (e.g. Hyslop 2011) there has not been much attempt made to communicate findings of the language to outside fields. Specifically, this article presents an analysis of morphophonology, or sound changes conditioned by word formation, in Kurtöp.

4. Masked Dance of Sumthrang Mountain Deity by Gengop Karchung

Masked Dance of Mountain Deity (Tsän Cham) of Sumthrang Samdrup Chödzong in Ura, Bumthang is a unique performing art that has been inherited since the 15th century. When the 23rd ’Nyörab Jam’yang Drakpa Özer (’Jam-dbyang grags-pa ’od-zer; 1382–1442) planned to slip away to Tsari (Tibet) for meditation clandestinely, the Drak Tsän Dorje Dradül appeared and beseeched lama to stay at Sumthrang, simultaneously performing this masked dance along with four of his retinues. Consenting to the plea made by the deity, the lama then taught the dance to his disciples. The dance then became part of annual festival called Sumthrang Kangsöl held from 25th Day of 9th Month of the Bhutanese lunar calendar for 5 days. The dance is known by various names: Lha Cham (dance of god), Tsän Cham (dance of mountain deity), and Ta Cham (dance of horse) as the masked dancers ride horses. Today, some episodes of this dance is performed at Zhongmä lhakhang in Lhuntse Dzongkhag as this lhakhang was built by Jam’yang Drakpa Özer. This paper will try to give detailed information on this unique festival, especially the Tsän Cham as it is critically endangered. Further, it will also try to bring out the historical accounts of the lhakhang and other associated sites. This paper will be based on limited available manuscripts, historical publications and other written sources which will be further supplemented with the existing myths and legends that are available.