The chronicled history of the country begins with the advent of Buddhism in the 8th century. Guru Padmasambhava, popularly revered in Bhutan as Guru Rimpoche or the Precious Master, made his legendary trip in 747 A.D. on the back of a flying tigress to subdue the evil spirits who hindered Buddhism. After defeating them, he blessed and made them local guardians of the doctrine, thus introducing Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan. Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest in the Paro valley is where he landed and today it remains one of the most sacred places in Bhutan. The Name Bhutan is derived from the Sanskrit Bootan, meaning the land of Tibet or Bhu-uttan, meaning High land.
Historically the Bhutanese have refered to their country as Druk Yul, land of the thunder dragon and themselves as Drukpa people. Guru Rimpoche is recognized as the second Buddha as well as the father of the Drukpa Kagyu school of Tantric Mahayana Buddhism practiced in Bhutan. Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal, a Tibetan lama of Drukpa Kagyu School arrived in Bhutan in 1616 AD. Consolidated the country under a unified power, built Dzongs throughout Bhutan and established the Choesi (Dual) system of governance, whereby both the temporal and the religious authority were separated and vested in the Druk Desi (Temporal Head) and Je Khenpo (Spiritual Head) respectively. Bhutan emerged with a distinct national and cultural identity, as well as, an unprecedented degree of political stability.
Traditional medicine or Sowa Rigpa as it is known dates as far back as the 17th century and to the time of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal. Since then, traditional medicine has developed independently of its Tibetan origins and although the basic texts used are the same, some differences in practice make it a tradition particular to the country. The specific knowledge and experience gained by the Bhutanese over the centuries are still very much alive in this medical tradition that originated in Tibet. Read more... Traditional Medicine Tour