Drukpa Kunley

Drukpa Kunley
Died1529 (aged 73–74)
ReligionTibetan Buddhism
  • Rinchen Zangpo (father)
  • Gomokee (mother)

Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529), also known as Kunga Legpai Zangpo, Drukpa Kunleg (Tibetan: འབྲུག་པ་ཀུན་ལེགས་, Wylie: brug pa kun legs), and Kunga Legpa, the Madman of the Dragon Lineage (Tibetan: འབྲུག་སྨྱོན་ཀུན་དགའ་ལེགས་པ་, Wylie: 'brug smyon kun dga' legs pa), was a Buddhist monk and missionary in the Tibetan Mahamudra tradition, as well as a famous poet,[1] and is often counted among the Nyönpa ("mad ones"). After undergoing training in Ralung Monastery under siddha Pema Lingpa, he introduced an aspect of Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan and established the monastery of Chimi Lhakhang there in 1499.


Drukpa Kunley was born into the branch of the noble Gya (Tibetan: རྒྱ, Wylie: rgya) clan of Ralung Monastery in the Tsang region of western Tibet, which was descended from Lhabum (lha 'bum), the second eldest brother of Tsangpa Gyare. His father was Rinchen Zangpo and mother was Gomokee. He was nephew to the 2nd Gyalwang Drukpa and father of Ngawang Tenzin and Zhingkyong Drukdra.[citation needed]

He was known for his crazy methods of enlightening other beings, mostly women, which earned him the title "The Saint of 5,000 Women". Among other things, women would seek his blessing in the form of sexual intercourse. His intention was to show that it is possible to be enlightened, impart enlightenment, and still lead a very healthy sex life, and to demonstrate that celibacy was not necessary for being enlightened. In addition, he wanted to expand the range of means by which enlightenment could be imparted, while adding new evolutionary prospects to the overarching tradition. He is credited with introducing the practice of phallus paintings in Bhutan and placing statues of them on rooftops to drive away evil spirits.[2] Because of this power to awaken unenlightened beings, Kunley's penis is referred to as the "Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom" and he himself is known as the "fertility saint". For this reason, women from all around the world visited his monastery to seek his blessing.[3][4]

Some of his most famous performances include urinating on sacred thankhas, stripping down naked or offering his testicles to a famous Lama. He is one of very few Buddhist teachers to almost always appear in Bhutanese paintings topless. It is known that Drukpa Kunley would not bless anyone who came to seek his guidance and help unless they brought a beautiful woman and a bottle of wine. His fertility temple, Chimi Lhakhang, is today filled with the weaved portable wine bottles.[5]

Visitors to Drukpa Kunley's monastery in Bhutan are welcome to enjoy a short trek up a hill. The monastery is very modest, only one smallish building, but it contains a wood-and-ivory lingam through which one can obtain blessings from the monk in residence.[citation needed].

Poems and songs of Drukpa Kunley

Poem about happiness

I am happy that I am a free Yogi.
So I grow more and more into my inner happiness.
I can have sex with many women,
because I help them to go the path of enlightenment.
Outwardly I'm a fool
and inwardly I live with a clear spiritual system.
Outwardly, I enjoy wine, women and song.
And inwardly I work for the benefit of all beings.
Outwardly, I live for my pleasure
and inwardly I do everything in the right moment.
Outwardly I am a ragged beggar
and inwardly a blissful Buddha.

Song about the pleasure

A young woman finds pleasure in love.
A young man finds pleasure in sex.
An old man finds pleasure in his memoirs.
This is the doctrine of the three pleasures.

Who does not know the truth, is confused.
Those who have no goals, can not sacrifice.
Those who have no courage, can not be a Yogi.
This is the doctrine of the three missing things.

Even if a person knows the way of wisdom;
without practicing there is no realization.
Even if a master shows you the way,
you have to go it by yourself.

The five spiritual ways

I practice the path of self-discipline.
I meditate every day.

I go the way of embracing love.
I work as a mother and father of all beings.

I do the deity yoga.
I visualize myself as a Buddha in the cosmic unity.

I read the books of all religions
and practice all at the right moment.

The life is my teacher
and my inner wisdom is my guide.[6]

Main teachers

  • Gyalwang Drukpa II, Gyalwang Kunga Paljor ('brug chen kun dga' dpal 'byor) 1428-1476
  • Lhatsun Kunga Chökyi Gyatso (lha btsun kun dga' chos kyi rgya mtsho) 1432-1505
  • Pema Lingpa (padma gling pa) 1445-1521

Main lineages

Further reading

  • Monson, Elizabeth; Tshering, Chorten (2014). More Than a Madman: The Divine Words of Drukpa Kunley. Thimphu: Institute for Language and Culture Studies (ILCS), Royal University of Bhutan. ISBN 9789993693321. OL 27305898M.
  • Monson, Elizabeth (2014). "Drukpa Kunle". Treasury of Lives. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  • Monson, Elizabeth (2021). Tales of a Mad Yogi: The Life and Wild Wisdom of Drukpa Kunley. Shambhala Publications. ISBN 9781611807059.


  1. ^ Stein (1972), pp. 262, 272.
  2. ^ Karma Choden (2014). Phallus: Crazy Wisdom from Bhutan. Bhutan: ButterLamp Publishers. ISBN 978-9993691174.
  3. ^ Winer, Jerome A.; James William Anderson (2003). Psychoanalysis and history. Routledge. pp. 200–201. ISBN 0-88163-399-2. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
  4. ^ "Pommaret, p. 192"
  5. ^ "How Drukpa Kunley made Bhutan worship the phallus". Once In A Lifetime Journey. 2016-12-17. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  6. ^ Retold from Keith Dowman, Franz-Karl Ehrhard (Translator): The holy fool - the dissolute life and the profane songs of the tantric master Drugpa Künleg. O.W. Barth in jest, 2005, ISBN 978-3-502-61159-2


  • Brown, L.; B. Mahew; S. Armington; R. Whitecross (2009). Bhutan. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-74059-529-2.
  • Choden, Karma (2014). Phallus: Crazy Wisdom from Bhutan. ButterLamp Publishers. ISBN 978-9993691174.
  • Dargey, Y. (2001) History of the Drukpa Kagyud School in Bhutan (Thimphu). ISBN 99936-616-0-0. pp 91–110.
  • Dowman, K. & S. Paljor (eds.) (1980) The Divine Madman: the sublime life and songs of Drukpa Kunley (London). ISBN 0-913922-75-7.
  • Stein, R. A. (1972). Tibetan Civilization. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. ISBN 0-8047-0806-1 (cloth); ISBN 0-80-470901-7 (pbk).

Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Drukpa_Kunley&oldid=1089013985"