Jigme Namgyal (Bhutan)

Jigme Namgyal
48th Druk Desi of Bhutan
10th Penlop of Trongsa
Royal Genealogy.jpg
Genealogy of the Wangchuck Dynasty of Bhutan.
Full name
Desi Jigme Namgyal
Lhuntse Dzong
Died1881 (aged 55–56)
Semtokha Dzong, Thimphu valley
Spouse(s)Ashi Pema Choki
IssueDasho Thinley Tobgay
Dasho Ugyen Wangchuck
Ashi Yeshay Choden
FatherDasho Pila Gonpo Wangyal
MotherAshi Sonam Pedzom
Emblem of Bhutan.svg
Parent house
Founded17 December 1907 AD
FounderUgyen Wangchuck
Current headJigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
TitlesDragon King of Bhutan

Desi Jigme Namgyal of Bhutan (Dzongkha: འཇིགས་མེད་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་; Wylie: jigs med rnam rgyal, 1825–1881) is a forefather of the Wangchuck Dynasty. He served as 48th Druk Desi (Deb Raja, the secular executive) of Bhutan (1870–1873), and held the hereditary post of 10th Penlop of Trongsa.[1][2] He was called the Black Ruler.[3]


Son of Dasho Pila Gonpo Wangyal and his second wife, Ashi Sonam Pelzom, Desi Jigme Namgyal was born in 1825 at Pila Nagtshang[4] and died in 1881 at Semtokha Dzong. He was an outstanding military commander. The qualities of loyalty, bravery, integrity and risk-taking were crucial factors in the rise of Jigme Namgyal. Desi Jigme Namgyal was from Kurtoe Dungkar, from where the ancestry of Wangchuck Dynasty originates.[5] He was a descendant of Khedrup Kuenga Wangpo (b. 1505), the son of Tertön Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) and his second wife, Yum Bumdren,[6][7] and Khedrup's consort, Wangmo, from Khadro Chodung clan,[8] who was a descendant of Tertön Guru Choewang (1212-1270).[9]

Around 1846, he joined the Trongsa administration that governed eastern Bhutan, which consisted then of the Assam Duars. He rose rapidly through the ranks to become the Trongsa Penlop in 1853.

While he was a high official of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal married Ashi Pema Choki, the daughter of the 8th Trongsa Penlop (Tamzhing Choji family), Dasho Ugyen Phuntsho, by his wife, Aum Rinchen Pelmo (a daughter of Sonam Drugyel, 31st Druk Desi). His marriage to Pema Choki further enhanced Jigme Namgyal's noble lineage. The ancestry of Jigme Namgyal's wife also went back to Pema Lingpa as she was the daughter of Tamzhing Choji.[5]

Jigme Namgyal and Pema Choki had three children:

The Raven Crown

While Jigme Namgyal was the Zimpon (Chamberlain) of Trongsa, he met his root Lama, Jangchub Tsundru (1817-1856).[11] Lama Jangchub Tsundru had a significant influence on him as a spiritual companion. The Lama designed the sacred Raven Crown for Jigme Namgyal. The Raven Crown has symbolized the Kings of Bhutan since then.[12]

The Duar Wars 1864-65

As the Trongsa Penlop, from 1853 to 1870, Jigme Namgyal was concerned about the festering tension between British India and Bhutan over the Assam Duars and Bengal Duars, which were the most fertile part of Bhutan in those days. For economic reason, and to secure the borders of their empire, the British attempted to extend their boundaries up to the foothills of Bhutan.[13] The Assam Duars were annexed in 1841 although a formal treaty ceding it did not take place until 1865. In 1864, the British unilaterally declared that, in addition to the Assam Duars that were already annexed, the Bengal Duars would be annexed permanently. Following this, the British sent forces to occupy vital passes into Bhutan such as Deothang, Sidli and Buxa. Jigme Namgyal launched a counter offensive with about 5000 men and succeeded in dislodging the British Imperial Force at Deothang.[14]

He was successful in the January and February 1865 attacks on the British outpost in Deothang. However, later that year Bhutan was forced to sign the Treaty of Sinchula, 1865. The treaty brought stability to the relationship between the two countries. The Duars were incorporated permanently into the British Empire and an annual subsidy of Rs 50,000 to Bhutan was instituted from that year.[14]

Three legacies of Desi Jigme Namgyal

The most important contribution of Desi Jigme Namgyal made was the ushering in of peace, through a reduction of local feuds among the top leadership by gradually unifying the state over three decades, from the 1850s to 1870s. The reduction of internal conflicts, especially after 1878, allowed for laying the foundation of the monarchy that in turn brought a peaceful era in Bhutan.[5]

In terms of external relationship, especially with British India, Desi Jigme Namgyal left an identifiable centre of power that made it possible for treaties to be revised constructively and foreign relationships to be improved over the course of time. His son, the first King of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck amply fulfilled that role later on. After Jigme Namgyal's reign, foreign relations could be conducted in a systematic and co-ordinated way, because the fragmentation of power among the top leadership could be avoided.[15] The Treaty of Sinchula, 1865, which went back to Jigme Namgyal's time, became the crucial, guiding bilateral legal instrument between Bhutan and British India and later, Independent India. It was updated and revised in 1910, 1949, and 2007.[16]

Jigme Namgyel made not only political but architectural impacts. He restored the Tongsa Dzong, and built Sangwa Duepa temple in it. He founded the Wangducholing Palace in Choekhor valley in 1856. Wangducholing Palace was the main residence of the Royal Family from Desi Jigme Namgyal's time to that of the Crown Prince Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1929-1972). It was the political epicentre of the country for over a century, from the late 1850s to the early 1950s.[4]


In 1881, Desi Jigme Namgyal died, aged 55–56, at Semtokha Dzong in the Thimphu valley (first built in 1629) from a fall from a yak. His 21-year-old son, then the Paro Penlop, Ugyen Wangchuck (1862-1926), conducted the grandest funeral Bhutan had ever seen for his father.[17]

Notable descendants

Jigme Namgyal is the father of the first Druk Gyalpo King Ugyen Wangchuck, who founded the Bhutanese monarchy in 1907 after besting his rivals, the Penlop of Paro and allies, ending protracted civil war. Jigme Namgyal is thus the forefather of all subsequent Kings of Bhutan: Jigme Wangchuck, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.[citation needed] Several monarchs of the House of Wangchuck have borne Jigme Namgyal's names.

Crown Princes of Bhutan traditionally take the title Penlop of Trongsa (also called "Chhoetse" Penlop), reflecting the hereditary position and historical significance of the office of Jigme Namgyal.[18]

Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, the current Crown Prince of Bhutan, is named after him.


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See also


  1. ^ Dorji, C. T. (1994). "Appendix III". History of Bhutan based on Buddhism. Sangay Xam, Prominent Publishers. p. 200. ISBN 81-86239-01-4. Retrieved 2011-08-12.
  2. ^ Dorji Wangdi (2004). "A Historical Background of the Chhoetse Penlop" (PDF). The Tibetan and Himalayan Library online. Thimphu: Cabinet Secretariat. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-02-14. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  3. ^ Bhutan
  4. ^ a b Karchung, Gengop. "Wangdü Chöling Dzong: The Masterpiece of Gongsar Jigme Namgyel" (PDF). Journal of Bhutan Studies. The Centre for Bhutan Studies. 28: 73–89. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Ura, Karma (2010). Leadership of the Wise, Kings of Bhutan. Thimphu: Dasho Karma Ura. ISBN 978-99936-633-2-4.
  6. ^ Bhutan studies
  7. ^ Archive
  8. ^ Carchu
  9. ^ Chos kyi dbang phyub (1979). Gu ru chos dwang gi rang rnam dang zhal gams. Paro: Ugyen Tempai Gyeltshen.
  10. ^ Royal Family Tree
  11. ^ blama byang chub brtsun 'grus kyi rnam thar. Thimphu: KMT Printing Press. 2008.
  12. ^ Michael, Aris (2005). The Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarchy in Bhutan. London: Serindia Publications. ISBN 978-193247-621-7.
  13. ^ Rennie, D.E. (1866). Bhutan and the Story of the Dooar War. London: John Murray.
  14. ^ a b Ura, Karma. "Perceptions of Security" (PDF). Journal of Bhutan Studies. The Centre for Bhutan Studies. 5: 113–139. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  15. ^ Bengal Secretariat Office (1970) [1865]. Political Missions to Bootan, Comprising the Reports of The Hon'ble Ashley Eden, 1864; Captain R.B. Pemberton, 1837, 1838, with Dr. W. Griffithss' Journal; and the Account by Kishen Kant Bose. Calcutta.
  16. ^ 1907 to 2007 – Bhutan Through 100 Years
  17. ^ dpel ‘brug zhib ‘jug lté ba (2008). Gong sa 'jigs med nam rgyel gyi rtogs brjod dpà bo gé rgyangs bzhugs so. Thimphu, Bhutan: The Centre for Bhutan Studies.
  18. ^ Rennie, Frank; Mason, Robin (2008). Bhutan: Ways of Knowing. IAP. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-59311-734-4. Retrieved 2011-08-10.

External links

  • Gyeltshen, Dorji. "rig 'zin pad ma gling pa' kun dga' dbang phyug gis ka rtsom thor bu dang sbas yul mkhan pa ljongs kyi bzhugs khri mthong ba don ldan gyi skor" (PDF).
  • Aris, Michael (1979). Bhutan: The Early History of a Himalayan Kingdom. Warminster, England: Aris and Phillips Ltd. ISBN 978-0856681998.
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