The Story of Nob Tshonapatta

The revered Nob Tshonapatta (just half in the pic) completely frozen.
20th February, 2017. 4129.3 meters above the sea level
It is believed at the bottom of this giant and calm Nob Tshonapatta lied so many ter (treasures) enough to feed the entire country for years and so many sacred religious articles, mostly to do with Buddhism. But, those ter or articles cannot be seen or retrieved or revealed by anyone except for those prophesied beings known as Tertons, the treasure retriever or revealer. Only he or she (as of now in the history there never was a female prophesied tertons. I hope a time will come whereby there will be a female treasure revealer and she will reveal so many sacred ters. And I look forward to that day) can collect and use it for the promotion of Buddhism and peace in the entire world. It of course will bless us too.
One of those prophesied tertons was Terton Sherab Mebar a young and handsome Tibetan lama, who lived some 200 years before Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal – the unifier of Bhutan. He came to Bhutan from Kham via Jomolhari to Haa on the process revealing some ter and headed to Bumthang via Wangduephodrang. There he was forced to reveal some ter from Mebar Tsho, he obliged but took back since it wasn’t his time. Rest is the story of Mebar Tsho you read in our Bhutan history in school. He even tired to reveal some in Pasakha, Chukha, but he could not complete his discovery; again it was not his ripen time. Then he travelled to Pangbisa in Paro, as per his prophecy and this is where the actual story of revered Nob Tshonapatta all started from.
The story of revered Nob Tshonapatta goes like this: in Pangbisa the locals heard a lot about this young and handsome lama who came from Tibet and that he is prophesied to go to Nob Tshonapatta seven times and reveal numerous religious articles plus wealth for the entire country. They started pressuring him to go and bring them. They were so impatient, firstly to check if he really was the said terton and secondly to have all the wealth revealed from the lake. Locals forced him again and again but he said it was not the right time. They thought he was a liar.
After much pushing he agreed, took 32 strong men comprised of carpenters and workers from the village, then headed to Nob Tshonapatta to retrieve a few treasures together with a golden pillar for Paro Dzong. He instructed his men to cut the golden pillar from 1 foot in length as it appears at the bottom of the lake, when he will divinely scoop the entire lake water into his mouth. As a token for helping him they can keep the fragments of gold falling off on the impact of their axes.

Having instructed Terton Sherab Mebar started to divinely scoop whole water in the lake into his mouth, and then workers went ahead hitting with their axes. But they grew greedy in between and started chopping out huge gold fragments from the golden pillar. Terton gestured not to chop into chunks, but they would not heed. So, finally he had to let go of lake water from his mouth to shout at them but the lake water drowned all 32 of them to death. The deity of Nob Tshonapatta became so furious for trying to take the ter from lake before his time, and started to chase him vigorously. The lake chased him on and on, along the way to distract the deity terton threw a handful of ter retrieved from the lake here and there. Places where he threw dung (trumpet) ter, Nga (drum) ter, drum stick and rim (cymbal) ter later formed into lakes.

Dung tsho (Trumpet lake)
Nga tsho (Drum lake)


The lake chased him till Laptsa of Tshelumtsho (this laptsa is also know by the name Tego La, I believe)  where ap Chungdue, local deity and protector of Haa appeared in real to negotiate between terton and pursuing lake. It is said from this point Nob Tshonapatta retreated with a condition that the terton and his followers from Pangbisa will not set a foot in Haa Shogona. From that day on inhabitants of Pangbisa never kept any relation with the people of Shogona.
Laptsa Tshelumtsho / Tego La
There is a story where a guy from Shogona got married to a girl in Pangbisa. They had a child, paid not much heed to the story of the peaceful agreement and set forth to husband’s village. While crossing the bridge over a river, the child’s wrapper untied by itself letting child fall straight into the river and drowned instantly. It is believed the deity of Nob tshonapatta did it.
The only ter terton Sherab Mebar could retrieve from Nob Tshonapatta was a single cymbal, which is now one of the sacred relics in Paro Dzong and it is displayed on the first day of Paro Tshechu annually.
Terton Sherb Mebar also known as Pangbi lama, since he resided there, died at a very early age. It is again believed he died in early 30s; probably because he didn’t adhere to his prophesy much. It is said before going to Nob Tshonapatta to reveal and retrieve ter, he was to attain an age of 25 years and that too ap Chungdu the protector of Haa was to accompany him to Nob Tshonapatta.

Center for Bhutan Studies, JBS



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