Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

By John S. Bowman | Go to book overview

Bhutan

An independent Himalayan kingdom throughout its recorded history, Bhutan is remarkable for the continuity of its culture over two and a half thousand years. Bhutan becomes a Buddhist kingdom in the eighth century, when Tantric Buddhism is introduced by the Indian saint Padmasambhava. Neither the Hinduism of neighboring India nor the Islamic influence that permeates so much of Central and South Asia penetrates here (although the Nepalese who will enter Bhutan in later centuries do bring Hinduism with them).

The father of the modern nation is a seventeenth-century monk, Ngawang Namgyal, who calls his territory Drukyul (Land of the Thunder Dragon) after his own Drukpa Kagyupa Buddhist sect. (Drukyul remains the traditional name of the country; Bhutan is used only in Englishlanguage foreign correspondence.) This Drukpa, the name of the sect, comes to refer to the Bhutanese people themselves.

Traditional culture has been nurtured in Bhutan by both choice and geography. Its civilization develops in the Inner Himalaya, a central region of cultivable valleys protected to the north by the forbidding High Himalaya and to the south by the jungles of the Himalaya foothills. Foreign relations are confined to its nearest neighbors, most especially Bhutan's huge northern neighbor, Tibet, but also Sikkim and northern India. The British presence in India results in Bhutan's being a British protectorate for nearly a century.

In Bhutan's Lamaist theocracy, monks (lamas) are both religious and political leaders. Not until the early twentieth century, after half a century of civil war, does Bhutan establish a hereditary monarchy, and the nation achieves full autonomy only in 1935. The third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, sets Bhutan on the road to constitutional monarchy in the 1950s, creating a national assembly and setting in motion a multitude of social and economic reforms designed to modernize an ancient land.

2000B.C.: Although little is known about who made them, stone tools and weapons, megaliths, and remains of large stone structures found in Bhutan suggest that some people are living here by this time.

c. 500B.C.A.D. 600: The state of Lho Mon (southern darkness), or Monyul (dark land), in the southern lowlands of present-day Bhutan, is inhabited, some scholars believe, by the Monpa, a fierce mountain tribe. Their

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Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Contents v
  • Consultants and Contributors vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture *
  • Part One - East Asia 1
  • China - Political History 3
  • China - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 79
  • China - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 99
  • Japan - Political History 118
  • Japan - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 162
  • Japan - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 179
  • Korea 193
  • Taiwan 225
  • Hong Kong 236
  • Macau (Macao) 244
  • Part Two - South Asia 250
  • India - Political History 251
  • India - Arts, Culture, Thought, and Religion 325
  • India - Science-Technology, Economics, and Everyday Life 355
  • Pakistan 370
  • Bangladesh 379
  • Bhutan 384
  • Maldives 389
  • Nepal 393
  • Sri Lanka (Ceylon) 400
  • Part Three - Southeast Asia 408
  • Brunei 409
  • Cambodia 415
  • Indonesia 436
  • Laos 452
  • Malaysia 465
  • Myanmar (Burma) 476
  • The Philippines 488
  • Singapore 501
  • Thailand 506
  • Vietnam 521
  • Part Four - Central Asia 545
  • Mongolia 547
  • Central Asian Republics 566
  • Tibet 577
  • Appendix 1 - National/Independence Days 583
  • Appendix 2 - Scientific-Technological Achievements in Asia 590
  • Appendix 3 - Asian History: a Chronological Overview 603
  • Index 679
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