Sonam Drugyel lets loose his arrow, Tashi Thongmen Dzong 2004

When the 15th-century Master of Truth, Lord of Beings, Drukpa Kinley was staying at Lady Semzangmo’s house in the Tibetan province of Yamdrok, he had a dream.  He dreamt that a woman dressed in a yellow skirt, and holding a flaming sword, said to him, ‘Drukpa Kinley, it is time that you fulfilled the prophecy that foretold the conversion of the people of Bhutan and the magical purification of that land . . . You must shoot an arrow to the south early in the morning as a harbinger of your coming.’ The Lama recognized her as a divine revelation of the Smokey Goddess.  Early the next morning he strung his bow and loosed a wailing arrow into the southern sky. ‘Fly southwards to benefit all beings and the Tradition,’ he intoned, ‘and land at the house of a blessed, heaven-favored girl.’ — From The Divine Madman: The Sublime Life and Songs of Drukpa Kinley, translated by Keith Dowman

Sonam Drugyel wears his traditional gho with contemporary boots while competing in an age-old archery contest with a HI Tec compound bow. Playing in a field next to a 17th Century Dzong (at that time the only provincial capital in the world without motor-road access) Sonam symbolizes Bhutan’s blend of the ancient with the present.

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