The Mystical Realm of Goen Tshephu Ney, an exalted cavern, bears a profound connection to the venerated Guru Padmasambhava of the 8th century. Legend has it that following Guru’s retreat at Maratika in Nepal, he embarked upon a pilgrimage to this sacred cave, where he was bestowed with the divine sight of the resplendent Amitayus, the “Buddha of Long Life.” Subsequently,
Tsephu Trulku Gyeltshen Pelzang, an ardent disciple of Saint Goe Tsangpa, established a monastery, which harbors numerous relics. Amongst these treasures, the gold-plated replica of Zhabdrung’s hat takes center stage, signifying its paramount significance.
The primary statue adorning the monastery is the Guru sungjouen, an eloquent masterpiece. Pentsa Deva originally sculpted this awe-inspiring figure in Punakha with the intention of transporting it to Bumthang. However, upon its completion, the statue astoundingly vocalized its desire to be enshrined at Gon Tshephu. Evidently, this statue occupies a position of utmost sanctity within the sacred confines of The Mystical Realm of Goen Tshephu Ney.
The Mystical Realm of Goen Tshephu Ney is the one approaches the monastery’s entrance, a distinctive rock comes into view, believed to be the upper lip of the Mara subdued by Guru Rinpoche himself. Adorning this stone visage are three-foot imprints left by Guru Rinpoche,
having tread upon it before taking flight to Tshechudra in Gasa. Curiously, the same stone bears the footprints of Terton Dorje Lingpa as well. In close proximity, one can witness the wish-fulfilling tree known as pasam jinshing, generously bestowing fruits throughout the year.
Just at the threshold of the main Life Vase cave, a tap channels Tshe Chu, the holy water of longevity, ever flowing. Moving onward through a narrow passage of rocky terrain, a sudden revelation awaits—a vast expanse of cavernous magnificence. Within this remarkable space,
longevity water incessantly drips from above, as though emanating from the tongue of an elephant. Further up, nestled within a small cave, resides the crowning treasure of Gon Tshephu—the Life Vase, harboring a self-arisen treasure letter denoted by the sacred symbol ཨ (Ah), having journeyed from Nepal’s Maratika Cave.
This hallowed cave stands as the epitome of sanctity, as Guru Rinpoche communed with Buddha Amitayus face to face, eagerly imbibing his teachings and empowerment. Adjacent to the Life Vase Cave lies an iron ladder, beckoning visitors to explore the depths of the Dakini meditation cave.
In close proximity to the Dakini meditation cave, known as Dedh Drib Ney, lies a cavernous chamber that allows one to discern the nuances of positive and negative Karma. Upon returning to the monastery and ascending further, a cave reveals itself, adorned with twenty-one self-arisen images of Tara, the compassionate Bodhisattva, concealed within.
Aside from the Tara cave, a rock bears the mark where Guru Rinpoche once sat, presumably offering protective prayers for all sentient beings. Gazing outwards from this vantage point, the magnificent vista of vast mountain ranges unfolds, inviting the release of all burdens and stresses.
Perched atop a large rock above the monastery rests a cooking oven, utilized by the Dakini to prepare nourishment for Guru Rinpoche. Astonishingly, a small plant exhibits a profusion of long, sinewy roots, serving as a makeshift rope or ladder for ascending. Utmost care must be exercised while scaling or remaining atop, for an inadvertent slip could prove calamitous.
Descending below the monastery, on the backside of Mara’s upper lip, an extraordinary self-arisen symbol, ཨོཾ་ཨཱཿཧཱུྂ:, comes into view. On closer inspection, each letter stands raised, evoking a sense of wonder and awe. This portion of the stone is believed to encapsulate Mara’s heart.
Adjacent to the chamber where butter lamps are offered, a small boulder captures one’s attention. Here, Wangchu chenpo, accompanied by male and female conches, assumes a captivating presence.
Within the face of the stone, a small aperture bears witness to Terton Dorje Lingpa’s extraction of the Phurbi Ter, a sacred ritual implement.
Numerous Bodhisattvas have graced Gon Tshephu Ney with their divine presence, including:
During Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal‘s meditative sojourn at Gon Tshephu, he received a vision of Guru Rinpoche, along with a prophetic revelation regarding the flourishing propagation of the Palden Drukpa teachings in Bhutan.
Caretaker has observed a surge in the influx of pilgrims to this hallowed sanctuary. “In the bygone days, when no pathway existed, only a solitary traveler or two would venture to the Ney,” he expressed. “However, with the arrival of the road near the monastery’s base, the number of visitors has swelled. Until a few years ago, the Ney remained relatively obscure.”
The construction of the route leading to Goen Tshephu commenced approximately six years ago and has recently concluded. Caretaker remarked that tourists heading towards the nearby Koma Tshachu, a natural hot spring, frequently incorporate a visit to the Lhakhang in their itinerary. “It has become customary for individuals to pay homage to the lhakhang and subsequently proceed to Koma Chhu, or vice versa.”
Previously, the responsibility for the upkeep of the monastery rested with the Yurbu and Gumgang chiwogs of Goenshari Gewog. However, it has now been entrusted to Zhung dratshang.
Within the lhakhang, one can find twenty-one sacred neys, including images of Tara, Guru Rinpoche’s Zhuthey, Soethap, Terton Dorji Lingpa (Phub Terzhi gi Shue), Dungkar Phomo Wangchuk Chhenmo, Choe gi Zhabjay, and Guru Rinpoche’s Chakar.
Goen Tshephu Ney stands as a testament to Bhutan’s profound veneration for spiritual customs, beckoning both locals and visitors to embark on a transformative odyssey through its mystical domains.
Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, is a venerated figure from the 8th century who is deeply connected to Goen Tshephu Ney. According to legend, he journeyed to the sacred cave at Goen Tshephu Ney after a retreat at Maratika in Nepal. There, he was blessed with a divine vision of Amitayus, the “Buddha of Long Life.”
The primary statue in the monastery is the Guru Rinpoche sungjouen. This statue was originally sculpted in Punakha with the intention to transport it to Bumthang, but upon its completion, it voiced its desire to be housed at Goen Tshephu Ney.
Near the monastery’s entrance is a unique rock believed to be the upper lip of the Mara subdued by Guru Rinpoche. This rock features footprints left by Guru Rinpoche and Terton Dorje Lingpa. Nearby, there is a wish-fulfilling tree known as pasam jinshing, which bears fruit all year round.
The upkeep of the monastery was formerly the responsibility of the Yurbu and Gumgang chiwogs of Goenshari Gewog, but it has since been entrusted to Zhung dratshang.
The Life Vase Cave is considered an epitome of sanctity. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche met Buddha Amitayus here, from whom he received teachings and empowerment. The cave houses the Life Vase, a treasure that contains a self-arisen treasure letter symbolized by the sacred symbol ཨ (Ah). A tap near the cave entrance channels Tshe Chu, the holy water of longevity, which is always flowing.