Bhutan has journeyed through several phases through
history. It was inhabited by humans in early years of history. It witnessed
internal strifes, practised Shamanism and then embraced Buddhism. It entered
in conflict with the British and then the monarchy itself introduced
democratic system in the country. History of the country can be segregated
into following phases:
Archaeologists have dug out significant number of stone tools and megaliths
in Bhutan. This testifies that Bhutan became man's residence in early age of
history, probably around 2000BC.
Arrival of Buddhism
Known history of Bhutan commences with the arrival of Buddhism in the
country. People of Bhutan followed Shaman traditions before advent of
Buddhism. Padmasambhava, who became popular as Guru Rimpoche, is credited
with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. Between 8th and 17th century AD, several
Buddhist monks arrived in Bhutan from Tibet and its birthplace India. The
religion played an important role in bringing the people of the country
Emergence as a Country
Till early 17th century, Bhutan was the battleground of warring tribes.
Credit of unifying them goes to Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan lama
and military leader. Chased by political adversaries in Tibet, he came to
Bhutan in 1616. He busied himself with military fortification and built
number of fortresses. He introduced cultural symbols and established the
dual system of government. Under this system, the power was shared by an
administrative leader and a spiritual leader together.
Ugyen Wangchuck, the Penlop of Trongsa, was the first hereditary monarch of
Bhutan. He came to power in 1907. He was unanimously elected by the regional
governors, the clergy and the representatives of the people to end factional
rivalries and unending strife.
Strife with the British
The Bhutanese occupied the Indian kingdom of Cooch Behar in the early
1700s. The Cooch Beharis appealed to the British for help. The British
arrived and chased the Bhutanese out. They even attacked Bhutan in 1774 and
forced the Bhutanese to sign a treaty. The treaty failed to bring peace
between the two and border conflicts continued between them.
As a Modern Nation
King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan, initiated landmark
constitutional reforms in Bhutanese history. A National Assembly with 150
memebers was established. The country launched its first Five Year
Development Plan in 1961 and opened itself to international community.
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