The Historical Study and Documentation of the Pad Gling Traditions in Bhutan

This research project aims to undertake a historical study of the Pad gling tradition and its establishments, focusing on the three principal institutions of Pad gling reincarnations: the Pad gling gSung spruls, who are considered reincarnations of Padma Gling pa himself and were based in lHa lung in Tibet and gTam zhing in Bhutan; the lHa lung Thugs sras, who are incarnations of Padma Glingpa’s son Zla ba rGyal mtshan (b.1499); and the sGang steng sPrul sku, who are considered reincarnations of Padma Gling pa’s grandson Padma 'Phrin las (1564-1642?). These three incarnation lines have played prominent roles in the Bhutanese society and Himalayan history and thrive to this day.

In reconstructing the history and assessing the significance of the Pad gling tradition and its leading institutions, the project shall:
- study and record the development of the Padma Gling pa institutions in Bhutan
- assess the religious, cultural and political role of the institution and its members in Bhutanese history
- explore the roles of Pad gling heirarchs in relations between Bhutan and Britain
- assess the significance of the Padma Gling pa institutions in the greater Tibetan Buddhist world
- consolidate the entire textual corpus connected with the Padma Gling pa institutions by creating a complete xml catalogue, which can eventually be incorporated into the Union catalogue that is being built by the British Library
- digitize the entire literature connected with the Padma Gling pa tradition into searchable documents that will be available to international scholars
- preserve the original manuscripts and wood block prints in digital surrogates in RAW, TIFF or JPEG formats which will be deposited in the local archives and the British Library and thereby further our knowledge of Himalayan region and the Buddhist world.

Principal investigator
Dr Stephen Hugh-Jones
Principal project staff
Dr Stephen Hugh-Jones; Dr James Laidlaw; Dr Karma Phuntsho
Start date
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Completion date
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Source material
The digital images are produced from manuscripts and wood block prints stored in remote Bhutanese monastic libraries and private archives in Bhutan. As religious texts, these books are kept in the inner sanctums of the temple and treasured as the sacred relics of the communities. Most of the digital resources are copies of manuscripts and printed books in the centres of Padma Gling pa tradition such as Gangtey, Drametse, Nya la and Somthrang. Some are photographs of books in private collections such as that of late Lama Sa-ngag. The images were produced using a Canon EOS50D and EOS400D in natural light.

Phuntsho, Karma. "Ogyen Pema Lingpa (1450-1521), His Life and Legacy." In The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, edited by Terese Tse Bartholomew and John Johnston, 66-78. Chicago: Serindia Publications and Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2008