Drukpa Kunley (pronounced “Drook-Pa Coon-Lee”) was a Bhutanese yogi and poet popularly known as “the Divine Madman” who renounced the ascetic life of a monk for a more lighthearted and fun lifestyle. He is legendary for drinking wine, being promiscuous, and using his “Flaming Thunderbolt of Wisdom” (the nickname for his penis) to strike down and subdue evil demons.
The Buddha advocated for the “middle road” between a self-indulgent, materialistic lifestyle and an ascetic life of sacrifice. Drukpa Kunley began as an ascetic monk, but denounced that lifestyle and spent the rest of his days on the other, more fun side of the middle road.
“I have come without prejudice to help you, where can I find the best booze and most beautiful women?”– Drukpa Kunley upon entering a village
Although Drukpa Kunley’s methods are considered blasphemous and crude, he is considered Bhutan’s patron saint and one of it’s greatest spiritual leaders. His influence is a reminder to the Bhutanese people to have fun and enjoy life.
Drukpa Kunley’s influence is found all over Bhutan, especially painted on the walls of people’s homes. Don’t be surprised when you see giant, flying phalluses painted on buildings. They are symbols of good luck and ward of evil spirits.
Chimi Lhakang (Temple of the Divine Madman)
Chimi Lhakang (aka Temple of the Divine Madman) is a monastery near the Puna Tseng Chhu (river) in the Punkaha Valley. It is perched on a hill in a way that resembles a woman’s breast.
Drukpa Kunley famously subdued a demon at Dochu La (the 10,000 foot pass between Thimphu and Punakha) and trapped it in a rock here in the Punakha Valley. He built a small chorten at this spot and in 1499 the larger monastery was built in his honor. Women often come here for the famous fertility blessing which involves being tapped on the head by a five hundred year old ten inch phallus.