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An Exclusive with Khenpo Ugyen Norbu

Khenpo Ugyen Norbu dedicated 17 years of his life to studying in Mysore, India, where he earned the esteemed title of Khenpo, equivalent to a Ph.D. in Buddhist Philosophy, from the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute. In Bumthang and Gangtey, he shared his profound knowledge by teaching a range of subjects, including academic Shastra teachings, Higher tantra teachings, and Lower sections of tantra teachings.

Currently, he holds a prominent position as the Vice Chairperson in the editor department of the renowned Maha Dharma Foundation, where he continues to contribute his expertise and promote spiritual understanding.

Q. You have not only penned numerous scripts, but you have also delved into the realms of childrenโ€™s literature, crafting captivating books filled with enchanting tales and lyrical wonders. Could you please enlighten us about the titles and contents of those splendid literary creations?
A. In my dedication to enriching the lives of children, I embarked on a creative journey, crafting heartfelt song lyrics specifically tailored to their innocent spirits. Additionally, I ventured into the realm of translation, skillfully transposing documentary scripts into new linguistic dimensions. In a sincere effort to contribute to the advancement of the Dzongkha language, I composed a mesmerizing song for the animated masterpiece, Ap Bokto. Furthermore, my creative prowess extended to the captivating realm of storytelling, as I meticulously penned the scripts for the remarkable 3D animated videos, SAMPHEL part 1 and 2.

Q. Do you have any specific ideas or requests in mind for such videos that could further aid and delight children?
A. I harbor a steadfast and unwavering intention to produce a multitude of scripts, dedicated to fostering the development of Dzongkha language among children. In a country like Bhutan, where the economy is striving to flourish, it becomes imperative to approach every creative endeavor with careful consideration for cost-effectiveness. Hence, I passionately strive to create within the confines of limited expenditures, ensuring that the valuable resources are utilized judiciously. Moreover, I take immense pride in announcing the publication of my childrenโ€™s book, โ€œSergi Tama.โ€ This delightful literary masterpiece, carefully crafted with the young readers in mind, seeks to captivate their imagination and instill cherished values. Through the enchanting story of โ€œSergi Tama,โ€ I aspire to nurture a love for reading, embrace the richness of Dzongkha, and provide a source of inspiration for the blossoming minds of Bhutanโ€™s children.

Q. For what specific age group was the book โ€œSergi Tamaโ€ intended, ensuring that its content is tailored to captivate and engage readers within that particular developmental stage?
A. Exclusively crafted for children, the book โ€œSergi Tamaโ€ was meticulously composed using accessible and comprehensible language. While its primary target audience falls within the age range of 7 to 12 years old, the bookโ€™s profound wisdom and transformative insights transcend age barriers. Thus, its valuable teachings and thought-provoking content make it equally suitable for readers of all ages, including adults. With a wealth of beneficial advice and the potential to reshape oneโ€™s mindset, โ€œSergi Tamaโ€ stands as a compelling literary gem that holds immense value for individuals seeking personal growth and enlightenment, regardless of their age.

Q. In the process of authoring the book โ€œSergi Tama,โ€ what obstacles did you encounter that tested your creative mettle and perseverance?
A. When embarking on the journey of writing a book, the authorโ€™s innate desire is to create something truly distinct and unparalleled. In the case of โ€œSergi Tama,โ€ a book primarily intended for young readers, the challenge lay in deciphering the specific themes and narrative elements that would genuinely resonate with the youth. Understanding their preferences and interests proved to be an intricate task, requiring meticulous research and exploration of the dynamic landscape of youth culture. Furthermore, the inclusion of illustrations posed its own set of challenges. It was crucial to select visuals that would genuinely captivate and engage the youthful audience, aligning with their aesthetic sensibilities and preferences. The illustrations needed to complement the text and contribute to the overall storytelling experience.
Another noteworthy difficulty arose in representing the spoken Dzongkha language in a manner that would be readily comprehensible to the target audience. Navigating the intricacies of the language, ensuring clarity and simplicity without compromising on authenticity, demanded significant effort and linguistic finesse.
Nonetheless, fueled by the writerโ€™s determination and unwavering commitment to crafting a truly remarkable work, these challenges were embraced as opportunities for innovation and excellence. Through meticulous planning, research, and a deep understanding of the intended audience, โ€œSergi Tamaโ€ emerged as a unique creation that strikes a harmonious chord with the youth, successfully bridging the gap between their world and the captivating realm of literature.

Q. Within the pages of this captivating storybook, what profound lessons or moral insights does it seek to impart?
A. The moral essence that resonates through the narrative of this storybook is a timeless reminder of the significance of oneโ€™s mindset and approach when embarking upon any endeavor. It emphasizes that individuals driven by greed and self-centeredness ought to reevaluate their intentions before undertaking a task. For those harboring selfish motives, the story highlights that they are bound to encounter obstacles and ultimately fail to achieve their desired outcomes. Similarly, the narrative emphasizes that a person consumed by greed will face similar consequences. Conversely, the story underscores the importance of diligence, sincerity, and a constant awareness of a higher power. By working with dedication and a genuine intent, while keeping a profound sense of spirituality in mind, the path ahead unfolds smoothly, aligning with our aspirations and desires. Ultimately, the moral of the story serves as a guiding principle, urging individuals to cultivate selflessness, integrity, and a humble connection to the divine, ensuring a more fulfilling and successful journey in life.

Q. Could you enlighten us about the diverse array of scripts that you composed specifically for the enchantment and edification of young minds?
A. I had the privilege of writing the script for the mesmerizing 3D animation video, โ€œSAMPHEL,โ€ a remarkable creation that captivates viewers with its visual splendor. Additionally, I also crafted the script for the delightful tale of โ€œMonkey and Hen,โ€ an enchanting story that unfolds with charm and wisdom. Through my dedication to storytelling, these scripts were brought to life, offering immersive experiences that engage and inspire children.

Q. You are presently engaged in the remarkable endeavor of recreating the collected works of Kรผnkhyen Longchen Rabjam through the artistry of Bhutanese calligraphy. Could you kindly share some insights and elaborate on this project?
A. Kรผnkhyen Longchen Rabjam (1308-1363) was one of the most important Buddhist luminaries to visit Bhutan. According to belief, Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) was one of his incarnations. During his lifetime, Kรผnkhyen Longchen Rabjam wrote and composed his major sacred and scholarly works while in exile. His collected works, known as the โ€˜Sung-Bum,โ€™ consist of 27 volumes. However, these ancient texts, which are over seven hundred years old, are at the verge of disappearing and have been wearing out over time. They are likened to a person who has been sick for seven hundred years. Unlike ordinary books written by humans, the โ€˜Sung-Bumโ€™ was said to be written by deities known as โ€œChoechong Sungma.โ€ When Longchen Rabjam composed and dictated the texts, it is believed that Drasung Za Rahula (gzaโ€™ ra-hu-la), the sage of the Za class, the mantra protectress Ekajati (e-ka-dza-ti, sngags-srung-ma), and Vajrasadhu (rdo rje legs pa) assisted him. They wrote the text and prepared the ink and paper, all while seated on a sacred rock now known as Longchen Zhugthri (bzhugs khri). According to accounts, Longchen Rabjamโ€™s disciples witnessed Ekajati, Vajrasadhu, and Rahula preparing paper and ink for his writing.

Q. In order to foster the development of the Dzongkha language, what measures do you believe should be undertaken?
A. To offer my perspective, I believe two key initiatives can greatly contribute to the development of the Dzongkha language. Firstly, it is crucial to prioritize teaching students to read Dzongkha texts by focusing on correct spelling pronunciation. This approach not only enhances their vocabulary but also ensures that this valuable practice is not gradually fading away.
Secondly, when composing letters or essays, it is advisable to avoid mixing Choekey and Dzongkha languages. While some individuals may be proficient in both, many are only familiar with one of the languages. By keeping the sentences in either Choekey or Dzongkha, readers will find it easier to comprehend the content without confusion. It is important to note that these suggestions represent my personal opinion and should not be misconstrued as expertise in the field.


Irrespective of whether it is a movie, story, script, or documentary in Dzongkha, it is crucial for everyone to unite, extend support, and actively contribute towards the preservation and promotion of the Dzongkha language.

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