Chak Tha Rimponche.....A fact or an anecdote?

The history of Sikkim is always surrounded with the folklore, mysteries and fictions. It is covered by a thick blanket of legend and mythology in which one can find births, re births and incarnations and much mythological bits and pieces which in fact have no credibility in history. But, even being mythological in nature they cannot be ignored entirely as they have their roots in our times of yore. The photograph pasted here belongs to a person who was then known as Chak- Tha Rimponche, who according to the people of Tashiding West Sikkim, used to be a conventional Buddhist. Chak Tha was a Bhutia by caste who hailed from Tashiding (Gangyap), West Sikkim and a Lama by profession. But, according to the few natives of Tashiding, at a distance from his occupation he used to tame cattle in the forest of Pokhri- Dara and its neighboring area. The descendents of those cattle tamers believe that Chak Tha had some paranormal power by which he could even control the nature. It was due to his clairvoyant smack he could fly like a bird which (according to the belief of the local people) could prove a great calamity for them. Therefore, to avoid such disaster Chak Tha was kept like a captive by his village men and Lamas by tying him with an iron chain which weighed more than a quintal.  Due to the lack of evidences it is not possible to ascertain his definite period. But, when we stumble upon with the photograph of the Rimponche it becomes clear for us to understand that he certainly lived in Sikkim after the latter’s contact with British India. Because, before the advent of the British, camera, photographs and sketches were dreamlike things to the Sikkimese society.  
The account of Chak- Tha greatly allured me in the beginning but, when I heard the whole narrative I found it to be larger-than-life. The half naked body along with some other unknown object proves that he was a great Tantric Lama who certainly was the follower of Tibetan Tantricism. The Dammaru in front of him (right hand side), his hair-style, and a Trisul kind of entity on his left hand makes it clear that Chak- Tha was a great Tantric Lama who in all probability exhibited his acquaintance in front of the villagers and those acts of the Rimpoche later became the legends in the village and transferred from one generation to another. But, apart from all other issues, it is a fact that Chak Tha was a native of Tashiding (Gangyap) and his family still lives at the very same place where he had his eminence.
The picture was possibly taken by some British officials on their way to the famous Tashiding monastery.


Department of Political Science, Calcutta University said...

My father who is 94 and resides in darjeeling had met Chaktha rinpoche