The Story of Lama Kunzang Dorjee and the Bulls

In two years, Lama Kunzang Dorjee, 32, who heads the oldest Bhutanese monasery Jangsa Gompa in Kalimpong, India, has saved more than 650 bulls and other similarly ill-fated animals from being killed in slaughter houses.

Lama Kunzang stated that his compassion was kindled when, in late 2000, five bulls which had escaped from a slaughter house in Kalimpong, forced their way into his monastery and refused to leave.

When the five bulls returned to the monastery for the third time the same day, Lama Kunzang gave them water and fresh grass, but they refused to eat.

That moment was a turning point: he had started to save these beings. He bought them for RPS 45,000, built a shed and appointed a caretaker to look after them.

He confronted a similar situation in Mongar, Bhutan last year. Of the 33 bulls being taken for slaughter to Trashigang and Mongar, one walked towards a bystander and refused to leave, as if seeking refuge.

Lama Kunzang, who was then accompanying His Holiness the Je Khenpo, was once again deeply touched by the plight of the bull. Together with His Holiness, who financed the purchase of the bulls, Lama Kunzang negotiated with the butcher, paid and took over the care of all of the bulls.

Two days later, he saved another group of 25 bulls. Since then, people in Kurtoe and Mongar, Bhutan have come forward offering bulls and other cattle which would otherwise be slaughtered.

Some like souls have come forward to donate pastureland, saving him the trouble of finding a place to keep the bulls. Now his more than 650 bulls roam freely in two large tracts of pastureland in Lhuntshe, Bhutan.

Other sympathisers have donated money to help him as his acts of compassion were proving to be too expensive for his monastery to support alone. With their money, he has appointed caretakers to look after the bulls in his pastureland and to cover his operational expenses.

While His Holiness the Je Khenpo has contributed to the salaries of the caretakers of the saved animals, Lama Kunzang has spent over RPS 140,000 purchasing bulls from butchers in the last two years.

“The people are aware of the Buddhist practice known as ‘tshethar,’ (saving and preserving lives) but they did not know how to go about it,” he said.

“The souls of all sentient beings are inter-woven through numerous births and rebirths in the samsaric world,” he said. “We should show all animals gratitude and respect through compassion and sympathy.”

The Buddha has taught that more than carving statues, building monasteries and reading scriptures, saving the life of sentient beings carries the greatest virtue.

Lama Kunzang, who is also in the process of establishing a sanctuary in Thimphu, Bhutan for animals that are going to be slaughtered in and around the capital, also hopes that meat consumption will slowly decrease as more people become aware of tshethar.

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Lama Kunzang Dorjee

Letter from the His Holiness the Je Khenpo

Letter from the His Holiness the Je Khenpo.
Click to open.

Letter from the His Holiness the Je Khenpo

Letter from the Queen of Bhutan on Lama and Animal Saving. Click to open.

The Creation of the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust

Lama Kunzang Dorjee, the abbot of Jangsa Gompa in Kalimpong, who became known for saving hundreds of bulls, cows, yaks and goats from the clutches and blades of the butchers is the inspiration and driving force behind the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust, a non-profit organization formed with the sole aim of assisting and promoting the tshethar initiative in Bhutan.

The idea for a trust developed when donations started pouring in from Sikkim, Kalimpong and Bhutan as news about Lama Kunzang's acts of compassion spread in the region.

The idea for a trust developed when donations started pouring in from Sikkim, Kalimpong and Bhutan as news about Lam Kunzang's act of compassion spread in the region.

After the movement reached Thimphu, Bhutan in early March of 2004, contributions rose substantially. In little over two months, the trust had collected about RPS 400,000. Members as well as non-members had contributed generously. One member had even donated a truck.

The Trust intends to put on awareness and sensitization campaigns in the future. They have proposals to print, publish and circulate books, pamphlets, cartoons, comics and make films "on the demerits of eating meat." They even plan to publish vegetarian cook books and distribute them to the public.

“Bhutanese have the habit of saying we can’t cook without meat,” an active founding member of the trust said. “We want to show and tell people that it is possible to cook meals without meat and to enjoy them. Researches and studies have also shown that meat is not necessarily the best or the healthiest food.” The abbot stated that the Jangsa Trust did not intend to criticize or censure those who ate meat.

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