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This website is an archive. It ran from 2006-2010. Virtually everything on here is outdated or inaccurate.

Bhutan is a country in Central Asia with heavy Tibetan influences but a unique style of Buddhism.

Facts about Bhutan

Bhutanese modernization

Notes from a talk by Kunzang Choden.

Initially, Bhutan had an oral culture. Buddhism introduced monastic education, which was the only way to achieve literacy. When you were educated, you became a monk and read books to accumulate merit. Education = religion. There was no bhikkuni line in Bhutan; boys only.

Bhutan's political system was feudalism until the 1950s when the third king mandated that all lords should surrender their land and make the society egalitarian. This was achieved quickly without bloodshed because Bhutanese people trusted the king.

The king also called for children to be educated and spread knowledge throughout the country. Choden's parents were feudal lords and thus had the idea of sending her to India to be educated. The other people in the town were afraid of travel and did not know what "India" was even though it borders Bhutan.

Bhutanese culture favors isolation so much that 19 languages were spoken in the tiny country before modernization. (Ethnologue has the count at 24.) Bhutanese were originally shy and did not leave the country to promote their culture. But now they are proud. Is it a good thing?

Bhutanese society before modernization:

After modernization:

Inheritance through woman, but not matriarchal (my anthro professor told me there is no such thing as a matriarch in human history; this adheres to that rule). Now men have economic freedom and can make their own living, so women are being ignored.

Bhutanese would look at the sun to check the time-- no watches.

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