Friday, November 18, 2016

From Sumthrang to Bemji (Bonbi), Trakhar & Ugyenchoeling, a Genealogical Journey

  Sumthrang, I have now known that it has spread its kinship into many other religious nobilities in Bhutan. Every time I am in conversation with my father, any one we talked about as we engage into genealogical history, it ends up being one or the another our ‘Ngew’ or the relative.

Of many families that have a kinship relation to sumthrang, Bemji and Ugyenchoeling are among those families and Trakhar often comes up in relation to the family line of Terton Pama Lingpa. I heard of the relation we share several years ago but I never understood how?  I did not know much of Bonbi Chojey but I knew this much that it may have its own history of origin different to Sumthrang and Ugyen Choling we know is the decedents of Terton Dorji Lingpa. The question was then, how did these families inter-relate?

I with Ashi Kunzang of Ugyen Choeling
Most recently since I joined Shejun, I had the privilege of meeting Ashi Kunzang a descendent of the great Terton Dorji Lingpa and a prominent first female writers of Bhutan with many books to her name. While I could not ask her my self although I would want to, luckily Ashi came forward telling me that we are relatives and how a Sumthrang Chojey named Rinzin would visit them. But she could not provide much of the details too nor I could ask here much, cause I had nothing much in myself beyond what I know; ‘we are related.’  But I thought I would find out some day.

Again thanks to Shejun, last year I had the opportunity to visit Bemji for the first time and met Angay Tandin, who talked about Dasho Jamyang and his children but what she explained did not make sense because again I had nothing to fill in the puzzle and she could not say much before Dasho Jamyang to relate Sumthrang-Bemji Kinship. I am informed that Sumthrang shared kinship with Ugyenchoeling and Bonbi, which I thought it was Sumthrang to Ugyenchoeling and Bonbi in an individual Sumthrang to another relations, but in finding out how, I ended up finding that four families were inter-linked in a genealogical journey, and many more that needs further details.

For now, I am clear of the genealogical relations of the Sumthrang Chojey, Bonbi Chojey (Bamling Chojey), Trakhar and Ugyen Choling according to what I herd from my father and the Sumthrang’s most grateful Dasho Lama Sangnga's work the Drukgi Nyorab.

Well, Bonbi was already an establishment of a Nyo clan with Dung Lhadhar a disciple of Thugsey Dawa and a son of Pema Lingpa's younger brother and Pha Dhendrup Zangpo's second son Guru having established the Bonbi Chojey. Later it was renewed yet again in around the 1800’s, when Sumthrang Chojey Sangnga Gyamtsho the youngest son of the 22nd Sumthrang Dungzin Damchoe Singye married a daughter of Bonbi Choe known as Ashi Metog Mo becoming the Dungzin of Bonbi Chojey.
I with Aum Tandin of Bemji
who I believe must be a descendent of 
one of the three daughters of Chojey Sanga Gyatsho

Bonbi Chojey probably did not have the male heir therefore; Sumthrang Chojey was invited into marriage.  Since then Bonbi became the descendants of the combination of Nyo and the Bonbib.

And from there the Bemji Dungzin Sangnga Gyamtho had a son Tshewang Chojey and another three daughters.

Son Tshewang Chojey married Kunzang Lhamo a daughter of Trakhar to take care of the Trakhar Nagtsang and give birth to two sons, Sonam Tobay and Dasho Jamyang, while one of the daughters took over the Bonbji family establishment.

From Trakhar Dasho Jamayng was gifted with two daughters Phuntsho Choden and Pema Dechen from Dechogma of Tamzhing family, who became the queens to the second Druk Gyalpo and the Chhumey Drungpa Goenpo Dorji and Sangay Dhendup from Sangnga Mo of Chumey Chorten Nyingpo family.

From among the Chhumey Drungpa’s  children, his daughter Dorji Dema  married the Ugyen Choling Dasho Kunzang Dorji from whom the current generation of Ugyen Choling family was born. Therefore the kinship genealogical journey from Sumthrang to Bemji to Trakhar and to Ugyen Choling.

In the past these families hailed a great regarded to each other and often visited each other or became the host to one another. Angay Tandin recollected Sumthrang kins visiting their home in the past when she was younger and similarly  Ashi Kunzang would also recollected how Sumthang chojey Rinzin, the younger brother of Sumthrang Dungzin Tsewang Tandin often visited Ugyen Choling and lived with them at times.  He was the last Sumthrangpa who had kept a close kinship with Ugyen Choling going by the account of Ashi Kunzang while Aum Tandin did not remember names of those who use to visit them at her younger age.

Chojey Rinzin a youngest of 27th Sumthrang Dungzin Tshewang Tandin’s siblings, served Gyel Yum Phuntsho Choden as a Garp at the royal court and he is often known by the Name Memey Chojey or Memey Garbo for being a son of Chojey and also having served as a Garbo at the royal court.  I remember although quite kinder, where he would tell stories of how he worked at the service of the Gyelyum.  He is the only grand parent I have ever had a chance to be in a lap of a paternal  grand figure from Sumthrang Chojey family to which my father belong. Memey Chojey died in 1995 or 1996 (could not recollect the year).

Curtsy and Thanks to: My father, Drukgyi Nyorab for providing genealogical accounts and Lopen Khandu Shejun and Lopen Dorji Gyeltshen of CLCS for helping me with some names.


  1. thank you for sharing the important history of the inter relationship of all the three descendants clearly. Now I am also much clarified than before. I use to ask my mom how how Ashi Phuntsho Choden was related to Bemjee Choejee but it's great to learn that there are sumthrang choejee in relation too... 👍🏻👍🏻

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