Chimi Lakhang Monastery, Punakha

Chimi Lhakhang was built in 1499 after the site was blessed by the maverick saint Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529), also known as the Divine Madman. It is said that Lama Kunley subdued a demon of Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom” and trapped it in a nearby rock.

He was known as the “Mad Saint” or “Divine Madman” thanks to his rather unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism with singing, humor and outrageous sexual behavior. He is also the saint who encouraged painting phallus symbols on walls and hanging carved wooden phalluses from the eves of houses.

The monastery is the repository of the original wooden phallus symbol brought by Kunley from Tibet. A monk uses this phallus to bless pilgrims, particularly women seeking to conceive children. The tradition at the monastery is to strike pilgrims on the head with this 10 inch wooden phallus.

This was my first time getting hit on the head with a wooden penis. It wasn’t so bad.

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