It is widely accepted that the original inhabitants of Sikkim were Lepchas. They were pantheists and worshipped Mother Nature through their traditions and customs. In the 8th Century Guru Rinpoche when passing through these lands foretold the Lepchas about the era of monarchy that will build Sikkim and marked the location where it would all begin.
Legend has it that Buddhism was brought into Sikkim by a divine saint from Tibet. The name of the saint is Lama Lhatsun Chembo, the patron saint of Sikkim. He was believed to be an incarnation of the great Indian master, Bhim Mitra.
Lama Lhatsun Chembo was born in the Southeastern part of Tibet. As a child, he entered monkhood and travelled and took lessons from various monasteries in Tibet. His prowess in great learning and wisdom made him very popular in Tibet.
One day it is said that the Grand Lama of Lhasa who had his headquarters in the Potala Palace, was supposed to visit the Emperor of China on the advice of his counsel. This meeting later turned out to be a moment in history holding huge significance for the people of Tibet, but that’s a story for another time. Later that night he had a vision of the arrival of a divine saint in his Palace. Instinctively he ordered the palace guards to begin preparations to receive this holy lama with reverence and honor.
Soon, Lama Lhatsun Chembo arrives in front of the palace doors and blows the trumpet made of human thigh bone announcing his arrival. The guards not recognizing the great saint got infuriated by the harsh blow of his trumpet apprehended the Lama and tied him to a nearby rock.
On being greeted with such disrespect, Lama Lhatsun Chembo, with his divine powers, shook the entire Potala hill on which the palace stood. The Grand Lama instantly knew that the great saint has arrived and promptly proceeded to receive him while he reprimanded the guards for their misdemeanor. Compassionate Lama Chembo then addressed the Grand Lama. He then walked up to the Grand Lama and unabashedly struck him with his fist on his stomach and making him vomited in front of the council. The eminent Grand Lama of Lhasa highly respected him for his wisdom and piety and did not utter a word, but warmly greeted him into the palace.
Grand Lama informed him about his upcoming tour to visit the Chinese Emperor. On the way, Lama Chembo said that the Grand Lama would come across a great peril which he remedied by striking the Grand Lama with his fist. He further iterated that the Grand Lama would face another life-threatening situation in China and gave him a piece of scroll to save himself then. Lama Lhatsun Chembo also informed the Grand Lama, that for his vomiting he would attain great powers and riches through Lama Lhatsun Chembo.
The prophecy of the saint did come true. Soon enough the Grand Lama left for his trip to China and he was received with much honour. The Emperor wanted to test the Grand Lama and asked him about the meaning of the seven colours of the rainbow. This was the danger prophesized by the saint. The Grand Lama remembered about the scroll and referred to it thereby saving his life. The answer pleased the Emperor to a great extent as he gifted the Grand Lama with great honour and riches.
After coming back to Tibet, the Grand Lama expressed his sincere gratitude to the divine saint and offered him a great position in Tibetan priesthood. Lama Lhatsun Chembo declined the offer and informed him about his upcoming journey to Sikkim. He had discovered the meaning of a hidden message from Guru Rimpoche and he had to commence a trip to the hidden land of rice valley - Beyul Demazong. He then prepared to enter the Sikkim from the North Gate. He said such was the instruction from Guru Rimpoche and added that developing the land according to the Buddhist values and customs was his only priority.
Lama Lhatsun attempted to cross over through Dzongri but after much deliberation, he still could not find his way through. He came across a cave and stayed there meditating for a few days during which the lord of Kanchenjunga visited him in the form of a wild goose and conversed with him. Inspired by the lord of Kanchenjunga, the divine entity wrote a book of prayers for the proper worship of the lord of Kanchenjunga. The Himalayas still proved to be unbreachable. The saint flew over the peak of Kanchenjunga by using his divine powers and crossed over. He was greeted by two other Lamas who had arrived from South and West respectively. They met at the foot of Kanchenjunga, a place the Lepchas called Yuksom (marked by Guru Rimpoche), meaning the meeting place of three superior ones. The three holy Lamas talked about the prophecy of Guru Rimpoche according to which four noble brothers would come to meet in order to establish a kingdom where Buddhism would flourish.
Through divine grace, the fourth Lama was located at Chumbi Valley. His name was Phuntsok Namgyal. The three divine masters appointed him as the Chogyal (which means ruler of the whole of Sikkim). In the Dubdi monastery at Yuksom, a stone chair is still preserved which as per the belief, is the throne on which the first Chogyal was crowned.
Also read: Mayel Lyang - Paradise on Earth