BY SHITAL PRADHAN
I was not born when Sikkim became the 22nd State of Indian Union and the only thing I came to learn about the political identification of my Sikkim are from the certain literary knowledge and talks with the elderly people. I personally believe no nation can be developed until and unless its history, culture and heritage are preserved. Sikkim though is now part of India but it is the responsibility of every Sikkimese to look after its past glory too.
Interestingly few days back my college going nephew surprised me when he told that the man with the name of STNM could be the last Chogyal while one of my colleague added that TNA and TNSSS names bore the name of the last Chogyal. Well! Is this the future of Sikkim? If we cannot let the younger generation identify Sikkim with its facts and authenticity, Sikkim will surely loose its vivacious historical pages.
Twenty-five long years has gone by of the passing away of the last Chogyal of Sikkim Late Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal. Apart from a memorial park (rather a love nest where love pair meet) and the frantic statue at Deorali we hear very little of our last King.
Born as a second son to Late Chogyal Sir Tashi Namgyal on May 22 1923, Palden Thondup Namgyal became the twelfth Consecrated Ruler of Sikkim on April 4 1965 at Royal Palace. He studied monk hood between 1931-1934 under his uncle, Lhatsun Rimpoche, when he was recognised as the spiritual leader of Phodong and Rumtek monasteries in succession to Chogyal Sidkeong.
Educated from St Joseph Convent (Kalimpong), St Joseph Academy (Darjeeling), Bishop Cotton School (Simla) and ICS Training camp at Dehradun, he was appointed heir to the throne after the sudden death of his elder brother in a plane crash in WWII.
The Chogyal was connected with a number of cultural and academic bodies in Sikkim, India and abroad. He had been the President of the Mahabodhi Delegation to the Sixth Buddhist Council that was held in Burma in 1954. He participated in the 2,500 Buddha Jayanthi Celebrations in India in 1956. He represented Sikkim in Sixth World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference in Cambodia in 1961. In 1958 he set up a centre for Mahayana and Tibetan studies now known as Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. He headed Sikkim delegation to the World Anti- tuberculosis Conference at Istanbul. He was the founder member of Mountaineering Institute at Darjeeling.
Married to Sangey Deki and after her death married to a US born Hope Cooke in 1963, he had won couple of other Nation’s highest awards that included Order of British Empire in 1947, Padma Vibushan in 1954, Commander De L’ordre de L’e toile Noire, France in 1956 and Order of Jewel of Sikkim in 1973.
Unfortunately for the Chogyal, due to serious differences which ensued with the demand of repoll in one booth by Kazi Lhendup Dorji and Mr. Krishna Chandra Pradhan, the Chogyal had to face the people’s agitation in 1973 launched by the Joint Action Committee with the tacit blessings of the Government of India. This people’s political movement spearheaded by Kazi Lhendup Dorji finally resulted in Sikkim joining the mainstream as 22nd State of India in 1975.
He passed away in 1982 a lone death, when his kingdom was no more with him and when his wife and children had left him. He will always be remembered for his administrative mind of state and as a ruler who had a heart for the development of Sikkim.