While the world today celebrates Mandela's life and remembers him in million different ways, I, a Bhutanese pay tribute to his great life by comparing him to Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Zhabdrung lived four hundred years before Mandela yet there is something so common between the two- Zhabdrung unified Bhutan as a nation state while Mandela unified different races to make South Africa one strong nation. Zhabdrung fled to Bhutan to escape arrest in Tibet where he was supposed to be the rightful leader. But after he became powerful in Bhutan he never sought vengeance against people in Tibet who wronged him, just as Mandela reconciled with people who imprisoned him 27 years.
Today, when Mandela dies I am reminded of Zhabdrung's death. He died in 1651 but his death had to be kept secret for 54 years fearing his absence might disrupt the unity of Bhutan. He was the unifier and things were in place because of his presence. Country saw numerous civil wars and assassinations of leaders after that until monarchy system was established in 1907. Zhabdrung couldn't be immortal and therefore the unity and peace he brought were threatened after his death.