Choegyal Norsang (Prince Norsang)

Prelude

Long ago, in the southern part of India, there were two kingdoms called the Northern Abode of Prosperity and the Southern Abode of Racial Purity. The Southern Kingdom came to be ruled by a despotic and unwise ruler known as “Shakpa Shony”. He refused to follow the righteous path of Buddhism, preferring to consult demons and imps for advice. Consequently, his Kingdom was plagued with problems such as drought and disease. Even the nagas (Water spirits) who lived in the sacred lake left the Kingdom to take sanctuary in the Northern Abode of Prosperity.

The Northern Kingdom was ruled by old King Norchen and young Prince Norsang, rulers who sincerely practiced the Dharma.

The Plot

The King of the Southern Kingdom, wishing to avert further catastrophe in his land and convince the nagas to return to the sacred lake, sought the help of the greatest sorcerer in the land, the awesome “Holder of the Black Serpent in the Mouth”. After a long journey, ten wizards from the King’s court found the sorcerer and requested his assistance. He agreed, and set off to the Northern Abode of Prosperity, to the Great Lotus life-force Lake where the nagas of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were now residing.

The Queen of the nagas has no wish to return to the Southern Kingdom and so entreats a poor fisherman who lives by the lake to protect them from the sorcerer. The brave man agrees to do so and the Queen of the nagas, impressed by his courage, gives him a magic whetstone to sharpen his sword. With this magic assistance, the fisherman slays the sorcerer and saves the nagas. To express their gratitude, the nagas present the fisherman with a “wish fulfilling gem”.

The fisherman was unsure what to do with such a precious gift, so he takes the advice of the old Brahmin couple who live with him, and takes the gem to the holy hermit who lives alone in the “Happy Mountain Cave”. The hermit is over five hundred years old, and the fisherman, amazed at his apparent immortality, asks the hermit how such a thing is possible.

The hermit confides that he regularly swims in the “Brahma Bathing Pool”, where even the goddesses bathe occasionally. The fisherman begs the hermit to lead him to the pool and so they depart together on an auspicious day. Whilst at the pool, the fisherman sees the most beautiful goddess, Yidrok Lhamo, and desires to have her. Again with the help of the nagas, he manages to capture the beautiful goddess Yidrok. The union between the fisherman and the goddess is, of course, impossible and the wise hermit advises him to make a gift of the goddess to the young Prince of the Northern Abode of Prosperity, Norsang. Prince Norsang and his court is amazed at the sagacity of the fisherman who has saved the kingdom, protected the lake and presented such a marvelous woman.

The Prince and the goddess soon fall in love, marry in a grand ceremony, and live blissfully for a while in the “Palace of Happiness and Fulfilled Desires”. The only problem is the Prince’s five hundred other wives, who feel very jealous of the attention lavished on his new bride.

With the help of the evil High Priest, Black Hari, they invent a convincing story about an impending war, which Prince Norsang believes.

He sets off with his army, leaving the goddess alone and vulnerable. Whilst Prince Norsang is off fighting a battle, which he of course wins, the jealous Queens back in the Northern Kingdom try to rid themselves of the beautiful goddess, Yidrok.

Black Hari, the corrupt high priest, causes a dream to enter old King Norchen’s mind when he is sleeping. The King asks the high priest’s interpretation the next day. Black Hari explains that the dream means that the Kingdom is threatened by a great evil, an evil he can counter by the performance of certain magic rites. For these rituals, he needs some strange ingredients, including the heart of a celestial being.

Thus, Yidrok’s life is suddenly in danger. All the five hundred wives march down to the Palace and scream for the heart of the goddess. When Yidrok hears this, she begs the old Queen for her tiara and flies off into the sky, much to the rage and frustration of the Black priest and the evil Queens.

Yidrok flies to the “Happy Mountain Cave” where the old hermit lives and tells him what has befallen her. Giving him a ring that was a gift from the Prince, she begs him to return it to Norsang if he comes this way in search of her. Then she leaves for her heavenly home, where she is reunited with her family.

When Prince Norsang returns home after the battle to find his beloved wife gone because of the actions of his high priest and wives, he is full of grief and anger. He rides away immediately, vowing not to return until he is reunited with his wife once more.

Receiving a helpful sign from the gods, Prince Norsang finds his way to the hermit’s cave. The hermit gives Norsang the ring and Yidrok’s instructions. After many trials and obstacles, Norsang finally arrives at the goddess’s heavenly home and is reunited with his love.

Yidrok’s father, the horse-headed king, is unwilling to let his precious Yidrok return to the earth. He devises a series of tests to determine whether Prince Norsang is worthy of such a heavenly prize. The Prince triumphs in all these competitions, and the gods are obliged to allow the goddess to return to the land of men.

Together they return to the Kingdom, much to the joy of the old King and Queen. The evil deeds of the Black Priest and the wives are exposed and they are duly punished according to their iniquities. The old King Norchen relinquishes his throne to Norsang, whose coronation is a huge and spectacular event. The kingdom is ruled wisely by Norsang and he and his celestial Queen live out their lives in marital bliss.