In the eighth Tibetan month, after a long retreat, the monks of Meru Monastery engaged themselves in various sporting activities and performances during the three-day picnic. It is during this festival that they perform different Operas to the general public. The Monks performed four Operas including Dhepa Denpa, Jingpa Chenpo, Jigten Wangchuck, and Chungpo Dhonyoe and Dhondup.
In 1904 during the onset of war with British India, His Holiness the 13th Dalia Lama fled to Mongolia. As a prayer for the early return, the monastery wished to perform an Opera. Delighted as such a novel idea Regent gave the permission and thus introduced performing tradition to Meru Monastery.
In 1909 it was for the first time presented before the 13th Dalia Lama. It was later presented during the joyous enthronement occasion of His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama at the age of six. Since then it was never performed again. Ven Sherap Jungney of Menu monastery taught the artiste of TIPA, who presented this Opera for the first time in exile after a gap of 4 decades in 1993.
One day the queen had a very beautiful dream. Where the rays of sun and moon protrude into her womb, as the vast rainbow arched over the sky. And petals of flowers showered over the entire kingdom. Taking it as an auspicious sign the king was delighted to hear the pleasant dream. Nine months and eight days later, the queen gives birth to a wonderful child, displaying the rare characteristic of maturity and fondness for spiritual practice.He exhibited a remarkable affinity to religious articles and eventually develops deep faith in the teachings of Buddha.
Sensing the child’s love for spiritual pursuance, three holy priests named him ‘Dhepa Denpa’ meaning ‘unflinching faith’.For a long time, the kingdom enjoys peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, a demonic couple feels jealous about the happiness that had been bestowed upon the kingdom due to his wise rule vows to bring misery to this land. With their magical powers, they turned themselves into two wild boars and enter the royal garden to destroy the life plant of king and queen.
The Prince overlooking the royal garden at times saw the rampage. Rushing out he killed the black boar, but unfortunately, it has already uprooted the life plant of the queen.
Following days queen dies after falling into series of illnesses. On a fateful day, Dakini appeared at her funeral to perform special rites and finally leads her spirits into the celestial realm.
Meanwhile, the enraged Prince pursued the chequered boar, which had escaped and transformed into a beautiful lady. As he searches the royal garden, he came across an exceptionally beautiful woman. Dismissing her fishy appearance, the Prince rejects her advances. Unfortunately, his father, the mighty Emperor tenderly falls in love with her. Despite the Prince’s suspicion and disproval, the king marries her. Having gained access into the palace, the evil new queen ‘Nednar’ sets out to destroy the main obstacle the Prince Dhepa Denpa.
One day, the wicked queen feigns illness of an incurable disease. The desolate and dejected King Bangha consulted her to the best of the medical practitioner in the land, but all fail. At last, she concocted him of the healing power of a medicinal flower called Kushana from Lanka, the land of demons. Eventually, forcing the king to send Prince to fetch this magical medicinal flower.
After three years and three months of the hazardous journey, he reaches the outskirts of Sri Lanka. At the edges of the city, he meets the local deity who warns him that Kushana is not a flower but the daughter of the ten-headed king of Lanka. Instead of putting his life in danger, he advises the Prince to return home. However, upon the persistence of Prince, the local deity finally provided him a magical elephant and urges him to depart on the fifteenth day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar. An auspicious day on which even the demons fast.
As the Prince continues his way, he came upon two snakes, white and black fighting viciously. Feeling greater compassion for them, Prince saves their life by separating them. Snakes are nagas, who manifested into humans and expresses their gratitude by presenting Prince with seven pieces of turquoise.
Great walls and iron gates on all sides impressively protected the city of Lanka. Arriving at the first Iron Gate the Prince met a huge demonic guard. The Prince offers him a piece of turquoise to put around his neck and eventually lets the Prince pass. He repeated the process until he reaches the seventh gate. He asks where the king resides, a question, that no one dares to ask. They answered him of the whereabouts of the palace and bid him enter the eastern gate.
As he enters inside, he finds the ten-headed king seated on a throne covered with human skin. It was a terrible sight indeed; most people would shriek and quake with fear. Each head asks a different question, to which the Prince answered with wisdom and logic. The King immediately began realizing the special charisma of the Prince.
As the king was discoursing with the Prince a massive thunderbolt strikes, destroying the hills and shaking the kingdom to the core. Terrified at such a frightening occurrence, the king and his servants kneel before the Prince and vows to abandon killing and follow the teachings of Buddha. He even offers his daughter to the young Prince.
As the Prince retreats into his innermost room, the daughter Kushana was waiting with incense in hand and songs in his praise. She metamorphosed him with a lotus that blooms in mud but grows pure and free from muddiness. She sang he was no doubt the reincarnation of Chenresig, the God of compassion. The young Prince in return praises her beauty and tells her that she sure is the manifestation of Goddess Tara.
As the people of Lanka realize the possible departure of Kushana, they were outraged. Thus, to prevent her departure, they put series of obstacles before the Prince. However, with the help of Princess the Prince overcome all fatal trials.
Eventually, the Prince and Princess prepare to leave for Bengal. Kushana advises the Prince to ask the king for the ‘wish-fulfilling gem’, which he duly does. On the way to Bengal, two Naga kings provided the Prince with two lovely maidens, Yangshana and Sumshana.
As the entourage reaches Bengal, the king is delighted and tells his queen of their arrival. The wicked queen is instead most unhappy and thus devises seemingly more impossible tasks for Prince. Armed with a ‘wish-fulfilling gem’ the Prince completes all tasks with ease.
After failing all attempts, finally, the demonic queen gives up and pretends to recover from her illness. She even praises him and prays that she might be able to repay his kindness one day.
Taking it as a mere ploy to win the favour of Prince, Kushana suggested to him that since she is brought to Bengal as a medicinal therapy, she should be allowed to do her work.
She takes the queen before the King’s court and asks her what race she belongs to. Kushana then says that since the angels are not happy, therefore she must bathe in a special pond. Taking the queen to the sacred pond she asks the black naga’s daughter to fetch her relatives from the netherworld. Suddenly a red ox with one horn appeared from the depth of the pond and pierces his horn through the demonic queen’s body, killing her instantly.
Later as the king realizes and understands the full story of his evil and deceitful queen, he was emotionally disturbed and thus decided to devote his remaining years under holy Guru Nya Nyen Delwa. Prince Dhepa Denpa takes all the three girls as his wives and each boar him a son. He lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years, ruling his kingdom wisely and justly.