Drukpa in Bhutan

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* Data can be from various sources including official census, agencies, and local research. Data from these sources can sometimes differ even by orders of magnitude. Joshua Project attempts to present a conservative, balanced estimate.

Introduction / History

Drukpa people are dispersed across the three Asian nations of Bhutan, India and Nepal. One source states, 'They inhabit hilly terrains of high altitude marked by extreme cold, high rainfall, medium snowfall and dense forests.' The Drukpa live in the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim and West Bengal. The first Drukpa moved to India during the latter half of the 7th century, when they conducted raids into today's north-east India. Some Drukpa have migrated into Nepal where they primarily operate as traders out of Kathmandu. They also live throughout Bhutan but are especially concentrated in the western districts of Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Gasa, Punakha, Chhukha, Dagana and Wangdue Phodrang.
The language of the Drukpa is called Dzongkha, which comes from two words, kha ('language ') and Dzong ('fortress '). Therefore, Dzongkha is 'the language spoken in the fortress '. These stone fortresses 'dominate the mountainous landscape of Bhutan from east to west and have traditionally been both centers of military and political power as well as centers of learning.'

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Drukpa do not refer to their country as Bhutan, but rather as Druk-yul— 'land of the thunder dragon '. In India, some of the Drukpa have not been given status as a Scheduled Tribe, while others appear under the generic term Bhotia, which includes various groups of Tibetan origin.
Bhutan was closed off to the rest of the world for centuries, as the dragon held this group under his tight grip of Buddhism. In India, where at least five ministries are working among them, there are an estimated 210 Drukpa Christians. One Drukpa recalls how he came to faith in Christ: 'In 1992 I was riding my motorbike on a very clear sunny day. Suddenly, my vision went blank followed by a gripping sense of darkness. I crashed my motorbike and could not move half of my body. I was a devout Buddhist and faithfully served our god. I sent my wife to ask the lama concerning my condition. The lama told my wife that some people had sent an evil spirit to kill me and that I would die within a week. My sister-in-law was already a Christian. When she heard of my condition, she brought along her Christian friends to my house. They started praying and applied oil on the paralyzed part of my body. Immediately I was able to move. I was completely healed. They preached Christ to me, and I readily gave my life to Jesus.' He later went on to help translate the New Testament into the Dzongkha language, and he has personally led more than 100 Drukpa people to faith in Christ.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Drukpa believe that they have been Buddhists since the Tibetan sage Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in AD 746. Only in recent years has the gospel started to gain a foothold. Today, between 500 and 600 Christian Drukpa people live in Bhutan, where they 'face many hardships such as ostracism from their family and friends, educational and job advancement difficulties and isolated job placement. Young men are required to make an oath of allegiance to Buddha at the age of 15. '

What Are Their Needs?

The Drukpa believers need the power and boldness of the Lord to stay the course.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Holy Spirit to move mightily among Drukpa Christian believers in Bhutan, giving them power to stand up for Christ despite persecution.
Pray for Drukpa disciples to make more disciples.
Pray for a movement to Christ among the Drukpa in Nepal, Bhutan and India.

Scripture Prayers for the Drukpa in Bhutan.


Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Drukpa
People Name in Country Drukpa
Alternate Names Bhotia; Bhutanese; Drukpu; Druku; Dukpa; Jonkha; Krukke; Lachengpa; Lachungpa; Ngalong; Ngarung; Rezongkha; Sikami; Thompa; Zongkhar; द्रकपा
Population this Country 222,000
Population all Countries 238,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 4
People ID 16745
ROP3 Code 111992
ROP25 Code 302194
ROP25 Name Drukpa
Country Bhutan
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 36  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Ha, Paru, Punakha districts   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Total States on file 4
Largest States
Country Bhutan
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 36  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Ha, Paru, Punakha districts.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Total States 4
  Western 171,000
  Central 43,000
  Southern 6,200
  Eastern 500
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent *
100.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
* From latest Bhutan census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Primary Language Dzongkha (222,000 speakers)
Language Code dzo   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Dzongkha (222,000 speakers)
Language Code dzo   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Dzongkha
Photo Source Steve Evans - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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