Pau Karma Wangchuk

Pau Karma Wangchuk
Pau Karma Wangchuk performing a rice divination, 2006. Photo by Sarah Sifers.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Foundation for Shamanic Studies Living Treasure Pau Karma Wangchuk on the evening of January 26, 2008.

After his initial calling to shamanism when he was 8 years old, Pau Wangchuk spent the next eighty years of his life treating all patients who presented themselves for healing in the Tibetan refugee camp in Nepal where he settled after fleeing the Chinese invasion of 1959. In the 1980's, stories of his healing abilities reached His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who summoned Pau Wangchuk to Dharamsala India to treat the Tibetans living in exile and to be honored by His Holiness. He continued to treat patients right up until the time of his death.

Pau Wangchuk's family wants to honor him by completing the seven weeks of funeral rituals that are an integral part of Tibetan Buddhism. Special ceremonies to honor Pau Wangchuk will be held during the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th weeks, following his death, at the Monastery in his refugee camp. Also, a special Thangka (painting of deity on cloth) of Dechen Shingkoe and a statue of Jamphel Yang will be created for the 7th week ceremony. These objects, which were divined by the monks, will represent Pau Wangchuk and will be placed in his home so that his family can continue to make offerings in his honor. The family also wants to send offerings to His Holiness' Monastery in Dharamsala in Pau Wangchuk's name. All of these offerings are designed to help Pau Wangchuk to safely transition through the Bardo and into his next incarnation.

Pau Wangchuk's family sends their heartfelt thanks for all of the support that Michael Harner and the Foundation for Shamanic Studies have provided over the years. Any help that Foundation members can provide at this point in time to help the family complete all of the necessary ceremonies in Pau Wangchuk's name would be greatly appreciated.

Sarah Sifers
February 2008


Pau Wangchuk's family wishes to express their deep gratitude to all of you who responded to the request for donations to help Pau Wangchuk's family honor him according to their traditions. Your donations were received by the Foundation and passed to Sarah Sifers, FSS Field Associate.

Sarah Sifers has forwarded your donations and the Foundation's contribution to Pau Wangchuk's family in Nepal. Your generosity makes it possible for all of the traditional funeral rituals to be completed. Thank you.

Red Border

Last Report on FSS Living Treasure, Pau Karma Wangchuk
from Sarah C. Sifers, Ph.D., FSS Field Associate

Indigenous Lenses
A non-profit production company

December 12, 2007

Michael Harner, Ph.D.
Founder and President
The Foundation for Shamanic Studies
PO Box 1939
Mill Valley , CA 94942

Dear Michael,

Pau Karma Wangchuk Pau Karma Wangchuk & son reading about shamanism, 2007. Photo by Sarah Sifers.

I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to Nepal, where I was able to deliver the Foundation for Shamanic Studies’ annual stipend to FSS Living Treasure Pau Karma Wangchuk.

I am very happy to report that I found Pau Wangchuk in both excellent health and spirits. He sends his highest regards and deepest gratitude for the on-going support that FSS provides to his family. Because of your support, Wangchuk and his family are able to buy food, pay their utility bills and purchase the medicine that Wangchuk needs for his nebulizer. The only other means of support for his family is the money he earns treating patients who come seeking help. This he does willingly, but, considering he is almost 88 years old, his ability to work full-time is somewhat limited.

This past year was very kind to Pau Wangchuk. His daughter, who lives in India, came for a one month visit. She traveled with her husband and three children. It had been ten years since Wangchuk and his daughter had seen each other and the first time Wangchuk met his grandchildren. During my time in Nepal, he shared many stories of seeing his daughter, meeting his grandchildren and how thrilled he was that the reunion had finally come to pass after so many years apart.

The other positive news was that his son’s wife had also come home. She had returned to her village over a year ago to complete her education and while she was gone, the care of Wangchuk and his wife (who is deaf and blind) had fallen on his son’s shoulders. With the return of his daughter-in-law, Wangchuk was once again being well tended.

Pau Karma Wangchuk Pau Karma Wangchuk performing a treatment, 2007. Photo by Sarah Sifers.

In September, Nepal was inundated with an unusual amount of rainfall. This resulted in catastrophic landslides near Wangchuk’s refugee camp. These landslides destroyed the camps source of water. The only way the people in the camp could get water was to haul it from the nearest river. Last February, during Losar (the Tibetan New Year), His Holiness the Dalai Lama had announced that the earth spirits were angry and that all construction that would disturb the earth needed to be stopped for one year. Unfortunately, not everyone in the camp heeded his request and Wangchuk believes this is why the mountains slid, destroying not only the water line but most of the local crops. What wasn’t wiped out by the landslide was later destroyed by a freak hail storm in November that left a foot of hail.

One of my favorite encounters with Wangchuk concerned his hair. He is blessed with a head of black hair. Yet during one of my visits with him, he requested that I check the markets and locate some white hair dye. His complaint was that people did not believe he was as old as he claims because his hair had not turned white. I thought he was teasing me at first, until I showed up empty handed during my next visit. I was unsuccessful locating any in near the camp, so my goal is to find a box of white hair dye here in the states and surprise him next year.

Warmest regards,

Sarah C. Sifers, Ph.D.
FSS Field Associate