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Trüchu: Blessed Water

Purification through meditation and ablution to wash away defiling elements are important practices in tantric Buddhism. Sanctified water is used alongside visualization and mantras to ritually cleanse a person of emotional defilements, karmic impurities, physical pollutants, problems, and negativities. The blessed water, trüchu (ཁྲུས་ཆུ་), that is given out freely in Bhutan’s temples represents one example of water imbued with special qualities being used for spiritual purification. The practice of trüchu is akin to trüsöl in that they both are cultural mechanisms of purification, but while trüsöl  is a purification ritual, trüchu is a purification offering.

The water and its constituent ingredients

According to manuals that describe how to make trüchu, the water used has to have the eight qualities: it must be cool, clear, clean, light, sweet, soothing, and harmless to the throat and stomach. Many ingredients believed to have cleansing and/or nourishing power are then added to the water but the precise variety and quantity of the ingredients varies according to the specific tradition and also on the particular purpose of the ablution ritual. Ingredients include fragrances (such as saffron, white and red sandal, camphor, or musk), medicinal herbs (including jasmine, lily, or rose), grains (like wheat, barley, mustard, rice, or soya) precious metals (such as gold, silver, pearl, coral, ruby, sapphire, or copper) as well as five essences: salt, butter, honey, sugar and oil. For some esoteric formulae, five secret nectars are also added. The ingredients are combined and made into pills, powder or granules, and added then to the water.

However, in most Bhutanese temples, the trüchu is simply made from clean water with a slight amount of saffron that imparts a bright yellow colour and mild fragrance. On certain occasions or at particular temples, lamas may add sacred substances made by mixing specific combinations of the ingredients listed above.

Sanctifying the water

The water and added ingredients are believed to have the material power to purify and nourish. These characteristics are further heightened to include spiritual cleansing by performing visualizations and chanting of prayers and mantras over the liquid. The water is them placed in a vase made of precious metals and adorned with cover and decorations before distributing its contents to the public. Throughout the Himalayas, there are different ceremonies that cultivate the power of trüchu but the most common in Bhutan is based on Buddha Vajravidārana or Dorjé Namjom (རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣམ་འཇོམས་). The ritual involves visualising the vase as the Buddha’s mansion, emitting rays that invite the Buddhas from all ten directions, and then worshipping the Buddhas and imbibing their blessings so that the Buddhas dissolve into the water in the vase and transform it into a liquid elixir that can cleanse impurities, cure illnesses, dispel troubles, nourish the body and mind, fill one with bliss, and eventually lead one to enlightenment. The priest or lama who prepares the trüchu undertakes these visualisations and recites the relevant mantra(s) to cultivate sufficient power and obtain the Buddhas’ blessings.

The act of purification

Once the trüchu water is ready, it is poured over the beneficiary, who is also guided through the visualization process. The person must envision the nectar of enlightenment as washing away all internal and external impurities; in particular, that the nectar of six perfections of giving, discipline, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom wash away the negativities of stinginess, lack of discipline, hatred, laziness, distraction, and ignorance. Special trü rituals are performed to cure people of various illnesses associated with contamination and impurities. However, most Bhutanese regularly experience trüchu when they visit a temple or a monastery.

Temple caretakers serve trüchu to visitors by pouring out a tiny amount from the ritual vase into the visitors’ cupped right palms. When one is provided trüchu in this manner, one must receive it respectfully and consider it the elixir of enlightenment invested with the power of the Buddhas to cleanse one’s physical, verbal and mental defilements, illnesses, troubles, and karmic impurities. First one sips it from the cupped palm with the belief that it removes internal negativities. Then, one places the right hand on the head so that the remaining drops are absorbed there. When this happens, one must imagine that one is being drenched in soothing shower of spiritual nectar that washes away all physical negativities and problems. The palm is then wiped on the head, chest, or other part of the body considered ‘clean’ as a mark of respect for water’s power.

Trüchu is an expedient way of using a simple resource like water to practice mindfulness and meditation to mentally cleanse oneself of all negative thoughts, emotions, actions, and states of the body, speech and mind.



Karma Phuntsho is the Director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’s Cultural Documentation and Research, the President of the Loden Foundation and the author of The History of Bhutan. The piece was initially published in Bhutan’s national newspaper Kuensel as part of a series called “Why We Do What We Do.”


Bhutan Cultural Library Bhutan
Trüchu: Blessed Water

An introduction to the functions and constituent parts of thruechu, a mix of water and various substances used for purification throughout Bhutan and the Himalayas.

Collection Bhutan Cultural Library
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)
Author Karma Phuntsho
Editor Ariana Maki
Year published 2017
Original year published 2016
UID mandala-texts-39361