The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:30 am

Part 1 of 2


LAMA receiving homage of Children.1

LAMAISM is not merely a monastic brotherhood; it is a truly popular religion, deeply pervading and dominating the life of the people.

On it the Tibetan builds his daily fears and hopes, and it is not without some elevating influence. The current of Buddhism which runs through its tangled paganism has brought to the Tibetan most of the little civilization which he possesses, and has raised him correspondingly in the scale of humanity, lifting him above a life of wild rapine and selfishness, by setting before him higher aims, by giving milder meanings to his mythology, by discountenancing sacrifice, and by inculcating universal charity and tenderness to all living things.

On the hill I came across many Tibetan pilgrims intent on displaying their religious zeal and piety, and their behavior more than ever convinced me that a strong fanaticism characterises the people of that land. Climbing alone was no easy task, and was one that strained even the sturdiest of legs, and yet I noticed several young pilgrims of both sexes performing the journey according to the ‘one-step-one-bow’ method, commonly adopted as a penance. As for me I felt greatly fatigued, though I was riding on the yak, for the atmosphere in that elevated region is very rare and was highly trying to my lungs. When I had ascended the hill for about five miles my respiration became very rapid and I was much exhausted. I therefore rested for awhile, and refreshed myself by taking some medicine. It was while I was taking rest that I noticed a burly fellow frantically confessing to and worshipping the snowy Tise.

My guide informed me that that man was a native of Kham, a place notorious as being a haunt of brigands and highwaymen. He really looked like a typical highwayman, with ferocious features and fierce eyes, and was performing his penance in a loud voice. He must have been a notorious figure even in that land of universal crime.

I was highly amused to find that this fellow was doing penance not for his past offences alone, but also to obtain immunity for any crimes he might commit in future. His extraordinary confession was something in this way: “O Saint Kang Rinpoche! O great Shākyamuni! O all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten quarters of the world and in the time past, present and future! I have been wicked in the past. I have murdered a number of men. I have taken a great deal that did not belong to me. I have robbed husbands of their wives. I have quarrelled ever so many times, and I have also thrashed people. Of all those great sins I repent, and so I solemnly perform my penance here on this hill for them. I believe that by this act of confession and repentance, I have been absolved from those sins. I also perform here penance for my prospective sins, for I may in future repeat them, may rob people of their goods and wives, or thrash and beat them.”

This fellow, I thought, was decidedly original in his conception of penance, and surpassed other sinners by performing a prospective repentance instead of, as in the ordinary method, confining himself to penitence for his past sins. Yet I was told that this convenient mode of repentance was universal in the robber district of Kham....

At last we reached the eastern part of Tise and arrived at the Zun-tul phuk, which means the cave of miracles, founded by the hermit Jetsun Milaraspa, one of the most venerated saints in the Tibetan hagiology. Various interesting traditions are told about this saint, but these I need not give here, as they are too technical. I may say, however, that Milaraspa is said to have led a highly austere life, and that he did much to diffuse the true tenets of Buddhism. He was also a great poet, the only poet who figures in the long history of Tibet. His biography therefore reads like a romance or a great epic, full of sublime conceptions. Milaraspa being such a unique personality in the history of Tibet, his name has attracted the attention of western explorers, and extracts from his poems have been translated. After returning to Darjeeling I explained his poems to a certain Russian traveller and writer, who translated them into his national tongue. He was much delighted with the information which I gave him, and told me that my translation enabled him to interpret something of the spirit of the great Tibetan epic.

We stayed one night at that temple, and on the following day proceeded along the banks of the river Ham-hung-gi-chu (shoe-dropping river) and reached a place which contained a temple called Gyang-tak-gonpa. This temple is dedicated to Dorje Karmo, the Goddess named White Vajra. The place is situated about one mile off the road and near by is a postal station named Darchen Tazam. This station contains about thirty houses built of stone, besides about a dozen tents pitched here and there. It is a business as well as a revenue centre for the whole district. I lodged at one of the houses, and here the guide took leave of me. That night I performed my usual religious meditation, and on the morning of the following day my pilgrim companions rejoined me.

The station lies on a steppe between the north-western corner of Lake Mānasarovara and the north-eastern corner of Lake Lakgal. On the following day our party left the station, and proceeded in a south-easterly direction, to the west of Mānasarovara. We advanced in the same direction the next day, till we reached the foot of a snowy peak named Bon-Ri. This is, as I have mentioned before, a place sacred to the Bon, or ancient religion of Tibet. I saw a big temple in the place, which I found to be not a temple belonging to that old religion, as I had expected, but one belonging to the New Sect. It looked a magnificent establishment as seen from a distance, but we did not go near it. This neighborhood produced various kinds of mushrooms, and some which were growing in damp places were gathered by the women of the party. They collected large quantities of the fungus, which was fried with butter and eaten with salt. I tasted it and found it delicious. By that time we had left the limits of the sacred region, and my male companions no longer considered themselves as pilgrims, but as men who had to face the stern realities of the material world. They declared that they must resume their worldly business, and proposed to start by shooting deer. It seemed to me that their shooting not infrequently included extraordinary kinds of game, and I suspected, on good grounds, that the three brothers had now and then turned highwaymen and either robbed or murdered travellers. I therefore began to be afraid of them, and thought that I had better separate myself from them on some plausible pretext, and without awakening their suspicion.

On the following day we reached the brow of a hill, and there one of the brothers in my presence shot an animal called in Tibet changku. The shooting was done merely for pleasure and not with the object of eating its flesh or using its skin. The changku, or wolf, resembles a large species of dog with rather thin fur, which in summer turns a fine brownish color. In winter the color is said to be a whitish grey. The ears are erect and the face appears ferocious. It is said that this wild animal will attack solitary travellers and even kill them. When the brothers brought down the animal their eyes gleamed with delight, and I secretly thought that their eyes would show that same cruel gleam when they murdered a wealthy traveller.

The next day, September 14th, snow again fell, and so we had to stay in the same place. The hunting-dogs went out of their own accord on a rabbit-hunting expedition, and came back with their mouths stained with blood. They must have hunted down some rabbits and made a meal of them. The snow ceased, and we left the place on the following day. Proceeding eastwards, we now came to a long undulating hill, and soon reached its summit. Here the head of the family said that our pilgrimage must end at this spot, and when asked why at this particular place, he pointed to Lake Mānasarovara, situated to the west, and also to the snow-capped peak of Manri that stood due south from the middle of the Lake, and told me that we should here bid farewell and express our good wishes to the sacred region, for this was the last point where we could have a full view of the Holy Place, and that we should express in our prayers an earnest desire to visit this sacred region again in the future. Saying this, he bowed down and I and all the rest followed his example.

When I thought that I (the first Japanese who had ever come to visit this district from a remote country thousands of miles away) was now about to take leave of Lake Mānasarovara after having been in its neighborhood for several days, a peculiar sensation came over me, and I stood gazing at the lake for some time. As we were going down the hill, my host told me that as they had already departed from the Holy Place they should now earnestly engage themselves in their worldly pursuits; therefore they thought it time that I should leave them. We soon reached a little encampment of some twelve or thirteen tents, and thither I wended my way to observe the condition of the small community.

Mendicancy was well suited for satisfying my curiosity, and as a mendicant I entered the encampment. My companions remained in the same place that day and the next, the brothers occupied in shooting. On the latter day I was reading a Chinese Buddhist Text, and the two women were outside engaged in some earnest talk. At first I did not pay any attention to what they were saying, but when my ears caught the word ‘Lama’ pronounced several times my curiosity was awakened. Dawa was saying that she had heard the Lama, that is myself, say that her mother was probably dead. She wished, she continued, to ascertain this of the Lama, and so she had been pressing him for some definite information. Her aunt received this remark with a laugh. He must have seen, she said, that Dawa was in love with him, and had therefore told her this fib in joke. She must not mind what the Lama told her. However, the aunt continued, her husband had been telling her that he must make the Lama marry Dawa, and that should he refuse, her husband would kill him. It was evident that this last portion of the conversation was intended for my ears, for the aunt spoke in a loud voice.

When I heard that intimidatory warning I at first felt alarmed, but the next moment I recovered my tranquillity. I thought that if I should suffer death for having resisted a temptation, my death would be highly approved by the holy Founder. He would be displeased if I should disobey my conscience for the mere fear of death. Internally praying for strength of mind to resist the temptation, even at the risk of my life, I resumed my reading. However nothing occurred to me that day, nor the next, when we struck our tent and proceeded for about five miles close to the brow of a hill, from which I saw at a short distance what appeared to be houses, and I was told that this was another postal station called Tokchen Tazam. Again I visited the place in the disguise of a mendicant priest. I soon returned and found Dawa alone in the tent; the rest were all gone out hunting, so she told me. I at once saw that the conspiracy was developing, and that matters were growing quite critical.

I concluded that I must do my best to dissuade the girl from pursuing the object of her misplaced affection. Some spiritual affinity must have brought me into the company of this girl, so it seemed to me that I was bound to administer an earnest expostulation, so that she might recover from her erring fancy. So thinking, I took my seat in the tent. As soon as I did so, she brought me some mushrooms she had collected for me in the morning, for she said: “You seemed to be very fond of them.” I thanked her for her kindness, took all the mushrooms and a cup of baked flour, and then set myself to read my books. The girl stopped me, saying that she had something which she must tell me, for she had heard something which filled her with fear. Then she narrated what one of her uncles, that is one of my male companions, had said about his intention to force me to marry his niece. When she had concluded her story, I told her with the greatest composure that I should be rather glad than afraid to be killed by the brothers of her father. I had finished my pilgrimage, I added; I had nothing to desire in this world, and I was not in the least afraid to die. Moreover, I continued, I would not harbor any ill-will, even if I should be killed now by her father and uncles. I should rather thank them for hastening my departure to the plane of Bodhisattvas; so I would pray for them when I was enabled to reach that Happy Abode. I would therefore ask to be killed that very evening. The girl seemed surprised to find her revelation producing an effect quite the reverse of what she had expected. She tried to remonstrate with me on what she considered a foolish resolution, and spoke some commonplaces about death and the pleasures of life. Of course I easily refuted them, and at last she gave up the evidently useless task of persuading me.

About four o’clock that afternoon the four returned. They must have listened for some time to the conversation between Dawa and myself, for as soon as they entered the tent, the most wicked of the three brothers severely scolded Dawa for flirting with a man. Upon this, the girl’s father at once took her side, and snappishly told his brother that his Dawa had a father to protect her, and therefore wanted nobody to meddle with her, much less an uncle who had never given her even so much as one bowl of flour since she was born.

The quarrel waxed hotter and fiercer, and the brothers began to abuse each other and to divulge each other’s crimes. One accused the other of being a robber, and of having murdered men at such and such places, and was met with the recriminating accusation of having attempted to rob the Government and of having fled for fear of arrest. The wordy warfare at last developed into actual blows, and the brothers exchanged fisticuffs, and even began to hurl stones at each other. I thought I must interfere, and so I jumped up and attempted to hold back the youngest brother as he was about to spring at Dawa’s father. The fellow struck my cheek with his bony knuckles with such force that I fell, and my whole frame shook with pain. The confusion in the tent had reached its climax, and Dawa was beginning to cry and so was also her aunt. I remained a passive spectator of the rest of this terrible scene, for I had to lie prostrate from the pain. Presently the sun set and the quarrel too spent itself and the night passed without any further outbreak.

The next morning the party broke up, for each brother wanted to go his way, the eldest with his wife, the second with his daughter, and the third alone, as was also the case with me; so we had to disperse, each for his own destination.
One thing that troubled me was the lack of sheep to carry my effects. At last I purchased two at six tanka each, and separating myself from the rest proceeded in the south-easterly direction. One of the brothers started for the north, while I could see the others were retracing the road we had come along.

I had heard before that I must push on rapidly, but I purposely took the south-easterly direction, in order to throw off the scent any of the brothers who might come after me to rob me, or even worse. And so I proceeded in this direction, and by about sunset I reached the brow of a hill, where I was obliged to bivouac in the open, and on a snow-covered plain. The change was too sudden after having lived for so long in the tent, and I could not snatch even one wink of sleep during the night. On the following day, still continuing in the same direction, I reached a small monastery of the name of Sha Chen Khangba, where I remained that day and the next. For the first time since I parted with the brothers and the troublesome women, I felt safe, for I concluded that I was no longer in danger of being pursued by one of the murderous gang. I saw only two priests in the temple, and I spent most of my time in stitching my worn-out boots and clothes.


To interpret correctly the aspirations of Tibetan Lamas, their ideals, or the final goal which they strive to attain, it may safely be said that their main purpose in entering the priesthood is only to procure the largest possible amount of fortune, as well as the highest possible fame in that entirely secluded world of theirs. To seek religious truth and to practise religious austerities with a view to acquiring knowledge and character sufficient to carry out the noble work of delivering men and leading them to salvation, is not at all what they wish to do. If they study, they do so as a means of gaining reputation, of extending their influence, and mainly of accumulating wealth. They simply desire to escape from the painful struggle of life in the world of competition, and to enjoy lazy and comfortable days on earth as well as in heaven. Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand seem to have no conception of the problems of the future life, and there is nothing deep in their religious life. “It is more blessed to receive than to give” is their motto, and hence the monastic life, study and service, in its fullest sense, goes in their eyes for nothing. The reason why these priests and scholars, who ought to be the noblest and most unselfish of all men, have been brought to this state of apostasy, seems to be this.

In Tibet, the social estimation of priest and scholars is made, not according to their learning or virtue, nor yet according to the amount of good they have done for their fellow-men, but entirely according to the amount of property which they possess. Thus, a priest who owns an estate of a thousand dollars, however mean and ignorant he may be, is much more influential and far more highly esteemed in society than a learned and virtuous priest who lives on a small income. They believe in the almighty dollar, and twist S. Paul’s saying: “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I can remove mountains, and have not” money, “I am nothing.” They are earnest therefore in making money, in whatever way they find profitable. Some of them, as I have said, are engaged in trade or industrial enterprises, and others in agriculture or stock-farming. Besides, it is their custom to appropriate to themselves the remuneration which they receive when they visit laymen’s houses for the purpose of chanting the Sacred Text for them, in accordance with their priestly duty. It is pitiful to contemplate the condition of the students who, without scholarship or support, are preparing in the colleges for their degrees. They live hard struggling lives of study in the midst of want, and yet the only stimulus that encourages them is the expectation that they will be able to enjoy the comfortable life of high priests, when they have got through the prescribed course of study and have achieved the Doctorate. They do really suffer, but their sufferings are not, so far as I know, those of the man of self-denial who strives hard and struggles against difficulties for the noble ambition of winning souls to salvation, or for some humanitarian purpose; they are exceedingly patient in suffering, simply with the hope of reaping ease and comfort in the latter part of their lives. After a hard monastic life of some twenty years when they have completed the whole course of study, these poor students will have the honor of getting the Doctor’s degree, a title implying the highest learning, but in undue proportion costly; for besides spending nearly half their lives in toils and struggles to get it, they have to give a grand feast to all their schoolmasters to celebrate their graduation. It is true, the feast consists only of meat gruel, a sort of porridge of meat mixed with rice, but the quantity given is enormous, as there are many capacious stomachs to be filled.

To give a feast of this sort requires some five hundred yen at the very least, each bowlful costing over twenty-five sen. Of course, the poverty-stricken priests cannot possibly provide the money themselves, but fortunately the diploma has its use this time; their credit has so much improved that the wealthy priests who turned up their noses at needy students are very willing now to supply them with the necessary money, simply because they have the degree and chance to pay interest. By the means of this convenient credit transaction they can procure the means of giving the necessary banquet and the wealthy priests get not only credit for their generosity, but also interest for their money. But nothing is more disappointing than the future life of those poor priests, who will probably never succeed in paying off the burden of debt, or, if exceptionally fortunate, they may succeed in doing so only after long and hard struggles.
It is a sad thing to contemplate, but such is the hard lot of most Tibetan priests.

-- Three Years in Tibet, by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi

Unlike, however, the Buddhism of the Burmese, it is not an educational factor, for the Lamas restrict their learning to themselves, as indeed did the Brahmans, and most priestly orders of old, and they contemptuously call the laity "the dark (ignorant) people,"2 "the worldly ones,"3 or "the givers of alms."4 And certainly the last epithet is well deserved, for the Tibetans, while, perhaps, the most priest-ridden people in the world, are amongst the most pious and the most lavish in their religious gifts. The popular name for a Lama is "Father," as with Roman priests.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:30 am

Part 2 of 2

It is surprising, in view of the excessive amount of non-Buddhist elements in Lamaism, to find how deeply the everyday life and notions of the laity are leavened by the Buddhist spirit.

The doctrine of metempsychosis and its Karma enters into the ordinary habits and speech of the people. Their proverbs, folklore,5 songs, and lay dramas, are full of it. Friendships also are explained by them on this principle.

More than once have I been told by some worthy Tibetan that it could not have been mere chance which had brought us together, across so many thousand miles of land and sea; but that we must, in a former life, have been friends, who now have met again in this life, through the force of Karma. Similarly as regards the lower animals. A Tibetan seeing my dog and pony playing good-naturedly together, explained the situation by saying that in a former birth these two must have been mates.

Even practices which are clearly dishonest and sinful, are at times justified on the same principle, or rather by its abuse. Thus the more sordid Tibetan reconciles cheating to his conscience, by naively convincing himself that the party whom he now attempts to defraud, had previously swindled him in a former life, and that justice demands retribution.

Congenital defects such as blindness, dumbness and lameness, and accidents, are viewed as retributions which are due to the individual having, in a previous life, abused or sinned with the particular limb or organ presently affected. Thus a man is blind because he sinned with his eye in a former life. Indeed this is a common dogma of Buddha's own teaching, and forms the basis of the Jatakas or tales of the previous Births of Buddha.

For a like reason, cattle and all other dumb animals are humanely treated; life is seldom wantonly taken. Indeed, the taking of animal life is rather strictly prohibited in Tibet, except in the case of the Yaks and sheep needed for food, for in such a cold climate flesh forms an essential staple of diet, but the butchers6 being thus professional sinners, are the most despised of all classes in Tibet. Wild animals, and even small birds, are seldom killed, nor fish, on account of the religious penalties attached to this crime, hence game is so extremely abundant in the country. Yet human prisoners are, at times, most cruelly tortured; though this probably is owing, in some measure, to the example set by the Chinese, as well as the necessity for some violent punishment to check the commission of crime. Nearly every offence, even to the most heinous, the murdering of a Lama, may be condoned by a fixed scale of fine; but failing the payment of the fine and the extra blackmail to the officials, the prisoner, if not actually killed, is tortured and mutilated, and then usually set free, in order not only to avoid the expense of detainment in jail, but also to serve as a public warning to others. Thus many of the maimed beggars who swarm about Lhasa are criminals who have had their eyes put out or their hands cut off in this way.

The cadre became the primary interpreters of Tibet to the outside world, and the information they obtained and propagated became the basis for much of our modern knowledge of Tibet. But the image which they produced strongly reflects the character and policy aims of these individuals, and the interests and perspectives of the imperial power and its allies within the Lhasa ruling class as they attempted to transform Tibet into a modern nation-state. As the image was advantageous to both power groups, they cooperated in presenting and preserving it. By controlling access to both Tibet, and the body of knowledge built up, the cadre and their Tibetan allies tried to prevent the emergence of opposing images.....

[T]he image resulting from the British perception was, and still is, the dominant one held in political and academic circles. This image was an important legacy of the British presence in Tibet, and continues to shape the European response to Tibet's status today....

[T]he imperial power engaged in a complex process of defining what was 'Tibetan', and what was 'non-Tibetan' as they attempted to transform Tibet into what would have been, in effect, a modern nation-state according to the European understanding of the term....

In seeking ties with Lhasa's ruling elite, the British were implicitly identifying Lhasa as the administrative and political centre of a Tibetan state. But Tibet was not then a nation-state in the European definition. The model of the nation-state was a relatively recent European phenomenon, which may be defined as consisting of a territorial entity, within defined borders, in which a single government was sovereign....

The effect of this classification of identity was to impose conformity to European definitions as a pre-condition for acceptance of elements as 'Tibetan'. The power of definition was appropriated by European authority.....

What was imposed by European classification was a definition which failed to allow for variations such as those occurring in the regions of cultural interface on the periphery of the defined culture. What the British defined as Tibetan was the 'core culture', that of the centre, as represented by their contact with, and allies in, central Tibet. For example, the British expressed their understanding of Tibetan religion in terms which privileged the Gelugpa sect, which predominated in Lhasa and Shigatse, at the expense of sects such as the Bon, whose realms of authority lay in the Tibetan periphery. To the cadre, the area centred on Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse was 'Tibet proper, the seat of the Dalai Lama and his Government'.

Since 1947, it has become increasingly clear that, historically, Tibet included a variety of political and administrative formations, and that a single central administration did not consistently maintain authority there. Tibetan territory included enclaves under the jurisdiction of Bhutan and Sikkim, and, at various times in its history, power centres such as Shigatse conducted dealings with foreign powers without reference to Lhasa.

The principalities which made up Eastern Tibet were particularly reluctant to allow Lhasa to exercise secular authority in their domain, and Lhasa was often, in the Eastern Tibetan perspective, a remote and largely nominal authority. Even the religious authority of Lhasa vested in the leading Gelugpa sect was not necessarily accepted in these areas, where the prevailing sectarian orientation was towards the Nyingma or Bon sects....

Just as Tibet was not a modern nation-state in the sense of having a centralised administration controlled by a single government, it also failed to satisfy the demand that a modern nation-state should have fixed borders.....

Thus geographical boundaries were created, as the European definition of a state required fixed boundaries. Peoples within that boundary were defined as Tibetan, and assumed to share the characteristics of the core culture....

The key element of this sense of collective identity was the Tibetan Buddhist faith, which was an integral part of their social and political systems. The Tibetans described their own identity by the term nang pa, meaning a Buddhist, or an 'insider'. Non-Buddhists, even those of Tibetan race such as the minority Muslim community, were termed 'phyi pa' or 'outsiders'.....

The Tibetan conception of themselves as a political entity was of Tibet as a religious territory, the ideal home of Buddhism. As the primary focus of the Tibetan peoples' sense of identity was their religion, it was the claim to religious authority which legitimised Lhasa's rule, for the Tibetans at least. Thus the Tibetan Government described Tibet in such terms as 'a purely religious country' and 'dedicated to the well-being of humanity... the religious land of Tibet'.....

Bell and MacDonald explained Tibet and its culture in sympathetic and comparative terms designed to portray it as 'familiar'...

The image of Tibet which the British created was multi-faceted, with secondary images (those which support, or have other purposes), around a 'core' image (that which 'gathers and organizes imagery'). The core image was the political one: Tibet becoming a modern nation-state, united under a single government sovereign within its borders, and existing as a friendly neighbour to British India....

The cadre constantly reinforced this core image. Thus typically we read in these works that the 'Dalai Lama is, of course, absolute ruler in all things spiritual as well as temporal.'...

Around this core image were secondary images, designed to reinforce the core image. These could consist of aspects of the core image which were inconsistent with European understanding being presented in positive forms; for example, the Dalai Lama's supreme authority, extreme, and certainly undemocratic by British standards, was defended; 'Naturally there will always be some who from jealousy or other motives criticize one who has the strength of character to assume such autocratic power.'

Other secondary images were subjective judgments whose authority rested on that of their author's empirical observation. Thus, the aristocrats surrounding the Dalai Lama had 'the distinguished bearing and perfect natural manners of an ancient and proud civilization'. Further down the social scale were the 'common people', 'extraordinarily friendly... always cheery', who 'unwashed as they may be... are always laughing'. Certainly, as Richardson notes, with little exaggeration, visitors of different nationalities 'all agree in describing the Tibetans as kind, gentle, honest, open and cheerful': this was one of the attractions of service there. But this portrayal of Tibet in positive and sympathetic terms also served cadre interests by creating the impression of Tibet as a worthy ally.

The works of officers such as Bell and MacDonald played an important part in bringing Tibet into the realm of the 'familiar'. One method they used was a common journalistic device, applying comparisons to translate Tibetan institutions and personalities into familiar images. Lhasa was compared with Rome, the Dalai Lama with the Pope, and Sera and Drepung monasteries with Oxford and Cambridge. Bell even translated Tibetan personal names in an effort to make them more 'familiar'; thus he refers to Tsarong (Shape) as 'Clear Eye'.

Spencer-Chapman was a strong exponent of this technique. He noted, for example, that 'As Salisbury Cathedral towers above the city and plain at its feet, so the Potala completely dominates the vale of Lhasa.' He described how Nayapso la 'looks more like a Scottish loch every day except there is no heather on the hills', and, in common with many other observers, found that Tibetan Buddhist 'ritual and chanting recalls a Roman Catholic High Mass'. This effort to present aspects of Tibet in terms familiar to Europeans was made in the language of the dominant culture with which these authors identified, whether they were British or otherwise. Thus MacDonald described how, 'The climate of the Chumbi Valley is ideal, not unlike that of England', although at the time he wrote this he had never been to England!....

The cadre's greatest influence on the image of Tibet came from their published writings; these reached the widest audience, and had the deepest influence on European thinking. Although the image they projected strongly reflected the Tibetan Government's understanding, it was primarily designed to reflect British interests. Thus it ignored the Tibetan perspective when necessary, just as British policies ignored the perspective of their Tibetan allies when necessary (for example, in regard to Tawang).

To ensure that its agent's writings reflected British interests, government censored them. Thus, the knowledge which the cadre gained from first-hand experience of Tibet passed through levels of selection and of censorship before being released, levels where the presentation of information was shaped by both the personal perspectives of the authors, and government's actual political needs....

While government expected to be able to trust the judgement of its officers as to what information to present to the public, officials were required, by both civil and military regulations additional to the Official Secrets Act, to submit their writings for censorship. Some officers actively supported this system. For example the India Office noted that Macdonald was 'anxious that we should strike out anything that is considered objectionable’. Other officers (and their publishers) were sometimes unaware of this requirement, and were censured if their writings contained information the government wished to restrict.

The Government of India even claimed the power to restrict its officers' private conversations. For example they did not wish to publicise the existence of goldfields in western Tibet, to avoid encouraging prospectors. Captain Rawling, who travelled through western Tibet at the conclusion of the Younghusband Mission, was instructed 'to avoid all reference in conversation to information...regarding the goldfields'.

Arms supplies to Tibet from India were an issue of particular sensitivity, in that they could have been seen as implying recognition of Tibet as an independent state. Hence both Bell and Macdonald's references to these supplies were censored. Where Bell commented on Tibetan troops being 'armed with the new rifles', mention of the source of these rifles (the Government of India) was removed. Macdonald's claim in his manuscript that demands for payment for weapons were a factor in the Panchen Lama's flight was also censored, along with a large section of suggestions on future policy, including support for Tibetan independence. Macdonald was told that it was 'most important that nothing should be said which could tend to damage relations with Tibet or any other foreign power'....

Government's attitude to works which had not been submitted for censorship was inconsistent. When White published Sikkim and Bhutan, he forwarded a copy to government to solicit sales. They considered White 'guilty of a grave act of insubordination and even impertinence' for remarks in his book which they saw as 'vindictive to the Government he served'. (For example, he wrote that 'It is neither a pleasant nor an easy task to have to deliberately deceive people who trusted you, as I had to do'.) Despite this, no action was taken against White. Somewhat surprisingly (given that White criticised the government's policy of withdrawing from involvement in Tibet in the post-Younghusband period, and admitted that the British had, in the case of Sikkim, 'deprived the weaker State of valuable territory'), Viceroy Minto concluded that 'The publication of a few home truths is not altogether disagreeable reading'.

In practice, government could do little to prevent retired officers from writing what they wished. Bell reluctantly agreed to submit his first book for censorship, apparently after being threatened with action under the Official Secrets Act. When government heard he was writing another book they asked to see the proofs, but Bell found he was no longer bound by the Act. having been out of service for more than six years, and refused to submit the proofs. Government considered threatening his pension, but this was legally impossible, and they were forced to 'acquiesce gracefully' to Bell’s uncensored publications. All that could be done was for the India Office to press the Government of India to emphasise to the Political Officers in Sikkim and Nepal that, as these posts were 'closely connected with the affairs of foreign countries, the...Regulations governing publication apply with particular force'....

The Government of India had considerable power to control the flow of information from Tibet into the public sphere. We have seen how they exercised control over access to Tibet, favouring travellers of similar background and outlook to their officials, on the assumption that their discretion could then be relied upon. Following McGovern's journey to Lhasa, government tightened this informal process by adding a further rule to the frontier pass visitors had to sign. Travellers had to agree

not to publish, without the previous consent of the Government of India, any statement, whether in the press or otherwise, regarding his visit to Tibet or based on material obtained during the visit.

When 'knowledge' was released by government, organisations such as the Royal Geographical Society (hereafter referred to as the RGS), and the London Times, functioned unofficially as imperial support structures, by adding a further level of censorship. These bodies acted in close association with the Government of India, in return for which their leaders could expect to be given privileged access to information, events and places. Government even gave direct 'subsidies' to the Reuters news agency in India.  

Arthur Hinks, the long-serving Secretary of the RGS, had close links with many of the Tibet cadre, and played an important role in this process; we have noted how he assisted Bailey's attack on McGovern's reputation. Hinks censored information both before, and after, it was officially censored. When F. Spencer Chapman submitted a paper to the RGS, Hinks forwarded it to the India Office for censorship after 'cutting out a number of things which I am sure you would not like'. There was, he hoped, 'nothing left to which objection could be taken'. When the India Office made further changes, Hinks agreed these were 'very properly removed'.

Government maintained a close relationship with these knowledge-disseminating bodies because articles they published carried great authority, and formed part of the body of 'dominant knowledge'. Although the intended audience for the reception of knowledge produced by the cadre was never clearly specified, it certainly included the sort of audience which would read the Times, and join the RGS. The information they published was understood by its readers to be 'true', because it was based on empirical evidence, and written by persons of similar outlook and class. It represented the 'official' knowledge of their readers' society....

Information control was a two-way process. In addition to controlling information to and from Tibet, the British sought to control the image of the outside world which the Tibetans received. Bell began supplying the exiled Dalai Lama with translated extracts from Indian newspapers and Bailey continued this policy, and also forwarded suitable cuttings from the Times -- for example, reports of religious persecution in Russia....

[T]he image the cadre produced was created by a particular class of officials, those who had passed through public schools, universities or military colleges, Indian civil or military service, and the filtering process of the Tibet cadre. With its essential class base, the Tibet cadre did not admit British 'lower ranks', no matter how experienced or knowledgeable, to the ranks of opinion makers....

We have seen that issues which might reflect badly on the cadre, such as cash payments to influential Tibetans, did not emerge into the public knowledge. There was also a gap between what the cadre themselves knew or believed, and what they divulged, as we have seen with Neame's article, which avoided mentioning both the purpose and the results of his mission. This can also be seen clearly in two cases where Politicals posted to Gyantse formed views which differed significantly from the usual cadre perception. It is significant that neither officer remained in Tibet for more than a few months. They were not therefore, by my definition, accepted members of the Tibet cadre.

The recorded memories of 1933 Gyantse Agent Meredith Worth, suggest an image of Tibet closer to that presented by Communist Chinese sources than to that offered in British sources. Interviewed in 1980. Worth recalled that

My memories are of many cheerful parties in the Fort and in the homes of wealthy families, the dominance and brutality of the Lamas and officials towards the serf population and the prevalence of venereal diseases....It was, therefore, for me a relief to read recently in Han Suyin's book "Lhasa, the Open City" [which promotes a polemically positive view of Communist rule in Tibet] that those conditions no longer exist.

Paul Mainprice confided to his 1944 diary that

I have serious doubts whether Tibet is at all fit for independence and whether the present system of Government should be bolstered up. Would China in control of Tibet really be a very serious menace to India? As we don't seem to do much developing of Tibet, I question whether the Chinese would not be able to do it to our own mutual advantage. Of course the Tibetan aristocracy and officials would not like it, but the peasants preferred the Chinese regime in Eastern Tibet in the early years of this century.

Neither Worth nor Mainprice appear to have expressed these views publicly during their imperial service. They were doubtless aware that views diametrically opposed to those of their superiors would be censored, and were unlikely to advance their careers. This must have acted as an incentive to self-censorship. As a result, the dominant image of Tibet was not affected by alternative views, even those of members of the Political Department....

Mainprice's perspective indicates how the emphasis on relations with Tibet's ruling class resulted in a marginalisation of the voice of the majority of Tibetans, those outside ruling circles. Bell was aware that the peasants were often treated 'abominably' and even admitted in his first book that 'There is no doubt some foundation for the Amban's claim that the poorer classes in Tibet were in favour of China.' But Bell's policy of support for the existing Tibetan leadership meant that this perspective was not represented by the British. The condition of the lower classes was heavily criticised on occasion, Macdonald being particularly critical. But a positive image was maintained by attributing misrule to the era of Chinese domination, and describing how conditions were improving under the Dalai Lama's rule. This positive note was enhanced by the constant stress on the overall happiness and contentment of the peasant class, which is a recurrent theme in British accounts of Tibet, where even 'the slavery was of a very mild type'....

The cadre's early press releases deliberately avoided commenting on policy, and contained little of popular interest. When the Dalai Lama came to India, Bell was instructed 'to assist the Press Correspondent with news while of course saying nothing as to the policy', and he detailed Laden La to supply 'such items of news, as are likely to soon afterwards in any case become known to the public'. Although Bell's first book recommended that 'We should do more than is done at present towards putting before the public the Tibetan side of incidents that arise', press communiques continued to be given in the officially approved 'vague and general terms'.

Gould was again responsible for fully implementing Bell's policy suggestions. He recognised the public 'demand for "copy" which always appears to exist in regard to Tibet'. Where previous missions to Lhasa had sought anonymity, Gould arranged for generous publicity prior to his visit to Lhasa in 1936. Sections of the Mission Diaries were released to the press and these 'somewhat bald and colourless' excerpts were supplemented by descriptive articles written by Gould or Spencer-Chapman.

Comparison of the original reports with those released to the press illustrates aspects of the image of Tibet which Gould sought to project. Reference to the 'bizarre' appearance of the Tibetan army was tactfully deleted, as was the description of the 'in some cases imbecile faces' of the villagers. The original phrase 'The old world courtesy, politeness, bowing and compliments of the Tibetans, officials as well as servants, is charming’, was reduced to avoid reference to politeness, bowing and compliments, perhaps due to their implicit association with Chinese forms of diplomacy....

Part of Gould's publicity campaign involved ensuring that British publications reflected the desired view of Tibet. In the 1920s Bailey had unsuccessfully tried to get the British film censor to remove parts of the official film of an Everest expedition which the Tibetans found offensive (in particular a sequence in which a Tibetan was shown removing lice from his clothing). Gould was more successful in obtaining the co-operation of the editor of Whitaker's Almanack, who agreed to send the proofs of an article on Tibet to the India Office for 'correction'. Richardson revised the article, although the India Office cautiously noted that 'we must be careful not to appear to be telling Whitakers what to publish'.

In response to the Chinese establishment of a library in Lhasa in the 1940s, the Lhasa Mission built up a collection of books on Tibet, which were used to impress the Tibetans. Their leaders were also given books written by Bell, Tucci and others, which demonstrated European interest in, and concern for, Tibet. Bell clearly expressed his intent when he told the Dalai Lama that he hoped his first book would 'do good for Tibet by causing British and Americans to understand Tibet better’. Gould and Richardson's dictionary was another work seen in this context. It was observed that 'Perhaps its greatest propaganda value will be the fact that the Political Officer is sufficiently interested in Tibetan to write a book about it. The supply of information to Tibet was, therefore, part of a process of image production which reinforced the projection of British prestige outlined in Chapter Two.

An important addition to this process came in the early 1930s when the cadre found that film shows were extremely popular with the Tibetans. They concluded that 'the cinema ...can be made into the most powerful of all our propaganda weapons'. The Lhasa Mission put on regular shows which were attended by both lay officials and monks. The films were carefully chosen with advice from intermediaries such as Norbhu Dhondup, to project British power and to appeal to Tibetan sensibilities. Thus one film was adjudged suitable as it gave 'the right impression of British power and purpose'. Another, on St Paul's cathedral, was considered particularly suitable for Tibet due to its 'religious flavour'...

As the cadre officer's books were published by commercial publishers, and it became increasingly difficult to publish a purely positivist work, the officers needed to take account of public taste. Thus, when Bailey submitted draft chapters of his autobiography, his reader returned it with suggestions on how to make it more interesting for the general public. Bailey was advised that while his treatment was

all right for the Journal of the R.G.S....the general reader wants something more human -- a hint occasionally of the authors[sic] physical and spiritual reaction to his disappointments and to his successes ....A little description too of the peoples...the scenery also -- which must be colourful. That mountain ...for instance...must have been a thrilling sight, but there is no thrill in the telling.

The result of this commercial demand was to ensure that cadre officers' books contained the necessary emphasis on the 'colourful' and the 'thrilling'. While Bell and Richardson's books, aimed at an academic audience, contain the minimum of such matter, the memoirs of other cadre officers and official visitors to Tibet contain descriptions of sky burials, religious dances, aristocratic pageantry, oracles' trances, hermits' retreats, and the lengthy and (in European eyes) peculiar menus at banquets -- themes which recur in virtually every book.

-- Tibet and the British Raj, 1904-47: The Influence of the Indian Political Department Officers, by Alexander McKay

Tibetan Laymen

The tolerant spirit of Buddhism has, however, stamped more or less distinctly the national character, the mildness of which contrasts strongly with the rough exterior and semi-barbarous state of the people. Bogle's high testimony to this trait has already been referred to. Huc, writing of the lay regent of Lhasa,7 describes him as a man "whose large features, mild and remarkably pallid, breathed a truly royal majesty, while his dark eyes shaded by long lashes were intelligent and gentle." And Rockhill and others who have been brought into intimate contact with the people have remarked an unexpected amount of mildness of temper; and my own experience is similar.

The spirit of consideration for others expresses itself in many graceful acts of genuine politeness. A stirrup-cup of wine8 is presented to the departing visitor or traveller, bidding him God-speed, and adding, "May we be able to present you with another as welcome on your return." The seller of any article, other than eatables, always gives his blessing to the buyer, in terms such as these: "May good come upon you; may you live long; may no sickness happen; may you grow rich"9; to which the buyer replies with "thanks."10

Another interesting feature in Tibetan transactions is the blessing which the merchants bestow on anything which people buy from them. The most common formula of blessing is to this effect: “May the goods you have bought from me avert from you disease or any other suffering; may your purchase bring good luck and prosperity, so that you may grow richer, build storehouses, and buy more and more goods from us!”

The blessing accompanying the parting with sacred books is more ceremonious. The merchant reverentially lifts the book over his head in both hands, and then hands it over to the purchaser (a priest in most cases) with this blessing:

“May your reverence not only seek the true light from this sacred work, but may you conduct yourself according to that light, so that you may attain better intelligence, wisdom and morals, and fit yourself for the holy work of salvation, for the good of all beings!”

The purchaser has also a ceremony to perform in this transaction, and I must confess that his performance is more obviously selfish, outwardly at least; for in handing the price he just touches the dirty coin with his tongue, then wipes it on the neck of his garment, and finally hands it to the merchant after having cast upon it one lingering glance indicative of his reluctance to part with it. This act of licking and wiping signifies that the purchaser has licked off and wiped away for his own benefit all the good luck that was contained in that piece. The coin that goes to the merchant is therefore considered as a mere empty thing, so far as the virtue that was originally contained in it is concerned.

-- Three Years in Tibet, by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi

The personal names of both boys and girls are largely borrowed from mystical Buddhism, for instance "The Thunderbolt of Long- Life" (Dorje-ts'e-rin), "Dolma" (the Indian goddess of Mercy, Tara); and the influence of the religious habit is also seen in several of the names of places.

The common oaths are mainly of a Buddhist character. The oath so much in the mouth of the merchants, and used at times by most of the laity as an asseveration in ordinary conversation, is "(by) the precious Lord (Sakya Muni )!"11 or "(by) The Three Rarest Ones!"12 Though others also are in use.13

But both Lamas and people are so steeped in pagan superstition and idolatry that their un-Buddhist features and practices are most conspicuous. As the Tibetans see nature in its ultimate stronghold, in all its pitiless force and fury, terrorizing the brave as well as the timid, their child-like character impels them to worship the more proximate agents which seem to visibly wreck their fields and flocks, and vex them as with disease and disaster.

Charm to Bind Disease-Devils. (Reduced 1/2)

Their inveterate craving for material protection against those malignant gods and demons has caused them to pin their faith on charms and amulets, which are to be seen everywhere dangling from the dress of every man, woman, and child.

These charms, as we have seen, are mostly sentences of a Sanskritic nature borrowed from mystical Buddhism, and supplemented by relics of holy Lamas, by which they muzzle and bind the devils, as in the illustration here given.

But these appliances, however good in theory, are found in practice to be deplorably deficient. The priests must constantly be called in to appease the menacing devils, whose ravenous appetite is only sharpened by the food given to stay it.

A more cheerful and graceful side to their demon-worship is seen in the practice of planting the tall prayer-fkags, which picturesquely flutter around every village, and the strings of flaglets which flaunt from house-tops, bridges, passes, and other places believed to be infested by malignant sprites.

The people live in an atmosphere of the marvellous. No story is too absurd for them to credit, if only it be told by Lamas. They are ever on the outlook for omens, and the every-day affairs of life are governed, as we have seen, by a superstitious regard for lucky and unlucky days. Though special divinations are sought from professed astrologers, in the more serious events of life, in birth, marriage, sickness, and death, and often in sowing, reaping, building, etc., each layman determines for himself the auguries for the more trivial matters of his ordinary business, for travelling, buying and selling, mending, etc.


And implicit reliance is placed on all these auguries. When I was forced to send a party of Sikhimite Tibetans on a long excursion upon a day which was unlucky for travelling, and in consequence of which my men were unwilling to start, I at once secured a revival of their spirits and their ready departure by making the head-man draw, in orthodox fashion, a good augury from the pack of divining-cards, from which, however, I had previously, unknown to them, withdrawn all the unlucky ones.

Pilgrimages are most popular. Every opportunity is seized to visit celebrated shrines, and to circumambulate the numerous holy buildings and sacred spots in their neighbourhood.

A Tibetan Lady With Amulets

Hand-Prayer "Wheels" (Reduced 1/3. The one on the right has its case removed.)

Prayers ever hang upon the people's lips. The prayers are chiefly directed to the devils, imploring them for freedom or release from their cruel inflictions, or they are plain naive requests for aid towards obtaining the good things of this life, the loaves and the fishes. At all spare times, day and night, the people ply their prayer-wheels, and tell their beads, and mutter the mystic six syllables — Om ma-ni pad-me Hum! "Om! the Jewel in the Lotus, Hum!" — the sentence which gains them their great goal, the glorious heaven of eternal bliss, the paradise of the fabulous Buddha of boundless Light — Amitabha.

Still, with all their strivings and the costly services of their priests, the Tibetans never attain peace of mind. They have fallen under the double ban of menacing demons and despotic priests. So it will be a happy day, indeed, for Tibet when its sturdy over-credulous people are freed from the intolerable tyranny of the Lamas, and delivered from the devils whose ferocity and exacting worship weigh like a nightmare upon all.


The House-Devil.



1 After Giorgi, op. cit.
2 mi-nag-pa.
3 'jig-rten-pa.
4 sbyin-bdag, "owners of alms," cf. Kopp., i.. 487.
5 Cf. my art. on Cats in Indian Antiquary, Dec, 1892.

6 gDol-pa. Originally, says Jaeschke (D., p. 268), these were probably fishers.
7 Named "Pe-chi" (the "She-te Shaffee" of Edgar?).

8 C'an-kyel.

9 yag-po byan-pa s'og, ts'e-rin-pa-s'og, nad-med-pa s'og, p'ug-po yon-wa s'og.

10 t'ug-rje-ch'e, literally = "great mercy," compare with French merci, used on similar occasions.

11 Jo-wo Rin-po-ch'e.

12 dK'on-mch'og sum.

13 The other Oaths used in Tibet are: "May I die ere sunset" (ni-ma 'di-las ts'e- t'un); "may my mother be separated" (a-ma-dan bral). In Tsang a common oath is "May my life be separated" (srog-dan bral; pron. hrok ta-te). The monks of De-pung Serra, etc., swear by their own tutelary Tamdin, or Vajra-bhairava: "May Tamdin devour me" (rta-mgrin-bs'es). And in the courts when the great oath is taken, which is seldom, it is done by the person placing a holy scripture on his head, and sitting on the reeking hide of an ox and eating a part of the ox's heart. The expense of this ceremony is borne by the party who challenges the accused. In Sikhim the common oaths are: "May I die" (s'i-ge); "May I go to hell" (na-rak-kan); "May I carry all your ill-luck" (bgegs-chi k'ur-rgyu); "May I be deprived of succession" (mi-rabs-ch'ad); "May the mountain-god Kangch'endsonga or the Darjiling Tsan-devil have first taste of my red blood" (rdo-rje glin-dgon-btsan sha-k'rag-dmar phun kyi- bs'es bchug).
14 Reduced 1/3. See also photograph on next page, by Mr. Hoffmann.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:16 am

Appendix I.

Chronological Table.1

[Description] / B.C.

Buddha's death / 477-3702
Alexander the Great invaded India / 325-327
Candragupta, king of Magadha / 315
Asoka, emperor of India, adopts Buddhism / 263-259
Buddhism introduced to Ceylon / 241
Menander (Milinda) of Sagala / 150

[Description] / A.D.

Scriptures (pitaka) first reduced to writing in Ceylon / 82
Buddhism introduced to China / 62
King Kanishka (Kanerkes), patron of Buddhism / 78 circa
Council of Jalandhar / 100 circa
Buddhism introduced to Korea / 372
FaHian's pilgrimage in Magadha / 404
Buddha-ghosha's commentary in Pali / 420
Sung-yun's pilgrimage in India / 518
Buddhism introd. to Japan / 552
Hiuen Tsiang's pilgrimage in India, from/ 637
Buddhism introd. to Tibet under king Srong Tsan Gampo / 638
Arrival of the Chinese princess Wen-cheng in Tibet / 640 [3]
Building of the first Buddhist temple in Tibet, the P'rul-snan at Lhasa / 651
Birth of king K'ri-Srong Deu Tsan / 728
Arrival of St. Padma-sambhava in Tibet / 747
Building of the first Lamaist monastery, Sam-yas / 749
Birth of Lan-darma, the Julian of Lamaism / 861
His persecution of Lamaism / 899
His murder / 900
Kalacakra system introduced to India / 950
St. Atisa, born / 980
'Brom-ston, his disciple, born / 1002
gSol-nag-t'an monastery founded / 1015
'K'on dKon-mc'og-rgyal-po, the founder of Sa-skya monastery, born / 1033
St. Atisa arrived at mNa-rigs / 1038
St. Milaraspa born / 1038
Atisa died / 1053
Rva-sgren mon. founded by 'Brom-ston / 1055
The Translator bLo-ldan-S'es-rab born / 1057
lC'e-stom Nan-pa's Nin-ma revelation (lCe-btsun) / 1066
Saskya and gSang-phu mon. founded / 1071
Lha-rje sgam-po-pa of Drag-po born / 1077
Pas-c'un-pa born / 1082
Kun-gah-snin Sa-skya Lama born / 1090
Karma dus-sum-mK'an-po born / 1109
More Nin-ma revelations discovered / 1117
Milaraspa died / 1122
C'ag, translator, born / 1152
sNar-t'ang monastery founded / 1152
'Bri-gun monastery founded / 1177
sTag-lun monastery founded / 1178
Sa-skya Pandita born / 1180
Buddhism expelled from Magadha by the Muhamadans, under Bakhtyar Khilji / 1195
S'akya-sri, the Kashmiri Pandit, arrived in Tibet / 1202
Karma Bakshi born / 1202
Ter-ton Guru Ch'os-dban / 1210
Kublai Khan born / 1214 [4]
'Gro-mgon-'pags-pa born / 1233
He becomes master of Tibet / 1251
Bu-ston, the chronologist, born / 1288
Friar Odoric reaches? Lhasa / 1330
rTes-tan monastery founded / 1349
St. Tson-K'a-pa born / 1355
Tan-ston rgyal-po (the great bridge-builder) born / 1383
dGe-'dun-grub-pa born / 1389
Ses-rab rin-ch'en (or sTag), the translator, born / 1403
Tson-K'a-pa established the Lhasa prayer-feast (smon-lam), and founded dGah-ldan monastery / 1407
Panch'en bzan-po bkra-sis (latterly of Tashi-lhunpo born / 1408
De-pung (dBras-spun) monastery founded / 1414
Serra monastery founded / 1417
Tson-K'a-pa died / 1417
Nor monastery (of Sa-skya-pa sect) founded / 1427
Ch'ab-mdo-byams-gon monastery founded / 1435
Z'a-lu legs-pa-rgyal-mts'an, succeeds to Ga-ldan chair / 1436
Ch'os-skyon-bzan-po, the translator, born / 1439
Tashi-lhunpo monastery founded by dGe-'dun-grub / 1445
The Lama of the Mongols (Hor-sTon or Nam-mK'ah-dpal) died / 1445
bZan-po-bkra-sis becomes abbot of Tashi-lhunpo / 1473
dGe-'dun-grub died / 1473
dGe-'dun-rgya-mts'o born / 1474
bZan-po bkra-sis died, and succeeded by Lun-rig rgya-mts'o / 1476
rTa-nag tdub-bstan-rnam-rgyal monastery founded / 1476
Panch'en blo-bzan don-grub born / 1503
dGe-'dun-rgya-mts'o becomes Grand Lama of Tashi-lhunpo / 1510
The Dug-pa Lama Padma-dKar-po born / 1510
dGe-'dun-rgya-mts'o died / 1540
bSod-nams rgya-mts'o born / 1541
Mongol (or "Moghul") invasion of Northern Tibet / 1546 circa
S'va-lu Lotsava died / 1562
Taranatha (Kun-snin) born / I573
Grand Lama bSod-nam proceeds to Mongolia on invitation of prince Althun Khan / 1575
Kum-bum monastery founded / 1576
Lama bSod-nam died / 1586
His successor (Yon-tan) born in Mongolia / 1587
Kum-bum subordinated to Tsang / 1610
Yon-tan-rgya-mts'o died / 1614
Nag-dban-blo-bzan rgya-mts'o born / 1615
The Tsang army invades Serra and Depung monasteries, "killing many thousand monks" / 1616
Nag-dban became priest-king of Tibet by aid of the Mongol prince Gusri Khan / 1640
He built Potala palace near Lhasa / 1643
He visited Chinese emperor / 1650
He returned to Tibet / 1651
He retires to self-communion, leaving government with the viceroy (sDe-srid), Sans-rgyas rgya-mts'o, said to be his natural son / 1675
He died / 1680
His successor, Tsans-dbyans born / 1681
But proving dissolute, he is deposed and assassinated / 1703
Dalai Lama sKal-bzan born at Lithang / 1706
The Mongol armies of C'un-gar restore Gelug-pa Lama to kingship / 1716
Civil war, during which the Chinese troops destroy many monasteries in restoring order / 1722
Nepalese army sacks Tashi-lhunpo / 1768
Mr. Bogle's friendship with Tashi Grand Lama / 1778
Capt. Turner received by succeeding Tashi Grand Lama / 1783
Mr. Manning reaches Lhasa and meets the Dalai Lama / 1811
MM. Huc and Gabet enter Lhasa / 1845
Messrs. Rockhill's, Bonvalot's, Prince Henry of Orleans', and Bowers' traverses of eastern and northern Tibet / 1887-92
Anglo-Tibetan hostilities on Sikhim frontier / 1887
The Tibet Sikhim trade treaty concluded / 1893



1 The dates of the Tibetan events are taken mainly from Csoma (Gram., p. 181 et seq.), and supplemented to a slight extent by those of Sum-pa or Yses-dpal-'byor (trans, by Sarat, J.A.S.B., 1889, 37, etc.), except where otherwise specified. I have reduced, by one year, the dates of Sum-pa as given by Sarat, as the Lama who compiled his paper included the current year in his calculations.

2 The usually accepted date is 477 B.C. (Fergusson, Max Muller in Sacred Books of the East, x., xxxix.), though Rhys Davids adopts 412 (Budd., p. 213, and Numismata Orientalia, 55); and Westergaard (Uber Buddha's Todesjahr, p. 74), Kern and others place it about 370 B.C. The Tibetans follow the popular Chinese accounts in giving it an extravagant antiquity (see Csoma's Gram., p. 199 for details).

3 BUSHELL, loc. cit.
4 According to Lamaist (Sum-pa's) data.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:41 am

Appendix II.


The following list comprises most of the books bearing upon Lamaism, supplementary, in the main, to the earlier register given by Schlagintweit (op. cit., pp. 331, etc.).

Anderson (W.). Description and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings to the British Museum. London, 1886.

Arnold E.), The Light of Asia; or, The Great Renunciation; being the Life and Teaching of Gautama, Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism. 8vo. London, 1883.

Atkinson (E. T.).— Notes on the History of Religion in the Himalaya of the North- western Provinces of India. Calcutta, 1883.

Aynsley (H. G. M. M.).— Visit to Ladakh. 8vo. London, 1879.

Bailey (H. V.). Dorje-Ling. 8vo. Calcutta, 1838.

Barth (A.). The Religions of India. Translated by J. Wood. 8vo. London, 1882.

Bastian (A.). Der Buddhismus in seiner Psychologie. 366 pp., 8vo. Berlin, 1882.

Beal (S.).— -Catena of Buddhist Scriptures. From the Chinese. 8vo. London. 1878.

— Romantic Legend of Sakya Buddha. Prom the Chinese. 8vo. London, 1875.

— Buddhist Literature in China. 8vo. London, 1882.

— Texts from the Buddhist Canon known as Dhammapada. With accompanying Narratives. From the Chinese. Pp. viii. and 176. China, 1878.

— Buddhism. 12mo., pp. 263. London, 1884.

— Fo-sho-hing-tsan-King. a Life of Buddha, by Asvaghosha Bodhisattva. From the Chinese. 8vo.

— Travels of Fa Hian, etc. 12 mo. 1869.

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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:44 am

Appendix III.


An interesting glimpse into the religion of Northern Tibet during the sixteenth century, and of the Moghul holy war against the Lamas of that period, is got from the Tarikh-i-Rashidi by Mirza Haidar, Dughlat of Kashgar: a book recently discovered by Mr. Ney Elias, C.I.E., to whom I am indebted for the following extract, illustrative of Muhammadan fanaticism. The work dates to about 1546 A.D., and it is to be hoped that Mr. Elias' translation of it will soon be published.

The general, Mirza Haidar, writes: "On the day appointed, I approached the fort (of Mutadar in Nubra), and the talons of Islam seizing the hands of Infidelity, the enemy were thrown into disorder and routed. Having deserted the fort, they fled in confusion and dismay, while the Musalmans gave them chase as far as was possible, so that not one of these bewildered people escaped. Burkapa was slain, together with all his men, and their heads formed a lofty minaret, so that the vapour from the brains of the infidels of that country reached to the heavens. Thenceforth no one dared offer resistance."
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:02 am


Part 2:


The Yoga doctrine of ecstatic union of the individual with the Universal Spirit had been introduced into Hinduism about 150 B.C. by Patanjali... It taught spiritual advancement by means of a self-hypnotizing to be learned by rules. By moral consecration of the individual to Isvara or the Supreme Soul, and mental concentration upon one point with a view to annihilate thought, there resulted the eight great Siddhi or magical powers, namely (1) "the ability to make one's body lighter, or (2) heavier, or (3) smaller, (4) or larger than anything in the world, and (5) to reach any place, or (6) to assume any shape, and (7) control all natural laws, and (8) to make everything depend upon oneself, all at pleasure of will — Iddhi or Riddi." On this basis Asanga, importing Patanjali's doctrine into Buddhism and abusing it, taught that by means of mystic formulas — dharanis (extracts from Mahayana sutras and other scriptures) and mantra (short prayers to deities) — as spells, "the reciting of which should be accompanied by music and certain distortion of the fingers (mudra), a state of mental fixity (samadhi) might be reached characterized by neither thought nor annihilation of thoughts, and consisting of six-fold bodily and mental happiness (Yogi), whence would result endowment with supernatural miracle-working power." These miraculous powers were alleged to be far more efficacious than mere moral virtue, and may be used for exorcism and sorcery, and for purely secular and selfish objects. Those who mastered these practices were called Yogacarya.

But even in early Buddhism mantras seem to have been used as charms, and southern Buddhism still so uses them in Paritta service for the sick, and also resorts to mechanical contrivances for attaining Samadhi, somewhat similar to those of the Yogacarya. And many mystic spells for the supernatural power of exorcism are given in that first or second century A.D. work, Saddharma Pundarika.

In the mystic nihilist sense, as the name of a thing was as real as the thing itself, the written spell was equally potent with the spoken, and for sacerdotal purposes even more so on account of the sacred character of letters, as expressing speech and so exciting the intense veneration of barbarians. No Tibetan will wantonly destroy any paper or other object bearing written characters...

The mere recital of mystic words and sentences (mantra or dharani [T., Z'un]), and their essential syllable (the germs or seed, so-called vija) is held to be equivalent to the practice of the Paramitas, and subdues and coerces the gods and genii, and procures long life and other temporal blessings, and obtains the assistance of the Buddhas and Bodhisats. Although these Dharanis were likely introduced to supply the need for incantations their use is alleged to be based upon the doctrine of unreality of things. As existence is ideal, the name of a thing is equivalent to the thing itself, and of a like efficacy are the attitudes (mudra) of the fingers, symbolic of the attributes of the gods. Thus Om is an acceptable offering to the Buddhas, Hri dispels sorrow, and by uttering Ho, samadhi is entered. Of such an ideal nature also were the paper horses of Huc's amusing story, which the Lamas with easy charity bestowed on belated and helpless travellers...


Even the purest of all the Lamaist sects — the Ge-lug-pa — are thorough-paced devil-worshippers, and value Buddhism chiefly because it gives them the whip-hand over the devils which everywhere vex humanity with disease and disaster, and whose ferocity weighs heavily upon all. The purest Ge-lug-pa Lama on awaking every morning, and before venturing outside his room, fortifies himself against assault by the demons by first of all assuming the spiritual guise of his fearful tutelary, the king of the demons, named Vajrabhairava or Samvara, as figured in the chapter on the pantheon. The Lama, by uttering certain mantras culled from the legendary sayings of Buddha in the Mahayana Tantras, coerces this demon-king into investing the Lama's person with his own awful aspect. Thus when the Lama emerges from his room in the morning, and wherever he travels during the day, he presents spiritually the appearance of the demon-king, and the smaller malignant demons, his would-be assailants, ever on the outlook to harm humanity, being deluded into the belief that the Lama is indeed their own vindictive king, they flee from his presence, leaving the Lama unharmed....


Books now abound in Tibet, and nearly all are religious. The literature, however, is for the most part a dreary wilderness of words and antiquated rubbish, but the Lamas conceitedly believe that all knowledge is locked up in their musty classics, outside which nothing is worthy of serious notice...

The Do (Skt., Sutra), or Sermons (of the Buddhas), compiled by Ananda in sixty-six volumes inclusive of Tantras. As these discourses profess to be the narrative of the disciple Ananda, who is believed to have been present at the originals as uttered by Buddha, most of these Sutras commence with the formula: Evam maya srutam, "Thus was it heard by me;" but this formula now is almost regarded by many European scholars as indicating a fictitious sutra, so frequently is it prefixed to spurious sutras, e.g., the Amitabha, which could not have been spoken by Buddha or recited by Ananda. The Lamas, like the southern Buddhists, naively believe that when Buddha spoke, each individual of the assembled hosts of gods, demons, and men, as well as the various kinds of lower animals, heard himself addressed in his own vernacular...

Transcendental Wisdom ("Ses-rab kyi p'a-rol-tu p'yin-pa" or curtly, "Ser-ch'in" (Skt., Prajna-paramita), in twenty-one volumes. They contain, in addition to the metaphysical terminology, those extravagantly speculative doctrines entitled Prajna-paramita, which the Mahayana school attributes to Buddha's latest revelations in his mythical discourses mostly to supernatural hearers at the Vultures' Peak at Rajgriha. There is no historical matter, all is speculation, and a profusion of abstraction...

From this (Do) division of the Kah-gyur are culled out the Indian mystic formulas, mostly in unintelligible gibberish, which are deemed most potent as charms, and these form the volume named mDo-man gzun bsdus, or curtly, Do-man or "assorted aphorisms" — literally "many Sutras." These formulas are not used in the worship of the Buddhas and superior gods, but only as priestly incantations in the treatment of disease and ill-fortune. And as these spells enter into the worship of which the laity have most experience, small pocket editions of one or other of these mystic Sutras are to be found in the possession of all literate laymen, as the mere act of reading these charms suffices to ward off the demon-bred disease and misfortune...

Tantra (rgyud), in twenty-two volumes. "These volumes in general contain mystical theology. There are descriptions of several gods and goddesses. Instruction for preparing mandalas or circles for the reception of those divinities. Offerings or sacrifices presented to them for obtaining their favour. Prayers, hymns, charms, etc., addressed to them. There are also some works on astronomy, astrology, chronology, medicine, and natural philosophy."

In the first volume (K) are found the Kalacakra doctrine and Sambara. In the third the history of the divine mothers Varahi, etc. In the seventeenth volume (M) the expelling of devils and Naga-worship. The Tathagata-guhyaka contains a summary of the Sivaic esoteric doctrine.

The word "Tantra" according to its Tibetan etymology, literally means "treatise or dissertation," but in Buddhism as in Hinduism, it is restricted to the necromantic books of the later Sivaic or Sakti mysticism...


The Buddhist commentators, like those of the Talmud, overlay a line or two with an enormous excrescence of exegesis...


But most of the autobiographies so-called (rNam-t'ar) and records (Yig-tsan or deb-t'er) are legendary, especially of the earlier Lamas and Indian monks are transparently fictitious, not only on account of their prophetic tone, though always "discovered" after the occurrence of the events prophesied, but their almost total absence of any personal or historic details. Some of the later ones dealing with modern personages are of a somewhat more historical character, but are so overloaded by legends as to repel even enthusiastic enquirers...


An enormous mass of Lamaist literature is now available in Europe in the collections at St. Petersburg, mainly obtained from Pekin, Siberia, and Mongolia; at Paris, and at the India Office, and Royal Asiatic Society in London, and at Oxford, mostly gifted by Mr. Hodgson...


Preliminary Examination — Physical. — When the boy-candidate for admission is brought to the monastery his parentage is enquired into, as many monasteries admit only the more respectable and wealthier class. The boy is then physically examined to ascertain that he is free from deformity or defect in his limbs and faculties. If he stammers, or is a cripple in any way, or bent in body, he is rejected...


The tutor-Lama of the applicant for the noviciateship addresses the head monk (spyi-rgan) of his section for permission to admit the applicant, and at the same time offers a ceremonial scarf and the fee of ten rupees. Then, if the applicant be found free from bodily defects and otherwise eligible, a written agreement is made out in the presence of the head monk and sealed by the thumb.

To get his name registered in the books of that particular school of the monastery to which he is to be attached, the pupil and his tutor go to the abbot or principal of that school and proffer their request through the butler or cup-bearer, who conducts them to the abbot, before whom they offer a scarf and a silver coin (preferably an Indian rupee), and bowing thrice before him, pray for admission.

Amongst the questions now put are: Does this boy come of his free will? Is he a slave, debtor, or soldier? Does anyone oppose his entry? Is he free from deformity, contagious disease, or fits? Has he neglected the first three commandments? Has he committed theft, or thrown poison into water, or stones from a hillside so as to destroy animal life, etc.? What is his family? and what their occupation? and where their residence? On giving satisfactory replies, he is then required to recite by heart the texts he has learned; and if approved, then the names of the pupil and his tutor are written down and duly sealed by the thumbs, and a scarf is thrown around their necks, and the boy, who has been dressed in princely finery, has his dress exchanged for the yellow or red robe in imitation of Sakya Muni's renunciation of the world; while, if he is rejected, he is ejected from the monastery, and his tutor receives a few strokes from a cane, and is fined several pounds of butter for the temple lamps.

The approved pupil and his tutor then proceed to the head Lama (z'al-no) of the great cathedral (common to the colleges of the university), and, offering a scarf and a rupee, repeat their requests to him, and the names of the pupil and tutor and his sectional college or residentiary club are registered, so that should the pupil misconduct himself in the cathedral, his teachers, as well as himself, shall be fined.

The neophyte is now a registered student (da-pa), and on returning to his club, he is, if rich, expected to entertain all the residents of the club to three cups of tea. If he has no relatives to cook for him, he is supplied from the club stores; and any allowance he gets from his people is divided into three parts, one-third being appropriated by his club for messing expenses. Then he gets the following monkish robes and utensils, viz., a sTod-'gag, bs'am-t'abs, gzan, zla-gam, z'wa-ser, sgro-lugs, a cup, a bag for wheaten flour, and a rosary.

Until his formal initiation as an ascetic, "the going forth from home" (pravrajya-vrata), by which he becomes a novice (Ge-ts'ul, Skt., Sramana), the candidate is not allowed to join in the religious services in the monastery. So he now addresses a request to the presiding Grand Lama to become a novice, accompanying his request with a scarf and as much money as he can offer...

My friend, Mr. A. von Rosthorn, informs me that the Lamas of eastern Tibet usually pass through an ordeal of initiation in which six marks are seared in their crown with an iron lamp, and called Dipamkara, or "the burning lamp."...

The ceremony concludes with the presentation of a scarf and ten silver coins.

At the next mass, the boy is brought into the great assembly hall, carrying a bundle of incense sticks; and is chaperoned by a monk named the "bride-companion" (ba-grags), as this ceremony is regarded as a marriage with the church. He sits down on an appointed seat by the side of the "bride-companion," who instructs him in the rules and etiquette (sGris) of the monkish manner of sitting, walking, etc...

The novice now undergoes a severe course of instruction, during which corporal punishment is still, as heretofore, freely inflicted...

Those who disgracefully fail to pass this examination are taken outside and chastized by the provost. And repeated failure up to a limit of three years necessitates the rejection of the candidate from the order. Should, however, the boy be rich and wish re-entry, he may be re-admitted on paying presents and money on a higher scale than formerly, without which no re-admission is possible. If the rejected candidate be poor and he wishes to continue a religious life, he can only do so as a lay-devotee, doing drudgery about the monastery buildings. Or he may set up in some village as an unorthodox Lama-priest.

The majority fail to pass at the first attempt. And failure on the part of the candidate attaches a stigma to his teacher, while in the event of the boy chanting the exercises correctly and with pleasing voice in the orthodox oratorical manner, his teacher is highly complimented...


The degree of Rab-jam-pa, "verbally overflowing, endlessly," a doctor universalis, corresponds with our Doctor of Theology, or D.D., and is, it seems, the highest academical title of honour which can be earned in the Lamaist universities, and after a disputation over the whole doctrine of the church and faith. The diploma which he receives entitles him to teach the law publicly, and authorizes him to the highest church offices not specially reserved for the incarnate Lamas. And he is given a distinctive hat, as seen in the foregoing figure, at the head of this chapter. It is said that in Tibet there are only twelve cloisters who have the right to bestow this degree, and it is even more honourable than the titles bestowed by the Dalai Lama himself. But this is, as a matter of course, a very expensive affair...


The service of general-tea (Man-ja) is given three times daily from the stock supplied by the Chinese emperor as a subsidy amounting to about half-a-million bricks...

The size of the tea-boilers of the larger monastery and at the Lhasa temple is said to be enormous, as can be well imagined when it is remembered that several thousands have to be catered for. The cauldron at the great Lhasa cathedral is said to hold about 1,200 gallons.

A very vigorous discipline is enforced. It is incumbent on every member of the monastery to report misdemeanours which come under his notice, and these are punished according to the Pratimoksha rules. Minor offences are met at first by simple remonstrance, but if persisted in are severely punished with sentences up to actual banishment...

A member of De-pung who commits any of the ten kinds of "indulgence" cannot be tried except in the cathedral. The elder provost calls on the breaker of the rules to stand up in the presence of the assembled students, and the transgressor rises with bent head and is censured by the younger provost and sentenced to a particular number of strokes. Then the two water-men bring in the dGe-rgan of the club and the tutor of the offending student. The dGe-rgan rises up to receive his censure, and so also the tutors. Then the offending pupil is seized by the head and feet, and soundly beaten by the lictors (T'ab-gyog).

The punishment by cane or rod is fifty strokes for a small offence, one hundred for a middling, and one hundred and fifty for a grave offence. In the cathedral no more than one hundred and fifty strokes can be given, and no further punishment follows.

For breach of etiquette in sitting, walking, eating, or drinking, the penalty is to bow down and apologize, or suffer ten strokes.

The most severe punishment, called "Good or Bad Luck" (sKyid-sdug), so called it is said from its chance of proving fatal according to the luck of the sufferer, is inflicted in cases of murder and in expulsion from the order for persistent intemperance, or theft. After the congregation is over the teacher and club-master of the accused are called to the court, and the provost of the cathedral censures them. Then the accused is taken outside the temple and his feet are fastened by ropes, and two men, standing on his right and left, beat him to the number of about a thousand times, after which he is drawn, by a rope, outside the boundary wall (lchags-ri) and there abandoned; while his teacher and club-master are each fined one scarf and three silver Srangs...

As the Lama is comfortably clothed and housed, and fed on the best of food, he cannot be called a mendicant monk like the Buddhist monks of old, nor is the vow of poverty strictly interpreted; yet this character is not quite absent. For the order, as a body, is entirely dependent on the lay population for its support; and the enormous proportion which the Lamas bear to the laity renders the tax for the support of the clergy a heavy burden on the people...

Large numbers of Lamas are deputed at the harvest-time to beg and collect grain and other donations for their monasteries. Most of the contributions, even for sacerdotal services, are in kind, — grain, bricks of tea, butter, salt, meat, and live stock, — for money is not much used in Tibet. Other sources of revenue are the charms, pictures, images, which the Lamas manufacture, and which are in great demand; as well as the numerous horoscopes, supplied by the Lamas for births, marriages, sickness, death, accident, etc., and in which most extensive devil-worship is prescribed, entailing the employment of many Lamas. Of the less intellectually gifted Lamas, some are employed in menial duties, and others are engaged in mercantile traffic for the general benefit of their mother monastery. Most of the monasteries of the established church grow rich by trading and usury. Indeed, Lamas are the chief traders and capitalists of the country...


Affixed to the rosary are small odds and ends, such as a metal toothpick, tweezer, small keys, etc...

The rosary has proved a useful instrument in the hands of our Lama surveying spies. Thus we find it reported with reference to Gyantse town, that a stone wall nearly two-and-a-half miles goes round the town, and the Lama estimated its length by means of his rosary at 4,500 paces. At each pace he dropped a bead and uttered the mystic "Om mam padm hm," while the good people who accompanied him in his Lin-k'or or religious perambulations little suspected the nature of the work he was really doing...

Material of the Beads.

The abbot of a large and wealthy monastery may have rosaries of pearl and other precious stones, and even of gold. Turner relates2 that the Grand Tashi Lama possessed rosaries of pearls, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, coral, amber, crystal and lapis-lazuli...

The human skull (discs) rosary...


Buddhism in common with most religions had its hermits who retired like John the Baptist into the wilderness. And such periodical retirement for a time, corresponding to the Buddhist Lent (the rainy season of India, or Varsha, colloq. "barsat"), when travelling was difficult and unhealthy, was an essential part of the routine of the Indian Buddhist. Tson K'apa enforced the observance of this practice, but it has now fallen much into abeyance...

Theoretically it is part of the training of every young Lama to spend in hermitage a period of three years, three months, and three days, in order to accustom himself to ascetic rites. But this practice is very rarely observed for any period, and when it is observed, a period of three months and three days is considered sufficient...


Like western friars, the Lamas have a considerable proportion of their number engaged in trades and handicrafts. The monks are practically divided into what may be called the spiritual and the temporal. The more intelligent are relieved of the drudgery of worldly work and devote themselves to ritual and meditation. The less intellectual labour diligently in field or farm and in trading for the benefit of their monastery; or they collect the rents and travel from village to village begging for their parent monastery, or as tailors, cobblers, printers, etc. Others again of the more intellectual members are engaged as astrologers in casting-horoscopes, as painters or in image-making, and in other pursuits contributing to the general funds and comfort of the monastery...


The fully-ordained monks, the Ge-longs, are supposed to eat abstemiously and abstain totally from meat; though even the Grand Lama of Tashi-lhunpo appears to eat flesh-food.

Neither the monks of the established church nor the holier Lamas of the other sects may drink any spirituous liquor. Yet they offer it as libations to the devils...


The first Grand Lama, Ge-'dun-dub, was born near Sas-kya, and not far from the site whereon he afterwards founded Tashi-lhunpo. His successors, up to and inclusive of the fifth, have already been referred to in some detail.

On the deposition and death of the sixth Grand Lama for licentious living, the Tartar king, Gingkir Khan, appointed to Potala the Lama of C'ag-poh-ri, named Nagwan Yeshe Gya-mts'o, into whom the sorcerers alleged that, not the soul but the breath of the former Grand Lama had passed. It was soon announced, however, that the sixth Grand Lama was re-born in the town of Lithang as Kal-zan, the son of a quondam monk of De-pung monastery. This child was imprisoned by the Chinese emperor, who had confirmed the nominee of the Tartar king, until the war of 1720, when he invested him with spiritual rule at Lhasa; but again, in 1728, deposed him, as he was privy to the murder of the king of Tibet. So he set in his place the Lama "Kiesri" Rimpoch'e, of the Chotin monastery, four days' journey from Lhasa. He seems latterly to have returned to power, and during his reign in 1749, the Chinese put his temporal vice-regent to death, when the people flew to arms and massacred the Chinese.

The ninth is the only Grand Lama of Lhasa ever seen by an Englishman. He was seen by Manning in 1811, while still a child of six years old. Manning relates that: "The Lama's beautiful and interesting face and manner engrossed almost all my attention. He was at that time about seven years old; had the simple and unaffected manners of a well-educated princely child. His face was, I thought, poetically and affectingly beautiful. He was of a gay and cheerful disposition, his beautiful mouth perpetually unbending into a graceful smile, which illuminated his whole countenance. Sometimes, particularly when he looked at me, his smile almost approached to a gentle laugh. No doubt my grim beard and spectacles somewhat excited his risibility. . . . He enquired whether I had not met with molestations and difficulties on the road," etc. This child died a few years afterwards, assassinated, it is believed, by the regent, named Si-Fan.

The tenth Grand Lama also dying during his minority, and suspicions being aroused of foul play on the part of the regent, the latter was deposed and banished by the Chinese in 1844, at the instance of the Grand Lama of Tashi-lhunpo, and a rising of his confederates of the Sera monastery was suppressed.

The eleventh also died prematurely before attaining his majority, and is believed to have been poisoned by the regent, the Lama of Ten-gye-ling. A young Lama of De-pung, named Ra-deng, was appointed regent, and he banished his predecessor "Pe-chi," who had befriended Huc; but proving unpopular, he had eventually to retire to Pekin, where he died. Pe-chi died about 1869, and was succeeded by the abbot of Gah-ldan.

The twelfth Grand Lama was seen in 1866 by one of our Indian secret surveyors, who styles him a child of about thirteen, and describes him as a fair and handsome boy, who, at the reception, was seated on a throne six feet high, attended on either side by two high rank officials, each swaying over the child's head bundles of peacock feathers. The Grand Lama himself put three questions to the spy and to each of the other devotees, namely: "Is your king well?" "Does your country prosper?" "Are you yourself in good health?" He died in 1874, and his death is ascribed to poison administered by the regent, the Tengye-ling head Lama.

The thirteenth is still (1894) alive. He was seen in 1882 by Sarat Candra Das, whose account of him is given elsewhere...

The country swarms with beggars...

Interesting details of the ceremonies as well as of the prominent part played by China in regulating the pontifical succession, have been supplied by Mr. Mayers from the original Chinese document of Meng Pao, the senior Amban at Lhasa, and from which the following historic extract is made by way of illustration...

[O]n the previous occasion, when the embodiment of the tenth Dalai Lama entered the world, three children were discovered [whose names] were placed in the urn for decision by lot. As the chancellor now writes that each of the four children discovered by the Khan-pu on this occasion has been attended by auspicious and encouraging omens, we do not presume to arrogate to ourselves the choice of any one of their number, but, as regards the whole four, have on the one hand communicated in a Tibetan dispatch with the chancellor respecting the two children born within the territory of Tibet, and as regards the two children born within the jurisdiction of the province of Sze-ch'wan, have addressed a communication to the viceroy of that province calling upon them respectively to require the parents and tutors of the children in question to bring the latter to Anterior Tibet. On this being done, your majesty's servants, in accordance with the existing rules, will institute a careful examination in person, conjointly with the Panshen Erdeni and the chancellor, and will call upon the children to recognize articles heretofore in use by the Dalai Lama; after which your servants will proceed with scrupulous care to take measures for inscribing their names on slips to be placed in the urn, and for the celebration of mass and drawing the lots in public. So soon as the individual shall have been ascertained by lot, your servants will forward a further report for your majesty's information and commands...

Detailed statement of the miraculous signs attending upon four children, drawn up for his majesty's perusal from the despatch of the chancellor reporting the same: —

I. A-chu-cho-ma, the wife of the Tibetan named Kung-pu-tan-tseng, living at the Pan-je-chung post-station in Sang-ang-k'iuh-tsung, gave birth to a son on the 13th day of the 11th month of the year Ki-hai (19th December, 1839), upon a report concerning which having been received from the local headmen, the chancellor despatched Tsze-feng-cho-ni-'rh and others to make inquiry. It was thereupon ascertained that on the night before the said female gave birth to her child, a brilliant radiance of many colours was manifested in the air, subsequently to which the spring-water in the well of the temple court-yard changed to a milk-white colour. Seven days afterwards, there suddenly appeared upon the rock, behind the post-station, the light of a flame, which shone for a length of time. Crowds of people hastened to witness it, when, however, no single trace of fire remained, but upon the rock there was manifested an image of Kwan Yin (Avalokita) and the characters of Na-mo O-mi-to-Fo (Amitabha), together with the imprint of footsteps. On the night when the child was born, the sound of music was heard, and milk dropped upon the pillars of the house. When the commissioners instituted their inquiry, they found the child sitting cross-legged in a dignified attitude, seeming able to recognize them, and showing not the slightest timidity. They placed a rosary in the child's hands, whereupon he appeared as though reciting sentences from the Sutra of Amita Buddha. In addressing his mother he pronounced the word A-ma with perfect distinctness. His features were comely and well-formed, and his expression bright and intellectual, in a degree superior to that of ordinary children. In addition to the foregoing report, certificates by the local headmen and members of the priesthood and laity, solemnly attesting personal knowledge of the facts therein set forth, were appended, and were transmitted after authentication by the chancellor to ourselves, etc., etc...

The infant is taken to Lhasa at such an early age that his mother, who may belong to the poorest peasant class, necessarily accompanies him in order to suckle him, but being debarred from the sacred precincts of Potala on account of her sex, she is lodged in the lay town in the vicinity, and her son temporarily at the monastic palace of Ri-gyal Phodan, where she is permitted to visit her son only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. She, together with her husband, is given an official residence for life in a palace about a mile to the west of Potala and on the way to De-pung, and the father usually receives the rank of Kung, said to be the highest of the five ranks of Chinese nobility.

At the age of four the child assumes the monkish garb and tonsure, and receives a religious name, and is duly enthroned at Potala in great state and under Chinese auspices...

The Dalai Lama is, as regards temporal rule, a minor till he reaches the age of eighteen, and during his minority a regent carries on the duties of temporal government. And the frequency with which the Dalai Lama has died before attaining his majority gives some support to the belief that the regents are privy to his premature death; and the Chinese government are usually credited with supporting such proceedings for political purposes.

On the death of a re-incarnate Lama, his body is preserved. The tombs of the Dalai, and Pan-ch'en Lamas form conspicuous gilt monuments, sometimes as many as seven storeys high, named Ku-tun, at Potala and Tashi-lhunpo. The holiness of such a Lama is estimated in proportion to the shrinkage of his body after death...

[Re-embodied Lama in western Tibet, Sen-c'en-Rin-po-ch'e] The last re-incarnate Lama bearing this title, and the tutor of the Tashi Grand Lama, was beheaded about 1886 for harbouring surreptitiously Sarat C. Das, who is regarded as an English spy; and although the bodies of his predecessors were considered divine and are preserved in golden domes at Tashi-lhunpo, his headless trunk was thrown ignominiously into a river to the S.W. of Lhasa, near the fort where he had been imprisoned. On account of his violent death, and under such circumstances, this re-incarnation is said to have ceased. From the glimpse got of him in Sarat's narrative and in his great popularity, he seems to have been a most amiable man...


Sam-yas, which as the first monastery founded in Tibet, deserves first mention...

In a temple close by among the sand is a celebrated chamber of horrors, built of large boulders, and containing gigantic figures of the twenty-five Gon-po demons. The images are made of incense, and are about twenty feet high, of the fiercest expression, and represented as dancing upon mangled human corpses, which they are also devouring. And great stains of blood are pointed out by the attendants as the fresh stains of bodies which the demons have dragged to the place during the previous night...

Gah-ldan, the monastery founded by Tson-K'a-pa, is one of the four great Ge-lug-pa or established church monasteries, the others being De-pung, Sera and Tashi-lhunpo...

A very old statue of S'inje, the lord of Death, is much reverenced here; every visitor presenting gifts and doing it infinite obeisance...

Ser-ra, or "The Merciful Hail." It is said to have been so named out of rivalry to its neighbour, "The rice-heap" (De-pung), as hail is destructive of rice, and the two monasteries have frequent feuds...

Its monks number nominally 5,500, and have frequently engaged in bloody feuds against their more powerful rivals of De-pung...

The monastery of Pemiongchi was designed, if not actually built, by Lha-tsun as a high-class monastery for orthodox celibate monks of relatively pure Tibetan race. Pemiongchi still retains this reputation for the professedly celibate character and good family of its monks; and its monks alone in Sikhim enjoy the title of ta-san or "pure monk," and to its Lama is reserved the honour of anointing with holy water the reigning sovereign...

Nuns are admitted to a few monasteries in Sikhim, but their number is extremely small, and individually they are illiterate...


In primitive Buddhism the temple had, of course, no place. It is the outcome of the theistic development with its relic-worship and idolatry, and dates from the later and impurer stage of Buddhism...

Entering the vestibule, we find its gateway guarded by several fearful figures. These usually are...

A pair of hideous imps, one on either side, of a red and bluish-black colour, named S'em-ba Marnak who butcher their victims...

Here also are sometimes portrayed the twelve Tan-ma — the aerial fiendesses of Tibet, already figured, who sow disease ...

Ranged on either side of this triad are the other large images of the temple. Though in the larger fanes the more demoniacal images, especially the fiendish "lords" and protectors of Lamaism, are relegated to a separate building, where they are worshipped with bloody sacrifices and oblations of wine and other demoniacal rites inadmissible in the more orthodox Buddhist building. Some of such idol-rooms are chambers of horrors, and represent some of the tortures supposed to be employed in hell...


Upon the top of the altar are also usually placed the following objects, though several of them are special to the more demoniacal worship...

Pair of human thigh-bone trumpets. These are sometimes encased in brass with a wide copper flanged extremity, on which are figured the three eyes and nose of a demon, the oval open extremity being the demon's mouth. In the preparation of these thigh-bone trumpets the bones of criminals or those who have died by violence are preferred, and an elaborate incantation is done, part of which consists in the Lama eating a portion of the skin of the bone, otherwise its blast would not be sufficiently powerful to summon the demons...


No women are allowed to remain within the walls during the night, a prohibition which extends to many Lamaist cloisters...


LAMAIST mythology is a fascinating field for exploring the primitive conceptions of life, and the way in which the great forces of nature become deified. It also shows the gradual growth of legend and idolatry, with its diagrams of the unknown and fetishes; and how Buddhism with its creative touch bodied forth in concrete shape the abstract conceptions of the learned, and, while incorporating into its pantheon the local gods of the country, it gave milder meanings to the popular myths and legends.

The pantheon is perhaps the largest in the world. It is peopled by a bizarre crowd of aboriginal gods and hydra-headed demons, who are almost jostled off the stage by their still more numerous Buddhist rivals and counterfeits. The mythology, being largely of Buddhist authorship, is full of the awkward forms of Hindu fancy and lacks much of the point, force, and picturesqueness of the myths of Europe. Yet it still contains cruder forms of many of these western myths, and a wealth of imagery...

[T]he earliest Buddhist mythology known to us gives the gods of the Hindus a very prominent place in the system. And while rendering them finite and subject to the general law of metempsychosis, yet so far accepts or tolerates the current beliefs in regard to their influence over human affairs as to render these gods objects of fear and respect, if not of actual adoration by the primitive Buddhists.

The earliest books purporting to reproduce the actual words spoken by the Buddha make frequent references to the gods and demons. And in the earliest of all authentic Indian records, the edict-pillars of Asoka, we find that model Buddhist delighting to call himself "the beloved of the gods." The earlier Buddhist monuments at Barhut, etc., also, are crowded with images of gods, Yakshas and other supernatural beings, who are there given attributes almost identical with those still accorded them by present-day Buddhists. Every Buddhist believes that the coming Buddha is at present in the Tushita heaven of the gods. And the Ceylonese Buddhists, who represent the purer form of the faith, still worship the chief Indian gods and are addicted to devil-worship and astrology.

But the theistic phase of Buddhism carried objective worship much further than this. For as Buddha himself occupied in primitive Buddhism the highest central point which in other faiths is occupied by a deity, his popular deification was only natural.

In addition to the worship of Buddha, in a variety of forms, the Mahayana school created innumerable metaphysical Buddhas and Bodhisats whom it soon reduced from ideal abstractness to idolatrous form. And it promoted to immortal rank many of the demons of the Sivaist pantheon; and others specially invented by itself as defensores fidei; and to all of these it gave characteristic forms. It also incorporated most of the local deities and demons of those new nations it sought to convert. There is, however, as already noted, reason for believing that many of the current forms of Brahmanical gods were suggested to the Brahmans by antecedent Buddhist forms. And the images have come to be of the most idolatrous kind, for the majority of the Lamas and almost all the laity worship the image as a sort of fetish, holy in itself and not merely as a diagram or symbol of the infinite or unknown.

The Lamaist pantheon, thus derived from so many different sources, is, as may be expected, extremely large and complex. Indeed, so chaotic is its crowd that even the Lamas themselves do not appear to have reduced its members to any generally recognized order, nor even to have attempted complete lists of their motley deities. Though this is probably in part owing to many gods being tacitly tolerated without being specially recognized by the more orthodox Lamas...

Many of the more celebrated idols are believed by the people and the more credulous Lamas to be altogether miraculous in origin— "self-formed," or fallen from heaven ready fashioned...

Internal organs of dough or clay are sometimes inserted into the bodies of the larger images, but the head is usually left empty...

The "Fiercest" Fiends— (Drag-po and Gon-po) closely resemble the above "Angry Deities." They have usually chaplets of skulls encircled by tongues of flames; and they tread upon writhing victims and prostrate bodies...

The vast multitude of deities forming the Lamaist pantheon is, as already mentioned, largely created by embodying under different names the different aspects of a relatively small number of divinities with changing moods. Such expressed relationship, however, seems occasionally a gratuitous device of the Lamas in order to bring some of their indigenous Tibetan deities into relationship with the earlier and more orthodox celestial Bodhisats of Indian Buddhism...

The Highest Healers and Medical Tathagatas. (T., sMan-bla-bde-gs'egs brgyad.)

"The medicine-king" (Bhaisajyaraja), who figures prominently in several of the northern scriptures as the dispenser of spiritual medicine. The images are worshipped almost as fetishes, and cure by sympathetic magic...

The supplicant, after bowing and praying, rubs his finger over the eye, ear, knee, or the particular part of the image corresponding to the patient's own affected spot, and then applies the finger carrying this hallowed touch to the afflicted spot. The constant friction and rubbing of this rude worship is rather detrimental to the features of the god...

It is rather curious to note that some celebrated Europeans have come to be regarded as Buddhas. "The common dinner-plates of the Tibetans, when they use any, are of tin, stamped in the centre with an effigy of some European celebrity. In those which I examined I recognized the third Napoleon, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and Mr. Gladstone, all supposed by the natives to represent Buddhas of more or less sanctity."...

Marici, The resplendent. T., 'Od-zer 'c'an-ma.

She was originally the queen of heaven, a Buddhist Ushas, or goddess of the dawn, a metamorphosis of the sun as the centre of energy, curiously coupled with the oriental myth of the primaeval productive pig. In another aspect she is a sort of Prosperine, the spouse of Yama, the Hindu Pluto. While in her fiercest mood she is the consort of the demon-general, "The horse-necked Tamdin," a sort of demoniacal centaur. In another mode she is "The adamantine sow" (Skt., Vajra-varahi; T., rDo-rje P'ag-mo), who is believed to be incarnate in the abbess of the convent on the great Palti lake, as already described.

In her ordinary form she has three faces and eight hands, of which the left face is that of a sow. The hands hold various weapons, including an araju, axe, and snare. She sits in "the enchanting pose" upon a lotus-throne drawn by seven swine, as in the figure...


The qualifications demanded in a tutelary are activity combined with power over the minor malignant devils. Thus most of the superior celestial Buddhas and Bodhisats may be, and are, tutelaries. But the favourite ones are the great demon-kings, and also some of the inferior fiends who have been promoted in diabolic rank for their adherence to the cause of Buddhism.

All the five celestial Jinas are tutelaries, but it is their Tantrik forms, such as Vajrasattva and Vajradhara, and Amitayus, which are especially utilized in this way; and most common of all are those who have consorts (sakti), as these are considered to be most energetic.

Of the Bodhisats, those most common as tutelaries are Avalokita and Manjusri, the demon Vajrapani, Tara, and Marici.

The demon-kings, however, are the favourite ones. They are repulsive monsters of the type of the Hindu devil Siva. These morbid creations of the later Tantrism may be considered a sort of fiendish metamorphoses of the supernatural Buddhas. Each of those demon-kings, who belong to the most popular section of Lamaist Tantrism — the Anuttara yoga — has a consort, who is even more malignant than her spouse.

There are several of these ferocious many-armed monsters, all of the fiercest fiend type already described, and all much alike in general appearance. But each sect has got its own particular tutelary-demon, whom it believes to be pre-eminently powerful...

Vajra-bhairava, or "The Fearful thunderbolt." (T., rDo-rje- 'jigs-byed). See figure on opposite page.

This is a form of Siva as the destroyer of the king of the dead, namely, as Yamantaka. Yet with truly Lamaist ingenuousness this hideous creature is believed to be a metamorphosis of the mild and merciful Avalokita. His appearance will best be understood from his picture here attached. He has several heads, of which the lowest central one is that of a bull. His arms and legs are innumerable, the former carrying weapons, and the latter trample upon the enemies of the established church.

It will be noticed that these writhing victims are represented of the four ancient classes of beings, namely, gods, men, quadrupeds, and birds...

Defenders of the Faith. (Skt., Dharmapala; T., Ch'os-skyon.

These are the demon-generals or commanders-in-chief who execute the will of the tutelaries — the demon-kings. In appearance they are almost as hideous and fierce as their fiendish masters, and each commands a horde of demons.

They are of the fiercest fiend type (the Drag-po and To-wo) already described. The females are metamorphoses of the Hindu fiendess, Kali Devi...

"The Goddess or The queen of the warring weapons." Lha-mo (or pal-ldan-Lha-mo); Skt., Devi (or Sri-Devi). And also, in Tibetan, dMagzor rgyal-mo.

This great she-devil, like her prototype the goddess Durga of Brahmanism, is, perhaps, the most malignant and powerful of all the demons, and the most dreaded. She is credited with letting loose the demons of disease, and her name is scarcely ever mentioned, and only then with bated breath, and under the title of "The great queen" — Maha-rani.

She is figured, as at page 334, surrounded by flames, and riding on a white-faced mule, upon a saddle of her own son's skin flayed by herself. She is clad in human skins and is eating human brains and blood from a skull; and she wields in her right hand a trident-rod. She has several attendant "queens" riding upon different animals.

She is publicly worshipped for seven days by the Lamas of all sects, especially at the end of the twelfth month, in connection with the prevention of disease for the incoming year. And in the cake offered to her are added amongst other ingredients the fat of a black goat, blood, wine, dough and butter, and these are placed in a bowl made from a human skull.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:29 am


Part 3:

THE LORD-DEMONS. (T., mGon-po; Skt., Natha.)

These form a class of demon-generals, of the fiercest Drag-po type. Each Lamaist sect has chosen one as its defender, whom it claims to be pre-eminently powerful, thus: —

"The six-armed lord," T., mGon-po p'yag-drug, is the chief minister of the tutelary fiend of the established church.

"The lord of the black cloak," or "The four-armed lord," T., mGon-po Gur, is the general of the tutelary Samvara of the Kar-gyu-pa sect. And he is the fiend-general of the old unreformed sect — the Nin-ma-pa. He is figured at page 70.

These "lords" are said to number seventy-five. Several of them are referred to in regard to their masks in the chapter on the mystic play. The highest is the bird-faced Garuda...

Dakkinis, or Furies. (T., mkah-'gro-ma, or "Sky-goer"; Skt., Khecara.

These Dakkinis are chiefly consorts of the demoniacal tutelaries, and the generals of the latter. Many of them seem to be of an indigenous nature like the Bon-pa deities...


The most favourite of the godlings is the god of wealth, Jambhala...

The Naga or Dragon-demigods are the mermen and mermaids of the Hindu myth and the demons of drought. They are of four kinds: (1) celestial, guarding the mansions of the gods; (2) aerial, causing winds to blow and rain to fall for human benefit; (3) earthly, marking out the courses of the rivers and streams; (4) guardians of hidden treasures, watching the wealth concealed from mortals.

The Nagas are usually given the form of snakes, as these inhabit the bowels of the earth, the matrix of precious stones and metals; while in their character of rain-producers they are figured as dragons...The Naga community, like the human, is divided into kings, nobles, and commoners, Buddhists and non-Buddhists...

The female Yaksha— the Yakshini— are the "witch-women," the stealer of children of general myths...

The Country-Gods...

Goblins or Ghosts (Tsan), all male, red in colour. These are usually the vindictive ghosts of Lamas, discontented priests; and they are vindictive. They especially haunt temples.

Devils (bDud), all male, black in colour, and most malignant. These are the ghosts of the persecutors of Lamaism, and cannot be appeased without the sacrifice of a pig...

Mother-she-devils (Ma-mo), black coloured, the "disease mistresses" (nad-bdag). They are sometimes the spouses of the foregoing malignant demons, and cannot be very sharply demarcated from the other she-devils...

Local Gods and Genii.

The truly "local gods" or Genii loci, the "foundation owners" of the Tibetans, are located to a particular fixed place, and seldom conceived of as separate from their places.

In appearance they are mostly Caliban-like sprites, ill-tempered and spiteful, or demoniacal...

In every monastery and temple the image of the genius loci, as an idol or fresco, is placed within the outer gateway, usually to the right of the door, and worshipped with wine, and occasionally with bloody sacrifice...


As he is of a roving disposition, occupying different parts of the house at different seasons, his presence is a constant source of anxiety to the householders; for no objects may invade or occupy the place where he has taken up his position, nor may it be swept or in any way disturbed without incurring his deadly wrath. Thus it happens that an unsophisticated visitor, on entering a Tibetan house and seeing a vacant place near at hand, sets there his hat, only, however, to have it instantly snatched up by his host in holy horror, with the hurried explanation that the god is at present occupying that spot.

It is some satisfaction, however, to find that all the house-gods of the land regulate their movements in the same definite and known order. Thus in the first and second months he occupies the centre of the house, and is then called "The Gel-thun house-god."

In the third and fourth months the god stands in the doorway and is called "the door-god of the horse and yak."

In the fifth month he stands under the eaves, and is called "ya-ngas-pa."

In the sixth month he stands at the south-west corner of the house.

In the seventh and eighth months he stands under the eaves.

In the ninth and tenth months he stands in the fire-tripod or grate.

In the eleventh and twelfth months he stands at the kitchen hearth, where a place is reserved for him. He is then called "the kitchen-god."

His movements thus bear a certain relation to the season, as he is outside in the hottest weather, and at the fire in the coldest.

Formerly his movements were somewhat different; and according to the ancient style he used to circulate much more extensively and frequently."

The other precautions entailed by his presence, and the penalties for disturbing him, are these: —

In the first and second months, when the god is in the middle of the house, the fire-grate must not be placed there, but removed to a corner of the room, and no dead body must be deposited there. While he is at the door, no bride or bridegroom may come or go, nor any corpse. Should, however, there be no other way of ingress or egress, such as by a window or otherwise, and there be urgent necessity for the passage of a bride, bridegroom, or corpse, then the images of a horse and a yak must be made with wheaten flour, and on each of them is placed some skin and hair of each of the animals represented. Tea and beer are then offered to the god, who is invited to sit on the images thus provided for him. The door is then unhinged and carried outside, and the bride, bridegroom, or corpse passes, and the door is restored to its place.

When he is at the kitchen fire, no part of the hearth can be removed or mended, and no corpse may be placed there, nor must any marriage then take place. And should any visitor arrive, he must be screened off from the fireplace by a blanket, and a scripture (the "ch'os-mge-khri") read to avert his wrath.

When he is in the verandah he gives very little trouble. Only at that time no one may whitewash or repair the outside of the house.

And as a general precautionary measure once every year, and at extra times, whenever any suspicion arises that the god may have been slighted or is offended, it is necessary to get the Lamas to propitiate him by doing "The water sacrifice for the eight injurers"...

Personal Gods or "Familiars."

These are comparable to the daimon or familiar-spirits of the Greeks. But in Tibet the body of each individual is beset by a number of personal sprites.

Each Tibetan carries the following familiar spirits extra to the two Buddhist angels, good and bad, which sit upon the right and left shoulder respectively and prompt to good deeds or to sins, namely, the p'o, ma, z'an, da, or enemy (-defeating) god, vulgarly called dab-lha. This enemy-god sits on the right shoulder of every Tibetan.

Tantrik Wizard-Priests.

T.'Grub-t'ob ch'en or "grub-c'hen (Skt., Siddha or Mahasiddha).

This degraded class of Indian Buddhist priest is most popular with the Lamas. They are credited with supernatural powers, by being in league with the demons...

St. Padma-sambhava receives more active worship than any of the others. Indeed, he is deified. He is most commonly worshipped in the form shown in the centre of the plate on page 24. He sits dressed as a native of Udyana, holding a thunderbolt in his right hand and a skull of blood in his left, and carrying in his left arm-pit the trident of the king of death. The top of this trident transfixes a freshly decapitated human head, a wizened head, and a skull. And the saint is attended by his two wives, offering him libations of blood and wine in skull-bowls, while before him are set offerings of portions of human corpses...

The Legendary History of the Founder of Lamaism...

Then the king, whose sight has been miraculously restored, visits the lake, and, embarking in a boat, proceeds to see the shining wonder, and finds on the pure bosom of the lake a lotus-flower of matchless beauty, on whose petals sits a lovely boy of eight years old, sceptred and shining like a god. The king, falling on his knees, worships the infant prodigy, exclaiming: "Incomparable boy! who art thou? Who is thy father and what thy country?" To which the child made answer: "My Father I know! I come in accordance with the prophecy of the great Sakya Muni, who said: 'Twelve hundred years after me, in the north-east of the Urgyan country, in the pure lake of Kosha, a person more famed than myself will be born from a lotus, and be known as Padma-sambhava, or "the Lotus-born," and he shall be the teacher of my esoteric Mantra-doctrine, and shall deliver all beings from misery'"...

The youthful Padma-sambhava now kills several of the subjects, who, in their present or former lives, had injured Buddhism; and on this the people complain of his misdeeds to the king, demanding his banishment...

E-ka-dsa-ti.— When the Guru reached gNam-t'an-mk'ar-nag, the white fiendess of that place showered thunderbolts upon him, without, however, harming him. The Guru retaliated by melting her snow-dwelling into a lake; and the discomfited fury fled into the lake T'an-dpal-mo-dpal, which the Guru then caused to boil. But though her flesh boiled off her bones, still she did not emerge; so the Guru threw in his thunderbolt, piercing her right eye. Then came she forth and offered up to him her life-essence, and was thereon named Gans-dkar-sha-med-rDo-rje-sPyan-gcig-ma, or "The Snow-white, Fleshless, One-eyed Ogress of the Vajra"...

The ghosts of many deceased Lamas are worshipped in the belief that they have become malignant spirits who wreak their wrath on their former associates and pupils....

The twelve Tan-ma Furies...offered him their life-essence, and so were brought under his control...

Yar-lha-sham-po...offered up to the Guru his life-essence; and so this adversary was subjected.

Tan'-lha the great gNan...offered up his life-essence, together with that of all his retinue, and so he was subjected...

The Injurers...offered their life-essence and so were subjected...


The extremely rich symbolism found in Lamaism is largely of Indian and Chinese origin. Its emblems are mainly of a conventional Hindu kind, more or less modified to adapt them to their Buddhist setting. Others are derived from the Chinese, and a few only are of Tibetan origin. These latter are mostly of a very crude kind, like the rebuses common in mediaeval England for the use of the illiterate...

The Lotus. — Most of the sacred emblems, as well as the images of divinities, it will be noticed, are figured upon a lotus-flower. This expresses the Hindu idea of super-human origin. The lotus upon the lake seems to spring from the body of the waters without contact with the sordid earth, and, no matter how muddy the water may be, the lotus preserves its own purity undefiled...

The Svastika, or "fly-foot cross," is a cross with the free end of each arm bent at right angles to the limbs. It is one of the most widely diffused of archaic symbols, having been found at Troy by Schliemann, and among ancient Teutonic nations as the emblem of Thor. In Buddhism, the ends of the arms are always bent in the respectful attitude, that is, towards the left; for the Lamas, while regarding the symbol as one of good augury, also consider it to typify the continuous moving, or "the ceaseless becoming," which is commonly called, Life. Sir A. Cunningham believed it to be a monogram formed from the Asoka characters for the auspicious words Su + Asti, or "that which is good." It was especially associated with the divinity of Fire, as representing the two cross pieces of wood which by friction produce fire. The Jains, who seem to be an Indian offshoot of Buddhism, appropriate it for the seventh of their mythical saints. The heterodox Tibetans, the Bon, in adopting it have turned the ends in the reverse direction...

The jewel of a Wife. "The Jasper-girl" who fans her lord to sleep, and attends him with the constancy of a slave...

The Seven (Royal) Badges...

The Eight Glorious Offerings.

The intestinal concretion (gi-ham or gi-'van found in the entrails of certain animals and on the neck of an elephant. The land-guarding elephant offered this to Buddha, and he blessed it...

The white turnip. — Vajrapani, "the Secret Lord," offered him a white turnip (yan-dkar), which he blessed as the demon-defeating turnip...

The Five Sensuous Qualities...

A Buddhist adaptation of the Hindu "eight enjoyments" (Ashtabhoga), namely, a grand house, a bed, fine clothes, jewels, wives, flowers, perfumes, areca-nut and betel...

The Lamas have also incorporated the four greatest amongst the Chinese symbolic animals, to wit, the Tortoise, the Phoenix, Dragon, and Horse-dragon, as well as the Chinese Tiger, and the Bats.

The Tortoise symbolizes the universe to the Chinese as well as the Hindus. Its dome-shaped back represents the vault of the sky, its belly the earth, which moves upon the waters; and its fabulous longevity leads to its being considered imperishable...

The Phoenix (or "Garuda"). This mythical "sky-soarer" is the great enemy of the dragons, and has been assimilated to the Indian Garuda, the arch-enemy of the Nagas. And anyone who has, like myself, seen the bird popularly called Garuda (namely the Adjutant or Stork) devouring snakes, must realize why the Indians fixed upon such a homely simile to represent their myth. It seems to be analogous to the Thunder-bird of the North American Indians. In a more mystic sense the Lamas, like the Chinese, believe it to symbolize the entire world; its head is the heaven, its eyes the sun, its back the crescent moon, its wings the wind, its feet the earth, its tail the trees and plants...

But the commonest use of sacred symbols is as talismans to ward off the evils of those malignant planets and demons who cause disease and disaster, as well as for inflicting harm on one's enemy. The symbols here are used in a mystical and magic sense as spells and as fetishes, and usually consist of formulas in corrupt and often unintelligible Sanskrit, extracted from the Mahayana and Tantrik scriptures, and called dharani, as they are believed to "hold" divine powers, and are also used as incantations...

The eating of the paper on which a charm has been written is an ordinary way of curing disease, as indeed it had been in Europe till not so many centuries ago, for the mystic Rx heading our prescriptions is generally admitted to have had its origin in the symbol of Saturn, whom it invoked, and the paper on which the symbol and several other mystic signs were inscribed constituted the medicine, and was itself actually eaten by the patient. The spells which the Lamas use in this way as medicine are shown in the annexed print, and are called "the edible letters" (za-yig).

A still more mystical way of applying these remedies is by the washings of the reflection of the writing in a mirror, a practice not without its parallels in other quarters of the globe. Thus to cure the evil eye as shown by symptoms of mind-wandering and dementia condition — called "byad-'grol" — it is ordered as follows: Write with Chinese ink on a piece of wood the particular letters and smear the writing over with myrobalams and saffron as varnish, and every twenty-nine days reflect this inscribed wood in a mirror, and during reflection wash the face of the mirror with beer, and collect a cupful of such beer and drink it in nine sips.

But most of the charms are worn on the person as amulets. Every individual always wears around the neck one or more of these amulets, which are folded up into little cloth-covered packets, bound with coloured threads in a geometrical pattern. Others are kept in small metallic cases of brass, silver, or gold, set with turquoise stones as amulets, and called "Ga-u." These amulets are fastened to the girdle or sash, and the smaller ones are worn as lockets, and with each are put relics of holy men — a few threads or fragments of cast-off robes of saints or idols, peacock feathers, sacred Kusa grass, and occasionally images and holy pills. Other large charms are affixed overhead in the house or tent to ward off lightning, hail, etc., and for cattle special charms are chanted, or sometimes pasted on the walls of the stalls, etc...

Charm against Bullets and Weapons.

The directions are as these: With the blood of a wounded man draw the annexed monogram (D (upside-down D) and insert in the vacant space in the centre of the aforesaid print of "The Assembly of the Hearts of the Lamas." The sheet should then be folded and wrapped in a piece of red silk, and tie up with a piece of string and wear around the neck or an unexposed part of your breast immediately next the skin, and never remove it.

Charm for Clawing Animals (i.e., tigers, cats, bears, etc.).

On a miniature knife write with a mixture of myrobalans and musk-water the monogram (? ZAH) and tie up, etc. (Here the knife seems to represent the animal's claw.)

For Domestic Broils.

Write the monogram (? RE) and insert in print and fold up and bind with a thread made of the mixed hairs of a dog, goat, sheep, and enclose in a mouse-skin, and tie, etc. (This seems to represent union of domestic elements.)

For Kitchen Cooking Smells offensive to the House-Gods.

With the blood of a hybrid bull-calf write the monogram GAU ( = cow), and insert it in the print, and fold up in a piece of hedge-hog-skin. (Compare with the western Aryan myth of the Greek hearth-god Vulcan, whose mother Hera as Io is represented as a cow.)

For Cholera (or "the vomiting, purging, and cramps").

With the dung of a black horse and black sulphur and musk-water write the monogram (? ZA), and insert in the print, and fold up in a piece of snake-skin, and wear, etc. (Here the dung seems to represent the purging, the horse the galloping course, the black colour the deadly character, and the snake the virulence of the disease.)...

The huge Tibetan mastiffs are let loose at night as watch-dogs, and roaming about in a ferocious state are a constant source of alarm to travellers, most of whom therefore carry the following charm against dog-bite. It consists of a picture of a dog fettered and muzzled by a chain, terminated by the mystic and all-powerful thunderbolt-sceptre; and it contains the following inscribed Sanskrit mantras and statements: "The mouth of the blue dog is bound beforehand! Omriti-sri-ti swaha! Omriti-sri-ti swaha!"...

Charm for KILLING One's Enemy.

The necromantic charms for killing one's enemy are resorted to mostly in inter-tribal feuds and warring with foreigners. I have given details of these rites elsewhere. They require the following objects: —

1. An axe with three heads, the right of which is bull-headed, the left snake-headed, and the middle one pig-headed.

2. On the middle head a lamp is to be kept.

3. In the pig's mouth an image of a human being made of wheaten flour (a linga). The upper part of the body is black and the lower part red. On the side of the upper part of the body draw the figure of the eight great planets, and on the lower part of the body the twenty-eight constellations of stars. Write also the eight parkha (trigrams), the nine mewa, the claws of the Garuda in the hands, the wing of the eagles and the snake tail.

4. Hang a bow and an arrow on the left and load him with provisions on the back. Hang an owl's feather on the right and a rook's on the left; plant a piece of the poison-tree on the upper part of the body, and surround him with red swords on all sides. Then a red Rgyangbu wood on the right, a yellow one on the left, a black one in the middle, and many blue ones on divers places.

5. Then, sitting in quiet meditation, recite the following:—

"Hum! This axe with a bull's head on the right will repel all the injuries of the Nag-pas and Bon-pos— sorcerers; the snake on the left will repel all the classes of plagues; the pig's head in the middle will repel the sa-dag and other earth-demons; the linga image in the mouth will repel all the evil spirits without remainder, and the lamp on the head will repel the evil spirits of the upper regions. O! the axe will cleave the heart of the angry enemy and also of the hosts of evil spirits!!! etc., etc., etc., etc.

During the Sikhim expedition of 1888, near Mt. Paul on the Tukola ridge, where the final attack of the Tibetans was made, there was found one of the mystic contrivances for the destruction of the enemy. It consisted of an obliquely carved piece of wood, about fourteen inches long, like a miniature screw-propeller of a steamer, and acted like the fan of a windmill. It was admittedly a charm for the destruction of the enemy by cleaving them to pieces, a device for which there are western parallels. And on it was written a long, unintelligible Bon spell of the kind called z'an-z'un, followed by a call for the assistance of the fierce deities Tam-din, Vajrapani, and the Gaaruda, and concluding with "phat, phat " — Break! Destroy! It may also be mentioned here that the bodies of all the Tibetans slain in these encounters were found to bear one or more charms against wounds, most of them being quite new; and some of the more elaborate ones, which contained in their centre figures of the other weapons charmed against, swords, muskets, etc., had cost their wearers as much as twenty-five rupees a-piece.

And for torturing one's enemy short of death, there is the same popular practice which is found amongst occidentals, namely, of making a little clay image of the enemy and thrusting pins into it.

The directions for this procedure are: —

Take some of the earth from his footprints; or better from the house of some wrecked person, and mixing with dough prepare a small figure of a man. On its head put thorns. Through the heart's region thrust a copper needle. Then say following spell: Om Ghate Jam-mo hamo hadsam; during the recital of which move the needle briskly over the region of the heart. If this process is long continued then the bewitched person will surely die within the day; but if done only for a time, and the needle and thorns are again withdrawn, and the image-body and needles are washed, the enemy who is thus bewitched will only suffer temporary anguish, and will recover (for it is against Buddhist principles to take life)...


Everyone who has been in Burma is familiar with the tall masts (tagun-daing), with their streaming banners, as accessories of every Buddhist temple in that country. Each mast in Burma is surmounted by an image of one or more Brahmani geese, and the streamers are either flat or long cylinders of bamboo framework pasted over with paper, which is often inscribed with pious sentences. The monks whom I asked regarding the nature of this symbol believed that it was borrowed from Indian Buddhism.

Now, the resemblance which these posts bear to the Asoka pillars is certainly remarkable. Both are erected by Buddhists for the purposes of gaining merit and displaying aloft pious wishes or extracts from the law; and the surmounting geese form an essential feature of the abacus of several Asoka pillars...

The planting of a Lamaist prayer-flag, while in itself a highly pious act, which everyone practises at some time or other, does not merely confer merit on the planter, but benefits the whole countryside. And the concluding sentence of the legend inscribed on the flag is usually "Let Buddha's doctrine prosper" — which is practically the gist of the Asoka inscriptions...

The prayer-flags are used by the Lamas as luck-commanding talismans; and the commonest of them, the so-called "Airy horse," seems to me to be clearly based upon and also bearing the same name as "The Horse-dragon" of the Chinese.

This Horse-dragon or "Long-horse" is one of the four great mythic animals of China, and it is the symbol for grandeur. It is represented, as in the figure on the opposite page, as a dragon-headed horse, carrying on its back the civilizing Book of the Law.

Now this is practically the same figure as "The Lung-horse" (literally "Wind-horse") of the Lamaist flag, which also is used for the expressed purpose of increasing the grandeur of the votary; indeed, this is the sole purpose for which the flag is used by the Tibetan laity, with whom these flags are extremely popular.

And the conversion of "The Horse-dragon" of the Chinese into the Wind-horse of the Tibetans is easily accounted for by a confusion of homonyms. The Chinese word for "Horse-dragon" is Long-ma, of which Long = Dragon, and ma = Horse. In Tibet, where Chinese is practically unknown, Long, being the radical word, would tend to be retained for a time, while the qualifying word, ma, translated into Tibetan, becomes "rta." Hence we get the form "Long-rta." But as the foreign word Long was unintelligible in Tibet, and the symbolic animal is used almost solely for fluttering in the wind, the "Long" would naturally become changed after a time into Lung or "wind," in order to give it some meaning, hence, so it seems to me, arose the word Lung-rta, or "Wind-horse."

In appearance the Tibetan "Lung-horse" so closely resembles its evident prototype the "Horse-dragon," that it could easily be mistaken for it. On the animal's back, in place of the Chinese civilizing Book of the Law, the Lamas have substituted the Buddhist emblem of the civilizing Three Gems, which include the Buddhist Law. But the Tibetans, in their usual sordid way, view these objects as the material gems and wealth of good luck which this horse will bring to its votaries. The symbol is avowedly a luck-commanding talisman for enhancing the grandeur of the votary.

Indian myth also lends itself to the association of the horse with luck; for the Jewel-horse of the universal monarch, such as Buddha was to have been had he cared for worldly grandeur, carries its rider, Pegasus-like, through the air in whatever direction wished for, and thus it would become associated with the idea of realization of material wishes, and especially wealth and jewels. This horse also forms the throne-support of the mythical celestial Buddha named Ratna-sambhava, or "the Jewel-born One," who is often represented symbolically by a jewel. And we find in many of these luck-flags that the picture of a jewel takes the place of the horse. It is also notable that the mythical people of the northern continent, subject to the god of wealth, Kuvera, or Vaisravana, are "horse-faced"...

One lung-horse for each member of a household must be planted on the third day of every month (lunar) on the top of any hill near at hand, or on the branch of a tree near a spring, or tied to the sides of a bridge; and on affixing the flag a stick of incense is burned. And a small quantity of flour, grain, flesh, and beer are offered to the genius loci of the hill-top by sprinkling them around, saying, So! So! Take! Take!...

In the central disc over the junction of the cross Dor-je is written: "Om! neh ya rani jiwenti ye swaha! O! May this charm-holder be given the undying gift of soul everlasting (as the adamantine cross Dor-je herein pictured)."

In planting these luck-flags a special form of worship is observed. And the planting of these flags with the due worship is advised to be done whenever anyone feels unhappy and down in luck, or injured by the earth-demons, etc....

The credulous Lamas of north-eastern Tibet credited Mr. Rockhill with having captured the golden fish in the Tosu lake. "When I came back from Tosu-nor to Shang, the Khanpo (abbot), a Tibetan, asked me where I proposed going; 'To Lob-nor,' I replied, not wishing to discuss my plans. 'I supposed that was your intention,' he rejoined; 'you have caught our horse and fish of gold in the Tosu-nor, and now you want to get the frog of gold of the Lob-nor. But it will be useless to try; there is in the whole world but the Panchen Rinpoche, of Tashi-lhunpo, who is able to catch it"...

Worship and Ritual.

WORSHIP and priestcraft had no place in primitive Buddhism. Pious regard for admirable persons, such as Buddha and the elders, and for ancient cities and sacred sites, was limited to mere veneration, and usually took the form of respectful circumambulation (usually three times), with the right hand towards the admired object, as in western ceremonial, and this veneration was extended to the other two members of the Buddhist trinity, namely, Buddha's Word or Dharma, and the Assembly of the Faithful.

After Buddha's death such ceremonial, to satisfy the religious sense, seems soon to have crystallized into concrete worship and sacrifice as an act of affection and gratitude towards the Three Holy Ones; and it was soon extended so as to include the worship of three other classes of objects, namely (1), Bodily relics (Saririka); (2), Images of Buddha's person, etc. (Uddesika; and (3), Vestments, utensils, etc. (Paribhogika). And in justification of such worship the southern Buddhists quote the sanction of Buddha himself, though of course without any proof for it...

But in Lamaism the ritualistic cults are seen in their most developed form, and many of these certainly bear a close resemblance outwardly to those found within the church of Rome, in the pompous services with celibate and tonsured monks and nuns, candles, bells, censers, rosaries, mitres, copes, pastoral crooks, worship of relics, confession, intercession of "the Mother of God," litanies and chants, holy water, triad divinity organized hierarchy, etc.

It is still uncertain, however, how much of the Lamaist symbolism may have been borrowed from Roman Catholicism, or vice versa. Large Christian communities certainly existed in western China, near the borders of Tibet, as early as the seventh century A.D.

Thus has it happened, in a system which acknowledged no Creator, that the monks are in the anomalous position of priests to a host of exacting deities and demons, and hold the keys of hell and heaven, for they have invented the common saying, "'without a Lama in front (of the votary), there is (no approach to) God." And so instilled is such belief in the minds of the laity that no important business is undertaken without first offering worship or sacrifice...

But there is no limit to the variety of things that are offered. Wealthy votaries offer art objects, rich tapestries, gold and silver vessels, jewels, and the plunders of war, including weapons. In Burma, some of the earliest knitting and embroidery efforts of young girls are devoted to Buddha's shrine, along with American clocks and chandeliers, tins of jam and English biscuits, sardines, and Birmingham umbrellas. And most of these, and still more incongruous objects, are offered on Lamaist altars; even eggs are sometimes given...

Many of the Lamaist offerings are of the nature of real sacrifice. Some of the objects are destroyed at the time of offering. Ceremonies to propitiate demons are usually done after dark, and the objects are then commonly thrown down "delibare." Frequently the sacrifice is given the form of a banquet...

A still more elaborate arrangement of food-offerings is seen in the banquet to the whole assembly of the gods and the demons, entitled Kon-ch'og-chi-du, or "sacrifice to the whole assembly of Rare Ones," which is frequently held in the temples. This feast is observed by Lamas of all sects, and is an interesting sample of devil-worship. The old fashion is here detailed, but it differs from that of the reformed or high church only in providing for a slightly larger party of demoniacal guests; the Ge-lug-pa inviting only the following, to wit, their chief Lama, St. Tson-K'a-pa, their tutelary deity Vajra-bhairava, Vajrasattva Buddha, the deified heroes, the fairies, the guardian demons of the Ge-lug-pa creed, the god of wealth, the guardian demons of the caves where the undiscovered revelations are deposited, the five sister sprites of mount Everest, the twelve aerial fiendesses (Tan-ma), who sow disease, and the more important local gods.

This sacrifice should be done in the temples for the benefit of the Lamas on the 10th and 15th of every month. On behalf of laymen it must be done once annually at the expense of every individual layman who can afford it; and on extra occasions, as a thanksgiving for a successful undertaking, and as a propitiation in sickness, death, and disaster...

"Ambrosia" (amrita), in Tibetan literally "devils' juice"...

Then a celebration called Lhak-dor is done, and the whole of these crumbs — the leavings of the Lamas — are contemptuously thrown down on to the ground, outside the temple-door to the starveling ghosts and those evil-spirits who have not jet been subjected by St. Padma or subsequent Lamas...

Tara's Worship...

If you chant her hymn two or three or six or seven times, your desire for a son will be realized!...

On confessing to Thee penitently their sins
The most sinful hearts, yea! even the committers of the
Ten vices and the five boundless sins,
Will obtain forgiveness and reach
Perfection of soul — through Thee!...

and may all our desires be realized without exertion on our part...

The "Refuge-Formula" of the Lamas

The "Refuge-formula" of the Lamas, which I here translate, well illustrates the very depraved form of Buddhism professed by the majority of Lamas; for here we find that the original triple Refuge-formula (Skt., Trisarana; Pali, Saranagamana) in the Three Holies, the Triratna— Buddha, The Word, and The Assembly — has been extended so as to comprise the vast host of deities, demons and deified saints of Tibet, as well as many of the Indian Mahayana and Yogacarya saints...

"Now! we — the innumerable animal beings — conceiving that (through the efficacy of the above dharanis and prayers, we have become pure in thought like Buddha himself; and that we are working for the welfare of the other animal beings; we, therefore, having now acquired the qualities of the host of the Gods, and the roots of the Tantras, the Z'i-wa, rGyas-pa, dBan and P'rin-las, we desire that all the other animal beings be possessed of happiness, and be freed from misery! Let us — all animals! — be freed from lust, anger, and attachment to worldly affairs, and let us perfectly understand the true nature of The Religion!...

The "Eucharist" of Lamaism...

[E]very village must have it performed at least once a year for the life of the general community, and after its performance any prolongation of life is credited to this service: while a fatal result is attributed to the excessive misdeeds of the individual in his last life or in previous births...

The priest who conducts this ceremony for propitiation of Amitayus and the other gods of longevity must be of the purest morals, and usually a total abstainer from meat and wine. He must have fasted during the greater part of the twenty four hours preceding the rite, have repeated the mantras of the life-giving gods many times, 100,000 times if possible, and he must have secured ceremonial purity by bathing...

Everything being ready and the congregation assembled, the priest, ceremonially pure by the ascetic rites above noted, and dressed as in the frontispiece, abstracts from the great image of Buddha Amitayus part of the divine essence of that deity, by placing the vajra of his rdor-jehi gzun-t'ag upon the nectar-vase which the image of Amitayus holds in his lap, and applying the other end to his own bosom, over his heart. Thus, through the string, as by a telegraph wire, passes the divine spirit, and the Lama must mentally conceive that his heart is in actual union with that of the god Amitayus, and that, for the time being, he is himself that god. Then he invokes his tutelary-fiend, and through him the fearful horse-necked Hayayriva (Tamdin), the king of the demons. The Lama, with this divine triad (namely, the Buddha and the two demon kings) incorporate in him, and exhibiting the forms of all three to spiritual eyes, now dispenses his divine favours...

Here the Lama, assuming the threatening aspect of the demon-kings, who are, for the time being, in his body, adds, "Should you refuse to go, then I, who am the most powerful Hayagriva and the king of the angry demons, will crush you — body, speech and mind — to dust! Obey my mandate and begone, each to his abode, otherwise you shall suffer. Om sumbhani," etc. Now, the Lamas and the people, believing that all the evil spirits have been driven away by the demon-king himself, shout, "The gods have won! the devils are defeated!"...


LIKE most primitive people, the Tibetans believe that the planets and spiritual powers, good and bad, directly exercise a potent influence upon man's welfare and destiny, and that the portending machinations of these powers are only to be foreseen, discerned, and counteracted by the priests.

Such beliefs have been zealously fostered by the Lamas, who have led the laity to understand that it is necessary for each individual to have recourse to the astrologer-Lama or Tsi-pa on each of the three great epochs of life, to wit, birth, marriage, and death: and also at the beginning of each year to have a forecast of the year's ill-fortune and its remedies drawn out for them.

These remedies are all of the nature of rampant demonolatry for the appeasing or coercion of the demons of the air, the earth, the locality, house, the death-demon, etc.

Indeed, the Lamas are themselves the real supporters of the demonolatry. They prescribe it wholesale, and derive from it their chief means of livelihood at the expense of the laity...

The astrologer-Lamas have always a constant stream of persons coming to them for prescriptions as to what deities and demons require appeasing and the remedies necessary to neutralize these portending evils....

The days of the month in their numerical order are unlucky per se in this order. The first is unlucky for starting any undertaking, journey, etc. The second is very bad to travel. Third is good provided no bad combination otherwise. Fourth is bad for sickness and accident (Ch'u-'jag). Eighth bad. The dates counted on fingers, beginning from thumb and counting second in the hollow between thumb and index finger, the hollow always comes out bad, thus second, eighth, fourteenth, etc. Ninth is good for long journeys but not for short (Kut-da). Fourteenth and twenty-fourth are like fourth. The others are fairly good coeteris paribus. In accounts, etc., unlucky days are often omitted altogether and the dates counted by duplicating the preceding day...

The spirits of the seasons also powerfully influence the luckiness or unluckiness of the days. It is necessary to know which spirit has arrived at the particular place and time when an event has happened or an undertaking is entertained. And the very frequent and complicated migrations of these aerial spirits, good and bad, can only be ascertained by the Lamas...

A preliminary fee or present is usually given to the astrologer at the time of applying for the horoscope, in order to secure as favourable a presage as possible...

The Misfortune Account of the Family of __________ For the Earth-Mouse Year (i.e., 1888 A.D.)...

The extravagant amount of worship prescribed in the above horoscope is only a fair sample of the amount which the Lamas order one family to perform so as to neutralize the current year's demoniacal influences on account of the family inter-relations only. In addition to the worship herein prescribed there also needs to be done the special worship for each individual according to his or her own life's horoscope as taken at birth; and in the case of husband and wife, their additional burden of worship which accrues to their life horoscope on their marriage, due to the new set of conflicts introduced by the conjunction of their respective years and their noxious influences; and other rites should a death have happened either in their own family or even in the neighbourhood. And when, despite the execution of all this costly worship, sickness still happens, it necessitates the further employment of Lamas, and the recourse by the more wealthy to a devil-dancer or to a special additional horoscope by the Lama. So that one family alone is prescribed a sufficient number of sacerdotal tasks to engage a couple of Lamas fairly fully for several months of every year!

A somewhat comical result of all this wholesale reading of scriptures is that, in order to get through the prescribed reading of the several bulky scriptures within a reasonable time, it is the practice to call in a dozen or so Lamas, each of whom reads aloud, but all at the same time, a different book or chapter for the benefit of the person concerned...

The cards used for most divination purposes are small oblong strips of cardboard, each representing several degrees of lucky and unlucky portents suitably inscribed and pictorially illustrated, and to each of these is attached a small thread.

In consulting this oracle, an invocation is first addressed to a favourite deity, frequently the goddess Tara, and the packet is held by the left hand on a level with the face, and, with closed eyes, one of the threads is grasped, and its attached card is drawn out. The best out of three draws is held to decide the luck of the proposed undertaking, or the ultimate result of the sickness or the other question of fortune sought after...

The set of fifteen squares is called "Gya-nag-sman-ch'u," or "The Chinese medicinal water." It consists of a triple series of five squares, with the numbers arranged as in the sketch...

The set of twenty-one squares is called "The twenty-one Taras," after the twenty-one forms of that obliging goddess. Above the centre of the diagram is a figure of that goddess, who is specially invoked in this divination. The numbers run as in the diagram here given. As a sample of the oracles I give here a few of the divination-results from Tara's series. If the black seed falls on 1,2, 8, or 9, the divination is as follows: —

No. 1. The Jewel. — If you do not go to sea then you will get the jewel. For merchants' and thieves' adventures it is good...

A most peculiar application of the dice is for determining the successive regions and grades of one's future re-births. Fifty-six or more squares of about two inches wide are painted side by side in contrasted colours on a large sheet of cloth, thus giving a chequered area like an ordinary draught or chess-board. Each square represents a certain phase of existence in one or other of the six regions of re-birth, and on it is graphically depicted a figure or scene expressive of the particular state of existence in the world of man, or beast, or god, or in hell, etc., and it bears in its centre the name of its particular form of existence, and it also contains the names of six other possible states of re-birth which ensue from this particular existence, these names being preceded by one or other of the following six letters: A, S, R, G, D, Y, which are also borne on the six faces of the wooden cube which forms the solitary dice for this divination.

Starting from the world of human existence, the dice is thrown, and the letter which turns up determines the region of the next re-birth. Then proceeding from it the dice is again thrown and the letter turned up indicates the next state of re-birth from this new existence, and so on from square to square ad infinitum...

The dice accompanying my copy of this board seems to have been loaded so as to show up the letter Y, which gives a ghostly existence, and thus necessitates the performance of many expensive rites to counteract so undesirable a fate...


Dwelling in an atmosphere of superstition, the Lamas, like the alchemists of old, do not recognize the limitation to their powers over Nature. They believe that the hermits in the mountains, and the monks in their cloisters, can readily become adepts in the black art, and can banish drought, and control the sun, and stay the storm; and many of their necromantic performances recall the scene of the "witches' cauldron" in Macbeth.

Magic, and this mostly of a sympathetic kind, seems to have crept into Indian Buddhism soon after Buddha's death. In the form of irdhi, or the acquisition of supernatural power, it is a recognized attribute of the Arhats, and even among the primitive Hinayana Buddhists. The Paritta ("pirit") rite of the Southern Buddhists is essentially of the character of exorcism, and portions of the text of the Saddharma Pundarika, dating to about the first century of our era, are specially framed for this purpose.

But the Indian cult does not appear ever to have descended to the gross devil-dancing and Shamanist charlatanism of the Lamas; though even the Lamas seldom, if ever, practise such common tricks as swallowing knives and vomiting fire, with which they have been credited. They find plenty of scope for their charlatanism in playing upon the easy credulity of the people by working themselves into the furious state of the "possessed," so as to oracularly deliver auguries, and by the profitable pursuits of necromancy and sorcery.

Every orthodox monastery in Tibet, even of the most reformed sects, keeps or patronizes a sorcerer, and consults him and follows his dictates upon most matters; and there are some cloisters near Lhasa specially devoted to instruction in this art. Such are, Moru, Ramo-ch'e, and Kar-mas'a.

The chief wizards are called "Defenders of the faith" (ch'os- skyon), and the highest of these, namely, Na-ch'un, is the government oracle, and is consulted on all important state occasions and undertakings. But every monastery of any size has its own sorcerer, who, however, in the case of the poorer sects, is not usually considered a member of the brotherhood, and he is allowed to marry. They possess no literature, and deliver their sayings orally.

Their fantastic equipment and their frantic bearing, as in figure at page 475, their cries and howls, despite their name, can scarcely be of Sivaite origin, but seem clearly to identify them with the Bon — the grossest of Shamanist devil-dancers. The belief both in ghosts and witchcraft and the practice of exorcism was so deep-rooted in the country, that Padma-sambhava gave it a prominent place in his system, and even Tson-K'a-pa could not do otherwise than take them over into his yellow sect...

The chief sorcerers are called "The revered protectors of religion," Ch'o-kyon or Ch'o-je, and are believed to be incarnations of the malignant spirit called "kings," who seem to be spirits of demonified heroes, and still the object of very active popular worship...

It will be interesting to find whether the dancing orgies of the Ceylon Buddhists are in any way related to those of northern Buddhism. The descriptions of Callaway are insufficient for this purpose. They show, however, that Yama the Death king figures prominently in the dances...

The Necromancer-in-Ordinary to Government. The Na-ch'un Oracle.

The Necromancer-in-Ordinary to the government is the Na-ch'un sorcerer. The following details regarding him I have obtained from a resident of his temple, and also from several of his clientele.

This demon-king was originally a god of the Turki tribes, and named "The White Overcast Sky," and on account of his Turki descent the popular epic of the famous prince Kesar, who had conquered the Turki tribes, is not permitted to be recited at Depung, under whose aegis the Na-ch'un oracle resides for fear of offending the latter.

He was brought to Tibet by Padma-sambhava in Thi-Sron Detsan's reign, and made the Ch'o-Kyon or religious guardian of the first monastery, Sam-ya. There he became incarnate, and the man possessed by his spirit was styled "The Religious Noble" or Ch'o-je, and he married and became a recognized oracle with hereditary descent.

This demon-king is thus identified with Pe-har (usually pronounced Pe-kar) although other accounts make him the fourth and younger brother of Pe-har.

Many centuries later Pe-har's spirit is said to have transferred itself to Ts'al-gun-t'an, about four miles E.S.E. of Lhasa, on the way to Gah-dan, and thence in a miraculous manner to its present location.

In the time of the Grand Lama Nag-Wan, in the seventeenth century, when he extended the Ge-lug-pa order wholesale, he made the Na-ch'un ch'o-je a Lama of the yellow sect, and gave him the monastery called De-yang ta-tsan, and made him the state oracle. The reason alleged for the pre-eminence thus conferred is said to be that he frustrated an attempt of the Newars or Nepalese merchants of Lhasa to poison the tea-cistern at the great festival, by driving a knife through the vessel, and thus discharging the alleged poison.

Since his promotion within the ranks of the established church he and his successors have been celibate and educated. His monastery, which is richly furnished and surrounded by gardens, including a conservatory with stuffed birds, and leopards, and other animals, now contains one hundred and one monks, many of whom are real Ge-longs, observing the two hundred and fifty-three Vinaya rules, and from amongst these his successor is chosen — the succession passing by breath and not by heredity, and it is said that these sorcerers are very short-lived on account of their maniacal excitement; and they probably are addicted to Indian hemp. He has the title of Kung from the Chinese emperor, a title which is seldom bestowed even on the Sha-pe or governors (dukes) of Tibet...

This state-sorcerer proceeds in great pomp to Lhasa once a year, on the second day of the first month, attended by the magistrate of De-pung, and is accommodated in a special temple close to the east of the great Jo-wo temple, where he prophesies the events of the year. His rank is so high that he only visits the Dalai Lama. Government officials require to visit him when seeking information in regard to government projects, war, sickness, etc. And when he is at home his minister acts as the government go-between on ordinary occasions, and he and other sorcerers accompany troops to battle and interpret the portents of the omens of birds, animals, etc...


A more inferior type of sorcerer is the Lha-Ka (probably Lha-K'a or "God's mouth-piece," also called Ku-t'em-ba. Such are found frequently in western Tibet, and may be females, and in which case the woman may marry without hindrance to her profession. These wizards are especially resorted to for the relief of pain.

This exorcist puts on the mirror over the heart, the masker's cope, with the five Bats of Fortune, and the five-partite chaplet of the five Jinas, topped by skulls, a silken girdle (pan-den), and placing a cake on his head, he calls upon Buddha and St. Padma, and offers a libation and incense to the demons, and beating a large drum (not a tambourine or hautboy) and cymbals, calls on the several country-gods by name, saying: Na-K'an, dira c'e-den su-so-so! and the advent of the deity is believed to be seen in the mirror. The first to come is the tutelary, who then brings the Nagas, dragon-demi-gods and the Dre, which are the most malignant of all demons.

The divining-arrow is then taken from the plate of flour which had been offered to these demons, and its blunted point is put on the affected part. The Lha-ka exorcist now applies his mouth half-way down the shaft, and sucks forcibly. On this a drop of blood appears over the painful part, without any abrasion of skin, and evidently dropped by sleight of hand from the parti-coloured ribbons of the arrow. It is, however, considered a miracle, and the patient is led to believe that the demon has been expelled from the part...

Their special weapons for warring with the demons are: The Phurbu, a dagger of wood or metal to stab the demons...

A sash of human bones (rus-rgyan) carved with fiends and mystic symbols is also worn...

Barring the Door against the Earth-Demons.

The local earth-spirits are named "Master Earth'' or "Earth-Masters,"' and are comparable to the terrestrial Nagas of the Hindus. The most malignant are the "gnan" who infest certain trees and rocks, which are always studiously shunned and respected, and usually daubed with paint in adoration...

The ceremony of "closing the door of the earth," so frequently referred to in the Lamaist prescriptions, is addressed to her.

In this rite is prepared an elaborate arrangement of masts, and amongst the mystic objects of the emblem the strings, etc.; most prominent is a ram's skull with its attached horns, and it is directed downwards to the earth...

The whole erection is now fixed to the outside of the house above the door; the object of these figures of a man, wife and house is to deceive the demons should they still come in spite of this offering, and to mislead them into the belief that the foregoing pictures are the inmates of the house, so that they may wreak their wrath on these bits of wood and so save the real human occupants.

Then when all is ready and fixed, the Lama turns to the southwest and chants: —

"O! O! ke! ke! Through the nine series of earths you are known as Old Mother Khon-ma, the mother of all the Sa-dak-po. You are the guardian of the earth's doors. The dainty things which you especially desire we herewith offer, namely, a white skull of a ram, on whose right cheek the sun is shining like burnished gold, and on the left cheek the moon gleams dimly like a conch-shell. The forehead bears the sign of Khon, and the whole is adorned with every sort of silk, wool, and precious things, and it is also given the spell of Khon (here the Lama breathes upon it). All these good things are here offered to you, so please close the open doors of the earth to the family who here has offered you these things, and do not let your servant Sathel ngag-po and the rest of the earth spirits do harm to this family. By this offering let all the doors of the earth be shut. O! O! ke! ke! Let not your servants injure us when we build a house or repair this one, nor when we are engaged in marriage matters, and let everything happen to this family according to their wishes. Do not be angry with us, but do us the favours we ask."...

Demons of the Sky.

The demons who produce disease, short of actual death, are called She, and are exorcised by an elaborate ceremony in which a variety of images and offerings are made.2 The officiating Lama invokes his tutelary fiend, and thereby assuming spiritually the dread guise of this king evil, he orders out the disease-demon under threat of getting himself eaten up by the awful tutelary who now possesses the Lama. The demons are stabbed by the mystic dagger purba...
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:13 am


Part 4:

Death Ceremonies.

As the rites in connection with a death include a considerable amount of devil worship, they may be noticed in this place.

On the occurrence of a death the body is not disturbed in any way until the Lama has extracted the soul in the orthodox manner. For it is believed that any movement of the corpse might eject the soul, which then would wander about in an irregular manner and get seized by some demon. On death, therefore, a white cloth is thrown over the face of the corpse, and the soul-extracting Lama ('p'o-bo) is sent for. On his arrival all weeping relatives are excluded from the death-chamber, so as to secure solemn silence, and the doors and windows closed, and the Lama sits down upon a mat near the head of the corpse, and commences to chant the service which contains directions for the soul to find its way to the western paradise of the mythical Buddha — Amitabha.

After advising the spirit to quit the body and its old associations and attachment to property, the Lama seizes with the fore-finger and thumb a few hairs of the crown of the corpse, and plucking these forcibly, he is supposed to give vent to the spirit of the deceased through the roots of these hairs; and it is generally believed that an actual but invisibly minute perforation of the skull is thus made, through which the liberated spirit passes.

The spirit is then directed how to avoid the dangers which beset the road to the western paradise, and it is then bid god-speed. This ceremony lasts about an hour...

Meanwhile the astrologer-Lama has been requisitioned for a death-horoscope, in order to ascertain the requisite ages and birth-years of those persons who may approach and touch the corpse, and the necessary particulars as to the date and mode of burial, as well as the worship which is to be done for the welfare of the surviving relatives.

The nature of such a horoscope will best be understood by an actual example, which I here give. It is the death-horoscope of a little girl of two years of age, who died at Darjiling in 1890...

Her Park'a being Dva in relation to her death, it is found that her spirit on quitting her body entered her loin girdle and a sword. [In this case the affected girdle was cast away and the sword was handed over to the Lama.] Her life was taken to the east by Tsan and king demons...

Her Mewa gives the "3rd Indigo blue." Thus it was the death-demon of the deceased's paternal grandfather and grandmother who caused her death; therefore take (1) a Sats-ts'a (a miniature earthern caitya), and (2) a sheep's head, and (3) earth from a variety of sites, and place these upon the body of the deceased, and this evil will be corrected.

The Day of her Death was Friday. Take to the north-west a leather bag or earthern pot in which have been placed four or five coloured articles, and throw it away as the death-demon goes there. The death having so happened, it is very bad for old men and women. On this account take a horse's skull, or a serpent's skull and place it upon the corpse.

Her Death Star is Gre. Her brother and sister who went near to her are harmed by the death-messenger (s'in-je). Therefore an ass's skull and a goat's skull must be placed on the corpse...

On obtaining this death-horoscope the body is tied up in a sitting posture by the auspicious person indicated by the horoscope, and placed in a corner of the room which is not already occupied by the house-demon.

Notice is sent to all relatives and friends within reach, and these collect within two or three days and are entertained with food of rice, vegetables, etc., and a copious supply of murwa beer and tea. This company of visitors remain loitering in and around the house, doing great execution with hand-prayer-wheels and muttering the "Om-mani" until the expulsion of the death-demon, which follows the removal of the body, and in which ceremony they all have to join. The expense of the entertainment of so large a company is of course considerable.

During this feasting, which is suggestive of an Irish "wake," the deceased is always, at every meal, offered his share of what is going, including tobacco, etc. His own bowl is kept filled with beer and tea and set down beside the corpse, and a portion of all the other eatables is always offered to him at meal times; and after the meal is over his portion is thrown away, as his spirit is supposed to have extracted all the essence of the food, which then no longer contains nutriment, and is fit only to be thrown away. And long after the corpse has been removed, his cup is regularly filled with tea or beer even up till the forty-ninth day from death, as his spirit is free to roam about for a maximum period of forty- nine days subsequent to death...

At this stage it often happens, though it is scarcely considered orthodox, that some Lamas find, as did Maudgalayana by his second-sight, consulting their lottery-books, that the spirit has been sent to hell, and the exact compartment in hell is specified. Then must be done a most costly service by a very large number of Lamas. First of all is done "virtue" on behalf of the deceased; this consists in making offerings to the Three Collections, namely: To the Gods (sacred food, lamps, etc.); to the Lamas (food and presents); to the Poor (food, clothes, beer, etc.).

The virtue resulting from these charitable acts is supposed to tell in favour of the spirit in hell. Then many more expensive services must be performed, and especially the propitiation of "The Great Pitying One," for his intercession with the king of hell (a form of himself) for the release of this particular spirit. Avalokita is behind to terminate occasionally the torment of tortured souls by casting a lotus-flower at them. Even the most learned and orthodox Lamas believe that by celebrating these services the release of a few of the spirits actually in hell may be secured. But in practice every spirit in hell for whom its relatives pay sufficiently may be released by the aid of the Lamas. Sometimes a full course of the necessary service is declared insufficient, as the spirit has only got a short way out of hell, — very suggestive of the story of the priest and his client in Lever's story, — and then additional expense must be incurred to secure its complete extraction...

The ceremony of guiding the deceased's spirit is only done for the laity — the spirits of deceased Lamas are credited with a knowledge of the proper path, and need no such instruction...

But the cremation or interment of the corpse does not terminate the death-rites. There needs still to be made a masked lay figure of the deceased, and the formal burning of the mask and the expulsion from the house of the death-demon and other rites...

The Lay Figure of Deceased, and its Rites.

Next day the Lamas depart, to return once a week for the repetition of this service until the forty-nine days of the ghostly limbo have expired; but it is usual to intermit one day of the first week, and the same with the succeeding periods, so as to get the worship over within a shorter time. Thus the Lamas return after six, five, four, three, two, and one days respectively, and thus conclude this service in about three weeks instead of the full term of forty-nine days...

On the conclusion of the full series of services, the paper-mask is ceremoniously burned in the flame of a butter-lamp, and the spirit is thus given its final conge. And according to the colour and quality of the flame and mode of burning is determined the fate of the spirit of deceased, and this process usually discovers the necessity for further courses of worship...

To Exorcise Ghosts.

The manes of the departed often trouble the Tibetans as well as other peoples, and special rites are necessary to "lay" them and bar their return. A ghost is always malicious, and it returns and gives trouble either on account of its malevolence, or its desire to see how its former property is being disposed of. In either case its presence is noxious. It makes its presence felt in dreams or by making some individual delirious or temporarily insane. Such a ghost is disposed of by being burned...

For this purpose a very large gathering of Lamas is necessary, not less than eight, and a "burnt offering" (sbyin-sregs) is made. On a platform of mud and stone outside the house is made, with the usual rites, a magic-circle or "kyil-'khor," and inside this is drawn a triangle named "hun-hun." Small sticks are then laid along the outline of the triangle, one piled above the other, so as to make a hollow three-sided pyramid, and around this are piled up fragments of every available kind of food, stone, tree-twigs, leaves, poison, bits of dress, money, etc., to the number of over 100 sorts. Then oil is poured over the mass, and the pile set on fire. During the combustion additional fragments of the miscellaneous ingredients reserved for the purpose are thrown in, from time to time, by the Lamas, accompanied by a muttering of spells. And ultimately is thrown into the flames a piece of paper on which is written the name of the deceased person -- always a relative -- whose ghost is to be suppressed. When this paper is consumed the particular ghost has received its quietus, and never can give trouble again....

Rain Compelling.

Even the so-called reformer of Lamaism, Tson-K'a-pa, seems himself to have practised sorcery. The orthodox mode of compelling rain in use by the established church is identified with his name; and is done, according to the instructions contained in a book of which he is the accredited author, and which seems to be based upon the Naga worship as contained in the Sutra "on asking Rain of the Great Cloud," and may be compared with the method used by the Mongols...

Expelling The Death-Demon...

After a long incantation the Lama concludes: "O death-demon do thou now leave this house and go and oppress our enemies. We have given you food, fine clothes and money. Now be off far from here! Begone to the country of our enemies!! Begone!!!"...

"Dispel from this family all the sorceric injury of Pandits and Bons!! etc. Turn all these to our enemy! Begone!"...


With new-year's eve commences a grand carnival, which lasts the greater part of the first month. The people decorate their doorways and houses with boughs of juniper, etc., prepare puddings, and lay in a stock of wine, and pass the time eating, drinking, dancing, singing, and games, combined with as much praying as they may feel inclined for. The people flock from the smaller villages into the larger towns, and the Lamas contribute to the general amusement by masquerades and pompous processions, in the intervals of their worship for the general welfare...

The Lama, who is chief judge of De-pung, proceeds to Lhasa in state on the third day of this month, and assumes the sovereignty of the city. He is received with regal honours, and incense is burned before him wherever he goes; and on his arrival at Lhasa all prisoners are set free except those convicted of the most aggravated crimes.

During his dominion he holds absolute power over property, life, and death; and assisted by thirty deputies, he inflicts severe punishments and heavy fines for trifling offences, to the financial benefit of his monastery. It is said that many of his retainers commit excesses, so that such of the richer classes as may have incurred, or have reason to believe that they have incurred, the displeasure of De-pung Lamas, leave the city and live in its suburbs during this period of priestly rule.

The poorer classes, usually so dirty, now sweep and whitewash their houses through fear of punishment by Lamas for uncleanness. So long as these Lamas govern Lhasa they are feasted at the public expense or by the richer people, and are entertained with sports...

On the second day of the month the state sorcerer of Na-ch'un enters Lhasa, as already noted, and his entry is like that of the archaic god-king, for none dare look at him, and even high state officials have been fined for looking at him whilst passing...

On this day women are admitted to the monastery shrines, from which they are at other times excluded...

The Water-Festival marks the commencement of the autumn, and usually falls about September. It is a thanksgiving feast. Water, especially of springs, becomes holy and sacred, a veritable elixir vitae; as the water sprites now set free their sacred water. At this season the Tibetans, though not particularly fond of washing and bathing, indulge in this luxury more than usual.

This festival depends on the appearance above the horizon, about the eighth month, at early dawn, of the star named Rikhi or Rishi-agastya, or "Rib-chi," which Colonel C. Strahan, of the Indian survey, informs me must be Canopus or Sirios, the Dog-star. The Tibetans consider this fixed star to be a saint who dwells in heaven in deep meditation, but who appears in the sky in the beginning of the eighth month, before dawn in the southern quarter, and through his influence the water at early dawn becomes ambrosia or life-giving nectar.

Before dawn, therefore, the Tibetans throng to springs and lakes, and watch eagerly for a glimpse of this star to enable them to snatch a draught of the glorified water...

A somewhat droll and almost dramatic feast is the chase of the demon of ill-luck, evidently a relic of a former demonist cult. It is called "Chongju Sewang," and is held at Lhasa on the twenty-ninth and thirtieth days of the second month, though it sometimes lasts about a week. It starts after divine service. A priest represents a Grand Lama, and one of the multitude is masqueraded as the ghost-king. For a week previously he sits in the market-place with face painted half black and half white, and a coat of skin is put on his arm and he is called "King of the Years'" (? head). He helps himself to what he wants, and goes about shaking a black yak's tail over the heads of the people, who thus transfer to him their ill-luck.

This latter person then goes towards the priest in the neighbourhood of the cloister of La-brang and ridicules him, saying: "What we perceive through the five sources (the five senses) is no illusion. All you teach is untrue," etc., etc. The acting Grand Lama contradicts this; but both dispute for some time with one another; and ultimately agree to settle the contest by dice; the Lama consents to change places with the scape-goat if the dice should so decide. The Lama has a dice with six on all six sides and throws six-up three times, while the ghost-king has a dice which throws only one.

When the dice of the priest throws six six times in succession and that of the scape-goat throws only ones, this latter individual, or "Lojon" as he is called, is terrified and flees away upon a white horse, which, with a white dog, a white bird, salt, etc., he has been provided with by government. He is pursued with screams and blank shots as far as the mountains of Chetang, where he has to remain as an outcast for several months in a narrow haunt, which, however, has been previously provided for him with provisions.

We are told that, while en route to Chetang, he is detained for seven days in the great chamber of horrors at Sam-yas monastery filled with the monstrous images of devils and skins of huge serpents and wild animals, all calculated to excite feelings of terror. During his seven days' stay he exercises despotic authority over Sam-yas, and the same during the first seven days of his stay at Chetang. Both Lama and laity give him much alms, as he is believed to sacrifice himself for the welfare of the country. It is said that in former times the man who performed this duty died at Chetang in the course of the year from terror at the awful images he was associated with; but the present scape-goat survives and returns to re-enact his part the following year. From Chetang, where he stays for seven days, he goes to Lho-ka, where he remains for several months...

Every household contributes to "ring out the old" and "ring in the new" year. On the 22nd day of the 12th month each family prepares a dough image weighing about four pounds, and on it stick pieces of cloth, woollen or silken, and coins, etc., according to the wealth of the house-owner, and the demon of ill-luck is invoked to enter into the image, which is then worshipped, and on the 29th day, or the last but one of the old year, a Lama is sent for, who carries the image out of the house and beyond the village to a place where four paths meet, and there he abandons it...


The Lamas reserve to themselves the exclusive right to act in "the Mystery-Play," with its manifestations of the gods and demons, by awe-inspiring masks, etc., while they relegate to lay actors the sacred dramas, illustrating the former births of Buddha and other saints, the Jatakas...

But the plot and motive of the play seem never to have been very definitely ascertained, owing, doubtless, to the cumbrous details which so thickly overlay it, and the difficulty of finding competent interpreters of the plot, as well as the conflicting accounts current amongst the Lamas themselves in regard to its origin and meaning...

Originally it appears to have been a devil-dancing cult for exorcising malignant demons and human enemies, and associated with human sacrifice and, probably, cannibalism...

Tibetans still call the mystery-play the "Dance of the Red-Tiger Devil," a deity of the Bon or pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. The original motive of the dance appears to have been to expel the old year with its demons of ill-luck, and to propitiate with human sacrifice and probably cannibalism the war-god and the guardian spirits, most of whom are demonified kings and heroes, in order to secure good-luck and triumph over enemies in the incoming year.

Human sacrifice seems undoubtedly to have been regularly practised in Tibet up till the dawn there of Buddhism in the seventh century A.D. The glimpses which we get of early Tibet through the pages of contemporary Chinese history, show, as Dr. Bushell translates, that "at the new year they (the Tibetans) sacrifice men or offer monkeys," and so late as the seventh century the annual rites in connection with the defence of their country were triennially accompanied by human sacrifice.

Actual cannibalism is, indeed, attributed to the early Tibetans, and the survival of certain customs lends strong colour to the probability of such a practice having been current up till about the middle ages. The Tibetans themselves claim descent from a man-eating ancestry, and they credit their wilder kinsmen and neighbours of the lower Tsang-po valley with anthrophagous habits even up to the present day.

Vestiges of cannibalism appear to be preserved in the mystery-play. And of similar character seems to be the common practice of eating a portion of the human skin covering the thigh-bone in preparing the bone trumpets, and also, probably, of like origin is the common Tibetan oath of affirmation, "By my father's and mother's flesh."

The Lamas, however, as professing Buddhists, could not countenance the taking of life, especially human. So, in incorporating this ancient and highly popular festival within their system, they replaced the human victims by anthropomorphic effigies of dough, into which were inserted models of the larger organs, and also fluid red pigment to represent the blood. This substitution of dough images for the living sacrifices of the Bon rites is ascribed by tradition to St. Padma-sambhava in the second half of the eighth century A.D...

Retaining the festival with its Bacchanalian orgies for expelling the old year and ushering in good-luck for the new, they also retained the cutting-up of their enemies in effigy; but they made the plot represent the triumph of the Indian missionary monks (Acarya) under St. Padma-sambhava over the indigenous paganism with its hosts of malignant fiends and the black-hat devil-dancers, and also over the Chinese heretics....

Thus Yama, the Death-king, and his minions form a most attractive feature of the play, for it is made to give the lay spectators a very realistic idea of the dreadful devils from whom the Lamas deliver them; and they are familiarized with the appearance of these demons who, according to the Lamas, beset the path along which the disembodied soul must hereafter pass to paradise...

But latterly both plot and date were again altered by the established church of Tibet, the Ge-lug-pa sect...

And it has also, in its version, altered the motive of the tragedy, so as to make it represent the assassination of the Julian of Lamaism (Lan-darma) by a Lama disguised as a Shamanist dancer, and this is followed by the restoration of the religion by the aid of Indian and Chinese monks, and the subsequent triumph of Lamaism, with its superior sorcery derived from Buddhist symbolism...

But even as thus adapted by the established church, the purest of all the Lamaist sects, the play still retains, as will be presently shown, the devil-dancing Shamanist features, as well as vestiges of human sacrifice, if not of actual cannibalism...

When acted at the end of the year it forms part of the ceremony called "The sacrificial body of the dead year"...

A shrill bugle-call, from a trumpet made out of a human thigh-bone, notifies the commencement of the play...

[T]hen enter a troupe of the man-eating malignant demons, who, with their hordes, vex and harass humanity. They infest the air, the earth, the water, and are constantly seeking to destroy man, not unlike their better-known relative, who, "as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." These hordes of demons are intended to illustrate the endless oppression of man by the powers of evil, against whom he can of himself do nothing, but occasionally the exorcisms or prayers of some good Lama or incarnator may come to his assistance and shield him, but even then only after a fierce and doubtful contest between the saints and the devils. And only for a time, too, can this relief from persecution endure, for all the exorcisms of all the saints are of little avail to keep back the advancing hordes. The shrieking demons must close in upon the soul again...

"Flames and effigies of human skulls were worked on their breasts and other parts of their raiment. As their hoods fell back, hideous features of leering satyrs were disclosed."

"In their right hand they hold a bell or fan, and in their left a bowl cut out of a human skull, and round the edge of which are attached narrow streamers of silk and some plaited ends of hair...."

To these monsters (now coerced by Buddhism) the Lamas offer a libation of beer, and some rice or mustard-seed, and to all the beings of the six classes, and especially including the demons, and the rice or seeds are thrown about freely; and each Lama present inwardly prays for the realization of his desire...

"The music became fast and furious, and troop after troop of different masks rushed on, some beating wooden tambourines, others swelling the din with rattles and bells. All of these masks were horrible, and the malice of infernal beings was well expressed on some of them. As they danced to the wild music with strange steps and gesticulations, they howled in savage chorus.... The solemn chanting ceased, and then rushed on the scene a crowd of wan shapes, almost naked, with but a few rags about them.... They wrung their hands despairingly, and rushed about in a confused way as if lost, starting from each other in terror when they met, sometimes feeling about them with their outstretched hands like blind men, and all the while whistling in long-drawn notes, which rose and fell like a strong wind on the hills, producing an indescribably dreary effect. These, I was told, represented the unfortunate souls of dead men which had been lost in space, and were vainly seeking their proper sphere through the darkness.... The variously masked figures of Spirits of Evil flocked in, troop after troop — oxen-headed and serpent-headed devils; three-eyed monsters with projecting fangs, their heads crowned with tiaras of human skulls; Lamas painted and masked to represent skeletons; dragon-faced fiends, naked save for tiger-skins about their loins, and many others. Sometimes they appeared to be taunting and terrifying the stray souls of men -- grim shapes who fled hither and thither among their tormentors, waving their arms and wailing miserably, souls who had not obtained Nirvana and yet who had no incarnation ...Then the demons were repelled again by holy men; but no sooner did these last exorcise one hideous band than other crowds came shrieking on. It was a hopeless conflict ..."

"The loud music suddenly ceased, and all the demons scampered off shrieking as if in fear, for a holy thing was approaching. To solemn chanting, low music and swinging of censers, a stately procession came through the porch of the temple and slowly descended the steps. Under a canopy, borne by attendants, walked a tall form in beautiful silk robes, wearing a large mask representing a benign and peaceful face. As he advanced, men and boys, dressed as abbots and acolytes of the church of Rome, prostrated themselves before him and addressed him with intoning and pleasing chanting. He was followed by six other masks, who were treated with similar respect. These seven deified beings drew themselves in a line on one side of the quadrangle and received the adoration of several processions of masked figures, some of abbots, and others beast-headed, or having the faces of devils"...

The enemy of Tibet and of Lamaism is now represented in effigy, but before cutting it to pieces, it is used to convey to the people a vivid conception of the manner in which devils attack a corpse, and the necessity for priestly services of a quasi-Buddhist sort to guard it and its soul.

Some days previous to the commencement of the play, an image of a young lad is made out of dough, in most elaborate fashion, and as life-like as possible. Organs representing the heart, lungs, liver, brain, stomach, intestines, etc., are inserted into it, and the heart and large blood-vessels and limbs are filled with a red-coloured fluid to represent blood. And occasionally, I am informed on good authority, actual flesh from the corpses of criminals is inserted into the image used in this ceremony at the established church of Potala.

This effigy of the enemy is brought forth by the four cemetery-ghouls, and laid in the centre of the square, and freely stabbed by the weapons, and by the gestures and spells of the circling hosts of demons, as in the illustration here given...

On three signals with the cymbals, two Indian monks (Acaryas) come out of the monastery, and blow their horns and go through a series of droll antics, and are followed by two or more Lamas who draw around the effigy on the pavement of the quadrangle a magic triangle and retire. Then rush in the ghosts, death-demons, "figures painted black and white to simulate skeletons, some in chains, others bearing sickles or swords, engaged in a frantic dance around the corpse. They were apparently attempting to snatch it away or inflict some injury on it, but were deterred by the magic effect of the surrounding triangle and by the chanting and censer-swinging of several holy men in mitred and purple copes....

"A more potent and very ugly fiend, with great horns on his head and huge lolling tongue, ran in, hovered threateningly over the corpse, and with a great sword slashed furiously about it, just failing by little more than a hair's-breadth to touch it with each sweep of the blade. He seemed as if he were about to overcome the opposing enchantment when a saint of still greater power than he now came to the rescue. The saint approached the corpse and threw a handful of flour on it, making mystic signs and muttering incantations. This appeared from his mask to be one of the incarnations of Buddha. He had more control over the evil spirits than any other who had yet contended with them. The skeletons, and also he that bore the great sword, grovelled before him, and with inarticulate and beast-like cries implored mercy. He yielded to their supplications, gave each one a little of the flour he carried with him, which the fiends ate gratefully, kneeling before him; and he also gave them to drink out of a vessel of holy water"...

And then occurs the ceremony of stabbing the enemy by the phurbu or mystic dagger.

Four ghouls bring in an object wrapped in a black cloth, and placing it on the ground, dance round it with intricate steps, then raising the cloth disclose a prone image of a man, which has been made in the manner previously described...

Then enters a fearful fiend named "The holy king of Religion," with the head of a bull, holding in his right hand a dagger with silk streamers, and in his left a human heart (in effigy) and a snare, attended by a retinue of fiends and fiendesses, bearing weapons and dressed in skins, human beings, tigers and leopards; and the last to enter are tiger-skin-clad warriors with bows and arrows...

The King-devil, surrounded by his fiendish hordes, dances and makes with dagger the gesture of "The Three"; he stabs the heart, arms and legs of the figure, and binds its feet by the snare. He then rings a bell, and seizing a sword, chops off the limbs and slits open the breast and extracts the bleeding heart, lungs and intestines.

A troupe of monsters, with the heads of deer and yaks, rush in and gore the remains and scatter the fragments with their horns and hands to the four directions.

Underling fiends now collect the fragments into a huge silver basin shaped like a skull, which four of them carry to the Demon-king in a pompous procession, in which the black-hat devil-dancers join. The Demon-king then seizes the bleeding fragments, and, eating a morsel, throws them up in the air, when they are caught and fought for by the other demons, who throw the pieces about in a frantic manner, and ultimately throwing them amongst the crowd, which now takes part in the orgie, and a general melee results, each one scrambling for morsels of the fragments, which some eat and others treasure as talismans against wounds, diseases and misfortunes.

The service, which is done by the priest who represents the saint Padma-sambhava, is here summarized. It is called "The Expelling Oblation of the hidden Fierce Ones"...

Hum! Through the blessing of the blood-drinking Fierce One, let the injuring demons and evil spirits be kept at bay. I pierce their hearts with this hook; I bind their hands with this snare of rope; I bind their body with this powerful chain; I keep them down with this tinkling bell. Now, O! blood-drinking Angry One, take your sublime seat upon them. Vajor-Agu-cha-dsa! vajora-pasha-hum! vajora-spo-da- va! vajora-ghan-dhi-ho!"

Then chant the following for destroying the evil spirits: —

"Salutation to Heruka, the owner of the noble Fierce Ones! The evil spirits have tricked you and have tried to injure Buddha's doctrine, so extinguish them .... Tear out the hearts of the injuring evil spirits and utterly exterminate them."

Then the supposed corpse of the linka should be dipped in Rakta (blood), and the following should be chanted: —

"Hum! O! ye hosts of gods of the magic-circle! Open your mouths as wide as the earth and sky, clench your fangs like rocky mountains, and prepare to eat up the entire bones, blood, and the entrails of all the injuring evil spirits. Ma-ha mam-sa-la kha hi! Ma-ha tsitta-kha hi! maha-rakta kha-hi! maha-go ro-tsa-na-kha-hi! Maha-bah su-ta kha hi! Maha-keng-ni ri ti kha hi!"

Then chant the following for upsetting the evil spirits...

"Bhyo! Bhyo! On the angry enemies! On the injuring demon spirits! On the voracious demons! turn them all to ashes!

"Mah-ra-ya-rbad bhyo! Upset them all! Upset! Upset!...

A burnt sacrifice is now made by the Demon-king. He pours oil into a cauldron, under which a fire is lit, and when the oil is boiling, he ties to the end of a stick which he holds an image of a man made of paper, and he puts into the boiling oil a skull filled with a mixture of arak (rum), poison, and blood, and into this he puts the image; and when the image bursts into flame, he declares that all the injuries have been consumed...

And when the image is abandoned the crowd tear it to pieces and eagerly fight for the fragments, which are treasured as charms...

This mystic play is conducted at all monasteries of the established church, at government expense. The greatest of these performances are held at Potala, Muru Tasang, and Tashi-lhunpo at the end of the old year, and at the priest-king's palace of Teng-gye-ling on the twenty-ninth day of the eighth month...

The orchestra, which is screened off in a tent, begins by blowing a thigh-bone trumpet thrice, followed by the great cymbals and drums; then out troop the black-hatted Shamanist dancers, and the play proceeds as above detailed. In the concluding ceremony the large cake, surmounted by a human head, is burned, and is considered to typify the burning of the present enemies of Lamaism...

The Lama who acts as regent is the de facto ruler of Tibet, and is generally known as "the King" and also called "The country's Majesty." The superior guests and nobility who have received invitations are permitted to pitch their tents upon the roof of the monks' quarters, and the populace are kept outside the arena by a rope barrier...

After a prayer there entered a figure representing "the celebrated Dharmatala who invited the sixteen Sthaviras to China for the diffusion of Buddhism." His mask was dark with yawning mouth to mean ecstasy. Numerous scarves were thrown to him by the spectators...Then came the four kings of the quarters, dressed in barbaric splendour. Following these came the sons of the gods, about sixty in number, dressed with silk robes, and glittering with ornaments of gold, precious stones, and pearls. Following these were Indian acharyas, whose black-bearded faces and Indian dress excited loud laughter among spectators. Then followed the four warders of the cemeteries in skeleton dress. Afterwards "the body of the devil in effigy was burnt, a pile of dry sedge being set on fire upon it"...

The Earth-Master-Demons...

The weapons carried by the maskers have already been referred to. Most are made of wood carved with thunderbolts. The staves of the skeleton maskers are topped by a death's-head.

The Sacred Dramas...


Throughout the Buddhist world the story of prince Visvantara is the most favourite of all the tales of Buddha's former births. It represents the climax of the virtuous practice (the paramita) of charity, in which the princely Bodhisat, in order to attain Buddhahood, cuts himself loose from all worldly ties by giving away not only all his wealth, but also his children and even his beloved wife...

It is also the most favourite of all the sacred plays with the southern Buddhists; though, as Mr. Ralston observes, "such acts of renunciation as the princely Bodhisat accomplished do not commend themselves to the western mind. An oriental story-teller can describe a self-sacrificing monarch as cutting slices of flesh out of his own arms and plunging them in the fire in honour of a deity, and yet not be afraid of exciting anything but a religious thrill among his audience. To European minds such a deed would probably appear grotesque"...

The text of the story, as found in the Tibetan canon, agrees generally with the Pali and Burmese accounts. I give here an abstract of the version which is currently acted in western Tibet. It differs in several details from the canonical narrative and in the introduction of some incidents, such as the bestowal of his eyes, which are usually regarded as pertaining to other Jatakas, and it also is given a local Tibetan application, and the founder of Lamaism, St. Padma, is made to appear as a reincarnation of the prince Visvantara. To illustrate the text, I give its pictorial representation as a reduced tracing from a Tibetan painting.

The Omnipotent Pure One, or The Prince of Charity...

Long long ago, in the city of Baidha, in India, there reigned a king named Gridhip, who, after propitiating the gods and dragons, had a son born unto him by his favourite queen, "The Pure Young Goddess," and the prince was named by the Brahmans the "Omnipotent Pure Lord of the World" [but we shall call him by the better known name of Visvantara]. This prince grew luxuriantly, "like a lotus in a pool," and soon acquired all accomplishments. He was "addicted to magnanimity, bestowing presents freely and quite dispassionately and assiduous in giving away"...

Now, this country owed its prosperity to an enchanted wish-granting gem, which was kept in the custody of the king, and by virtue of which the stores in his treasury, notwithstanding the enormous amounts which were daily given away by his son, never grew less. The traditional enemy of this country, the greedy king of a barren land, hearing of the prince's vow to bestow any part of his property on anyone who asked for it, secretly instructed one of his Brahmans to go and beg from the prince the enchanted gem...

Finding that the Brahman would accept nothing less than this gem, and reflecting that if he refused to give away any of his property which had been asked from him, his charitable merit would cease, he besought the blessing of the gem by placing it on his head, and then gave it away without regret, saying, "May I, by this incomparable gift, become a Buddha"...

The prince's father and the people, hearing of the loss of the enchanted gem, were furious with vexation, and the enraged minister, Tara-mdses, seized the prince and handed him over to the scavenger for lynching, and he was only rescued by the entreaties of the good minister Candrakirti and of his wife and children — for he had, when of age, married the beautiful princess, "The Enlightening Moon-Sun," better known as "Madri," by whom he had two children, a son and daughter. The ministers decided that the person who informed the prince of the arrival of the Brahman should lose his tongue; he who brought the Jewel from its casket-box should lose his hands; he who showed the path to the Brahman should lose his eyes; and he who gave away the Jewel should lose his head. To this the king could not consent, as it meant the death of his beloved son, so he ordered the prince to be banished for a period of twenty-five years to "the black hill of the demons resounding with ravens"...

"When the Bodhisat had journeyed three hundred yojanas, a Brahman came to him, and said. 'O Kshatriya prince, I have come three hundred yojanas because I have heard of your virtue. It is meet that you should give me the splendid chariot as a recompense for my fatigue.'...

They went forth into the forest, proceeding on foot, when five Brahmans appeared and begged for their clothes, which were at once taken off and given to them. The prince and his family then clothed themselves with leaves, and trudged along painfully for about a hundred miles, until a mighty river barred their progress. The prince then prayed, 'O! Great river, make way for us!' Then the torrent divided, leaving a lane of dry land, across which they passed...

"One day, when Madri had gone to collect roots and fruits in the penance-forest, a Brahman came to Visvantara, and said, 'O prince of Kshatriya race, may you be victorious! As I have no slave, and wander about alone with my staff, therefore is it meet that you should give me your two children' ...

[Madri], with tearful eyes embraced her husband's feet, asking, 'O lord, whither are the boy and girl gone?' Visvantara replied, 'A Brahman came to me full of hope. To whom have I given the two children. Thereat rejoice.' When he had spoken these words, Madri fell to the ground like a gazelle pierced by a poisoned arrow, and struggled like a fish taken out of the water. Like a crane robbed of her young ones she uttered sad cries. Like a cow, whose calf has died, she gave forth many a sound of wailing...

[T]the king of the gods, Sakra, said to himself: 'As this man, when alone and without support, might be driven into a corner, I will ask him for Madri.' So he took the form of a Brahman, came to the Bodhisat, and said to him: 'Give me as a slave this lovely sister, fair in all her limbs, unblamed by her husband, prized by her race.' ...

Then he took Madri by the hand and said to that Brahman: 'Receive, most excellent Brahman, this is my dear wife, loving of heart, obedient to orders, charming in speech, demeaning herself as one of lofty race.'...

And when Madri had passed into the power of the Brahman, overcome by pain at being severed from her husband, her son, and her daughter, with faltering breath and in a voice which huskiness detained within her throat, she spoke thus: 'What crimes have I committed in my previous existence, that now, like a cow whose calf is dead, I am lamenting in an uninhabited forest?' Then the king of the gods, Sakra, laid aside his Brahman's form, assumed his proper shape and said to Madri: 'O fortunate one, I am not a Brahman, nor am I a man at all. I am the king of the gods, Sakra, the subduer of the Asuras. As I am pleased that you have manifested the most excellent morality, say what desire you would now wish to have satisfied by me.'

"Rendered happy by these words, Madri prostrated herself before Sakra, and said: 'O thou of the thousand eyes, may the lord of the three and thirty set my children free from thraldom, and let them find their way to their great grandfather.' After these words had been spoken the prince of the gods entered the hermitage and addressed the Bodhisat. Taking Madri by the left hand, he thus spoke to the Bodhisat: 'I give you Madri for your service. You must not give her to anyone. If you give away what has been entrusted to you fault will be found with you.'

"The king of the gods, in accordance with his promise, caused angels every night to unloose and nurse the unfortunate children of the illustrious recluse when the wicked Brahman fell asleep, and only re-tied them just before he awakened. Afterwards he deluded the Brahman who had carried off the boy and girl, so that under the impression that it was another city, he entered the self-same city from which they had departed, and there set to work to sell the children. When the ministers saw this they told the king, saying: 'O king, your grandchildren, Krishna and Jalini, have been brought into this good city in order to be sold, by an extremely worthless Brahman.' When the king heard these words, he said indignantly, 'Bring the children here, forthwith.'"

When this command had been attended to by the ministers, and the townspeople had hastened to appear before the king, one of the ministers brought the children before him. When the king saw his grand-children brought before him destitute of clothing and with foul bodies he fell from his throne to the ground, and the assembly of ministers, and women, and all who were present, began to weep. Then the king said to the ministers: "Let the bright-eyed one, who, even when dwelling in the forest, delights in giving, be summoned hither at once, together with his wife."

Then the king sent messengers to recall his son; but the latter would not return until the full period of his banishment was over.

On his way back he meets a blind man, who asks him for his eyes, which he immediately plucks out and bestows on the applicant, who thus receives his sight. The prince, now blind, is led onwards by his wife, and on the way meets "The Buddhas of the Three Periods," -- the Past, Present, and Future, namely, Dipamkara, Sakya, and Maitreya, who restore the prince's sight.

Journeying onwards he is met by the hostile king who had been the cause of all his trouble, but who now returns him the gem, and with it much money and jewels, and he implored the prince's forgiveness for having caused his banishment and sufferings, and he prayed that when the prince became a Buddha he might be born as one of his attendants. The prince readily forgave him, and accorded him his other requests, and they became friends.

On the approach of the prince to the capital, the old king, his father, caused the roads to be swept and strewn with flowers, and sprinkled with sweet perfume, and met him with flags and joyous music. And he gave again into his son's charge all the treasure and jewels.

The prince, thus restored to his former position, resumed his wholesale bestowal of charity as before, and everyone was happy...
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:26 am


Part 5:

NAN-SA; OR, "The Brilliant Light"...

In bygone times, far beyond conception, there lived in the revered country of India an old couple of the Brahman caste who during their youth had no children, but when they waxed old and feeble, a daughter was born unto them.

This child was secluded till her fifteenth year, when, peeping outside one day, she for the first time saw the landscape of the outer world. And as she observed the different classes of people cultivating their plots, whilst her own family-plot lay neglected, she ran to her mother and said: "Mother, dear! the giver of my body! Listen to me, your own daughter! All the different classes of people are busy tilling their fields while our family-land lies neglected. Now as the time for cultivation has come, permit me, mother, to cultivate our fields with our servants!"

The mother, having granted her request, the daughter proceeded to work with the servants, and they laboured on till breakfast-time, but no one brought them food. This neglect caused the girl uneasiness, not so much on her own account as on that of the servants; but in the belief that food would be sent, she laboured on till sunset, when she and her companions returned home starving.

As they neared the house the girl met her mother bringing some refreshment for them; and she asked her why she had so long delayed, as the servants were quite famished. The mother explained that in entertaining some visitors who had called during the day, she had quite forgotten the food for her daughter and servants.

Then the daughter petulantly exclaimed, "Mother! you are inconsiderate like a grass-eating beast!" On this the mother cried out: "O! ungrateful one! I your mother! who have reared you, and clad and fed you with the best, you now in return call me a beast! May you in your next re-birth be born as an ownerless grass-eating beast!"

So after a time the girl died and was re-born as a deer, according to the curse of her mother.

In course of time her deer-parents died, and the young doe was left alone in strict accordance with her mother's curse...

While in such a plight, a handsome young hart, with a mouth like a conch-shell came up to her and said...

"O, noble and virtuous doe! pray hear me! I am the ornament of all the herds! won't you become my mate? I will be your companion when you eat grass. I will be your comrade when you go to the river; and I will support you in all your difficulties. So from this time forth let us be bound in wedlock inseparably, for doubtless we have been brought together here through the deeds and fate of our former lives".

Then the doe consenting, these two became partners and lied together most happily; and not long afterwards the doe gave birth to a fawn who was named sKar-ma-p'un-ts'ogs, or "The accomplished Star."

One night the doe dreamt a most inauspicious dream; and at midnight she awoke the hart, saying: "Hearken! deer, Dar-gyas! I dreamt as I slept a dreadful dream! This Yal-wa mountain-ridge was overspread by a terrible thundering noise, and I saw several hunters appear. I saw the dogs and hunters pursuing you -- the hart -- towards the left ridge of the hill, and I, with our child, the fawn, fled by the right ridge of the hill. I dreamt again that the decapitated head of a deer was arranged as a sacrifice, and the skin was stretched out to dry on the meadow, and oh, the blood! it flowed down and formed an awful pool like many oceans! O, deer! Sleep no longer! but arise and let us fast escape to the highest hills."

But the hart refused to listen to the advice of his mate; and saying that "the words of females are like unto the dust, he fell asleep.

Not long afterwards, a ring-tailed red hunting dog seemed to be approaching from the distant barks which now were to be heard distinctly by all the awakened deer.

Too late, the hart then realized that the vision of his doe must have indeed been true; therefore he hurriedly gave the following advice to the doe and the fawn, feeling great pity for them: "O! poor doe and fawn! flee by the left ridge and make good your escape! and if we do not meet again in this life, let us meet in our next life in the pure kingdom of righteousness!" On so saying the hart fled; and the mother and the fawn made their escape by the left ridge.

Meanwhile, the hart, hotly pursued by the hunting-dog, was chased into a narrow gorge where he could not escape; and at that critical moment a man with his hair bound up, bearded and fearfully fierce-looking, with pointed eyebrows, and carrying a noose and a bow and arrow, descended from the top of the cliff, and catching the hart in the noose he killed it with one shot from his bow...

The deceased hart was afterwards re-born in a respectable family of Ri-nan-dpan-k'a, and named Grag-pa-bsam-grub, or "The famous Heart"; while the doe after death was reborn in lJan-p'al-k'un-nan-pa, and was named sNan-sa-'Od-'bum, or "brilliant above a hundred thousand lights." The fawn after death was re-born as their son, and assumed the name of Lha-bu-dar-po, or "the gentle divinity."

The Life, Marriage, and Death of Nan-sa...

Long ago, there lived a father named Kun-bzah-bde-ch'en and a mother named Myan-sa-gsal-sgron in lJan-ph'an-k'un-Nan-pa, on the right of Myan-stod-s'el-dkar-rgyal-rtse (Gan-tse).

The mother once had a strange vision, regarding which she thus addressed her husband...

By God's blessing, through our making offerings unto Him, and as the fruit of our charity to the poor, an incarnate Bodhisat is about to come unto us! We must again offer thanks unto God and do the several ceremonies".

In course of time a divine-looking daughter was born unto them. She was peerlessly beautiful, and so was named Nan-sa, ''the brilliant above a hundred thousand lights," and a grand festival was given at her birth.

By her fifteenth year Nan-sa was fully educated, and matchlessly beautiful; and though she was most pious, practising fully all the religious rites, she was most modest, and forgot not her filial love and duty.

In the fourth month of that year, during the summer season, a grand tournament was given by the king, to which everyone was invited, and the whole population of the neighbouring countries, young and old, flocked to rGyal-rtse-sger-tsa to see the sports. The games were held by order of the great king of Myan-stod-ni-nan-pa for the selection of a bride fit for his son...

As she neared the market, where the great gathering was held, the king and prince were looking down from the balcony of their palace, and the prince at once caught sight of her, and his eyes remained rivetted on the princess. Whilst the multitude gazed at the players, the prince followed only the movements of the princess.

The prince being fascinated by the beauty of the princess, soon despatched to her his chief minister, named bSod-nam-dpal-skyed, who, in compliance with his master's order, brought the princess before the prince, just as the eagle Khra carries off a chicken...

"O! pretty one! sweet and pleasing-mouthed! possessed of the five sensuous qualities! Tell me truly, whose daughter are you? Are you the daughter of a god or a Naga, or are you an angelic Gandharva? Pray hide nothing from me. What is your father's name? What is your birth-giver's name? Who are your neighbours? I am the overruling lord of Mzang-stod-ri-nang! and called 'The famous Roaring Dragon!' or Da-c'hens-"brug-grag-pa. My family is the Grag-pa-bsam-'grub! I am the jewel of these sheltering walls! My age is six times three (18). Will you consent to be my bride?"

Nan-sa now thinking escape impossible, though she had desired to devote herself to a religious life, answered the lord Da-ch'en: "Om! Tara, have mercy on a poor girl void of religion! O! lord Da-ch'en, I am called 'The Brilliant above a Hundred Thousand Lights,' and am of a respectable family. But a poisonous flower, though pretty, is not a fit decoration for an altar vase; the blue Dole, though famous, cannot match the turquoise; the bird lchog-mo, though swift, is no match for the sky-soaring T'an-dkar-eagle, and Nan-sa, though not bad-looking, is no match for the powerful lord of men"...

The minister took up the turquoise sparkling in rainbow tints, and, tying it to the end of the arrow of the five-coloured silks, handed it to the prince, saying, "As the proverb runs, 'Discontented youths are eager to war, while discontented maidens are eager to wed.' Thus, while this maid feigns disqualifying plainness, she is really anxious to comply with your wishes; her pretended refusal is doubtless owing to modesty and the publicity of such a crowd. Do thou, then, O powerful king! plant the arrow with the five-coloured streamers on her back, and thus fix the marriage tie."

The prince, thinking that the advice was good, addressed Nan-sa, saying, "O! angelic princess! on whom one's eyes are never tired of gazing, pray hear me. O! pretty one, brilliant amongst a thousand lights! I, the greal lord sGra-ch'en, am far-famed like the dragon! I am the most powerful king on earth! And whether you choose to obey my commands or not, I cannot let you go! We have been drawn here by the bonds of former deeds, so you must become my mate for ever. Though the bow and bow-string be not of equal length and materials, still they go together; so you must be my mate for ever, as we have certainly been brought together here through fate and former deeds. The great ocean fish consort with the affluent river fish, so must you live with me. Though I and you differ much in position, you must come with me. And from this day forth the maiden Nan-sa is mine."

So saying, he planted the arrow with its five rainbow-coloured streamers on her back, and set the turquoise diadem on her forehead. And she, being duly betrothed in this public fashion, returned to her own home with her servants.

Nan-sa endeavoured to evade the betrothal and enter a convent instead, but her parents pressed the match upon her and forced her to accept the prince, and the nuptials were duly celebrated with great feasting...

Nan-sa was the jewel of them all, and she was given the keys of the treasury which had formerly been held by the prince's elder sister, Ani- Nemo Ne-tso.

Now this old Ani-Nemo, on being deprived of her keys, became madly jealous of Nan-sa, and began contriving means to injure her reputation in the eyes of the prince, her husband.

Ani Nemo helped herself to the best food and clothes, leaving the very worst to Nan-sa, who was too mild and good to resent such treatment. Ultimately Nan-sa began to feel very sad, and though engaged in worldly affairs, she felt keenly the desire to devote herself wholly to religion, but she was afraid to reveal her thoughts to her husband and son...

Now, there arrived at that place the devotee, Dor-grags-Ras-pa, and his servant, and the devotee addressed Nan-sa thus...

Now the time for devoting yourself to religion has come...

On hearing this speech Nan-sa was overpowered with grief. And as she had nothing to offer the holy man as alms, for everything was in charge of Ani, she, with faltering voice, said: "Though I am anxious to offer you whatever alms you need, yet am I possessed of nothing, but pray go to that house over there, where you will find Ani with a sleek face, and seek alms from her."

The devotee and his servant accordingly went and requested Ani-Nemo to give them some alms, but she replied: "O! you beggars! why have you come begging of me! you plundering crew! you steal at every chance! You neither devote yourself to religious purposes in the hills, nor do you work in the valleys. If you want alms go to that person over there with the peacock-like prettiness, and the bird-like warbling voice, and the rainbow-like lofty mind, and with a mountain of wealth, for I am only a poor servant and cannot give you anything."

The two devotees, therefore, returned to Nan-sa, and told her what Ani had said. So Nan-sa gave alms to the devotees in spite of her fear of displeasing Ani. The holy man replied, "It will be an auspicious meeting an event to look forward to, when Nan-sa and we two meet again." On this Nan-sa became more cheerful, and giving more alms to the devotees, bowed down before them and requested their blessings.

Now these proceedings did not escape the wary eye of Ani-Nemo, who, waxing wroth, came out with a cane in her hand, and thus abused Nan-sa:

"You look lovely, but your heart is black and venomous! Listen to me, peacock-like she-devil Nan-sa!...and so saying, she began to beat Nan-sa...

Meanwhile Ani-Nemo went to the lord, her brother, and said, "Hear, O! lord! Our mistress Nan-sa without doing any of those things she ought to, does the opposite. This morning a devotee, beautiful and of pleasing voice, came up to this place accompanied by his servant, and Nan-sa, fascinated by his beauty, fell madly in love with him and behaved too immodestly for me even to describe it to you. As I was unable to tolerate such conduct I ran down to stop this intercourse, but was beaten and driven off. Therefore, O! lord! have I informed you so that you can take such steps as you think fit".

The lord rather discredited this story, but remembering the proverb "women and sons must be well brought up when young, otherwise they will go wrong," he went to seek Nan-sa, and found her shedding torrents of tears in solitude. On seeing her he said, "Ah! Lah-se! Listen to me!, you naughty Nan-sa! Lah-se, why have you exceeded all the bounds of propriety! Lah-se! Why did you beat my young sister! who gave you authority to do that? Lah-se! Like a dog tied on the house-top, barking at and trying to bite the stars of heaven! What has the fiendess Nan-sa to say in her defence?"

Nan-sa meekly replied, "My lord! were I to relate all that happened it would only make matters worse, and our subjects shall be shown such strife as was unknown before. Therefore I refrain from grieving you, O! my lord, with any details.''

But the lord interpreting the reticence of Nan-sa as sufficient proof of her guilt, he seized her by the remaining hair, and beat her so unmercifully that no one but Nan-sa could have endured it. And he dragged her along the ground and inflicted the deepest pain by pricking reeds...

At that time, Lama-S'akyahi-rgyal-mts'an, versed in the doctrine of "The Great Perfection," lived in the monastery of sKyid-po-se-rag-ya- lun in the neighbourhood. And perceiving that, according to the prophecy of the great reverend Mila-ras, the princess Nan-sa was really a good fairy, he thought fit to advise her to pursue her holy aims. So dressing himself in the guise of a poor beggar, though his appearance rather belied him, and taking a young monkey which knew many tricks, he went to the window of Nan-sa's chamber and sang this song...

"In the middle country of Myan-stod-gser-gz'on-rin-mo, the mothers have children, of whom the wisest spend their lives in the country; while the unlucky ones stay with their parents, but the most unlucky of all the pretty girls is married to a lord, and Ani-Nemo treats her as she thinks she deserves. Now if this girl fails to remember the inconstancy of life, then her body, though pretty, is only like that of the peacock of the plains. If she does not steadfastly devote herself to religion, her voice, though pleasing, is like the vain cry of the 'Jolmo bird in the wilderness."

Here the man paused, while the monkey began to play many wonderful tricks, which amused the young prince; while Nan-sa, deeply agitated by the song, ordered the beggar to enter her chamber, and addressing him said, "O! traveller in the guise of a beggar! Listen to me! My earnest wish indeed is to devote my life to religion; I have no earthly desires whatever; I was forced to become the manager of a worldly house only through filial obedience to the dictates of my parents. Now pray tell me, which is the most suitable convent for me to enter, and who is the most learned Lama as a spiritual father?"

The beggar gave her the information she desired. And Nan-sa, in her gratitude, bestowed upon him all her silver and golden ornaments.

Now, it so happened that just at this time, the lord arrived, and hearing the voice of a man in his wife's chamber he peeped in and, to his great surprise, saw Nan-sa giving a beggar all her jewels, while the young prince was playing with the beggar's monkey.

Furious at the sight, he entered the chamber, just as the beggar and his monkey left; and thinking that Ani's story must indeed be true, and that his wife had bestowed his property on the devotees, and had scandalously brought beggars even inside her private chamber, he seized Nan-sa by the hair and began to beat her most unmercifully, and Nemo also came and assisted in beating her. They tore the young prince away from her, and the lord and Ani-Nemo continued beating Nan-sa until she died...

Now Nan-sa's spirit on her death had winged its way, light as a feather, to the ghostly region of the intermediate purgatory, Bardo, where the minions of the Death-king seized it and led it before the dreaded judge-king of the dead.

At that tribunal Nan-sa's spirit was terrified at seeing many wicked souls condemned and sent down for torture to the hells, in cauldrons of molten metal, or frozen amongst the ice; while she was pleased to see the souls of several pious people sent to heaven.

But in her fear she threw herself before the great judge of the Dead and with joined hands prayed to him: "Have mercy upon me! O! holy mother Tara! And help and bless me, ye host of fairy she-devils! O! Judge of the Dead! who separates the white virtuous from the black sinful ones, hear me, O! great king! I longed to benefit the animals, but could do little during my short stay in the world. When I learned that the birth must end in death, I cared not for my beauty; and when I saw that wealth collected by avarice was useless to oneself I gave it away to the poor and blind. Have mercy upon me!"

Then the judge of the Dead ordered her two guardian angels — the good and the bad — to pour out their white and black deed-counters. On this being done, it was found that the white virtuous deeds far exceeded the black sinful ones, which latter were indeed only two in number; and the judge having consulted his magical mirror and found this record to be correct, and knowing that Nan-sa was of intensely religious disposition, and capable of doing much good if allowed to live longer in the human world, he reprieved her and sent her back to life, saying:—

"O! Nan-sa, brilliant above a hundred thousand lights! Listen! Lah-se! Listen to king Yama, the master of Death! I separate the white deeds from the black, and send the persons in whom the white virtue preponderates to the heavens; in this capacity I am named Arya Avalokitesvara (p'ags-pa- spyan-ras -gzigs-dban). But when I send the sinful persons to hell, I am named Mrityupati Yama-raja ('ch'i-bdag-s'in-rjehi-rgyal-po)! Lah-se! I am the inexorable fierce king who always punishes the wicked! I never save an oppressive king, no matter how powerful; nor will I let any sinful Lama escape. No one can ever escape visiting this my bar of Justice. But you, O Nan-sa! are not a sinful person: you are a good fairy's incarnation, and when a person sacrifices her body for a religious purpose, she obtains paradise, and if she is profoundly pious, she shall obtain the rank of Buddhaship, though the former state is much to be preferred. So stay no longer here, but return to the human world, and recover your old body! Lah-se! Be a 'death-returned person,' and benefit the animal beings!"...

The good news of Nan-sa's return from the dead soon reached the lord and the prince, who hurried to the spot, and throwing themselves before her, implored her forgiveness, and conducted her back to their home; not, however, without protests from Nan-sa, who had decided to become a nun. She only consented to resume domestic life on the ardent entreaties of her son.

But soon her excessive piety again subjected her to the ill-treatment of her husband as before, and forced her to flee to her parents' home, where, however, she met with no better reception, but was beaten and expelled. And now driven forth from home, a wanderer for religion's sake, she seeks admission into a convent...

And the Lama, pitying her, blessed her, and gave her the vow of a novice.

The news of Nan-sa's entry to the convent soon reached the ears of the lord of Rinang, who waxed wroth and went to war against the monastery. Arriving there with his men he cried unto the Lama, saying: "Lah-se! You fellow, why have you made a nun of Nan-sa? Unless you give full satisfaction, I will crush you and all your convent like butter!" And so saying he seized the Lama and pointed his sword to his heart.

Now Nan-sa, driven to despair on seeing that the life of her Lama was thus threatened for her sake, she, in the dress of a novice, ascended the roof of the convent, and in the sight of all, sailed away, Buddha-like, through the sky, vanishing into space like the rainbow...

The people, old and young, now discuss amongst themselves the theme of the play and its moral lessons. They are profoundly impressed by the self-sacrifice of Nan-sa and the other pious persons, and by the vivid pictures drawn of the way in which evil-doers must inexorably pay the penalty of their misdeeds...


More than once have I been told by some worthy Tibetan that it could not have been mere chance which had brought us together, across so many thousand miles of land and sea; but that we must, in a former life, have been friends, who now have met again in this life, through the force of Karma. Similarly as regards the lower animals. A Tibetan seeing my dog and pony playing good-naturedly together, explained the situation by saying that in a former birth these two must have been mates.

Even practices which are clearly dishonest and sinful, are at times justified on the same principle, or rather by its abuse. Thus the more sordid Tibetan reconciles cheating to his conscience, by naively convincing himself that the party whom he now attempts to defraud, had previously swindled him in a former life, and that justice demands retribution.

Congenital defects such as blindness, dumbness and lameness, and accidents, are viewed as retributions which are due to the individual having, in a previous life, abused or sinned with the particular limb or organ presently affected. Thus a man is blind because he sinned with his eye in a former life. Indeed this is a common dogma of Buddha's own teaching, and forms the basis of the Jatakas or tales of the previous Births of Buddha.

For a like reason, cattle and all other dumb animals are humanely treated; life is seldom wantonly taken... Yet human prisoners are, at times, most cruelly tortured; though this probably is owing, in some measure, to the example set by the Chinese, as well as the necessity for some violent punishment to check the commission of crime. Nearly every offence, even to the most heinous, the murdering of a Lama, may be condoned by a fixed scale of fine; but failing the payment of the fine and the extra blackmail to the officials, the prisoner, if not actually killed, is tortured and mutilated, and then usually set free, in order not only to avoid the expense of detainment in jail, but also to serve as a public warning to others. Thus many of the maimed beggars who swarm about Lhasa are criminals who have had their eyes put out or their hands cut off in this way...

But both Lamas and people are so steeped in pagan superstition and idolatry that their un-Buddhist features and practices are most conspicuous...

Their inveterate craving for material protection against those malignant gods and demons has caused them to pin their faith on charms and amulets, which are to be seen everywhere dangling from the dress of every man, woman, and child.

These charms, as we have seen, are mostly sentences of a Sanskritic nature borrowed from mystical Buddhism, and supplemented by relics of holy Lamas, by which they muzzle and bind the devils, as in the illustration here given.

But these appliances, however good in theory, are found in practice to be deplorably deficient. The priests must constantly be called in to appease the menacing devils, whose ravenous appetite is only sharpened by the food given to stay it...

The people live in an atmosphere of the marvellous. No story is too absurd for them to credit, if only it be told by Lamas. They are ever on the outlook for omens, and the every-day affairs of life are governed, as we have seen, by a superstitious regard for lucky and unlucky days...

When I was forced to send a party of Sikhimite Tibetans on a long excursion upon a day which was unlucky for travelling, and in consequence of which my men were unwilling to start, I at once secured a revival of their spirits and their ready departure by making the head-man draw, in orthodox fashion, a good augury from the pack of divining-cards, from which, however, I had previously, unknown to them, withdrawn all the unlucky ones...

Prayers ever hang upon the people's lips. The prayers are chiefly directed to the devils, imploring them for freedom or release from their cruel inflictions, or they are plain naive requests for aid towards obtaining the good things of this life, the loaves and the fishes. At all spare times, day and night, the people ply their prayer-wheels, and tell their beads, and mutter the mystic six syllables — Om ma-ni pad-me Hum! "Om! the Jewel in the Lotus, Hum!" — the sentence which gains them their great goal, the glorious heaven of eternal bliss, the paradise of the fabulous Buddha of boundless Light — Amitabha.

Still, with all their strivings and the costly services of their priests, the Tibetans never attain peace of mind. They have fallen under the double ban of menacing demons and despotic priests. So it will be a happy day, indeed, for Tibet when its sturdy over-credulous people are freed from the intolerable tyranny of the Lamas, and delivered from the devils whose ferocity and exacting worship weigh like a nightmare upon all.


-- The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, by Laurence Austine Waddell, M.B., F.L.S., F.R.G.S.
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