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.

The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Sun Dec 22, 2019 8:09 am

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., Member of the Royal Asiatic Society, Anthropological Institute, etc., Surgeon-Major H.M. Bengal Army




The Eucharist of Buddhism

To William Tennant Gairdner, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S., in admiration of his noble character, philosophic teaching, wide culture, and many labours devoted with exemplary fidelity to the interpretation of nature and the service of man, this book is respectfully dedicated by the Author

Table of Contents:

• Preface
• Note on Pronunciation
• List of Abbreviations
• I. Introductory -- Division of Subject
• A. Historical.
• II. Changes in Primitive Buddhism Leading to Lamaism
• III. Rise, Development, and Spread of Lamaism
• IV. The Sects of Lamaism
• B. Doctrinal
• V. Metaphysical Sources of the Doctrine
• VI. The Doctrine and its Morality
• VII. Scriptures and Literature
• C. Monastic.
• VIII. The Order of Lamas
• IX. Daily Life and routine
• X. Hierarchy and Re-Incarnate Lamas
• D. Buildings
• XI. Monasteries
• XII. Temples and Cathedrals
• XIII. Shrines and Relics (And Pilgrims)
• E. Mythology and Gods
• XIV. Pantheon and Images
• XV. Sacred Symbols and Charms
• F. Ritual and Sorcery
• XVI. Worship and Ritual
• XVII. Astrology and Divination
• XVIII. Sorcery and Necromancy
• G. Festivals and Plays
• XIX. Festivals and Holidays
• XX. Sacred Dramas, Mystic Plays and Masquerades
• H. Popular Lamaism
• XXI. Domestic and Popular Lamaism
• Appendices
• I. Chronological Table
• II. Bibliography
• Index
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Sun Dec 22, 2019 10:14 am


No apology is needed for the production at the present time of a work on the Buddhism of Tibet, or "Lamaism" as it has been called, after its priests. Notwithstanding the increased attention which in recent years has been directed to Buddhism by the speculations of Schopenhauer and Hartmann, and the widely felt desire for fuller information as to the conditions and sources of Eastern religion, there exists no European book giving much insight into the jealously guarded religion of Tibet, where Buddhism wreathed in romance has now its chief stronghold.

The only treatise on the subject in English, is Emil Schlagintweit's Buddhism in Tibet1 published over thirty years ago, and now out of print. A work which, however admirable with respect to the time of its appearance, was admittedly fragmentary, as its author had never been in contact with Tibetans. And the only other European book on Lamaism, excepting Giorgi's curious compilation of last century, is Koppen's Die Lamaische Hierarchie und Kirche2 published thirty-five years ago, and also a compilation and out of print. Since the publication of these two works much new information has been gained, though scattered through more or less inaccessible Russian, German, French, and Asiatic journals. And this, combined with the existing opportunities for a closer study of Tibet and its customs, renders a fuller and more systematic work now possible.

Some reference seems needed to my special facilities for undertaking this task. In addition to having personally studied "southern Buddhism" in Burma and Ceylon; and "northern Buddhism" in Sikhim, Bhotan and Japan; and exploring Indian Buddhism in its remains in "the Buddhist Holy Land," and the ethnology of Tibet and its border tribes in Sikhim, Asam, and upper Burma; and being one of the few Europeans who have entered the territory of the Grand Lama, I have spent several years in studying the actualities of Lamaism as explained by its priests, at points much nearer Lhasa than any utilized for such a purpose, and where I could feel the pulse of the sacred city itself beating in the large communities of its natives, many of whom had left Lhasa only ten or twelve days previously.

On commencing my enquiry I found it necessary to learn the language, which is peculiarly difficult, and known to very few Europeans. And afterwards, realizing the rigid secrecy maintained by the Lamas in regard to their seemingly chaotic rites and symbolism, I felt compelled to purchase a Lamaist temple with its fittings; and prevailed on the officiating priests to explain to me in full detail the symbolism and the rites as they proceeded. Perceiving how much I was interested, the Lamas were so obliging as to interpret in my favour a prophetic account which exists in their scriptures regarding a Buddhist incarnation in the West. They convinced themselves that I was a reflex of the Western Buddha, Amitabha, and thus they overcame their conscientious scruples, and imparted information freely. With the knowledge thus gained, I visited other temples and monasteries critically, amplifying my information, and engaging a small staff of Lamas in the work of copying manuscripts, and searching for texts bearing upon my researches. Enjoying in these ways special facilities for penetrating the reserve of Tibetan ritual, and obtaining direct from Lhasa and Tashi-lhunpo most of the objects and explanatory material needed, I have elicited much information on Lamaist theory and practice which is altogether new.

The present work, while embodying much original research, brings to a focus most of the information on Lamaism scattered through former publications. And bearing in mind the increasing number of general readers interested in old world ethics, custom and myth, and in the ceaseless effort of the human heart in its insatiable craving for absolute truth; as well as the more serious students of Lamaism amongst orientalists, travellers, missionaries and others, I have endeavoured to give a clear insight into the structure, prominent features and cults of this system, and have relegated to smaller type and footnotes the more technical details and references required by specialists.

The special characteristics of the book are its detailed accounts of the external facts and curious symbolism of Buddhism, and its analyses of the internal movements leading to Lamaism and its sects and cults. It provides material culled from hoary Tibetan tradition and explained to me by Lamas for elucidating many obscure points in primitive Indian Buddhism and its later symbolism. Thus a clue is supplied to several disputed doctrinal points of fundamental importance, as for example the formula of the Causal Nexus. And it interprets much of the interesting Mahayana and Tantrik developments in the later Indian Buddhism of Magadha.

It attempts to disentangle the early history of Lamaism from the chaotic growth of fable which has invested it. With this view the nebulous Tibetan "history" so-called of the earlier periods has been somewhat critically examined in the light afforded by some scholarly Lamas and contemporary history; and all fictitious chronicles, such as the Mani-kah-'bum, hitherto treated usually as historical, are rejected as authoritative for events which happened a thousand years before they were written and for a time when writing was admittedly unknown in Tibet. If, after rejecting these manifestly fictitious "histories" and whatever is supernatural, the residue cannot be accepted as altogether trustworthy history, it at least affords a fairly probable historical basis, which seems consistent and in harmony with known facts and unwritten tradition.

It will be seen that I consider the founder of Lamaism to be Padma-sambhava — a person to whom previous writers are wont to refer in too incidental a manner. Indeed, some careful writers3 omit all mention of his name, although he is considered by the Lamas of all sects to be the founder of their order, and by the majority of them to be greater and more deserving of worship than Buddha himself.

Most of the chief internal movements of Lamaism are now for the first time presented in an intelligible and systematic form. Thus, for example, my account of its sects may be compared with that given by Schlagintweit,4 to which nothing practically had been added.5

As Lamaism lives mainly by the senses and spends its strength in sacerdotal functions, it is particularly rich in ritual. Special prominence, therefore, has been given to its ceremonial, all the more so as ritual preserves many interesting vestiges of archaic times. My special facilities for acquiring such information has enabled me to supply details of the principal rites, mystic and other, most of which were previously undescribed. Many of these exhibit in combination ancient Indian and pre-Buddhist Tibetan cults. The higher ritual, as already known, invites comparison with much in the Roman Church; and the fuller details now afforded facilitate this comparison and contrast.

But the bulk of the Lamaist cults comprise much deep-rooted devil-worship and sorcery, which I describe with some fulness. For Lamaism is only thinly and imperfectly varnished over with Buddhist symbolism, beneath which the sinister growth of poly-demonist superstition darkly appears.

The religious plays and festivals are also described. And a chapter is added on popular and domestic Lamaism to show the actual working of the religion in everyday life as a system of ethical belief and practice.

The advantages of the very numerous illustrations — about two hundred in number, mostly from originals brought from Lhasa, and from photographs by the author —must be obvious.6 Mr. Rockhill and Mr. Knight have kindly permitted the use of a few of their illustrations.

A full index has been provided, also a chronological table and bibliography.

I have to acknowledge the special aid afforded me by the learned Tibetan Lama, Ladma Chho Phel; by that venerable scholar the Mongolian Lama She-rab Gya-ts'o; by the Nin-ma Lama, Ur-gyan Gya-ts'o, head of the Yang-gang monastery of Sikhim and a noted explorer of Tibet; by Tun-yig Wang-dan and Mr. Dor-je Ts'e-ring; by S'ad-sgra S'ab-pe, one of the Tibetan governors of Lhasa, who supplied some useful information, and a few manuscripts; and by Mr. A. W. Paul, C.I.E., when pursuing my researches in Sikhim.

And I am deeply indebted to the kind courtesy of Professor C. Bendall for much special assistance and advice; and also generally to my friend Dr. Islay Muirhead.

Of previous writers to whose books I am specially under obligation, foremost must be mentioned Csoma Korosi, the enthusiastic Hungarian scholar and pioneer of Tibetan studies, who first rendered the Lamaist stores of information accessible to Europeans.7 Though to Brian Houghton Hodgson, the father of modern critical study of Buddhist doctrine, belongs the credit of discovering8 the Indian nature of the bulk of the Lamaist literature and of procuring the material for the detailed analyses by Csoma and Burnouf. My indebtedness to Koppen and Schlagintweit has already been mentioned. Jaeschke's great dictionary is a mine of information on technical and doctrinal definitions. The works of Giorgi, Vasiliev, Schiefner, Foucaux, Rockhill, Eitel, and Pander, have also proved most helpful. The Narrative of Travels in Tibet by Babu Saratcandra Das, and his translations from the vernacular literature, have afforded some useful details. The Indian Survey reports and Markham's Tibet have been of service; and the systematic treatises of Professors Rhys Davids, Oldenberg and Beal have supplied several useful indications.

The vastness of this many-sided subject, far beyond the scope of individual experience, the backward state of our knowledge on many points, the peculiar difficulties that beset the research, and the conditions under which the greater part of the book was written — in the scant leisure of a busy official life — these considerations may, I trust, excuse the frequent crudeness of treatment, as well as any errors which may be present, for I cannot fail to have missed the meaning occasionally, though sparing no pains to ensure accuracy. But, if my book, notwithstanding its shortcomings, proves of real use to those seeking information on the Buddhism of Tibet, as well as on the later Indian developments of Buddhism, and to future workers in these fields, I shall feel amply rewarded for all my labours.

L. Austine Waddell.
London, 31st October, 1894.



1 Leipzig and London, 1863. That there is no lack of miscellaneous literature on Tibet and Lamaism may be seen from the bibliographical list in the  appendix; but it is all of a fragmentary and often conflicting character.
2 Berlin, 1859.
3 E.g. W. R. S. Ralston in his Tibetan Tales.
4 Op. cit. , 72.

5 But see note on p. 69.

6 A few of the drawings are by Mr. A. D. McCormick from photographs, or original objects; and some have been taken from Giorgi, Hue, Pander, and others.
7 Alexander Csoma of Koros, in the Transylvanian circle of Hungary, like most of the subsequent writers on Lamaism, studied that system in Ladak. After publishing his Dictionary, Grammar, and Analysis, he proceeded to Darjiling in the hope of penetrating thence to Tibet, but died at Darjiling on the 11th April, 1842, a few days after arrival there, where his tomb now bears a suitable monument, erected by the Government of India. For details of his life and labours, see his biography by Dr. Duka.

8 Asiatic Researches, xvi., 1828.  
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Mon Dec 23, 2019 12:36 am


The general reader should remember as a rough rule that in the oriental names the vowels are pronounced as in German, and the consonants as in English, except c which is pronounced as "ch," n as "ng" and n as "ny." In particular, words like Buddha are pronounced as if spelt in English "Bood-dha," Sakya Muni as "Sha-kya Moo-nee," and Karma as "Kur-ma."

The spelling of Tibetan names is peculiarly uncouth and startling to the English reader. Indeed, many of the names as transcribed from the vernacular seem unpronounceable, and the difficulty is not diminished by the spoken form often differing widely from the written, owing chiefly to consonants having changed their sound or dropped out of speech altogether, the so-called "silent consonants."1 Thus the Tibetan word for the border-country which we, following the Nepalese, call Sikhim is spelt 'bras-ljons, and pronounced "Den-jong," and bkra-s'is is "Ta-shi." When, however, I have found it necessary to give the full form of these names, especially the more important words translated from the Sanskrit, in order to recover their original Indian form and meaning, I have referred them as far as possible to footnotes.

The transcription of the Tibetan letters follows the system adopted by Jaeschke in his Dictionary, with the exceptions noted below,2 and corresponds closely with the analogous system for Sanskritic words given over the page. The Tibetan pronunciation is spelt phonetically in the dialect of Lhasa. For the use of readers who are conversant with the Indian alphabets, and the system popularly known in India as "the Hunterian," the following table, in the order in which the sounds are physiologically produced — an order also followed by the Tibetans — will show the system of spelling Sanskritic words, which is here adopted, and which it will be observed, is almost identical with that of the widely used dictionaries of Monier-Williams and Childers. The different forms used in the Tibetan for aspirates and palato-sibilants are placed within brackets : —

gutturals / k / kh(k') / g / gh / n
palatals / c(c') / ch(ch') / j / jh / n
cerebrals / t / th / d / dh / n
dentals / t / th(t') / d / dh / n
labials / p / ph(p') / b / bh / m
palato-sibil / (ts) / (ts') / (z & ds) / (z') / --
-- / y / v / r / l / --
sibilants / s / sh(s') / s / -- / --
-- / h / -- / -- / -- / am



1 Somewhat analogous to the French ils parlent.

2 The exceptions mainly are those requiring very specialized diacritical marks, the letters which are there (Jaeschke's Dict. , p. viii.), pronounced ga as a prefix, cha, nya, the ha in several forms as the basis for vowels; these I have rendered by g, ch', n and ' respectively. In several cases I have spelt words according to Csoma's system, by which the silent consonants are italicized.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Mon Dec 23, 2019 12:43 am


B. Ac. Ptsbg. = Bulletin de la Classe Hist. Philol. de l'Academie de St. Petersbourg.

Burn. I. — Burnouf's Introd. au Budd. indien.

Burn. II. = Burnouf's Lotus de bonne Loi.

cf. = confer, compare.

Csoma An. = Csoma Korosi Analysis in Asiatic Researches Vol. xx

Csoma Gr. = Csoma Korosi Tibetan Grammar.

Davids = Rhys Davids' Buddhism.

Desg. = Desgodins' Le Tibet, etc.

Eitel = Eitel's Handbook of Chinese Buddhism.

Jaesch. D. = Jaeschke's Tibetan Dictionary.

J.A.S.B. = Jour. of the Asiatic Soc. of Bengal.

J.R.A.S. = Journal of the Royal Asiatic Soc., London.

Hodgs. = Hodgson's Essays on Lang., Lit., etc.

Huc = Travels in Tartary, Tibet, etc., Hazlitt's trans.

Kopp N = Koppen's Lamaische Hier.

Markham = Markham's Tibet.

Marco P. = Marco Polo, Yule's edition.

O.M. = Original Mitt. Ethnolog. Konigl. Museum fur Volkerkunde Berlin.

Pander = Pander's Das Pantheon, etc.

pr. = pronounced.

Rock. L. = Rockhill's Land of the Lamas.

Rock. B. = Rockhill's Life of the Buddha, etc.

Sarat = Saratcandra Das.

S.B.E. = Sacred Books of the East.

Schlag. = E. Schlagintweit's Buddhism in Tibet.

Skt. = Sanskrit.

S.R. = Survey of India Report.

T. = Tibetan.

Tara. = Tarandtha's Geschichte, etc., Schiefner's trans.

Vasil. = Vasiliev's or Wassiljew's Der Buddhismus.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:23 am


Below Tang-kar Pass

TIBET, the mystic Land of the Grand Lama, joint God and King of many millions, is still the most impenetrable country in the world. Behind its icy barriers, reared round it by Nature herself, and almost unsurmountable, its priests guard its passes jealously against foreigners.

View into S.W. Tibet from Tang-kar La Pass, 16,600 ft.

Few Europeans have ever entered Tibet; and none for half a century have reached the sacred city. Of the travellers of later times who have dared to enter this dark land, after scaling its frontiers and piercing its passes, and thrusting themselves into its snow-swept deserts, even the most intrepid have failed to penetrate farther than the outskirts of its central province.1 And the information, thus perilously gained, has, with the exception of Mr. Rockhill's, been almost entirely geographical, leaving the customs of this forbidden land still a field for fiction and romance.

Captain of Guard of Dong-kya Pass

Thus we are told that, amidst the solitudes of this "Land of the Supernatural" repose the spirits of "The Masters," the Mahatmas, whose astral bodies slumber in unbroken peace, save when they condescend to work some petty miracle in the world below.

In presenting here the actualities of the cults and customs of Tibet; and lifting higher than before the veil which still hides its mysteries from European eyes, the subject may be viewed under the following sections: —

a. Historical. The changes in primitive Buddhism leading to Lamaism, and the origins of Lamaism and its sects.

b. Doctrinal. The metaphysical sources of the doctrine. The doctrine and its morality and literature.

c. Monastic. The Lamaist order. Its curriculum, daily life, dress, etc., discipline, hierarchy and incarnate-deities and re-embodied saints.

d. Buildings. Monasteries, temples, monuments, and shrines.

e. Pantheon and Mythology, including saints, images. fetishes, and other sacred objects and symbols.

f. Ritual and Sorcery, comprising sacerdotal services for the laity, astrology, oracles and divination, charms and necromancy.

g. Festivals and Sacred Plays, with the mystic plays and masquerades.

h. Popular and Domestic Lamaism in every-day life, customs, and folk-lore.

Such an exposition will afford us a fairly full and complete survey of one of the most active, and least known, forms of existing Buddhism; and will present incidentally numerous other topics of wide and varied human interest.

For Lamaism is, indeed, a microcosm of the growth of religion and myth among primitive people; and in large degree an object-lesson of their advance from barbarism towards civilization. And it preserves for us much of the old-world lore and petrified beliefs of our Aryan ancestors.




1 The Few Europeans who have penetrated Central Tibet have mostly been Roman missionaries. The first European to reach Lhasa seems to have been Friar Odoric, of Pordenne, about 1330 A.D. on his return from Cathay (Col. Yule's Cathay and the Road Thither, i., 149, and C. Markham's Tibet, xlvi.). The capital city of Tibet referred to by him with its "Abassi" or Pope is believed to have been Lhasa. In 1661 the Jesuits  Albert Dorville and Johann Gruher visited Lhasa on their way from China to India. In 1706 the Capuchine Fathers Josepho de Asculi and Francisco Marie de Toun penetrated to Lhasa from Bengal. In 1716 the Jesuit Desideri reached it From Kashmir and  Ladak. In 1741 a Capuchine mission under Horacio de la Penna also succeeded in getting there, and the large amount of information collected by them supplied Father A. Giorgi with the material for his Alphabetum Tibetanum, published at Rome in 1762.  The friendly reception accorded this party created hopes of Lhasa becoming a centre for Roman missionaries; and a Vicar apostolicus for Lhasa is still nominated and appears in the "Annuario pontificio," though of course he cannot reside within Tibet.  In 1811 Lhasa was reached by Manning, a Friend of Charles Lamb, and the only Englishman who seems ever to have got there; for most authorities are agreed that Moorcroft, despite the story told to M. Huc, never reached it. But Manning unfortunately left only a whimsical diary, scarcely even descriptive of his fascinating adventures. The subsequent, and the last, Europeans to reach Lhasa were the Lazarist missionaries, Huc and Gabet, in 1845. Huc's entertaining account of his journey is well known. He was soon expelled, and since then China has aided Tibet in opposing foreign ingress by strengthening its political and military barriers, as recent explorers Prejivalsky, Rockhill, Bonvalot, Bower, Miss Taylor, etc, have found to their cost; though some are sanguine that the Sikhim Trade Convention of this year (1894) is probably the thin edge of the wedge to open up the country, and that at no distant date Tibet will be prevailed on to relax its jealous exclusiveness, so that, 'ere 1900, even Cook's tourists may visit the Lamaist Vatican.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:23 am


"Ah! Constantine, of how much ill was cause,
Not thy conversion, but those rich domains
That the first wealthy Pope received of thee."1

To understand the origin of Lamaism and its place in the Buddhist system, we must recall the leading features of primitive Buddhism, and glance at its growth, to see the points at which the strange creeds and cults crept in, and the gradual crystallization of these into a religion differing widely from the parent system, and opposed in so many ways to the teaching of Buddha.

Sakya Muni

No one now doubts the historic character of Siddharta Gautama, or Sakya Muni, the founder of Buddhism; though it is clear the canonical accounts regarding him are overlaid with legend, the fabulous addition of after days.2 Divested of its embellishment, the simple narrative of the Buddha's life is strikingly noble and human.

Some time before the epoch of Alexander the Great, between the fourth and fifth centuries before Christ,3 Prince Siddharta appeared in India as an original thinker and teacher, deeply conscious of the degrading thraldom of caste and the priestly tyranny of the Brahmans,4 and profoundly impressed with the pathos and straggle of Life, and earnest in the search of some method of escaping from existence which was clearly involved with sorrow.

Temptation of Sakya Muni, from a sixth century Ajanta fresco, after Raj. Mitra[

His touching renunciation of his high estate,5 of his beloved wife, and child, and borne, to become an ascetic, in order to master the secrets of deliverance from sorrow; his unsatisfying search for truth amongst the teachers of his time; his subsequent austerities and severe penance, a much-vaunted means of gaining spiritual insight; his retirement into solitude and self-communion; his last struggle and final triumph — latterly represented as a real material combat, the so-called "Temptation of Buddha": —  

Infernal ghosts and Hellish furies round
Environ'd thee; some howl'd, some yell'd, some shriek'd,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou Sat's-t unappall'd in calm and sinless peace6:

his reappearance, confident that he had discovered the secrets of deliverance; his carrying the good tidings of the truth from town to town; his effective protest against the cruel sacrifices of the Brahmans, and his relief of much of the suffering inflicted upon helpless animals and often human beings, in the name of religion; his death, full of years and honours, and the subsequent burial of his relics,— all these episodes in Buddha's life are familiar to English readers in the pages of Sir Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia, and other works.

Buddha's Death, from a Tibetan picture, after Grunwedel

His system, which arose as a revolt against the one-sided development of contemporary religion and ethics, the caste-debasement of man and the materializing of God, took the form, as we shall see, of an agnostic idealism, which threw away ritual and sacerdotalism altogether.

Its tolerant creed of universal benevolence, quickened by the bright example of a pure and noble life, appealed to the feelings of the people with irresistible force and directness, and soon gained for the new religion many converts in the Ganges Valley.

And it gradually gathered a brotherhood of monks, which after Buddha's death became subject to a succession of "Patriarchs,"7 who, however, possessed little or no centralized hierarchal power, nor, had at least the earlier of them, any fixed abode.

About 250 B.C. it was vigorously propagated by the great Emperor Asoka, the Constantine of Buddhism, who, adopting it as his State-religion, zealously spread it throughout his own vast empire, and sent many missionaries into the adjoining lands to diffuse the faith. Thus was it transported to Burma,8 Siam, Ceylon, and other islands on the south, to Nepal9 and the countries to the north of India, Kashmir, Bactria, Afghanistan, etc.

In 61 A.D. it spread to China,10 and through China, to Corea, and, in the sixth century A.D., to Japan, taking strong hold on all of the people of these countries, though they were very different from those among whom it arose, and exerting on all the wilder tribes among them a very sensible civilizing influence. It is believed to have established itself at Alexandria.11 And it penetrated to Europe, where the early Christians had to pay tribute to the Tartar Buddhist Lords of the Golden Horde; and to the present day it still survives in European Russia among the Kalmaks on the Volga, who are professed Buddhists of the Lamaist order.

Tibet, at the beginning of the seventh century, though now surrounded by Buddhist countries, knew nothing of that religion, and was still buried in barbaric darkness. Not until about the year 640 A.D. did it first receive its Buddhism, and through it some beginnings of civilization among its people.

But here it is necessary to refer to the changes in Form which Buddhism meanwhile had undergone in India.

Buddha, as the central figure of the system, soon became invested with supernatural and legendary attributes. And as the religion extended its range and influence, and enjoyed princely patronage and ease, it became more metaphysical and ritualistic, so that heresies and discords constantly cropped up, tending to schisms, for the suppression of which it was found necessary to hold great councils.

Of these councils the one held at Jalandhar, in Northern India, towards the end of the first century A.D., under the auspices of the Scythian King Kanishka, of Northern India, was epoch-making, for it established a permanent schism into what European writers have termed the "Northern" and "Southern" Schools: the Southern being now represented by Ceylon, Burma, and Siam; and the Northern by Tibet, Sikhim, Bhotan, Nepal, Ladak, China, Mongolia, Tartary, and Japan. This division, however, it must be remembered, is unknown to the Buddhists themselves, and is only useful to denote in a rough sort of way the relatively primitive as distinguished from the developed or mixed forms of the faith, with especial reference to their present-day distribution.

The point of divergence of these so-called "Northern" and "Southern'' Schools was the theistic Mahayana doctrine, which substituted for the agnostic idealism and simple morality of Buddha, a speculative theistic system with a mysticism of sophistic nihilism in the background. Primitive Buddhism practically confined its salvation to a select few; but the Mahayana extended salvation to the entire universe. Thus, from its large capacity as a "Vehicle" for easy, speedy, and certain attainment of the state of a Bodhisat or potential Buddha, and conveyance across the sea of life (samsara) to Nirvana, the haven of the Buddhists, its adherents called it "The Great Vehicle" or Mahayana;12 while they contemptuously called the system of the others— the Primitive Buddhists, who did not join this innovation — "The Little, or Imperfect Vehicle," the Hinayana,13 which could carry so few to Nirvana, and which they alleged was only fit for low intellects.

This doctrinal division into the Mahayana and Hinayana, however, does not quite coincide with the distinction into the so-called Northern and Southern Schools; for the Southern School shows a considerable leavening with Mahayana principles,14 and Indian Buddhism during its most popular period was very largely of the Mahayana type.

Who the real author of the Mahayana was is not yet known. The doctrine seems to have developed within the Maha-sanghika or "Great Congregation" — a heretical sect which arose among the monks of Vaisali, one hundred years after Buddha's death, and at the council named after that place.15 Asvaghosha, who appears to have lived about the latter end of the first century A.D., is credited with the authorship of a work entitled On raising Faith in the Mahayana.16 But its chief expounder and developer was Nagarjuna, who was probably a pupil of Asvaghosha, as he followed the successor of the latter in the patriarchate. He could not, however, have taken any active part in Kanishka's Council, as the Lamas believe. Indeed, it is doubtful even whether he had then been born.17

Nagarjuna claimed and secured orthodoxy for the Mahayana doctrine by producing an apocalyptic treatise which he attributed to Sakya Muni, entitled the Prajna-paramita, or "the means of arriving at the other side of wisdom," a treatise which he alleged the Buddha had himself composed, and had hid away in the custody of the Naga demigods until men were sufficiently enlightened to comprehend so abstruse a system. And, as his method claims to be a compromise between the extreme views then held on the nature of Nirvana, it was named the Madhyamika, or the system "of the Middle Path."18


This Mahayana doctrine was essentially a sophistic nihilism; and under it the goal Nirvana, or rather Pari-Nirvana, while ceasing to be extinction of Life, was considered a mystical state which admitted of no definition. By developing the supernatural side of Buddhism and its objective symbolism, by rendering its salvation more accessible and universal, and by substituting good words for the good deeds of the earlier Buddhists, the Mahayana appealed more powerfully to the multitude and secured ready popularity.

About the end of the first century of our era, then, Kariishka's Council affirmed the superiority of the Mahayana system, and published in the Sanskrit language inflated versions of the Buddhist Canon, from sources for the most part independent of the Pali versions of the southern Buddhists, though exhibiting a remarkable agreement with them.19

And this new doctrine supported by Kanishka, who almost rivalled Asoka in his Buddhist zeal and munificence, became a dominant form of Buddhism throughout the greater part of India; and it was the form which first penetrated, it would seem, to (China and Northern Asia.

Its idealization of Buddha and his attributes led to the creation of metaphysical Buddhas and celestial Bodhisats, actively willing and able to save, and to the introduction of innumerable demons and deities as objects of worship, with their attendant idolatry and sacerdotalism, both of which departures Buddha had expressly condemned. The gradual growth of myth and legend, and of the various theistic developments which now set in, are sketched in detail in another chapter.

Manjusri, the Bodhisat-God, holding the book of Wisdom and wielding the Sword of Knowledge

As early as about the first century A.D., Buddha is made to be existent from all eternity and without beginning.

And one of the earliest forms given to the greatest of these metaphysical Buddhas — Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless light — evidently incorporated a Sun-myth, as was indeed to be expected where the chief patrons of this early Mahayana Buddhism, the Scythians and Indo-Persians, were a race of Sun-worshippers.

The worship of Buddha's own image seems to date from this period, the first century of our era, and about four or five centuries after Buddha's death;20 and it was followed by a variety of polytheistic forms, the creation of which was probably facilitated by the Grecian Art influences then prevalent in Northern India.21 Different forms of Buddha's image, originally intended to represent different epochs in his life, were afterwards idealized into various Celestial Buddhas, from whom the human Buddhas were held to be derived as material reflexes.

Vajra-Pani, the Wielder of the thunderbolt

About 500 A.D.22 arose the next great development in Indian Buddhism with the importation into it of the pantheistic cult of Yoga, or the ecstatic union of the individual with the Universal Spirit, a cult which had been introduced into Hinduism by Patanjali about 150 B.C. Buddha himself had attached much importance to the practice of abstract meditation amongst his followers; and such practices under the mystical and later theistic developments of his system, readily led to the adoption of the Brahmanical cult of Yoga, which was grafted on to the theistic Mahayana by Asanga, a Buddhist monk of Gandhara (Peshawar), in Northern India. Those who mastered this system were called Yogacarya Buddhists.

The Yogacarya mysticism seems to have leavened the mass of the Mahayana followers, and even some also of the Hinayana; for distinct traces of Yoga are to be found in modern Burmese and Ceylonese Buddhism. And this Yoga parasite, containing within itself the germs of Tantrism, seized strong hold of its host and soon developed its monster outgrowths, which crushed and cankered most of the little life of purely Buddhist stock yet left in the Mahayana.

Samanta-Bhadra, a Celestial Bodhisat

About the end of the sixth century A.D., Tantrism or Sivaic mysticism, with its worship of female energies, spouses of the Hindu god Siva, began to tinge both Buddhism and Hinduism. Consorts were allotted to the several Celestial Bodhisats and most of the other gods and demons, and most of them were given forms wild and terrible, and often monstrous, according to the supposed moods of each divinity at different tines. And as these goddesses and fiendesses were bestowers of supernatural power, and were especially malignant, they were especially worshipped.

By the middle of the seventh century A.D., India contained many images of Divine Buddhas and Bodhisats with their female energies and other Buddhist gods and demons, as we know from Hiuen Tsiang's narrative and the lithic remains in India;23 and the growth of myth and ceremony had invested the dominant form of Indian Buddhism with organised litanies and full ritual.

Such was the distorted form of Buddhism introduced into Tibet about 640 A.D.; and during the three or four succeeding centuries Indian Buddhism became still more debased. Its mysticism became a silly mummery of unmeaning jargon and "magic circles," dignified by the title of Mantrayana or "The Spell-Vehicle"; and this so-called "esoteric," but properly exoteric," cult was given a respectable antiquity by alleging that its real founder was Nagarjuna, who had received it from the Celestial Buddha Vairocana through the divine Bodhisat Vajrasattva at "the iron tower" in Southern India.

Eleven-headed Avalokita

In the tenth century A.D.,24 the Tantrik phase developed in Northern India, Kashmir, and Nepal, into the monstrous and polydemonist doctrine, the Kalacakra,25 with its demoniacal Buddhas, which incorporated the Mantrayana practices, and called itself the Vajra-yana, or "The Thunderbolt-Vehicle," and its followers were named Vajra- carya, or "Followers of the Thunderbolt."

Naro, an Indian Buddhist Vajracarya Monk of the Eleventh Century A.D.

In these declining days of Indian Buddhism, when its spiritual and regenerating influences were almost dead, the Muhammadan invasion swept over India, in the latter end of the twelfth century A.D., and effectually stamped Buddhism out of the country. The fanatical idol-hating Afghan soldiery26 especially attacked the Buddhist monasteries, with their teeming idols, and they massacred the monks wholesale;27 and as the Buddhist religion, unlike the more domestic Brahmanism, is dependent on its priests and monks for its vitality, it soon disappeared in the absence of these latter. It lingered only for a short time longer in the more remote parts of the peninsula, to which the fiercely fanatical Muhammadans could not readily penetrate.27

But it has now been extinct in India for several centuries, leaving, however, all over that country, a legacy of gorgeous architectural remains and monuments of decorative art, and its living effect upon its apparent offshoot Jainism, and upon Brahmanism, which it profoundly influenced for good.

Although the form of Buddhism prevalent in Tibet, and which has been called after its priests "Lamaism," is mainly that of the mystical type, the Vajra-yana, curiously incorporated with Tibetan mythology and spirit-worship, still it preserves there, as we shall see, much of the loftier philosophy and ethics of the system taught by Buddha himself. And the Lamas have the keys to unlock the meaning of much of Buddha's doctrine, which has been almost inaccessible to Europeans.


Some Lama-Priests, from a photograph by Mr. Hoffman.



1 Dante, Paradiso, xx. (Milton's trans.)
2 See Chapter v. for details of the gradual growth of the legends.
3 See Chronological Table, Appendix i.
4  The treatises on Vedic ritual, called the Brahmanas, had existed for about three centuries previous to Buddha's epoch, according to Max Muller's Chronology (Hibbert Lectures, 1891, p. 58) -- the initial dates there given are Rig Veda, tenth century B.C.; Brahmanas, eighth century B.C.; Sutra xixth, and Buddhism fifth century B.C.

5 The researches of Vasiliev, etc., render it probable thai Siddharta's father was only a petty lord or chief (cf. also Oldenberg's Life, Appendix), and that Sakya's pessimistic view of Life may have been forced upon him by the loss of his territories through conquest by a neighbouring king.

6 Milton's Paradise Regained, Book IV.
7 The greatest of all Buddha's disciples, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, who from their prominence in the system seem to have contributed materially to its success, having died before their master, the first of the patriarchs was the senior surviving disciple, Mahakasyapa. As several of these Patriarchs are intimately associated with the Lamaist developments, I subjoin a list of their names, taken from the Tibetan canon and Taranatha's history, supplemented by some dates from modern sources. After Nagarjuna, the thirteenth (or according to some the fourteenth) patriarch, the succession is uncertain.

List of the Patriarchs

1. Mahakasyapa, Buddha's senior disciple.
2. Ananda, Buddha's cousin and favourite attendant.
3. Sanavasu.
4. Upagupta, the spiritual adviser of Ashoka, 250 B.C.
5. Dhritaka.
6. Micchaka or bibhakala.
7. Buddhananda.
8. Buddhamitra (=? Vasumitra, referred to as president of Kanishka's council).
9. Parsva, contemporary of Kanishka, circa 78 A.D.
10. Sunasata (? or Punyayasas).
11. Asvaghosha, also contemporary of Kanishka, circa 100.A.D.
12. Masipala (Kapimala).
13. Nagarjuna, circa 150 A.D.
14. Deva or Kanadeva.  
15. Rahulata (?).
16. Sanghanandi.
17. Sankhayaseta (?)
18. Kumarada.  
19. Jayata.
20. Vasubandhu, circa 400 A.D.
21. Manura.
22. Haklenayasas.
23. Sinhalaputra.
24. Vasasuta.
25. Punyamitra.
26. Prajnatara.
27. Bodhidharma, who visited China by sea in 526 A.D.

8 By Sona and Uttaro (Mahavanso, p. 71).

9 Bucchanan-Hamilton (Acct. of Nepal, p. 190) gives date of introduction as A.D. 33; probably this was its re-introduction.

10 During the reign of the Emperor Ming Ti. Beal (Budd. in China, p 58) gives 71 A.D.
11 The Mahavanso (Turnour's ed., p. 171) notes that 30,000 Bhikshus, or Buddhist  monks, came from "Alasadda," considered to he Alexandria.
12 The word Yana (Tib., Teg-pa ch'en-po) or "Vehicle" is parallel to the Platonic [x], as noted by Beal in Catena, p. 124.

13 Tib., Teg-pa dman-pa.

14 Cf. Hiuen Tsiang's Si-yu-Ki (Beal's), ii., p. 133; Eitel, p. 90; Dharmapala in Mahabodhi Jour., 1892; Taw Sein Ko, Ind. Antiquary, June, 1892.

15 The orthodox members of this council formed the sect called Sthaviras or "elders."

16 He also wrote a biography of Buddha, entitled Buddha-Carita Kavya, translated by Cowell, in S.B.E. It closely resembles the Lalita Vistara, and a similar epic was brought to China as early as 70 A.D. (Beal's Chinese Buddhism, , p. 90). He is also credited with the authorship of a clever confutation of Brahmanism, which was latterly entitled Vajra Suci (cf. Hodgs., III., 127).
17 Nagarjuna (T., kLu-grub.) appears to belong to the second century A.D. He was a native of Vidarbha (Berar) and a monk of Nalanda, the headquarters of several of the later patriarchs. He is credited by the Lamas (J.A.S.B., 1882, 115) with having erected the stone railing round the great Gandhola Temple of "Budh Gaya," though the style of the lithic inscriptions on these rails would place their date earlier. For a biographical note from the Tibetan by H. Wenzel, see J. Pali Text Soc., 1886, p. 1, also by Sakat, J.A.S.B., 51, pp. l and 115. The vernacular history of Kashmir (Rajatarangini) makes him a contemporary and chief monk of Kanishka's successor, King Abhimanyu (cf. also Eitel, p. 103; Schl., 21, 301-3; Kopp., ii., 14; O.M., 107, 2; Csoma, Gr., xii., 182).

18 It seems to have been a common practice for sectaries to call their own system by this title, implying that it only was the true or reasonable belief. Sakya Muni also called his system "the Middle Path" (Davids, p. 47), claiming in his defence of truth to avoid the two extremes of superstition on the one side, and worldliness or infidelity on the other. Comp. the Via media of the Anglican Oxford movement.
19 Several of the Chinese and Japanese Scriptures are translated from the Pali (Beal's Budd. in China, p. 5) and also a few Tibetan (cf. Chap. vii.).
20 Cf. statue of Buddha found at Sravasti, Cunningham's Stupa of Barhut, p. vii. So also in Christianity, archdeacon Farrar, in his recent lecture on "The Development of Christian Art,'' states that for three centuries there were no pictures of Christ, but only symbols, such as the fish, the lamb, the dove. The catacombs of St. Callistus contained the first picture of Christ, the date being 313. Not even a cross existed in the early catacombs, and still less a crucifix. The eighth century saw the first picture of the dead Christ. Rabulas in 586 first depicted the crucifixion in a Syriac Gospel.

21 Smith's Graeco-Roman infl. on Civilization of Ancient India, J.A.S.B., 58 et seq., 1889, and Grunwedel's Buddh. Kunst.

22 The date of the author of this innovation, Asanga, the brother of Vasubandhu, the twentieth patriarch, has not yet been fixed with any precision. It seems to be somewhere between 400 A.D. and 500 A.D. -- Cf. Vasil., B., p. 78; Schiefner's Tara,  p. 126; Julien's Histoire de la vie de Hitten Tshang, 83, 93, 97, 106, 114.
23 See my article on Uren, J.A.S.B., 1891, and on Indian Buddhist Cult, etc., in J.R.A.S., 1894, p. 51 et seq.

24 About 965 A.D.. (CS0MA, Gr., p. 192).

25 Tib., 'Dus-Kyi-'K'or-lo, or Circle of Time, see Chap. vi. It is ascribed to the fabulous country of Sambhala (T., De-jun) to the North of India, a mythical country probably founded upon the Northern land of St. Padma-sambhava, to wit Udyana.
26 See article by me in J.A.S.B., lxvi., 1892, p. 20 et seq., illustrating this fanaticism and massacre with reference to Magadha and Asam.

27 Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, Elliot's trans., ii., 306, etc.

28 Taranatha says it still existed in Bengal till the middle of the fifteenth century A.D., under the "Chagala" Raja, whose kingdom extended to Delhi and who was converted to Buddhism by his wife. He died in 1448 A.D., and Prof. Bendall finds (Cat. Buddh.Skt. MSS. intr. p. iv) that Buddhist MSS. were copied in Bengal up to the middle of the fifteenth century, namely, to 1446. Cf. also his note in J.R.A.S., New Ser., xx., 552, and mine in J.A.S.B. (Proc), February, 1893.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Mon Dec 23, 2019 11:06 am

Part 1 of 2


TIBET emerges from barbaric darkness only with the dawn of its Buddhism, in the seventh century of our era.

Tibetan history, such as there is — and there is none at all before its Buddhist era, nor little worthy of the name till about the eleventh century A.D. — is fairly clear on the point that previous to King Sron Tsan Gampo's marriage in 638-641 A.D., Buddhism was quite unknown in Tibet.1 And it is also fairly clear on the point that Lamaism did not arise till a century later than this epoch.

Up till the seventh century Tibet was inaccessible even to the Chinese. The Tibetans of this prehistoric period are seen, from the few glimpses that we have of them in Chinese history about the end of the sixth century,2 to have been rapacious savages and reputed cannibals, without a written language,3 and followers of an animistic and devil-dancing or Shamanist religion, the Bon, resembling in many ways the Taoism of China.

Early in the seventh century, when Muhammad ("Mahomet") was founding his religion in Arabia, there arose in Tibet a warlike king, who established his authority over the other wild clans of central Tibet, and latterly his son, Sron Tsan Gampo,4 harassed the western borders of China; so that the Chinese Emperor T'aitsung, of the T'ang Dynasty, was glad to come to terms with this young prince, known to the Chinese as Ch'itsung-luntsan, and gave him in 641 A.D.5 the Princess6 Wench'eng, of the imperial house, in marriage.7

Two years previously Sron Tsan Gampo had married Bhrikuti, a daughter of the Nepal King, Amsuvarman;8 and both of these wives being bigoted Buddhists, they speedily effected the conversion of their young husband, who was then, according to Tibetan annals, only about sixteen years of age,9 and who, under their advice, sent to India, Nepal, and China for Buddhist books and teachers.10

It seems a perversion of the real order of events to state, as is usually done in European books, that Sron Tsan Gampo first adopted Buddhism, and then married two Buddhist wives. Even the vernacular chronicle,11 which presents the subject in its most flattering form, puts into the mouth of Sron Tsan Grampo, when he sues for the hand of his first wife, the Nepalese princess, the following words: "I, the King of barbarous12 Tibet, do not practise the ten virtues, but should you be pleased to bestow on me your daughter, and wish me to have the Law,13 I shall practise the ten virtues with a five-thousand-fold body . . , though I have not the arts . . . if you so desire . . . I shall build 5,000 temples." Again, the more reliable Chinese history records that the princess said "there is no religion in Tibet"; and the glimpse got of Sron Tsan in Chinese history shows him actively engaged throughout his life in the very un-Buddhist pursuit of bloody wars with neighbouring states.

The messenger sent by this Tibetan king to India, at the instance of his wives, to bring Buddhist books was called Thon-mi Sam-bhota.14 The exact date of his departure and return are uncertain,15 and although his Indian visit seems to have been within the period covered by Hiuen Tsiang's account, this history makes no mention even of the country of Tibet. After a stay in India16 of several years, during which Sam-bhota studied under the Brahman Livikara or Lipidatta17 and the pandit Devavid Sinha (or Sinha Ghosha), he returned to Tibet, bringing several Buddhist books and the so-called "Tibetan" alphabet, by means of which he now reduced the Tibetan language to writing and composed for this purpose a grammar.18

This so-called "Tibetan" character, however, was merely a somewhat fantastic reproduction of the north Indian alphabet current in India at the time of Sam-bhota's visit. It exaggerates the nourishing curves of the "Kutila" which was then coming into vogue in India, and it very slightly modified a few letters to adapt them to the peculiarities of Tibetan phonetics.19 Thonmi translated into this new character several small Buddhist texts,20 but he does not appear to have become a monk or to have attempted any religious teaching.

Sron Tsan Gampo, being one of the greatest kings of Tibet and the first patron of learning and civilization in that country, and having with the aid of his wives first planted the germs of Buddhism in Tibetan soil, he is justly the most famous and popular king of the country, and latterly he was canonized as an incarnation of the most popular of the celestial Bodhisats, Avalokita; and in keeping with this legend he is figured with his hair dressed up into a high conical chignon after the fashion of the Indian images of this Buddhist god, "The Looking-down-Lord."

His two wives were canonized as incarnations of Avalokita's consort, Tara, "the Saviouress," or Goddess of Mercy; and the fact that they bore him no children is pointed to as evidence of their divine nature.21 The Chinese princess Wench'eng was deified as "The white Tara,"22 as in the annexed figure; while the Nepalese princess "Bri-bsun" said to be a corruption of Bhri-kuti, was apotheosised as the green Bhri-kuti Tara,23 as figured in the chapter on the pantheon.

Tara, The White, the Deified Chinese Princess Wench'eng.24

But he was not the saintly person the grateful Lamas picture, for he is seen from reliable Chinese history to have been engaged all his life in bloody wars, and more at home in the battlefield than the temple. And he certainly did little in the way of Buddhist propaganda, beyond perhaps translating a few tracts into Tibetan, and building a few temples to shrine the images received by him in dower,25 and others which he constructed. He built no monasteries.

After Sron Tsan Gampo's death, about 650 A.D.,26 Buddhism made little headway against the prevailing Shamanist superstitions, and seems to have been resisted by the people until about a century later in the reign of his powerful descendant Thi-Sron Detsan,27 who extended his rule over the greater part of Yunnan and Si-Chuen, and even took Changan, the then capital of China.

King Thi-Sron Detsan

This king was the son of a Chinese princess,28 and inherited through his mother a strong prejudice in favour of Buddhism.

He succeeded to the throne when only thirteen years old, and a few years later29 he sent to India for a celebrated Buddhist priest to establish an order in Tibet; and he was advised, it is said, by his family priest, the Indian monk Santarakshita, to secure if possible the services of his brother-in-law,30 Guru Padma-sambhava, a clever member of the then popular Tantrik Yogacarya school, and at that time, it is said, a resident of the great college of Nalanda, the Oxford of Buddhist India.

This Buddhist wizard, Guru Padma-sambhava, promptly responded to the invitation of the Tibetan king, and accompanied the messengers back to Tibet in 747 A.D.31

As Guru Padma-sambhava was the founder of Lamaism, and is now deified and as celebrated in Lamaism as Buddha himself, than whom, indeed, he receives among several sects more worship, he demands detailed notice.

The Founder of Lamaism, St. Padma-Sambhava, in his Eight Forms

The founder of Lamaism, Saint Padma-sambhava or "the Lotus-born one,"32 is usually called by the Tibetans Guru Rin-po-ch'e, or "the precious Guru"; or simply Lo-pon,33 the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit "Guru" or "teacher." He is also called "Ugyan" or "Urgyan," as he was a native of Udyana or Urgyan, corresponding to the country about Ghazni34 to the north-west of Kashmir.

Udyana, his native land, was famed for the proficiency of its priests in sorcery, exorcism, and magic. Hiuen Tsiang, writing a century previously, says regarding Udyana: "The people are in disposition somewhat sly and crafty. They practise the art of using charms. The employment of magical sentences is with them an art and a study."35 And in regard to the adjoining country of Kashmir also intimately related to Lamaism, Marco Polo a few centuries later says: "Keshimur is a province inhabited by people who are idolaters (i.e., Buddhists). . . . They have an astonishing acquaintance with the devilries of enchantment, insomuch as they can make their idols speak. They can also by their sorceries bring on changes of weather, and produce darkness, and do a number of things so extraordinary that no one without seeing them would believe them. Indeed, this country is the very original source from which idolatry has spread abroad."36

Dor-je Legs, a fiend (priest) subjected by St. Padma-sambhava

The Tibetans, steeped in superstition which beset them on every side by malignant devils, warmly welcomed the Guru as he brought them deliverance from their terrible tormentors. Arriving in Tibet in 747 A.D., he vanquished all the chief devils of the land, sparing most of them on their consenting to become defenders of his religion, while he on his part guaranteed that in return for such services they would be duly worshipped and fed. Thus, just as the Buddhists in India, in order to secure the support of the semi-aborigines of Bengal admitted into their system the bloody Durga and other aboriginal demons, so on extending their doctrines throughout Asia they pandered to the popular taste by admitting within the pale of Buddhism the pantheon of those new nations they sought to convert. And similarly in Japan, where Buddhism was introduced in the sixth century A.D., it made little progress till the ninth century, when Kobo Daishi incorporated it with the local Shintoism, by alleging that the Shinto deities were embodiments of the Buddhist.

The Twelve Tan-ma She-Devils, Subjected by St. Padma

The Guru's most powerful weapons in warring with the demons were the Vajra (Tibetan, dor-je), symbolic of the thunderbolt of Indra (Jupiter), and spells extracted from the Mahayana gospels, by which he shattered his supernatural adversaries.

As the leading events of his march through Tibet and his subjugation of the local devils are of some interest, as indicating the original habitats of several of the pre-Lamaist demons, I have given a condensed account of these in the chapter on the pantheon at page 382.

Under the zealous patronage of King Thi-Sron Detsan he built at Sam-yas in 749 A.D. the first Tibetan monastery. The orthodox account of the miraculous creation of that building is referred to in our description of that monastery.

On the building of Sam-yas,37 said to be modelled after the Indian Odantapura of Magadha, the Guru, assisted by the Indian monk Santa-rakshita, instituted there the order of the Lamas. Santa-rakshita was made the first abbot and laboured there for thirteen years. He now is entitled Acarya Bodhisat.38

Santa-Rakshita, Indian Buddhist monk of the Eighth Century, A.D.

La-ma39 is a Tibetan word meaning the "Superior One," and corresponds to the Sanskrit Uttara. It was restricted to the head of the monastery, and still is strictly applicable only to abbots and the highest monks; though out of courtesy the title is now given to almost all Lamaist monks and priests. The Lamas have no special term for their form of Buddhism. They simply call it "The religion" or "Buddha's religion"; and its professors are "Insiders," or "within the fold" (nan-pa), in contradistinction to the non-Buddhists or "Outsiders" (chi-pa or pyi-'lin), the so-called "pe-ling" or foreigners of English writers. And the European term "Lamaism" finds no counterpart in Tibetan.

The first Lama may be said to be Pal-bans, who succeeded the Indian abbot Santa-rakshita; though the first ordained member of this Tibetan order of monks was Bya-Khri-gzigs.40 The most learned of these young Lamas was Vairocana, who translated many Sanskrit works into Tibetan, though his usefulness was interrupted for a while by the Tibetan wife of Thi-Sron Detsan; who in her bitter opposition to the King's reforms, and instigated by the Bon-pa priests, secured the banishment of Vairocana to the eastern province of Kham by a scheme similar to that practised by Potiphar's wife. But, on her being forthwith afflicted with leprosy, she relented, and the young "Bairo-tsana" was recalled and effected her cure. She is still, however, handed down to history as the "Red Rahula she-devil,"41 while Vairocana is made an incarnation of Buddha's faithful attendant and cousin Ananda; and on account of his having translated many orthodox scriptures, he is credited with the composition or translation and hiding away of many of the fictitious scriptures of the unreformed Lamas, which were afterwards "discovered" as revelations.

It is not easy now to ascertain the exact details of the creed -- the primitive Lamaism— taught by the Guru, for all the extant works attributed to him "were composed several centuries later by followers of his twenty-five Tibetan disciples. But judging from the intimate association of his name with the essentials of Lamaist sorceries, and the special creeds of the old unreformed section of the Lamas— the Nin-ma-pa— who profess and are acknowledged to be his immediate followers, and whose older scriptures date back to within two centuries of the Guru's time, it is evident that his teaching was of that extremely Tantrik and magical type of Mahayana Buddhism which was then prevalent in his native country of Udyan and Kashmir. And to this highly impure form of Buddhism, already covered by so many foreign accretions and saturated with so much demonolatry, was added a portion of the ritual and most of the demons of the indigenous Bon-pa religion, and each of the demons was assigned its proper place in the Lamaist pantheon.

Primitive Lamaism may therefore be defined as a priestly mixture of Sivaite mysticism, magic, and Indo-Tibetan demonolatry, overlaid by a thin varnish of Mahayana Buddhism. And to the present day Lamaism still retains this character.

In this form, as shaped by the Guru, Buddhism proved more attractive to the people, and soon became popular. Its doctrine of Karma, or ethical retribution, appealed to the fatalism which the Tibetans share with most eastern races. And the zealous King, Thi-Sron Detsan, founded other monasteries freely and initiated a period of great literary activity by procuring many talented Indian and Kashmiri scholars for the work of translating the Indian canonical works and commentaries into Tibetan.42

A Bon-pa Priest.43

The new religion was actively opposed by the priests of the native religion, called Bon,44 and these were supported by one of the most powerful ministers.45 Some of the so-called devils which are traditionally alleged to have been overcome by the Guru were probably such human adversaries. It is also stated that the Bon-pa were now prohibited making human and other bloody sacrifice as was their wont; and hence is said to have arisen the practice of offering images of men and animals made of dough.

Lamaism was also opposed by some Chinese Buddhists, one of whom, entitled the Mahayana Hwa-shang,46 protested against the kind of Buddhism which Santa-rakshita and Padma-sambhava were teaching.47 But he is reported to have been defeated in argument and expelled from the country by the Indian monk Kamala-sila,48 who, like Santa-rakshita, is alleged to be of the Sva-tantra Madhyamika school, and the author of many treatises still extant in the great commentary (Tan-gyur). The excellent Sanskrit-Tibetan dictionaries (Vyutpatti) date from this literary epoch.

Padma-sambhava had twenty-five disciples, each of whom is credited with magical power, mostly of a grotesque character.49 And these disciples he instructed in the way of making magic circles for coercing the demons and for exorcism.

The Guru's departure from Tibet was as miraculous in character as his life, and in keeping with the divine attributes with which he has been invested as "Saviour of a suffering world."50 And notwithstanding his grotesque charlatanism and uncelibate life, he is deified and worshipped as the "second Buddha," and his image under "The eight worshipful Forms"51 is found in every Tibetan temple of the old sect, as figured at page 25.

Thus established, and lavishly endowed, Lamaism made steady progress, and was actively patronized by Thi-Sron Detsan's successors for two generations.52

The eras of Lamaism may be divided into (1) primitive or "Augustine" (from King Thi-Sron Detsan's reign to the persecution), (2) mediaeval, including the reformation, (3) modern Lamaism, from the priest-kingship of the Dalai Lama in the seventeenth century.

An interesting glimpse into the professed religion of the earlier period is given in the bilingual edict pillars "do-ring," erected at Lhasa in 822 A.D.,53 in treaty with the Chinese. In the text of these edicts, which has been translated by Dr. Bushell,54 occurs the following sentence: "They [? the Fan (Tibetan) and the Han (Chinese)] have looked up to the three precious ones, to all the holy saints, to the sun, moon, stars, and planets, and begged them to be their witnesses."

In the latter half of the ninth century55 under king Ralpachan, the grandson of Thi-Sron Detsan, the work of the translation of scriptures and the commentaries of Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Vasubandhu, etc., was actively prosecuted. Among the Indian translators employed by him were Jina Mitra, Silendrabodhi,56 Surendrabodhi, Prajna-varman, Dana-sila, and Bodhimitra, assisted by the Tibetans Pal-brtsegs, Ye-s'e-sde, Ch'os-kyi-G-yal-ts'an, and at least half of the two collections as we know them is the work of their hands.57 And he endowed most of the monasteries with state-lands and the right to collect tithes and taxes. He seems to have been the first Tibetan sovereign who started a regular record of the annals of his country, for which purpose he adopted the Chinese system of chronology.

His devotion to Buddhism appears to have led to his murder about 899,58 at the instigation of his younger brother Lan Darma, — the so-called Julian of Lamaism — who then ascended the throne, and at once commenced to persecute the Lamas and did his utmost59 to uproot the religion. He desecrated the temples and several monasteries, burned many of their books, and treated the Lamas with the grossest indignity, forcing many to become butchers.

Black-hat Devil-Dancer

But Lan Darma's persecution was very mild for a religious one, and very short-lived. He was assassinated in the third year of his reign by a Lama of Lha-lun named Pal-dorje, who has since been canonized by his grateful church, and this murderous incident forms a part of the modern Lamaist masquerade.60 This Lama, to effect his purpose, assumed the guise of a strolling black-hat devil-dancer, and hid in his ample sleeves a bow and arrow. His dancing below the king's palace, which stood near the north end of the present cathedral of Lhasa,61 attracted the attention of the king, who summoned the dancer to his presence, where the disguised Lama seized an opportunity while near the king to shoot him with the arrow, which proved almost immediately fatal. In the resuiting tumult the Lama sped away on a black horse, which was tethered near at hand, and riding on, plunged through the Kyi river on the outskirts of Lhasa, whence his horse emerged in its natural white colour, as it had been merely blackened by soot, and he himself turned outside the white lining of his coat, and by this stratagem escaped his pursuers.62 The dying words of the king were: "Oh, why was I not killed three years ago to save me committing so much sin, or three years hence, that I might have rooted Buddhism out of the land?"

On the assassination of Lan Darma the Lamas were not long in regaining their lost ground.63 Their party assumed the regency during the minority of Lan Darma's sons, and although Tibet now became divided into petty principalities, the persecution seems to have imparted fresh vigour to the movement, for from this time forth the Lamaist church steadily grew in size and influence until it reached its present vast dimensions, culminating in the priest-kings at Lhasa.

By the beginning of the eleventh century A.D., numerous Indian and Kashmiri monks were again frequenting Tibet.64 And in 1038 A.D. arrived Atisa, the great reformer of Lamaism,65 whose biography is sketched in outline below, as he figures conspicuously in Lamaism, and especially in its sects.

Atisa was nearly sixty years of age when he visited Tibet.66 He at once started a movement which may be called the Lamaist Reformation, and he wrote many treatises.67

His chief disciple was Domton,68 the first hierarch of the new reformed sect, the Kadam-pa, which, three-and-a-half centuries later, became the Ge-lug-pa, now the dominant sect of Tibet, and the established church of the country.


Atisa's reformation resulted not only in the new sect, Kadam-pa, with which he most intimately identified himself, but it also initiated, more or less directly, the semi-reformed sects of Kar-gyu-pa and Sakya-pa, as detailed in the chapter on Sects.

The latter end of the eleventh century saw Lamaism firmly rooted, and its rival sects, favoured by their growing popularity and the isolation of Tibet, were beginning to form at Sakya and elsewhere strong hierarchies, which took much of the power out of the hands of the petty chiefs amongst whom Tibet was now parcelled out, and tended to still further open the country to Chinese and Mongol invasion.

There seems no evidence to support the assertion that this Lamaist revival was determined by any great influx of Indian monks fleeing from persecution in India, as there is no record of any such influx about the time of the Muhammadan invasion of India.

In the second half of the thirteenth century, Lamaism received a mighty accession of strength at the hands of the great Chinese emperor, Khubilai Khan. Tibet had been conquered by his ancestor, Jenghiz Khan,69 about 1206 A.D., and Khubilai was thus brought into contact with Lamaism. This emperor we know, from the accounts of Marco Polo and others, was a most enlightened ruler; and in searching about for a religion to weld together the more uncivilized portions of his mighty empire he called to his court the most powerful of the Lamaist hierarchs, namely, the Saskya Grand Lama, as well as representatives of the Christian and several other faiths, and he ultimately fixed upon Lamaism, as having more in common with the Shamanist faiths already prevalent in China and Mongolia than had Confucianism, Muhammadanism, or Christianity.

His conversion to Buddhism is made miraculous. He is said to have demanded from the Christian missionaries, who had been sent to him by the pope, the performance of a miracle as a proof to him of the superiority of the Christian religion, while if they failed and the Lamas succeeded in showing him a miracle, then he would adopt Buddhism. In the presence of the missionaries, who were unable to comply with Khubilai's demands, the Lamas caused the emperor's wine-cup to rise miraculously to his lips, whereat the emperor adopted Buddhism; and the discomfited missionaries declared that the cup had been lifted by the devil himself, into whose clutches the king now had fallen.

Just as Charlemagne created the first Christian pope, so the emperor Khubilai recognized70 the Lama of Saskya, or the Sakya Pandita, as head of the Lamaist church, and conferred upon him temporary power as the tributary ruler of Tibet, in return for which favour he was required to consecrate or crown the Chinese emperors. And the succession in this hereditary primacy was secured to the Pandit's nephew, Lodoi G-yal-ts'an (or Matidhvaja), a young and able Lama, who was given the title of Highness or Sublimity (p'ags-pa). Khubilai actively promoted Lamaism and built many monasteries in Mongolia, and a large one at Pekin. Chinese history71 attributes to him the organisation of civil administration in Tibet, though it would appear that he exerted his authority only by diplomacy through these spiritual potentates without any actual conquest by arms.

The Sakya pope, assisted by a staff of scholars, achieved the great work of translating the bulky Lamaist canon (Kah-gyur) into Mongolian after its revision and collation with the Chinese texts. Indeed, the Lamaist accounts claim for the Sakya Pope the invention of the Mongolian character, though it is clearly modelled upon the Syrian; and Syriac and nestorian missionaries are known to have worked in Mongolia long prior to this epoch.

Under the succeeding Mongol emperors, the Sakya primacy seems to have maintained much of its political supremacy, and to have used its power as a church-militant to oppress its rival sects. Thus it burned the great Kar-gyu-pa monastery of Dikung about 1320 A.D. But on the accession of the Ming dynasty in 1368 A.D. the Chinese emperors deemed it politic, while conciliating the Lamas, as a body, by gifts and titles, to strike at the Sakya power by raising the heads of two other monasteries72 to equal rank with it, and encouraged strife amongst them.

At the beginning of the fifteenth century a Lama named Tson-K'a-pa re-organized Atisa's reformed sect, and altered its title to "The virtuous order," or Ge-lug-pa. This sect soon eclipsed all the others; and in five generations it obtained the priest-kingship of Tibet, which it still retains to this day. Its first Grand Lama was Tson-K'a-pa's nephew, Geden-dub, with his succession based on the idea of re-incarnation, a theory which was afterwards, apparently in the reign of the fifth Grand Lama, developed into the fiction of re-incarnated reflexes of the divine Bodhisat Avalokita, as detailed in the chapter on the Hierarchy.

In 1640, the Ge-lug-pa leapt into temporal power under the fifth Grand Lama, the crafty Nag-wan Lo-zang. At the request of this ambitious man, a Mongol prince, Gusri Khan, conquered Tibet, and made a present of it to this Grand Lama, who in 1650 was confirmed in his sovereignty by the Chinese emperor, and given the Mongol title of Dalai, or "(vast as) the Ocean." And on account of this title he and his successors are called by some Europeans "the Dalai (or Tale) Lama" though this title is almost unknown to Tibetans, who call these Grand Lamas "the great gem of majesty" (Gyal-wa Rin-po-ch'e).73

The First Dalai Lama, Lo-zan Gya-ts'o or Gyal-wa na-pa.74

This daring Dalai Lama, high-handed and resourceful, lost no time in consolidating his rule as priest-king and the extension of his sect by the forcible appropriation of many monasteries of the other sects, and by inventing legends magnifying the powers of the Bodhisat Avalokita and posing himself as the incarnation of this divinity, the presiding Bodhisat of each world of re-birth, whom he also identified with the controller of metempsychosis, the dread Judge of the Dead before whose tribunal all mortals must appear.

Potala, the Palace of the Dalai Lama, From a native drawing

Posing in this way as God-incarnate, he built75 himself the huge palace-temple on the hill near Lhasa, which he called Potala, after the mythic Indian residence of his divine prototype Avalokita, "The Lord who looks down from on high," whose symbols he now invested himself with. He also tampered unscrupuously with Tibetan history in order to lend colour to his divine pretensions, and he succeeded perfectly. All the other sects of Lamas acknowledged him and his successors to be of divine descent, the veritable Avalokita-in-the-flesh. And they also adopted the plan of succession by re-incarnate Lamas and by divine reflexes. As for the credulous populace, they recognized the Dalai Lama to be the rightful ruler and the existing government as a theocracy, for it flattered their vanity to have a deity incarnate as their king.

The declining years of this great Grand Lama, Nag-wan, were troubled by the cares and obligations of the temporal rule, and his ambitious schemes, and by the intrigues of the Manchus, who sought the temporal sovereignty. On account of these political troubles his death was concealed for twelve years by the minister De-Si,76 who is believed to have been his natural son. And the succeeding Grand Lama, the sixth, proving hopelessly dissolute, he was executed at the instigation of the Chinese government, which then assumed the suzerainty, and which has since continued to control in a general way the temporal affairs, especially its foreign policy,77 and also to regulate more or less the hierarchal succession,78 as will be referred to presently.

But the Ge-lug-pa sect, or the established church, going on the lines laid down for it by the fifth Grand Lama, continued to prosper, and his successors, despite the presence of a few Chinese officials, are now, each in turn, the de facto ruler of Tibet, and recognized by the Lamas of all denominations as the supreme head of the Lamaist church.

In its spread beyond Tibet, Lamaism almost everywhere exhibits the same tendency to dominate both king and people and to repress the national life. It seems now to have ceased extending, but shows no sign of losing hold upon its votaries in Tibet.

The present day distribution of Lamaism extends through states stretching more or less continuously from the European Caucasus to near Kamschatka; and from Buriat Siberia down to Sikhim and Yun-nan. But although the area of its prevalence is so vast, the population is extremely sparse, and so little is known of their numbers over the greater part of the area that no trustworthy figures can be given in regard to the total number of professing Lamaists.

The population of Tibet itself is probably not more than 4,000,000,79 but almost all of these may be classed as Lamaists, for although a considerable proportion of the people in eastern Tibet are adherents of the Bon, many of these are said to patronize the Lamas as well, and the Bon religion has become assimilated in great part to un-reformed Lamaism.80

The European outpost of the Lamaist Church, situated amid the Kalmuk Tartars on the banks of the Volga, has been described in some detail by Koppen.81

After the flight of the Torgots, about 12,000 cottages of the Kalmuk Tartars still remained in Russian territory, between the Don and the Yaik. Now they number at least 20,000, and contain more than 100,000 souls, of which by far the great majority retain the Lamaist faith. Of course, since the flight, all intercourse with the priest-god at Lhasa is strictly forbidden, nor are they allowed to accept from him any orders or patents, nor to send him any ambassadors or presents. Nevertheless, he gives them secret advice by oracle and otherwise, and maintains their religious enthusiasm. Thus, even now, he exercises an important influence on his pious flock on the Volga, so that they can be considered of the Lamaist church, although the head Lama (for the Kalmuks still call their head priest "Lama") is sanctioned at present by the Russian government, and no longer by the Dalai Lama.

Altogether, evidently for a reason not far to seek, the number of priests has greatly increased since their connection with Lhasa has been cut off. Formerly the Dalai Lama had also on the Volga a quite disproportionate number of bondsmen or Schabinaren, whose contributions (taxes) went to Lhasa; but since the flight of the Torgots the money remains there, and the Schabinars of the remaining Ulusse have been divided amongst the several Churulls. These clergy also would appear to have developed extraordinary zeal, for in the year 1803 it was reported that the Kalmuk priests formed a tenth part of the whole population, that they perpetually enriched themselves at the expense of the people, that they meddled in everything, and received all the young men who were averse to labour at their proper calling, etc., etc.

Since 1838 the Eussian government has succeeded, through the head Lama Jambo Namka, in preventing in some measure these abuses, and severer laws were issued, especially against the priests interfering in civil affairs; also several hundred worthless priests were expelled.

A more precise census of the Russian empire gives the number of Lamaist people at 82,000 Kirghis, and 119,162 Kalmuks; while the Buriats in Siberia, near the Baikal lake, are estimated at about 190,000.82

Pallas83 calculated when he visited the Kalmuk country last century that there was one Lama to every one hundred and fifty or two hundred tents.

In China, except for a few monasteries at Pekin, etc., and these mostly of Mongol monks, the Lamaist section of Chinese Buddhists seems confined to the extreme western frontier, especially the former Tibetan province of Amdo. Probably the Lamaists in China number no more than about 1,000,000.

Mongolia may be considered almost wholly Lamaist, and its population is about 2,000,000. Its Buddhism became extinct on the expulsion of the race from China in 1368; and its reconversion to Lamaism did not occur till 1577, as detailed in the Mongol history by Sanang Setzen,84 who was a great grandson of one of the chief agents in this movement. Some details of its history are cited in connection with the Taranatha Grand Lama in the chapter on hierarchy. The number of Lamas are estimated85 at 10,000 in Urgya in north Mongolia, 2,000 in Tchaitschi in south Mongolia, 2,000 in Altan Zuma, and 2,000 in Kukukhotum.

Manchuria is largely Lamaist, with a population of about 3,000,000.

Ladak, to which Asoka missionaries are believed to have penetrated, is now entirely Lamaist in its form of Buddhism, and this is the popular religion. Its history is given by Cunningham86 and Marx.87 The population was estimated by Cunningham88 at 158,000 and the Lamas at 12,000, giving one Lama to thirty laity. Recent estimates place the population at about 178,000. Spiti in 1845 had a population of 1,414, and the Lamas were one hundred and ninety-three, or about one to seven.89

The vernacular history of its introduction into eastern Turkestan or Khoten (Tib., Li-yul) has been translated by Rockhill.90

In Nepal, the number of Buddhists grows every year less under the active proselytizing Hindu influences of the Ghorka Government, which places disabilities upon professing Buddhists. But the majority of the Nepalese Buddhists are now Lamaist.

Bhotan91 is wholly Lamaist, both in its religion and temporal government. Its population has been given at about 40,000 to 50,000 families, or a total of 145,200.92 But although it is believed to be almost as priest-ridden as Sikhim, the number of its priests is estimated93 only at about 5,000, distributed in the six districts as follows: In Tassisudon 500, in Punakha also 500, in Paro 300, in Tongso also 300, in Tagna 250, and in Andipur (or Wandipur) 250, in round sum 2,000. Then come 3,000 Lamas who do not reside in cloisters, but are employed as officers, making a total of 5,000, besides which there are a lot of hermits and nuns.

In regard to Sikhim, where Lamaism is the state religion, I have elicited from original documents and local Lamas full details of the mode in which Lamaism was introduced into that country. Some of these are worth recording as showing in a credible manner the mode in which Lamaism was propagated there, and it was probably introduced in a similar manner into several of the other areas in which it is now prevalent.

The Lamas and laity of Sikhim94 and Tibet implicitly believe that St. Padma-sambhava (Gruru Rim-bo-ch'e), the founder of Lamaism, visited Sikhim during his journeyings in Tibet and its western borderlands; and although he left no converts and erected no buildings, he is said to have hid away in caves many holy books for the use of posterity, and to have personally consecrated every sacred spot in Sikhim.

The authorities for such beliefs are, however, merely the accounts given in the works of the patron saint of Sikhim, Lha-tsun Ch'em-bo, and the fictitious "hidden revelations" of the Tertons, all of which are unreliable. And Lha-tsun rather overdoes it by asserting that the Guru visited Sikhim a hundred times.

Some Sikhim Lamas: Lama Ugyen Gya-ts'o, Mongol Lama She-rab, A Kar-gyu Lama, A Karma Lama

Sikhim seems to have been unknown to Tibetans previous to the latter half of the sixteenth century A.D., and Lha-tsun Ch'em-bo's own account of his attempts to enter Sikhim testify to the prevailing ignorance in regard to it, owing to its almost impenetrable mountain and icy barriers. And the Tan-yik Ser-t'en, which gives the fullest account of St, Padma's wanderings, and considered the most reliable authority, seems to make no mention of Sikhim. It is extremely improbable that the Guru ever entered Sikhim, especially as, as we have seen, he certainly did not pass through that country either when going to or returning from Tibet.

In keeping, however, with the legendary accounts of his visit, it is alleged by Sikhimite Lamas that their Lord St. Padma entered the country by the "Lordly pass" Jo-la (Ang., Cho-la) and on the east side of the pass is pointed out a rock on which he sat down, called Z'u-ti, or throne,95 and near the pass a spot named Sinmoi gyip-tsu,96 where he surprised a party of female devils preparing to cook their food: here are pointed out two masses of columnar rock alleged to be two of the stones of the tripod used to support the cooking-pot of these demons. And he is said to have returned to Tibet by way of the Je-lep pass, resting en route on the Ku-phu and creating the Tuko La by "tearing" up the rock to crush an obnoxious demon.

The introduction of Lamaism into Sikhim certainly dates from the time of Lha-tsun's arrival there about the middle of the seventeenth century A.D. By this time Lamaism had become a most powerful hierarchy in Tibet, and was actively extending its creed among the Himalayan and central Asian tribes.

Three generations of Tibetan colonists from the adjoining Chumbi valley had settled on the eastern border of Sikhim, near Gang-tok. And it is highly probable that these Tibetan settlers were privy to the entry of the Lamas; as it is traditionally reported that the ancestor of that Sikhimite-Tibetan, who was promptly elected king of Sikhim, by Lha-tsun, was a protege and kinsman of the Sakya Grand Lama. And Lha-tsun Ch'em-bo seems to have approached Sikhim via Sakya, and his incarnations subsequently appeared in the neighbourhood of Sakya, and even now his spirit is believed to be incarnate in the body of the present Sakya Lama.

Lha-tsun was a native of Kongbu, in the lower valley of the Tsang-po (Brahmaputra), which has a climate and physical appearance very similar to Sikhim, and teems with traces of St. Padma-sambhava, "discovered" by celebrated Lamas, and it had been a happy hunting ground for the Tertons, or discoverers of the fictitious treatises called "hidden revelations." Arriving, then, in a country so like his own, and having the virgin soil of Sikhim to work upon, Lha-tsun seems to have selected the most romantic spots and clothed them in suitable legendary dress in keeping with his ingenious discovery of St. Padma's previous visits. And to support his statements he also discovered that his own advent as the apostle of Sikhim had been foretold in detail, nine hundred years before, by the Guru himself, in the revelation entitled "The prophetic mirror of Sikhim."97 He seems to have been a man of considerable genius, with a lively sense of the picturesque; and he certainly left his mark on his adopted country of Sikhim, where his name is now a household word.

The traditional account of his entry to Sikhim associates with him two other Lamas, to wit, a Kar-tok-pa and a Na-dak-pa; but they play an inconspicuous part in the work of introducing Lamaism, and it is extremely doubtful whether any representative of these Nin-ma sub-sects arrived in Sikhim at so early a period.

As Lha-tsun is so intimately identified with Sikhim Lamaism, being its de facto founder, it is desirable here to give a summary of his life as extracted from the local histories.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

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Part 2 of 2


Lha-tsun Ch'em-bo98 is a title meaning "The great Reverend God." His ordinary religious name is Kun-zan nam-gye,99 or "The entirely victorious Essence of Goodness." He is also known by the title of Lha-tsun nam-kha Jig-med,100 or "The Reverend God who fears not the sky," with reference to his alleged power of flying. And he is sometimes called Kusho Dsog-ch'en Ch'embo, or "The great Honourable Dsog-c'en"—Dsog-ch'en, literally "The Great End," being the technical name for the system of mystical insight of the Nin-mapa, and Kusho means "the honourable."

He was born in the fire-bird year of the tenth of the sixty-year cycles corresponding to 1595 A.D., in the district of Kongbu, in south-eastern Tibet. Having spent many years in various monasteries and in travelling throughout Tibet and Sikhim, he ultimately, in the year 1648, arrived in Lhasa, and obtained such great repute by his learning that he attracted the favourable notice of Nag-wan, the greatest of the Grand Lamas, who shortly afterwards became the first Dalai Lama. Indeed, it is alleged that it was mainly through the special instruction given by Lha-tsun to the Grand Lama that the latter was so favourably treated by the Chinese emperor and confirmed in the temporal rule of Tibet.

Mendicant Lama blowing Thigh-bone Trumpet.

The detailed account of the saint's meeting with the Grand Lama is worth citing in illustration of the curious mixture of the crude and the marvellous which make up the bulk of these indigenous narratives. In the year previous to that on which the fifth Grand Lama went to China, which Csoma gives101 as 1649 A.D., the Grand Lama, while in his palace at Potala told his attendants, by inspiration, that a sage would that day visit him, and should be admitted to his presence. Lha-tsun, arriving at the site now named Pargo-K'alin, immediately below Potala — the Lamaist Vatican — blew loudly a K'alin, or trumpet of human thigh-bone;102 but the castle guard, in ignorance of who the man really was, seized him and tied him to the Do-ring monolith in the neighbourhood, as a punishment for daring to trumpet so close to the castle. The saint, bound in this way, shook the whole hill of Potala, and so his arrival was brought to the notice of the Grand Lama, who ordered his instant release and admission. On coming into the presence of the Grand Lama he walked boldly up and struck the latter with his fist and then vomited before him, much to the astonishment of the courtier Lamas. The Saint then explained: "You are shortly going to China; on the way a great danger besets you, but my striking you has rid you of that danger. In China you will find yourself in great peril some day; then consult this paper I now give you, and you will be relieved. My vomiting in your presence means that you will ultimately be invested with great power and riches through me." The dilemma here prophesied was a query by the Chinese emperor regarding the "essence of the rainbow colour,"103 which quite confounded the Grand Lama, till he, remembering the episode with the Saint, consulted the paper and found full information noted therein, and having completely satisfied the emperor, he received great honour and riches. The Grand Lama, on his return from China, in gratitude for services rendered, offered Lha-tsun much treasure, which the Saint, however, refused.

Previous to his visit to Lhasa, it is said that the Saint, accompanied by a few disciples, journeyed to the south-west of Tibet, saying: "According to the prophecy of Guru Rim-bo-ch'e, I must go and open the northern gate of the hidden country of the rice-valleys — De-mo-jong,104 i.e., Sikhim, and I must develop that country religiously." He then proceeded by way of Tashi-lhunpo and Sakya to Zar, a short distance to the north of Tashi-rabkha near the Nepal frontier, where he then, or afterwards, founded a monastery.

He then attempted to enter Sikhim by way of Dsong-ri (Jongri), but could find no path, and remained many days in a cave named Nam- gah ts'al,105 "the very pleasant grove," near Kan-la nan-ma. There "the everlasting summit of the five repositories (of snow)," the mountain god, Kan-ch'en dso-na106 transformed himself into a wild goose and conversed with the sage; and here, "according to the prophecy of Guru Rim-boch'e," he composed107 the book named "the complete Book of Worship and offerings for Kan ch'en dso-na.108

At this time another Lama of the Kar-tok-pa sub-sect came by Kangla Nangma searching for a path into Sikhim, and also tried without success the sPreu-gyab-tak (i.e., "Monkey-back rock," with reference to its semblance to a monkey sitting with hands behind back), and Dsong-ri, and the western shoulder of sKam-pa Khab-rag — a ridge of "Kabru," which runs down to the Rathong river. He then arrived at the cave of "the very pleasant grove," and met the Saint, who told him that as he was not destined to open the northern gate, he should go round and try the western.

Then Lha-tsun, traversing the Kangla Nangma and finding no road beyond the cave of Skam-pa Kha-bruk, flew miraculously to the upper part of "Kabru" (24,000 feet), and there blew his kang-ling, and after an absence of two weeks flew down to where his servants were collected and guided them by a road via Dsongri to Norbu-gang, in Sikhim.

Here soon after arrived two other Nin-ma Lamas. By "the western gate" of Single La came the Kar-tok-pa Lama above mentioned, named "The Great Soul,"109 and a Lama of the Na-dak-pa sub-sect, named The Great Sage,110 who had opened "the southern gate" by way of Darjiling and Namchi respectively. The place where these three Lamas met was then called by the Lepchas Yok-sam, which means "the three superior ones or noblemen," a literal translation of "the three Lamas."

The three Lamas held here a council at which Lha-tsun said: "We three Lamas are in a new and irreligious country. We must have a 'dispenser of gifts'111 (i.e., a king) to rule the country on our behalf." Then the Na-dak-pa Lama said: "I am descended from the celebrated Terton Na-dak Nan-rel, who was a king; I should therefore be the king." While the Kar-tok-pa Lama declared: "As I too am of royal lineage I have the right to rule." Then Lha-tsun said: "In the prophecy of Guru Rim-bo-ch'e it is written that four noble brothers shall meet in Sikhim and arrange for its government. We are three of these come from the north, west, and south. Towards the east, it is written, there is at this epoch a man named P'un-ts'ok, a descendant of brave ancestors of Kham in Eastern Tibet. According, therefore, to the prophecy of the Guru we should invite him." Two messengers were then dispatched to search for this P'un-ts'ok. Going towards the extreme east near Gangtok they met a man churning milk and asked him his name. He, without replying, invited them to sit down, and gave them milk to drink. After they were refreshed, he said his name was P'un-ts'ok. He was then conducted to the Lamas, who coronated him by placing the holy water-vase on his head and anointed him with the water; and exhorting him to rule the country religiously, they gave him Lha-tsun's own surname of Nam-gye112 and the title of "religious king." P'un-ts'ok Nam-gye was at this time aged thirty-eight years, and he became a Lama in the same year, which is said to have been 1641 A.D.

Lha-tsun then spent the greater part of the rest of his life in Sikhim, exploring its caves and mountain recesses, composing its Lamaist legends, and fixing sites for temples and monasteries. He first of all built a hut at Dub-de, which afterwards became the monastery of that name. And he is believed to have built rude shrines at Tashiding, Pemiongchi, and Sang-na-ch'o-ling; though others assert that Tashiding was first occupied by the original Na-dak-pa Lama.

In appearance Lha-tsun is usually represented as seated on a leopard-skin mat with the right leg hanging down and his body almost bare — one of his titles is He-ru-ka-pa, which means "unclad." His complexion is of a dark blue hue. Otherwise he is somewhat like his prototype Guru Rim-bo-ch'e. A chaplet of skulls encircles his brow. In his left hand is a skull cup filled with blood, and a trident topped with human heads rests in front of the left shoulder. The right hand is in a teaching attitude.

He is believed to be the incarnation of the great Indian teacher Bhima Mitra. And he himself is held to have been subsequently incarnated twice as a Sikhim Lama, the last re-incarnation being Jik mi Pa-wo, born at Ok-ja-ling near Sakya, who built the present monastery of Pemiongchi.

I cannot ascertain the place of his death or what became of his body, but he is currently reported to have died in Sikhim of fever contracted during a visit to India. The dark livid hue of his skin is said to refer to his death from malignant fever. His chief object in visiting India was, according to a popular saying, to obtain a rare variety of ruddy leopard-skin (the sala leopard) which is highly prized by ascetics as a mat.113

All his clothing and personal effects are carefully treasured in Sikhim and worshipped as most sacred relics. They were all stored at Pemiongchi monastery until the Gorkha invasion of last century, when, for greater safety, most of them were taken to the remote To- lung monastery. At Pemiongchi are kept one set of his full dress robes after the style of Guru Rim-bo-ch'e, including hat and boots, his hand-drum, bell, and dorje, and a miraculous p'urbu dagger for stabbing the demons. These objects are only shown at Pemiongchi on special occasions to wealthy worshippers, and they are highly celebrated as a certain cure for barrenness. Couples afflicted in this way, and who can afford the necessary expense, have a preliminary worship conducted in the Pemiongchi chapel, lasting one or two days. Then the box containing the holy relics is brought forth and ceremoniously opened, and each article is placed on the heads of the suppliant pair, the officiating priest repeating meanwhile the charm of his own tutelary deity. Of the marvellous efficacy of this procedure numerous stories are told. And should two sons result, one of them is certainly dedicated to the Church.

Subsequent to Lha-tsun Ch'em-bo's death in the latter end of the seventeenth century, Lamaism steadily progressed in Sikhim till latterly monks and monasteries filled the country. The list and detailed description of these are given in the next chapter under the heading of Monasteries. What civilization and literature the Sikhimites now possess they owe to Lamaism, and the Lepcha alphabet too was derived from the Tibetan.

The religions displaced by Lamaism were the Pon (Bon), which is usually identified with Taouism, and the earlier animistic and fairy worship of the Lepchas, which can scarcely be called a religion. Numerous traces of both of these primitive faiths are to be found incorporated in Sikhim Lamaism, which owes any special features that it possesses to the preponderance of these two elements.

Only two sects of Lamas are established in Sikhim, namely, the Nin-ma-pa and the Kar-gyu-pa as represented by the Kar- ma-pa. There are no Duk-pa monasteries in Sikhim, nor does there seem ever to have been any.

The Lamas number nearly one thousand, and are very numerous in proportion to the Buddhist population of the country. In 1840 [114] the Lepchas and Bhotiyas of Sikhim were estimated at 3,000 and 2,000 respectively, but Mr. White, in his census of Sikhim in March, 1891, gives the population roughly as: —

Lepchas: 5,800
Bhotiyas: 4,700
Nepalese, etc.: 19,500
[Total]: 30,000

As the Nepalese, who are of very recent immigration, are all professing Hindus, the Lamas are now dependent on the Bhotiyas and Lepchas for support; and we thus get a proportion of one Lamaist priest to every ten or eleven of the indigenous population. But this does not represent the full priest-force of those two races, as it takes no count of the numerous devil-dancers and Lepcha priests patronized both by Bhotiyas and Lepchas.

In British Sikhim and the Kalim-pong section of British Bhotan, the Lamaists numbered in the census of 1891 40,520, of which 3,657 were resident in the town of Darjiling.115

There is no sign of any decrease of Lamaism in Sikhim, although large numbers of Hinduized Nepalese have lately been introduced into the country, and the government is no longer in the hands of Lamas. Its Lamaism is so deeply rooted that, in the absence of any actively anti-Buddhist policy such as has operated in Nepal, it is unlikely to be much affected by the recent political changes, at least for many years to come.

Tashiding Monastery, in Sikhim



1 The historians so-called of Tibet wrote mostly inflated bombast, almost valueless for historical purposes. As the current accounts of the rise of Buddhism in Tibet are so overloaded with legend, and often inconsistent, I have endeavoured to sift out the more positive data from the mass of less trustworthy materials. I have looked into the more disputed historical points in the Tibetan originals, and, assisted by the living traditions of the Lamas, and the translations provided by Rockhill and Bushell especially, but also by Schlagintweit, Sarat, and others, I feel tolerably confident that as regards the questions of the mode and date of the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet, and the founding of Lamaism, the opinions now expressed are in the main correct.

The accounts of the alleged Buddhist events in prehistoric Tibet given in the Mani-Kah-'bum, Gyal-rabs, and other legendary books, are clearly clumsy fictions. Following the example of Burma and other Buddhist nations (cf. Hiuen Tsiang, Juliens trans., i., 179; ii., 107, etc.) who claim for their King an ancestry from the Sakya stock, we find the Lamas foisting upon their King a similar descent. A mythical exiled prince, named gNah-K'ri-b Tsan-po, alleged to be the son of King Prasenjit, Buddha's first royal patron, and a member of the Licchavi branch of the Sakya tribe, is made to enter Tibet in the fifth century B.C. as the progenitor of a millennium of Sron Tsan Gampo's ancestors; and an absurd story is invented to account for the etymology of his name, which means "the back chair"; while the Tibetan people are given as progenitors a monkey ("Hilumandju," evidently intended for Hanumanji, the Hindu monkey god, cf. Rock., LL., 355) sent by Avalokiteswara and a rakshasi fiendess. Again, in the year 331 A.D., there fell from heaven several sacred objects (conf. Rock., B., p. 210), including the Om mani formula, which in reality was not invented till many hundred (probably a thousand) years later. And similarly the subsequent appearance of five foreigners before a King, said to have been named T'o-t'ori Nyan-tsan, in order to declare the sacred nature of the above symbols, without, however, explaining them, so that the people continued in ignorance of their meaning. And it only tends still further to obscure the points at issue to import into the question, as Lassen does (Ind. Alt., ii., 1072), the alleged erection on Mt. Kailas, in 137 B.C., of a temporary Buddhist monastery, for such a monastery must have belonged to Kashmir Buddhism, and could have nothing to do with Tibet.

2 Bushell, loc. cit, p. 435.

3 They used knotched wood and knotted cords (Remusat's Researches, p. 384).  
4 Called also, prior to his accession (says Rockhill, Life, p. 211) Khri-ldan Sron-btsan (in Chinese, Ki-tsung lun-tsan). His father, g'Nam-ri Sron-tsan, and his ancestors had their headquarters at Yar-lun, or "the Upper Valley," below the Yar-lha sam-po, a mountain on the southern confines of Tibet, near the Bhotan frontier. The Yar-lun river flows northwards into the Tsang-po, below Lhasa and near Samye. This Yar-lun is to be distinguished from that of the same name in the Kham province, east of Bathang, and a tributary of the Yangtse Kiang. The chronology by Bu-ton (t'am-c'ad K'an-po) is considered the most reliable, and Sum-pa K'an-po accepted it in preference to the Baidyur Kar-po, composed by the Dalai Lama's orders, by De-Srid San-gyas Gya-mts'o, in 1686. According to Bu-ton, the date of Sron Tsan Gampo's birth was 617 A.D. (which agrees with that given by the Mongol historian, Sasnang Setzen), and he built the palace Pho-dan-Marpo on the Lhasa hill when aged nineteen, and the Lhasa Temple when aged twenty-three. He married the Chinese princess when he was aged nineteen, and he died aged eighty-two. The Chinese records, translated by Bushell, make him die early. Csoma's date of 627 (Grammar, p. 183) for his birth appears to be a clerical error for 617. His first mission to China was in 634 (Bushell, J.R.A.S., New Ser., xii., p. 440).

5 According to Chinese annals (Bushell, 435), the Tibetan date for the marriage is 639 (C., G., p. 183), that is, two years after his marriage with the Nepalese princess.

6 Kong-jo = "princess" in Chinese.

7 The Tibetan tradition has it that there were three other suitors for this princess's hand, namely, the three greatest kings they knew of outside China, the Kings of Magadha, of Persia (sTag-zig), and of the Hor (Turki) tribes. See also Hodgson's Ess. and Rockhill's B., 213; Csoma's Gr., 196; Bodhimur, 338.

8 Amsuvarman, or "Glowing Armour," is mentioned by Hiuen Tsiang (Beal's Ed. Si-yu-ki, ii., p. 81) as reigning about 637. and he appears as a grantee in Fleet's Corpus Intern. Ind. (iii., p. 190) in several inscriptions ranging from 635 to 650 A.D., from which it appears that he was of the Thakuri dynasty and a feudatory of King of Harshavardhana of Kanauj, and on the death of the latter seems to have become independent. The inscriptions show that devi was a title of his royal ladies, and his 635 A.D. inscription recording a gift to his nephew, a svamin (an officer), renders it probable that he had then an adult daughter. One of his inscriptions relates to Sivaisl lingas, but none are expressedly Buddhist. The inscription of 635 was discovered by C. Bendall, and published in Ind. Ant for 1885, and in his Journey, pp. 13 and 73. Cf. also Ind. Ant., ix., 170, and his description of coins in Zeitchr. der Deutsch.
9 The Gyal-rabs Sel-wai Melon states that S. was aged sixteen on his marriage with the Nepalese princess, who was then aged eighteen, and three years later he built his Pho-dan-Marpo Palace on the Red Hill at Lhasa.

10 The monks who came to Tibet during Sron Tsan Gampo's reign were Kusara (? Kumara) and Sahkara Brahmana, from India; Sila Manju, from Nepal; Hwa-shang Maha-ts'e, from China, and (E.Schlagt., Gyal-rabs, p. 49) Tabuta and Ganuta, from Kashmir.

11 Mirror of Royal pedigree, Gyal-rabs Sel-wai Melon.

12 mT'ah-'k'ob.

13 K'rims.

14 Sambhota is the Sanskrit title for "The good Bhotiya or Tibetan." His proper name is Thon-mi, son of Anu.

15 632 A.D. is sometimes stated as date of departure, and 650 as the return; but on this latter date Sron Tsan Gampo died according to the Chinese accounts, although he should survive for many (48) years longer, according to the conflicting Tibetan records.

16 "Southern India" (Bodhimur, p. 327).
17 Li-byin = Li + "to give."

18 sGrahi bstan bch'os sum ch'u-pa.

19 The cerebrals and aspirates not being needed for Tibetan sounds were rejected. And when afterwards the full expression of Sanskrit names in Tibetan demanded these letters, the five cerebrals were formed by reversing the dentals and the aspirates obtained by suffixing an h, while the palato-sibilants ts, tsh, and ds were formed by adding a surmounting crest to the palatals ch, chh, and j. it is customary to say that the cursive style, the "headless" or U-med (as distinguished from the full form with the head the U-ch'en) was adapted from the so-called "Wartu" form of Devanagri— Hodgson, As. Res., xvi.,420; Schmidt, Mem. de l'Ac. de Pet., i., 41; Csoma. Gr., 204; Sarat, J.A.S.B., 1888, 12.

20 The first book translated seems to have been the Karanda-vyuha sutra, a favourite in Nepal; and a few other translations still extant in the Tan-gyur are ascribed to him (CSOMA, A., and ROCK., B., 212.)

21 His issue proceeded from two or four Tibetan wives.
22 E. Schlagintweit (p. 66) transposes the forms of the two princesses, and most subsequent writers repeat his confusion.

23 She is represented to have been of a fiery temper, and the cause of frequent brawls on account of the precedence given to the Chinese princess.

24 He received as dower with the Nepalese princess, according to the Gyal-rabs, the images of Akshobhya Buddha, Maitreya and a sandal-wood image of Tara; and from his Chinese wife a figure of Sakya Muni as a young prince. To shrine the images of Akshobhya and the Chinese Sakya he built respectively the temples of Ramoch'e and another at Rasa, now occupied by the Jo-wo K'an at Lhasa (see Chaps, xii. and xiii.). The latter temple was called Rasa-'p'rul snain gigtsug-lha-K 'an, and was built in his twenty-third year, and four years after the arrival of the Chinese princess (in 644 A.D., Bushell). The name of its site, Ba-sa, is said to have suggested the name by which it latterly became more widely known, namely, as Lha-sa, or "God's place." The one hundred and eight temples accredited to him in the Mani-Kah-'him are of course legendary, and not even their sites are known to the Lamas themselves.

25 After Pander.
26 He was succeeded in 650 by his grandson Mang-Sroh-Mang-tsan under the regency of Sron Tsan's Buddhist minister, Gar (mk'ar), known to the Chinese as Chushih (Bushell, loc. cit., 446).

27 K'ri-Sron Ideu-btsan. (Cf. Kopp., ii., 67-72; Schlag., 67; J.A.S.B., 1881, p. 224.) Rock., B., quotes p. 221 contemporary record in bsTan-gyur (xciv., f. 387-391), proving that in Thi-Sron Detsan's reign in the middle of the eighth century, Tibet was hardly recognized as a Buddhist country.

28 Named Chin cheng (Tib., Kyim Shan), adopted daughter of the Emperor Tchang tsong (Bushell, 456).

29 In 747 (Csoma, Gr., 183); but the Chinese date would give 755 (Bushell).

30 The legendary life of the Guru states that he married the Princess Mandarava, a sister of Santa-rakshita.

31 Another account makes the Guru arrive in Tibet in anticipation of the king's wishes.
32 For legend of his birth from a lotus see p. 380.

33 sLob-dpon.  

34 The Tibetans state that it is now named Ghazni, but Sir H. Yule, the great geographer, writes (Marco P., i.,155): "Udyana lay to the north of Peshawar, on the Swat river, but from the extent assigned to it by Hwen Thsang, the name probably covered a large part of the whole hill region south of the Hindu Kush, from Chitral to the Indus, as indeed it is represented in the Map of Vivien de St Martin (Pelerins Bouddhistes, ii.)." It is regarded by FaHian as the most northerly Province of India, and in his time the food and clothing of the people were similar to those of Gangetic India.

35 Beal's Si-Yu-Ki, i., 120.

36 Marco P., i., 155.
37  The title of the temple is Zan-yad Mi-gyur Lhun-gyi dub-pahi tsug-lha-Ksan, or the "Self-sprung immovable shrine," and it is believed to be based on immovable foundations of adamantine laid by the Guru.

38 And is said to have been of the Svatantra school, following Sariputra, Ananda, Nagarjuna, Subhankara, Sri Gupta, and Jnana-garbha (cf. Schl., 67; Kopp., ii., 68; J.A.S.B., 1881, p. 226; Pand., No. 25.

39 bLa-ma. The Uighurs (?Hor) call their Lamas "twin" (Yule's, Cathay, p. 241, note).
40 The first seven novices (Sad-mi mi) who formed the nucleus of the order were dBah dpal dbans, rtsans-devendra and Branka Mutik, 'K'on Nagendra, Sagor Vairocana, rMa Acarya rin-ch'en mch'og, gLan-Ka Tanana, of whom the first three were elderly.

41 gZa-mar gyal. The legend is given in the T'an-yik Ser-t'en.
42 The chief translators employed at this time were the Indian monks, Vimala Mitra, Buddha Guhya, Santigarbha, Visuddhi Sinha, the Tantrik Acharya Dharma-kirti (who translated the Vajradhatu Yoga works). The Kashmiri monks, Jina-Mitra, Dana-Sila and Ananda, assisted by the Tibetan novices, chief of whom was Vairocana. No translations or works ascribed to Padma-sambhava himself occur in the Tibetan Tripitaka canon.

43 After Giorgi.

44 The word is derived by Gen. Cunningham (Marco P., i., 287) From Punya, one of the names of the Svastikas, or worshippers of the mystic fly-foot cross, called in Tibetan gyun drun, though Punya is simply "a holy man," and seems original of the Burmese title for monk, Pongyi. The Bon religion resembles the Taoism of China (see Yule, loc. cit.; Rock., B., p. 206 et seq., and his L.L., p. 217 n., and J.R. Geog. Soc., May, 1894). It is especially associated with the worship of dragons, or nagas, and its reputed founder is gS'en-rabs Mi-bo. As now practised, it is deeply impregnated by Buddhism. For a list of some of its deities see Sarat, Jour. Indian Buddhist Text Soc., Vol. i.

45 Named NamMa-Shanrom-pa-skyes. The ministers who aided the King were Go Shan-Shi, and Da-gyab-ts'an.
46 A Chinese term for a Buddhist monk corresponding to Skt. Upddhadya or "master." (See Edkin's Dict, and Mayer's Hdbk.)

47 Two works by Hwa-shang zab-mo are found in the Tan-gyur (mDo, xxx., xxxiii. (Rockhill's B., p. 220).

48 Kamala-sila was author of an Indian work (Tarka) expounding the various philosophic systems of India. (Prof. G. Buehler, J. Buddhist Text Soc. of India, i., pt. ii., p. x.)

49 1. Nam-k'a nin-po mounted the sunbeams.
2. San-gye-ye-se drove iron bolts into rocks.
3. Gyal-wa-ch'og-yan changed his head into a horses, and neighed thrice.
4. K'ar-ch'en Ch'o-gyal revived the slain.
5. Pal-ki-ye-se overcame three fiendesses.
6. Pal-ki-Sen-ge enslaved demons, nymphs, and genii.
7. Vairocana obtained the five heavenly eyes of knowledge.
8. Sah-dag-gyalpo attained Samadhi.
9. Yu-drun-Nin-po acquired divine knowledge.
10. Jnana-kumara worked miracles.
11. Dorje-Dun Jem travelled invisibly as the wind.
12. Ye-se-Nan visited the fairy world.
13. Sog-pu-Lha-pal (a Mongol) ensnared ferocious beasts.
14. Na-nam-yese soared in the sky.
15. Pal-ki-Wan-p'yug killed his enemies by signs.
16. Den-ma-tse-Wan had perfect memory.
17. Ka-Wa-pal-tseg perceived the thoughts of others.
18. Shu-bu-pal-sen made water run upwards.
19. Khe-hu-c'ug-lo caught flying birds.
20. Gyal-Wai-Lodoi raised ghosts and converted the corpse into gold.
21. Ten-pai-nam-k'a tamed wild yaks of the northern desert.
22. "Odan-Wan-p'yug dived into water like a fish. 
23. Ma-t'og rin-ch'en crushed adamant to powder and ate it like meal.
24. Pal-kyj Dor-je passed through rocks and mountains.
25. Lan-dod Kon-ch'og wielded and repelled thunderbolts.
And a twenty-sixth is added: Gyal-wai-Ch'an c'ub sat cross-legged in the air.

50 After residing in Tibet for about fifty years (say the chronicles, though it is probable he only remained a few years), and founding Lamaism securely, the Guru, in 802 A.D., much to the grief of the Tibetans, announced his approaching departure for fresh religious triumphs in other lands. Addressing the King, he said: "In Jambudvip are five Raksha countries with 500 towns apiece. The Central Raksha country is named San-do-pal-ri (zans-mdog-dpal-ri), the king of which is named Langka of the ten necks (? the ten-headed Ravan). To its east lies Lankapuri, to its south dGa-bu-c'an, or "The happy" (Skt., Sukhavati or Nandavati), to its west Ko-sha t'ang-dmar-gling, to its north is Byan-lag fort, to its south-east is Bam-ril-t'od-pa- mk'ar, to its north-west is Ma-la-gnam-lchags-rtse, to its north-east is Nal-byih cemetery, and in the south-east is the lake of Phuri. These Raksha countries are crowded with men-eating devils, who if not conquered will depopulate the whole world of Jambudvip, and except me none other can subdue them. I therefore must go to the stronghold of the Raksha at San-do-pal-ri in the country of rN'a- yab-glin or 'The Yak-tail continent,' which lies to the south-west of Tibet. Thither must I now go."

Then, accompanied by the King and nobles and his two fairy wives (the Tibetan one of which, named Yes'e-ts'o-gyal was to be left behind), he went to the Gung- thang La in Mang-yul on the northern confines of Tibet, and there, after giving farewell advice to the king, priests, and the assembled multitude to keep the doctrine he had taught them, and the revelations he had hidden in caves throughout the land, he was enveloped in a glorious rainbow-halo, within which appeared the four great heroes (dPa-bo) of the world, who assisted him in mounting the celestial horse-car (named "balaha" or Chang-sal) in which he was now borne away through the sky in a south-westerly direction, attended by the four heroes and a host of fairies amid heavenly music and showers of flowers. On his departure the assembled multitude were distracted with grief and remained transfixed as if dead. Ultimately they retired below the pass to Srang-hdah-sho-gtsang-dor and the plain Thang-dpal-mo- dpal-thang, where they remained for twenty-five days and nights, and were able to see the Guru's celestial party, like a shooting star, sailing away through the sky towards the horizon till lost to sight. After much prayer and worship they sadly departed on King Thi-Sron Detsan telling them of the Guru's safe arrival at San-do-pal-ri, which event he (the king) was able to see through the magical insight he had acquired from the Guru. It appeared that the Guru reached Singala after about two days' journey, and penetrating the iron palace, he entered the body of the Raksha king named "He of the Skull rosary," and preached the doctrine to the thousand daughters of the Raksha and the folk of that country. A few days afterwards he departed for Na-yab-glin, and reached the capital San-do-pal-ri, where instantly abstracting the life of the demon-king named Yaksha Me-wal, and entering his body, the Guru reigns there supreme over the Rakshas, even up till the present day, and in perpetual youth is preaching there the doctrine of Lamaism in a paradise which rivals that of Amitabha's Western heaven of Sukhavati.
51  Guru ts'an gye. For description of those see p. 379.

52 Thi-Sron Detsan died in 786 (Csoma, Gr., 183), and was succeeded by his son, Mu-thi tsan-po, who, on being poisoned by his mother soon after his accession, was succeeded by his brother (Sad-na-legs) under the same name (Rockhill, Life, 222), and he induced Kamalaslla to return to Tibet and permanently reside in that country. This latter was succeeded by his son Ralpachan.

53 These monoliths are assigned by Tibetan tradition (as translated by Sarat., J.A.S.B., 1881, p. 228) to Thi-Sron Detsan's grandson, Ralpachan.

54 Op. cit., 521.

55 According to Tibetan chronology; but the Chinese make Ralpachan's accession 816 A.D. (Rockhill's B., 223).

56 These two were pupils of Sthiramati (Vasiliev, Taranatha, 320)
57  Rock., B., 225.

58 The date is variously given, ranging from 838 (Bushell, 439 and 522) to 899 A.D. (Csoma, Gr., 183); 902 (Sanang Setsen, 49); 914 (Koppen. ii., 72

59 Actively aided by his minister, sBas-stay-snas.

60 See Chap. xx.

61 And not on the Red Hill latterly named "Potala."
62 He hid in a cave near the monastery of Brag-Yal-pa, about one day's journey east of Lhasa.

63 Sanang Setsen says (p. 51) that Lan Darma's son reigned without the Law.

64 Among whom were Smriti, who wrote a Tibetan vocabulary named "The Weapon of Speech"; Dharmapala, who arrived in 1013 A.D., accompanied by Siddhapala, Gunapala, and Prajna-pala from Eastern India; and Subhuti Sri Santi, who translated some of the Prajna-paramita.

65 His legendary biography, attributed to his pupil Brom-ton, but apparently of later date (and probably written by the Dalai in the sixteenth century, as it credits Brom-ton with being Avalokita's incarnation), has been translated by Sarat in Jour. Ind. Budd. Text Soc, 1893. I have also consulted the original. (Cf. also Tara. 241, 243; Kopp.,ii., 78, 79, 117,127, 295; Schl., 69, 136; Pand., No. 29.) Atisa's proper Indian name is Dipankara Sri-jnana, but he is usually called by the Lamas Jo-vo- rje-dpal-ldan Atisa, or "The Illustrious Noble Lord Atisha." And he is held to be an incarnation of Manjusri, the Celestial Bodhisat of Wisdom; though this seems merely a pious way of stating that Atisa was the Manjusri of Tibet, or the most learned in scholastic and astrological lore of all the monks who had previously visited Tibet; as India, Nepal, and China already possessed their especial apotheosized wise man as a Manjusri incarnation. He was born in 980 A.D. (according to his Tibetan chronicles), of the royal family of Gaur at Vikramanipur (?), in Bengal, his father being named Kalyana-srl, and his mother Prabhavati, and was ordained at the Odantapuri Vihara. He underwent training under both Mahayana teachers and the Maha Siddhi (grub-ch'en) or wizard-priests, his most notable masters being Chandrakirti, the Abbot of Suvarnadvip, or Sudharmanagar, the "Chryse" of the ancients, near "Thaton" in Pegu, Mativitara of the Mahabodhi Vihara, and the Mahasiddhi Naro, who is especially related to the Kar-gyu-pa Sect. On starting for Tibet, he was a professor of the Vikramasila monastery in Magadha, and a contemporary of Nayapala, son of King Mahipala.

66 He visited Tibet by way of way of Nari K'or-sum in 1038 A.D. in the company of the Lama Nag-tsho, and after starting what may be called the Reformed Lamaism, died in the sNe-t'an monastery, near Lhasa, in 1052. It is stated that he came from Vikramasila at the invitation of the Tibetan King, named Lha Lama Ye-shes-'od, but his route via Nari renders this unlikely, and this Lha Lama seems to have been a petty Chief of N.W. Tibet, who was captured about that time by the Nepalese.

67 The following works by Atisa occur in mDo of bsTan 'gyur: 1, Bodhipatha pradipa; 2, Carya sangraha pradipa; 3, Satya dvayavatara; 4, Madhyamopadesa; 5, Sangraha garbha; 6, Hridaya nischita; 7, Bodhisattva manyavali; 8, Bodhisattva karmadi- margavatara; 9, Saranagatadesa; 10, Mahayanapatha sadhana varna sangraha; 11, Mahayanapatha sadhana sangraha; 12, Sutrartha samuchhayopadesa; 13, Dasakusala karmopadesa; 14, Karma Vibhanga; 15, Samadhi sambhara parivarta: 16, Lokottarasaptaka vidhi; 17, Guru Kriyakrama; 18, Chittotpada samvara vidhi krama; 19, S'iksha samucchaya abhi samaya, delivered by S'ri Dharmapala, King of Suvarnadvipa to Dipahkara and Kamala; 20, Vimala ratna lekhana, an epistle by Dipankara to Naya Pala, King of Magadha by Atisa on his departure for Tibet.

68 Brom-ston.
69 The Tibetan accounts state that he was born in 1182 A.D., and was the son of the  Mongol God (? deified ancestor) "The White Gnam-t'e."
70 In 1270 A.D.

71 Marco P.. ii., 88.

72 The Ka-gyupa, Dikung, and the Ka-dam-pa Ts'al.
73 Cf. Csoma, Gr., 192 and 198; Kopp., ii., 168, 235; J.A.S.B., 1882, p. 27

74 After Pander.

75 In 1643, Csoma, Gr., p. 190.
76 sDe-srid. Csoma's Gram., 191; Giorgi's Alph.
77 Thus it procured for Tibet satisfaction from the Gorkhas under Prithivi-narayan for their invasion of Western Tibet and sack of Tashi-lhunpo in 1768 (Kirkpatrick's Acct. of Nepal, p. 268; Buchanan-Hamilton, Nepal, p. 244), and the present seclusion of Tibet against Europeans is mainly due to Chinese policy.

78 An interesting glimpse into the country of that period is got in the contemporary record of the friar Horace della Penna, translated into English by Markham (op. cit., p. 320 et seq.)

79 Rockhill, L., p. 296, estimates it at 3,500,000.

80 Though it must be remembered that Mr. Rockhill found a large tract of N.E. Tibet exclusively occupied by Bon-pa. In the north-eastern province of Gya-de, with about 50,000 people, between the Dang River and Chamdo, Mr. Rockhill found that the Bon-pa religion reigns supreme, and in order to save these people from persecution at the hands of the Lamaist Government at Lhasa, China itself supervises the administration of this province. And "all along the eastern borderland of Tibet from the Kokonor to Yun-nan, it (the Bon-pa religion) flourishes side by side with the Lamaist faith .... and in all the southern portions of Tibet, not under the direct rule of Lhasa, its Lamaseries may be found. So it seems that this faith obtains in over two-thirds of Tibet, and that it is popular with at least a fifth of the Tibetan-speaking tribes."— Geographical Jour., May, 1894.

81 Op. cit., ii., 385 et seq.
82  Koppen, Bulletin Hist. Phil, de l'Acad. de St. Petersburg, ix., p. 335; Keith Johnston's Atlas, p. 34. Schlagintweit says, op. cit, p. 12, that among the Buriats Buddhism is still extending.

83 Reisen, i., 557 (French ed.).

84 Op. cit.

85 Koppen, i., p. 381, chiefly based on Huc's data.

86 Ladak, p. 357, et. seq.

87 J.A.S.B.,loc.cit.

88 Op. cit., p. 287.
89 Major Hay, J.A.S.B., xix., 437.

90 Life, etc., p. 230, et. seq. See also Dr. Huth's German translation of the Hor history.

91 The word is Sanskritic, and its full form is "Bhotanta," or "the end of Bhot or Tibet" (cf. Hodgs., L., i., p. 30).

92 Pemberton's Mission, p. 151.

93 Koppen, ii., p. 363.

94 The annexed illustration is from a photograph by Mr. Hoffmann.
95 bz'ugs khri.

96 Srin-mohi rgyib gusug.
97  Den-jon Lungten Sel-wai Melon.

98 Chhem-bo is the Sikhimite mode of pronouncing "Ch'en-po."

99 Kun-bzan-rnam-rgyal.

100 lha-btsun nam mk'ah 'jigs-med.
101 Gr., p. 190.

102 The illustration is from a photo by Mr. Hoffman.
103 'Dsah ts'on snin po.

104 bras-bmo-ljons.

105 mnam dgah-ts'al.

106 mdsod-lna rtag-rtse.

107 "rtsom" is the word used.

108 gans-ch'enn mdsod-lna mch'od sprin las gnas-yon dsog.

109 Sems dpah ch'en-po.

110 Rig-'dsin ch'en-po.

111 sbyin-dag.

112 rnam-rgyal.
113 Sa gya-gar-tu p'yin ba, don-gsah lai pags-pa.
114 Dr. Campbell in The Oriental, p. 13.

115 "Census of 1891 Rept.," p. 47. The total Buddhists in Bengal, including a few thousands of Burmese convicts in Bengal jails, numbered 189,122.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Tue Dec 24, 2019 6:45 am


THE light shed by the lamp of Lamaism, like that of most other religions, has been broken into variegated fragments by the prisms of later priests.

No sects appear to have existed prior to Lan-Darma's persecution, nor till more than a century and a half later. The sectarial movement seems to date from the Reformation started by the Indian Buddhist monk Atisa, who, as we have seen, visited Tibet in 1038 A.D.1

Atisa, while clinging to Yoga and Tantrism, at once began a reformation on the lines of the purer Mahayana system, by enforcing celibacy and high morality, and by deprecating the general practice of the diabolic arts. Perhaps the time was now ripe for the reform, as the Lamas had become a large and influential body, and possessed a fairly full and scholarly translation of the bulky Mahayana Canon and its Commentaries, which taught a doctrine very different from that then practised in Tibet.

A glance at the annexed "Genealogical Tree of Lamaist Sects" will show that Atisa was the only profound reformer of Lamaism.

The first of the reformed sects and the one with which Atisa most intimately identified himself was called the Kah-dam-pa,2 or "those bound by the orders (commandments)"; and it ultimately, three and a half centuries later, in Tson K'apa's hands, became less ascetic and more highly ritualistic under the title of "The Virtuous Style," Ge-lug-pa, now the dominant sect in Tibet, and the Established Church of Lamaism.

Genealogical Tree of Lamaist Sects
Old or Unreformed School NINMAPA / Semi-reformed School / Reformed School

Atisa's chief Tibetan disciple was Dom-ton,3 or "Dom Bakshi,4 to whom he taught the mystic Mahayana and Tantrik doctrines which he himself had learned in India and Pegu. Two other noted pupils were K'u and Nak; but Dom-ton was the recognized head of the Kah-dam-pa, and he built, in 1058, the Ra-Deng5 monastery to the north-east of Lhasa, which was the first lamasery of the new sect, though the monastery of T'o-din,6 in Pu-rang, built in 1025, is considered to have become a Kah-dam-pa institution by Atisa's residence therein. Dom-ton's successor was Potova.

The rise of the Kah-dam-pa (Ge-lug-pa) sect was soon followed by the semi-reformed movements of Kar-gyu-pa and Sakya-pa, which were directly based in great measure on Atisa's teaching. The founders of those two sects had been his pupils, and their new sects may be regarded as semi-reformations adapted for those individuals who found his high standard too irksome, and too free from their familiar demonolatry.

The residue who remained wholly unreformed and weakened by the loss of their best members, were now called the Nin-ma-pa or "the old ones," as they adhered to the old practices. And now, to legitimize many of their unorthodox practices which had crept into use, and to admit of further laxity, the Nin-ma-pa resorted to the fiction of Ter-ma or hidden revelations.

Just as the Indian monk Nagarjuna in order to secure an orthodox reception for his new creed had alleged that the Mahayana doctrine was entirely the composition of Sakya Muni, who had written it during his lifetime and entrusted the volumes to the Naga demi-gods for preservation until men were sufficiently enlightened to comprehend so abstruse a system, so in the same way several Nin-ma Lamas now began to discover new gospels, in caves and elsewhere, which they alleged were hidden gospels of the Guru, Saint Padma. And these so-called "revealers," but really the composers of these Ter-ma treatises, also alleged as a reason for their ability to discover these hidden gospels, that each of them had been, in a former birth, one or other of the twenty-five disciples of St. Padma.

Table Showing Descent and Inter-relations OF THE CREEDS OF THE REFORMED LAMAIST SECTS.

These "Revelations" treat mainly of Shamanist Bon-pa and other demoniacal rites which are permissible in Lamaist practice; and they prescribed the forms for such worship. About thirty of these revelations have been discovered; but as the number has been oracularly fixed at one hundred and eight, future contingencies are well provided for. These "Revelations," relaxing still further the Lamaist obligations, were eagerly accepted by most Lamas, and they play an important part in the schisms which subsequently occurred in both old and reformed sects. Indeed, many of the sub-sects differ from their parent sects merely in having adopted a different Ter-ma work as an ordinary code of demoniacal worship.

The sectarian distinctions are of a creedal character, entailing different ritualistic and other practices, and expressed by a difference in dress and symbols. The creedal differences may be categorically classed under the heads of —

1. The personality of the primordial deity or Adi-Buddha;
2. Special source of divine inspiration;
3. The saintly transmitters of this inspiration;
4. Meditative doctrine or system of mystical insight;7
5. Special Tantra-revelation;
6. Personal Tutelary— a Tantrik demoniacal Buddha of Sivaist type;
7. Religious "Guardian"-demon, usually of Tibetan type.

In considering the sects individually, let us look first at the sect forming the Established Church — the Ge-lug-pa — as it represents the oldest of the sects, the Kah-dam-pa, and is the purest and most powerful of all, having now the temporal government of Tibet in its hands.

The Ge-lug-pa Sect, or Established Church. 

The Ge-lug-pa arose at the beginning of the fifteenth century A.D. as a regeneration of the Kah-dam-pa by Tson-K'a-pa or Lo-zan-tak-pa8 or Je-Rim-po-ch'e, though he is better known to Europeans by his territorial title of Tson-K'a-pa, that is, "Native of the Onion Country," the district of his birth, in the province of Amdo, now within the border of China.9

rGgyal-ts'ab-rje (disciple). n
mK'as-grub-rje (disciple).
Vajra-bhairava (tutelary).
A votary.

He was probably, as Huc notes,10 influenced by the Roman Catholic priests, who seem to have been settled near the place of his birth. Huc's tradition runs that Tson K'a-pa had intercourse with a stranger from the West with a long nose and piercing eyes, who is believed to have been a Christian missionary. He studied at Zhar-Ch'un, in Amdo, and thereafter at Saskya, DiRung, and Lhasa. He wrote many books,11 and most of the extant sacerdotal manuals of the Ge-lug-pa sect are attributed to him. He died (or, as is popularly believed, ascended to Heaven12) in 1417, and was canonized as an incarnation of Manjusri (or, as some say, Amitabha, or Vajrapani). And by the Ge-lug-pa he is considered superior even to St. Padma and Atisa, and is given the chief place in most of their temples. His image is placed above, and usually between, those of the dual Grand Lamas — the Dalai and Pan-ch'en — and, like these, he is given the title of Gyal-wa, or The Jina or Victor. His image is also worn as a charm in amulet boxes.

Tson-K'a-pa received the traditions of the Kah-dam-pa sect from the Lama Ch'os skyabs-bzan-po, the seventy-eighth abbot in succession from Dom-ton.

Ge-Lug-Pa Monks and Attendant

Unlike Atisa, Tson-K'a-pa was an ardent proselytizer, and spent most of his strength in organization. He collected the scattered members of the Kah-dam-pa from their retreats, and housed them in monasteries, together with his new followers, under rigid discipline, setting them to keep the two hundred and thirty-five Vinaya rules,13 and hence obtaining for them the title of Vinaya-keepers or "Dul-wa Lamas." He also made them carry a begging-bowl, anardha-chuna,14 prayer-carpet,15 and wear patched robes16 of a yellow colour, after the fashion of the Indian mendicant monks. And he attracted followers by instituting a highly ritualistic service, in part apparently borrowed from the Christian missionaries, who undoubtedly were settled at that time in Tson-K'a, the province of his early boyhood in Western China. He gave the hat named pan-ssa-sne-rin, or the "Pandit's long-tailed cap"; and as it was of a yellow colour like their dress, and the old Lamaist body adhered to their red hat, the new sect came to be popularly called the S'a-ser or "Yellow-cap," in contradistinction to the S'a-mar or "Red-cap" and their more aboriginal Bon-pa co-religionists the S'a-nak or "Black-caps."17

This seems to be the origin of the sect-titles depending on the colour of the cap. The Kah-dam-pa are said to have worn red caps, and certainly the extant pictures of Atisa and other Kah-dam-pa Lamas give them red caps.

Tson-K'a-pa named his own monastery, which he built in 1409 about thirty miles east of Lhasa, Gah-dan18 or Paradise, and it is said that his followers at first went by the name of Gah-lug-pa or "Followers of the Gah-dan fashion"; but as this name was ill-sounding it was changed to the more euphonic Ge-lug-pa or "Followers of the Virtuous order."


The special sectarian distinctions of the Ge-lug-pa, which represent the earlier Kah-dam-pa sect, are that this sect has the mythical Vajradhara as its Adi-Buddha; and derives its divine inspiration from Maitreya — "the coming Buddha," through the Indian Saints ranging from Asanga down to Atisa, and through the Tibetan Saints from his disciple Brom-ton to Tson-K'a-pa (Je-Rim-po-ch'e). The Ge-lug-pa mystical insight (Ta-wa) is termed the Lam-rim or "the Graded Path," and their Tantra is the "Vast Doer" (rgya-ch'en spyod). Its tutelary demoniacal Buddha is Vajra-bhairava (Dorje-'jig-je). supported by Samvara (Dem-ch'og) and Guhya-kala (Sang-du). And its Guardian demons are "The Six-armed Gon-po or Lord" and the Great horse-necked Hayagriva (Tam-din), or the Red Tiger-Devil.

The Tutelary Tam-din's Charm.

But, through Atisa, the Ge-lug-pa sect, as is graphically shown in the foregoing table, claims also to have received the essence of Mahjusri's doctrine, which is the leading light of the Sakya-pa sect. For Atisa is held to be an incarnation of Manjusri, the Bodhisat of Wisdom: which is merely a way of stating that he was the greatest embodiment of Buddhist Wisdom that ever visited Tibet. And in the person of Atisa were also united the essentials of the Kar-gyu-pa sect by his pupilage to the Indian sage Naro.

Thus the Ge-lug-pa sect claims that through Atisa it has received the special inspiration of Maitreya, and in addition all that is best in the special systems professed by the other two reformed sects.

The purer morality practised by the Ge-lug monks gained them general respect. So, despite their internecine feuds with the Sakya-pa and other rival sects, its Church grew in size and influence, and became a powerful hierarchy with the succession of its chief abbot based upon the theory of Re-incarnation, namely, that the spirit of the dead chief after his death is re-born in a child, who was forthwith found by oracular presage, and installed in the vacant chair.

Tsoh-K'a-pa's nephew, Ge-dun-dub, was installed in 1439 as the first Grand Lama of the Ge-lug-pa Church, and he built the monastery of Tashi-lhunpo, in 1445, while his fellow workers Je-She-rabSen-age Gyal-Ts'ab-je and Khas-grub-je had built respectively De-p'ung (in 1414), and Se-ra (in 1417), the other great monasteries of this sect.

Under the fourth of these Grand Lamas, the Ge-lug-pa Church was vigorously struggling for supreme power and was patronized by the Mongol minister of the Chinese Government named Chong-Kar, who, coming to Lhasa as an ambassador, usurped most of the power of the then king of Tibet, and forced several of the Kar-gyu and Nin-ma monasteries to join the Ge-lug-pa sect, and to wear the yellow caps.

And, as we have seen in the previous chapter, the Ge-lug-pa sect in 1640, under its fifth Grand Lama, leapt into temporal power as the dominant sect in Tibet, and has ever since remained the Established Church of the country.

Since then, however, the Ge-lug-pa sect has gradually retrograded in its tenets and practice, till now, with the exception of its distinctive dress and symbols, celibacy and greater abstinence, and a slightly more restricted devil-worship, it differs little from the other Lamaist sects, which in the pride of political power it so openly despises.

The Kar-gyu-pa Sect.

The Kar-gyu-pa, the next great reformed sect after the Ge-lug-pa, was founded in the latter half of the eleventh century A.D. by Lama Marpa19 of Lha-brag, who had visited India and obtained special instructions from the Indian Pandit Atisa and his teacher P'am-thin and Naro, the janitor of Nalanda University, who never visited Tibet. But as Marpa and his successor Mila-ra-pa, while nominally having a monastery at Gro-bu-lun and sGrub-p'ug-matogs, respectively, led hermit lives, the real organizer of this sect was the Kah-dam-pa Lama, Dvag-po lha-rje,20 who founded the monastery of Ts'ur-lha about 1150.


The name Kar-gyu-pa21 means a "follower of the successive orders," expressive of the fact that the sect believes that the rulings of its later sages are inspired. Naro's teacher, the monk Tilo or Telo (about 950 A.D.)22 is held to have been directly inspired by the metaphysical Buddha Vajra-dhara.

Its distinctive features are its hermit practices, meditation in caves and other retired places, and the following specialities: —

Its inspiration was attributed by their saint Tilo directly to the Adi-Buddha Vajra-dhara. Its mode of mystic insight (Ta-wa) is named Mahamudra23 or "the Great Attitude," also called U-mahi Lam or "the Middle Path," and its Tantra is "Sum-kar-bsuds-sum.24 Its tutelary demon is Samvara. Its guardian deity "The Lord of the Black Cloak.25 Its hat is "the meditation hat with the cross-knees," bearing on its front this emblem as a badge like a St. Andrew's cross (X), and a conical centre-piece representing a cave elsewhere. And with these technicalities was associated a stricter observance of the monastic rules and discipline.

St. Mila-Ra-Pa

The most popular Kar-gyu-pa saint, and one who, while founding no monastery, did more even than Marpa, to establish the sect, was Marpa's pupil, Mila-ra-pa.26 He never visited India, but led a wandering ascetic life among the mountains of Tibet, and his 100,000 songs27 containing much Tibetan colouring are popular amongst all the sects of Lamas, and his name is now a household word throughout Tibet.

He is pictured, as seen in the annexed illustration, as a thinly-clad ascetic almost on the Indian model, enduring great hardships of climate and exposure, and a great magician conquering many demons. His picture is surrounded by scenes illustrative of the leading events of his life.

His biography is sketched here in a footnote,28 as he is a person of importance in Lamaism. It is contained in a bulky volume ascribed to his disciple Ras-ch'un, and dated from the hermitage of the latter.


Mila-ra-pa's chief pupils were Dvag-po-lha-rje,29 who continued the succession of the orthodox Kar-gyu-pa doctrine, and Ra-ch'un Dor-je Tag-pa,30 who did not interest himself in organization.

The hermit-feature of this sect rendered it so unattractive, that several sub-sects soon arose which dispensed with the necessity for hermitage. Thus appeared the sub-sects Kar-ma-pa, Di-kung-pa, Ta-lung-pa, and Duk-pa (the form dominant in Bhotan), which differ from each other merely in having each adopted a different revelation from the Nin-ma sect as a code of demoniacal worship, and so relaxing the purity of the former Kar-gyu-pa practice.

These differences are shown in the foregoing table.

And the image of the particular founder of the sub-sect shares with that of their Adi-Buddha, Vajradhara, the chief place in their temples.

The Kar-ma-pa sub-sect was founded in the middle of the twelfth century by Kar-ma-pa Ran-ch'un Dor-je, also named Du-sum K'yen-po,31 a pupil of the aforesaid Dvag-po-lha-rje. His monastery of S'u-Ts'ur Lha-lun,32 built in 1154, at Ts'ur-p'u, about one day's journey to the north of Lhasa beyond Sera, is still the headquarters of this, the most powerful of all the Kar-gyu-pa sub-sects.32 This Kar-ma Lama does not appear to be identical with the famous "Kar-ma-Bakshi,"33 whose image is the central one in all Kar-ma-pa temples, for "his birth is placed by Csoma later.34 The ninth head Kar-ma-pa Lama was named dGu-pa-bar Phyug Dor-je, and was alive in 1725 A.D., when the then raja of Sikhim visited him in Tibet and was prevailed on by him to establish some Kar-ma-pa monasteries in Sikhim.

The so-called monastery, though it is only a temple, in the "Bhotiya-basti" at Darjiling belongs to this sect.

It differs from its parent sect in having retrograded towards the Nin-ma-pa practices by adopting the Nin-ma revelation found in Kong-bo and entitled Le-to Lin-pa,36 or "the locally revealed merit," and some also have 'Jah-ts'on-pa. Few of the Kar-ma Lamas are celibate, and Marpa, the founder of the parent sect (Kar-gyu-pa), was married.

The next great sub-sect is the Dug-pa,37 which also arose with a pupil of Mila-ra-pa's disciple, Dvag-po. Its founder was Pag-Sam-Wang-po,38 and it originated in the gNam province of Tibet about the middle of the twelfth century, at the Ralung monastery, near Gyan-tse, in Tod or Upper Tibet. To emphasize the change the monastery was called Dug-Ra;ung, and a legend of the thunder-dragon or Dug is related in connection therewith, and gives the sectarian title. It adopted the same revelation as the Di-kung-pa, but there seems some other distinctive tenet which I have not yet elicited.

Much confusion has been caused in European books by mis-using the name Dug-pa, employing it as a synonym for the "red-hat" sect, which properly is the Nin-ma.

The Middle Dug-pa and the Lower Dug-pa arose soon afterwards. The Middle Dug-pa adopted the revelation of San-gyas-lin-pa. This is the form of Kar-gyu-pa which now prevails in Bhotan under the name of Lho Dug-pa or "Southern" Dug-pa. Its chief Lama is Z'ab-drun Nag-ban-nam-gyal,39 a pupil of Padma dkar-po" or "The omniscient white lotus," who leaving Southern Tibet in the seventeenth century A.D.,40 settled at "lChags-ri rta mgo" in Bhotan, and soon displaced the Karthok-pa and other forms of Nin-ma Lamaism then existing in that country, and which are reputed to have been founded there directly by St. Padma himself, who entered Bhotan via gZ'as-ma gan and left it by mDun tsan, and at dGron-ts'al p'u are still shown his foot-prints on a rock, and at the sPa-te tak-ts'an or tiger's den.41

In Bhotan the Dug-pa sect possesses the temporal as well as the spiritual power, and has suppressed all other sects there. Some details of its chief monasteries and hierarchs are given in the special chapters on these two subjects.

The Di-kung-pa,42 another large sub-sect, also originated with a pupil of Dvag-po. It takes its title from the Di-kung monastery founded by Rinch'en-p'un-ts'og and Je-spyan-sna-wa, in 1177 A.D.43 Its revelation is Nin-ma the Padma-lin-pa.

The Ta-lung-pa44 issued from the Di-kung-pa and takes its title from the Ta-lung monastery founded by Nag-dban-ch'os-gyalpo in 1178. They differ from their parent Di-kung-pa in admitting also the revelation work adopted by the Kar-ma-pa, namely, the Le-to lin-pa.

The Sa-kya-pa Sect.

The last great reformed sect is the Sa-skya-pa45 or Sakya, taking its name from the yellow colour of the scanty soil at the site of its first monastery in western Tibet, founded in 1071 A.D. It grew into a most powerful hierarchy, and attained for a time the temporal sovereignty over the greater part of Tibet before it was eclipsed by its Ge-lug-pa rival.

Its founder was K'on-dkon-mch'og rgyal-po,46 a pupil of K'ug-pa lha-btsas, who claimed inspiration from the celestial Bodhisat of wisdom, Manjusri, through the Indian sages ranging from Nagarjuna47 to Vasuputra,48 and he mixed together the "old" and the "new" Tantras, calling his doctrine the "new-old occult mystery "49 of "The deep sight."50 Its mystic insight is called "The fruitful path."51 Its special gospels are Nagarjuna's Avatansaka, Vasubandhu's Paramartha. Its tutelary demon is Vajra phurpa, for whose and other demonist worship it borrowed the Nin-ma books, Dorje phurpach'i ch'oga; and from the newer school were taken Dem-ch'ok, Dorje-kando, Den-z'i, Maha-maha-ma-yab, Sangya t'opa, and Dorje-dutsi. Its demoniacal Guardians are "the Guardian of the Tent,"51 and "The Face-Lord."52 Its Hat is sa-z'u. But now except in a few externals it is practically undistinguishable from the Nin-ma-pa.

The Lord (-Fiend) Gur

The Sa-kya-pa has two reformed sub-sects, namely, the Nor-pa and the Jonan-pa. These differ from one another only in founders.

The Jo-nan-po issued from the Sa-kya-pa in the person of Je-Kun-gah-dol-ch'og53 in the beginning of the fourteenth century. To this sect belonged the illustrious historiographer, Lama-Taranatha.

Taranatha, son of Nam-gyal P'un-ts'ogs, was born in Tsang on the 8th day of the pig-male-tree year, corresponding to 1573 A.D., and was called Kun-dgah sNyin-po,54 or "The essence of happiness." He studied in the Jonang monastery, north of Sakya under the religious name of Taranatha, and in his forty-first year built himself a monastery in the neighbourhood, which he named rTag-brten, and filled it with many images, books, and caityas. He latterly proceeded to Mongolia at the invitation of the people of that country, and founded there several monasteries under the auspices of the Chinese Emperor. He died in Mongolia, and was canonized under the title of "The Reverend Holiness "Je-tsun dam-pa.55 And his "re-incarnate" successors are now installed with great magnificence as Grand Lamas at Urgya in the Kalkha province of Mongolia, to the east of Lob-Nor. Shortly after his death, both Urgya and his old monastery — which was renamed — "P'un-ts'o-lin," were forcibly converted into Ge-lug-pa institutions, by the aggressive Dalai Lama on his becoming priest-king.

The Nor-pa56 founded by Kun-gah Zan-po in 1427, issued from the Sa-kya-pa at the time of Tson-K'apa. Its founder discarded the Nin-ma element in its Tantrik system, retaining only the "new." It has many monasteries in eastern Tibet.

A Sa-skya Lama.  

The Nin-ma-pa Sects.

Nin-ma Lamas.

The wholly unreformed section of the Lamas was, as we have seen, named Nin-ma-pa, or "the old school. It is more freely than any other tinged with the native Bon or pre-Buddhist practices; and celibacy and abstinence are rarely practised. This is the real "red-hat" sect of Lamas, and not the Dug-pa as is stated in European books.

It regards the metaphysical Buddha Samanta-bhadra as its primordial deity or Adi-Buddha. Its mystic insight is Maha-utpanna (Dsog-ch'en) or "the great ultimate perfection." Its tutelages are "The fearful Vajra" (Vajra-"phurba") and Dub-pa-kah-gye.57 Its guardian demon is " The Lord Gur"58 It worships the Guru Padma-sambhava, the founder of Lamaism, in a variety of forms, both divine and demoniacal, expressive of his different moods at different times, and also his favourite Kashmiri teacher, Sri Sinba, and the Indian teacher of the latter, Grah-rab Dorje, who derived his inspiration from the celestial Buddha, Vajra-satwa, who in turn was inspired by the primordial deity, Saman-ta-bhadra Buddha.

Its peculiar red cap is named after the Guru "Urgyen-pan-z'u," and with these characteristics it exhibits a greater laxity in living than any other sect of Lamas.

But even the Nin-ma-pa, too, has its sub-sects, based on the adoption of different revelations. Its chief sub-sects are the Dorje-tak-pa, Mindol-lin, Kar-tok-pa, and Na-dak-pa, named after their respective founders or parent monastery. But their differences are very trifling.

The Dorje-tak-pa59 is named after the greatest of the existent Nin-ma monasteries, to wit, Dorje-tak, near Sam-yas. It follows the revelation "found" by rGrod-ldem in Zan-Zan Lha brag, and its chief branches seem to be at Hug-pa-glin, Tsa-ngi Lha-ri zim-p'ug, and T'eg-mc'og glin.

An offshoot of it is the Nah-dag-pa,60 taking its name from its founder, Nah-dag, "the owner of dominion," and of royal lineage, and represented in several Sikhim monasteries.

Scarcely inferior in extent and repute to the Dorje-tak-pa is the Min-dol-lin-pa,61 also named after its chief monastery, Min-dol-lin. Its revelation was found by bDag-ling-pa, and its chief branches are at sLe-lun, P'un-po ri-wo-ch'e. And in Sikhim it is represented by the large Pemiongchi monastery, which until a few years ago was in the habit of sending to Min-dol-lin batches of its young monks for instruction in the higher discipline and ritual.

The Kar-tok-pa,62 named after Lama Kar-tok, "The understander of the precepts," adopt the revelation of kLon-ch'en Rab-h'byun found in the lake of sGra-mdah. Its chief monasteries are at Byan-ch'ub-glin and sDe-dge ("Der-ge") in the extreme east of Tibet, and the seat of a large printing establishment and township famous for its inlaid metal work.

Lho-brag-lha-lun-pa follow the revelation of Padma-lin-pa like the Di-kung-pa sub-sect of the Kar-gyu-pa.

The Lha-tsun-pa, named after the founder of Sikhim Lamaism, adopt the revelation of 'Jah-ts'on-pa, found in Kong-bu, named the La-t'o-lin-pa.

The Z'i-jed-pa.

The Z'i-jed-pa ("the mild doer"), or passionless Ascetic, is a homeless mendicant of the Yogi class, and belonging to no sect in particular, though having most affinity with the Kar-gyu-pa. They are now almost extinct, and all are regarded as saints, who in their next birth must certainly attain Nirvana. They carry thigh-bone trumpets, skull-drums, etc., and in the preparation of these instruments from human bones, they are required to eat a morsel of the bone or a shred of the corpse's skin. The founder of the order was P'a-dam-pa Sans-rgyas ( ? Jnanaka- or Pita-Buddha), born at Jara Sin(d)ha, in India, his father being named brTson-'grus-go-ch'a and his mother Rasha. He visited Tibet, via Kashmir and Na-ri, about the beginning of the twelfth century A.D., his final visit being in 1112 A.D. As this order is highly esteemed in Tibet, I subjoin some details of its chief saints.63

Summary of Sects.

It will thus be seen that Lamaist sects seem to have arisen in Tibet, for the first time, in the latter part of the eleventh century A.D., in what may be called the Lamaist Reformation, about three centuries after the foundation of Lamaism itself.

They arose in revolt against the depraved Lamaism then prevalent, which was little else than a priestly mixture of demonolatry and witchcraft. Abandoning the grosser charlatanism, the new sects returned to celibacy and many of the purer Mahayana rules.

In the four centuries succeeding the Reformation, various sub-sects formed, mostly as relapses towards the old familiar demonolatry.

And since the fifteenth century A.D., the several sects and sub-sects, while rigidly preserving their identity and exclusiveness, have drifted down towards a common level where the sectarian distinctions tend to become almost nominal.

But neither in the essentials of Lamaism itself, nor in its sectarian aspects do the truly Buddhist doctrines, as taught by Sakya Muni, play a leading part.

Sash of Carved Human Bones worn by Lamas in Necromancy.  


1 Part of this chapter appeared in the Asiatic Quarterly for January, 1894.

2 bKah-gdams-pa.

3  'Brom-ston rGyal-wahi 'Byun-gnas.

4 Bakshi is a general term in Central Asia for those monks called in Tibetan Lob-pon, or Teacher; and it is used by Marco Polo (Yule, i., 305). Pallas says it is Mongolian for sTon, which means "Guide," and is applied only to the oldest and most learned priest of a community. But the title sTon (-pa) is usually reserved for Buddha. Yule and others believe it to be probably a corruption of " Bhiksku," a Buddhist mendicant monk, and Yule shows it to be used as an equivalent for Lama by Rashiduddin, and in the Ain-i-Akbari. Possibly it is also related to the "Abassi" of Friar Odoric (Markham, p. xlvi.). Conf. also Koppen, ii., 105.  

5 Rva-sgren.

6 mT'o-ldin.  

7  lTa-wa. Skt., Darsana.

8 bLo-bzan tak-po (Cf. Koppen, ii., 18). O.M., 115; J.A.S.B., 1882, p. 53-57; Pand., No. 41; Howorth, op. cit.

9 He was born in 1355-57 at Kum-bum (see its photograph at page 280).
10 Travels in Tartary, etc., Hazlett's trans., ii., 48.

11 Chief of which was The Gradual Way (Lam-rim).

12 His ascension is celebrated during the Lamaist festival of Lamps.
13  Including retirement during Lent for meditation, etc.

14 The zla-gam or crescentic cope or cape.

15 gding-wa.

16 dras-drubs. See detailed description at p. 200.
17  See page 196 for pictures of the caps.

18 Skt., "Tushita" or the Happy place.
19  Marpa, according to Sum-pa K'an-po's Ch'os-'byun, was born at Gro-bu-lun po gsar, as the second son of dbAn-p'yug-'od, his mother being sKal-ldan sKyd gnis. His son when riding to Talung monastery to witness a Lama's dance was thrown down the cliff and fearfully mangled owing to his horse in a rocky defile taking fright at the flight of some rock pigeons. This scene is pictured often in Kar-gyu-pa temples. (Cf. also Pand., No. 32.)

20 Also called rJe sGam-po-Va with title mnam-med. He was a native of E. Tibet beyond Kongbu; died 1152. (Cf. Pand., No. 33.)

21 bKah-brgyud-pa.

22 Cf. Tara., 226, Pand., No. 17.

23 P'yag-rgya-ch'en usually contracted to "ch'ag-ch'en."
24 Marpa's scripture was based upon the "mnam-len byin rlabs," which he diluted and mixed with more mystic Tantras; hence his Tantra is called "the mixed" (zuh-'jug). The so-called esoteric is the "mdo lugs-stong-pa-nyid," and the esoteric "snags lugs bde ston dhyer med, which are referred to in the chapter on Doctrine. For some technical details regarding several sects, see transl. by Sarat, J.A.S.B., 1883; also Ramsay's Dict.

25 mGon-po bar-nag.

26 Mi-la-ras-pa or "the Cotton-clad." (Cf. Csoma, Gr., 181; Tara., 328; Pand., No. 31.)

27 glu-'bum.

28 He was born at Kya-nan-tsa in the year 1038 A.D., on the 28th day of the month, under the planet phur-bu, and named Thos-pa-dgal. His father, Mila-shes-rab-rgyal-mts'an, was a wealthy merchant of the K'un-po clan of Uru-chan-ch'og, and his mother was Gyan-tsa dkar-rgyan. The father died when Thos-pa-dgal (the young Mila) was only seven years old, leaving his property in his brother's charge till his son reached his majority at fifteen. This uncle, however, appropriated everything to himself, and left young Mila and his mother destitute, and even persecuted them. Young Mila's mother, therefore, sent her son to become a Lama in order to learn the mt'u-art of destroying people by sorcery. So he started off for Lhun-grub grong K'an in Gun-t'on-stod, and there joined a party of monks on their way from Upper Nari to U (or Central Tibet). Passing Yag-sde, and crossing Mar-tsan, he reached T'on-lun-raga in U, and found at Yar-lun skyo-mo-Krun a learned "mt'u" teacher named Yun sTon-p'ro-rgyal, who taught him sorcery for several years, until he obtained the power to destroy his cruel uncle's house and gear. After being instructed in the mode of compelling hailstorms, he went to Magon (or gTsan-ron-gi-nar), and then to Ch'os-la sgang, whore he became a pupil of Lama Marpa, who had visited India. Here he was set many tiresome tasks by Marpa, such as building forts and pulling them to pieces again, and the pictures of these tasks are favourite subjects for frescoes in Kar-gyu-pa monasteries. As the tasks seemed endless and Marpa still withheld instruction, the young Mila fled, taking with him the Indian saint Naropa's six-bone ornaments and padma-raga-rosary, which had been in Marpa's keeping as relics; and which young Mila obtained possession of by the connivance of Marpa's wife, bDag-med-ma. These relics he offered to Lama rNog-pa, who in return gave him instruction and the meditation of Gron-ldan p'ug-pa. Then Marpa recalled him and initiated him into the mysteries of the magic circles, and gave him the esoteric name of dPal-s'es-pa and the common name of Mila-rdo-rje rgyal mts'an, and set him severe ascetic exercises. Meanwhile Marpa went to India, and met the monk Naropa at the monastery of Bula-hari, and was taught 'p'o-wa-ston-'jug, and returned to Tibet by Ch'os-la gan. When Mila returned home, he found his mother dead, so he dwelt in a cave near by named Kain-mdsod phug. Then his uncle and aunt assaulted him on his begging excursions, but though possessing the power of destroying them, he preferred to flee from them to Brag Kar-rta-so, near Kyi-ron, where he remained in meditation for eighteen years, living solely on vegetables, and performing many miracles. Then he went to Dig-ri plain, where he met Pari, the translator, and his pupils. Thereafter he went to 'Brin-yul, and afterwards to a cave in Lab-ci-cu-gar (? Mount Everest), where he died. His favourite god was Kuvera, the King of the Yaksha genii.

29 Also called rJe-Tsun sGam-po. See Pander, No. 33.

30 Ras-ch'un rdo-rje grags-pa, born 1083, founded Ras-ch'un p'ug monastery.

31 Ran-'byun-rdo-rje dus-gsum-mk'yen-po, born 1109, ordained 1124, died 1192.

32 Ts'u-mts'ur.

33 It was zealously patronized by De-si Zan-po, a King of Western Tibet, with his capital at Shigatse.

34 Cf. Csoma, Gr., 186; J.A.S.B., 51, p. 53; Pand. No. 39.

35 In Gram., 185, Kar-ma-Bakshi's birth is given as 1177 A.D.
36 Las-'prod-lin-pa.

37 'brug-pa. It is Sanskritised in the Chronicle of Nag-wan Nam-gyal as Megha Svara or "Cloud-voice," thunder being regarded as the dragon's roar.

38 dPag-bsam dban-po, who seems to be identical with, or patronized by, 'Gro-mgon rtsan-pa rgyal ras, "The Victory-clad Patron of Animals " (? born 1160 A.D.).

39 His title is bdud-'jom-rdorje, or "the Vajra which Softened the Devils."

40 Csoma, J.A.S.B., 1832, 126.

41 According to the Thah-yig sde-lna, some historic notes on the history of Lamaism in Bhotan are to be found in the book Lho-Ch'os 'byun.
42 'Bri-gun.

43 Csoma, Gram., 185.

44 sTag-lun.

45 Sa-skya-pa, from Sa-skya = "tawny earth."

46 Born 1033. Details of the sect are found in its records, The Sa-skya Yig-ts'an.

47 These are given as Candra-Kirti, Rig-pahi-K'u-p'yug, Buddha "dgons"-pala.

48 Yab-sras. — Vasuputra seems a title of the great Indian monk Vasubandhu, the brother of Asanga, and the special transmitter of Nagarjuna's purer Sautrantika doctrines, inspired by Manjusri.

49 gsar-nin.

50 zab-mo-blta — Gambhira darsana.

51 mgon-po gur.
52 mGon-po gur.

53 mGon-zhal.

54 Who seems also to be called Dol-bu sher-rgyan. Horn 1290, and died 1353.

55 Skt., Anandagarbha. Another account gives the name as Sri-gcod rdorje.

56 rJe-btsun dam-pa.
57 sGrub-pa bkah-brgyad— the tutelary of the Guru St. Padma.

58 Gur-gon, a two-handed demon, the highest of the five "Pal-gon."
59 rdo-rje-brag-pa.

60 mNah-bdag-pa.

61 sMin-grol Glin.

62 bKsh-ryog-pa.
63 In Tibet P'a-dam-pa taught his doctrines to Zhan-zhun-glin-k'awa and bon po k'ra-ch'un-bruk. Meeting rMan gra-Serpo, of Yar-kluns, he accompanied him to Tsang, where he gave instruction to Lama sKyo-bsod-nam, who succeeded him.

The second successor was the hermit rMa-sgom, born at Yar-stod-skyer-snar, in 1054 A.D., and forming the rMa order. His pupil was So-ch'un-pa, a dwarf.

The Yogini Ma-gci'g-lab-sgron, born at the southern Ph'a-druk, in 1054 A.D., was the devoted pupil of rMa.

sKam, another great z'i-jed-pa, was a pupil of dge-s'es-gra-pa, and suffering injury from a sa-gdon demon, he burned its effigy. The demon afflicted him with dropsy and leprosy; but by his zhi-cjed rites he recovered. He died 1119 A.D.

Z'an-dgah-ldan, also a pupil of rMa, was born at Yar-stod-gtsan-z'al, in the tribe pf ,Tshims zan. His pupils were gNal-ston-dyah ch'un-'bor, sKyog-sgom bsam-tan, K'u-sgom jo-dgah, rGya-dar-sen, aud Ch'us-pa-dar brtson.
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Re: The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults

Postby admin » Thu Dec 26, 2019 10:26 am

Part 1 of 4


As Buddhism is a highly philosophical religion, and Lamaism, though deeply tinged with non-Buddhist beliefs, still retains much of the loftier philosophy and doctrines of Primitive Buddhism and its earlier developments, we must, in considering the metaphysical basis of the Lamaist doctrine, glance at the metaphysics of Buddha himself, as well as that of the Mahayana and the later "developments." And as Buddha's philosophy is based upon his working theory of the Universe, our subject will fall conveniently under the heads of (a) Buddha's Theory of the Universe,1 (b) his Metaphysics, and (c) the Metaphysics of the Lamas.

However inconsistent materialism and theistic theories may appear, with a system avowedly idealistic and practically atheistic, it certainly seems that Buddha, himself a Hindu and a teacher of Hindus, did adopt the Hindu mythology and cosmic notions current in his day, with slight modifications, which were directed merely towards depriving the gods of their creative functions and rendering them finite and subject to death and the general law of metempsychosis.2  

His sutras, or sermons, contain numerous references to these divinities, and the earliest of all authentic Buddhist records extant, namely, the Asoka edict pillars of the third century B.C., show a model Buddhist delighting in calling himself "the beloved of the Gods"; and in the Barhut Stupa of the second century B.C. the gods and genii are represented with functions identical with those now allotted to them in the latter-day Buddhism of both Burma and Tibet, where, as in the orthodox scriptures of both schools, the gods receive more or less worship on account of the power which they are believed to possess of bestowing temporal blessings.
And the coming Buddha is believed by all Buddhists to be even now resident in the Tushita heavens of the gods.


Since the Buddha didn’t even endorse the idea of the afterlife, someone else must have adapted the Vedic hells to the Buddhist idiom. The Buddha’s sermons were not written down during his lifetime, and were maintained in an oral tradition for hundreds of years, so we can’t establish precisely when the hells were injected into Buddhist doctrine. However, we can identify the time period when they appeared in Buddhist literature.

Buddhist writings began to proliferate during the rule of the Indian King Ashoka, a major Buddhist historical figure. Although reverenced by the Buddhist hierarchy because of his conversion to Buddhism and adoption of the faith as his state religion, Ashoka killed all three of his brothers, slaughtered hundreds of thousands to establish the Mauryan Empire, and ruled the Indian subcontinent with an iron hand from 273 to 232 BCE. Although Buddha had ordered that his teachings not be written down, Ashoka put up many stone pillars with admonitions reflecting his Buddhist beliefs, and these pillars are some of the first "Buddhist writings." According to Buddhist tradition, the Third Buddhist Council was conducted under Ashoka’s auspices, in the seventeenth year of his reign. There were many conflicting doctrines contending for legitimacy at the Council, and various factions appealed to Ashoka to give royal approval to their doctrines. The factions that received Ashoka’s endorsement would also have accommodated his doctrinal predilections.

Hell first appears in Buddhist literature in the Ashokan era, in a compilation of Buddhist tales entitled the Mahavastu, in which one of Buddha's disciples, Maugdalayana, makes a trip to hell to fetch his mother, and returns to tell the tale. The Mahavastu includes the "Jataka Tales," that ostensibly tell the story of the Buddha's past lives, and present him as a transcendent being with supernatural powers who merely pretended to suffer from human vulnerabilities for the edification of ordinary humans. Thus the Mahavastu upends the revolutionary story that Buddha was a man who rejected wealth and power as the son of a king, and wandered in the jungle, meditating in solitude until he mastered his fate through the diligent study of his own mind. The Buddha of the Mahavastu is presented as an inherently divine being, a spiritual king, who descended to the earthly plane like a standard Hindu deity. The Mahavastu is thus the first of an innumerable sequence of Buddhist books that fit the Buddha into a standard Hindu cosmo-conception, and inject his life story with mystagoguery. The Mahavastu is written in Buddhist Sanskrit, not Pali, the language of the original Buddhist Scriptures, and thus likely includes interpolations made to reach a rapprochement with Hinduism.[41] Such writings can be seen as a corruption and concealment of the true doctrine that remake Gautama Buddha in the image of a universal monarch, depriving him of his inspiring character as a humble, egalitarian renunciate.

Before he converted to Buddhism, Ashoka was obsessed with the tortures of hell, and even built a torture den designed to look like a beautiful palace that would lure unsuspecting visitors to enter in search of pleasure. His chief torturer, Girika, swore an oath to kill every person who entered the torture palace, that history has named “Ashoka’s Hell.” Legend says that Girkia convinced Ashoka to “to design the torture chamber based on the suffering endured by people reborn in Buddhist hell,” and “was so terrifying, that Emperor Ashoka was thought to have visited hell so that he could perfect its evil design.” [42] When Girika failed in his efforts to boil a Buddhist saint alive, Ashoka put Girika to death, demolished the torture palace, and converted to Buddhism. This legend is often paired with the story that Ashoka repented of warfare after killing 350,000 people while conquering the kingdom of Kalinga; thus, there is some ambiguity about which event prompted Ashoka to convert. In any event, historians concur that after he conquered Kalinga, although he did not abandon warfare altogether, Ashoka reduced the frequency and brutality of his wars, and encouraged the growth of the Buddhist Sangha. As a Buddhist king, Ashoka realized that threatening people with hellfire could be more effective than actually killing them. As the Tao Teh Ching observes, "If the people no longer fear death, it is useless to threaten them with death."[43] People who do not fear death are the ultimate danger to authority, as Ashoka had learned in the conquest of Kalinga, where the people sacrificed their lives in great numbers to resist his domination.

Ashoka's doctrinal servants were enthusiastic purveyors of hell, and placed strong emphasis on the idea that the disembodied soul, after death, cannot actually die. Thus, in a clever innovation that makes this point, the first Buddhist hell is called "Alive Again!", where victims are executed by horrendous devices, and revived again to suffer the same fate, ad infinitum.

-- Against Hell: A Refutation of the Buddhist Hell Realms, Based on Their Historic Origins, Political Purpose, Psychological Destructiveness, Irrationality, and Demonstrable Inconsistency With the Original Buddhist Teachings, Framed as A Searching Review of Sam Bercholz’s After-Death Memoir, "A Guided Tour of Hell", by Charles Carreon

So intimately have these mythological figures been woven into the texture of Buddhism, and especially of Lamaism, which peoples the world with gorgons and hydras and other dire chimeras, that without having gained a general idea of their nature and position, it is impossible to understand the allusions to them which constantly crop out in Buddhist rites and dogma. And, indeed, many of these fantastic beliefs with their deified heroes and Nature-worship are in reality petrified survivals of the archaic beliefs of our Indo-Germanic ancestors.

Buddhist Theory of the Universe.

In sketching the Buddhist world-system, with its "antres vast and deserts idle," existing mostly on the map of the imagination, it is deemed advisable, in order to avoid needless repetition, to give at once the Lamaist version, even though this is slightly more "developed" than the cosmogony of Buddha's day; although it cannot be very different after all, for the Lamaist accounts of it are in close keeping with the Barhut lithic remains, and almost identical with the versions found among the Ceylonese and other Buddhists of the south, and the Chinese and Japanese Buddhists.3

This, our human, world is only one of a series (the others being fabulous) which together form a universe or chiliocosm,4 of which there are many.

Each universe, set in unfathomable space, rests upon a warp and woof of "blue air"or wind, liked crossed thunderbolts (vajra), hard and imperishable as diamonds (vajra?), upon which is set "the body of the waters," upon which is a foundation of gold, on which is set the earth, from the axis of which towers up the great Olympus— Mt. Meru5 (Su-meru, Tib., Ri-rab) 84,000 miles6 a high, surmounted by the heavens, and overlying the hills.

The Universe of the Lamas

In the ocean around this central mountain, the axis of the universe, are set (see figures) the four great continental worlds with their satellites, all with bases of solid gold in the form of a tortoise — as this is a familiar instance to the Hindu mind of a solid floating on the waters. And the continents are separated from Mt. Meru by seven concentric rings of golden mountains, the inmost being 40,000 miles high,7 and named "The Yoke" (Yugandara),8 alternating with seven oceans, of fragrant milk,9 curds, butter, blood or sugar-cane juice, poison or wine, fresh water and salt water. These oceans diminish in width and depth from within outwards from 20,000 to 625 miles, and in the outer ocean lie the so-called continental worlds. And the whole system is girdled externally by a double iron-wall (Cakravata) 312-1/2 miles high and 3,602,625 miles in circumference, — for the oriental mythologist is nothing if not precise. This wall shuts out the light of the sun and moon, whose orbit is the summit of the inmost ring of mountains, along which the sun, composed of "glazed fire" enshrined in a crystal palace, is driven in a chariot with ten (seven) horses; and the moon, of "glazed water," in a silver shrine drawn by seven horses, and between these two hang the jewelled umbrella of royalty and the banner of victory, as shown in the figure. And inhabiting the air, on a level with these, are the eight angelic or fairy mothers. Outside the investing wall of the universe all is void and in perpetual darkness until another universe is reached.

Of the four "continents" all except "Jambudvipa"10 are fabulous. They are placed exactly one in each of the four directions, and each has a smaller satellite on either side, thus bringing the total up to twelve. And the shapes given to these continents, namely, crescentic, triangular, round, and square, are evidently symbolic of the four elements.
These continents, shown in the annexed figure, are thus described: —

On the East is Videha,11 or "vast body" (P). This is shaped like the crescent moon, and is white in colour. It is 9,000 miles in diameter, and the inhabitants are described as tranquil and mild, and of excellent conduct, and with faces of same shape as this continent, i.e., crescentic like the moon.

A Fairy12

On the South is Jamudvip13 ( F), or our own world, and its centre is the Bodhi-tree at Budh Gaya. It is shaped like the shoulder-blade of a sheep, this idea being evidently suggested by the shape of the Indian peninsula which was the prototype of Jambudvipa, as Mt. Kailas in the Himalayas and N.E. of India was that of Mt. Meru. It is blue in colour; and it is the smallest of all, being only 7,000 miles in diameter. Here abound riches and sin as well as virtue. The inhabitants have faces of similar shape to that of their continent, i.e., somewhat triangular.

On the West is Godhanya,14 or "wealth of oxen" (I), which in shape is like the sun and red in colour. It is 8,000 miles in diameter. Its inhabitants are extremely powerful, and (as the name literally means, cow + ox + action) they are believed to be specially addicted to eating cattle, and their faces are round like the sun.

On the North is Uttara-Kuru,15 or "northern Kuru" -tribe (M), of square shape and green in colour, and the largest of all the continents, being 10,000 miles in diameter. Its inhabitants are extremely fierce and noisy. They have square faces like horses; and live on trees, which supply all their wants. They become tree-spirits on their death; and these trees afterwards emit "had sounds " (this is evidently, like many of the other legends, due to a puerile and false interpretation of the etymology of the word).

The satellite continents resemble their parent one in shape, and each is half its size. The left satellite of Jambudvip, namely, "The ox- tail-whisk continent," is the fabulous country of the Rakshas, to which Padma-Sambhava is believed to have gone and to be still reigning there. And each of the latter presents towards Mount Meru one of the following divine objects respectively,16 viz., on the east (? south) the mountain of jewels, named Amo-likha, shaped like an elephant's head,17 and on the south, the wish-granting tree,18 on the west the wish-granting cow,19 and on the north the self-sprung crops.20

In the very centre of this cosmic system stands ''The king of mountains," Mount Meru, towering erect "like the handle of a mill-stone," while half-way up its side is the great wishing tree,21 the prototype of our "Christmas tree," and the object of contention between the gods and the Titans. Meru has square sides of gold and jewels. Its eastern face is crystal (or silver), the south is sapphire or lapis lazuli (vaidurya) stone, the west is ruby (padmaraga), and the north is gold, and it is clothed with fragrant flowers and shrubs. It has four lower compartments before the heavens are reached. The lowest of these is inhabited by the Yaksha genii — holding wooden plates. Above this is "the region of the wreath-holders" (Skt., Srag-dhara), which seems to be a title of the bird-like, or angelic winged Garudas. Above this dwell the "eternally exalted ones,"22 above whom are the Titans.

The Titans.

The Titans (Asura23) or "ungodly spirits."

These are pictured in the "Wheel of Life" (at page 108), in the upper right section. Their leading trait is pride, and this is the world of rebirth for those who, during their human career, have boasted of being more pious than their neighbours. The Titans were originally gods; but, through their pride, they were, like Satan, expelled from heaven; hence their name, which means "not a god."24 And their position at the base of the Mount M.eru is intermediate between heaven and earth.

The duration of their life is infinitely greater than the human, and they have great luxury and enjoyment; but in pride they envy the greater bliss of the gods, and die prematurely, fighting vainly against the gods for the fruits of the heavenly tree and the divine nectar.

Their region is represented in the picture, of an almost colourless atmosphere. They live in fortified houses. The ground, both inside and outside the fort, is carpeted with flowers of which the inhabitants, male and female, make the wreaths and garlands which they wear. They are dressed in silk; and when the heroes are not engaged in fighting they spend their time in all sorts of gaiety with their wives. In the right-hand corner is shown their birth from a lotus-flower and their obtaining a wish-granting tree and cow. The rest of the picture is devoted to their misery, which consists in their hopeless struggle and fatal conflict with the gods. The commander of the forces is seen in conclave with his leaders,25 horses are being saddled and the "heroes" are arming themselves with coats of mail and weapons. Another scene shows the battle raging along the border separating their county from heaven, and the general mounted with his staff as spectators in the background. The warriors of the first line are all killed or horribly mangled by the thunderbolts and adamantine weapons hurled at them by the gods. One of the weapons possessed alike by gods and Titans is a spiked disc.

The ultimate fate of every Titan is to die painfully warring against the gods with whom they are in constant conflict, and they have no access to the ambrosia with which a wounded god obtains instant recovery. Another scene (see picture on page 102) depicts the womenfolk gathered round "The Reflecting Lake of Perfect Clearness" after the departure of their lords to the battle. In this lake are mirrored forth all the doings and ultimate fate of their absent spouses, and there is also shown the region of re-birth of themselves, which is nearly always hell, owing to the passionate life which they lead in the Asura world. And while their lovers die painful and passionate deaths, the misery of the womanfolk of this world is to look into this fascinating lake and experience the horror of such hideous spectacles. In the picture some women are shown peering into the lake, and others on the banks are giving vent to their grief.  

The Heavens and the Gods.

Guardian King of the East, Yul-k'or-srun

Above the region of the Titans, at a distance of 168,000 miles, are the bright realms of the gods. In the lowest compartment of the heavens are the four "great guardian kings of the quarters" (Tib.,rgyal-c'en de-z'i; Skt., Catur-Maharaja), namely:—

1. Dhritarashtra (Yul-k'or-srun26), the white guardian of the east, and king of the Gandharvas27 (see figure over page).

2. Virudhaka (P'ag-kye-po28), the green29 guardian of the south, and king of the K'umbhandas30 (see figure page 330).

3. Virupaksha (Ja-mi-zan31), the red guardian of the west and king of the Nagas32 (see figure page 289).

4. Vaisravana (Nam-t'o-sra33), the yellow guardian of the north and king of the Yakshas.34 He is an especial favourite, as he is also, in another aspect, the god of Riches (see figure on page 370). Indeed, it would seem that all of the gods, even Indra (Jupiter) himself, were originally considered to be Yaksha genii.

The subjects of these kings are members of the eight great classes of supernatural beings.35

These great celestial kings guard the heavens from the attacks of the outer demons; and have to be distinguished from a more extended category of guardian gods, the ten Lokpals who guard the world from its ten directions; namely, Indra on the east, Agni (the fire-god) on the south-east, Yama (the death-god) on the south, Rakshas (? Sura) on the south-west, Varuna (the water-god) on the west, Vayu (the wind-god) on the north-west, Yakshas on the north, Soma (the moon) on the north-east, Brahma, above; Bhupati, below.

The Buddhists divide every universe into three regions, in imitation, apparently, of the Brahmanic Bhavanatraya, substituting for the physical categories (Bhu earth, Bhuva heaven, and Svar space) of the Brahmans, the ethical categories of Desire (Kama), Form (Rupa) and Formlessness (Arupa), which collectively are known as "The Three Regions" (Trailokya36), and mostly placed in heaven. They are: —

I. The region of Desire, Kamadhatu (Tib., Dod-pahi K'ams), is the lowest of the three, and comprises the six Deva-lokas (Tib., Lha-Yul) or heavens of the gods, as well as the earth.

II. The region of Form, Rapadhatu (Tib., grZugs kyi k'ams) is in the purer heavens of Brahma where form is free from sensuality. It comprises the sixteen Brahmalokas; which are divided into four regions of contemplation (dhyana).

III. The region of Formlessness, Arapadhatu (Tib., gZugs med-pahi k'ams) comprises the four highest of the Brahma heavens and near to Nirvana.

The heavens are thus diagrammatically shown in the form of the funereal monument or caitya; though in other pictures, as in the foregoing chart of the universe, they form an inverted pyramid, increasing in size from below upwards.

The celestial Buddhas therein shown are, it is needless to say, additions of later days.37

Diagram of The Heavens of the Buddhists.

The Six Devalokas are in series from below upwards: —

1. Catur-maharajakayikas. — The abode of the four guardian kings of the quarters, already mentioned.

2. Trayastrinsas (Tib., Sum-cu tsa sum) or "The 33" Vedic gods with Indra or Sakra (Jupiter) or the Yaksha spirit Vajrapaui as chief.

This heaven is the svarga of Brahmanism, and is shown in the upper compartment of the Wheel of Life.

3. Yama, the Hindu Pluto, the king and judge of the dead.

4. Tushita. (Tib., dGah ldan) or "Joyful place" — the paradise of the Bodhisats prior to their final descent to the human world as Buddhas. Maitreya, the coming Buddha, dwells at present in this heaven.

5. Nirmanarati (Tib., 'p'rul dgah).

6. Paranirmita Vasavartin (Tib., gr'an 'p'rul dban byed) — the highest of the heavens of the gods and the abode of Mara.

The Brahmaloka worlds are subject to the God Brahma, and existence ranges from intellectual tranquillity to unconsciousness. These worlds of meditation (dhyana) are accounted eighteen in number, and arranged in five groups (3, 3, 3, 2, and 5) corresponding to the five-fold division of Brahma's world, and are usually named from below upwards as follows: (1) Brahma parsadya, (2) Brahma purohita, (3) Maha Brahmana, (4) Paritabha, (5) Apramana, (6) Abhasvara, (7) Parita- subha, (8) Apramanasubha, (9) Subhakrishna, (10) Utpala, (11) Asa- nasatya, (12) Avriha or Vrihatpala, (13) Atapa, (14) Sudasa, (15) Sudasi, (16) Punyaprasava, (17) Anabhraka, (18) Akanishtba (Tib., Og-min) or " The Highest " — the abode of the Primordial Buddha-God, the Adi-Buddha of the Lamas, viz., Samantabhadra (T., Kuntu-zanpo). This last, together with the next subjacent Brahmaloka, are according to the Lamaists eternal, and are placed above the Arupa Brahmalokas.

The Four Arupa Brahmalokas are 1. Akasanantayatana, 2. Vijnanan- tayatana, 3. Akincanayatana, 4. Naivasanjnana Sanjnayatana.

The duration of existence in each of those states is for vastly increasing periods from below upwards, till beyond the sixteenth immortality itself is reached; and according to some of the later Buddhists, each Bodhisat must traverse each of these stages (Bhum) before he attains Buddhahood.

The typical heaven of the gods — Indra's paradise — is pictured in the Wheel of Life at page 108. Its atmosphere is yellow, and in it are portrayed the four states of godly birth, bliss, passion and misery and death.

Heavenly Birth

Godly Birth. The god is born at once fully developed within a halo of glory from a lotus-flower, — the oriental symbol of immaterial birth and is provided with the special attributes of a god,— viz., (1) a lotus- footstool, (2) splendid dress and ornaments, (3) goddess-companions,38 (4) a wish-granting tree, or pag-sam-shin (Skt., Kalpadaru)39 which instantly yields any fruit or food wished for, and bends to the hand of the gatherer, its leaves yielding luscious food, its juice nectar, and its fruit jewels, (5) a wish-granting cow (Kama-dhenu or Surabha40) which yields any drink wished for, (6) self-sprung crops (usually painted as Indian corn or maize), (7) in a golden stall a jewelled horse-of-fore- knowledge which Pegasus-like carries his rider wherever wished, throughout the worlds of the past, present, and future, (8) a lake of perfumed nectar or ambrosia (Skt., Amrita) which is the elixir vitae and the source of the divine lustre.41 Shining is a peculiarly divine attribute, and the etymology of the word "divinity," is the root Div, "to shine," the parent of the Skt. Deva and Latin Deus.

Godly Bliss. The bliss of the gods is depicted by an assembly of bejewelled gods and goddesses basking in sensuous enjoyment in splendid palaces in the midst of a charming garden enamelled with flowers, of which they make their wreaths. Gay birds warble in the foliage, and noble animals peacefully roam together there. Amongst the qiadrupeds are deer, lions, and elephants with jewelled heads. Amongst the birds are the peacock, parrot, cuckoo, and the "Kala-pinka," which repeats the mystic 'Om mani padme, Hum!" for the language of the gods is the Deva-nagari or sacred language of India. One of the blissful conditions of godly life especially dwelt upon, is that the most dainty morsels may be eaten without sense of repletion, the last morsel being as much relished as the first.

In the centre of this paradise is the great city of Belle-vue (Sudarsana), within which is the celestial palace of Vaijayanta (Amaravati) the residence of Indra (Jupiter), the king of the gods. It is invested by a wall and pierced by four gates, which are guarded by the four divine kings of the quarters. It is a three-storied building; Indra occupying the basement, Brahma the middle, and the indigenous Tibetan war-god — the dGra-lha — as a gross form of Mara, the god of Desire, the uppermost story. This curious perversion of the old Buddhist order of the heavens is typical of the more sordid devil-worship of the Lamas who, as victory was the chief object of the Tibetans, elevated the war-god to the highest rank in their pantheon, as did the Vikings with Odin where Thor, the thunder-god, had reigned supreme. The passionate war-god of the Tibetans is held to be superior even to the divinely meditative state of the Brahma.

War with the Titans.  

 The gods wage war with the Titans, who, as we have seen, are constantly trying to seize some of the precious fruit of the great Yon-du sa-tol (Skt., Parijata42) tree, or "tree of the concentrated essence of earth's products," whose branches are in heaven, but whose roots are in their country. The climber which encircles this tree is called the Jambuti tree, and is the medium by which the quintessence of the most rare delicacies of Jambudvip are instilled into the Larger tree And the war-god directs the divine army.

To account for the high position thus given to the war-god, it is related that he owes it to the signal assistance rendered by him to the gods in opposing the Asuras.43

The misery of the gods.

The god enjoys bliss for almost incalculable time; but when his merit is exhausted then his lake of nectar dries up; his wish-granting tree, cow and horse die; his splendid dress and ornaments grow dim and disappear; his palace gets dilapidated; his flowers and garden fade; his body, no longer bathed by nectar, loses its lustre and sweats like mortals, so that his person becomes loathsome to his goddess-companions and the other gods, who shun him, and so the poor god dies miserably.44 If he has led a virtuous life during his existence as a god then he may be re-born in heaven, otherwise he goes to a lower region and may even be sent to hell. Buddha was born twenty times as the god Sakra or Indra (Jupiter) and four times as Brahma.45 The Buddhist Hell.

The antithesis to heaven is hell, which with its awful lessons looms large on the horizon of the Buddhists. For according to their ethical doctrine of retribution, and in the case of the more theistic developments, their conception of God as the supreme type of right-doing, they picture him like a human judge trying and punishing the evil-doers;46 although, with truly Buddhist idealism, these tortures are believed by the more philosophical Lamas to be morbid creations of the individual's own ideas, a sort of hellish nightmare. The majority of the Lamas, however, and the laity, believe in the real material character of these hells and their torture.

The Buddhist hell (Naraka47) is a true inferno situated in the bowels of the human earth like Hades, and presided over by the Indian Pluto, Yama, the king and judge of the dead, who however is himself finite and periodically tortured. Every day he is forced to swallow molten metal. So, as the shade of Achilles says, "it is better to live on earth as the poorest peasant than to rule as a prince of the dead."48

The Great Judgment is determined solely by the person's own deeds, and it is concretely pictured by the ordeal of scales, where the good deeds, as white pebbles, are weighed against the sins, as black counters, in balances, and the judge holds a mirror which reveals the soul in all its nakedness. "Not in the heavens, not in the midst of the sea, not if thou hidest thyself in the clefts of the mountains wilt thou find a place where thou canst escape the force resulting from thy evil actions."49 "Through the six states of transmigration does the power of our actions lead us. A life in heaven awaits the good. The warders of hell drag the wicked before the king of hell, Yama, who says to them: —

"'Did you not when on earth see the five divine messengers sent to warn you — the child, the old man, the sick, the criminal suffering punishment, and the dead corpse? ' And the wicked man answers — 'I did see them.'

"'And didst thou not think within thyself: "I also am subject to birth, old age, and death. Let me be careful to do good works"?' And the wicked man answers: 'I did not, sire; I neglected in my folly to think of these things.'

"Then the king, Yama, pronounces his doom: 'These thy evil deeds are not the work of thy mother, father, relatives, friends, advisers. Thou alone hast done them all; thou alone must gather the fruit.' And the warders of hell drag him to the place of torment, rivet him to red hot iron, plunge him in glowing seas of blood, torture him on burning coals, and he dies not till the last residue of his guilt has been expiated."50

Nor is hell a complete expiation of offences, for Buddha is credited with saying, "A harsh word uttered in past times not lost, but returns again," and the Jataka tales are full of incidents in illustration.

The Great Judgment and Compartments of the Buddhist Hell, from a fresco of a Wheel of Life in Tashiding Temple

Hell is divided into numerous compartments, each with a special sort of torture devised to suit the sins to be expiated. Only eight hells are mentioned in the older Buddhist books, but the Lamas and other "northern" Buddhists describe and figure eight hot and eight cold hells and also an outer hell (Pratyeka naraka), through which all those escaping from hell must pass without a guide. The Brahmanical hells are multiples of seven instead of eight; some of them bear the same names as the Buddhists, but they are not systematically arranged, and as the extant lists date no earlier than Manu, about 400 A.D., they are probably in great part borrowed from the Buddhists.51

The foregoing figure52 shows the Lamaist hells, but they are seen in greater detail in "The Wheel of Life," at page 109.

The Buddhist Prosperine

At the entrance to the great hell on the bank of the Hindu Styx — the Baitarani53 or "three path" river — sits, according to one version, an old hag, a sort of Prosperine, who strips off the clothes from the new arrivals, and hangs them on a tree behind her.54 She is 160 feet in stature, with eyes like burning wheels, and she despatches the condemned souls along their respective roads in accordance with the judgment, but sometimes she delays them with endless tasks of heaping up stones on the banks of Styx, and so prolongs their agony,

The hot hells stand in tiers, one upon another, beginning at a depth of 11,900 miles below the surface of the earth, and reach to a depth of 40,000 miles; each hell has four gates, outside each of which are four ante-hells, thus making altogether 136 hot hells.

The atmosphere of the hells is of the deepest black: --

" Light was absent all. Bellowing there groan'd
A noise, as of a sea in tempest torn
By warring winds, the stormy blast of hell."

-- Dante, Canto v., 29.

Each hell is enveloped by a wall of fire, and the horrible torments are fit to illustrate Dante's Inferno. Indeed, it has been suggested that Dante must have seen a Buddhist picture of these hells before writing his famous classic, so remarkable is the agreement between them. The lictors (s'in-je) are savage flame-enveloped monsters with heads of various animals, and all their pincers, and other instruments of torture, are red-hot.

Hot Hell No. 1

The following are the eight great hot hells.

1. Sanjiva55 = "again revived." Here the wretches are cut and torn to pieces and then re-united and revived only to suffer the same process repeated ad infinitum throughout the period spent in this hell.

"Because our wounds heal ever and anon
Ere we appear before the fiend again."

-- Dante, Canto xxviii., 36.

This restoration of the body, in order to subject it to fresh torture, is an essential part of the process in all the hells. The body when thoroughly mangled is restored and the racking torture applied afresh, so that the agony never ceases. This is the special hell for suicides, murderers, ignorant physicians who killed their patients, fraudulent trustees, and tyrants.

2. Kalasutra56 = "black lines." Here the victims are nailed down and eight or sixteen black lines drawn by the lictors along the body, which is then sawn asunder along these lines by a burning hot saw. Another punishment here is the especial one of the slanderer, or busy-body, who has his or her tongue enlarged and pegged out and constantly harrowed by spikes ploughing through it. To this hell are assigned those who during life were disrespectful to their parents, or to Buddha, or the priests.

Hot Hell No. 3

3. Samghata,57 = "concentrated oppression." Here the guilty are squeezed and crushed between animal-headed mountains, or monster iron books. This last is an especial punishment for monks, laymen and infidels who have disregarded or profaned the scriptures, and also for priests who have taken money for masses which they have not performed. Others here are pounded in iron mortars and beaten on anvils. Here are tortured thieves, those who indulged in hatred, envy, passion, the users of light weights and measures, and those who cast refuse or dead animals on the public roads.

4. Raurava,58 = "weeping and screaming." The torture here is to have molten iron poured down the throat. Those who were prisoners, obstructed watercourses, or grumbled against the weather (? clearly the English hell!), or wasted food, are here tortured.

5. Maharaurava,59 = "greater weeping and screaming." Here they are cooked in seething cauldrons of molten iron. This is the hell for heretics.

6. Tapana,60 = "heat." The condemned is enclosed in a red-hot fiery chamber. In this hell are punished those who roasted or baked animals for their food.

7. Pratapana,61 = "highest heat." A three-spiked burning spear is thrust into the wretch's body, which is then rolled up within red-hot iron plates. It is the special torture for apostates and those who reject the truth.

8. Avichi,62 = "endless torture." This is the most severe and longest of all the infernal torments. The guilty is perpetually kept in flames, though never consumed. This is the hell for those who have reviled Buddha, and others who have harmed or attempted to harm Lamaism or shed the blood of a Lama or holy-man.

The Cold Hells, apparently an invention of the northern Buddhists, as cold was an idea rather foreign to the Indian mind, are situated on the edge of the universe below its encircling wall (Cakravala). They are encircled by icy mountains (see plate, page 109), and have attendants of appalling aspect, as in the hot hells. They are thus described: —

1. Arbuda,63 = "blistered or chapped." The torture here is constant immersion of the naked person in ice and glacier water, under which the body becomes covered with chilblains (which torture may be compared with the curse invented by a scribe in the reign of Athelstan for anyone who should break the terms of his charters: "May he be tortured by the bitter blasts of glaciers and the Pennine army of evil spirits."64)

2. Nirarbuda.65 The chilblains are rudely scarified, producing raw sores.

3. Atata,66 "Ach'u" or " A-ta-ta" an exclamation of anguish beyond articulate expression — which resounds through this hell.

4. Hahava67 A worse degree of cold in which the tongue is paralyzed and the exclamation Kyi-u or Ha-ha alone possible.

5. Ahaha.68 Here both jaws and teeth are spasmodically clenched through cold.

6. Utpala.69 Livid sores which become everted like blue Ut-pal flowers.

7. Pad-ma.70 The raw sores become like red Lotus-flowers.

8. Pundarika.71 Raw sores where the flesh falls away from the bones like the petals of the great Lotus; and which are continually pecked and gnawed by birds and insects with iron beaks.

The frontier or anterior hells at the exit from the great hell are called "The near (to re-birth) cycle,"72 and are divided into four sections.73 The first bordering hell consists of hot suffocating ashes with foul dead bodies and all kinds of offal. Then is reached a vast quagmire, beyond which is a forest of spears and spikes, which must be traversed like the razor-bridge in Muhammadanism and in Banyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Then succeeds a great river of freezing water; on the further shore of which the ground is thickly set with short squat tree-trunks, each surmounted by three spiked leaves which impale the unwary groping fugitives. Reference to these last two localities occurs in the ordinary litany for the dead, which says "may his c'hu-wo- rab-med ocean become a small rivulet, and the ts'al-ma-ri tree a divine wish-granting tree."

In addition to the hot and cold hells are eighty-four thousand external hells (Ne-ts'e-wa, Skt. ? Lokantarika) situated mostly on the earth, in mountains, deserts, hot springs, and lakes.

Another state of existence, little better than that of hell, is the Preta (Tib., Yi-dag) or Manes, a sort of tantalized ghoul or ghost. This world is placed above hell and below the Sitavan forest, near Rajgriha, in the modern district of Patna in Bengal.

Tantalized Spirits

These wretched starvelings are in constant distress through the pangs of hunger and thirst.74 This is pictured in the Wheel of Life, also in the annexed figure. This is the special torment for those who, in their earthly career, were miserly, covetous, uncharitable, or gluttonous. Jewels, food, and drink are found in plenty, but the Pretas have mouths no bigger than the eye of a needle, and gullets no thicker in diameter than a hair, through which they can never ingest a satisfying amount of food for their huge bodies. And when any food is taken it becomes burning hot, and changes in the stomach into sharp knives, saws, and other weapons, which lacerate their way out from the bowels to the surface, making large painful wounds. They are constantly crying "water, water, give water!" And the thirst is expressed in the picture by a name which is seen to issue from their parched mouths, and whenever they attempt to touch water it changes to liquid fire. Avalokita is frequently figured in the act of giving water to these Pretas to relieve their misery.75 And a famous story of Buddha credits the great Maudgalyayana, the right-hand disciple of "the Blessed One," with having descended into the Preta-world to relieve his mother. As this story, the Avalambana Sutra, dating to before the third century A.D., gives a very vivid picture of this tantalizing purgatory, and also illustrates the rites for extricating the starveling ghosts,76 it is here appended.
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