Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:40 am

Bhola Nath Mullik
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/18/20

When the United States learned that the Dalai Lama had gotten permission in early November to attend the Buddha Jayanti celebrations, the CIA scrambled to bypass Sikkim and establish direct links with Tibetan sources close to the monarch.

None were closer than the Dalai Lama's two brothers in exile. The eldest, Thubten Norbu, already had a history of indirect contact with the agency via the Committee for a Free Asia… Settling in New Jersey, Norbu began to earn a modest income teaching Tibetan to a handful of students as part of a noncredited course at Columbia University.

The other brother, Gyalo Thondup, was residing in Darjeeling. Six years Norbu's junior, Gyalo was the proverbial prodigal son… As a teen, he had befriended members of the Chinese mission in Lhasa and yearned to study in China… Gyalo got his wish in 1947 when he and a brother-in-law arrived at the Kuomintang capital of Nanking and enrolled in college.

Two years later, Gyalo, then twenty-one, veered further toward China when he married fellow student Zhu Dan. Not only was his wife ethnic Chinese, but her father, retired General Chu Shi- kuei, had been a key Kuomintang officer during the early days of the republic. Because of both his relationship to General Chu and the fact that he was the Dalai Lama's brother, Gyalo was feted in Nanking by no less than Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek…

With the communists closing in on Nanking during the final months of China's civil war, Gyalo and his wife fled in mid-1949 to the safer climes of India. Once again because of his relationship to the Dalai Lama, he was added to the invitation list for various diplomatic events and even got an audience with Prime Minister Nehru.

That October, Gyalo briefly ventured to the Tibetan enclave at Kalimpong before settling for seven months in Calcutta. While there, his father-in-law, General Chu, attempted to make contact with the Tibetan government. With the retreat of the Kuomintang to Taiwan, Chu had astutely shifted loyalty to the People's Republic and was now tasked by Beijing to arrange a meeting between Tibetan and PRC officials at a neutral site, possibly Hong Kong.

Conversant in Chinese and linked to both the Dalai Lama and General Chu, Gyalo was a logical intermediary for the Hong Kong talks… Unable to gain quick entry to the crown colony, Gyalo made what he intended to be a brief diversion to the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. But Chiang Kai- shek, no doubt anxious to keep Gyalo away from General Chu and the PRC, had other plans. Smothering the royal sibling with largesse, Chiang kept Gyalo in Taipei for the next sixteen months. Only after a desperate letter to U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson requesting American diplomatic intervention did the ROC relent and give Gyalo an exit permit.

After arriving in Washington in September 1951, Gyalo continued to dabble in diplomacy. Within a month of his arrival, he was called to a meeting at the State Department. Significantly, Gyalo's Chinese wife was at his side during the encounter. Because of the couple's close ties to Chiang, department representatives assumed that details of their talk would quickly be passed to the Kuomintang Nationalists…

Despite State Department efforts to secure him a scholarship at Stanford University, he hurriedly departed the United States in February 1952 for the Indian subcontinent. Leaving his wife behind, he then trekked back to Lhasa after a six-year absence.

By that time, Beijing had a secure foothold in the Tibetan capital. Upon meeting this wayward member of the royal family, the local PRC representatives were pleased. As a Chinese speaker married to one of their own, Gyalo was perceived as a natural ally. Yet again, however, he would prove a disappointment. After showing some interest in promoting a bold land reform program championed by the Dalai Lama, Gyalo once more grew restive. In late spring, he secretly met with the Indian consul in Lhasa, and after promising to refrain from politicking, he was given permission to resettle in India…

Noting his recent return to Darjeeling, the U.S. embassy in early August 1952 cautiously considered establishing contact. Calcutta's Consul General Gary Soulen saw an opportunity in early September while returning from his Sikkim trek with Princess Kukula. Pausing in Darjeeling, Soulen stayed long enough for Gyalo to pass on the latest information from his contacts within the Tibetan merchant community.

Although he had promised to refrain from exile politics, Gyalo saw no conflict in courting senior Indian officials. In particular, he sought a meeting with India's spymaster Bhola Nath Mullik. As head of Indian intelligence, Mullik presided over an organization with deep colonial roots. Established in 1887 as the central Special Branch, it had been organized by the British to keep tabs on the rising tide of Indian nationalism. Despite several redesignations before arriving at the title Intelligence Bureau, anticolonialists remained its primary target for the next sixty years.

Upon independence in 1947, Prime Minister Nehru appointed the bureau's first Indian director…

Three years later, Mullik became the bureau's second director. A police officer since the age of twenty-two, the taciturn Mullik was known for his boundless energy (he often worked sixteen-hour days), close ties to Nehru, healthy suspicion of China, and (rare for a senior Indian official) predisposition against communism. Almost immediately, the Tibetan frontier became his top concern. This followed Beijing's invasion of Kham that October, which meant that India's military planners now had to contend with a hypothetical front besides Pakistan. Moreover, the tribal regions of northeastern India were far from integrated, and revolutionaries in those areas could now easily receive Chinese support. The previous year, in fact, the bureau had held a conference on risks associated with Chinese infiltration.

Despite Mullik's concerns, Nehru was prone to downplay the potential Chinese threat. Not only did he think it ludicrous to prepare for a full-scale Chinese attack, but he saw real benefits in cultivating Beijing to offset Pakistan's emerging strategy of anticommunist cooperation with the West. "It was Nehru's idealism against hard-headed Chinese realism," said one Intelligence Bureau official. "Mullik injected healthy suspicions."

Astute enough to hedge his bets, Nehru allowed Mullik some leeway in improving security along the border and collecting intelligence on Chinese forces in Tibet. To accomplish this, Mullik expanded the number of Indian frontier posts strung across the Himalayas. In addition, he sought contact with Tibetans living in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong enclaves. Not only could these Tibetans be tapped for information, but a symbolic visit by a senior official like Mullik would lift morale at a time when their homeland was being subjugated. Such contact, moreover, could give New Delhi advance warning of any subversive activity in Tibet being staged from Indian soil.

Of all the Tibetan expatriates, Mullik had his eye on Gyalo Thondup. Besides having an insider's perspective of the high offices in Lhasa, Gyalo had already passed word of his desire for a meeting. Prior to his departure for his first visit to Darjeeling in the spring of 1953, Mullik asked for -- and quickly received -- permission from the prime minister to include the Dalai Lama's brother on his itinerary. Their subsequent exchange of views went well, as did their tete-a-tete during Mullik's second visit to Darjeeling in 1954…

The Indians, too, seemed more than willing to turn a blind eye on the CIA's cavorting with the Tibetans. In 1960, B. N. Mullik, head of the Indian Intelligence Bureau, and Richard Helms, the CIA's chief of operations for the Directorate of Plans, had met discreetly during an Interpol conference in Hawaii; at that time, Mullik said that he endorsed the agency's efforts and wanted U.S. overflights to continue...

Although Indian spymaster Mullik quietly reaffirmed his tacit approval of the agency's efforts in 1961, and had earlier claimed that Nehru held similar beliefs, his influence with the aging prime minister was more than offset by India's ambitious and abrasive defense minister, Krishna Menon...

Now that the guerrilla force had a leader, there remained the job of signing on Tibetan volunteers. To help, the Indians sent an emissary from the Intelligence Bureau to Darjeeling to fetch the Dalai Lama's brother, Gyalo Thondup. After years of attempting to court the Indians -- who were often sympathetic but never committal -- Gyalo relished the moment as he sat in front of a select group of senior intelligence and military officials in the capital. Speaking in theoretical terms, his hosts asked whether he could organize the needed volunteers. Of course, replied Gyalo. When asked how many, he conjured a robust, round figure. Five thousand, he said.

Next came a key question. Would Gyalo prefer that the Intelligence Bureau or the Ministry of Defense be involved? Based on his earlier contact with Mullik and his current cooperation with the CIA (through Lhamo Tsering), the decision was easy…

As a covert aside to Harriman's talks, the CIA representatives on the delegation held their own sessions with Indian intelligence czar Mullik. This was a first, as Galbraith had previously taken great pains to downscale the agency's activities inside India to all but benign reporting functions. As recently as 5 November, he had objected to projected CIA plans due to the risk of exposure. But in a 13 November letter to Kennedy, the ambassador had a qualified change of heart, noting that Menon's departure was a turning point to begin working with the Indians on "sensitive matters."

Both the CIA and the Intelligence Bureau were quick to seize the opportunity. "I went into a huddle with Mullik and Des," recalls Critchfield, "and we started coming up with all these schemes against the Chinese." Most of their ideas centered around use of the Tibetans. "The Indians were interested in the Tibet program because of its intelligence collection value," said station chief David Blee, who sat in on some of the meetings. "Mullik was particularly interested in paramilitary operations." There was good reason for this: following Menon's resignation, and Gyalo Thondup's stated preference, the Intelligence Bureau had been placed in charge of the 5,000 Tibetan guerrillas forming under Brigadier Uban.

Mullik was cautious as well. Although he was well connected to the Nehru family and had the prime minister's full approval to talk with the CIA, he knew that the Indian populace was fickle, and until recently, anti-Americanism had been a popular mantra. It was perhaps only a matter of time before the barometer would swing back and make open Indo-U.S. cooperation political suicide. To offer some protection against this, Mullik and one of his close deputies, M. I. Hooja, made a special request during a session with FitzGerald and Blee. "They made us promise that our involvement," said Blee, "would remain secret forever."…

For intelligence chief Mullik, the Chakrata project signaled a new sense of militancy regarding Tibet. This was communicated in strong fashion on 29 December when Mullik -- through Gyalo Thondup -- told the Dalai Lama that New Delhi had now adopted a covert policy of supporting the eventual liberation of his homeland…

On 20 November, Mullik had notified Nehru that he wanted to quit his post as director of the Intelligence Bureau in order to focus on organizing a resistance movement in the event the Chinese pushed further into Assam. Nehru refused to accept his spy-master's resignation and instead directed him toward Patnaik, with the suggestion that they pool their talent.

Meeting later that same afternoon, the spy and the minister became quick allies. Although their resistance plans took on less urgency the next day, after Beijing announced a unilateral cease-fire, Patnaik offered critical help in other arenas. Later that month, when the CIA wanted to use its aircraft to quietly deliver three planeloads of supplies to India as a sign of good faith, it was Patnaik who arranged for the discreet use of the Charbatia airfield in Orissa. And in December, after the CIA notified New Delhi of its impending paramilitary support program, he was the one dispatched to Washington on behalf of Nehru and Mullik to negotiate details of the assistance package…

Throughout 1964, Intelligence Bureau director Mullik had been pushing for infiltration of all the Hale-trained agents to establish an underground movement within Tibet. By year's end, the Special Center saw its limited inroads -- elements of four teams operating inside their homeland -- as a glass half full.

Mullik, by contrast, saw it as a glass half empty. Whereas he had once held excessive expectations of a Tibet-wide underground creating untold headaches for China, he now saw the limitations of overland infiltrations -- especially by Khampa agents moving into areas where they did not have family or clan support. By the beginning of 1965, Mullik lashed out, claiming that the Tibetans were being coddled by the CIA.

Part of the problem was that Mullik himself was vulnerable and under pressure. In May 1964, ailing Prime Minister Nehru had died in his sleep, denying the fourteen-year spymaster of his powerful patron. That October, colleagues (and competitors) saw the chance to ease Mullik out of the top intelligence slot. They succeeded, but only to a degree. Although he gave up his hat as bureau director, he retained unofficial control over joint paramilitary operations with the CIA. That position -- which was officially titled director general of security in February 1965 -- answered directly to the prime minister and oversaw the ARC base at Charbatia, the Special Center, Establishment 22, and the sensor mission of Nanda Devi.

With Mullik growing impatient, the Special Center readied its agents for a second season inside Tibet. Arriving in late 1964 as the new CIA representative at the center was John Gilhooley, the same Far East Division officer who had briefly worked at the Tibet Task Force's Washington office in 1960. The Indian and Tibetan officials at the center warmed to their new American counterpart. "He was a free spirit, very good-natured," said Rabi.…

Although the Special Center's agent program had little to boast about, it looked positively dynamic compared with the paramilitary army festering in Mustang. A big part of Mustang's problem was that it was being managed from afar without any direct oversight. The Special Center had assumed handling of the program, but none of its officers had ever actually visited Mustang. The closest they got was when CIA representative Ken Knaus twice visited Pokhara in 1964 to meet Mustang officers, With no on-site presence, the agency and Intelligence Bureau had to rely on infrequent reporting by the Tibetan guerillas themselves. From what little was offered, it was readily apparent that the by-product from Mustang was practically nil.

For the taciturn Mullik, disenchantment with Mustang was starting to run deep. By late 1964, he was alternating between extremes -- first insisting that the guerrillas be given a major injection of airdropped supplies, later throwing up his arms and demanding that they all be brought down to India and merged with Establishment 22.

In January 1965, the pendulum swung back -- with a twist. Now Mullik was proposing that Mustang be given two airdrops to equip its unarmed volunteers. These weapons would be given on the condition that the guerrillas shift inside Tibet to two operating locations. The first was astride the route between Kathmandu and Lhasa. The second was along the Chinese border road running west from Lhasa toward Xinjiang via the contested Ladakh region.

The choice of these two locations was understandable. In late 1961, the Chinese had offered to build for Nepal an all-weather road linking Kathmandu and the Nepalese border pass at Kodari, one of the few areas on the Tibet frontier not closed by winter snows. Work was continuing at a breakneck pace, with completion of the route expected by 1966. India, not surprisingly, was concerned about the road's military applications; by putting a concentration of guerrillas astride the approach from the Tibetan side, any PLA traffic could be halted. Similarly, a guerrilla pocket along the Xinjiang road would complicate Chinese efforts to reinforce Ladakh.

As before, Mullik was reluctant to use the ARC to perform the supply drops. Knowing that the CIA would be equally reluctant to use its own assets -- that would defeat one of the main reasons for creating the ARC in the first place -- he offered two sweeteners. First, he promised that the U.S. aircraft could stage from Charbatia. Second, he would allow one ARC member to accompany the flights. This revised proposal went back to Washington and was put before the members of the 303 Committee (prior to June 1964, known as the Special Group); on 9 April, the committee lent its approval to the airdrop and Mustang redeployment scheme.

Mullik, it turned out, was a moving target. As soon as he was informed of Washington's consent, he reneged on the offer to allow an ARC crew member on the flights. The CIA fired back, insisting that the Indian member was a prerequisite for the missions to go ahead. To this, Mullik had a ready counteroffer: he would provide a cover story if the flight encountered problems.

As Mullik ducked and weaved, Ambassador Bowles urged the CIA to accept the proposal. Bowles was acutely aware that relations with New Delhi were already growing prickly on other fronts, and they were not helped when the unpredictable President Johnson unceremoniously canceled a summit that month with the Indian prime minister. Just as he would later support the stillborn C- 130 deal, the ambassador felt that a compromise with Mullik was a way to keep at least intelligence cooperation on a solid footing. The CIA agreed; the flights would proceed on an all-American basis…

The year had started on a most inauspicious note. On 10 January 1966, while in the Soviet city of Tashkent to negotiate an end to the Indo-Pakistan dispute in Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri suffered a fatal heart attack. As his body was flown home for cremation, party stalwarts in New Delhi looked to pick a second leader in as many years.

Their choice eventually fell on Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi. Then in her mid-forties, she had made few political ripples of her own. Looking somewhat awkward and shy in public, Mrs. Gandhi had been elevated to power precisely because party seniors thought her pliable.

President Johnson, for one, quickly found out otherwise. In March, Gandhi arrived in Washington on her first official foreign trip. Exuding both tact and charm, she earned Johnson's strong support for a major food aid package in exchange for market-oriented economic reforms.

With the Washington summit a success surpassing all expectations, Indo-U.S. relations got back some of the luster lost during the previous year's Kashmir crisis. Sensing an opportunity, the CIA on 22 April asked the 303 Committee to approve a major $18 million Tibetan paramilitary package. Part of this was earmarked to maintain the Mustang force for a three-year term. The package also included two C-130 aircraft as ELINT platforms to augment the lone ARC C-46 flying in this role, as well as funding for a 5,000-man increase in Establishment 22.

Most remarkable was the argument the CIA was using to justify its proposal. Moving beyond the lip service paid by Mullik in earlier years, the agency claimed that the Intelligence Bureau had drawn up plans in 1965 calling for the liberation of Tibet. Reading into this, the CIA suggested that India might be willing to commit Establishment 22 to a second front in the event circumstances in Vietnam sparked all-out hostilities between the United States and China.

In making a linkage between Tibet and Vietnam, the CIA was being politically astute. Rather than justifying the Tibetan operation solely on its own merits, the agency was now trying to loosely fix it to the coattails of Indochina policy -- a topic that resonated at the top of the Johnson administration agenda.

All this smacked of geopolitical fantasy. If Mullik, just a few months earlier, had balked at making airdrops to Mustang, it was a good bet that New Delhi would not willingly invite Beijing's wrath by sponsoring a Tibet front if the United States and China went to war over Vietnam. Even Ambassador Bowles, an ardent proponent of intelligence cooperation, quickly backpedaled on the Vietnam link. There was a "strong possibility" that India would be willing to commit its guerrilla forces against Tibet, he wrote in a secret cable on 28 April, but only if Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, or maybe Burma were attacked by China.…

By the time Gougelmann got his India assignment in mid-1966, he had a full plate. Part of his time was devoted to managing the mountaineering expeditions aimed at placing a nuclear-powered sensor atop the Nanda Devi summit. Even more of Gougelmann's time was spent arranging assistance for the guerrillas at Chakrata. The Indians were eager to double the number of Tibetans at Establishment 22 and were even calling for the recruitment of Gurkhas into the unit. Reflecting bureaucratic creep, Director General of Security Mullik had come up with a new, more formal name for the outfit -- the Special Frontier Force, or SFF -- and had given Uban an office in New Delhi.

The SFF had matured considerably since its humble start. One hundred twenty-two guerrillas made up each of its companies, with five or six companies grouped into battalions commanded by Tibetan political leaders…

The Indians were also nervous about media revelations concerning the CIA. In March 1967, Ramparts, a liberal U.S. magazine critical of the government, published an expose on covert CIA support for various private organizations, including the Asia Foundation (originally known as the Committee for a Free Asia). Because numerous U.S. educational and voluntary groups were active in India, this sparked an anti-CIA furor in the Indian parliament.

Never openly embraced, the CIA now had few advocates on the subcontinent. Mullik, who had chaperoned the Tibet projects since the beginning of Indian involvement, had already given up his seat as director general of security in mid-1966. His replacement, Balbir Singh, had an independent and forceful personality but only limited clout with the prime minister. For her part, Mrs. Gandhi showed little appreciation for the agency or its assistance. "We became a tolerated annoyance," summed up Woody Johnson.

-- The CIA's Secret War in Tibet, by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison


Bhola Nath Mullik
Born: West Bengal, India
Occupation: Civil servant, spymaster
Known for his service as the director of Intelligence Bureau
Awards: 1964 Padma Bhushan

Bhola Nath Mullik was an Indian civil servant, spymaster and the second director of the Intelligence Bureau of India (IB).[1][2] He served as the director of IB from July 15, 1950 to October 9, 1964.[3] He was known to be a hardworking official, with close contacts with the then Union government.[4] It was reported that Mullik had been a close associate of Jawaharlal Nehru, the erstwhile Indian prime minister[5] and assisted Nehru to keep a watch on the movements of the relatives of Subhash Chandra Bose in the aftermath of Bose's disappearance in 1945.[6] It was on his advice, that Nehru ordered for the establishment of Special Frontier Force (SFF) (also known as Establishment 22) for defending against the Chinese army in the Sino-Indian War of 1962.[7] The Government of India awarded him Padma Bhushan, the third highest Indian civilian award, in 1964.[8]

See also

• Death of Subhas Chandra Bose
• R. N. Kao

References

1. Anne F. Thurston; Gyalo Thondup (16 April 2015). The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet. Ebury Publishing. pp. 141–. ISBN 978-1-4481-7596-3.
2. "A spy and a gentleman". Kashmir Sentinel. 3 January 2003. Retrieved 26 May2018.
3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
4. Paul Maddrell; Christopher Moran; Mark Stout, Ioanna Iordanou (1 February 2018). Spy Chiefs: Volume 2: Intelligence Leaders in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Georgetown University Press. pp. 268–. ISBN 978-1-62616-523-6.
5. Sinha, S. K. (20 October 2012). "The guilty men of '62". The Asian Age. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
6. "Intelligence Bureau didn't believe Netaji died in 1945 - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
7. Sanyal, Amitava (14 November 2009). "The curious case of establishment 22". Retrieved 26 May 2018.
8. "Padma Awards". Padma Awards. Government of India. 17 May 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018.

Further reading

• Rajeswar, T. V. (2016). India : the crucial years. New Delhi: Harper Collins. p. 296. ISBN 9789351772866. OCLC 921977922.

External links

• Sanyal, Amitava (15 November 2009). "Snippets from the world of secrets". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:33 am

Part 1 of 2

Prince Peter’s Seven Years in Kalimpong: Collecting in a Contact Zone
by Trine Brox and Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitzen
January, 2017


Kalimpong Main Road, RCM Road 1950

 
Abstract

The main protagonist of this paper is H.R.H. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark (1908–1980), an old-world ethnographer and explorer who went to Kalimpong in the 1950s, first as a member and later as the leader of the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia. The expedition’s aims were to explore and document empty spots on the map and to rescue the remnants of local cultures in Upper Asia. With the developing crisis in Tibet, however, Prince Peter was stranded in Kalimpong, waiting in vain for permission to enter Tibet. Yet unfavourable political circumstances turned into great opportunities for the expedition as the advance of the People’s Liberation Army into Tibet led to a stream of refugees into Kalimpong: “We had been denied entry into Tibet, but Tibet had come to us.” In this article, we explore Prince Peter’s seven years in Kalimpong and how he navigated this particularly intense contact zone, negotiating difficult political, personal, and professional circumstances.

Introducing Prince Peter in Kalimpong

H.R.H. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark was an old-world ethnographer and explorer who embodied the intellectual aristocrat who travelled in style to exotic places to study the local flora, fauna, and folk.1 His mother’s vast fortune supported Prince Peter and enabled him to dedicate his life to his travels and the pursuit of adventure on his own professional— and personal—terms. Yet this description fails to do justice to the thirst for knowledge and the quest to make scientific discoveries that drove him to travel to the far reaches of the world. In 1950, his travels took him to the north-east Indian Himalayan town of Kalimpong—“the little frontier town at the very gate of central Tibet” (Prince Peter 1963, 581). He arrived there in 1950 as part of, and later as the leader of the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia. He was aiming for Tibet, but ended up staying in Kalimpong for seven years.2 During those years, based in Kalimpong, Prince Peter not only became entangled in intense and sometimes conflictual political and personal relations with society there, but he also faced tremendous professional challenges because the expedition was stranded in this Himalayan town and unable to follow its intended trajectory into Upper Asia.

Prince Peter’s unanticipated Kalimpong adventure nonetheless stands out from other ethnographic work done amongst Tibetans because of the variety and amount of material that he was able to collect during his stay there from January 1950 to February 1957. He acquired a rich collection of artefacts and books, photographs and moving images, sound recordings, and ethnographic information, as well as an astoundingly large body of physical anthropology data. He published several articles based on the data from the expedition, covering topics ranging from fraternal polyandry to anthropometrical studies, as well as investigations of Tibetan oracles, aristocrats, Muslims, and many others. Our preliminary inquiry reveals that between 1935 and 1980, Prince Peter published six books and over sixty articles, many of them for the general public. He also produced sixteen anthropological films. Almost half of his work was published in the 1950s, professionally his most productive decade.3

Prince Peter’s Kalimpong years were not only his most productive professionally, but also his most intense, personally and politically. For Prince Peter, and the many other explorers, ethnographers, and adventurers who lived in or travelled through the town, Kalimpong came to constitute a complex contact zone—one of those “social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of dominance and subordination” (Pratt 1992, 4). Contact zones are, from Marie Louise Pratt’s perspective, fluid places and spaces of exchange and connectivity, spaces shaped by European expeditions into non-European worlds (Pratt 1992). Therefore, the concept of a contact zone is a useful tool for framing and understanding the many encounters and exchanges between the local and the global, the national and the transnational, and between identity and diversity, that took place during Prince Peter’s sojourn in Kalimpong—a sojourn which in many and varied ways embodies the West’s encounter with “the rest.”

Thus, Prince Peter’s stationary expedition work obtaining permits, collecting artefacts, and interacting with interlocutors in Kalimpong could be understood as activities that took place within a complex contact zone. This paper represents a first attempt at exploring the ways in which Prince Peter’s scientific pursuits became entangled with political and personal dramas in this multi-layered contact zone, where people from a variety of socio-cultural and ethnic-linguistic backgrounds moved in and out, oscillating between placement and displacement. We will investigate Kalimpong as a fluid and dynamic place containing various spaces of exchange and connectivity in which Prince Peter interacted with interlocutors, and will explore the transcultural knowledge spaces that emerge from their encounters. For analytical purposes, and to do justice to Prince Peter’s many entanglements, we have conceptually subdivided Kalimpong into a geopolitical, an interpersonal, and an ethnographic contact zone. How Prince Peter navigated these multiple and complex contact zones, constantly negotiating difficult political, personal, and professional circumstances in a stream of social and cultural encounters and scientific challenges is one of the focal points of this paper.

Our second focal point is Prince Peter’s initially reluctant abandonment of the expedition mode in favour of a more contemporary way of doing ethnographic fieldwork, that is, intense study in particular spaces. Operating within the old fashioned expedition mode, Prince Peter had been determined to travel to far-off places to penetrate new and unexplored worlds in order to document the many facets of the exotic and unknown civilizations he expected to encounter. He was part of a team composed of anthropologists, archaeologists, geographers, botanists, meteorologists, and religious studies scholars—scholars whose expertise, the result of their different scientific methods, was considered necessary to map out in their entirety the various constituents of a civilization. The team of Danish explorers was supposed to pass through Kalimpong, yet rather than being the intended gateway to Tibet, the town came to constitute a particular space in which Prince Peter conducted intense studies of Tibetans and their culture. As time passed and the expedition continued to be denied entry to Tibet, the other members of the expedition left one by one, and Prince Peter came to represent the expedition single-handedly, carrying the flag of the Explorers’ Club, both metaphorically and literally, as the expedition’s sole remaining participant.

In Kalimpong, Prince Peter attempted to salvage both tangible Tibetan cultural heritage, on commission from the Danish National Museum, and intangible cultural heritage, documenting particular Tibetan lifeways such as polyandry for posterity (Koktvedgaard Zeitzen 2008; Prince Peter 1963). Prince Peter’s stay in Kalimpong foreshadowed contemporary anthropological fieldwork, where ethnographers work with people where they are when the fieldwork is being done, rather than where they are considered to have originated from. In 1950s Kalimpong, where both Prince Peter and his Tibetan interlocutors were embroiled in personal struggles of various kinds, the narrative identity they created was dynamic—and displaced. However, Prince Peter’s goal was not to understand contemporary Tibetan lifeways in Kalimpong but rather, to collect and document Tibetan heritage as it was practiced where, in his view, it had originally belonged, that is, in Tibet proper. He filters his Tibetan interlocutors’ accounts and artefacts through his own acquired anthropological narratives about Tibet, and, using this filter, extracted those elements he thought embodied authentic Tibetan cultural lifeways. By exploring Prince Peter’s work in Kalimpong as taking place within a complex and contested contact zone, this paper attempts to take some initial steps in exploring his production of ethnographic knowledge and its entanglement with his Tibetan interlocutors and their own bodies of knowledge.

H.R.H. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark

H.R.H. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark was born in Paris in 1908. He was the son of Prince Georg of Greece and Denmark, brother to the Greek king. His mother was the famous psychiatrist Marie Bonaparte, who came from the immensely wealthy Blanc family of France, whose fortune derived from the Monte Carlo Casino. She became a psychiatrist after becoming a patient and later a close friend of Sigmund Freud; she is well-known for paying the ransom that enabled him to leave German-occupied Austria in 1938. Prince Peter’s maternal grandfather was Prince Roland Napoléon Bonaparte, grandson of Emperor Napoleon’s brother Lucien, and a famous botanist and explorer in his own right. He was a member of the 1886 French scientific expedition to northern Norway, where he photographed and took anthropometric measurements of indigenous Sami people (Bonaparte 1886).

Anthropometry was used extensively by anthropologists studying human and racial origins: some attempted racial differentiation and classification, often seeking ways in which certain races were inferior to others. Nott translated Arthur de Gobineau's An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853–1855), a founding work of racial segregationism that made three main divisions between races, based not on colour but on climatic conditions and geographic location, and privileged the "Aryan" race. Science has tested many theories aligning race and personality, which have been current since Boulainvilliers (1658–1722) contrasted the Français (French people), alleged descendants of the Nordic Franks, and members of the aristocracy, to the Third Estate, considered to be indigenous Gallo-Roman people subordinated by right of conquest.

François Bernier, Carl Linnaeus and Blumenbach had examined multiple observable human characteristics in search of a typology. Bernier based his racial classification on physical type which included hair shape, nose shape and skin color. Linnaeus based a similar racial classification scheme. As anthropologists gained access to methods of skull measure they developed racial classification based on skull shape.

Theories of scientific racism became popular, one prominent figure being Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854–1936), who in L'Aryen et son rôle social (1899 - "The Aryan and his social role") divided humanity into various, hierarchized, different "races", spanning from the "Aryan white race, dolichocephalic" to the "brachycephalic" (short and broad-headed) race. Between these Vacher de Lapouge identified the "Homo europaeus (Teutonic, Protestant, etc.), the "Homo alpinus" (Auvergnat, Turkish, etc.) and the "Homo mediterraneus" (Napolitano, Andalus, etc.). "Homo africanus" (Congo, Florida) was excluded from discussion. His racial classification ("Teutonic", "Alpine" and "Mediterranean") was also used by William Z. Ripley (1867–1941) who, in The Races of Europe (1899), made a map of Europe according to the cephalic index of its inhabitants.

Vacher de Lapouge became one of the leading inspirations of Nazi anti-semitism and Nazi ideology. Nazi Germany relied on anthropometric measurements to distinguish Aryans from Jews and many forms of anthropometry were used for the advocacy of eugenics. During the 1920s and 1930s, though, members of the school of cultural anthropology of Franz Boas began to use anthropometric approaches to discredit the concept of fixed biological race. Boas used the cephalic index to show the influence of environmental factors...

Several studies have demonstrated correlations between race and brain size, with varying results. In some studies, Caucasians were reported to have larger brains than other racial groups, whereas in recent studies and reanalysis of previous studies, East Asians were reported as having larger brains and skulls. More common among the studies was the report that Africans had smaller skulls than either Caucasians or East Asians. Criticisms have been raised against a number of these studies regarding questionable methods.

In Crania Americana Morton claimed that Caucasians had the biggest brains, averaging 87 cubic inches, Indians were in the middle with an average of 82 cubic inches and Negroes had the smallest brains with an average of 78 cubic inches. In 1873 Paul Broca (1824–1880) found the same pattern described by Samuel Morton's Crania Americana by weighing brains at autopsy. Other historical studies alleging a Black-White difference in brain size include Bean (1906), Mall, (1909), Pearl, (1934) and Vint (1934). But in Germany Rudolf Virchow's study led him to denounce "Nordic mysticism" in the 1885 Anthropology Congress in Karlsruhe. Josef Kollmann, a collaborator of Virchow, stated in the same congress that the people of Europe, be them German, Italian, English or French, belonged to a "mixture of various races," furthermore declaring that the "results of craniology" led to "struggle against any theory concerning the superiority of this or that European race". Virchow later rejected measure of skulls as legitimate means of taxonomy. Paul Kretschmer quoted an 1892 discussion with him concerning these criticisms, also citing Aurel von Törok's 1895 work, who basically proclaimed the failure of craniometry.

-- History of anthropometry, by Wikipedia


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Figure 1: Irina taking a rest on her way to Ladakh with Prince Peter in 1938; their pre-war Himalayan journey is described in Prince Peter’s book Chevauchée tibétaines, Fernand Nathan, Paris 1958.

Prince Peter led a life of luxury and enjoyed the high social status befitting his royal birth, yet when he married the twice-divorced Russian socialite Irina Alexandrovna Ovtchinnikova (b. 1904 in Saint Petersburg, d. 1990 in Paris) in Madras in 1939, his fortunes took an abrupt turn. His family did not approve of the marriage, and he was banished from the royal inner circles in Greece and Denmark. Distant places might have seemed even more attractive to the prince after his familial déroute, and his wife remained his loyal and intrepid companion during all his subsequent travels. Prince Peter’s mother also remained devoted to her son, albeit at a distance, and continued to pay his personal expenses and finance his professional endeavours even after his rift with the royal families.

In 1937–39, Prince Peter undertook his first anthropological expedition to South Asia (figure 1). Together with his wife, Prince Peter carried out fieldwork among polyandrous groups in Ladakh, the Himalayas, and on the Malabar Coast. He had been broadly educated, studying first in Paris at the Sorbonne, where he became Docteur en Droit in 1934 with a thesis on Danish cooperatives. In 1935, he began post-graduate studies in anthropology at the London School of Economics under the supervision of Bronislaw Malinowski. One of the founding fathers of modern anthropology, Malinowski pioneered ethnographic fieldwork as the hallmark of anthropological methodology.
Malinowski may thus have inspired and encouraged Prince Peter to do intense, long-term fieldwork.

Prince Peter’s travels were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, during which he was stationed in Egypt as a captain in the Greek Army. He resumed his anthropological explorations in 1946 with an expedition to Afghanistan, and moved on to join the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia in 1948. It was part of Denmark’s participation in the race between nations to explore what Prince Peter called “little-known parts of the world” (Prince Peter 1954, 229). The overarching goal of the expedition was to explore terra incognita in Upper Asia. It had two objectives: firstly to explore and document Upper Asia, which was considered a blank spot on the map, and secondly to rescue the remnants of local cultures, which were assumed to be soon lost to the world. The expedition team under the prince’s leadership was to head for Sikkim in the south, work its way to Lhasa and over the Tibetan Plateau to Alaša in Inner Mongolia, and from there into the territory of the “Yellow Uigurs” (Prince Peter 1954, 229).

Prince Peter arrived in Kalimpong in January 1950, intent on documenting Tibet, its people, and its culture, all of which were considered under threat from the encroaching modern world, which gave the expedition a sense of urgency.4 Tibet was perceived as an inaccessible, empty space on the map between India and China, yet to be discovered and documented by cartographers and ethnographers, a forbidden and isolated place that had to be forced open to reveal its secrets (Bishop 1989).
In his book Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa, Peter Hopkirk articulates such a vision of Tibet, circulating at the time of Prince Peter’s expedition: “Until the Chinese invasion, their spartan way of life had hardly changed since the Middle Ages. […] Like Shangri La, the ‘lost’ valley of James Hilton’s Lost Horizons, Tibet was a land where time stood still and people had not yet lost their innocence. It was this, perhaps above all else, which made it so alluring to trespassers from the West” (Hopkirk 1982, 7).5 Prince Peter summed up the Western—and masculine—ethos of their expedition: “The people of Tibet are still practically unknown. From an anthropological and ethnological point of view, the country is virgin ground” (Prince Peter 1952, 281).

Prince Peter was unable to enter Tibet because of the tense political situation, and the advancement of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into Tibet in November 1950 left him stranded in Kalimpong. Yet the fruitless, seven-year wait for permission to enter Tibet nevertheless turned out to be Prince Peter’s most productive phase professionally, as the PLA’s presence in Tibet triggered a stream of Tibetan refugees into Kalimpong, creating a supply of potential interlocutors for his anthropological research (figure 2). He was, however, facing political, personal, and scientific challenges in this complex contact zone. From his exchange of letters with the Indian government and West Bengali authorities it is clear that they had little understanding of the scientific work he was doing. The Indian authorities grew increasingly concerned about him and his activities, in part because they suspected that his Russian wife was a spy. Eventually, Prince Peter and Irina were evicted from their house, and in February 1957 they left Kalimpong.

Spending seven years in Kalimpong and gaining first hand experience of Cold War politics and Communist China’s advance into Tibet, which pushed Tibetans into exile, Prince Peter became deeply engaged in the Tibetan cause. As President of the Nordic Council for Tibetan Assistance, he was instrumental in helping Tibetans go to Scandinavia in the 1960s.


The Nordic Council is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary Nordic cooperation among the Nordic countries. Formed in 1952, it has 87 representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as from the autonomous areas of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland Islands. The representatives are members of parliament in their respective countries or areas and are elected by those parliaments. The Council holds ordinary sessions each year in October/November and usually one extra session per year with a specific theme...

In 1971, the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental forum, was established to complement the Council. The Council and the Council of Ministers are involved in various forms of cooperation with neighbouring areas, amongst them being the Baltic Assembly and the Benelux,[4] as well as Russia[5] and Schleswig-Holstein.

During World War II, Denmark and Norway were occupied by Germany; Finland was under assault by the Soviet Union; while Sweden, though neutral, still felt the war's effects. Following the war, the Nordic countries pursued the idea of a Scandinavian defence union to ensure their mutual defence. However, Finland, due to its Paasikivi-Kekkonen policy of neutrality and FCMA treaty with the USSR, could not participate.

It was proposed that the Nordic countries would unify their foreign policy and defence, remain neutral in the event of a conflict and not ally with NATO, which some were planning at the time. The United States, keen on getting access to bases in Scandinavia and believing the Nordic countries incapable of defending themselves, stated it would not ensure military support for Scandinavia if they did not join NATO. As Denmark and Norway sought US aid for their post-war reconstruction, the project collapsed, with Denmark, Norway and Iceland joining NATO.

Further Nordic co-operation, such as an economic customs union, also failed. This led Danish Prime Minister Hans Hedtoft to propose, in 1951, a consultative inter-parliamentary body. This proposal was agreed by Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden in 1952. The Council's first session was held in the Danish Parliament on 13 February 1953 and it elected Hans Hedtoft as its president. When Finnish-Soviet relations thawed following the death of Joseph Stalin, Finland joined the council in 1955.

On 2 July 1954, the Nordic labour market was created and in 1958, building upon a 1952 passport-free travel area, the Nordic Passport Union was created. These two measures helped ensure Nordic citizens' free movement around the area. A Nordic Convention on Social Security was implemented in 1955. There were also plans for a single market but they were abandoned in 1959 shortly before Denmark, Norway, and Sweden joined the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). Finland became an associated member of EFTA in 1961 and Denmark and Norway applied to join the European Economic Community (EEC).

This move towards the EEC led to desire for a formal Nordic treaty. The Helsinki Treaty outlined the workings of the Council and came into force on 24 March 1962. Further advancements on Nordic cooperation were made in the following years: a Nordic School of Public Health, a Nordic Cultural Fund, and Nordic House in Reykjavík were created.

-- Nordic Council, by Wikipedia


In 1960, he helped arrange for twenty Tibetans aged eleven to sixteen to be educated in Denmark (Brox and Koktvedgaard Zeitzen 2016). His time in Kalimpong also fundamentally influenced his future academic trajectory. After returning to Europe, Prince Peter submitted his PhD dissertation on polyandry, based on his fieldwork in the Himalayas and southern India, to the London School of Economics. He received his PhD in 1959, and his seminal work on polyandry was published in 1963. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen in 1960, yet he never held an appointment at a university in Denmark or elsewhere. Nevertheless, he continued to travel and lecture at universities, explorers’ clubs, and various venues, and to publish on Tibetan matters for both an academic audience and the general readership. Prince Peter was finally allowed to enter Tibet in 1979—in post-Mao China, when Deng Xiaoping’s reforms opened the Tibetan plateau for Chinese business, immigration and tourism, and socio-economic reforms were intended to raise Tibet from the ruins of the Cultural Revolution. Prince Peter died a year later in London.

Kalimpong as a geopolitical contact zone

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Figure 2: The photo bears the inscription “With compliments from Lakhmishand Kaluram. Kalimpong. 14/8/54” on the back; someone else has added that Prince Peter is standing next to the wife of a Tibetan Official.

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Kalimpong extends along a mountain ridge at a height of 1,300 meters in the Himalayan foothills of northern West Bengal, at the endpoint of a land corridor leading to Tibet. As the southern terminus of a commodity pathway starting at the Tibetan capital Lhasa and crossing over the Jelep mountain pass into India, it was the most important hill station in the region when Prince Peter stayed there. It had become the new economic capital of the region after the British Younghusband military expedition in 1903–4 forced entry into Tibet and opened a trade route between Lhasa and Calcutta. Goods coming from Tibet through Kalimpong could thus be transported to the commercial port of Calcutta, and shipped onward to Europe and America (Hackett ND; Harris 2008, 2013). As a globally connected centre of Indo-Tibetan trade, Kalimpong attracted people from all over, making the town a classic example of a contact zone fuelled by a complex web of cultural, ethnic, caste, religious, and linguistic encounters. It was, in the words of Prince Peter’s fellow scholar and friend René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz (figure 3), the “city of the seven new years,” because here “practically all peoples living in the Himalayas and adjacent territories” congregated and each group celebrated its new year according to its own calendar (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b, 55, 66). The multitude of festivals testified to the cultural diversity of Kalimpong. Here, Tibetan, Marwari, Newari, and Kashmiri traders as well as Chinese merchants joined the many indigenous ethnic peoples and non-native groups coming and going to and from Kalimpong. Among them were Buddhist masters and their entourages, elite Tibetan politicians and nobility, royalty in exile, indigenous Lepchas, spies of the great powers, colonial holiday-goers, Scottish missionaries, European Tibetologists and ethnographers, and, following the PLA’s advancement into Tibet in 1950, an increasing number of Chinese and Tibetan refugees.

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Figure 3: On their way to Gangtok. The three men are photographed outside the Himalayan Hotel in Kalimpong May 2, 1951. Next to Prince Peter is his friend and colleague René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz.

Kalimpong thus not only constituted a cultural juncture, it was also a frontier, a borderland, and a political edge. Wedged between Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet, regional and national interests often converged and at times clashed in Kalimpong. In effect, it represented a Tibet in absentia, a player as well as a pawn in “the Great Game,” in which China, Russia, and Great Britain fought to gain a foothold in High Asia (Hopkirk 1990). Prince Peter stayed there at the height of the Cold War, when the agents of a newly independent India and competing empires congregated in Kalimpong, transforming it into a political gossip factory, and, in the words of Chinese President Mao Zedong, “a centre of espionage, primarily American and British” (quoted in Shakya 1999, 158). Indian President Nehru was indeed concerned about the number of potential spies, and he was under increasing pressure internally and externally as a result of the tense political situation. At a parliament hearing in the Lower House, Lok Sabha, he said about Kalimpong:

Kalimpong, Sir, has been often described as a nest of spies, spies of innumerable nationalities, not one, spies, spies from Asia, spies from Europe, spies from America, spies of Communists, spies of anti-Communists, red spies, white spies, blue spies, pink spies and so on. […] This has been going on for the last few years so there is no doubt that so far as Kalimpong is concerned there has been a deal of espionage and counter-espionage and a complicated game of chess by various nationalities and various members of spies and counter-spies there. No doubt a person with the ability to write fiction of this kind will find Kalimpong an interesting place for some novel of that type (Nehru 1959, 18–19).


Kalimpong, Sir, has been often described as a nest of spies, spies of innumerable nationalities, not one, spies from Asia, spies from Europe, spies from America, spies of Communists, spies of anti-Communists, red spies, white spies, blue spies, pink spies and so on. Once a knowledgeable person who knew something about this matter and was in Kalimpong actually said to me, though no doubt it was a figure of speech, that there were probably more spies in Kalimpong than the rest of the inhabitants put together. That is an exaggeration. But it has become that in the last few years, especially in the last seven or eight years. As Kalimpong is more or less perched near the borders of India, and since the developments in Tibet some years ago since a change took place there, it became of great interest to all kinds of people outside India, and many people have come here in various guises, sometimes as technical people, sometimes as bird watchers, sometimes as geologists, sometimes as journalists and sometimes with some other purpose, just to admire the natural scenery, and so they all seem to find an interest; the main object of their interest, whether it is bird watching or something else, was round about Kalimpong.

Naturally we have taken interest in this. We have to. While I cannot say that we know exactly everything that took place there, broadly we do know and we have repeatedly taken objection to those persons concerned or to their Embassies we have pointed this out and we have in the past even hinted that some people had better remove themselves from there, and they have removed themselves. This has been going on for the last few years so that there is no doubt that so far as Kalimpong is concerned there has been a deal of espionage and counter-espionage and a complicated game of chess by various nationalities and various numbers of spies and counter-spies there. No doubt a person with the ability to write fiction of this kind will find Kalimpong an interesting place for some novel of that type (Nehru 1959, 18-19, Parliament hearing in the Lower House, Lok Sabha)


Political intrigues, gossip, and accusations about espionage circulated in Kalimpong, and were related in books written by Western visitors to Kalimpong— some of whom did indeed report back to foreign agencies about their neighbours and friends (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b; Patterson 1990; Sangharakshita 1997). It became infamous as a “nest of spies” (Patterson 1960, 71), a place with a highly volatile atmosphere in which suspicion and mistrust were widespread and had concrete consequences. Newly arrived residents and visitors were often seen as potential threats because of their possible ulterior motives for being in town. This atmosphere of suspicion engulfed Prince Peter as well as his wife Irina and his close friend Georg Nikolaivitch Roerich who, as Russian nationals, were both suspected of being Communist stooges. Another friend, Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama’s elder brother, was suspected of being an agent of the Chinese Nationalists (Patterson 1990, 137). He later helped the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) work with a Tibetan émigré group gathering in Kalimpong to spearhead the Tibetan resistance and an anti-China campaign, creating a resistance network and planning a long-term guerrilla war (Shakya 1999; Knaus 1999; 2012).6 Kalimpong had become an important gathering place for Tibetan resistance directed towards Communist China, as well as a place of refuge for Tibetans fleeing Chinese expansion in Tibet as the PLA further advanced into Tibet and threatened India at its borders.

Kalimpong grew to be so important that for many Tibetans it became synonymous with all of India. For others, it was a Tibetan place (figure 4). According to Prince Peter, the town had a large ex-pat community of 3,500 Tibetan residents, including nobility, traders, and Tibetan Christians (Prince Peter 1963, 582). It also housed the famous Tibetan-language newspaper, the Tibet Mirror (yul phyogs so so’i gsar ’gyur gyi me long), which Dorje Tharchin had been publishing since 1925, and which circulated among the elite in Tibet for almost forty years (Hackett ND; McGranahan 2010, 69ff).

British-Indian intelligence reported that Kalimpong had an “extensive spy-network” by 1946 (SAWB, IB 1946, 4). We will probably never know about all the spies who operated in Kalimpong, but arguably the two most famous who appeared in Kalimpong were Gergan Dorje Tharchin, the editor of the Tibet Mirror, and Hisao Kimura, the “Japanese agent who disguised himself as a Mongolian pilgrim [… and] was recruited by the British Intelligence to gather information on the Chinese in Eastern Tibet” (Kimura 1990, book jacket). Tharchin had settled in Kalimpong and started his newspaper; with that he became of interest to the British, and also the Chinese, who tried to buy him.

-- Kalimpong: The China Connection, by Prem Poddar and Lisa Lindkvist Zhang


Being a Tibetan place also meant that European and American Tibetologists, anthropologists, political officers, trade officers, and explorers stayed in Kalimpong, either as a necessary stopover before proceeding to Tibet or as a replacement for a stay in Tibet. Famous Tibetophiles like Alexandra David-Néel, Georg Nikolaivitch Roerich, and René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz went there. Some rented or bought homes and settled in Kalimpong. Others stayed at the Himalayan Hotel, from which important information, gossip, and misinformation about Tibet was circulated (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b; Sangharakshita 1997).

What is now the ‘Mayfair Himalayan Spa Resort' was previously the iconic ‘Himalayan Hotel’. It was established by David MacDonald, an ‘Anglo-Himalayan’ born to a Sikkimese mother and a Scottish father. During his long service as an interpreter and then a trade agent Mr MacDonald came in close contact with the 13th Dalai Lama. When His Holiness decided to escape Tibet to India it was David MacDonald who helped him.

Later impressed with his service, Mr MacDonald was given by the British Government a choice of either a title or European land parcel. David MacDonald asked for a particular plot of land in Kalimpong itself, next to his family home. Here, encouraged by his son-in-law Frank Perry, he established the ‘Himalayan Hotel’, the first hotel in the Darjeeling region. It was 1905, and the town of Kalimpong was a vibrant and flourishing town, because of the trade between Tibet and India. For years to come Mr MacDonald managed the hotel with his 3 daughters who were lovingly called ‘The three fat ladies of Kalimpong’.

Meanwhile there was another development: Nepal was declared a Hindu state and they closed it’s borders to all who aspired to climb Mt Everest, as they considered it sacrilegious; thus Kalimpong was the only way to the ‘south column’; thus the Himalayan Hotel became the favourite rendezvous for mountaineers. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made their final plans of scaling the summit while staying in the ‘Himalayan Hotel’!!

In 1953 during the political unrest and with tensions brewing in the Indo- Chinese border, Pandit Jawarlal Nehru visited Kalimpong and stayed in the iconic hotel.

Over the years many Hollywood stars had also stayed in the iconic hotel. The Hollywood diva Shirley MacLaine stayed at the ‘Himalayan’ before leaving for Bhutan. When asked to sum up her stay she quoted the famous lines of George Bernard Shaw ‘The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a refuge from home life’. These words somehow the essence of ‘Himalayan’. In 1991 Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere and supermodel Cindy Crawford stayed in the ‘Himalayan’.

Even the glitz and glamour of Bollywood was not far from patronising the ‘Himalayan’. In 1965, Sunil Dutt, Nargis Dutt, along with Sanjay Dutt (then just 6 years old) stayed at the ‘Himalayan’. In 1974, Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman stayed in the hotel along with Shabana Azmi.

Now after 117 years and a rich legacy, the MacDonald family has decided to hand over the hotel to ‘Mayfair’ group. Now the ‘Himalayan Hotel’ is the ‘Mayfair Himalayan Spa Resort’. According to Mr Dilip Ray, the Chairman and Managing Director of Mayfair group, the essence of the hotel is still the same.

-- Of Royalty, Opulence , Luxury….A Stay at MAYFAIR, Kalimpong (The History), by madlyfoodlover.wordpress.com


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Figure 4: Gopal Studio in Kalimpong published many photographs from the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s Kalimpong reception in 1956, and Prince Peter collected several of these. This picture captures contact zone encounters within a single frame.

Thus, at the height of the Cold War, an increasing number of visitors came to Kalimpong because it was the second-best thing to being in Tibet proper. Scottish missionary George Patterson remarked that numerous unidentifiable, questionable individuals came to Kalimpong at the height of the tension, when Kalimpong was “the most strategic town on the Chinese Communist route to Calcutta, and became a Communist constituency at this most critical period of Indo-Tibetan crisis” (Patterson 1990, 132). He observed how newspaper fantasies were fabricated because reporters, barred by obstructive Tibetan officials, were unable to enter Tibet. Instead they sought their information among Tibetan travelers in Kalimpong’s bazaars and among the foreigners who gathered at the Himalayan Hotel. They wired home reports about Tibet, which were partly from people’s imaginations and partly products of the Kalimpong rumor mill. Patterson called it “imaginative reporting.” Patterson himself reported to a foreign power, not in order to support any anti-Communist movement, but out of his “pro-God and pro-Tibet” convictions (Patterson 1960; 1990, 124).

The tense political situation produced severe obstacles, forcing Prince Peter to give up his original research design. He had arrived in Kalimpong in January 1950 and met the remnants of the first team of the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia; the prince was a member of the second team. He intended to stay in Kalimpong primarily to arrange a permit for the expedition to enter Tibet. However, his repeated requests for a travel permit were looked upon with suspicion, since he and his expedition members were seen “as intruders with possibly suspicious ulterior motives” (Prince Peter 1963, 581). He abandoned the original goal of traversing the Tibetan plateau to reach Alaša in Inner Mongolia and the territory of the “Yellow Uigurs” (Prince Peter 1954, 229),...

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A Yugur family in Lanzhou, Gansu, 1944

The Yugurs, Yughurs, Yugu or Yellow Uyghurs, as they are traditionally known, are a Turkic and Mongolic group ... The Yugur live primarily in Sunan Yugur Autonomous County in Gansu, China. They are Tibetan Buddhists...

The Turkic-speaking Yugurs are considered to be the descendants of a group of Uyghurs who fled from Mongolia southwards to Gansu after the collapse of the Uyghur Khaganate in 840, where they established the prosperous Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom (870-1036) with capital near present Zhangye at the base of the Qilian Mountains in the valley of the Ruo Shui. The population of this kingdom, estimated at 300,000 in Song chronicles, practised Manichaeism and Buddhism in numerous temples throughout the country.

In 1037 the Yugur came under Tangut domination. The Gansu Uyghur Kingdom was forcibly incorporated into the Western Xia after a bloody war that raged from 1028–1036.

The Mongolic-speaking Yugurs are probably the descendants of one of the Mongolic-speaking groups that invaded North China during the Mongol conquests of the thirteenth century. The Yugurs were eventually incorporated into Qing China in 1696 during the reign of the second Qing ruler, the Kangxi Emperor (1662–1723).

In 1893, Russian explorer Grigory Potanin, the first Western scientist to study the Yugur, published a small glossary of Yugur words, along with notes on their administration and geographical situation. Then, in 1907, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim visited the Western Yugur village of Lianhua (Mazhuangzi) and the Kangle Temple of the Eastern Yugur. Mannerheim was the first to conduct a detailed ethnographic investigation of the Yugur. In 1911, he published his findings in an article for the Finno-Ugrian Society.

About 4,600 of the Yugurs speak Western Yugur (a Turkic language) and about 2,800 Eastern Yugur (a Mongolic language). Western Yugur has preserved many archaisms of Old Uyghur. The remaining Yugurs of the Autonomous County lost their respective Yugur language and speak Chinese. A very small number of the Yugur reportedly speak Tibetan...

The Yugur people are predominantly employed in animal husbandry...

The traditional religion of the Yugur is Tibetan Buddhism, which used to be practised alongside shamanism.

-- Yugur [Yughurs] [Yugu] [Yellow Uyghurs], by Wikipedia


and instead found what he believed to be a more pragmatic solution, namely crossing the Indo-Tibetan border and following the traditional trade route to its northern terminus in Gyantse. According to Prince Peter’s account, neither the Political Officer in Sikkim nor “the Tibetans” wanted to take responsibility for Prince Peter’s scientific expedition, each of them responding to his request by referring him to the other (Prince Peter 1953b, 8–9).7 Prince Peter lamented that “in truly Oriental manner, they abstained from being either affirmative or negative” (Prince Peter 1963, 582) until August, when he was told to “kindly postpone my voyage” (Prince Peter 1954, 231).

When the PLA invaded eastern Tibet in October 1950, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, faced with the threat that the PLA would proceed to Lhasa, moved in December to Dromo, a small town near the Indo-Tibetan border (Shakya 1999, 51). In a last effort to obtain permission to enter Tibet, Prince Peter flexed his royal connections and got his cousin, King Paul of Greece, to provide him with a greeting that he could present to the Dalai Lama (Prince Peter 1953b, 10; 1954, 232). Prince Peter was not allowed, however, to present the introductory letter and the Greek king’s photograph to the Dalai Lama. These had the opposite effect on the Tibetans who—perhaps fearing a potential Chinese reaction—sealed Prince Peter’s fate, for he now found himself permanently stranded in Kalimpong, unable to enter Tibet: “We thus lost a last opportunity to visit the land before the Chinese military occupation in December of the same year” (Prince Peter 1952, 283). The final incorporation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China (PRC) the following year, and the Chinese military presence all along the Indian border from Kashmir to Assam heightened tensions in the region: “it makes everyone on the border feel jittery, and, as usual, scientists are suspected of having deeper motives for being in those regions than is in fact the case” (Prince Peter 1953b, 10).
Prince Peter’s expedition was thus forced to come to an end in Kalimpong, and he summed up his experience of the situation succinctly:

I have come to learn that international politics are the real obstacle to scientific research in these areas. The height of the Himalayan Barrier, the barrenness of the Tibetan high plateau, and the difficulties of supply and transport pale into insignificance when compared with this, the main impediment (Prince Peter 1954, 232).


Kalimpong as an interpersonal contact zone

Kalimpong was a cosmopolitan borderland en route to Tibet, Prince Peter’s ultimate destination which had been rendered unachievable by the PLA’s progression into Tibet. Instead, Kalimpong became a figurative route into Tibet for him: The many Tibetans pouring into town, along with the already existing community of Tibetan residents, became a huge potential pool of interlocutors. In addition, Kalimpong was a favourite seasonal refuge for Tibetans fleeing the cold Tibetan winters—a “Riviera for Tibet” (Prince Peter 1953a, 6). According to Prince Peter, the annual Tibetan traffic to or through Kalimpong amounted to as many as 15,000 Tibetans (Prince Peter 1953b, 9). He was thus able to get direct access to many Tibetans who otherwise would be unapproachable or difficult to meet during travels in Tibet proper. Moreover, the Dalai Lama and his government’s relocation to Dromo in December 1950 caused panic among Tibetan elites and prompted many of them to flee Tibet and move to Kalimpong (Harrer 1954; Shakya 1999, 51). This multiplied Prince Peter’s pool of potential interlocutors greatly: “a wave of Tibetan temporary refugees to Kalimpong, people generally of means, who decided to weather the storm on the Indian side of the frontier and see which way events would develop” (Prince Peter 1963, 582). It also increased Prince Peter’s pool of potential artefacts because the ruling elite who sent their families and their valuables across the border into safety were later willing to sell their belongings to him (Prince Peter 1953a, 10–11).

Tibetans arrived in large numbers in Kalimpong, where they bought or rented property to such an extent that the Development Area in Kalimpong “looked like a suburb of Lhasa” (Patterson 1990, 104). Tibetan officials and their families, Tibetan traders and pilgrims, as well as the few European residents of Tibet all fled to Kalimpong (figure 5). The Dalai Lama’s mother arrived there with his six siblings, and Prince Peter befriended the elder brother of the Dalai Lama, Gyalo Thondup (Knaus 2012, 309 n.18). The famous Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer came to Kalimpong after seven years in Tibet (Harrer 1954), as did the White Russian engineer Niedbylov, the English radio operator Reginald Fox, a Torgut Mongol prince with his family and retinue, twenty-three Russian Old Believers, and a steady “stream of refugees” (Prince Peter 1954, 232). They came to a cosmopolitan Kalimpong that included residents like the exiled prince and princess of the fallen Burmese royal family and the sister of the Sikkimese king, Chuni Wangmo, who was married to a Bhutanese prince (Shah 2012).


Prince Peter dealt with both destitute travellers and representatives of the Tibetan upper class, who met the prince as fellow aristocrats. His close friend Georg Nikolaivitch Roerich, a Tibet scholar and son of the Russian painter Nicholas Roerich, was instrumental in arranging meetings with prominent Tibetans, found good language teachers for Prince Peter so he could learn Tibetan, and helped him obtain ethnographical artefacts and books for his collection. Tibet scholar René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz was likewise Prince Peter’s close ally in the field, dedicating his monumental work Oracles and Demons of Tibet (1956a) to Prince Peter. Another traveller visiting Kalimpong at the time, James Cameron, wrote in his autobiography that the odd and endearing Kalimpong “had become a rendezvous for what was probably the most impressive collection of human eccentrics in Asia.” The people whom he met at the Himalayan Hotel were almost surrealistic: “wizards and sorcerers, Tibetan aristocrats, angry exiles from China, remote sprigs from the forgotten European nobility, Indian yogi, Bhutani politicians, professional anthropologists, linguists, students, pilgrims, miracle-workers and innocent bystanders, all milling around with curious axes to grind and trying either to get into Tibet, or to get out” (Cameron 1967, 204–205).

Around the time Seven Years in Tibet fell off the Best Seller List, the New York Times reported that the Dalai and Panchen Lamas were about to leave Tibet for Beijing at the PRC’s invitation192. The Dalai Lama left Lhasa in July 1954 and arrived in Beijing in September. In Beijing, the Dalai Lama attended the Chinese National People’s Congress, which produced the PRC’s first constitution, met Mao, attended numerous banquets and meetings, and greeted Nehru as the first head of a major non-Communist state to visit the PRC. The PRC also made sure the Dalai Lama and members of his delegation saw the PRC’s industrial achievements, which suitably impressed the Tibetans193.

The amount of coverage of the Dalai Lama’s trip to Beijing and tour of various locations throughout China was not great. In fact, the New York Times waited to publish a feature story or any photograph of the two incarnation’s tour until the PRC announced the formation of the Preparatory Committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous Region (PCTAR) in March 1955194. In contrast to such prior coverage of the Dalai Lama as his flight to Yadong, what Americans read about the Dalai Lama’s journey to Beijing was quicker, more to the point, and sparser on details. Although the New York Times initially only reported that Tibetans urged him not to leave, tens of thousands turned out to watch the Dalai Lama’s five hundred man delegation depart while some cried and nearly threw themselves in the Kyichu River as the nineteen-year-old incarnation crossed in his special coracle195. Just as in coverage of the Dalai Lama’s flight to Yadong, there were physical and political limitations on what American reporters could see of events in Tibet, but American interest had clearly waned by this time. Americans were apparently eager for Harrer’s depiction of Tibet that struck a Lost Horizon tone, filled with excitement and adventure, but not for the reality of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s ostensible cooperation with Communism.

Unlike coverage of the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet or the Dalai Lama’s flirtation with exile, there was a Western journalist in Beijing on hand to report his observations: James Cameron from the News Chronicle of London. The New York Times published several of Cameron’s dispatches, including one about how he accidentally managed to obtain the Dalai and Panchen Lamas’ autographs, with the Dalai Lama’s signature purposefully written first196. [196 James Cameron, “Red Delegations Flock to Peiping,” NYT, Nov. 1, 1954, 1.] Even though Americans could see events transpiring in Beijing through a Western journalist’s eyes, the American press put emphasis on other events occurring in Beijing over the Dalai Lama. Cameron’s journalism provided an extraordinary opportunity for Americans to receive eyewitness testimony on the two most important Tibetans behind the Bamboo Curtain, but Cameron’s own experience meeting the Dalai Lama was buried by his reporting on how much the PRC loved foreign delegations. Incidentally, Cameron also provided a means of historical corroboration when he sent his dispatch to the New York Times reporting Nehru’s unexpected encounter with the Dalai Lama. While Nehru was in Beijing for Sino-Indian talks, he unexpectedly ran into the Dalai Lama in a situation Cameron described as “piquant,” stating, “Mr. Nehru appeared to do a swift double-take, then embarked on a most animated conversation, to which the Dalai Lama replied with bemused nods.” To the Dalai Lama’s recollection, it was Nehru who was bemused and spoke only superficially197. Even though the PRC press made sure to waste no photo opportunity of Mao and the Dalai Lama together at the Tibetan New Year’s banquet in Beijing, the New York Times only published a 132 word blurb on the event, without a photograph198. The American press had at its disposal an unprecedented view of the boy god-king, but made little use of it.

[url]-- American Journalism and the Tibet Question, 1950-1959, by James August Duncan
Iowa State University[/url]


Time reported on December 4, 1950:

Tibet is only 30 miles away. For that reason, Kalimpong has collected over the years a number of mystical characters who arrived via Jelep-la pass from Tibet, and another bunch who would give their last rupee to travel the other way. Foreign cultists, scholars, artists, adventurers and missionaries plod Kalimpong’s streets, panting to explore Tibet and its particular brand of Buddhism, but lacking permission to get in. […] Last year anthropologist Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark breezed into Kalimpong with his wife to study a unique form of Tibetan polyandry called za-sum-pa, the sharing of wives between fathers and sons, and (occasionally) between uncles and nephews. Tibet would not admit the prince and princess (Time 1950).


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Figure 5: Picture given to Prince Peter by Heinrich Harrer in Kalimpong, showing Tibetan official with child.

Despite his failure to enter Tibet, Prince Peter was nonetheless thrilled about the opportunities that Kalimpong offered. In 1954, he reported to the Royal Asiatic Society:

All this made the place we had perforce settled in a most interesting and lively one. […] Apart from the excitement of meeting all these strange and fascinating people, there were enormous possibilities of work. Very soon we had got down to interviewing them, purchasing clothes and valuables from them which we dispatched to the National Museum in Copenhagen and, after the Indian Government has made registration of all Tibetans with the police compulsory, measuring and describing them in order the better to find out what their physical racial characteristics were. We had been denied entry into Tibet, but Tibet had come to us, and under circumstances of stress which made it perhaps easier for us to obtain the results we wanted than if we had been working in the country under settled conditions (Prince Peter 1954, 231–2).


In terms of doing research, what had initially seemed like a disaster because of the expedition’s failure to enter Tibet, soon proved to grant unparalleled access to Tibetans from all walks of life and all regions of the country. This diversity is illustrated by the datasheets of the 5,000 individuals who came to Kalimpong from Tibet who Prince Peter measured anthropometrically. Of the 5,000 surveyed, 4,924 were Tibetans—4,411 males and 513 females, perhaps reflecting the gender composition of the general Tibetan refugee and trader population in Kalimpong, as opposed to that of the more settled Tibetan population. The people he measured came from all three Tibetan regions (Tib.: chol kha gsum), Utsang, Kham, and Amdo (figure 6). Prince Peter categorized his material according to these three indigenous categories, which in his view constituted Tibet, that is: taken together the three cohorts represented Tibet.8
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Part 2 of 2

Prince Peter settled in Kalimpong with his wife and, building on his productive professional relations, he started to establish equally productive interpersonal relations within Kalimpong society. Initially, the couple rented the house Tashiding from Jigme Palden Dorji, Bhutan’s future first Prime Minister,

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Tashiding Tourist Lodge, Kalimpong, India


but later they bought the house Krishnalok. Both houses were situated in Ringkingpong, literally and metaphorically high above the rest of the town because Kalimpong is located along a ridge stretching from one mountain top, Ringkingpong, to the other mountain top, Deolo. Here, they lived in relative wealth and abundance compared to the rest of Kalimpong’s residents. According to Patterson, Kalimpong was at the time divided into five areas: firstly, the Development Area in Ringkingpong occupied by European residents and Tibetan elites who lived in European-style houses with gardens, an area which had been developed during the end of the colonial period and was physically elevated above the rest of the town; secondly, the Deolo hills to the north with Dr. Graham’s Homes for Anglo-Indian children; thirdly, the Eleventh Mile with Tibetan caravanserais; fourthly, the bazaar where townspeople conducted local trade; and finally the Tenth Mile, with its busy Tibetan and Chinese commercial area and international trade, the red light district, and the Topkhana (shelter for the destitute) where most Tibetans lived (Patterson 1960, 72, cf. Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b, 75).

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Figure 6: One of the portraits accompanying the thousands of anthropometric measurements that Prince Peter collected in Kalimpong.

However, the good times—both professionally and personally—did not last. For several years Kalimpong was a strategic site where Prince Peter could conveniently collect Tibetan artefacts, accounts, and anthropometrical data, and he worked tirelessly at maintaining his social and scientific relations in order to secure the expedition’s success, despite its failure to enter Tibet. In his reports back to his Danish sponsors, he regularly complained about the difficult circumstances under which he was working, which included the regular rejection of his applications to enter the Sikkimese and Nepalese Himalayas. Further difficulties arose as Prince Peter became increasingly estranged from some of the Tibetan contacts and friendships that he had built in Kalimpong since arriving there in 1950 (Prince Peter 1954, 233). From his correspondence with Indian and Tibetan contacts and authorities it is also clear that there was little support for his scientific work in Kalimpong. The Indian government and the West Bengali authorities grew increasingly concerned about his activities because of his royal biography, their speculations about the true motives behind his expedition, and suspicions that his Russian wife was a spy; talks and interviews that he gave, in which he spoke out against the government of the PRC and Nehru’s passive stance on Tibet, also raised their concern. According to Prince Peter, the Indian authorities were trying, under pressure from the Chinese, to halt his work and obstruct his contact with Tibetans (Prince Peter and 1966, 8). A rumour spread by the Communist press in India did not help his case. This rumour claimed that Prince Peter was not measuring Tibetans to gain anthropometrical statistics about Tibetans, but to further a political agenda: to turn them into imperialist agents operating in Tibet with the aim of creating “a new Hungary” (Prince Peter 1966, 8).

Prince Peter felt that the Indian press and the Indian government were harassing him. The perceived harassment culminated in 1956 when Prince Peter and Irina’s residency permits were withdrawn and they were evicted from their home, Krishnalok. According to Prince Peter, the Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai was directly responsible for the eviction. After being granted a few months’ reprieve to allow Irina to recuperate from a severe bout of pneumonia, Prince Peter and Irina finally left Kalimpong in February 1957, never to return.


After the Manchuria expedition, [George] Roerich spent many years living in India. His father Nicholas Roerich died in 1947. Due to political unrest in the area, Roerich moved with his mother Helena Roerich from their home in Nagger to Kalimpong where he lived until 1956. Helena Roerich died in 1955, and in 1957, Roerich returned to Russia. Before his return to his homeland, Roerich participated in several important projects.

He collaborated with Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark and R. Sanskrtyayana to translate the Buddhist text Pramanavaartikam from Tibetan into Sanskrit. Working with Tse-Trung Lopsang Phuntshok he wrote Textbook of Colloquial Tibetan. Together with Gendün Chöphel, he translated Blue Annals, the lengthy pioneering work on Tibetan history, published in two volumes by the Asiatic Society in 1949 and 1954.[19]

After spending almost 30 years in India, Roerich returned in 1957 to Soviet Russia, where he made efforts to revive the Russian School of Oriental Studies. As the head of the Indology Department in the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow, he resumed editing of Bibliotheca Buddhica.


-- George de Roerich [George Nicolas de Roerich] [Georg Nikolaivitch Roerich], by Wikipedia


Kalimpong as an ethnographic contact zone

Ethnographic challenges were soon to add to the geopolitical and interpersonal challenges Prince Peter faced in Kalimpong. The longer he remained in Kalimpong, the clearer it became that he would have to abandon the expedition mode in favour of localised ethnographic studies. Prince Peter’s journey thus mirrored the trajectory that had led his mentor Bronislaw Malinowski to pioneer ethnographic fieldwork as an anthropological method. As a Polish national, Malinowski was initially stranded in the Trobriand Islands due to the outbreak of the First World War. He wrote in his diary: “September 1st began a new epoch in my life: an expedition all on my own to the tropics” (Malinowski 1989 [1967], 3). Malinowski spent several years on the islands, learning the local language and pioneering participant observation. Similarly, Prince Peter was stranded in Kalimpong for seven years, never able to enter Tibet, but acquired a deep local knowledge and a command of Tibetan in order to talk to his interlocutors. Prince Peter was not immobilized but instead “stranded” in Kalimpong in the sense that the expedition was unable to proceed into Tibet as planned. During their seven years there, Prince Peter and Irina did go on vacations and other expeditions, as well as back to Denmark in October 1952, to exhibit the artefacts that Prince Peter had collected in Kalimpong at the Danish National Museum (figure 7). They also conducted a lecture tour showcasing his films about Kalimpong’s “indigenous peoples and wonderful landscapes” (Prince Peter 1953a, 12).

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Figure 7: Prince Peter (with Halfdan Siiger) at the National Museum in 1952, where some of the Tibetan artefacts that he collected were exhibited; he is getting ready for a presentation to the press.

Prince Peter’s unplanned and unanticipated long stay in Kalimpong not only forced him to abandon the mobile expedition approach to ethnographic collecting, it also significantly foreshadowed contemporary anthropological fieldwork approaches, in which ethnographers work with people where they are when the fieldwork is being conducted, rather than where they are considered to originally belong (Malkki 1992). Yet Prince Peter wanted to document the customs of Tibetans as “originally” practiced in Tibet: “It was, of course, not the same as studying the people in their own, national environment, but it was the closest I could get, and not unsatisfactory at that” (Prince Peter 1963, 582).

One of the objects of the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia was indeed to explore terra incognita and rescue the remnants of local cultures perceived to be under threat from the encroaching, modernizing world. That is, Prince Peter intended to and did in fact engage in rescue anthropology, documenting still extant traditional cultures to preserve records of these for future generations. As part of the Tibetan rescue efforts, Prince Peter resumed his ethnographic research on polyandry—a marriage form in which one woman is married to several men—which had been interrupted by the Second World War (Prince Peter 1954, 232). Tibet was at the time, and still is, home to the largest polyandrous communities in the world. Tibetans typically practice fraternal polyandry where brothers or classificatory brothers become husbands to a common wife. Other forms include the polyandry of fathers and sons who have a wife in common, a unique phenomenon not found anywhere else in the world. Prince Peter was fascinated by the fact that every form of marriage appeared to be permissible in Tibet—polyandry, polygyny, monogamy, group marriage, as well as combinations of these, often within the same family—reflecting the cultural diversity of the area (Koktvedgaard Zeitzen 2008; Prince Peter 1963). It gave him an even greater impetus to explore and salvage manifestations of this cultural diversity.

Prince Peter’s interest in polyandry and his desire to “rescue” it for posterity might have been fuelled by the widespread notion in (and outside) the West that modernity would make the “traditional” practices of polygamy disappear (Koktvedgaard Zeitzen 2008). Prince Peter even went so far as to call polyandry a “recessive cultural trait,” arguing that polyandry was fragile because it was a product of very special economic and social circumstances and could easily be destroyed when societies in which it was practiced came in contact with non-polyandrous societies (Prince Peter 1963, 570). From this perspective, polyandrous Tibetans exposed to monogamous peoples were seen as in danger of abandoning or being forced to abandon their age-old marriage customs (figure 8).

However, Prince Peter’s anthropological rescue paradigm was not based solely on concerns about particular Tibetan customs. Rather, it was grounded in long-held assumptions about cultural decay. For centuries, many people in the West have assumed that peoples in non-Western societies would end up becoming just like them with the onslaught of modernity, that traditional indigenous cultures would collapse in unequal struggles with superior Western culture and global capitalism. Anthropologists have challenged but also perpetuated such pervasive ideas about cultural decay.9 Marshall Sahlins (1999; 2005) argues that anthropologists have always suffered from a certain type of cultural nostalgia, seeking out pure indigenous Others, untouched by the corrupt, capitalist West. He asserts that anthropologists often assume that these Others must necessarily face cultural decay or even cultural death through contact with the West—a contact which, ironically, often was initiated by the anthropologist himself. The problem with this mindset is, according to Sahlins, that anthropologists are no longer studying what they find in the field, but rather are addressing it through the prism of an ideologically inspired project about “rescuing” indigenous peoples and their cultures from (and for) the West. Thus, contemporary anthropologists have not come much farther than their founding fathers over one hundred years ago, when Franz Boas and Bronislaw Malinowski saw it as their duty to rescue what they could of old traditional cultures heading toward extinction. Sahlins goes as far as to call this missionary work.

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Figure 8: Tibetan polyandrous extended family, photographed by Prince Peter in Kalimpong, 1956. Tibetan polyandrous marriages, where a woman is married to several men, can be combined with polygynous marriages, where a man is married to several women.

Prince Peter’s essentialised vision of a spatially anchored Tibet, and the urge to keep it in temporal and developmental stasis, clashes with contemporary anthropological views of cultures as dynamic and fluid. There is no cultural core as such to be rescued, as cultures develop continuously and can never be catalogued in their entirety (Hastrup 2004). Sahlins’ critique can indeed be levelled at Prince Peter and his research in Kalimpong. Prince Peter was a student of Malinowski and had been schooled in rescue anthropology as a paradigm, and he himself saw his expedition as a rescue mission.10 His journey into and sojourn in Kalimpong thus, in various ways, embodies the West’s meeting with the non-West.

In anthropology, the postmodern and postcolonial critique has helped focus scholarly attention on assumptions about other peoples that underlie the discipline and its theories. Discourse has become a prism through which to understand ethnographic narratives, how they are shaped by the ethnographers’ subjective selves in their interactions with their interlocutors, their field sites, their conventions for cultural narrative (Abu-Lughod 1991; 1993). It suggests that we may approach Prince Peter’s ethnographic accounts about polyandrous Tibetans as narratives representing his subjective stories about how polyandry may have been practiced in Tibet. He constantly had to negotiate access to and rely on the narratives of Tibetans who had settled or were displaced in Kalimpong. Prince Peter neither explored nor reflected on the representativeness of their accounts, just as there is little reflection in his accounts on the effect of displacement on his interlocutors’ narratives. One might argue, however, that his interlocutors’ narratives are just that, narratives, and they would not necessarily be more authentic or accurate if delivered in the interlocutors’ self-professed point of origin, or less so if delivered in another place.11

We may thus gain new insights into Prince Peter’s ethnographic accounts by understanding his interactions with his interlocutors and collaborators in Kalimpong as taking place within a contact zone. Contact zones are, from Pratt’s perspective, spaces shaped by European expeditions into non-European worlds, yet they are also transformative spaces, where differences in power relations between ethnographer and interlocutors could be overcome and new relations could be negotiated (Pratt 1992). Looking at the conflictual social and political climate in the 1950s Kalimpong contact zone, where both Prince Peter and his Tibetan interlocutors were embroiled in personal struggles of different kinds, we may question the extent of the reciprocity: Prince Peter had to rely on his interlocutors’ bodies of knowledge in order to understand how they looked at and made sense of their polyandrous world. Yet he filters their stories through the cultural assumptions regarding polyandry that formed part of his own acquired anthropological narratives. And from this filter he had to extract those elements which he thought embodied the original Tibetan polyandrous customs practiced in a different time and place. He did not address the questions about the many ways in which his interlocutors’ words might relate to their actual worlds, the ones in Kalimpong in which they were living or were displaced. His primary purpose was not to understand what was happening in Kalimpong during his sojourn there, but rather to rescue what had been practiced and situated in Tibet proper and was about to disappear. In Sahlins’s words (Sahlins 1999), it was missionary work.

Prince Peter, a classic old world-ethnographer and explorer, complete with a colonial lifestyle and an expeditionary approach to the field, epitomized the quintessential, privileged European traveller in foreign, unexplored, and exotic parts of the world. His expedition and ethnographic work thus becomes more than an actual exploration of empty spaces, it involves travel as imaginary constructions of other peoples and places (C. Harris 2012). Expedition writing as a form of travel writing is, as Pratt suggests, shaped by certain narrative contexts and conventions, where factual accounts may be mixed with more speculative representations of otherness and other peoples based on the writer’s own cultural or academic assumptions (Pratt 1992). The prince’s exploration of polyandry in Kalimpong could thus, from Pratt’s perspective, be understood as a Eurocentric exploration of an exotic marriage system, which in turn reinforced European cultural assumptions about a particular kind of marriage as normal and natural.

Upon leaving Kalimpong, Prince Peter travelled extensively in Europe and the US giving leisure talks about exotic Tibetan customs at explorers’ clubs. At the Royal Central Asian Society in London, he was introduced by its chairman, Lord [Christopher] Birdwood, as an anthropologist—a discipline that Birdwood understood as “concerned with bones, stones and queer stories about savages.”12 Prince Peter did not just relate queer stories about savages, however, he also delivered political messages about a people that he had come to cherish and wanted to help. Perhaps this was Eurocentric, but it was driven by a humanistic and genuine interest in and empathy for Tibet and the plight of its peoples and cultures under Communist Chinese rule.


Concluding remarks on Prince Peter in Kalimpong

Prince Peter’s work in Kalimpong in the 1950s took place in a particularly complex contact zone in which he had to negotiate difficult personal, political, and professional circumstances in his encounters and exchanges with the great variety of ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups moving in and out of the town. Yet it was also a very productive contact zone, where he was able to assemble vast amounts of material and immaterial data through his prolonged and intense interactions with local interlocutors. As the town developed into an important ethnographic contact zone through the arrival of thousands of displaced Tibetans fleeing the Chinese advances into Tibet, his seven years in Kalimpong turned out to be the most productive phase in Prince Peter’s professional life. Here he was able to pursue his expedition’s aims of documenting and rescuing Tibetan culture, albeit in a stationary mode—Tibet came to him rather than him going to Tibet.

Prince Peter had the financial means to pursue his research interests on his own personal and professional terms. Yet in Kalimpong, he had to navigate this complex contact zone carefully in order to obtain permission to work there and to meet interlocutors and collaborators from whom he could collect accounts and artefacts so as to document immaterial and material Tibetan culture. As a contested contact zone, Kalimpong also constituted a transformative space where differences in power relations between Prince Peter, as ethnographer, and his Tibetan interlocutors and local collaborators could be overcome and new relations negotiated. In order to disentangle the networks of knowledge that emerge from Prince Peter’s many encounters and exchanges as he engaged with a great variety of differently placed peoples, we subdivided the multi-layered contact zone into three different sub-zones, which we have labelled the geopolitical, the interpersonal, and the ethnographic contact zones. In those sub-zones, Prince Peter’s encounters and exchanges cannot necessarily be understood as the archetypal Western penetration of social spaces and cultural places previously inhabited by the non-Western Other. That is, they were not necessarily encounters between the superior civilizer from the centre and the inferior indigene on the periphery. Prince Peter did not have the upper hand in every encounter, despite being male, white, wealthy, and royal. Like everyone else navigating this complex contact zone, Prince Peter had to assume different positions at different times, and he often struggled personally and professionally to get access to and work with potential interlocutors and collaborators.

Prince Peter’s encounters and exchanges with Tibetan and Indian authorities were particularly complex, as Kalimpong developed into a Tibetan place and a significant ethnographic contact zone for him, whereas the authorities often considered it a nest of spies. In Kalimpong, Prince Peter’s scientific pursuits became entangled with the political drama and the social tragedy resulting from the PLA presence in Tibet. The town became a transformative space for him, as it further developed into a conflictual geo-political contact zone as well as a challenging interpersonal contact zone for the prince and his wife. Stranded in Kalimpong, Prince Peter attempted to combine his two reasons for being in the region, namely to lead the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia in order to rescue the remnants of local cultures, and to continue his fieldwork and research on polyandry. However, the prince wanted to collect and document Tibetan heritage as it was practiced in the place where he believed it originally belonged, anchored in place in Tibet. He was less interested in understanding contemporary Tibetan lifeways in Kalimpong, and seems not to have reflected on the representativeness of his Tibetan accounts, collected outside of Tibet, or the effect of displacement on those accounts.

Prince Peter’s unreflective approach is in line with Pratt’s assertion that the whole idea of discovery and exploration in such projects as the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia was fundamentally Eurocentric, since what Europeans discovered was always already known by local peoples. Yet discoveries were ascribed to the European travellers as if what they had discovered had not existed beforehand (Pratt 1992). Prince Peter’s exploration of polyandry in Kalimpong might possibly be viewed as one such Eurocentric exploration, seeking to map out an exotic marriage system at odds with European notions of propriety and morality. Through his ethnographic account, polyandry was presented as a rare and divergent marriage form, the ultimate exotic custom to be rescued from oblivion. As a scientific explorer and expedition leader, Prince Peter could relate and display exotic customs like polyandry in non-threatening ways on the basis of the perceived good intentions of his endeavours. Accounts of polyandry could tantalize but not threaten curious Europeans because these accounts were taken out of their context and inserted into a new context, the ethnographic account, where Europeans could ascribe meaning to them. Yet they were also literally out of context, based on accounts from displaced peoples in a contested contact zone.

Our preliminary exploration of Prince Peter’s ethnographic research therefore raises a number of questions about his work with his Tibetan interlocutors in Kalimpong. We view the cultural accounts collected by Prince Peter, whether they are of Tibetan polyandrous family structures or oracle trances, as produced in the cultural encounters and exchanges with interlocutors that took place in the transformative spaces within the geopolitical, interpersonal, and ethnographic contact zones. His interlocutors emerge as co-producers of his ethnographic knowledge and accounts, which leads us to ask how Prince Peter’s representations of Tibetan Others were shaped by these Others, and how these Tibetan Others’ representations of themselves and their polyandry were shaped by the way they represented themselves to a European explorer like Prince Peter.

Pratt links such queries to the notion of transculturation, a contact zone phenomenon referring to the dynamic, mutual influences on forms of representation and cultural practices flowing between colony and metropolis, or periphery and centre (Pratt 1992). Transculturation was first used as a corrective to notions of acculturation or deculturation. These notions describe the transfer of culture from metropolitan centres to peripheral colonies, which is often assumed to result in the destruction of local cultures— and the emergence of rescue anthropology (Sahlins 1999; 2005). In contemporary ethnography, transculturation may be used to understand how marginal groups choose, invent, or incorporate elements based on materials and resources transmitted to them from dominant groups.13 Whether Prince Peter’s work in Kalimpong can be interpreted in the light of transculturation in a contact zone or, as he assumed, in terms of deculturation, is an interesting question that we intend to explore further.14 Here it suffices to say that his ground-breaking study of polyandry helped produce and maintain European perceptions about themselves and their world by opening vistas into unknown and uncharted marital forms and sexualities. As all good travel writing does, it helped shape a European sense of difference from exotic non-Western cultures, which were to be explored, described, and mapped. Prince Peter’s research was not merely advanced travel writing, however. He left behind rich collections of ethnographic accounts and artefacts, and a legacy of intrepid exploration and a tenacious will to learn.

Figures

Fig. 1–8: Ethnographic Collection, National Museum.

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———. 2017. “When Tibet came to Prince Peter: Tibetan-Danish Relations through a Stationary Expedition in the 1950ies,” The Tibet Journal XLII (2): 13–35.

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———. 2013. Geographical Diversions: Tibetan Trade, Global Transactions. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Hastrup, Kirsten. 2004. Kultur. Det Fleksible Fællesskab. Aarhus: Univers.

Hopkirk, Peter. 1982. Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa. London: John Murray.

———. 1990. The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia. London: John Murray. Knaus, John Kenneth. 1999. Orphans of the Cold War: America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival. New York: Public Affairs.

———. 2012. Beyond Shangri-La, America and Tibet’s Move into the Twenty-first Century. Durham: Duke University Press.

Koktvedgaard Zeitzen, Miriam. 2008. Polygamy: A Cross Cultural Analysis. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

Koktvedgaard Zeitzen, Miriam and Trine Brox. 2016. “Strandet i Kalimpong: Prins Peters Tibet-ekspedition 1950–1957.” Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark 2016: 52–65.

Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1989 [1967]. A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Malkki, Liisa. 1992. “National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity among Scholars and Refugees.” Cultural Anthropology 7 (1): 24–44.

McGranahan, Carole. 2010. Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War. Durham: Duke University Press.

Nebesky-Wojkowitz, René de. 1956a. Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities. The Hague: Mouton.

———. 1956b. Where the Gods are Mountains: Three Years among the People of the Himalayas. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Nehru, Jawaharlal. 1959. “Prime Minister’s Statement in the Lok Sabha on 23 March 1959.” (http://www.claudearpi.net/maintenance/u ... cs/1959LS_ Statement_March.pdf; retrieved Jan. 22, 2015).

Patterson, George N. 1960. Tibet in Revolt. London: Faber and Faber.

———. 1990. Requiem for Tibet. London: Aurum Press.

Pratt, Mary Louise. 1992. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. New York: Routledge.

Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark. 1952. “An Appeal for the Anthropological and Ethnological Exploration of Tibet.” Congrés International des Sciences Anthropologiques et Ethnologiques. Vienna (Vol. 3): 281–284.

———. 1953a. “Kalimpong som etnografisk arbejdsmark ved Tibet.” Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark: 1–13.

———. 1953b. “The Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia 1948-53: The Work of the Second Team on the Tibet Border.” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society XL (part I): 7–10.

———. 1954. “The Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia: Its Work in the Himalayas.” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society XLI (parts III–IV): 228–237.

———. 1959. “Anthropological Research in Ceylon, India, and on the Borders of Tibet.” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society 46: 251–263.

———. 1963. A Study of Polyandry. The Hague: Mouton & Co.

Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark and Jørgen Balslev Jørgensen. 1966. “Physical Anthropological Observations on 5000 Tibetans: from the 3rd Danish Expedition to Central Asia” In Anthropological Researches from the 3rd Danish Expedition to Central Asia, edited by H.R.H. Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark, L. Edelberg, J. Balslev Jørgensen, K. Paludan, and H. Siiger, 1-46. København: Munksgaard.

Sahlins, Marshall. 1999. “Two or Three Things I Know about Culture.” Journal of The Royal Anthropological Institute 5 (3): 399–422.

———. 2005. Culture in Practice. Selected Essays. New York: Zone Books. Sangharakshita. 1997. The Rainbow Road: From Tooting Broadway to Kalimpong,

Memoirs of an English Buddhist. Cambridge: Windhorse Publications.

Shah, Sudha. 2012. The King in Exile: The Fall of the Royal Family of Burma. Harper- Collins Publishers India.

Shakya, Tsering. 1999. The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet. New York: Columbia University Press.

Thomas, Nicholas. 1991. Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and Colonialism in the Pacific. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

———. 1994. Colonialism’s Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

———. 2000. “Epilogue.” In Hunting the Gatherers: Ethnographic Collectors, Agents and Agency in Melanesia, 1870s-1930s, edited by O’Hanlon, Michael, and Robert L. Welsch, 273–277. New York: Berghahn Books.

Thondup, Gyalo, and Anne F. Thurston. 2015. The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet. New York: Public Affairs.

Time 1950. “Haven’t We Met?” Time, 0040781X, 12/4/1950, 56 (23).


_______________

Notes:


1 In this article we describe the results of a preliminary investigation conducted in 2014 into Prince Peter’s seven years in Kalimpong. In March 2015 we presented these findings in our paper “The Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia—7 Years in Kalimpong” at the conference Transcultural Encounters in the Himalayan Borderlands: Kalimpong as a “Contact Zone.” We would like to thank the convenors for inviting us to this inspiring event, and we are grateful to the Asian Dynamics Initiative at the University of Copenhagen for financing our participation in the conference and travel to Kalimpong. Thanks are also due to the Eastern Himalaya Research Network and the other participants at the conference, both the lecturers and the audience, whose positive and constructive responses to our paper are much appreciated.

2 Prince Peter also led the Danish Scientific Mission to Afghanistan (the Henning Haslund-Christensen Memorial Expedition) in 1953–54, in which several other Danish scientists participated (Prince Peter 1954b).

3 Prince Peter’s scholarly work had the greatest impact within Tibetan Studies in general and polyandry in particular, but he recognised the importance of a comparative social anthropology. Within that discipline, however, his research and writing gave him only a marginal position, apart from, perhaps, the role he played in introducing anthropology to Greece. He gave numerous lectures at, among other institutions, the University of Athens and the Anthropological Society in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He never obtained an academic position in Greece, and his monograph The Science of Anthropology did not receive good reviews (Agelopoulos 2013).

4 He had been to Kalimpong once before, in December 1938, doing research on polyandry (Prince Peter 1963).

5 In James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon, a plane crash in the Himalayas brought four Americans and Europeans to the utopian monastery of Shangri-La run by “the high lama,” a Catholic missionary from Belgium. Shangri-La was a storehouse of European high culture and wisdom rescued from war and destruction, and hidden away in the Himalayas. Shangri-La had an enchanting effect on those who found the place and it was a remedy for materialism, spiritual decay, and old age. The idea of Tibet as synonymous with Shangri-La has since become part of Western popular culture.

6 In his own memoir, Gyalo Thondup branded himself “the noodle-maker of Kalimpong” (2015).

7 When Prince Peter writes “the Tibetans” in his account, he probably means the Tibetan Foreign Bureau in Lhasa and his contact Tsepon Shakabpa, who was the highest-ranking Tibetan official in Kalimpong.

8 For more details on Prince Peter’s anthropometric studies, see Brox and Koktvedgaard Zeitzen 2017.

9 See Thomas 1991; 1994.

10 See for instance Prince Peter 1952; 1953a–b; 1954; 1966.

11 See Fergusson & Gupta 1997; Marcus 1995.

12 The lecture was given on February 25, 1959 (Prince Peter 1959, 251).

13 See Thomas 1991; 1994; 2000.

14 In our research project Prince Peter and the Third Danish Expedition to Central Asia, we have focused on Prince Peter’s ethnographic knowledge production during the seven years he spent in Kalimpong. The objective of the project is to do an ethnography of collecting in the Tibetan works, words, and worlds of Prince Peter in order to trace the biographies of both him and his Tibetan interlocutors, as well as the biographies of the Tibetan artefacts, accounts, and anthropometrical data he collected in order to advance our understanding of cultural heritage in the Himalayas. See also Koktvedgaard Zeitzen and Brox (2016).
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz
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Accessed: 7/19/20

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René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz
Born: 29 June 1923, Groß Hoschütz, Czech Silesia
Died: 9 July 1959 (aged 36), Vienna, Austria
Other names: René Mario von Nebesky-Wojkowitz
Academic background
Influences: Robert Bleichsteiner, Giuseppe Tucci, Joseph Rock, Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark
Academic work
Era: mid-Twentieth century
Main interests: Tibetan popular religion, Tibetan protector deities, Lepcha culture
Notable works: Oracles and Demons of Tibet, Tibetan Religious Dances
Notable ideas Compiled an exhaustive catalog of Tibetan protective divinities and spirits
Influenced: Samten Karmay, Amy Heller, Anne-Marie Blondeau, Françoise Pommaret, Todd Allen Gibson, Richard J. Kohn, Hildegard Diemberger, P. Christiaan Klieger.

René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz[1] (29 June 1923 – 9 July 1959) was a Czech ethnologist and Tibetologist. He is mostly known for his 1956 publication Oracles and Demons of Tibet, which was the first detailed study of Tibetan deity cults.

Biography

Image

René Mario de Nebesky-Wojkowitz was born in Groß Hoschütz in Moravia on 29 June 1923. After completing his secondary education in Leitmeritz and Prague, he devoted himself to the study of Central Asian ethnology, Tibetan, and Mongolian at the universities of Berlin and Vienna. It was especially the teachings of the late Robert Bleichsteiner at the University of Vienna that encouraged him to specialize in Tibetan studies. Before the defense of his doctoral thesis (see Bibliography, no. 3) on November 3, 1949 he published two articles on the Bön religion and the state oracle.[2][3] From November 1949 to July 1950 he continued his studies in Italy under the direction of Giuseppe Tucci and Joseph Rock, as well as in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Economics.

In August 1950, Nebesky-Wojkowitz set off for Kalimpong and did not return to Europe until February 1953 (nos. 16, 18). His long stay there gave him access to many texts on protector deities and allowed him to benefit from the council of Tibetan scholars who sought refuge during the Chinese incursion. One can find a vivid description of events at that time in a book he intended for non-specialists (no. 20). Nebesky-Wojkowitz published the results of his research in several articles, and especially in his most important work, Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities (no. 22). This voluminous 666-page book is widely considered a foundational study of Tibetan popular religion and deity cults, making it an indispensable compendium for all those who deal with protector deities.
Nebesky-Wojkowitz also made several excursions among the Lepcha of Sikkim (nos. 7, 10, 14, 15). In 1954 he spent five months in Leiden identifying the collection of Lepcha manuscripts at the National Museum of Ethnology, where he had already made a list of the titles of Tibetan xylographs and manuscripts during a seven-month stay in 1953.

René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz visited Kalimpong and Sikkim a second time in the last months of 1956 before going to Nepal to look for a new site of exploration (no. 23). In 1958-1959 he visited Nepal again and stayed there for three months. He collected a considerable amount of material as well as 400 objects for the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna, where they remain today. In 1958 he became a "wissenschaftlicher Beamter" at the Museum of Ethnology. At the start of 1958 he was diagnosed with pneumonia, the effects of which were felt during his third expedition to the Himalayas in 1958-1959. The travels that he undertook in Nepal became too demanding on his health and, upon his return to Vienna, he died at the age of 36 on July 9, 1959 after a brief illness.[4]

Cause(s) of Death

According to de Jong,[5] René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz died of pneumonia. However, his cause of death has been almost completely eclipsed by how tragically young he was when he succumbed. Because of this, an urban legend of sorts has come to surround Nebesky-Wojkowitz's death, with many members of the Tibetan Buddhist community believing that his death was actually brought on by the wrath of the very protector deities he studied so assiduously. In his critique of Tibetan shamanism, scholar Zeff Bjerken describes his own personal experience with this widespread belief:

[Nebesky-Wojkowitz’s] sudden untimely death, shortly after the...completion [of Oracles and Demons of Tibet], was thought to have been brought about by Tibet’s protective deities, who were avenging his efforts to reveal their secrets and magic power. At the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, when I tried to check out Nebesky-Wojkowitz’s text for my research, I discovered that it was not on the shelf with most other books but kept separate under lock and key. Only after offering the Tibetan librarian my American passport as collateral was I permitted access to the work, although not before being warned of its dangerous content.[6]

Among scholars of Tibetan religions, as well as outside observers, opinions vary, with some taking this belief seriously and others not. Two decades prior to Bjerken’s account, John Blofeld, a popular British writer on Eastern religions, made the following morbidly droll statement: “Tibetans were not surprised when the distinguished author of Oracles and Demons of Tibet came to an untimely end soon after completing that monumental but dullish book. The subject of Guardians is one on which nothing detailed should be said; to write at length about demons is always held to be unwise; but his ultimate crime was to make them seem boring!”
[7] This latter contention is, at times, still spoken of in jest among Tibetan specialists today.

Bibliography

1. “Die tibetische Bön-Religion,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 2 (1947), pp. 26–68.
2. “Das tibetische Staatsorakel,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 3 (1948), pp. 136–155.
3. "Schriftwesen, Papierherstellung und Buchdruck bei den Tibetern" (Vienna, 1949; unpublished dissertation).
4. “Einige tibetische Werke über Grammatik und Poetik,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 4 (1949), pp. 154–159.
5. “Ein Beitrag zur tibetischen Ikonographie: mGon po phyag drug und seine Begleiter,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 5 (1950), pp. 138–158.
6. “The Tibetan Kagyupa Sect,” Stepping-Stones 1[8], pp. 185–187.
7. (with Geoffrey Gorer) “The Use of the Thread-Crosses in Lepcha Lamaist Ceremonies,” The Eastern Anthropologist 4[2] (1950–1951), pp. 65–87.
8. “A Contribution to Mahāyāna Iconography,” Stepping-Stones 2[3] (1951), pp. 77–82.
9. “Some Recent Publications on Tibet,” Stepping-Stones 2[8], pp. 1–10.
10. “Ancient Funeral Ceremonies of the Lepchas,” The Eastern Anthropologist 5[1] (1951–1952), pp. 27–40.
11. “A Tibetan Protective Deity,” The Eastern Anthropologist 5[2-3] (1952), pp. 87–95.
12. “Prehistoric Beads from Tibet,” Man 52 (1952), art. 183, pp. 131–132.
13. “Tibetan Drum Divination, ‘Ngamo’,” Ethnos 17 (1952), pp. 149-157.
14. “Hochzeitslieder der Lepchas,” Asiatische Studien 6[1-4] (1952), pp. 30–40.
15. “Die Legende vom Turmbau der Lepcha,” Anthropos 48 (1953), pp. 889–897.
16. “Neuerwerbungen aus Sikkim und Tibet,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 8 (1953), pp. 269–272.
17. “Hunting and Fishing among the Lepchas,” Ethnos 18 (1953), pp. 21–30.
18. “A Report on Ethnographical Research in the Sikkim Himalayas 1950-1953,” Wiener Völkerkundliche Mitteilungen 2[1] (1954), pp. 33–38.
19. Review of S. Hummel, Geschichte der tibetischen Kunst, Leipzig, 1953 – Asiatische Studien 9 (1955), pp. 139–141.
20. Wo die Berge Götter sind. Drei Jahre bei unerforschten Völkern des Himalaya (Stuttgart, 1955); Dutch translation: Bergen, Goden, Magiërs, Baarn, 1956; English translation: Where the Gods are Mountains: Three Years among the People of the Himalayas, London, 1956, New York, 1957; French translation: Les montagnes où naissent les dieux, Paris, 1957.
21. “Robert Bleichsteiner †,” WZKM 52 (1953–1955), pp. 269–271.
22. Der Kult und die Ikonographie der tibetischen Schutzgottheiten / The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities (Habilitation; Vienna, 1955); Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities (The Hague: Mouton, 1956); Chinese translation Xīzàng de shénlíng hé guǐguài 西藏的神灵和鬼怪 (Lhasa, Xīzàng rénmín chūbǎnshè 西藏人民出版社, 1993), ISBN 7-223-00456-8.
23. “Ergebnisse der 2. Forschungsreise nach Nepal und Sikkim 1956-1957,” Wiener Völkerkundliche Mitteilungen 4[2] (1956), pp. 213–216.
24. Review of P. Cyrill von Korvin-Krasinski, Die Tibetische Medizinphilosophie: Der Mensch Als Mikrokosmos, Zurich, 1953 – American Anthropologist 58[5] (October 1956), pp. 936–938.
25. “Tibetan Blockprints and Manuscripts in Possession of the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 13 (1958), pp. 174–209.
26. Review of D. L. Snellgrove, Buddhist Himālaya, Oxford, 1957 – OLZ 54 (1959), pp. 530–532.
27. Tibetan Religious Dances: Tibetan Text and Annotated Translation of the ’chams yig (The Hague/Paris: Mouton, 1976); published posthumously by Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf, with an appendix by Walter Graf, ISBN 90-279-7621-X.

Further information

• Zeff Bjerken, “Exorcising the Illusion of Bon ‘Shamans’: A Critical Genealogy of Shamanism in Tibetan Religions,” Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 6 (2004), pp.4-59.
• John Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet: A Practical Guide, Boulder, Prajñā Press (1982).
• J.W. de Jong, "René Mario von Nebesky-Wojkowitz †," Indo-Iranian Journal 3[4] (1959), pp. 306–309.
• Henri Desroche, Review of Tibetan Religious Dances: Tibetan Text and Annotated Translation of the ’chams yig, The Hague, 1976 - Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 23e Année 45.2 (1978), p. 286.
• Mireille Helffer, Review of Tibetan Religious Dances: Tibetan Text and Annotated Translation of the ’chams yig, The Hague, 1976 - L'Homme 18[1-2] (1978), pp. 217–219.
• K.W. Lim, Review of Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities, The Hague, 1956 - Bibliotheca Orientalis 16[1-2] (1959), pp. 60–62.
• H.E. Richardson, Review of Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities, The Hague, 1956 - Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland no.3-4 (1957), pp. 221–222.
• Marian W. Smith, Review of Where the Gods are Mountains: Three Years among the People of the Himalayas, London, 1956 - The Geographical Journal 123[2] (1957), p. 246.
• D.L. Snellgrove, Review of Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities, The Hague, 1956 - Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 21[1-3] (1958), pp. 649–650.
• R.A. Stein, Review of Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities, The Hague, 1956 - Journal Asiatique 244[2] (1956), pp. 229–236.
• Charles Stonor, Review of Where the Gods are Mountains: Three Years among the People of the Himalayas, London, 1956 - Man 57 (1957), p. 61.
• Alex Wayman, Review of Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities, The Hague, 1956 - Journal of Asian Studies 16[3] (1957), pp. 442–444.
• n.a., Review-essay of Tibetan Religious Dances: Tibetan Text and Annotated Translation of the ’chams yig, The Hague, 1976 - Asian Music 10[2] (1979), pp. 159–178.

Notes

1. Alternatively, he is listed as René von Nebesky-Wojkowitz in some of his publications (see Bibliography, nos. 2, 7, 20)
2. “Die tibetische Bön-Religion,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 2 (1947), pp. 26–68.
3. “Das tibetische Staatsorakel,” Archiv für Völkerkunde 3 (1948), pp. 136–155.
4. The majority of this information was drawn from de Jong, "René Mario von Nebesky-Wojkowitz †"
5. de Jong, "René Mario von Nebesky-Wojkowitz †"
6. Bjerken, “Exorcising the Illusion of Bon ‘Shamans’," p.38
7. Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet, p.73

External links

• René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz in the German National Library catalogue
• René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz in Austria-Forum (in German) (at AEIOU)
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:53 am

Part 1 of 3

George de Roerich [George Nicolas de Roerich] [Georg Nikolaivitch Roerich]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/19/20

On December 26,1923, in eastern Tibet, one hundred heavily armed Buddhist monks, hidden in the morning fog, saddled their horses and quickly galloped northward away from Tashilumpho monastery, heading toward Mongolia. In the middle of the crowd, shielded on all sides by his bodyguards and followers, rode the ninth Panchen Lama (1883-1937), abbot of the monastery and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was running for his life from the wrath of the Dalai Lama. In the eyes of Lhasa, the Panchen Lama, who ruled as a powerful local lord and refused to pay taxes, was a dangerous separatist defying the efforts of His Holiness to turn Tibet into a modern nation-state. The officer sent to chase the fleeing party was quite fond of the mild and friendly abbot and did not rush to fulfill his assignment. Pretending to be ill, he camped with his detachment for two days, and when the pursuit was renewed, it was too late: the Panchen Lama was far ahead of his pursuers, deep in Chinese Mongolia beyond the reach of the Dalai Lama. The runaway abbot settled into a self-imposed exile near the border with Red Mongolia.

After the Panchen Lama's escape, a prophecy spread throughout Inner Asia that the runaway abbot would come back to Tibet as the king of Shambhala and punish evildoers. The Panchen Lama's own grim predictions added to the general excitement:

The time has already arrived when it is rather difficult to escape such terrible sufferings. Dead bodies will fill the ravines and channels and rivers of blood will flow. Even if there will be roads, there will be no one to walk along them. Even if there will be yurts, there will be no one to live in them. Even if there will be clothes, there will be no one to wear them. Remember that the supreme nobles will be exterminated by diseases, and also the lower poor ones will be troubled by illness. Rich and poor will be equal. Only good ones and evil ones will be distinguished. [1]


The flight of the Panchen Lama stirred diplomatic and spy games that involved England, Japan, China, and Red Russia. Surprisingly, each, for its own reasons, wanted the Panchen Lama back in Tibet. China had plans to use him as a puppet to keep the Land of Snows in its orbit and disrupt nation-building in Tibet. Britain wanted to reconcile the runaway abbot with the Dalai Lama to make Tibet into a nation that would serve as a buffer between British India and Red Russia and China. The Bolsheviks were wary of the Panchen Lama hanging around the borders of Red Mongolia, where he enjoyed skyrocketing popularity and could present an ideological challenge to the sprouts of Communism. Added to this was a slim hope that he might be used to help the Bolsheviks get a foot into the Forbidden Kingdom. Finally, Japan, a latecomer to this game, wanted to use the Panchen Lama and his Shambhala war to squeeze the Chinese out of Inner Asia.

In the same fall of 1923, a peculiar, sage-looking European appeared in Darjeeling in the northernmost part of India near the Tibetan border. A plump man with a round face and a small Mongol-styled beard, he moved and talked like a high dignitary. He announced that he was a painter, and, indeed, from time to time people could see him here and there with a sketchbook, drawing local landscapes. Yet, even for an eccentric painter, he acted strangely. To begin with, he argued that he was an American, although he spoke English with a heavy Slavic accent. He also demonstrated a deep interest in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly in the Maitreya and Shambhala legends, which was not unusual -- except that the painter had a ceremonial Dalai Lama robe made for himself and donned it occasionally, hinting he was the reincarnated fifth Dalai Lama, the famous reformer in early modern times. His behavior raised the eyebrows of local authorities, who passed this information along to the British intelligence service.

As strange as it might sound, the "sage" did strike a chord with some local Tibetan Buddhists, for several visiting lamas did recognized him as the reincarnated Dalai Lama by the moles on his cheeks. At that time, no one except several close relatives and disciples of the painter knew that he had a grand plan, which included dislodging the Dalai Lama, bringing the Panchen Lama back to Tibet, reforming Tibetan Buddhism, and establishing in the vast spaces of Inner Asia a new theocracy, which he planned to call the Sacred Union of the East. He saw the flight of the Panchen Lama as an occult signal of the coming Shambhala war that would bring to the world the new golden age of Maitreya. The name of this ambitious dreamer was Nicholas Roerich.

Education of a Practical Idealist

Roerich, who liked to call himself a practical idealist, came from a family with Baltic German roots on the paternal side; his father was a notary and his mother, a Russian, came from the ranks of city burghers. Nicholas had three siblings: an elder sister and two younger brothers. Since early childhood, his great passion was archaeology. As a nine-year- old, Roerich already took part in archaeological digs. This love for the past, legends, and fairy tales would remain with him for the rest of his life, and from the beginning he took legends and prophecies seriously, considering them reflections of actual events.

Another of Roerich's passions was art, for which he had a great talent. By 1917, he was already a famous and accomplished painter, working in the Art Nouveau style and portraying spiritual scenes, gradually shifting from Slavic primitivism to Oriental mysticism. Favorite subjects were various Buddhist and Hindu mythological characters depicted against mountain landscapes of blue, purple, yellow, and orange. [2] Many contemporaries noted one characteristic that united his canvases-they were cold and solemn. Devoid of emotion, Roerich's images were reminiscent of spiritual messages. A fellow painter and colleague described his art thus: "The world of Roerich represents a fairy tale clad in stone. He spreads colors on his paintings firmly like a mosaic. The forms of his art do not breathe and have no emotions at all. They are eternal like the rocks of cliffs and caves." [3] Roerich himself explained that his goal was to capture and depict the ideal forms of life and therefore he liked to paint from his head rather than from his heart.

In 1901 Roerich met and married his soul mate, Helena Shaposhnikova, the daughter of a famous St. Petersburg architect. It was a happy marriage: Helena and Nicholas were not only a couple but also fellow dreamers, which contributed to Roerich's conversion to the life of a spiritual seeker. They would share all their spiritual and geopolitical adventures. Their two sons, George and Svetoslav, who were made part of their Great Plan, later became scholars, explorers, and painters. The only troubles were the horrible headaches and fits that haunted Helena, the results of two serious head traumas. One was received during her childhood and another in adulthood when she fell on her head from an upper bunk in a train compartment. After the second trauma, Helena began to have visions of fire and flames that consumed her entire body. Another serious damage to her health might have been caused by prenatal trauma suffered when her mother had unsuccessfully tried to abort her. [4]

Everything changed when Helena reinterpreted those fits as an invitation to converse with otherworldly forces. Such an approach was unusual during that time when Freudian psychiatry was becoming a cultural fad and such things were treated as illness. Helena later claimed that a message came from her otherworldly teacher informing her that the fits were the result of the discovery of new energy centers in her body and that the work of these centers was what produced the excruciating pains. [5] The fire and flames she saw inside herself accompanied by visions and voices became the manifestation of Agni Yoga (Fire Yoga), a spiritual system the couple later worked into a new creed after they moved to the United States in 1921.

As soon as she converted her sickness into spiritual experiences, Helena's life became a bit easier. Now the headaches, horrific images, and visions that continued to haunt her became messages from otherworldly spiritual teachers. Moreover, Helena soon learned to put herself intentionally into a trancelike mood in order to receive information from the "other side." The other side was two spiritual masters who represented the Great White Brotherhood hidden in the Himalayas -- spiritual baggage Helena borrowed from the famous Helena Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy. Just as in the case of Blavatsky, Helena Roerich's hidden masters were Hindu men who first appeared to her in London's Hyde Park. Eventually, the spiritual masters who visited Helena began to appear to Nicholas as well.

From early on, Nicholas Roerich nourished grand dreams. The painter was convinced that he was predestined for a great role in life. In fact, he never tried to hide his self-importance: "I have a big ego. Although this sometimes gives me moments of difficulty, I am glad that I have much of it. Like a good whip, my ego makes me move forward fast. Without such a source of energy I would not be able to accomplish many things." [6] Since childhood, Roerich was also fond of playing roles of imagined persons, usually great historical and mythological personalities. Eventually this habit became his second nature. His round face, pink cheeks, well-groomed hair, and small beard seemed like a mask that could be cast aside in an instant and replaced by another one.

This ability to wear different masks later helped him play different roles and cultivate useful people. The mysterious Roerich skillfully penetrated different spheres, including the court of the tsar. Smart, cunning, and polite, he knew well when and how to flatter and be courteous. His approach was usually very simple: "Make friends with a person" and "listen to him and let him speak." This talent in captivating useful people not only brought him many contacts and riches, but also enabled him to pursue his utopian projects. In fact, in their relations with people, Nicholas and Helena never thought in terms of emotions and friendship. The world was strictly divided into those who were useful and those who were useless. The people who surrounded them were just pawns in their schemes. Such an approach was natural, for the couple was not concerned about individuals-their goal was to bless all of humankind. Thus, one of their closest associates, Frances Grant, was a "good instrument." Rich and powerful philanthropists from New York, Washington, and Chicago were "useful for the future." Even the painter's own brother Vladimir was put on this grading scale: he would "be useful in our work." [7]

In 1909, another important event in Roerich's life aroused his interest in Tibetan Buddhism and triggered his quest for Shambhala. A group of Tibetan Buddhists in St. Petersburg headed by Agvan Dorzhiev, the Buryat Buddhist monk and envoy of the Dalai Lama to the Russian court, received Tsar Nicholas II's blessing to erect a Tibetan Buddhist temple in the Russian capital. Backed by bohemian spiritual seekers and cultural dignitaries fond of Theosophy and Buddhism, Dorzhiev was able to convince the tsar (who was prone to mysticism) that it would be good for both spiritual and geopolitical reasons. Playing on Russian- English rivalry in Asia in hopes of shielding Tibetan sovereignty from English and Chinese advances, the Dalai Lama's ambassador told the tsar that inhabitants of the Forbidden Kingdom viewed the Russian emperor as the king of northern Shambhala who would protect their country from the aliens' intrusions.

Roerich eagerly joined the project, designing stained glass for the temple. The painter also became fascinated with Dorzhiev's stories about Shambhala, the mysterious Buddhist paradise somewhere in the north. No less captivating was the Buryat lama's dream of bringing all Tibetan Buddhist people together in a united state under the protection of the Russian tsar. Roerich and the "learned Buryat lama," as the painter referred to Dorzhiev, had many cohorts among Russian intellectuals and aristocrats, whose cultural life was saturated with the occult. The early twentieth century in Russia was the time of the so-called Silver Age -- an incredible resurgence of humanities, music, art, and esotericism. Even some Marxists, to Lenin's dismay, paid tribute to this cultural renaissance, openly pondering how to elevate humans to the status of gods and how to turn communism into the religion of a new age. In St. Petersburg and Moscow salons, people were talking about the end of the Enlightenment era and its rationalism, turning away from Western civilization to the Orient. Theosophy, the first modern countercultural spirituality, which at that time was heavily loaded with Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, flourished among Russian people of arts and letters.

At the end of 1916, just on the eve of the Bolshevik takeover, Roerich and his family, as if sensing which way the wind would be blowing, conveniently left St. Petersburg and settled in a quiet summer cottage amid pine woods in Finland, away from the coming revolutionary storm. This turned out to be a very smart decision, allowing the Roeriches to avoid the bloodiest period in Russian history: the Communist Revolution of October 1917, mob attacks on "bourgeois" intellectuals, and the brutalities of so-called War Communism imposed by the Bolsheviks on Russia. This lack of hands-on experience with the "joys of Communism" might explain why later it became so easy for the couple to make friends with Red Russia.

Soon, invited by a rich admirer to exhibit Nicholas's paintings in London, the Roeriches moved to England. Here they could forget about everything and continue their Silver-Age lifestyle, joining the Theosophical Society and frequenting occult and spiritualist salons. In 1919, replicating experiences of her famous predecessor Helena Blavatsky, Helena Roerich had her spiritual breakthrough: in London's Hyde Park she "met" her Himalayan spiritual masters (mahatmas), named Morya and Khut-Humi. Later, Khut-Humi somehow dropped out, and the couple dealt only with Morya, who became their spiritual guide for the rest of their lives.

Although the Roeriches were able to rub shoulders with fellow spiritual seekers in England, they were not happy in London. Helena and Nicholas wanted something bigger than just being a minuscule part of a large Theosophical crowd. There was no room for them to spread their wings to become spiritual teachers. The great occult celebrity Peter Ouspensky far overshadowed the newly arrived couple with budding mystical aspirations. Just across the English Channel in France, the flamboyant George Gurdjieff was a magnet drawing European seekers to his spiritual school. Even in the world of painting, Nicholas Roerich was relegated to a secondary role in the shadow of such European giants as fellow emigres Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich. Helena and Nicholas, who liked to compare themselves with Prometheus, could not stomach such a situation. Like this ancient Greek hero, they dreamed about storming heights, stealing fire to bring it to people.

For a while they played with the idea of moving to India and making that country a staging ground for their worldwide spiritual mission. In fact, they had already made contact with the famous Hindu writer and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, who promised them "light, space and quietness, but not dollars." Yet the Indian option was swiftly cast aside. In one of her letters, Helena made a sarcastic remark about this offer: one could find such "treasures" in any desert. [8] The couple did need money and fame, and in this respect America sounded far more appealing. Again, like their prominent predecessor Blavatsky, they chose to move to New York City. Morya, the newly acquired spiritual guide from the Himalayas, backed up this decision. Before embarking overseas, Roerich confided to one of his friends: "He guides me and my family. Now he has given me a new assignment-to instill spirituality into American art and to establish an art school there named after the Masters." [9]

Soon after arriving in America in October 1920, the Roeriches pioneered their teaching, an offshoot of Theosophy called Agni Yoga that invoked fire, the recurrent image from Helena's visions and a symbol of destruction and creation. At the center of Agni Yoga was the idea of reincarnation, giving people the opportunity to improve and raise themselves to the level of the divine beings in the Himalayan Great White Brotherhood. These masters, who included Morya, guided humankind in its spiritual development and from time to time sent out sages to speed up this spiritual evolution. Of course, Helena and Nicholas were thinking about themselves as these sages-messengers sent to enlighten humankind. In his Shambhala (1930), the painter hinted about their historical mission: "Verily, verily, the people of Shambhala at times emerge into the world. They meet the earthly co-workers of Shambhala. For the sake of humanity, they send out precious gifts, remarkable relics. I can tell you many stories of how wonderful gifts were received through space. Even Rigden-jyepo [Rigden-Djapo, king of Shambhala] himself appears at times in human body. Suddenly he shows himself in holy places, in monasteries, and at time predestinated, pronounces his prophecies." [10]

Communication with the brotherhood was conducted through Morya, who began to issue detailed instructions regarding all aspects of the Roeriches' lives, from their political preferences to family matters. To get in touch with the master, Helena entered a trancelike state and recorded her messages by automatic writing, a technique popular among contemporary spiritualists. Although not blessed with divine headaches, Nicholas nevertheless learned how to get in touch with Morya, and from time to time he contacted the master, relying only on automatic writing. Turning his head aside and covering his eyes with the palm of one hand, the painter usually "talked" with Morya while simultaneously writing down the messages from the otherworld.

The new teaching drew initial converts: Frances Grant, a reporter, and a Russian Jewish couple, Sina Lichtmann-Fosdick and Maurice Lichtmann, two piano teachers who had moved across the ocean long before the revolution and had become almost fully Americanized. Soon another Jewish couple joined the group: Natty and Louis Horch, who had lost their first child and were searching for spiritual comfort. Louis, a currency speculator whose face was disfigured by a horrible trauma to his skull, turned out to be a treasure trove for Nicholas and Helena. By the early 1930s, he would blow more than one and a half million dollars funding Roerich's artistic and geopolitical ventures. In 1924, Nicholas Roerich added to this group George Grebenstchikoff, a writer and expert on Siberian geography and ethnography. Another prominent member of the inner circle was George Roerich, one of the Roeriches' two sons, whom they specially sent to Harvard and then to the Sorbonne in France to be groomed as an Orientalist. George was expected to learn about Tibetan and Hindu traditions-necessary assets for a future Shambhala warrior who was to assist his parents in their geopolitical plans.

There were other close contacts and associates who were never fully informed about the Roeriches' ultimate goals. Among them were industrialist and philanthropist Charles R. Crane; Frank Kellogg, U.S. Secretary of State under Hoover; and later on Henry Wallace, FDR's Secretary of Agriculture, who was admitted into the painter's inner circle but at the same time was not completely devoted to his plans. The most trusted disciples received specially designed rings and esoteric names -- symbols of belonging to the elect. [11] The rest of their friends and acquaintances, Nicholas stressed, should not be told of their longterm goals. For the general public, Roerich was to remain simply a painter and archaeologist interested in Oriental cultures. In 1922, after establishing his Master School of United Arts in New York, Roerich reminded the inner circle, "There are two sides of our school: the pretend illusionary one, which exists for all surrounding people, for many things must not be mentioned, and the real one-those wonderful events and miracles known only to US." [12]

Dreams of an Asian Spiritual Kingdom

The couple believed that World War I and the collapse of empires, along with bloody class and ethnic fights all over Eurasia, were a necessary purgatory: an Armageddon that would eventually bring a new golden age of universal happiness and spiritual bliss, which the Roeriches interchangeably called the Shambhala kingdom and the age of Maitreya. To Nicholas and Helena, the disorder that reigned in Inner Asia after the downfall of the Russian and Chinese empires and the expanding prophecies about mighty heroes that would come to deliver people appeared to provide an ideal stage for them to tryout their role of saviors. Sometime by 1923, the Roeriches concluded the moment was right for them to plug into and use Shambhala and similar prophecies to build in Asia a powerful spiritual state based on reformed Buddhism: "For those who imagine Shambhala as a legendary invention, this indication is superstitious myth. But there are also others, fortified by more practical knowledge." [13] The Roeriches assumed that, if properly channeled, these prophecies might develop according to the scenario prescribed by the Great White Brotherhood.

The flight of the Panchen Lama from Tibet in December 1923 was seen as another powerful sign from the otherworldly brothers for them to step up. Without an assertive spiritual leader, thought Roerich, Tibetan Buddhists would "become prey to the intrigues of the retrograding lamaistic parties." To signal the coming of the new age, the painter would act as that assertive leader by bringing the Panchen Lama to Lhasa, fixing the situation, and making sure that the thirteenth Dalai Lama would be the last. The authority of the Yellow Pope (a derogatory nickname Roerich frequently used to refer to the sitting Dalai Lama) was to be erased: "The sacred army will purge Lhasa of all its nefarious enemies," and "the realm of righteous will be established." Roerich was convinced that all Tibetans were just awaiting "the prophecy that a new ruler from Shambhala, with numberless warriors, shall come to vanquish and to establish righteousness in the citadel of Lhasa." [14] An expedition to Inner Asia, headed by the painter and disguised as a scientific archaeological enterprise, was to accomplish this task.

The final goal of this venture gradually crystallized into what Helena and Nicholas called the Great Plan-an idea to bring all Tibetan Buddhist people of Asia, from Siberia to the Himalayas, together into the Sacred Union of the East with the Panchen Lama and Roerich presiding over this future theocracy. This state was to be guided by reformed Buddhism cleansed from what the painter and his wife considered "shamanic superstitions," adjusted to the original teachings of Buddha, and injected with the Roeriches' Agni Yoga. The couple envisioned this utopia as a commonwealth of people who would live a highly spiritual life and work in cooperatives-the economic foundation of this new state.IS Their theocracy would stir a spiritual revival in the rest of the world. This grand dream certainly did not spring up overnight. For Helena and Nicholas, the Great Plan was a work in progress that continued from 1921 to 1929 and then was renewed in 1933-35.

Although they were dreamers, the Roeriches were not totally out of touch with reality. In fact, Nicholas and Helena's geopolitical scheme would not have sounded outlandish to their contemporaries, as many of them, both on the left and on the right, seriously believed there were absolute solutions to the world's problems, and that political and cultural messiahs were capable of delivering salvation. These solutions were usually based on collectivism and suppression of individuals to the will of a nation, class, or religion. With their grand geopolitical scheme designed to guide humankind to the correct spiritual path, the Roeriches perfectly fit their time.

At the end of 1921, the otherworldly teacher Morya gave his first hints on how to proceed with the unification of Inner Asian peoples into a spiritual kingdom: "In this life, without a fairy tale, you must visit us in Tibet, then go teach in Russia. I witness this by those happy events that take place in America" (August); "Think about Tibet, help to bring about harmony" (September); and finally, "Urusvati [Helena], I lead thee to the revealed Lhasa" (December). [16] The master also recommended they reread such spiritual classics as Ouspensky's Tertium Organum (1922) and Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine (1888) in order to be armed philosophically for the grand Asian journey.

On July 29, 1922, when "conversing" with Helena and Nicholas, Morya delivered a stunning revelation: in his past life, Nicholas had been the fifth Dalai Lama (1617-82), one of the most prominent Tibetan leaders, who brought the people of the Forbidden Kingdom together and had the famous Potala Palace built in Lhasa. On that same day, the painter learned that the Great White Brotherhood had chosen him to go to Tibet as a spiritual ambassador and then to proceed farther north to Russia. The otherworldly master added that when they went to Tibet the couple would have to shed their European dress and replace it with Oriental garments. After Tibet, upon their arrival in Russia, Maurice Lichtmann would welcome them with the Torah in his hands and on behalf of the Jewish nation would "deliver a welcoming address to the East." At the end of their journey, prop he sized Morya, representatives of various Inner Asian and Siberian peoples would come together and consummate the Sacred Union of the East. Eventually, out of this Asia-centered theocracy the superior race of people would spread the light of true spirituality all over the world. [17]

Like many Western intellectuals, including contemporary Theosophists, Helena and Nicholas were convinced that humankind's enlightenment and salvation would come from the East. This habit of looking to the Orient as the source of high wisdom has a long history. It started during the Enlightenment and then received an additional boost from Romanticism in the first half of the nineteenth century. By the beginning of the twentieth century, quite a few intellectuals had built up in their minds an idealized ancient Orient soaked in rich spiritual life and contrasted it to the imperfect contemporary West that scared Western seekers with its materialism, industrialization, and individualism.

Much like contemporary Theosophists, the Roeriches merged their Asia-centered geopolitical utopia with Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory, which had become fashionable at the end of the nineteenth century not only in the sciences, but also in the humanities and popular media. Following their predecessor Blavatsky, the Roeriches talked about a coming superior race that would dislodge spiritually degenerate races in the process of evolution. The Great White Brotherhood from the Himalayas and its messengers (the Roeriches) could speed up this evolution by navigating human beings toward the better future beyond materialism. To be exact, both Blavatsky and the Roeriches meant a spiritual evolution, not a biological one.

At that time in the West, this kind of talk about superior and inferior species and races, as well as grading cultures into primitive and advanced ones, was common, taken for granted, and never raised any eyebrows. Politicians, writers, scholars, and scientists all shared this mindset.

Besides Blavatsky's Theosophy, another powerful out-of-Asia source for the Roeriches was the Siberian autonomist movement. For some reason, all existing writings about the Roeriches somehow downplay this movement's influence on their geopolitical ideas. Autonomists were a small but outspoken group of Russian writers, artists, and scholars in Siberia, headed by the folklore scholar Grigorii Potanin (1835-1920), who worked to boost the status of their area within the Russian Empire. These men and women of arts and letters were convinced that their vast northern Asian homeland was a colony of European Russia. To them, Siberia was destined for a better role than to serve simply as a dump for common criminals and political prisoners and as the source of raw materials. At one point, when they became too vocal in demanding autonomy for Siberia, the Russian tsar condemned Potanin and several of his friends to exile in the European part of Russia. The emperor surely did not want to give these cultural rebels such a treat as an exile to Siberia.

Of special interest to the autonomists were the indigenous cultures of Siberia and Inner Asia. Potanin and his comrades were on a mission to use archaeological, folkloric, and ethnographic materials to show that Siberia, with its ancient Asiatic legacy, was a land steeped in rich culture more ancient than that of European Russia. The Russians in Siberia were not counted. As Europeans and newcomers to the area, they did not have ancient roots. What counted were lore, legends, and the ethnography of the indigenous folk of the Altai, Tuva, Buryat, and Mongolia. Like any cultural separatists living on the periphery, autonomists argued that their land was better and more ancient than other places: "The older the better" is the mantra of all nationalists and separatists who try to empower themselves. Talking and writing about the creative role of Inner Asian nomads were an important part of the autonomists' agenda. As if anticipating present-day politically correct historians, Potanin and his friends worked hard remaking the Mongols from ruthless barbarians and conquerors into noble cultural heroes and civilization carriers. At one point, Potanin went as far as arguing that Bible stories and Anglo-Saxon lore originated from Mongol and Siberian legends carried to the West and conflated with Middle Eastern and European oral culture.

Nicholas Roerich equally liked to indulge in such talk about nomads as cultural heroes. Moreover, for him, the Inner Asian nomads were potential foot soldiers in the coming Shambhala kingdom. Not spoiled by Western civilization, they would become the spearheads of the world's liberation. Potanin's books about Turkic and Mongol legends became must-reads in the curriculum of Roerich's arts and humanities Master School in New York. The painter especially liked how Potanin worked with facts, finding links other writers somehow did not see. For example, if the Hebrew name Solomon sounded similar to Solmon, a character from the old epic tales of the Mongol and Altaian people, Potanin quickly concluded that Hebrew mythology had been affected by Asian nomads.

Although Roerich read Potanin's works and from them picked up many Asia-centric ideas, the only autonomist he had a chance to interact closely with was George Grebenstchikoff, whom he met while visiting Paris. This fellow emigre and struggling writer from southern Siberia was one of Potanin's close followers. Grebenstchikoff bragged about traces of Mongol blood in his veins and struck a chord with Roerich by expounding on the special historical role of his "ancestors" in world civilization. Roerich was drawn to Grebenstchikoff's stories about the traditions and mysteries of Siberia and Inner Asia. His stories about the landscapes and legends of the Altai sounded especially fascinating, and Roerich began to dream about this picturesque mountain country at the intersection of Siberia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan as the center of his future spiritual kingdom. He and Helena contemplated erecting Zvenigorod (the city of bells), the capital of their future Pan -Asian state, in the Altai. The Siberian writer turned out to be so useful to the Great Plan that Nicholas concluded, "Grebenstchikoff knows everything." [18]

Special efforts were made to bring Grebenstchikoff from Paris to New York to keep him around as an expert on the area. The writer, who lived a miserable life in France, was more than happy to join the Roeriches' inner circle. Roerich gave him money (that came from Horch), helped him to settle in America, and endowed him with a new esoteric name: Tarukhan (from Tarlyk-khan, supposedly a Mongolian great grandfather of Grebenstchikoff). Helena and Nicholas made sure that Grebenstchikoff felt comfortable and secure in his new home. Once Helena instructed one of her sons, "Be close to Tarukhan. It is not only our request, it is also Mahatma Morya's order. Help our American friends understand the complexity and power of his character and the beauty of his visions. He is absolutely necessary for our project. I want them to trust him more. They will not be able to accomplish anything without him!"19 In exchange, the writer eagerly fed the geopolitical fantasies of the painter and his wife with his ethnographic tales.

The painter spent many hours with Tarukhan, inquiring about landscape, particular sites, and prophecies of the Altai. Grebenstchikoff's stories about the mysterious Belovodie (White Waters Land) layered well on what the painter read about Shambhala. Belovodie was a prophecy shared by Altai Russian Orthodox schismatics who envisioned a utopian land of plenty where they could worship freely without being harassed by the tsarist government. The painter was equally captivated by Grebenstchikoff's talks about the Oirot prophecy that sprang up at the turn of the 1900s among indigenous nomads of the Altai; the legendary chief Oirot was a personification of the glorious seventeenth-century nomadic confederation of Oirot tribes and their prince Amursana. Local nomads expected this legendary character to resurrect and save them from the Russian advance into their land and culture. For Roerich, both Belovodie and Oirot were local versions of the Shambhala prophecy. In hindsight, Roerich turned out to be more useful to Tarukhan than vice versa. After 1929, Grebenstchikoff gradually and politely disentangled himself from the adventurous couple and their dangerous projects and eventually built up a successful career in the United States as a writer and college professor.

Not a small influence in stirring the Roeriches' geopolitical dreams was the book Beasts, Men and Gods (1922) by Ferdinand Ossendowski, a former Russian-Polish reporter in St. Petersburg exiled by the tsar to Siberia in 1905 for his revolutionary activities. There he became a professor of chemistry at Tomsk Polytechnic College and later secretary of finance for the White government of Siberia and a leader of the White resistance against the Bolsheviks. Ossendowski's action-packed book, which reads as half adventure story and half esoteric thriller, is a hair-raising account of his escape from the Bolsheviks southward through Tuva and Mongolia after the White cause collapsed in Siberia in 1921. En route, the professor got stuck with the bloody sadist Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, who, as we have seen, dreamed, like Roerich, about building a grand pan-Asian empire.

In breathtaking style, Ossendowski described his actual life-and-death adventures as well as local landscapes, cultures, and prophecies of Asian nomads. A central theme is how the Bloody Baron hijacked Mongol prophecies. Roerich, who read and reread the book, certainly noted how quickly Ungern, an ordinary cavalry officer with average intelligence, by chance happened to liberate the Mongols from the Chinese and was elevated by the nomads to semi-divine status. The painter might have assumed that if such a mediocre and mean individual was able to stir indigenous prophecies and to entrench himself in the Tibetan Buddhist world, it surely would be easier for a person of a higher intellectual caliber like himself, who knew more about cultures of the area and, unlike the crazy baron, had a noble agenda, to do the same. The Roeriches took very seriously what they read in Ossendowski's book. Unlike bashers of Beasts, Men and Gods who unwarrantably accused Ossendowski of making up all his stories (critics could not forgive him for weaving into his text Alexandre d'Alveydre's myth of subterranean Agartha), the Roeriches knew exactly what Ossendowski was talking about. After all, the couple had their own personal source to check the facts in Ossendowski's book: Nicholas's brother Vladimir was the White officer in charge of the supply train in the Bloody Baron's army. After Ungern's demise, Vladimir escaped from the Reds, made his way to China, and settled in Harbin. [20]

[cont'd. below]
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Part 2 of 3

Obstacles, Magic Stone, and Reincarnation as the Dalai Lama

Early in 1923, armed with ideas of spiritual advancement, brotherhood, and collectivism, the Roeriches concluded the time was right for them to go and build their new-age kingdom of peace, love, beauty, and spirituality in the heart of Asia. Their teacher Morya instructed them along the same lines: "It is time for the fairy tale to become real." [21] Yet, George, who had purposely been sent to Paris to be trained in Tibetan and Hindu studies, nearly ruined the Great Plan with his reckless behavior. At the end of 1922, when Master Morya kept sending his messages preparing the family for the Asian venture, George suddenly announced that he was going to get married. Away from the watchful eyes of Nicholas and Helena, George had fallen in love with a fellow Russian emigre, a beautiful and highly intelligent brunette named Marcel Mantsiarli, a Theosophist and follower of Jiddu Krishnamurti.

George was excited and wrote to his parents that his beloved was not only a beautiful girl but also a mystically inclined and sensitive person, and, "most importantly, she is devoted to our cause." [22] Helena and Nicholas were infuriated. A marriage on the eve of such a grand enterprise? This was a disaster! Helena was so mad that she immediately showered George with letters denigrating Marcel: the girl was five years older than George and simply wanted to trap her innocent boy. Even Master Morya interfered, giving Helena an alarming warning: "The reputation of the son that 1 need so much is being shattered." For George, the uncompromising position of his parents became a real drama. Marcel's mother, who specially came to New York to fix the problem, could not convince Helena to change her mind. The son desperately pleaded, "I beg you, 1 ask you, do not break my happiness." [23] Despite all of his pleas, nothing was able to melt the hearts of the messengers of the Great White Brotherhood. The spiritual crusaders who were about to bring enlightenment to Asia and then to all of humankind could not afford to have such a trivial thing as love meddle with their Great Plan. Eventually, George's parents took him away from Paris on a trip across Europe. Under their pressure and brainwashing, George broke up with the girl-a choice he regretted for the rest of his life.

Ironically, as soon as they settled "George's problem" another potential Shambhala warrior fell into precisely the same trap. Colonel Nikolai Kordashevsky, an eccentric Lithuanian aristocrat of Polish descent from Lithuania whom the Roeriches had similarly groomed as part of their future Asian venture, suddenly fell in love as well. Surely the devil's forces were at work here, putting obstacles before the forces of light. Kordashevsky, a former White officer who had fought the Reds in Siberia, was a die-hard romantic and spiritual seeker. He loved monarchy and, like Baron Ungern, toyed for a while after the collapse of the Whites with the idea of moving to Tibet to serve the last true monarch-the Dalai Lama. But he changed his mind and returned to Europe. After a brief and disappointing experience with the celebrity occult teacher Gurdjieff, who exhausted the officer-aristocrat with his rigorous physical training, Kordashevsky wandered around Europe seeking new spiritual experiences. While in Paris in 1923, he stumbled upon Nicholas Roerich, who mesmerized him with his Asian plans. Soon, Kordashevsky was introduced into the painter's inner circle by receiving a ring and the esoteric name Chakhembula.

Bored to death on his Lithuanian estate, the colonel craved action and was ready to depart for Tibet right away. Helena and Nicholas had to restrain him. Waiting for orders from his new guru in New York, Kordashevsky was killing time by reading Theosophical books and Nordic legends and composing a novel about Joan of Arc when he suddenly fell in love with a local high-school teacher, a soul mate fascinated with the mysteries of ancient Egypt. This development presented a new challenge for the Roeriches, and it took another batch of letters to convince the romantic colonel to drop the girl. How could Kordashevsky afford such childish nonsense, Nicholas Roerich chastised him, when soon he was to saddle a horse, draw his sword, and ride into the heart of Asia? Kordashevsky followed the advice of his guru and forced himself to drop the girl.

Although the Roeriches were contemplating building an Inner Asian theocracy based on reformed Tibetan Buddhism and Agni Yoga, they had not settled on an exact itinerary of their activities. A tentative plan was to enter the area as an embassy of Western Buddhists, then somehow to contact the Panchen Lama and bring him to Tibet. After that they hoped to play by circumstances, going farther northward to Mongolia and Russia, stirring up en route Shambhala and other local prophecies. To finalize their plans, the family decided to make a reconnaissance trip to Sikkim, a small Indian principality in northern India conveniently located on the southern border of Tibet.

The Roeriches did not simply buy tickets and casually depart to India. Since theirs was a historical mission sponsored by the otherworldly forces of the Great White Brotherhood, they needed an occult blessing, at least in the eyes of their friends and associates. On the way to Sikkim, the couple stopped in Paris to secure identification documents. The Roeriches still held Russian passports issued before the Bolshevik revolution, and they did not want to draw too much attention to themselves in India by using passports of a nonexistent state. France aided the White Russian emigres, providing them with necessary papers.

The occult blessing arrived, as Nicholas and Helena explained to their adepts, on the morning of October 6, 1923, when someone knocked on the door of their room at Lord Byron Hotel. George Roerich opened the door. The visitor introduced himself as a clerk from the Paris Bankers Trust, handed him a mysterious package, and immediately departed. When Helena, George, and Nicholas opened the package, they found a small box inside decorated with silhouettes of a man, woman, kingfisher, and four gothic letters engraved "M" on the edges. However, the real surprise was inside the box -- a black shiny aerolite. The next day telegrams flew to all associates of the Roeriches in various countries: 10 and behold, the Great White Brotherhood had entrusted the Roeriches with the sacred Chintamani stone. This magic jewel, which possessed incredible power, was to be carried on their Asian expedition and delivered to the Shambhala kingdom.

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition the Chintamani stone is known as a wish-granting gem. Ferocious deities, protectors of the Tibetan Buddhist faith, were frequently portrayed on sacred scrolls holding this stone. On these scrolls the Chintamani is depicted as either an ordinary jewel or a stone engulfed in flames-this theological link to the Roeriches' Agni Yoga might have been why they were attracted to this sacred item. The Roeriches described the Chintamani as a powerful occult weapon that would help their Asian mission. Now they could act not only as prophets who could fulfill wishes by using the wish-granting gem, but also as protectors of the Buddhist faith: "The stone draws people like a magnet. Entire nations can rise up if one lifts the stone. An enemy can be destroyed if you say his name three times looking at the stone. Only people who are pure in their spirit and thought can look at it." [24] It is highly probable that George Roerich, a professional student of Tibetan Buddhism who was shrewd in intricacies of this tradition, fed the Chintamani legend to his parents, who layered on it their own personal mythology and then manufactured the entire story about the mysterious gift.

The couple's fantasy moved further. The Roeriches wrote to their friends that the Chintamani was not only about Asian tradition: the magic gem was also known to the ancient Druids and to European Meistersingers as Lapis exilis. The stone delivered to the Roeriches was wrapped in a piece of old fabric; on it was an image of the sun with mysterious Latin letters inside the sun circle: I.H.S., which might be rendered as In hoc signo [vinces] (by this sign [you will win]). The same Latin abbreviation was inscribed on the banner of Constantine the Great, the famous Roman emperor who first legalized Christianity. Weaving Buddhist and European mythology together, the Roeriches said that the Chintamani magically disappeared and then reappeared at crucial historical moments to be handed to the righteous ones who would guide humankind to a better future. Of course, the righteous ones were the painter and his wife.

Armed with the power of the sacred stone, George, Helena, and Nicholas, the three Shambhala warriors, reached Bombay on December 2, 1923. By railroad, the family quickly traveled to northern India, where they stopped in the town of Darjeeling (a corrupted version of dorje lingam [hard penis]), [25] the capital of Sikkim. Here, in the town famous for the tea that grows in the area, the Roeriches established their temporary base. For their residency they picked not just any house, but a small summer cottage called the Palace of Dalai, on the southern slopes of the Himalayas; the place was once used by the thirteenth Dalai Lama when he had to flee from the Chinese in 1910. The painter and his wife feasted their eyes on the picturesque site surrounded by mighty cedar trees. From their windows they could enjoy a divine view of the Himalayan ridges and valleys. [26] Somewhere north of these mountain ranges lay mysterious Shambhala and its prophecies, waiting to be stirred and awakened.

Image
Figure 7.2. Nicholas Roerich with visiting Buddhist monks, who recognized him as a reincarnation of the fifth Dalai Lama, Darjeeling, India, 1924. Standing, right to left: George Roerich, Lama Lobzang Mingyur Dorje, Nicholas Roerich, Helena Roerich.

The reconnaissance trip to Darjeeling turned out to be very stimulating. Nicholas spent his time not only painting awesome Himalayan landscapes and contemplating the coming Shambhala war, but also rubbing shoulders with visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks. A group of them from the Moru monastery visited the painter in April 1924; stunningly, they recognized him as the reincarnation of the great fifth Dalai Lama by the moles on his right cheek, which formed the shape of Ursa Major, thereby confirming what Master Morya had already revealed to the couple. But Nicholas had not simply sat waiting to be discovered as the reincarnation. Rather he had actively worked for this by donning lama vestments when entertaining his native and nonnative visitors. By all his demeanor and talk, Roerich emanated high dignity and spiritual wisdom. The strategy worked.

Yet, not everything was going well for him. British intelligence noted the strange Russian and put him under close watch. The painter sensed this attention and diplomatically never bragged about that miraculous recognition or his historical mission in Asia. Instead, he let other people do the talking. It was here in the "hard" tea town of Darjeeling that Roerich first heard about the Panchen Lama's flight from Tibet-news that prompted the painter to speed up his Great Plan. The escape of the spiritual leader of Tibet was a sure occult sign that the Shambhala war was coming. The prophecy was hot, and he needed to move quickly to unleash its energy in order to bring about the new age.

In the spring of 1924, the Reds, previously viewed as nothing more than the servants of Satan, suddenly turned into allies. Nicholas and Helena Roerich realized that the success of their plan to build their Sacred Union of the East needed backing by one of the great powers in the area. Red Russia was their choice: what if they linked their project to the Bolsheviks' attempts to stir national liberation in the East? Besides, Nicholas did not like the British anyway because they had been trying to disrupt his attempts to enter Tibet. Their teacher Morya blessed this political turnaround: "Now business needs to be done with the Bolsheviks." [1]

Soon, the master unveiled the following political itinerary for the couple: "A trip to Moscow, where the one who will come' from the East will be received with honors, From there, he will travel to Mongolia. In the middle of 1926, you can be in Mongolia in the center of the Orient, since, from now on, this country is the center:' After receiving these revelations, Helena noted in her diary, "Now everything has changed. Lenin is with us." [2]

Inspired by this new turn of events, Nicholas Roerich did not stay in India for long. Leaving his wife in Darjeeling, he and George rushed to Europe, where they showed up at the gates of the Soviet embassy in Berlin and were welcomed by Nikolai Krestinsky, Bolshevik ambassador to Germany. Roerich began by explaining that he was planning an expedition to Inner Asia to paint local landscapes and do some archaeological digs. Since the envisioned route would go through southern Siberia and Mongolia, the painter needed Soviet diplomatic and logistic backup. In exchange, Roerich volunteered to promote the Bolshevik cause and to gather intelligence information on British activities in the area. Like his idealistic comrades, Krestinsky lived in expectation of the world Communist revolution-the Marxist second coming. Well aware of this revolutionary prophecy, Roerich readily massaged the diplomat's Bolshevik ego. In Tibet and in the caves of the Himalayas, the painter confided, hundreds of thousands of Hindu mahatmas and Buddhist lamas looked with hope to Red Russia. All these people, Roerich continued, circulated militant prophecies and preached the triumph of communism, for it matched the ancient teachings of Buddha, who had advocated equality and communal living. These Oriental folk hated the British and were eager to join the Bolshevik cause.

Roerich also played on the Bolsheviks' anti-England paranoia, exaggerating British activities in Tibet: "The occupation of Tibet by the English continues uninterrupted. English troops infiltrate the area by small groups, using all kinds of excuses." [3] In reality, there was no English occupation of Tibet or of any other area north of the Himalayas. In fact, the thirteenth Dalai Lama skillfully played one great power off another and did not allow anyone to make inroads into his theocracy. The cost-saving British never actually planned to take over the Forbidden Kingdom, even during their 1904 invasion of Tibet. Their goal was to open up the country for trade and keep it as a territorial cushion between India and Russia/China.

Haunted by the specter of the British threat and lacking reliable information about Inner Asia, Bolshevik diplomats were susceptible to Roerich's bluff. In fact, before the painter visited the Soviet embassy in Berlin, Georgy Chicherin, Bolshevik Commissar for Foreign Affairs, was already convinced that Tibet was almost a colony of England. Satisfied with the talk, Krestinsky promised to support Roerich and immediately sent a report to Chicherin, knowing that his Anglophobe boss would be pleased. Before the two parted, they agreed that Roerich would send intelligence briefs and sign them using the alias Ak-Dorje, which means "White Hard Arrow" or "White Hard Lightning" in Tibetan. Chicherin became excited and wrote back to Berlin, stressing that through Roerich Red Russia could get a foothold in Tibet: "Dear comrade, please do not lose from sight that half-Buddhist and half-Communist you wrote me about earlier. So far we have not had such a good bridge to these important centers. Under no circumstances should we lose such an opportunity. How we are going to use this opportunity, however, will require very serious consideration and preparation." [4]

In October 1924, the painter and his son stunned their American associates by suddenly resurfacing in New York and announcing that from then on the Bolsheviks should be treated as comrades. Roerich also revealed he was planning to take a land concession in the Altai in southern Siberia, officially for mining and agricultural purposes, but actually he planned to set up the capital of his Sacred Union of the East in this area. Krestinsky was not Roerich's only Bolshevik contact. On the way to New York, he had stopped in Paris where he met Leonid Krasin, a Bolshevik ambassador to France, and discussed with him the Altaian concession. Back in the United States, the painter got in touch with Dr. Dmitri Borodin, a plant physiologist and rather shady character whom the painter and his friends nicknamed Uncle Boris. After the Bolshevik revolution, Borodin moved to the United States, where he represented the Soviet Commissariat for Agriculture. A few years later he became an immigrant, working first as a zoology instructor at Columbia University and then as a researcher in a biology laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. A well-rounded but very unscrupulous individual, Borodin served as Roerich's Bolshevik liaison, helping the painter stay in touch with Soviet diplomats in Montreal, Paris, Berlin, and Moscow. Uncle Boris not only assisted Roerich in securing the concession in Altai; he also became involved in his Great Plan.

It appears that through Borodin, Roerich tried to probe how the Bolsheviks would react to his scheme to blend Tibetan Buddhism with Communism and to the whole idea of the Sacred Union of the East. An entry from the diary of Roerich's secretary on December 7, 1924, is very revealing:

Borodin told N. K. [Roerich) that now the most important thing for them is the unification of Asia. As for the business [the concession] they have been recently discussing, it is a secondary matter. N. K. asks him if he is aware that the unification of Asia can be accomplished through religion. Borodin responded that he knows. Does he realize that this unification can be accomplished by using the name of Buddha? Borodin agreed. Will those in Paris [Soviet diplomats) agree with this? Borodin responded that they are not stupid and understand everything. So both men came to a complete agreement, which made this day very important. [5]


Why did Borodin, a plant physiologist, suddenly become so concerned about this geopolitical scheme? It is highly likely that he worked either for Comintern or for OGPU, or for both, as Comintern was rapidly turning into an informal arm of OGPu. As a representative of the Soviet Commissariat for Agriculture, an ideal cover for any spy, Borodin traveled widely throughout the United States and Canada. Through him, Roerich's name might have showed up on Com intern and OGPU radars. It is little wonder that during Roerich's 1926 visit to Moscow OGPU was most supportive of the painter's Tibetan expedition. The Roeriches did not care who Uncle Boris was and what he actually did for a living. The most important thing was that Borodin was useful for the Great Plan. In one of her letters, Helena instructed her son Svetoslav: "Be nice and decent in front of Uncle Boris. It is important to make a good impression on him. Do not forget that all rich people like to spy on their associates, and our Uncle especially excels in this:'6 The Bolsheviks' interest in the Roeriches' venture could have been twofold. First, the painter was useful as a source of information on Tibet and surrounding areas. Second, his Shambhala scheme contained a promising opportunity. If successful, it could give Red Russia a chance to navigate political developments in the Forbidden Kingdom according to the Mongolian scenario. Although Chicherin cautioned against reckless behavior in Asia that could provoke England to seize Tibet, by supporting Roerich's expedition, the chief Soviet diplomat and his more adventurous associates from Comintern and OGPU had nothing to lose. The Roeriches' party was going to travel as a scientific expedition under the American flag and the Buddhist sacred banner (tanka), a handy, cheap, and safe option for the Bolsheviks to penetrate the area without exposing themselves.

After all, with a total lack of the industrial working class (which Bolsheviks considered the chief mover and shaker of the Marxist prophecy) in Tibetan Buddhist areas, anything and anybody that could wake up Asian masses for revolution sounded attractive, whether this be lamas' anti-foreign sentiments or prophecies like Shambhala. In any case, for the Bolsheviks the Roeriches' Sacred Union of the East was a political gift, which, if they played their cards right, could draw Tibet closer to Red Russia. If the Roeriches got involved in an international scandal or any other trouble, they could be safely cast aside as an American expedition.

In the early 1920s, still dizzy from their success in Mongolia, the Bolsheviks were ready to roll on to Tibet and farther southward to India, but they were not yet fully aware that Tibet was not Mongolia. The Forbidden Kingdom was not occupied by a foreign power that gave Red Russia an excuse to go there and milk national liberation sentiments. Rumors about the British threat to Tibet that the Bolsheviks lived by turned out to be false. Unlike his Mongolian neighbors, the Dalai Lama had no intention of appealing to Red Russia for help, preferring to play off one great power against another and keeping all of them at bay. Precisely because of this smart strategy, Tibet managed to survive as an independent nation from 1912 to 1951, before it was overrun by Communist China.

Gradually the Bolsheviks began to realize that it would be hard to sway the Forbidden Kingdom to Red Russia's side. Under these circumstances, the Roeriches' plan to bring the Panchen Lama back to Tibet and to stir the Shambhala war might have looked appealing to the them. In any case, Red Russia wanted to see the Panchen Lama back in Tibet and away from Mongolia. The man was hanging around with two hundred armed nomads along the southern border of Red Mongolia, performing collective Kalachakra initiations for local Mongols and inducting them into the ranks of Shambhala warriors. It was hard to predict what would come out of that.

The Bolsheviks became worried when the Mongols began looking at the Panchen Lama as their new shepherd after they lost Bogdo-gegen in 1924; the reincarnated head of the Mongol Buddhists died from old age and numerous ailments, and the Bolsheviks forbade searching for his new reincarnation. At any time, even against his will, the Panchen Lama could become a dangerous spiritual weapon in the hands of anti- Bolshevik forces; this became especially true in the second half of the 1920s after Red Mongols began cracking down on religion. Though the abbot of the Tashilumpho monastery was not a die-hard anti-Communist, he did allow himself anti-Bolshevik statements, rebuking the Reds for harassing top lamas. At the same time, always cautious, the abbot refused to join or even support any active resistance to the Bolsheviks. In fact, the Soviet secret police never considered him an enemy, believing there was a good chance to draw the spiritual leader of Tibet to Moscow's side at least as a temporary ally. [7] But still the Bolsheviks were wary of his presence among the Mongols and felt they could sleep better with the Panchen Lama back in Tibet.

No doubt Roerich treated his Bolshevik contacts in the same pragmatic manner as useful and disposable allies. Although, like many contemporary intellectuals, Roerich was captivated by then-popular ideas of collectivism and social evolution and had a strong leader-redeemer complex, it is highly unlikely that he was totally in love with Soviet Communism. The flirt with the Bolsheviks appeared to be a smokescreen to accomplish his occult goals of building his own totalitarian theocracy. After all, from his otherworldly abode, Master Morya, Helena and Nicholas's alter ego, explicitly encouraged a healthy opportunistic approach to the Bolsheviks: "One can grow wonderful nuts by putting one's own seed into an alien shell," and, "Talk about Lenin and Marx without mentioning drawbacks of Marx. I guarantee your success, but you have to be patient. [8] The Roeriches rendered these commands of the master into instructions for their associates: "Talking about legends and prophecies, one needs to draw more attention to practical life, stressing how good life will be in the New Country under cooperatives. We need to point out that Buddha built communist commonwealth, and Christ propagated communist order. Moreover, it will be useful if we recognize that Lenin is the most important Communist. [9]

To Inner Asia with a Detour to Moscow

Roerich was so impatient to embark on his Sacred Union of the East project that he could not even wait for his Soviet visa. In the summer of 1925, the painter was already back in Darjeeling, ready to make a leap into the heart of Asia. Master Morya was equally excited, hurrying the Roeriches to move and shake the whole area:

The teacher believes the invasion of Tibet is useful. The flow of events will affect religion, and you will succeed by responding to religious complaints. Therefore, do not waste your time; note all signs related to religious feelings. Each sign is valuable. Find out to what extent monks are now discontent. Learn how many people do not accept the new order [a reference to army and police reforms in Tibet assisted by the English]. Alien uniform disgraces holy places. A strike will thunder over the desert. Udraia [George Roerich] should think about wearing a lama robe. Only the robe will defeat the uniform. The new times require a new shell. A correct route will lead to a bloodless victory. It is not our plan to shoot from cannons. One good sure shot at Buddha might make up for an entire battle. Behold, the sons of Israel will come back to those who wait for M [Maitreya] and turn the holy dream into a reality.


The otherworldly teacher encouraged the Roeriches to stir Tibetan monks against the power of the Dalai Lama: "Mold is growing in Lhasa, and an old lama who is sitting by an altar is thinking about galloping to the north. [10]

After travelling by automobile and rail from Darjeeling to Srinigar in Kashmir, the Roeriches' expedition set out in August 1925. It looked more like a religious procession than a scientific-archaeological enterprise. Passing through Ladakh and then into western China, the party engaged local people in talks about Shambhala and Maitreya, dropping here and there hints about the coming Armageddon followed by a new age. The Buddhist robes that Nicholas and George donned from time to time enhanced the importance of the mission in the eyes of locals. The elder Roerich presented himself as a sage named Ak-Dorje-the same name he used in his reports to Soviet diplomats in Berlin. Helena became the messenger of the goddess White Tara, and George was acting as the Mongolian prince Narukhan.

Ak-Dorje distributed dozens of flyers written in Tibetan to the lamas they met en route. Some of these texts included only the phrase "Maitreya is coming," while others contained a more elaborate text:

Thus the prophecies of ancestors and the wise ones come true. Behold what is predestined when in the fifth year [1925] the messengers of northern Shambhala warriors appear. Meet them and accept the new glory of Tibet and Mongolia. I will give Thee my sign of lightning. May all remember: where one receives Tara's blessing, there will be the ray of Maitreya, where one hears the name of Ak-Dorje, there will be a wheel of justice, and where the name of Narukhan appears, there will be the sword of Buddha. Shambhala will show the galloping horse and give arrows to all loyal sons of Buddhism. Behold and wait. [11]


A batch of these flyers was sent to the Tashilumpho monastery to be distributed among the Panchen Lama's followers. The purpose of all this showmanship was obvious: the painter and his wife wanted to arouse rumors among the indigenous folk about their party being messengers of the great northern Shambhala and the coming age of Maitreya. In other words, the Roeriches were spreading propaganda in an attempt to stir a religious war in Inner Asia. And sure enough, word began to spread about a strange and mighty prophet.

In April 1925, the expedition reached the capital of Sinkiang: Urumchi. Here Roerich met and befriended Alexander Bystrov, the local Soviet consul general. The painter immediately confided to him that he had ambitious plans to merge Buddhism and Communism. Roerich also informed Bystrov that from China he would be going straight to Moscow to meet Stalin and Chicherin and hand them two important messages on behalf of thousands of Hindus and Buddhists. On the evening of April 16, 1926, after meeting Nicholas and Helena, the consul wrote in his journal:

Today Roerich along with his wife and son visited me and mentioned many interesting details of their journeys. They say they study Buddhism and are in touch with mahatmas, from whom they often receive guidelines about their future plans. By the way, they stated they are carrying letters from these mahatmas to Comrades Chicherin and Stalin. They say the goal of these mahatmas is the unification of Buddhism and Communism and the creation of the Great Eastern Union of Republics. The Roeriches told me that Tibetans and Hindu Buddhists share a popular prophecy that their liberation from foreign yoke will come from Russia, from the Reds (Red Northern Shambhala). The Roeriches carry to Moscow several of these prophecies. According to the Roeriches, their trips to India, Tibet, and Western China are the fulfillment of an assignment given by the mahatmas, who supposedly also instructed them to go to the USSR and then to Mongolia, where they should get in touch with Panchen Lama (Dalai Lama's assistant responsible for spiritual life who escaped from Tibet to China) and bring him to Mongolia. From Mongolia the Roeriches plan to organize a spiritual march to Tibet to free it from the English yoke. [12]


With the assistance of Bystrov and the OGPU secret police agents, the Roerich expedition safely crossed the Soviet-Chinese border, bypassing customs. In the Siberian town of Omsk the party was placed on a train. The painter wrote in his diary: "A train arrives at midnight. An OGPU agent passes by and with his eyes lets me know that everything is in order. We are passing under the Sign of the Rose [in other words, secretly]." [13] On June 10, 1926, the Roeriches were in Moscow, where they met Chicherin, Meer Trilisser, head of the foreign espionage branch of the OGPU secret police, and several other Soviet dignitaries. The most promising meeting was the reception at OGPU. Sina Fosdick, Roerich's secretary who prepared this event, was happy to record in her diary: "The most memorable meeting was in GPU, where the names of Maitreya and Shambhala were pronounced and where we came with the name of the Master. The offers of cooperation were met with enthusiasm. Several times we met with those who have all power. [14]

The adventurous couple also presented their Moscow hosts "mahatmas' messages" calling for advancement of Communism into Asia and beyond. Manufactured by Helena and Nicholas and translated into Tibetan by George to make them look authentic, then "translated" into Russian for the Bolshevik leaders, these letters were infested with sugarcoated flattery: "In the Himalayas we know about your deeds. You demolished churches that became dens of lies and superstition. You destroyed mercantilism that became the conduit of prejudices. You eliminated the outdated prison of education and marriage based on hypocrisy. You squashed the spiders of enrichment and closed the doors of night brothels. You relieved the earth from the traitors and moneymakers. You recognized that religion is the teaching about the matter. You recognized the ephemeral nature of private property and saw the evolution toward the future world commune." [15]

Without beating around the bush, Roerich laid out for the Bolshevik leaders his program to secure the alliance between Communism and Tibetan Buddhism:  

1. Buddha's teaching is revolutionary.

2. Maitreya represents the symbol of Communism.

3. The millions of Buddhists of Asia can be drawn into the movement to support the idea of the commune.

4. The basic law of Gautama Buddha easily penetrates the minds of the masses.

5. Europe will be shattered by the alliance between Buddhism and Communism.

6. The Mongols, Tibetans, and Kalmyk now expect the fulfillment of Maitreya prophecies, and they are ready to apply them to the current evolution.

7. The escape of the Panchen Lama from Tibet provides an incredible opportunity to stage a revolt in the East.

8. Buddhism explains the reason for the negation of God.

9. The Soviet government needs to act quickly, taking into consideration cultural conditions and prophecies of Asia. [16]

Posing as a representative of Hindu and Tibetan masses, the painter painted with wide strokes on a vast Asian geopolitical canvas: "If the Soviet Union recognizes Buddhism as part of the Communist teaching, our communities will furnish active assistance, and hundreds of millions of Buddhists scattered over the world will provide necessary and unexpected power. We need to adopt measures to introduce Communism as the step in the coming evolution." [17] The Roeriches nourished hopes that the Bolsheviks would embrace this scheme and attach to their expedition a Red cavalry unit that would accompany them on the second leg of their journey through Inner Asia.

Although they swallowed some of the Roeriches' bluff, Chicherin and other Bolshevik leaders were not so naive as to immerse themselves totally in such a reckless plan. Chicherin and Trilisser made it clear that direct involvement of Red Russia in their Tibetan venture was out of the question. Besides, the Bolsheviks had mixed feelings about the painter himself. They certainly enjoyed his praises of Communism as well as his utterances about the evils of private property and the joys of communal living. However, as atheists and materialists, they were not thrilled about Roerich's talk of Buddhism, Theosophy, and spirituality. It was little wonder that Trilisser, while supporting the Roeriches' expedition, flatly refused to give them permission to print in the Soviet Union their books about the foundations of Buddhism and Agni Yoga. To the chief of the Bolshevik foreign espionage network, this stuff was pure idealistic propaganda.

Despite the ideological differences, Chicherin and OGPU gave Nicholas the green light and also promised logistic and diplomatic support. Trilisser instructed one of OGPU's colorful characters, Jacob Bliumkin, to provide assistance of all kinds to Roerich's party. This young operative, who came from the Jewish quarters of Odessa in southern Russia, joined OGPU at the tender age of seventeen, right after the revolution. His favorite pastime was dining, wining, and bragging among Moscow's bohemian poets and writers. Occasionally, this revolutionary romantic and "man of theater" (as one of his sweethearts called him) liked to toy with verses himself. By the early 1920s, Bliumkin was already a seasoned terrorist, provocateur, hit man, and master of disguise. He even managed to leave a visible trace in modern European history by murdering in 1918 a German ambassador to Russia in hopes of provoking a new round of war between Russia and Germany. Relating this episode to his friends, this revolutionary adventurer always stressed how he confidently pulled out his Colt revolver, like characters from his favorite silent movies. At the same time, he usually omitted how, while escaping from the embassy, he received a bullet in his buttocks. [18]

In 1926, Bliumkin was conveniently assigned to Mongolia as the chief advisor to the sister secret-police structure and arrived in the country of nomads simultaneously with the Roeriches. It is also highly probable that Trilisser or Bliumkin verbally gave the painter assignments. Dr. Konstantin Riabinin, a participant of the second expedition, later remembered, "Since the time we left Urga [capital of Mongolia] and all the time en route, I was under the impression that Moscow had entrusted the professor [Roerich] with an important assignment related to Tibet." [19]

Back to Asia: Altai to Mongolia

On July 22, 1926, Roerich and his party were on their way back to southern Siberia. There, from the Altai, they planned to launch the second leg of their Asian venture. In the middle of August, the expedition crossed the borders of the Oirot Autonomous Region, an autonomy set up for the local Turkic-speaking nomads (half Buddhists and half shamanists) by the Bolsheviks to foster the nationalistic feelings of local nomads. This was the Mountain Altai, the homeland of the Oirot prophecy that the painter viewed as a local version of Shambhala.

Roerich was especially thrilled to learn that in this area, on the fringes of the Mongol- Tibetan world, many nomads were shedding shamanism and switching to Buddhism. He believed this shift confirmed his spiritual forecast regarding Inner Asia: people were phasing out dark rituals and moving toward the ancient teachings of Buddha. Of course, he too would ride this movement. As earlier in Darjeeling, Roerich could not resist the temptation to step into the local prophecy. He started toying with the idea of impersonating Oirot, the legendary redeemer of the Altai nomads. He listed the places he had visited during the first leg of his Asian journey as if they were sites visited by Oirot and then hinted that local nomads already knew that "the Blessed Oirot is already traveling throughout the world, announcing the great Advent." Another hint was even more explicit: "About the good Oirot all know. Also they know the favorite Altaian name-Nikolai." [20] Blindly loyal to her guru, Roerich's secretary, Fosdick, immediately caught the mood of the teacher when they entered the Altai and suddenly began referring to Roerich as Gegen (a reincarnated one). [21]

As the reincarnate Oirot, Roerich would proceed through the Altai, then enter Mongolia from the north (from northern Shambhala!), and, accompanied by the host of legends, triumphantly continue his route southward to Tibet. The "Blessed One" was convinced that all pieces of his occult puzzle were placed incredibly well. What he did not see behind the Oirot prophecy, taking it as a local version of the Shambhala legend, was naked Altai nationalism wrapped in spiritual garb. Singing hymns to Oirot and Burkhan (the face of Buddha), who commanded Oirot, nomads of the Altai craved unity and sovereignty. Since they shared a similar culture and fate, the Altaians tried to empower themselves by dropping clan-based shamanism with its impromptu rituals and rallying around the Oirot prophecy familiar to all of them, then layering traits of Buddhism on top of this. In other words, it was an unconscious effort of these people to help bond themselves into an Oirot or White Altai nation, as they sang in their hymns.

Unlike Roerich, the Bolsheviks knew better. They understood that the Oirot people were restless, awaiting the legendary redeemer who would shield them from Russian advances into their land and culture. The Bolshevik answer to this explosive spiritual brew was simple and clever. The Communist Revolution, they explained to the nomads, was a fulfillment of the prophecy, and Lenin was the reincarnation of Oirot. To sugarcoat this message, autonomy was offered to the people of Oirot with their own indigenous Oirot Bolshevik leaders at the top. Many frustrated nomads, who at first did not trust the Bolsheviks and were about to leave the Altai for Mongolia and China, swallowed this bait and stayed home. By the end of the 1920s, the explosive prophecy would gradually subside.

As Roerich proceeded, a few months later the same blinders prevented him from detecting pure nationalism behind the Shambhala prophecy, which the Red Mongols milked during their fight against the Chinese. Still worse, not only did Roerich not understand the demonic power of nationalism over people, but also, as a true citizen of the world, he refused to acknowledge it, thinking only in terms of global humanity. Quoting the song of northern Red Shambhala composed by Mongol revolutionary soldiers in 1921, but dropping the first lines that mentioned a mortal fight against Chinese infidels, Roerich retained only its "spiritual" verses: "We march to the holy war of Shambhala. Let us be reborn in the sacred land." [22]

At the end of August 1926, the party safely crossed the Mongolian border. Again, on orders from the Bolshevik secret police, their baggage safely bypassed customs. In Mongolia, an unpleasant surprise awaited the painter and his wife. They had to wait for seven more months for permission from Chinese and Tibetan authorities to enter their countries. Yet, as always, the couple did not lose their spirits and did not waste time. While Roerich worked on his paintings, his wife was able to publish a small book on the basics of Buddhism, one of the texts Trilisser would not allow them to print in Red Russia.

There is also circumstantial evidence that while in Mongolia Roerich did get in touch with the Panchen Lama. With the help of his Bolshevik benefactors, he might have made a quick automobile trip to Beijing to meet the runaway Tibetan abbot, who resided in the Chinese capital at that time. A Soviet diplomat named Boris Pankratov remembered meeting the painter in Beijing in the spring of 1927: "Roerich nourished a hope to enter Tibet as the twenty-fifth king of Shambhala, of whom people would say that he came from the north and brought salvation to the whole world and became king of the world. For this purpose, the painter was dressed in a ceremonial lama priest robe." [23] Since Roerich was prone to all kinds of adventurous tricks, one cannot totally exclude the possibility of a secret visit to the Chinese capital and talks with the Panchen Lama. Still, whether Roerich met him or not, the cautious abbot never became involved in the painter's scheme.

While in Mongolia, the Roeriches were in close contact with Bliumkin, their guardian angel from OGPU, and with Leo Berlin, another secret police officer working in Mongolia under the cover of the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. [24] Roerich's son George, who spoke Tibetan fluently, helped Bliumkin close an arms deal with a representative of the Dalai Lama. Moreover, the two spies helped the Shambhala warriors with logistics and supervised the departure of the "artistic and archaeological expedition" from Urga. [25]

The Tibetan Venture: High Hopes and Grand Failure

When all permissions were finally secured, the party departed on April 13, 1927. The Soviet embassy provided automobiles, which allowed the Roeriches to quickly reach the southernmost border of Mongolia. There they switched to camels and entered western China, an area populated by warlike tribes, infested with bandits, and contested by several Chinese warlords. Moscow OGPU sent a radiogram to a warlord friendly to the Bolsheviks, asking him "to provide all possible help to Roerich's expedition." [26] The party again took the form of a spiritual march. In addition to the Stars and Stripes, the expedition proceeded under the Maitreya banner, a sacred tanka attached to a flagpole. Anticipating the grand historical mission that awaited them, Roerich wrote, "With this holy banner, we can reach the most beautiful lands and we can awaken ancient cultures for new achievements and for new splendors." [27]

The expedition was not just a family business anymore. A few more people had joined the couple and their son George: Dr. Riabinin, an enthusiast of Tibetan medicine the Roeriches knew from their prerevolutionary days in St. Petersburg; a young Theosophist from Siberia named Pavel Portniagin; and the lama Danzan Malonov from Agvan Dorzhiev's Buddhist Kalachakra temple in Leningrad. Malonov was a seasoned "Red pilgrim" who, two years earlier, had participated in the Bolshevik Lhasa venture headed by Sergei Borisov. Malonov was most likely attached to the party by OGPU or Chicherin to perform special tasks. Two more members, aristocrat-romantic Colonel Nikolai Kordashevsky and Alexander Golubin, a merchant who worked for an English trade company, joined the party in Chinese territory. As former White officers who fought against the Reds in Siberia, the two had not wanted to risk their lives entering Red Mongolia. The expedition also included twenty Buryat and Mongol armed guards.

On the way, Nicholas Roerich watched for signs of the Shambhala prophecy, noting various anomalous phenomena and observing the behavior of the nomads. In the evenings, he conducted instructive spiritual talks, enlightening his comrades about the coming evolution of humankind, the advent of a spiritually superior sixth race, the world commune, cooperative labor, the evils of private property, Maitreya, Shambhala, and the sacred Great White Brotherhood. In the meantime, in her tent Helena engaged in dialogues with their otherworldly teacher, Master Morya. Occasionally, to boost the spirit of the Shambhala warriors, Roerich turned on an American gramophone, and over the mountains flew the tunes of "Forging of the Sword," "Call of the Valkyrie," and "Roar of Fafner" by Richard Wagner, the painter's favorite composer. Wagner's pieces resounded high in the mountains, "radiating heroic realism." [28]

As before, special efforts were made to promote rumors among local nomads about the party as messengers of Shambhala and the new age of Maitreya. The painter constantly reminded his travel companions to remember that now they were all walking heroes: "All our steps are destined to become legends, which people will compose about our journey. And who knows, they might be great legends. On the threshold of the coming of the sixth race, all events are destined to become special." [29] Morya was pleased with how the legend making was developing and encouraged his earthly students: "The legend is growing. You need to proceed to Tibet without hurry, sending around rumors about your Buddhist embassy. The appearance of the embassy under the banner of Buddha is something that has never been seen before in the history of humankind. In the name of Maitreya Commune, you need to topple false teachings .... Each evening talk about Shambhala! Shambhala prepares the coming of Maitreya .... Plan your movement to make sure that each phrase you utter turns into a legend. Remember, you already stand above regular human beings." [30]

Image
Figure 8.4. A last photo in the company of Red Mongol troops before the Roerich expedition moved southward across the Mongolian border. Konstantin Riabinin is in white hat; on his right is George Roerich; Sina Lichtmann-Fosdick, second from left, has a holstered gun on her belt. Altan-usu, Gobi Desert, May 1927.

Part of this legend making was the erection of a Buddhist stupa (suburgan) in the Sharagol valley in Inner Mongolia. Into the foundation of the structure devoted to Maitreya the Roeriches placed a specially minted order of All-Conquering Buddha, the text containing the Shambhala prophecy, in Tibetan, a silver ring with the word Maitreya, and a blue silk scarf (a traditional goodwill gift in Tibetan Buddhism). Local Mongol chiefs accompanied by crowds of nomads flocked to the Roeriches' camp to take part in a consecration ceremony officiated by a local Gegen (reincarnated one). That same evening, from the other world, Master Morya expressed his approval: "The erection of the suburgan affirms the legend, and therefore it is useful. The Teacher is happy with this." [31]

Overcoming various natural obstacles and brandishing their rifles to scare away bandits they met en route, the travelers proceeded through western China, then crossed the most dangerous leg of the journey -- the vast salt desert of Tsaidam -- and finally, in October, reached the Tibetan border in the Nagchu area. Here the Shambhala warriors had to face a formidable problem, which eventually ruined their hopes to conquer Lhasa. Despite an official permission to enter the Forbidden Kingdom issued by a Tibetan envoy in Mongolia, the party was detained by armed border guards. The Roeriches could not figure out what was going on. Although not formally arrested, they were blocked and not allowed to proceed further. Playing by the script he had prepared in advance, Nicholas explained to the local governor that they were emissaries of Western Buddhists on a mission to bring Western and Eastern believers under the benevolent wing of His Holiness. Yet all was in vain. Roerich's high talk and all his inquiries were brushed aside with the advice to stay and wait for Lhasa's instructions.

Little did the travelers know that the formidable wall on their way to Tibet was erected not only by the Lhasa officials but also by Lt. Colonel Bailey, the English spy stationed in Sikkim entrusted with monitoring all Bolshevik activities in Inner Asia. In 1925 he had figured out the Borisov "Buddhist pilgrims" mission sent to Lhasa by Com intern, OGPU, and the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Then, in 1927, through his Kalmyk and Buryat agents, Bailey had exposed another Moscow mission to Tibet, the one headed by Arashi Chapchaev, which had departed from Urga just before Roerich launched his own expedition.

To the seasoned English shadow warrior, Roerich, whom Bailey already knew from the painter's stay in Sikkim, was no different from such disguised Bolsheviks as Borisov and Chapchaev. And, besides, like his Red predecessors, Roerich was coming from the same place, Red Mongolia. In Bailey's eyes, Roerich's Buddhist trappings-vestments, sacred scrolls, and his Shambhala and Maitreya talk-were simply part of a devious and more sophisticated Bolshevik conspiracy to dislodge Britain from Asia. For his part, the Dalai Lama, who had just gotten rid of the phony Mongol pilgrim Chapchaev, again had to deal with another intruder of the same caliber. The Lhasa ruler definitely did not want such a headache. The English spymaster recommended that Tibetan authorities immediately block the movement of the «American" expedition, and Lhasa followed this advice. Although Bailey was not totally wrong about Roerich's mission, at that point he did not yet realize that the painter was playing his own game. All in all, it did not matter. The lieutenant colonel would have hardly changed his plans had he found out Roerich was not actually a Bolshevik.

After halting the Roeriches at Nagchu, the Tibetans did not know what to do with them. To allow these suspicious folk to proceed farther was dangerous. Yet forcing them back to Mongolia in the middle of winter would surely have killed all members of the expedition. The Dalai Lama certainly did not want to place this sin on his shoulders. While Lhasa was mulling over what to do, the party of Shambhala warriors was literally marooned for five months in freezing weather and thin air on a high-altitude plateau. At one point, George Roerich blacked out, narrowly surviving a heart attack, which did take the life of one of them: Lama Malonov, the alleged secret police informer. On November 8, 1927, Portniagin wrote in his diary: "Temperature is minus 27 Celsius. This morning the doctor said, 'From the viewpoint of medical science and physiology, our situation is catastrophic, and we all shall die. Only a miracle can save US."' [32]

Besides suffering from cold and oxygen deficiency in the high altitude, the travelers were forbidden to purchase food from the locals. Yet Nicholas and Helena never lost their spirit. Obstacles only empowered them, and the painter cheered up his comrades: "Occult work must be done in fresh air and in the cold." [33] While Helena continued to conjure Master Morya in her tent, Nicholas inspired the party with stories about the beauties of the Shambhala kingdom they would eventually reach. For his companions, shivering from piercing winter winds, he drew pictures of a beautiful mountain valley blossoming with subtropical vegetation. It would be as magnificent as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, he told them.

On February 17, 1928, after prolonged deliberations, Lhasa officials finally worked out a solution. The Roeriches would proceed quickly through Tibet, bypassing the capital, and going straight to Sikkim to Bailey's home. Let the English spy deal with them.

When they finally arrived in Sikkim in mid-May, Lt. Colonel Bailey welcomed the exhausted travelers into his residence, acting as if nothing had happened. He even hosted them for a while, offering hot baths and good foods. It took the experienced operative only a brief chat with the painter to figure out that Roerich was not a Bolshevik but simply a dangerous eccentric.  [34] Yet, as a professional spy, he had no remorse about what he had done to Roerich and his companions. Better to be on the safe side.

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Figure 8.5. In "friendly" hands: English spy Lt. Colonel F. M. Bailey, Political Officer in Sikkim, hosts his unsuspecting opponent Nicholas Roerich. Left to right, sitting: Mrs. F. M. Bailey, Nicholas Roerich, Helena Roerich; standing: Nikolai Kordashevsky, George Roerich, Konstantin Riabinin, name not recorded, F. M. Bailey. Bailey residence, Gangtok, Sikkim, May 24-25, 1928.

After parting with the hospitable Bailey, the Roerich party was nearing the end of its journey. The long Asian odyssey, which cost $97,000 and took the Roeriches all over Eurasia, was finally over. The Shambhala war the painter wanted to unleash in Inner Asia had fallen through miserably. So had his plan to bring all Tibetan Buddhists into the Sacred Union of the East. But the couple did not want to simply say good-bye to their comrades and go their separate ways. The grand magic drama that had started with the miraculous manifestation of the Chintamani stone required at least a magic ending. And the Roeriches provided it. The painter suddenly announced to his friends that he, along with Helena and George, would leave the rest in order to proceed straight to the forbidden Shambhala kingdom: the Great White Brotherhood was calling them. Exclaiming "It is nice to believe in the fairy tale of life;' the Roeriches parted with their comrades. [35] Dr. Riabinin sadly watched how the three riders galloped away and soon blended in with the horizon, lowering the curtain of mystery behind them: "We Europeans who accompanied Nicholas and Helena must say good-bye to them, for we are not supposed to know their future path. Will the messenger of Shambhala accompany them?" [36]
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Part 3 of 3

Botanical Expedition with an Occult Spin, 1935

The major result of the Roeriches' mission to Inner Asia was their complete disillusionment with official Tibetan Buddhism. The painter and his wife became equally frustrated about the Bolsheviks, who did not wholeheartedly support their Great Plan, so they decided to delete the Reds from their lives as well. Their otherworldly teacher shared these frustrations, and in his usual cryptic manner stated that in the future city of knowledge there would be nothing red, not even red flowers. Only blue, white, and violet would remain. Trying to close this page of his life, the painter had all mention of the Bolsheviks, including his Moscow visit, purged from further editions of his books.

The failures they experienced only hardened the couple's determination not to give up on their dream: "Blessed obstacles, through you we grow." [37] By that time, the Roeriches were so firmly entangled in their visionary world controlled by Master Morya that there was simply no way back. Roerich's books, and especially Helena's spiritual diaries, clearly showed that the two spiritual seekers were not opportunistic actors. The couple came to truly believe in their own theater of magic, becoming totally convinced they had been chosen by hidden masters of the Great White Brotherhood to speed up human spiritual evolution. The symbol of this grand mission became a skyscraper that Louis Horch, the Roerich's major donor, built in 1929 to accommodate spiritual and artistic projects of the painter. Located at 310 Riverside Drive in Manhattan, this twenty-four-story Master Building (a reference to Master Morya) was to become a cultural and intellectual beacon for humankind.

What the Shambhala warriors needed now was a new sponsor to back up their Great Plan. The United States became their natural choice, and the ocean of flattery that the Roeriches earlier showered on the Bolsheviks was now redirected toward America and particular politicians: President Herbert Hoover, the influential Republican senator from Idaho William Borah, and later President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In the pages of Nicholas Roerich's books published after 1929, Mongol and Kalmyk nomads share legends about the "generous Giant;' the "one who feeds people"-references to Hoover's American Relief Association, which fought famine in Soviet Russia in 1921-22. The most ridiculous statement was a flattering remark addressed to Borah: "A letter from him is considered a good passport everywhere. Sometimes in Mongolia, or in the Altai, or in Chinese Turkestan you can hear a strange pronunciation of his name: 'Boria is a powerful man.'" "This is so precious to hear," added Roerich without a hint of irony: the sweeter the talk the better. [38]

The biggest coup was making friends with Henry Wallace, a rising politician from Iowa, the Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice President in the FDR administration. Wallace came to the political spotlight during the Great Depression, when millions of unemployed workers, bankrupt farmers, and the majority of intellectuals came to the firm conclusion that the days of capitalism were over and that the future belonged, if not to communism, then definitely to a greater welfare state that would take care of people and tame unruly profiteers. Like many on the FDR team, the Iowa politician became disgusted with the free market going wild. Yet unlike his comrades, Wallace looked beyond social and economic change, contemplating a spiritual transformation of the human being. A deeply religious man, he attributed many social evils to the materialism of Western civilization. Thus he joined the growing tribe of Caucasian people who searched for redemption in Native American, Oriental, and Western esoteric traditions. This quest drew him to Indian shamans and Theosophy and led him to explore the influence of stars on Iowa cereal crops. In the early 1930s, Wallace was still looking for his spiritual niche. The plant physiologist Borodin, who had taken Roerich's project of the Sacred Union of the East so close to his heart, helped the seeker find the "correct" path. Sharing with Wallace a common interest in drought-resistant plants, Uncle Boris had courted the future Secretary of Agriculture since the end of the 1920s. Hearing of Wallace's spiritual side, Borodin revealed that in New York City there lived a man who would be able to quench his spiritual thirst. Thus, Wallace was drawn into Roerich's circle.

The painter immediately saw that the highly positioned seeker could be very useful for his Great Plan and began to gently cultivate this valuable contact. Massaging Wallace's ego, Roerich prophesized that he was destined to become the next president. Soon Wallace was admitted into the inner circle, receiving a ring and the esoteric name Galahad -- a reference to the legend that Galahad, along with Parsifal, took the Holy Grail to the Orient. Fascinated with Roerich's prophecies and stories about travels to Buddhist areas, Wallace withdrew from the mainstream Theosophical Society and took up the Roeriches' cause. When Wallace became Secretary of Agriculture, the couple was eventually able to reach out to FDR, who already knew about the painter and his Master Building through his mother, Sara, a woman with esoteric leanings.

Soon Helena Roerich corresponded directly with the president, sending FDR her "fiery messages" peppered with advice about domestic and international politics. [39] In February 1935, she finally felt comfortable enough to reveal to the chief executive the details of the Great Plan, hinting that the United States might help this noble project: "Thus, the time for reconstruction in the East has come, and let us have friends of the Orient in America. The Union of Asian peoples is envisioned. The unification of the tribes and nationalities will proceed gradually. They will have their own federation. Mongolia, China, and the Kalmyk will counterbalance Japan. Mr. President, in this project of unification we need your good will." [40]

Meanwhile, rubbing shoulders with Wallace, Roerich suddenly saw an opportunity to use this friendship for his occult geopolitics. In the wake of the horrible drought that hit the Central Plains, the Department of Agriculture started looking for drought-resistant grasses and cereals, sending out its people to various parts of the globe, including Central and Inner Asia. When Roerich found out about it, he was quick to offer himself as an expert on Asian plant life. According to the painter's occult calendar, it was a good time for him to step out of the shadows and attempt to launch again the Sacred Union of the East: on December 17, 1933, the thirteenth Dalai Lama died. This "happy news;' surmised the painter, would surely trigger a chain of events. To his circle of the elect he announced, "Now we have reached the future!" [41]

By the end of December Wallace was already in Roosevelt's office, trying to sell his boss on the idea of an Asian botanical expedition that would include Roerich and his son George. The president, who would soon take a personal interest in Roerich's cause, liked the project and gave his go-ahead. At the same time, the Secretary of Agriculture indirectly tried to prepare FDR for something bigger than simply a botanical venture, vaguely hinting that the political situation in Asia was always quite intriguing because of various ancient prophecies and legends. At the last moment, Wallace's worried subordinates convinced their boss to attach two actual plant scientists to the expedition. The Roeriches did not like this idea at all and immediately dissociated themselves from the agriculturalists by traveling separately.

Instead of going to Tibet and western China, the areas that earlier were so dear to his heart, the painter now rushed to northeastern China: Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. Why such a sudden change of itinerary? At first glance this choice did not make much sense, but if we look closely at the geopolitical situation in northeastern China at that time, all pieces of the puzzle fall in place.

The death of the Dalai Lama was surely an important occult sign. Yet there was no popular turmoil and discontent in Tibet at that time. At the same time, Manchuria, Chinese (Inner) Mongolia, and Red Mongolia were all on fire. In 1931, Japan, a rising imperialist giant, suddenly invaded China and occupied the northeastern part (Manchuria). From there, Japan now threatened the Soviet Far East, Mongolia, and central China, reviving in the Mongols' hearts hopes of liberation from the Chinese settlers and indigenous Bolsheviks who now crusaded against Tibetan Buddhism. In an apparent gesture of goodwill, Japan stimulated these hopes by setting up for the Mongols an autonomous region within Manchuria called Hsingan. Meanwhile, in 1929, the Soviets and their indigenous fellow travelers stopped courting lamas in Mongolia and unleashed merciless attacks against these former allies. Many monasteries were shut down, their properties confiscated, and lamas along with the rest of the nomads forced onto collective farms. A spontaneous rebellion of common Mongol shepherds and lamas against this assault began in 1931 simultaneously with Japan's invasion of Manchuria. Red Russia faced a real risk of losing Mongolia to Japan, and the Far East quickly became one of Stalin's major security concerns.

As they always did in times of great troubles, the Mongols tried to empower themselves with familiar prophecies. Rebellious lamas looked at the advancing Japanese army as legions of the legendary Shambhala king finally coming to deliver them from misery. [42] The venerated Panchen Lama added his voice to these sentiments: "The happiness will come from the East. Japanese and Mongols are people of the same kin, and Mongols should worship the Japanese emperor. One needs to struggle against the Red menace." Samdin, a Mongol Comintern spy who was hanging around the runaway Tibetan abbot, alerted his Moscow bosses that it was the first time Panchen brought up the Japanese in his talks, which was dangerous. Soon word spread all over Red Mongolia that the Panchen Lama himself would come and lead the Mongols in a war against the Red infidels. Although he did not provide any practical help to the rebels, his spiritual presence was powerful enough to arouse concerns. The Panchen Lama was traveling back and forth along the southern border of Mongolia, initiating nomads into the ranks of Shambhala warriors. The same Comintern agent worriedly reported, "The Panchen Lama spreads around holy prophecies, which speak of the holy yellow war of Shambhala." [43] The talk about the Shambhala holy war disturbed not only the Bolsheviks, but also Chinese settlers who had seized nomads' lands in Inner Mongolia and now had to face their wrath.

This was the explosive situation that Roerich craved to step into, and word about the coming Shambhala war in and around Mongolia was welcome news for him. Again it was time to set in motion the Great Plan: "Imagine, suddenly an invincible Mongolian army shows up and begins to win and to act-amazing!" [44] If successful in Manchuria and Red Mongolia, the painter could easily make an alliance with Japan and, drawing the Panchen Lama to his side, advance northward to Siberia and then southwest to Tibet. While dreaming about riding the Mongol revolts against the Bolsheviks and the Chinese, Roerich also planned to tap into the manpower of thousands of White Russian emigres who resided in eastern China by offering as a spiritual role model St. Sergius of Radonezh, a medieval Russian Christian saint and patron of the military. The irony of the situation was that this saint had spiritually mobilized the Russian princes against the Mongol yoke. But the painter never mentioned this uncomfortable fact.

As usual, Roerich imagined himself as the head of the whole movement. On one of his canvases, he portrayed himself as St. Sergius surrounded by an army of warriors with spears ready for an attack. The painting also shows the face of Jesus Christ at the feet of the saint and the familiar all-seeing eye of the Great Architect of the Universe, an image borrowed from Freemasonry. Moreover, in conversations with his American associates Roerich began to talk openly about himself as leader of the future Asiatic theocracy. If other painters, musicians, and humanities professors could be politicians and even heads of states, the painter remarked, he could be top. [45]

Helena fed these ambitions by constantly saying that it was a time of the assertive politician, pointing out that all over Asia, Europe, and even in the United States people were opting for strong-willed leaders. Observing the megalomaniacal dreams of his friend, George Grebenstchikoff, Roerich's expert on Siberia, now cautiously stepped aside, refusing to back up a new geopolitical venture. In fact, the writer could not resist making fun of the painter in his poem about the false tsar Dmitri, a seventeenth-century pretender who, backed up by a Polish king, tried to claim the Russian throne. Roerich was so angry that he excluded Grebenstchikoff from his inner circle.

As during his journey to Tibet, troubles pursued the Shambhala warrior from the very beginning. In August 1934, on their way to Manchuria, the painter and his son stopped in Japan. There, without any official credentials, the painter began to act as a high American dignitary, meeting the Japanese secretary of war and praising him for the job the Japanese occupation army was doing in China. Three years earlier, the United States had condemned Japan for invading China, and Roerich's behavior now looked very embarrassing. Roerich, who did not like that the United States favored China over Japan, viewed the Land of the Rising Sun as a positive force because it backed up the Mongols.

As soon as the botanical expedition stepped on Chinese soil, George Roerich got in touch with a representative of the Panchen Lama. But, surrounded by a tight ring of intelligence agents from various countries, the spiritual leader of Tibet exercised extra caution and again refused to get involved in any grand scheme or conspiracy. Accompanied by several armed guards recruited from the ranks of Russian emigres, the Roeriches then made a blitz visit to Manchurian Mongols right on the border with Red Mongolia, mingling with local princes and lamas. From Manchuria, Roerich and his son drove to Inner Mongolia, where they met Teh Wang, leader of the Mongol national liberation movement against the Chinese, promising him American support-another reckless step that further raised the eyebrows of U.S. diplomats in China and Japan.

En route, George kept a detailed diary, which seems more of a military journal than travel notes. He carefully scanned the topography of places they visited, measured hills and distances between various sites and towns, noted major intersections, and provided detailed information about the Japanese military transportation system, the movement of Japanese troops, and the plan of Teh Wang's headquarters. In short, this was a blueprint for developing future defensive and offensive plans. [46]

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Figure 8.8. Nicholas and George Roerich during their "botanical expedition" to China with an occult spin. Manchuria-Inner Mongolia, 1934-35.

Simultaneously, at a monastery press in Inner Mongolia, Roerich had his brief biography printed in Mongolian to be distributed among local lamas. Again, as during his abortive Tibetan venture, the goal was to build up his image as the divine messenger of a new era with links to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This silly text filled with praises for the painter was written in 1926 by Tseveen Jamtsarano, a former cultural leader of Red Mongolia who befriended the Roeriches during their long stay in Urga in 1926. Jamtsarano, a Bolshevik fellow traveler, who, like Roerich, toyed with the idea of marrying Buddhism and Communism, endorsed the painter as a new Asian messiah: "Spreading all over the world, the name of the great Teacher Roerich, became the greatest in all countries. In future, if trouble happens somewhere, he will teach us and light our path." [47]

Besides this spiritual propaganda, the Roeriches explored Buddhist manuscripts in the monasteries they visited and collected samples of herbs used in Tibetan medicine. With such an intensive geopolitical, cultural, and medicinal agenda, there was hardly any time left for drought-resistant plants. During the sixteen months of their expedition, the Roeriches were able to produce specimens of only twenty plants, whereas the two botanists sent by the Department of Agriculture brought home more than two thousand plant samples, including 726 soil-conserving grasses. [48]  

Roerich's careless steps and his megalomaniacal taste for adventure again backfired. First of all, he was noticed by the Japanese intelligence service and put on their close-watch list. Spies from the Land of the Rising Sun tried to figure out whom the painter worked for. Was he an American or Russian agent? In fact, the Japanese had been monitoring him on and off since the mid-1920s, reading his correspondence to his brother Vladimir, who had settled in Harbin in eastern China after escaping from the Bolsheviks.

Despite Nicholas Roerich's warm gestures to Tokyo supporting Mongol independence, the Japanese did not trust the painter. They became alarmed when, during his side trip to Harbin, a city that accommodated thousands of White Russian refugees, Roerich suddenly began acting as the future leader of the entire Russian emigre community. The Japanese were especially mad at the painter for speaking harshly against Konstantin Rodzaevsky, head of the Harbin-based Russian Fascist Party, whom Japanese intelligence was grooming as the chief of all Whites.

Thinking the Americans had purposely planted Roerich to disrupt this plan, Japanese intelligence unleashed a smear campaign in the press against the painter. The intercepted letters that Nicholas wrote to Vladimir in 1926 on the eve of his Tibetan expedition were excavated from the intelligence archives and made public. [1] Although in a heavily distorted form, parts of his Great Plan were now exposed. The press wrote that Roerich was a Mason, which was not true, and a messenger of the mysterious Great White Brotherhood that sought to establish a great Siberian state -- which did contain elements of truth. Several newspapers drew attention to his brief romance with the Bolsheviks, wondering if it was still going on. Meanwhile, the American press raised hell, speculating about some hidden U.S. governmental agenda linked to the Roerich Manchurian expedition. So again the painter was caught in the crossfire of diplomatic, spy, and media games.

Still worse, the State Department informed his patron Wallace that the Soviets had sent a confidential protest to the American government, complaining that the dangerous emigre Roerich was wandering along the borders of Red Mongolia. The Bolsheviks were worried that "the armed party is now making their way toward the Soviet Union ostensibly as a scientific expedition but actually to rally former White elements and discontented Mongols." [2] To the last moment, Wallace backed up Roerich and dismissed all insinuations against his "botanist." Only when he realized that the painter had become a diplomatic embarrassment for the government and that his own career was now on the line did the Secretary of Agriculture call off the expedition, cut funding, and terminate all contact with his former guru. Eventually, along with Louis Horch, another sponsor who dropped Roerich, Wallace turned against the painter, initiating a tax-evasion lawsuit against him and seizing all his properties in the United States. FDR felt embarrassed about the whole situation and personally interfered, promising Horch and Wallace to call the judge who handled the case in order to guarantee the "correct" verdict. And sure enough, Roerich, who trusted Horch to do his finances, was indicted. Betrayed and humiliated by his esoteric partners Logvan and Galahad, Roerich never came back to the United States, wisely choosing to settle in India.

Manchurian Candidate: The Conclusion of Roerich's Odyssey

What went unnoticed at the time was that in January 1933 in Leningrad, right on the eve of the Manchurian expedition, Boris Roerich, another brother of the painter who remained in Red Russia, was suddenly released by OGPU for good behavior before his sentence expired; in May 1931, the Bolshevik secret police had set up and then arrested Boris for attempting to smuggle his own antique items to the West. Yet, there is an interesting detail here. Boris's three-year sentence seems more a house arrest. An architect by profession, he was confined to work at the secret technical bureau, designing the Big House, which headquartered the Leningrad branch of the secret police and Stalin's summer cottage! Here Nicholas Roerich's brother worked under Nikolai Lansere, the Soviet architectural star who received a similar sentence. [3]

From Boris's recently declassified secret police file it is clear OGPU was using him as a tool in some sophisticated game that most certainly involved Nicholas Roerich. As early as February 1929, the secret police searched Boris's apartment, trying to find materials that might implicate him in espionage. Two months later he was recruited by OGPU and began working as its secret informer. Then two years later OGPU suddenly framed and arrested him for smuggling, sentencing him to three years in a concentration camp. Yet, hardly had two months passed before this draconian sentence was miraculously waived and replaced by benevolent confinement in the golden cage of the secret technical bureau. [4]

But this strange story does not end here. From 1936 to 1937, now in Moscow and again with Lansere, Boris Roerich worked on the monumental project of the All Union Institute of Experimental Medicine (VIEM), the notorious "new age" Stalinist research center described in chapter 4. What followed was even more stunning. From 1937 to 1939, during the period of the Great Terror when hundreds of thousands of Soviet intellectuals, including Lansere, and numerous Bolshevik bureaucrats were either shot or locked in concentration camps for a good deal less than being relatives of "enemies of the people." Boris continued his career as if nothing was happening and even improved his material conditions by moving to an elite neighborhood in Moscow, where he quietly died a natural death in 1945. [5] It is notable that during the same time when the architect lived safely in Moscow, Dr. Konstantin Riabinin, who never fought or spoke against the Bolshevik regime, was rearrested and placed in a concentration camp for fifteen more years simply for his association with the "English spy" Nicholas Roerich during the Tibetan expedition!

The facts of Boris Roerich's biography look shocking. Even without having such a "dangerous" brother, Boris, simply as a former White officer who fought against the Bolsheviks during the Civil War, was a prime candidate if not for execution then at least for a twenty-five-year sentence in a concentration camp. Still, by some providential force, the Bolsheviks' vengeance never reached him. How to explain this miracle? What was the magic shield that protected Boris Roerich? The most obvious answer is that this magic guardian was his adventurous brother. Remembering that the use of relatives to guarantee the cooperation of victims and the loyalty of OGPU agents was standard practice for Stalin's secret police, all pieces of the puzzle fall in place.

It is quite possible that Boris was a bargaining chip in some devious and sophisticated spy game that involved Nicholas Roerich. I will not repeat here the far-fetched argument made by Moscow writer Oleg Shishkin that after 1919 or 1920 the painter was always a paid Bolshevik spy and that his Master School in New York City was a cover for a Soviet spy ring. [6] There is simply no credible evidence to support such a case. At the same time, one cannot totally exclude the possibility that at some point Roerich was simply blackmailed by the Soviet secret police and forced to perform occasional clandestine assignments, especially during his Manchurian venture. These assignments might not have necessarily contradicted his Great Plan. They could include monitoring Japanese military activities near Red Mongolia's border, the location of their troops and military hardware, the status of Manchuria as a puppet state, and the general geopolitical situation in the area, a major concern for the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Bolshevik intelligence threw a tremendous amount of resources and manpower into the Far East, recruiting hundreds of unemployed White emigres to spy on the Japanese. Besides, putting on a leash as a possible agent of influence the prominent Russian emigre who worked to unite White Russians and Mongols in a sacred crusade against Communism was not a bad idea. Viewed from this angle, the protest quietly delivered by the Soviets to the United States in 1935 regarding Roerich's "armed and dangerous party" might have simply been a good smokescreen to smooth the mission of the reluctant agent.

As long as Boris remained in the hands of the Soviet secret police, the painter's cooperation could be safely solicited anytime. There were signs that after their failed Tibetan venture Nicholas and Helena Roerich wanted to drop the Bolsheviks and find another sponsor. The couple probably thought their involvement of Moscow in their 1920s' geopolitical scheme was a one-time thing. If they thought so, they made a fatal mistake. If Nicholas Roerich wanted to drop the Bolsheviks, most likely they did not want to drop him. At the least, we know that Boris Roerich, who in 1922 was ready to leave Russia to join his brother in New York, never got his chance.

After his second attempt to launch the Sacred Union of the East from Manchuria failed and after the Master Building was seized by Horch, Nicholas and Helena, along with their two sons, settled in northern India in the picturesque Kulu Valley. Right next door, beyond the Himalayan ranges, loomed the Tibet these "Shambhala warriors" failed to conquer. Immersing himself in painting local landscapes and entertaining occasional visitors, Roerich finally had to lay to rest his grand dreams of becoming the spiritual redeemer for humankind. Here in Kulu, the painter peacefully died in 1947 from prostate cancer. His wife followed him eight years later.

-- Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia, by Andrei Znamenski


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George de Roerich

George Nicolas de Roerich (Russian: Юрий Николаевич Рёрих, pronounced [ˈjʉrʲɪj nʲɪkəˈlajɪvʲɪtɕ ˈrʲɵrʲɪx]; August 16, 1902 in Okulovka, Novgorod Governorate – May 21, 1960 in Moscow) was a prominent 20th century Tibetologist. His name at birth was Yuri[1] Nikolaevich Rerikh. George's work encompassed many areas of Tibetan studies, but in particular he is known for his contributions to Tibetan dialectology, his monumental translation of the Blue Annals, and his 11-volume Tibetan-Russian-English dictionary (published posthumously).

George was the son of the painter and explorer Nicholas Roerich and Helena Roerich.

Early life

Much of Roerich's early life was spent in Saint Petersburg. His brother, Svetoslav Roerich, was born in 1904. Both sons' interests were nurtured by their mother, who wrote of her oldest son's childhood: "The elder one showed love for history and tin soldiers. He had thousands of them. His passion for the art of war has survived until now. Strategy is his pet subject. By the way, this talent is inborn, and he is very proud of his ancestor — field marshal of the Russian Empire Mikhail Kutuzov, the hero of Patriotic War of 1812." [2][3]

Education

By the time Roerich was 15, he had already begun studying Egyptology with Boris Turayev and Mongolian language and history with Andrei Dmitryevich Rudnyev. He was a student with broad interests and many talents. After finishing his studies at Karl May School, he entered the Indian and Iranian department of Oriental Languages at London University in 1918. Under Indologist Professor Edward Denison Ross he studied Sanskrit and Pali.[4] He was recognized for his language abilities and was introduced as the best Sanskrit student to the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs who visited the university.[5]

Upon completion of his study at London University in 1920, he moved to America with his parents. He studied in the Indian Philology Department of Harvard University and also studied Pali Chinese languages[clarification needed] during his time there. At the age of 18, Roerich was already firmly rooted in his passion for Oriental studies. He mastered Sanskrit during his time at Harvard under the direction of Professor Charles Rockwell Lanman, whose comparative grammar lessons made a lifelong impact on George's future studies. Roerich also attended lectures by Professor Michael Rostovtzeff on Middle Asia influences in the art of southern Russia. During his years at Harvard, he wrote his first essay on Buddhism and studied classical Chinese.[6] He received both a bachelor's and master's degree from Harvard University, then continued his education in Paris, France.

He spent the years 1922-1923 at Paris University in Sorbonne, working in the Department of Middle Asian, Indian and Mongol-Tibetan Studies and studying in the Military Department as well as the Department of Law and Economy. During his time here, he cooperated with such famous orientalists as Paul Pelliot and Sylvain Lévi. He learned Mongolian and Tibetan while also continuing his study of Chinese and Persian languages. He graduated with his M.A. in Indian Philology in 1923.[7]

Career

Early work


Roerich began his independent research at the age of 21. In November 1923 he left for Bombay with his family. After years of study and preparation, his dream of going to India came true. By December 1923, he had arrived at the base of the Himalayas as a member of a scientific expedition to Sikkim. The purpose of this expedition was to visit ancient monuments and Buddhist monasteries as well as to record local legends, beliefs and artistic traditions. In Darjeeling, George polished his colloquial Tibetan with scholar Lama L.M. Dorje, who guided him in the study of Tibetan Art. Roerich found strong similarities between ancient Russian icon painting and the art of tankha painting in both technique and in the treatment of the subject. He wrote: "Indeed, it seems that the Russian icon art and the Tibetan pictorial art derive their methods of work from a common source...Thus we often see on Tibetan paintings the principal figures enthroned on an island (this being usually the case when Buddha or Bodhisattva is represented). Similar images are frequently found on Russian icons."[8] In 1925, Roerich published his first book titled Tibetan Paintings in which he attempted to define Tibetan art, its history, and the three existing schools of art in Tibet. David Jackson in his A History of Tibetan Painting acknowledged that in the Western scholarship, "the earliest account of Tibetan paintings styles...was that of George Roerich".[9]

Central Asian expedition

The Roerich family embarked on an ambitious journey throughout Central Asia in 1925. This journey began in India and lasted four years. It was a crucial time in George Roerich's career as a scientist, and he began his study of ancient pre-Buddhist doctrine of Bon and the translation of its manuscript. Despite the difficulties of travel and political instability, Roerich managed to make several important discoveries during this expedition, including previously unknown materials about the Tibetan Epic of King Gesar. Another important discovery was that the animal style that was used by nomads who had migrated from Central Asia to South Russia in the 7th and 8th centuries B.C.E. could be found among Northern Tibetan nomads. Roerich believed that "All art objects made in animal style found and described by the expedition clearly proved the existence of ancient Central Asian art amongst nomads of Tibet."[10]

His role as translator was invaluable to the group as they traveled. Roerich could speak Mongolian and Tibetan fluently as well as many other Central Asian languages. Despite his young age, he was given the task of guarding the group's safety. Here, his knowledge of military tactics from his university study proved useful and his tactical skills and courage saved their caravan on more than one occasion.[11] His study of the geography, archeology, ethnology, and linguistics during the expedition formed the basis of his work Trails to Inmost Asia, published in 1930. This publication put the young orientalist on par with the famous researchers of Central Asia, such as Nikolay Przhevalsky, Grigory Potanin, Pyotr Kozlov, and Sven Hedin.[12]

Of this lengthy and challenging journey, Roerich later said "The expedition headed by Professor Nicholas Roerich, organized by the Roerich Museum in New York and International Centre of Art 'Corona Mundi' had as its main task creation of the unique pictorial panorama of the lands and nations of Inmost Asia. The second task, was research of the possibilities of the new archaeological excavations, and thus, preparation of the ways for the future expeditions in this region. The third task was research of the languages and dialects of Central Asia, and gathering a big collection of objects, that depict spiritual culture of these nations. Central Asia has been a cradle and a meeting place of many Asian civilizations, and inaccessible mountain valleys till our days preserved many invaluable linguistic and ethnographic materials, which can help to reconstruct the past of Asia."[13]

Himalayan Research Institute

The plethora of materials collected during the Central Asia Expedition became the foundation for the establishment of the Himalayan Research Institute named Urusvati in Darjeeling in 1928. A few months later, the institute moved to Naggar in Kulu Valley. The center engaged in scientific exchange with 285 institutes, universities, museums, and libraries around the world. Roerich collaborated with Tibetan scholars and published the Tibetan English Dictionary in 1934. One of his main focuses for the center was to bring people to the institute who practiced and lived the cultures being examined by the center.[14] He was the director of the institute for 10 years.[15]

Manchuria expedition

In 1934-1935, Roerich undertook an expedition with his father to Manchuria and Inner Mongolia that was organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the purpose of collecting seeds of drought resistant plants that would help prevent erosion of soils and the spreading of pests. In addition to gaining purely scientific knowledge, this expedition also had a social and cultural aim: to create wider agricultural cooperation and public collaboration.[16] Professor Nicholas Roerich led the expedition, and George Roerich was the assistant and responsible for the medicinal research. They gathered a collection of drought resistant plants, herbs, and soil as well as a valuable list of traditional medicinal treatments. Roerich made maps and conducted a photo survey of the region in which the expedition took place. In 1935, the research from the expedition was transferred back to India, and the Roerichs returned to Kulu Valley in October 1935.[17]

Later life

After the Manchuria expedition, [George] Roerich spent many years living in India. His father Nicholas Roerich died in 1947. Due to political unrest in the area, Roerich moved with his mother Helena Roerich from their home in Nagger to Kalimpong where he lived until 1956. Helena Roerich died in 1955, and in 1957, Roerich returned to Russia.[18] Before his return to his homeland, Roerich participated in several important projects.

He collaborated with Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark and R. Sanskrtyayana to translate the Buddhist text Pramanavaartikam from Tibetan into Sanskrit. Working with Tse-Trung Lopsang Phuntshok he wrote Textbook of Colloquial Tibetan. Together with Gendün Chöphel, he translated Blue Annals, the lengthy pioneering work on Tibetan history, published in two volumes by the Asiatic Society in 1949 and 1954.[19]

The Blue Annals, completed in 1476, written by Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel (Wylie: gos lo tsā ba gzhon nu dpal, 1392–1481), is a Tibetan historical survey with a marked ecumenical (Rimé movement) view, focusing on the dissemination of various sectarian spiritual traditions throughout Tibet.

An English translation by George de Roerich with help from Gendün Chöphel was published in 1949 and has since remained one of the most widely consulted sources on the history of Tibetan Buddhism up to the fifteenth century.

The Tibetan and Himalayan Library is working on a new online translation of the Blue Annals.

A similar work from a later period is Tuken Lozang Chö kyi Nyima's Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems (Wylie: grub mtha' shel gyi me long) completed in 1802. Tuken favored the Gelug school, but he nonetheless provides broad and useful historical information, relying heavily on the Blue Annals himself.

The following modern editions are in print:

• Chandra, Lokesh (Ed. & Translator) (1974). The Blue Annals. International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi. This edition is a reproduction from block prints kept at Kundeling Monastery, Lhasa. The colophon (Chandra 970; Chengdu 1271; Roerich 1093) was composed by Rta tshag 8 Ye shes blo bzang bstan pa’i mgon po (1760–1810).
• Chengdu (Wylie: si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang) (1984). deb ther sngon po. Two volumes, paginated continuously. According to Martin (1997), this modern edition is based upon the Kundeling Monastery blockprint and collated with the edition of Dga’ ldan chos ‘khor gling (Ganden Monastery), Amdo.
• Roerich, George N. and Gendün Chöphel, translator (1988). The Blue Annals by Gö Lotsawa. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1976, Reprint in 1979. [reprint of Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1949, in two volumes].

-- Blue Annals, by Wikipedia


[b]After spending almost 30 years in India, Roerich returned in 1957 to Soviet Russia, where he made efforts to revive the Russian School of Oriental Studies. As the head of the Indology Department in the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow, he resumed editing of Bibliotheca Buddhica. This was a series devoted to the publication of Buddhist texts and monographs on the subject, started in 1897 by Prof. S.F. Oldenburg. In this same series A.I. Vostrikov's Tibetan Historical Literature and Dhammapada were translated from Pali.
[20][/b]

His return to Russia and acquisition of Soviet citizenship was courageous as the USSR's opinion of his family was rather distorted. Because of his effort, bans were lifted on everything associated with the Roerich family name, and the legacy of research left by the family was preserved. The first of his father's exhibitions was organized in Moscow in 1958, then spread to Leningrad, Riga, Kiev, Tbilisi, and other cities. He was able to dispel myths about the family's philosophy of Agni Yoga and start a cultural movement using this philosophy to spread Living Ethics in the USSR.[21][22]

Roerich died on May 21, 1960 at the age of 58, and his ashes were placed in Moscow at the Novodevichy Cemetery. Svetoslav Roerich is the author of the memorial to this outstanding Russian scientist.[23][24]

Works

• de Roerich, George (1925). Tibetan Paintings. Paris: Paul Geuthner.
• de Roerich, George (1930). The Animal Style Among the Nomads of Northern Tibet. Prague: Seminarium Kondakovianum.
• de Roerich, George (1931). Trails to Inmost Asia. Yale University Press.
• de Roerich, George (1931). “Modern Tibetan Phonetics: With special reference to the Dialect of Central Tibet.” Journal and Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 27.1: 285-312.
• de Roerich, George (1932). Review of Jäschke 1881. Journal of Urusvati 2: 165-169.
• de Roerich, George (1933). Dialects of Tibet: The Tibetan Dialect of Lahul. (Tibetica 1) New York: Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute of Roerich Museum.
• de Roerich, George (1958). Le Parler de l’Amdo: Étude d’un Dialecte Archaïque du Tibet. (Serie Orientale Roma 18). Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.
• de Roerich, George Nicolas ( 11 vols., 1983–1993 ). Tibetsko-russko-angliiskii slovar: s sanskritskimi paralleliami. Tibetan-Russian-English dictionary with Sanskrit parallels. Y. Parfionovich and V. Dylykova, eds. Moscow: Izd-vo "Nauka," Glav. red. vostochnoi lit-ry / Central Department of Oriental Literature.
• de Roerich, George N. and Tse-Trung Lopsang Phuntshok (1957). Textbook of colloquial Tibetian: dialect of central Tibet. Calcutta: Govt. of West Bengal, Education Dept., Education Bureau.
• Roerich, George N. and Gedun Choepel (Translator) (1988). The Blue Annals by Gö Lotsawa. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1976, Reprint in 1979. [reprint of Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1949, in two volumes].

See also

• 4426 Roerich — minor planet
• Roerichism
• Helena Roerich
• Nicholas Roerich
• Svetoslav Roerich

References

1. Variant spellings of Yuri: Yury, Yuriy, or Iurii. The name "George" is a commonly used English equivalent of the Russian name "Yuri". Another variant of his name is spelled thusly: Ūrij Nikolaevič Rerih.
2. Skumin, V. A.; Aunovsky, O. K. (1995). Светоносцы (о семье Рерихов) [The Bringers of the Light (The story of the Roerich family).] (in Russian). Novocheboksarsk: TEROS. ISBN 5-88167-004-3. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
3. H. Roerich's letter dated February 25, 1953 // The ICR Archive
4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
5. http://en.icr.su/family/gnr/
6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
7. http://www.roerichtrust.org/Roerich%20f ... sonal1.htm
8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
11. http://en.icr.su/family/gnr/index.php
12. http://www.roerichtrust.org/Roerich%20f ... sonal1.htm
13. http://www.roerichtrust.org/Roerich%20f ... sonal1.htm
14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
15. http://en.icr.su/family/gnr/02.php
16. http://en.icr.su/family/gnr/02.php
17. http://www.roerichtrust.org/Roerich%20f ... sonal1.htm
18. http://www.roerichtrust.org/Roerich%20f ... sonal1.htm
19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
20. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
21. Skumin VA (2003). "Удрая — наш Духовный Наставник" [Udraia (George Roerich's spiritual name) is our Guru]. To Health via Culture. 9: 3–12. ISSN 0204-3440. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
22. http://en.icr.su/family/gnr/02.php
23. "George Roerich /Yuri Nikolayevich Roerich/ (1902—1960)". Retrieved December 31, 2014.
24. Sketch of the Tombstone on G.N.Roerich’s Grave at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow
• 24. http://irmtkullu.com/the-roerich-family/george-roerich/

Sources

• Kravchenko, Natalia R. and Vladimir Zaitsev. 2003. Professor George de Roerich and His Outstanding Contribution to Indo-Asian Studies. <https://web.archive.org/web/20160304111549/http://ignca.nic.in/nl002501.htm>.
• George (Yuri) Nikolaievich Roerich. <http://www.roerichtrust.org/Roerich%20family_files/grpersonal/GRpersonal1.htm>
• Yuri Nikolayevich Roerich. International Center of the Roerichs. <http://en.icr.su/family/gnr/index.php>.

External links

• Media related to Gorge Roerich at Wikimedia Commons
• International Centre of the Roerichs – Biography of George Roerich
• International Roerich Memorial Trust
• Living Ethics (Codes of Conduct) presented by George de Roerich.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:04 am

History of Tibetan and Exile Radio [Robert Ford] [Reginald Fox]
by Irene Richardson
Academic Director: Onians, Isabelle
Tufts University
Religion
Dharamsala, India
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, SIT Study Abroad, Fall 2009



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Table of Contents

• Abstract
• 1. Introduction and Robert Ford
• 2. Transfer of Radio into Chinese Hands
• 3. Shortwave Radio and Radio Jamming
• 4. Exile Radio: VoT
• 5. Exile Radio: BBG
• 6. Exile Radio: RFA
• 7. Exile Radio: VoA
• 8. Detractors and Proponents of U.S. Foreign Broadcasting
• 9. Question of Imposing Foreign Values on China
• 10. Conclusion
• Appendices
• Bibliography and Interview Log

Abstract

Radio has long served as an important source of information and means of communication in Tibet. I discuss the history of wireless communication and broadcasting as it developed in the years before the 1950 invasion and summarize the dismantling of the Tibetan’s communication network after the 17 Point Agreement. Next, foreign broadcasting aimed at Tibetans living in China is discussed. American broadcasting is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Radio Free Asia and Voice of America carry out broadcasting directed at Tibetans. U.S. government funded broadcasting is particularly controversial; I compare a number of viewpoints on the subject. Voice of Tibet was founded in Norway and focuses only on Tibetan issues in lieu of world news. Finally, I address the question of the efficacy and ethicality of foreign programming in China.

Introduction

A discussion of Tibetan history often points to Tibet’s tendency towards isolation. This tendency is no accident: the terrain of Tibet is often inhospitable and travel through Tibet is not easy. Considering its countryside, wireless communications were and are an important means of communication. From the early days, radio was used for commercial and strategic purposes. Today, radio communications serve to inject new ideas and create an arena for critical thinking in a country with decidedly single-minded state media. These efforts are appreciated by some and questioned by others. Radio directed at Tibetans reflects the evolution of the Tibetan situation: although at first isolated with little experience in international relations, currently Tibetans as a whole find themselves in the middle of a tug-of-war between western and Chinese ideologies.

1. Robert Ford

The story of Tibetan radio can be said to begin with Robert Ford. As a sergeant instructor at an R.A.F. Radio School in Hyderabad in 1945, he had heard vague tales of Tibet’s God-King, the Dalai Lama, and a kingdom in the sky. According to his autobiography, Captured in Tibet, he volunteered at a temporary posting in Lhasa in order to escape a quotidian life of nine-to-five-dom. Ford’s first task was to relieve Reginald Fox, the radio officer at the British mission in Lhasa, who was to take a three month leave.

When Ford first arrived in Lhasa, the only two radio transmitters in Tibet were located at the British and Chinese missions. These stations were used for commercial purposes, relaying messages for traders across Tibet, but occasionally served strategic purposes. During a rebellion by the monks at Sera Che, H. E. Richardson of the British mission was asked to allow Reginald Fox to help the army with radio communications (Goldstein 421). Tibetans strove to develop their own radio communications as part of their push to ramp up defenses and infrastructure in the years before 1950, when communist victory in China seemed immanent (Goldstein 620). Ford described how since the Tibetan’s encounter with the Chinese from 1915-1917, “there was a great deal of suspicion [and] always the fear that the Chinese might come” (Strober and Strober 103). During World War II, the Tibetan administration had allowed two American officers passage through Tibet in search of a supply-line to China when the Burma Road was closed. As a token of gratitude, the President of the United States gave the Tibetans three complete radio stations. The Tibetan government asked Fox to train Tibetans to operate the stations; after relieving Fox, Ford continued training.

In keeping with Tibet’s policy of seclusion, the administration insisted radio stations be run by Tibetans. It quickly became apparent, however, that few Tibetans were educated enough to become efficient radio operators. Training Tibetans was ultimately unsuccessful and the Tibetan government reluctantly agreed to bring in outside technicians. The first recruits were Indians, the feeling being that they were less foreign than Europeans. Robert Ford himself then applied to the Tibetan Government for employment (Ford 20).

To his own surprise, he was hired in 1948 and during his first year in Lhasa he built and opened Radio Lhasa. As Tibet’s first radio broadcasting station, Radio Lhasa allowed Tibet to broadcast to the outside world for the first time in January 1950. At first the broadcast was only half an hour a day: the news was read in Tibetan by Rimshi Rasa Gyagen, in Chinese by Phuntsok Tashi Takla, the Dalai Lama’s brother-in-law, and in English by Reginald Fox. The primary purpose of these initial broadcasts was to counter Chinese propaganda declaring that Tibet was a part of China. The Tibetan struggle against Chinese assertions that Tibetan and Chinese identities were inextricable was slowly escalating, accompanied with increasing efforts towards improving military and communications capabilities.

Before radio communications in Tibet, couriers on horseback were the swiftest form of communication between various Tibetan provinces. To send a message from Lhasa to Chamdo, the district headquarters in Kham, took seven to ten days by horseback. Because Kham was the most likely starting point for Chinese aggression, it was chosen as the site for a second radio station. Ford then set out to open Kham’s first radio station in Chamdo, the residence of the civil and military governor-general, Lhalu Shape. (Ford 22). Fox, who was living in India at the time, was then hired to take over Lhasa broadcasting. A third station was established in Nagchuka, the seat of the governor of Northern Tibet, and another possible Chinese invasion route.

Ford started his four Indian trainees on the full course he had been taught in the R.A.F. (trainees were Indian only in nationality; they were all of Tibetan or mixed Tibetan descent). This course included radio theory and operating technique. In order to prevent Indians from coming to Tibet for free tuition, the trainees signed on to five year contracts and had agreed to go anywhere in Tibet. Ford was eventually asked to expedite their training and the trainees were sent in pairs to strategic outposts on the Tibetan frontier.

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Figure 1: First two pages of wireless code used to relay messages. 6 (See appendix A for photo sources)

In the early days of broadcasting from Chamdo, Ford communicated with Fox in Lhasa, relaying government messages (in a code neither of them knew) and commercial traffic published in a numerical code. After such traffic, Radio Lhasa broadcasted the news in Tibetan, English, and then Chinese. Ford relayed the broadcast to Sikang, Chinghai, and as much of China as his transmitter could reach. (Ford 23)

As one of the only Europeans in Tibet during the PLA’s invasion of Tibet’s frontier in 1950, Ford was particularly distressed by the message he heard from Radio Peking on May 22. “The tasks for the People’s Liberation Army for 1950 are to liberate Tibet Taiwan, Hainan, and Tibet.” Ford was not especially surprised; Radio Peking had made vague threats before and there were rumors that advance units of the PLA had reached the Upper Yangste River area, the boundary between Chinese and Tibetan controlled Kham (Ford 43). But Ford and the other European radio officials knew that Chinese invaders would be on the lookout for evidence of Western imperialism and that they would be targeted.

In July 1950, the first military contact between Tibet and China occurred at Dengko. Ford’s trainees at the Dengko outpost sent urgent news to Chamdo through wireless radio (Chinese forces had attacked Dengko to destroy these communications). Robert Ford recalls the attack in his autobiography: “Sonam Phuntso [the wireless operator in Dengko] told me he had an urgent message as soon as he came on the air. He began to tap it out, but he did not finish. Suddenly he broke off, and telegraphed in clear: ‘The Chinese are here.’ Then there was silence. Dengko radio had closed down for good.” One of the two radio operators managed to evade Chinese capture and arrived at Chamdo a week later. Sonam Phunsto informed Ford that the other operator, Sonam Dorje, had stayed behind to tap out his final message to Chamdo. Ford immediately reported to Lhalu, the governor general of Kham. Lhalu informed Lhasa of the attack and asked for more wireless equipment and operators. The attack at Dengko highlighted the importance of Tibet’s rudimentary wireless network: had there not been a station at Dengko, no one would be aware that PLA troops were moving into Kham.

In the tense days that followed, Ford was frustrated and confused by the refusal of Tibetan officials to radio the outside world about the attack and ask for aid:

“I was still relaying the transmissions, and I had listened to every news-bulletin and talk that had been broadcast. I had still not heard a single reply to Peking. No one had said that Tibet did not want to be liberated. There had not even been a denial that Tibet was controlled by American and British imperialists” (Ford 86).


Lhalu tried to assuage Ford and explained that Tibet didn’t want to provoke Beijing and would resort to military action if necessary. Ford countered that if Tibet waited until a Chinese invasion was completely underway, it would be too late to ask for help from U.S. or U.N. forces.

Ford was even more distressed to find that Lhalu had been called back to Lhasa and was to be replaced by Ngabö. Ngabö’s attitude differed from Lhalu’s: where Lhalu was prepared to defend Kham militarily, Ngabö reportedly commented that Tibet could not fight against the Chinese Communists because the Chinese had more experienced soldiers and more advanced weaponry (Goldstein 622). Ford later admitted that the Tibetans did have very little in the way of an army and that this army was not well equipped or well organized (Strober and Strober 92). However, he appreciated Lhalu’s fighting spirit and was agitated by Ngabö’s decision to remove some of the defensive measures Lhalu had put in place. Furthermore, of the two portable wireless sets Ngabö had brought from Lhasa (Lhalu had repeatedly requested these after the fall of Dengko and destruction of wireless communications there), Ngabö decided not to install either along the border. One was to return with Lhalu to Lhasa, while Ngabö had the other station remain in Chamdo as a spare and told Ford to keep it ready to be sent out. Ford urged Ngabö to send the spare set to Riwoche, an important point on their escape route to Lhasa and the village where they would ultimately be cut off by Chinese forces advancing to the capital (Goldstein 689).1

But Ngabö refused to send out the spare radio station, and after a month of conflicting reports regarding the Chinese position, a messenger from Riwoche arrived on the 16th of October and reported that the Chinese were fast approaching. If Ford and company remained in Chamdo any longer their escape route to Lhasa would be cut off. Ngabö wired Lhasa and asked for permission to retreat (Ford contended later that Ngabö asked Lhasa for permission to surrender to the Chinese and was denied). Hasty and panicked preparation was made to leave immediately and it was decided that Chamdo was to be evacuated on the eighteenth. Ford awoke on the morning of the eighteenth to find that Ngabö and all the other Lhasa officials had left without him or his radio operators. Ford ran to the governor’s Residency and found it completely empty. After arranging for the destruction of his radio equipment and transport for his radio operators, Ford set out to catch Ngabö and company.

Fleeing on horseback, he eventually overtook Ngabö at the village Lamda. There, a messenger from Riwoche arrived to report that the Chinese attack had begun. As Ford and the others from Chamdo reached the foot of the Lagong pass, another messenger reported that Riwoche had fallen. From here they would have to race Chinese forces before they were cut off at the crossroads.

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Figure 2: Tibetan Military circa 1950 Chinese Invasion

However, it soon became clear that the fleeing Tibetans could not escape the quickly advancing Chinese soldiers. Despite Ford’s objections, Ngabö ordered his officials and the recently arrived reinforcements to surrender and fall back to a nearby monastery. Ford, along with others, was captured by Chinese forces. He was questioned extensively about his activities as a British spy. Ford informed his interrogators that he was employed by the Tibetan government and not the British government. But invading Chinese forces needed evidence of Western imperialism, and they found Ford’s biography unsatisfactory. He passed from interrogator to interrogator and was eventually imprisoned in a Chinese re-education camp. Ford underwent the rigors of communist brainwashing, and describes in his biography his ever-changing cast of Chinese cellmates. Radio was still a part of his routine. Loudspeakers outside one of his cells relayed news and bulletins from Radio Chunking. Ford wrote of one occasion when he and his cellmate Kang, a former Kuomintang officer, heard the news in Tibetan. The broadcast was read by a woman with a good Lhasa accent. Ford was astonished to see Kang crying after the broadcast. Ford and other prisoners were required to keep close tabs on the activities of their cellmates:

“’Why are you crying?’ I asked; not out of sympathy or pity, but because it was my duty to ask.

‘I was thinking of my parents,’ he said, ‘and how badly I have treated them by supporting a corrupt reactionary regime.’

I knew that was not the truth, but it was some time later that I learnt that the Tibetan newsreader was Kang’s wife” (Ford 225).


After five grueling years of re-education, Ford finally was released in May 1955. He was reunited with his parents at Heathrow airport and is widely considered an important source of information on pre-invasion era Tibetan history.

2. Transfer of Radio into Chinese hands

Chinese invaders appropriated Tibet’s nascent radio network and developed it further. Chinese authorities established a new radio station at Phari on December 19th, 1951 as a key link in radio networking in southern Tibet. On April 11th 1952, Ford’s Indian trainees were sent out of the country and returned to Sikkim and India (Tashi Tsering, interview). Maintenance and operation of the six permanent radio stations and two mobile stations fell to Chinese personnel. With the ratification of the 17 Point Agreement in 1959, Chinese officials in Tibet were recognized as a central power, not merely invaders. Tibetan’s were no longer allowed a military or communications network of their own. Slowly radio infrastructure continued expansion within Tibet although expanding radio communications were not intended to foster connections to the non-Communist world (in 1962, Chinese severed radio communications between the Indian Consulate General in Lhasa and India, which had been the only radio link between Tibet and the outside world). Tibetan radio from this point on served Chinese state interests.

3. Shortwave Radio and Radio Jamming

In response to single-minded state media, a number of foreign broadcasters have attempted to broadcast into Tibet and provide alternative viewpoints. Most of the radio directed at Tibet is shortwave format. Shortwave radio (AM radio) is the chosen medium as it is relatively easy to target a large area with one transmission. Most shortwave broadcasting is transmitted through skywave transmissions. An antenna is used to transmit by converting energy into an electromagnetic wave. These waves reach a layer of the upper atmosphere called the ionosphere and are reflected downwards. The shortwave signals spread and reach the ground hundreds or possibly thousands of miles from the transmission site. After reaching the earth, signals will again be reflected towards the ionosphere and bounce back to earth again, although the signal will be weaker (Alme and Vagen 99).

It is also possible to broadcast using groundwave transmissions. With groundwave transmission, a signal is beamed directly towards the ground. Groundwave signals can travel around 2-5 miles, depending on the topography surrounding the transmission site. Shortwave radios intercept groundwave and skywave signals and induce a voltage from them. The receiving radio then converts and amplifies the signals back into the original sound (Alme and Vagen 100).

A discussion of foreign broadcasting into Tibet requires an understanding of the term “jamming.” Jamming is the intentional transmission of radio signals in order to interfere with signals from another station (Alme and Vagen 101). A transmitter tuned to the same frequency as another transmitter can, with enough power, override the other signal. Often, Chinese jammers simply air ordinary Chinese radio programs over unwanted foreign transmissions (Alme and Vagen 100). As opposed to “subtle” jamming, which cannot be heard on the receiving end, this type of jamming is referred to as “obvious,” as it is heard by the receiver and simply drowns out the undesired broadcast.

4. Exile Radio: VoT

Today, a number of stations exist outside of Tibet that strive to provide those in Tibet with an alternative to state media. Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and Voice of Tibet have been the most successful in broadcasting into Tibet and to the Tibetan exile community. Of these three radio stations, RFA and VoA are funded by the U.S. government, while VoT is based in Norway. Voice of Tibet was registered as a foundation in Oslo, Norway in 1995. VoT was founded by a number of NGOs based in Oslo, including the Norwegian Human Rights House, the Norwegian Tibet Committee, and Worldview Rights. With the help of donations from private individuals and the Norwegian Law Students Humanitarian Campaign, in 1996 VoT was able to go on air for the first time. Three Tibetan journalists (one for each of the three main dialects, UTstang, Kham, and Amdo dialects) had been recruited and sent for training in journalism in Dharamsala and India. VoT’s first broadcast on May 14, 1996 was a 15 minutes news program broadcast through a transmitter site on the Seychelles islands, northeast of Madagascar. It was rebroadcast Monday through Friday. About a month into VoT’s broadcasting schedule, the Chinese began jamming transmissions. In response, VoT shifted its frequency. In the early days of Chinese jamming, it took jammers around a week to move jamming transmitters to the new frequency (today it takes seconds). In the meantime, VoT was afforded another week of unjammed broadcasts. It was not long before China took decisive action: on September 13, 1996, Oystein Alme, the director of VoT, received a phone call from the Seychelles transmitter site. Chinese authorities had informed Seychelles that all their broadcasts would be jammed unless they agreed to stop broadcasting for Voice of Tibet. After negotiation the director of the Seychelles site promised Alme to continue broadcasts for one month, allowing VoT time to find an alternative transmitter site. After hundreds of phone calls and months of searching, a new site was contracted on January 1st 1997. The new site could only offer 500 kW packages as opposed to 100 kW VoT had been broadcasting on at Seychelles. This new deal was a strain on VoT’s already tight budget, but after negotiating down the kilowatts and price, VoT was able to continue broadcasts (Alme and Vagen 17).

In December 1999, VoT introduced 15 minutes of news services in Mandarin Chinese, in keeping with the Dalai Lama’s assertion that the people of China require unbiased news and alternative views just as Tibetans do. The new fifteen-minute service followed VoT’s half hour Tibetan programming. Besides reaching out to potential Chinese listeners, the Mandarin section is also useful for listeners in Kham and Amdo who have trouble understanding the Uke dialect used in the Tibetan broadcast. VoT has received positive feedback from Chinese students studying in Beijing regarding their Mandarin program. Eventually the main office was moved from Oslo to Dharamsala due to budget concerns and also to provide reporters with better resources for reporting on Tibetan news. At first VoT was overseen by the Department of Information and International Relations, but the station became autonomous in 1996 to allow reporters room for more unbiased reporting (Paldon interview).

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Figure 3: VoT Insignia found on the inner wall of the VoT recording studio in Dharamsala.

Unlike VoA and RFA, VoT doesn’t cover international news, but only reports stories related to Tibet (one reason for this limited scope is the short length of the program). In general, VoT’s programming follows His Holiness, developments in Tibet, and activities in the exile community, including peace movements and protests. The Tibetan and Mandarin sections of the broadcast are essentially the same in content. The Tibetan broadcast includes twenty minutes of news stories, while the last ten minutes focuses on a fixed feature for each day of the week.

VoT Feature Segments

Monday: Tibetan History

Tuesday: Music

Wednesday: His Holiness’s speeches, serialized

Thursday: Health

Friday: Diaspora concerns (may include interviews with settlement officers or Tibetan institutions)

Saturday: His Holiness’s religious teachings

Sunday Panel discussion and listeners forum (listeners may email in with specific topic requests)


Reporting on events happening in Tibet proves difficult for VoT. News is collected using a number of methods. A correspondent in Nepal meets and interviews newly arrived Tibetans at the reception center in Kathmandu. A few people in Dharamsala and India have contacts in Tibet and sometimes call or use the Internet to communicate with friends or relatives for second hand information. Apart from interviewing contacts and new arrivals, VoT reporters try to corroborate interviews with information from other people in the area or with reports from organizations involved in or concerned with a particular event.

According to Tenzin Paldon, assistant director of the VoT office in Dharamsala, jamming continues, although in the case of VoT Chinese jammers often use loud drums, opera, and screeching noises to drown out their broadcasts. In order to counter jamming, programs are rebroadcast 5 times a day and VoT may shift frequencies during a broadcast (Tenzin explained that because most Tibetans use analog radios, they can simply retune to the next frequency).

The broadcast is recorded and edited in the VoT office in Dharamsala according to a daily routine. In the morning, VoT holds an editorial meeting. Like most modern news followers, their main source of stories and leads is the internet, and much of the morning is spent translating reports into Tibetan, checking the VoT server for news from correspondents, and keeping up with daily headlines. A follow up meeting decides what news should come first in the broadcast, what tasks should be allocated to whom, and to organize excursions into Dharamsala or telephone interviews when necessary. Staff members then go out into the field to record sound bytes and interviews and formulate individual news stories. In the afternoon from 2-3 o’clock, VoT staff record their findings. Where before, fickle analog equipment was used to produce a broadcast, VoT recently switched entirely to digital equipment (although the old analog equipment is kept in the recording studio out of sentimentality and in case back-up is needed). VoT boasts a fluid personnel structure; although there are official reporters, editors, and administrators, tasks are split evenly and everyone takes part in reporting, editing, and translating (Paldon interview).

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Figure 4: VoT Editor records and mixes daily broadcast. The mixer is flanked by old analog equipment, now kept as a back-up.

After determining specific slots for each news story and determining which stories should come first (a South Indian report on a religious ceremony had top billing at the time of the interview), the program is edited and uploaded to VoT’s server. From the server, the broadcast is received by the transmitter sites and broadcasted into Tibet and China. Each broadcast is also uploaded to VoT’s website and is available for download. Listeners from outside broadcast range can download shows. Other listeners in China can occasionally access online broadcasts using proxy servers to bypass Chinese Internet censors. VoT broadcasts from several locations, although Tenzin could not reveal the sites of transmitters. In its thirteen-year history, Voice of Tibet has constantly struggled with budget issues and steadily increasing Chinese jamming. However, Tenzin maintains that the effort is worth the satisfaction of serving Tibet. Born in India, Tenzin has never been to Tibet but likes to imagine her voice and her work being transmitted throughout her mother country.

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Figure 5: VoT reporter in the field.

5. Exile Radio: BBG

Radio Free Asia and Voice of America are overseen by the BBG, or Broadcasting Board of Governors. This U.S. institution was founded to oversee taxpayer-funded broadcasting abroad. This broadcasting takes two forms: general broadcasting is carried out by VoA and Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa and strives to provide reliable international news and accounts of U.S. policy to areas whose governments may impede free flow of information. The other type of broadcasting, surrogate broadcasting, includes Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Radio and TV Marti (BBG fact sheet). These stations emphasize news pertaining to the targeted country, as opposed to international news, that may be eschewed by indigenous media. BBG broadcasters aim to gain the trust of people living under authoritarian governments by bypassing state information. Rather than serve U.S. foreign relations interests by dealing directly with foreign governments, these radio stations target the minds of the people (Kirscten).

BBG operational units include the VoA and Office of Cuba Broadcasting (which includes Radio and TV Marti). It is headed by a bipartisan board comprised of nine members; eight members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. The Secretary of State serves as the ninth member. Besides dispensing federal grants for RFA and RFE/RL, the BBG’s main function is to insulate U.S. broadcasting abroad from politics. In 1998, during a reorganization of foreign affairs offices, lawmakers insisted that the BBG be granted independence. Authors of the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 argued that radio journalists should be shielded from the interests of the State Department, and that broadcasting abroad should not be perceived as simply a megaphone for U.S. policy. The BBG became an autonomous institution in October 1999 and was authorized to make grants available to surrogate broadcasting services. The BBG thus affords the U.S. Government with deniability, as foreign broadcasting in authoritarian countries is usually not well received by the home government.

U.S. surrogate broadcasting in Asia first gained momentum during the Korean War. Later, interest resurged during the Vietnam War. This current wave of interest reemerged after the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989. In 1994 under the International Broadcasting Act, Congress provided startup funds for RFA and brought all abroad radio stations under the direction of BBG in order to avoid overlap in broadcasting and better coordinate efforts. The bill, besides stipulating the start-up budget of RFA, indicated that RFA would assume all obligations, not the U.S. government (Epstein). RFA was formally founded in 1996 under the stipulations of the 1994 International Broadcasting Act.

6. Exile Radio: RFA

Radio Free Asia went on air for the first time on September 29, 1996, broadcasting into China in Mandarin for one hour at 7 a.m. The show was rebroadcast again at 11:00 p.m. The Chinese government reacted predictably: it sent strongly worded letters of opposition to top U.S. government officials and some Chinese newspapers claimed the broadcasts where part of a plot by the C.I.A. One year later, RFA was broadcasting 17 hours into Asia in all the languages mandated by Congress. Chinese opposition continued, as Chinese officials asserted that the U.S. was using freedom of speech as an excuse to interfere in Asian country’s internal affairs and to impose American values on other nations. The Chinese administration had made this complaint before in reference to foreign broadcasting, but it now took more aggressive measures to counter broadcasting. China began jamming all RFA Mandarin broadcasts in most frequencies on August 18, 1997. Tibetan broadcasts were jammed in early October 1997. RFA began broadcasting from multiple transmission sites and on varied frequencies, which averted some jamming (Epstein). However, Chinese efforts have kept up with broadcasting advances. Callers from Lhasa have reported to RFA and other stations that programs are currently jammed all over the country and especially in cities. Some report that in cities, the Chinese have constructed up to four towers specifically for jamming foreign broadcasts, although the Chinese have explained that these towers were installed for protection against lightening hazards (RFA Listener Comments).

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Figure 6: Political cartoon from the China Daily on January 25, 1997. RFA is depicted as "the man with the long tongue." The text going into the head reads, "rumors, twist, and slant." Around the microphone reads "Radio Free Asia."

RFA currently broadcasts in nine languages:

RFA Language Break -Down

9 Language Services


Mandarin (Launched 9/96) 12 hours of programming per day, 7 days a week One and one half additional hours weekly in the Wu (Shanghai) dialect.

Tibetan 3 dialects - 10 hours of programming per day, 7 days a week Uke dialect (Launched 12/96), Kham dialect (5/97), Amdo dialect (5/97) *

Burmese (Launched 2/97) 4 hours per day, 7 days a week *

Korean (Launched 3/97) 5 hours per day to North Korea, 7 days a week

Vietnamese (Launched 2/97) 2 hours per day, 7 days a week

Laotian (Launched 8/97) 2 hours per day, 7 days a week

Khmer (Cambodian) (Launched 9/97) 2 hours per day, 7 days a week

Cantonese (Launched 5/98) 2 hours per day, 7 days a week

Uyghur (Launched 12/98) 2 hours per day, 7 days a week


The RFA Tibetan programming is recorded in the RFA stringer office in Dharamsala. Here, reporters have access to the exile government and are better able to cover the activities of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The three reporters (one for each of the three main Tibetan dialects) are paid per story and are not on salary (Dhonyoe interview). Lobe, the reporter for the Amdo dialect, explained that this payment method provides a strong incentive to produce a good story. The stories are recorded in the field; reporters then return to the studio for editing. A rough cut of the story is sent to RFA headquarters in Washington D.C. where the final cut is made. Lobe had always been interested in reporting, and first worked in news as a translator in Delhi, where most of the news is conducted in English. Later he moved to Dharamsala, and while working at Moon Peak Café established the Tibetan Social Forum which, like most small independent newspapers, was eventually defunct due to scanty budget. But Lobe prefers radio reporting to newspaper reporting, as it can reach a wider audience. Lobe asserted that radio is more useful to more people, referring to the large number of ethnic Tibetans in China who are uneducated and illiterate (Lobe interview).

When setting out to report a story, Lobe prefers not to have a plan, so as not to impose his own idea of the story on reality. “It is best,” he said, “to just go to the site and see what happens. There, I observe, interview, and assess what is going on.” Interviewees are often not as aware of time limit as Lobe would like them to be; Lobe’s slot for Amdo dialect news is short and he does not have time for the unrelated stories and longwinded answers that often accompany his interviews. Lobe demonstrated with his hands that he often has to dig through responses, brushing aside the extraneous, to extract the core point of an interview. Reporting on events happening in Tibet presents its own set of difficulties. Reporters rely on contacts with friends and relatives inside Tibet and must extrapolate the full story from the meager information received from inside Tibet. Phone calls over landlines are too easily tracked; RFA reporters often rely on Internet phone services, such as Skype. Lobe even said that he had attended a seminar held by an American man on technologies that could be used to bypass Chinese censorship and get information out of Tibet (he shied away from discussing specific techniques). Although difficult, the struggle for news from Tibet is imperative in order to provide high quality reporting. “Sound bytes from Tibet are extremely important,” Lobe insisted. “They prove that the story is real.”

7. Exile Radio: VoA

Voice of America has long been broadcasting into foreign nations and currently boasts programming in 53 languages on radio, TV, and internet around the world. Ganden Tashi, a former political prisoner, is especially familiar with VoA broadcasts. As a monk, Tashi took part in a 1989 protest, coinciding with the anniversary of March 1959’s peaceful uprising. The protest turned violent and Tashi, along with many others, was arrested and sentenced to time in T.A.R. Prison #1. The prisoners were classified as either criminal or political prisoners. As a political prisoner, Tashi was only allowed state newspapers as a source of media (which Tashi was forced to pour over and internalize). These newspapers only aggrandized the Chinese Communist party and never mentioned Tibet or Tibetan issues.

Tashi’s isolation from the outside world eventually ended when one of his cellmates came into possession of a shortwave radio. Political prisoners were kept isolated. Criminal prisoners were less threatening to the Chinese administration and were allowed more personal liberties, such as radio. Thus, a political prisoner with the right connections could barter for radio or other contraband. Tashi recalls how occasionally, political and criminal prisoners would interact briefly in the prison hospital, workplaces, or the prison yard. Tashi’s radio in particular was dropped off surreptitiously in a bush and later picked up by one of his cellmates. Prisoners had to be equally careful about replacing batteries, which reached the prison through a web of connections through criminal prisoners into the outside world. Because the radio had no earphones and cellmates were constantly observed, a prison guard would have noticed immediately if prisoners were gathered around a blaring radio. As a solution, one cellmate would turn on the radio very quietly and hold it up to his ear, while others kept watch around corners using mirrors held through their prison bars. Whoever was in charge of listening had to remember what was reported in order to pass the information onto other cellmates. These cellmates in turn passed news along to prisoners in other cells without radio.

Hiding the radio was tricky. Prison guards routinely searched each cell with metal detectors. One of Tashi’s large bedposts was hollowed out and used for storage. When they got the opportunity, the inmates listened to BBC’s Chinese Problem segment (Tashi found BBC reports were often off the mark). However, they listened mostly to VoA’s two hours of Tibetan programming.

Before World War II, all shortwave broadcasting was in private hands. VoA broadcasts began in January of 1942 when the U.S. government began leasing 15-minute blocks of time on a number of private shortwave stations, calling the program the “Voice of America.” The first Voice of America broadcast was in Germany on February 24, 1942, seventy-nine days after the United States entered World War II. “Daily at this time, we shall speak to you about America and the war. The news may be good or bad. We shall tell you the truth,” said the announcer. Eventually VoA was organized under the Office of War Information. Now over sixty years later, the VoA reports to the BBG. (VoA fact sheet). VoA programming boasts over 1,500 hours of programming in over fifty-three languages (VoA homepage).

Tibetan broadcasting at VoA was originally the brainchild of John Buescher, a Tibetan studies scholar at the National Endowment for the Humanities. His search for educated Tibetans living in the U.S. with journalistic or broadcasting backgrounds and knowledge of English was not easy. Eventually four suitable candidates were found and hired, including “a diamond sorter, a man who hand-sewed camera bags, a lathe operator, and a highly educated journalist who had been working in the Office of Tibet in New York City” (Heil 303). The fledgling crew began training in late 1990. Buescher and executive producer Hal Swaney judged they would be ready for their first real broadcast on March 31, 1991. However, upon discovering that the U.S. ambassador to Beijing had a visit to Lhasa scheduled for the 31st, the VoA Tibetan staff felt that launching the West’s first Tibetan programming that day might seem overly provocative. The broadcast was pushed up a week. The first fifteen-minute program was broadcast on March 25, 1991, to Brazil. Buescher recalled the moment ten years later, commenting: “it’s a reminder that, all things aside, radio is a very human and fallible enterprise, just as, no matter how much fancy technology you have, the broadcasts are still, and always will be, on mind and one voice at a time in front of a microphone here connecting with one pair of ears and one mind at a time on the high plains of Tibet” (Heil 304).

Tibetan broadcasting proceeded under Buescher, eventually joined by RFA and VoT programming, until leadership of Tibetan services was passed to Lobsang Gyatso on May 8, 2007 (International Campaign for Tibet). VoA is currently facing budget cuts, including a reduction of Tibetan and English broadcasting, and a push to transfer programming to newer media such as Internet and FM radio. Former VoA board members have protested the $26 million in proposed cuts, arguing that the newly appropriated funds will not be sufficient to fund transitions to newer media and that the programs to be cut are still valuable (Francis). The proposed cuts have also sparked protests among Tibetan activists. A contingent of Tibetan monks visited Capital Hill to lobby for continued Tibetan broadcasting, indicating a continued appreciation for the broadcasts (Keil). The future of VoA Tibetan broadcasting is unsure and may not survive VoA’s goal to incorporate new media and may eventually be pushed out by expanding broadcast services to the Middle East. However, the programming is clearly appreciated by those in Tibet; this appreciation necessitates continuation of some form of communication with Tibetans in China.

8. Detractors and Proponents of U.S. Foreign Broadcasting

Foreign governments are not alone in their complaints about U.S. broadcasting into nations perceived to have dearth of free or unbiased information. Many detractors argue that foreign broadcasting served out its usefulness in the Cold War and that in the new media-rich environment, competition from satellite television and radio and Internet podcasts means that BBG surrogate stations are struggling to maintain a loyal audience (Kaminski). Particularly in the case of China and Radio Free Asia, detractors in the U.S. argue that China is a much more open society than Europe and the Soviet Union had been in the 1950s when Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was established. Some argue that surrogate broadcasting into China is too aggressive, and that Asian governments will react by tightening their grip on information flow and will move further away from democratic principles (Epstein). Indeed foreign broadcasting has added to paranoia and determination among Chinese media outlets to present only the party line. Appealing to the citizens of a nation while alienating leadership may ultimately harm Sino-American relations.

Other detractors assert that foreign broadcasting into China is employed as a cop out, as economic pressure or political pressure could directly harm U.S. interests. U.S. foreign broadcasting has been interpreted as imposing U.S. values on the minds of citizens while displaying reluctance to take decisive action when it comes to protecting human rights abroad.

Jeffrey Gedmin, President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, argues for the continuing and increasing relevance of radio and surrogate broadcasting into regions with oppressive governments. Regardless of motives, U.S. foreign broadcasting is more often than not well received by citizens of authoritarian nations. Recently escaped Tibetan refugees have reported a high degree of appreciation for foreign broadcasts. RFE/RL is the most popular station in Afghanistan, a country in which radio is the main source of information. Recent changes in leadership among BBG radio services have resulted in a push to incorporate cell-phone texting and Internet, indicating that radio can keep up with and incorporate news from new technologies (Kaminski). Shortwave radio is popular in less-developed nations without widespread access to these new technologies and has made successful efforts to synchronize with new media.

Relevance aside, some are ideologically opposed to interfering with foreign countries using broadcasting charged with U.S. values and interests. Although the BBG provides journalists with the freedom to report stories as they find fit without answering to the State Department, it is impossible to deny the connection between BBG broadcasting services and the U.S. government. Historically, the State Department has exerted pressure on VoA reporters to exclude or delay certain reports that may negatively affect U.S. foreign policy. In late September 2001, VoA aired a report containing excerpts from an interview with Taliban leader Mullah Omar Mohammad, among other interviews and commentaries. State Department officials pushed to have the program taken off the air, arguing that it gave terrorists a platform to express their views (Mullah Omar, Interview). VoA dodged complaints in this case and has skirted other pressures in the past by appealing to journalistic purity (Sheckler). However, the fact remains that foreign broadcasters find themselves justifying their reporting to a U.S. government agency, indicating a degree of responsibility to the State Department. Decisions regarding which countries to broadcast to are strategic decisions; broadcasting is ultimately meant to serve U.S. interests.

Gedmin responds to these criticisms by arguing for the efficacy of foreign broadcasting from a political perspective. The Obama administration stresses “soft power.” U.S. military officials and diplomats talk of a “political surge” to complement the military surge in Afghanistan. Qualifying successful foreign relations no longer emphasizes enemy body counts and military victories, but rather relationships built and capital spent on development and reconstruction. In this new age of soft power, radio broadcasting stands as one of the most cost-effective and well-received methods of further U.S. foreign interests (Gedmin).

Ultimately, U.S. foreign broadcasting injects new ideas and engenders critical thinking among societies where dialogue is discouraged. Efforts by authoritarian governments to jam broadcasts only highlight its importance. History has shown that when a population is given the choice, it will choose decent, accountable government and open dialogue over suppressive government and one-sided state information. BBG services provide an arena for the development such a society in countries where no place for discussion exists.

9. Question of Imposing Foreign Values on China

Foreign broadcasting has been criticized as interfering with the values of another state. American and European broadcasters into China are seen as imposing Western values on a nation that is economically successful and more democratic and open than the Soviet Union had been at the outset of foreign broadcasting there. Critics argue that foreign broadcasting into China is a waste of money: broadcasts are often effectively jammed by Chinese authorities and a few hours of programming a day cannot compete with China’s massive state news agency, Xinhua. Despite these and other criticisms, the fact remains that Tibetans and Chinese in China are not afforded the basic freedoms owed to them by the Chinese administration. These freedoms are not imagined by westerners hung up on the power of democracy and the individual. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted unanimously by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948, obliges China and other nations to uphold a variety of personal rights. Article 19 propounds the right to freedom of opinion: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers” (U.N. Document). Chinese state media has striven to present and impart one viewpoint: the viewpoint of the state.

10. Conclusion

U.S. funded exile radio has an agenda. Although broadcasters are insulated, BBG stations were still founded for strategic purposes. VoT may have less of an agenda, but is still interfering with the state policy of another country. Broadcasting funded by another nation must also serve the nation footing the bill. Tibetans find themselves in the middle of an information war with westerners working to contrast Chinese state media and win over supporters. Each side represents a political and social ideology.

However, despite the foibles of foreign broadcasters, they are still an alternative to decidedly single-minded state media in China. As an authoritarian government, Chinese administration seeks not only to direct political and economic development, but also seeks to mold the ideological state of its population to match the interests of the state. In the case of a country as large and pluralistic as China, efforts to exact this goal will only harm the population. In the case of Tibetans in China, not since Robert Ford has indigenous media or radio served their interests. Citizens’ desire to seek alternative viewpoints is stymied by the administration. If Chinese leadership will not foster a free flow of information as it is obligated to allow, then it should come as no surprise that others will try and fill this important niche.

Appendix A: Photo Sources

1. Cover Photo: Harrer, Heinrich. Tibet: Zeitdokumente Aus den Jahren 1944- 1951. Zurich: OZV Offizin, 1991.

2. Figure 1: Tibetan Wireless Code Manual. New Delhi: Sambhota Publications, 1985.

3. Figure 2: Harrer, Heinrich. Tibet: Zeitdokumente Aus den Jahren 1944-1951. Zurich: OZV Offizin, 1991.

4. Figure 3: photo by author

5. Figure 4: photo by author

6. Figure 5: photo courtesy of Oystein Alme, director of VoT

7. Figure 6: "The Man with the Long Tongue." China Daily [Beijing] 25 Jan. 1997. 33

Appendix B: Maps Pertaining to R. Ford’s Flight

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Ford, Robert. Captured in Tibet. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

Image
Shakya., Tsering. The Dragon in the Land of Snows A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics), 2000. Print.

Appendix C: Methodology and Acknowledgements

Methodology


Because very few comprehensive studies exist on early Tibetan radio, my discussion of Robert Ford is pieced together from Ford’s biography and various general histories of Tibet. Likewise, little literature has been written on the logistics and history of specific stations and programming, so these sections depended on interviews with administrative personnel and U.S. Government documents concerned with foreign broadcasting. Because U.S. funded broadcasting into southern Asia is controversial, both in America and China, I depended on discussions in articles regarding the merits and faults of U.S. broadcasting.

Acknowledgments

Producing several hours of broadcasting a day is taxing on one’s schedule. Personnel at Radio Free Asia and Voice of Tibet were kind enough to put aside time to discuss the ins and outs of their respective stations. They were very helpful when it came to suggesting other contacts. Tashi Tsering of the Amnye Machen Institute likewise was very willing to discuss my project and spared no effort in finding contacts and photographs relevant to my paper.

Appendix D: Suggestions for Further Research

1. Although the Tibetan programming of All India Radio is no longer especially popular, from the 1950s until the 1980s, many top Tibetan scholars were working or reporting for AIR. Due to time limitations, I focused on programming still popular today, but a true history of Tibetan radio should certainly include a discussion of AIR Tibetan programming.

2. Use of radio after the 17 Point Agreement, when China was acknowledged as a central power in Tibet and thus Tibetans were no longer allowed independent media, would be interesting and relevant. I focused on radio used by or directed at Tibetans, but how Chinese occupants in Tibet used radio is grounds for further study.

3. Current policy regarding radio in Tibet/China also deserves further attention. Perhaps a comparison could be done between radio policy in the T.A.R. were ostensibly a degree of autonomy is allowed and policy in other ethnically Tibetan provinces in China.

Appendix E: Tibetan Words and Spelling

English Transliteration / Tibetan Translation

Amdo / a mdo
Chamdo / chab mdo
Dengko / ldan khog
Dhonyoe / --
Ganden Tashi / dga’ ldan bkra shis
Kham / khams
Lagong / la gong
Lamda / lam mda’
Lhalu Shape / lha klu zhabs pad
Lhasa / lha sa
Lobe / blo be
Nagchuka / nag chu kha
Ngabö / nga bod
Phuntsok Tashi Takla / phun tshogs bkra shis
Rimshi Rasa Gyagen / rim bshi ra tsha rgya rgan
Riwoche / ri bo che
Sera Che / se ra byes
Sonam Dorje / bsod names rdo rje
Sonam Phunsto / bsod names phun tshogs
Tashi Tsering / bkra shis tshe ring
Tenzin Paldon/ bstan ’dzin


Bibliography and Interview Log

1. Alme, Oystein, and Morten Vagen. Silenced: China's Great Wall of Censorship. Stockholm: Amaryllis Media, 2006.

2. Avedon, John F. In exile from the Land of Snows: the Dalai Lama and Tibet since the Chinese conquest. New York: Harper Perennial, 1997.

3. "BBG Fact Sheet." Broadcasting Board of Governors. Web. 31 Nov. 2009.

4. Ford, Robert. Captured in Tibet. New York: Oxford UP, 1990

5. Francis, David R. “The Cost of Winning Hearts and Minds.” Christian Science Monitor. 15 March 2007. Opinion sec.

6. Gedmin, Jeffrey. "Boom Box U.S.A.: Surrogate Broadcasting as a Tool of U.S.

7. Soft Power." Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations, 27 Sept. 2009. Web. 30 Nov. 2009.

8. Heil Jr., Alan L., and Alan Heil. Voice of America. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

9. Jacinto, Leela. "U.S. TV Stirs it up in Iran." ABC News. 9 July 2009. Web. 27 Nov. 2009.

10. Kaminski, Matthew. "A Voice for Freedom." The Wall Street Journal 29 Dec. 2007.

11. Keil, Paul. "Voice of America to Cut Language Services." ProPublica [New York] 9 July 2008.

12. Kirschten, Dick. "Broadcast News." Government Executive. Associated Press, 1 May 1999. Web. 15 Nov. 2009. <http://www.govexec.com/features/0599/0599s5.htm>.

13. "Mullah Omar: in his Own Words." Interview by Voice of America. The Guardian [London] 26 Sept. 2001, Comments and Features sec.: 3.

14. Shakya, Tsering. The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics), 2000.

15. Sheckler, Annette C. "Evidence of Things Unseen: Secrets Revealed at the Voice of America." 28 Apr. 1999. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. <http://www.ethioembassy.org.uk/articles/articles/may- 99/Annette%20.C%20Sheckler.htm>.

16. Strober, Deborah Hart, and Gerald S. Strober. His Holiness the Dalai Lama: The Oral Biography. New York: Wiley, 2005.

17. "Tibet Radio Link to India Cut." New York Times 1 July 1962: 14.

18. "Tibet Radio Operators Replaced." New York Times 12 Apr. 1952: 14.

19. "Tibet to Get Radio Link." New York Times 20 Dec. 1951: 23.

20. "Tibetan Service." RFA Home. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. <http://www.rfa.org/english/about/listenercomments/comments_tibetan.html>.

21. "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights." United Nations Homepage. Web. 01 Dec. 2009. <http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a19>.

22. "VoA Announces New Head of Tibetan Service." International Campaign for Tibet. 8 May 2007. Web. 2 Dec. 2009.

23. "VoA Fact Sheet." Broadcasting Board of Governors. Web. 31 Nov. 2009.

Interview Log

1. Dhonyoe: RFA administrator. Personal interview. 17 Nov. 2009. RFA stringer office, Dharamsala.

2. Lobe: RFA reporter. Personal interview. 17 Nov. 2009. First Cup Café, Dharamsala.

3. Paldon, Tenzin: VoT Chief Editor. Personal interview. 20 Nov. 2009. VoT office, Dharamsala.

4. Tashi, Ganden: Tibetan activist and former political prisoner. Personal interview. 30 Oct. 2009. S.I.T. Program House, Naxal, Kathmandu.

5. Tsering, Tashi: founder of Amnye Machen Institute. Personal interview. 1 Dec. 2009. Amnye Machen Office, Dharamsala.

Notes:

1 See appendix B for relevant maps.

Author Contact Information

Irene Richardson
irenearich@gmail.com
irene.richardson@tufts.edu
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:31 pm

James Cameron (journalist) [Mark James Walter Cameron]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/20/20

Another traveller visiting Kalimpong at the time, James Cameron, wrote in his autobiography that the odd and endearing Kalimpong “had become a rendezvous for what was probably the most impressive collection of human eccentrics in Asia.” The people whom he met at the Himalayan Hotel were almost surrealistic: “wizards and sorcerers, Tibetan aristocrats, angry exiles from China, remote sprigs from the forgotten European nobility, Indian yogi, Bhutani politicians, professional anthropologists, linguists, students, pilgrims, miracle- workers and innocent bystanders, all milling around with curious axes to grind and trying either to get into Tibet, or to get out” (Cameron 1967, 204–205).

-- Prince Peter’s Seven Years in Kalimpong: Collecting in a Contact Zone, by Trine Brox and Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitzen

Around the time Seven Years in Tibet fell off the Best Seller List, the New York Times reported that the Dalai and Panchen Lamas were about to leave Tibet for Beijing at the PRC’s invitation192. The Dalai Lama left Lhasa in July 1954 and arrived in Beijing in September. In Beijing, the Dalai Lama attended the Chinese National People’s Congress, which produced the PRC’s first constitution, met Mao, attended numerous banquets and meetings, and greeted Nehru as the first head of a major non-Communist state to visit the PRC. The PRC also made sure the Dalai Lama and members of his delegation saw the PRC’s industrial achievements, which suitably impressed the Tibetans193.

The amount of coverage of the Dalai Lama’s trip to Beijing and tour of various locations throughout China was not great. In fact, the New York Times waited to publish a feature story or any photograph of the two incarnation’s tour until the PRC announced the formation of the Preparatory Committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous Region (PCTAR) in March 1955194. In contrast to such prior coverage of the Dalai Lama as his flight to Yadong, what Americans read about the Dalai Lama’s journey to Beijing was quicker, more to the point, and sparser on details. Although the New York Times initially only reported that Tibetans urged him not to leave, tens of thousands turned out to watch the Dalai Lama’s five hundred man delegation depart while some cried and nearly threw themselves in the Kyichu River as the nineteen-year-old incarnation crossed in his special coracle195. Just as in coverage of the Dalai Lama’s flight to Yadong, there were physical and political limitations on what American reporters could see of events in Tibet, but American interest had clearly waned by this time. Americans were apparently eager for Harrer’s depiction of Tibet that struck a Lost Horizon tone, filled with excitement and adventure, but not for the reality of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s ostensible cooperation with Communism.

Unlike coverage of the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet or the Dalai Lama’s flirtation with exile, there was a Western journalist in Beijing on hand to report his observations: James Cameron from the News Chronicle of London. The New York Times published several of Cameron’s dispatches, including one about how he accidentally managed to obtain the Dalai and Panchen Lamas’ autographs, with the Dalai Lama’s signature purposefully written first196. [196 James Cameron, “Red Delegations Flock to Peiping,” NYT, Nov. 1, 1954, 1.] Even though Americans could see events transpiring in Beijing through a Western journalist’s eyes, the American press put emphasis on other events occurring in Beijing over the Dalai Lama. Cameron’s journalism provided an extraordinary opportunity for Americans to receive eyewitness testimony on the two most important Tibetans behind the Bamboo Curtain, but Cameron’s own experience meeting the Dalai Lama was buried by his reporting on how much the PRC loved foreign delegations. Incidentally, Cameron also provided a means of historical corroboration when he sent his dispatch to the New York Times reporting Nehru’s unexpected encounter with the Dalai Lama. While Nehru was in Beijing for Sino-Indian talks, he unexpectedly ran into the Dalai Lama in a situation Cameron described as “piquant,” stating, “Mr. Nehru appeared to do a swift double-take, then embarked on a most animated conversation, to which the Dalai Lama replied with bemused nods.” To the Dalai Lama’s recollection, it was Nehru who was bemused and spoke only superficially197. Even though the PRC press made sure to waste no photo opportunity of Mao and the Dalai Lama together at the Tibetan New Year’s banquet in Beijing, the New York Times only published a 132 word blurb on the event, without a photograph198. The American press had at its disposal an unprecedented view of the boy god-king, but made little use of it.

[url]-- American Journalism and the Tibet Question, 1950-1959, by James August Duncan
Iowa State University[/url]

Image
Mark James Walter Cameron

Mark James Walter Cameron CBE (17 June 1911 – 26 January 1985) was a prominent British journalist, in whose memory the annual James Cameron Memorial Lecture is given.

Early life

Cameron was born in Battersea, London, of Scottish parentage; his father, William Ernest Cameron, was a barrister who wrote novels under the pseudonym Mark Allerton. His mother was Margaret Douglas (Robertson) Cameron.

Career

Cameron began as an office dogsbody with the Weekly News in 1935. Having worked for several Scottish newspapers and for the Daily Express in Fleet Street, he was rejected for military service in World War II. After the war, his experience of reporting on the Bikini Atoll nuclear experiments turned him into a pacifist and a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He continued to work for the Express until 1950, after which he briefly joined Picture Post, where he and photographer Bert Hardy covered the Korean War, winning the Missouri Pictures of the Year International Award for "Inchon". Tom Hopkinson, the editor of Picture Post, lost his job as publisher when he defended the magazine's coverage of atrocities committed by South Korean troops at a concentration camp in Pusan. Cameron wrote, "I had seen Belsen, but this was worse. This terrible mob of men - convicted of nothing, un-tried, South Koreans in South Korea, suspected of being 'unreliable'."[1] The founder of the Hulton press, Edward G. Hulton, decided to "kill" the story.

In 1952 Cameron wrote an obituary essay for The Illustrated London News, "The King Is Dead", about the death of King George VI. Cameron then spent eight years with the News Chronicle. In 1953 he visited Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréné, in French Equatorial Africa (now Gabon) and found flaws in the practices and attitudes of Schweitzer and his staff.[2] This was the subject of The Walrus and the Terrier, a BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play by Christopher Ralling, broadcast on 7 April 2008.[3]

The journalist James Cameron visited Lambaréné in 1953 (when Schweitzer was 78) and found significant flaws in the practices and attitudes of Schweitzer and his staff. The hospital suffered from squalor and was without modern amenities, and Schweitzer had little contact with the local people. Cameron did not make public what he had seen at the time: according to a BBC dramatisation, he made the unusual journalistic decision to withhold the story, and resisted the expressed wish of his employers to publish an exposé.

The poor conditions of the hospital in Lambaréné were also famously criticized by Nigerian professor and novelist Chinua Achebe in his essay on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness: "In a comment which has often been quoted Schweitzer says: 'The African is indeed my brother but my junior brother.' And so he proceeded to build a hospital appropriate to the needs of junior brothers with standards of hygiene reminiscent of medical practice in the days before the germ theory of disease came into being."


-- Albert Schweitzer, by Wikipedia


In 1965, Cameron wangled his way into North Vietnam for interviews and photos (with photographer Romano Cagnoni) of Ho Chi Minh and other top leaders. His book Here Is Your Enemy was published in the United States, and his five-part series on North Vietnam was published in December 1965 in The New York Times, where it was edited by journalist Anthony Lewis.

Cameron also did illustration work, especially in his early career. Working in Scotland for D. C. Thomson, he prepared drawings for sensationalist items in Thomson's publications. He rebelled when asked to draw a picture of a murdered young girl, embellishing it with excess blood and grisly detail. Called to Thomson's office, he was rebuked merely for exposing her underwear.

Cameron became a broadcaster for the BBC after the war, writing and presenting such television series as Cameron Country, and numerous single documentaries. An unusual example was Edgar Wallace: The Man Who Made His Name, a television biography of the once popular thriller writer and journalist. He was a frequent contributor to Up Sunday, a magazine show that featured him and other commentators talking to the camera about topics of interest to them. Cameron also wrote a radio play, The Pump (1973), based on his experience of open heart surgery, which won a Prix Italia award in 1973.[4] In his last years, he wrote a column for The Guardian. Cameron wrote two volumes of autobiography: Point of Departure, a chronicle of his life, and An Indian Summer, about his relationship with India; his marriage to his third wife, Moni, originally of Indian nationality, and his serious car accident and near death in Calcutta.

Personal life

Cameron's first wife, Elma, died in childbirth near the start of World War II. He later married Elizabeth Marris (who already had a son Desmond Roderic O’Conor by a previous marriage to Denis O'Conor Don) and then Moni; and had two children, Elma and Fergus. James Cameron died of a stroke in his sleep on 26 January 1985. He was 73.

Among his literary relatives are the Gighan poet the Rev Kenneth Macleod – of "The Road to the Isles" fame – and the writer the Rev Dr John Urquhart Cameron of St Andrews.

Books by Cameron

• Touch of the Sun (1950)
• Mandarin Red (1955)
• 1914: A Portrait of the Year (1959)
• The African Revolution (1961)
• 1916: Year of Decision (1962)
• Men of Our Time (1963)
• Here is Your Enemy (1965)
• Witness [in Vietnam] (1966)
• Point of Departure (1967) ISBN 0-85362-175-6
• What a Way to Run the Tribe (selected journalism) (1968)
• An Indian Summer: A Personal Experience of India (1974) ISBN 0-14-009569-1
• The Making of Israel (1976) ISBN 0-80085-084-X
• Wish You Were Here: The English at Play. London: Gordon Fraser, 1976. ISBN 0-900406-70-4. Introduction and commentary by Cameron, photographs by Patrick Ward).
• Yesterday's Witness (1979)
• The Best of Cameron (1981)

James Cameron Memorial Trust Award

There is an annual James Cameron Award Ceremony in London.

Previous winners include:[5]

• 1987. David Hirst
• 1988. Michael Buerk
• 1989. Neal Ascherson
• 1990. John Simpson
• 1991. Robert Fisk & Charles Wheeler
• 1992. Bridget Kendall
• 1993. Martin Woollacott
• 1994. Ed Vulliamy
• 1995. George Alagiah
• 1996. Maggie O'Kane
• 1997. Fergal Keane
• 1998. Jonathan Steele
• 1999. Ann Leslie
• 2000. Jon Swain
• 2001. For consistently impartial reporting from Israel, Suzanne Goldenberg.
• 2002. For reporting from Africa, Chris McGreal.
• 2003. Norma Percy
• 2004. For Outstanding Journalism, John Ware.
• 2004. Special Posthumous Award, Paul Foot.
• 2005. Lindsey Hilsum
• 2006. Patrick Cockburn
• 2007. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad[6]
• 2008. Peter Taylor
• 2009. For reporting on Barack Obama's election, Gary Younge.
• 2010. Michela Wrong & Lasantha Wickrematunge
• 2011. Alex Crawford
• 2012. Martin Wolf
• 2013. Lyse Doucet
• 2014. Luke Harding[7]
• 2015. Jeremy Bowen
• 2016. Ian Pannell received the James Cameron Memorial Award. The Special Award went to David Walsh of The Sunday Times. The lecture was given by Gideon Rachman of The Financial Times.[8]

From 2017 onwards, City, University of London continued to host the James Cameron Memorial Lecture, but the prize was replaced with the Eric Robbins Prize.[9] The James Cameron Memorial Lecture was given by:

• 2017. Lyse Doucet[9]
• 2018. Lionel Barber[10]
• 2019. Isabel Hilton[11]

References

1. Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings. "Selections from Korea: The Unknown War". msu web. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
2. James Cameron Point of Departure, 1966 [1978], Law Book Co of Australasia, p154-74. The bulk of this passage is online here.
3. The Walrus and the Terrier - programme outline
4. Prix Italia, Winners 1949 - 2010, RAI Archived 22 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
5. "James Cameron Memorial Lecture and Award - Award winners". City, University of London. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
6. The Guardian, 23 June 2007, Abdul Ahad wins Cameron award
7. "Guardian's Luke Harding wins prestigious James Cameron prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
8. Grover, Ed (20 October 2016). "Foreign reporting in the age of globalisation". City, University of London. City, University of London. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
9. "James Cameron Memorial Lecture". City, University of London. City, University of London. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
10. "FT editor Lionel Barber delivers James Cameron Memorial Lecture at City". City, University of London. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
11. "Isabel Hilton OBE lifts lid on China's targeting of global media as she delivers James Cameron Memorial Lecture at City". City, University of London. Retrieved 19 December 2019.

External links

• James Cameron Memorial Lecture and Award at City University London
• James Cameron on IMDb
• Journalist James Cameron on YouTube, Once upon a time, BBC 2, 1984
• BBC Time Shift Documentary, James Cameron: A Pain In The Neck
• Short Biography with excerpts from his writing
• 'Meeting Two British Journalists Who Made History,' by David J. Marcou, Published on the Great History Blog, 2009. (archived 2013)
• Another Famous James Cameron by David J. Marcou, 2009, La Crosse History Unbound
• James Cameron's World (1911-1985): A Great Journalist Lives His Calling Via the Curiosity and Talents of a Cat, ca. 41,700-word biography researched and written by David Joseph Marcou, La Crosse, WI: DigiCOPY, 2015. Cited in La Crosse Public Library Catalog.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:33 am

George Christopher Molesworth Birdwood
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/20/20

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


TIBETAN REFUGEES

Sir. – Recent devastating events in Tibet caused over 15,000 Tibetans to cross the perilous Himalayas into India. It may be a long time before these unfortunate people can safely return to their overrun country. Our own consciences should allow us neither to neglect nor forget them.

The Indian Government has manfully coped with this addition to its own problems at home. In this country we are bound in honour to help relieve needs of the Tibetan refugees, because from 1905 to 1947 there was a special relationship between Tibet and the United Kingdom – a relationship handed on to the new India.

On balance we think it wisest to concentrate chiefly on collecting money which can be used for the benefit of the refugees, not least in the purchase of necessary antibiotics and other medicaments. The Tibet Society has opened a Tibet Relief Fund for which we now appeal in the hope of a generous response. Donations should be sent to the address below or direct to the National Bank Ltd. (Belgravia Branch), 21 Grosvenor Gardens, S.W.I.

Yours faithfully,

... Birdwood ... The Tibet Relief Fund, 58 Eccleston Square, S.W. I., Letter to the Times, July 31, 1959, p.7.


-- Tibet Society, by tibetsociety.com




Image
George Christopher Molesworth Birdwood

Sir George Christopher Molesworth Birdwood KCIE, CSI (8 December 1832 – 28 June 1917) was an Anglo-Indian official, naturalist, and writer.

Life

The son of General Christopher Birdwood, he was born at Belgaum, then in the Bombay Presidency, on 8 December 1832. He was educated at Plymouth Grammar School and Edinburgh University, where he took his MD degree presenting the thesis "The origin of ideas"[1]. Entering the Bombay Medical Service in 1854, he served in the Persian War of 1856-57, and subsequently became professor at the Grant Medical College, registrar of the university, curator of the museum, and sheriff at Bombay, besides acting as secretary of the Asiatic and Horticultural societies.[2]

His work on the Economic Vegetable Products of the Bombay Presidency reached its twelfth edition in 1868. He interested himself prominently also in the municipal life of the city, where he acquired great influence and popularity. He was obliged by ill-health in 1868 to return to England, where he entered the revenue and statistics department of the India Office (1871–1902).[2]

While engaged there he published important volumes on the industrial arts of India, the ancient records of the India Office,


The India Office Records are a very large collection of documents relating to the administration of India from 1600 to 1947, the period spanning Company and British rule in India. The archive is held in London by the British Library and is publicly accessible.

The records come from four main sources: the English and later British East India Company (1600–1858), the Board of Control (1784–1858), the India Office (1858–1947), and the Burma Office (1937–48). The collection also includes records from many smaller related institutions. Overall, the collection is made up of approximately 175,000 items, including official publications and records, manuscripts, photographs, printed maps and private papers. These items take up approximately nine miles of shelving units.

-- India Office Records, by Wikipedia


and the first letter-book of the East India Company. He devoted much time and energy to the encouragement of Indian art, on various aspects of which he wrote valuable monographs, and his name was identified with the representation of India at all the principal International Exhibitions from 1857 to 1901.[2][3] That notwithstanding, while chairing the Indian Section of the annual meeting of the Royal Society of Arts in 1910, he declared that there was no "fine art" in India. When a particular statue of the Buddha was adduced as counter-example, Birdwood is said to have responded: "This senseless similitude, in its immemorial fixed pose, is nothing more than an uninspired brazen image. . . . A boiled suet pudding would serve equally well as a symbol of passionless purity and serenity of soul."[4]

His researches on the subject of incense,[5] a good example of his mastery of detail, have made his historical and botanical account of this subject a classic. Nor can his lifelong association with journalism of the best sort be overlooked. From boyhood he was a diligent contributor of special information to magazines and newspapers; in India he helped to convert the Standard into The Times of India, and edited the Bombay Saturday Review; and after his return to London he wrote for the Pall Mall, Athenaeum, Academy, and The Times; and with Thomas Chenery, the editor of The Times, and others he took the initiative (1882) in celebrating the anniversary of Lord Beaconsfield's death as Primrose Day (19 April).[2]

In the dedication to his English translation of Garcia de Orta's book, Clements Markham calls Birdwood the "Garcia da Orta of British India".[6]

He kept up his connection with India by constant contributions to the Indian press; and his long friendships with Indian princes and the leading educated native Indians made his intimate knowledge of the country of peculiar value in the handling of the problems of the Indian empire. In 1846 he was selected Sheriff of Bombay[7] In 1887 he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire; and, besides being given his Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Cambridge, he was also made an officer of the Légion d'Honneur and a laureate of the French Academy.[2] He died in Ealing on 28 June 1917.[8]

The standard author abbreviation Birdw. is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[9]

Works

• On the Genus Boswellia [Frankincense Trees] (1870)
• The Economic Vegetable Products of the Bombay Presidency (1888)
• The Industrial Arts of India (1888)
• Reports on the Old Records of the India Office (1891)
• The Register of Letters and of the Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies 1600-1619 (1893) with Sir William Foster
• First Letter Book of the East India Company (1895)

Notes

1. Birdwood, George Christopher Molesworth (1854). "The origin of ideas".
2. Chisholm 1911.
3. Journal of Indian Art, vol. viii. The Life and Work of Sir George Birdwood
4. Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press, 2004, page 52. ISBN 978-0-19-515297-5.
5. Trans. Liun. Soc. xxvii., 1871; Ency. Brit. 9th ed., Incense, 1881; revised
6. Clements R. Markham (1913). Colloquies on the simples and drugs of India by Garcia da Orta. London: Henry Sotheran and Co.
7. Dictionary of Indian Biography. p. 43.
8. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Birdwood, Sir George Christopher Molesworth". Encyclopædia Britannica. 30 (12th ed.). London & New York. p. 456.
9. IPNI. Birdw.

References

• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Birdwood, Sir George Christopher Molesworth". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 979.

Further reading

• Rao, C. Hayavadana, ed. (1915). "Birdwood, Sir George Christopher Molesworth". The Indian Biographical Dictionary.
• Cooper, Thompson, ed. (1884). "Birdwood, George Christopher Molesworth". Men of the Time (eleventh ed.).

*****************************

George Birdwood [Sir George Christopher Molesworth Birdwood]
by The Open University: Making Britain
Accessed: 7/20/20

Date of birth: 08 Dec 1832
City of birth: Belgaum
Country of birth: India
Date of death: 28 Jun 1917
Location of death: London, England

About:

George Birdwood was born in India into what might be described as typical ‘Anglo-Indian’ family circumstances. The son of a soldier, General Christopher Birdwood, and Lydia Birdwood, the daughter of a Reverend of the London Missionary Society, Birdwood, like so many children of the British Army in India, was sent back to Britain to complete his education (schools in Plymouth and Scotland, and a degree from the University of Edinburgh), becoming a surgeon in 1857 and returning to India as an assistant surgeon with the Bombay medical service. Something of a Victorian polymath, Birdwood’s interests lay not only within the medical field. He was heavily involved in the cultural affairs of Bombay and became the Registrar of the newly-founded University of Bombay. It was, however, as a cultural administrator that Birdwood had most visible and lasting impact, occupying the posts of curator of the government art museum, Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society and Sheriff of Bombay.

His return to England in 1868 (due to ill health) did not lead to a quiet retirement, but a continued vigorous involvement in Indian cultural affairs, especially in the form of international exhibitions and the museological display of Indian art and artefacts. He was appointed keeper of the Indian Museum at South Kensington (now incorporated into the Victoria and Albert Museum collections). His reputation as an authority on Indian art and manufacture was firmly established with the publication of The Industrial Arts of India which championed the production of Indian arts and crafts in heavily paternalistic tones and praised small-scale village organization and traditions for the production of crafts. This tome influenced a large number of British designers and craftsmen, including William Morris and Owen Jones.

In 1879 he was appointed to a specially created post in the India Office, publishing work on its historical records and retiring in 1905. He was knighted in 1881 and made KCIE in 1887. Birdwood kept up a close correspondence with M. M. Bhownaggree, in the lead up to Bhownaggree's election as a Conservative MP in Bethnal Green in 1895. His reputation as a champion of Indian art was somewhat challenged at a now infamous event which took place whilst chairing the Indian Section meeting of the annual meeting of the Royal Society of Arts on 13 January 1910. After a paper given by the former colonial arts administrator and writer on Indian art, E. B. Havell, Birdwood made the claim that India possessed no 'fine art' which he had come across in all his years in India, and that a ‘boiled suet pudding would serve equally as well as a symbol of passionless purity and serenity of soul.’ This prompted a wave of counter claims and protest, most notably a letter sent to The Times in February 1910 penned by William Rothenstein and counter-signed by twelve other prominent cultural figures, and led to the foundation of the India Society.

Connections:

Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree, Manchershaw Pithawala (Birdwood wrote an article in appreciation of Pithawala in 1911).

India Office, Royal Asiatic Society.

Involved in events:

Empire of India Exhibition, 1895

Comment at Royal Society of Arts talk regarding lack of Indian fine art led to outrage from Havell, Rothenstein and others and to formation of India Society, 1910

Published works:

Handbook to the British Indian Section, Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878 (London, 1878)

Report on the Government Central Museum and the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Western India, for 1863, in Selections from the Records of the Bombay Government (Bombay, 1864)

The Industrial Arts of India (London, 1880)

Clarke, Caspar Purdon and Birdwood, George C. M., Catalogue of the Collection of Indian Arms and Objects of Art presented by the Princes and Nobles of India to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, on occasion of his visit to India in 1875-1876, now in the Indian Room at Marlborough House (London, 1898)

Contributions to periodicals:

'To the Temple’, Journal of Indian Art and Industries (January 1898)

Secondary works:

Chirol, Valentine, ‘Birdwood, Sir George Christopher Molesworth (1832–1917)’, rev. Katherine Prior, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/31896]

Guha-Thakurta, Tapati, The Making of a New “Indian” Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, c.1850-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Mitter, Partha, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

Mitter, Partha, Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977)

Archive source:

Mss Eur F 216, correspondence and papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence with Lord Kimberley, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Lord Hardinge, Cambridge University Library

********************************

Sir George C.M. Birdwood, K.C.I.C., C.S.I., M.D., LL.D.: His Life and Work
by Louis Mallet
The Journal of Indian Art, 1886-1916; London Vol. 8, Iss. 61-69, (Jan 1900): [119]-[156].

George Christopher Moleworth Birdwood was born at Belgaum, in the Bombay Presidency, on the 8th December, 1832. He is the eldest son of the late General Christopher Birdwood. He received his education at the Plymouth New Grammar School, and at Edinburgh University, where in 1854 he took the degree of M.D. In December of the same year he was appointed by the Court of Directors of the Honourable East India Company to their Medical Service in Bombay: Dr. Birdwood representing the fourth generation of his family, in the direct line, which has been connected with British India.

On Dr. Birdwood's arrival in India, early in 1855, his first charge was the Southern Mahratta Horse, at Kalludghee. Later in the same year he was transferred to the 1st Company 2nd Battalion of the Artillery, at Sholapore, where he was also at different times in medical charge of the 8th Madras Cavalry, the 3rd Bombay Infantry, and the Civil Station, which included a large Jail. About the close of 1856 he was sent to the Persian Gulf in medical charge of the Honourable Company's S.S. "Ajdaha," and of the detachment of H.M. 64th Regiment on board, and was present at the bombardment of Mohammarah, for which he received the medal and clasp given for the Persian War of 1856-57.

When he returned to Bombay, in April 1857, he was appointed Acting Professor of Anatomy and Physiology in the Grant Medical College, and from that date he continued his connection with the College, almost without interruption, in the chairs successively of Anatomy and Physiology, and Botany and Materia Medica, until he left India.

The late Lord Elphinstone, who took a great interest in the Government Central Museum, which he had established, and who had been pleased with the large collections of stuffed birds and dried plants, and of economic produce which Dr. Birdwood had sent to it from Belgaum, Kalludghee, and Sholapore, while he was on general duty in those places in 1855-7, appointed him its Secretary and Curator. This led, through Dr. Birdwood's initiative, ably and zealously seconded by the late eminent Hindoo physician and scholar, Dr. Bhawco Dhajee, to the establishment of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Victoria Gardens, at a cost of upwards of £ 200,000. The undertaking was largely subscribed to by the people of Bombay as a loyal memorial of the transfer of the possessions of the East India Company to the direct administration of the British Crown; and with the effect of giving such an impulse to the public spirit of the natives of Bombay, and of Western India generally, that every educational institution throughout the Presidency reaped the benefit of it, particularly the local branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, and the University. It was for the Victoria Gardens that the former Gaekwar of Baroda, the Maharajah Kunderow, ordered through Dr. Birdwood the canopied statue of the Queen, by Noble, now placed on the Esplanade, at a cost, we believe, of £ 35,000. About this time Dr. Birdwood published his learned and valuable "Catalogue of the Economic Products of the Presidency of Bombay," which went through two editions before he left India. It was most favourably noticed not only in India, but in England, and, by the late Professor Garcin de Tassy, in France. It has been used as the foundation of all catalogues of Indian vegetable produce at subsequent exhibitions, and the classification he adopted in it has ever since been followed in India.

On the resignation of the distinguished naturalist, Surgeon-Major H.J. Carter, F.R.S., Dr. Birdwood was elected honorary secretary to the Bombay branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, which he resuscitated, and entirely reorganised. He was at the same time appointed in succession to Carter, Secretary to the Elphinstone Funds, the educational fund of Bombay; and on the death of Surgeon Haines he was appointed by Sir Alexander Grant, and subsequently twice re-elected by the Senate, Registrar of the University of Bombay, his exertions for which had secured some of its most valuable endowments. These varied public duties were in a measure acknowledged by Dr. Birdwood being appointed, in 1864, Sheriff of Bombay. In March, 1867, he was sent by Sir Bartle Frere, at the express desire of the leading merchants of Bombay, as Special Commissioner for that Government to the Universal Exhibition held at Paris in that year. On being forced to finally leave India through permanently broken health in 1868, Dr. Birdwood's many valuable public services to the Western Presidency were recognised by the addressed presented to him by the Royal Asiatic Society, the Agri-Horticultural Society of Western India, the University, and the students of Grant Medical College. The cover of the address of the Agri-Horticultural Society, which was designed by Mr. John Griffiths, of the Bombay School of Art, is given in Plate 46.
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