Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

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

Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:23 am

CHAPTER LXXIX. The Beginning of the Disclosure of the Secret.

On the 30th of April 1901, Tsa Rong-ba, who had left for India in the preceding year, came back. He was a Tibetan merchant, to whom I had entrusted the letters to my teacher Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās at Darjeeling and to a Lama called Shabdung of the same town. He had also been trusted with the business of posting a letter to my native country. As soon as he arrived he at once sent for me, but his messenger could not find me at Sera, for I was at the treasury-minister’s on that day, and it was rather late when I heard of his return. So early the next morning I started for his house, expecting to receive answers from my old acquaintances in Darjeeling. After exchanging a few happy words he said to me: “At the time when I reached Darjeeling, both your teacher and the Lama were away. So I had to carry the letters with me all the way to Calcutta. On my way home, when I came back to Darjeeling I found both of them at home, and handed them the letters. Saraṭ told me to call on him again two days after to receive his answer. But I could not see him again, because I had bought a large quantity of iron by the secret order of the Government, and if the fact had become known to the Indian Government I should have been arrested. Therefore I could not stay long at Darjeeling and determined to start the next day without securing an answer from Saraṭ. But here is the answer from Lama Shabdung, who wrote it on the same day.” Saying this he handed me a letter. In the letter, it was stated that the letter to my teacher had been handed to him and another to my home had been registered. He also thanked me for my present to him.[567] (In Tibet it is customary to annex some present to a letter, and if nothing suitable can be found, they enclose a piece of thin silk cloth, a ‘Kata,’ and as I had acted in accordance with this custom when I sent my letter to him, he thanked me for that, and as a return present sent me some European sugar and a few other things). As we talked I heard of the Transvaal war and various other items of news from Darjeeling.


The 13th of May (the 4th of April by the Tibetan calendar) was a grand day for Lhasa, for on that day the Grand Lama Panchen Rinpoche, or the second Pope of Tashi Lhunpo in the city of Shigatze in the Tsan Province was to come up to Lhasa. He had completed his twentieth year and was qualified to receive what in Tibetan is called the Nyen-zok, which means investiture or ‘the deliverance of the Commands’. He was now coming to the capital to receive the ceremony from the Pope Tubten Gyam Tso in Lhasa. The ceremony is regarded as one of great importance, in nowise second to the “Nyen-zok” day of the investiture or ‘the Deliverance of the Commands of the Order’ of the Pope himself. The citizens, men and women, young and old, all went out to welcome the young prelate to Lhasa and I was also present in the crowd, accompanied by Li Tsu-shu, a Chinese apothecary, and his children. The procession of the day was magnificent and as splendid as was expected, but was not much different from that which I saw at Shigatze. On our way back I met Tsa Rong-ba, who invited me to tea at his house. I accepted, and was sitting comfortably in his house, when a Tibetan gentleman came in. The man was introduced to me as the Chief of the Pope’s caravan, by the name of Takbo Tunbai Choen Joe. He also worked (as I learned afterward) as an agent of the Government for buying iron and other articles as Tsa Rong-ba did, and they were old acquaintances. As soon as he entered the house he stared at me with his sharp eyes for a long time. As[569] I looked at him I judged him to be a black-hearted man, but at the same time I recognised the presence of great smartness.

Presently he came close to me. In the room were Tsa Rong-ba and his wife, and I saw that the greatest danger was brewing. But here I must diverge to tell a long story. Tsa Rong-ba had looked upon me with great hope, as my influence increased, because he thought if I became a family doctor of the Pope he would derive therefrom great benefit and profit, and when he returned from India he found my fame as a doctor greatly increased. Some people had exaggerated my reputation; if I cured only three patients they would call it fifty, and went even so far as to say that none could compete with me in the art of medicine. Besides, he knew that I lodged with the Minister of the treasury, and that I had also several friends among the higher officials and priests. These considerations made him think me quite reliable. While he was in Calcutta he heard much of the just and brave actions of the Japanese, also that in the war between Japan and China, the Japanese were not selfish, but had in view the benefit of China; at least I heard him often say so. Thus his confidence in the Japanese in general and in myself had been still more increased.

Next, to speak of the intruder Takbo Tunbai Choen Joe, he was the clerk of a great merchant named Takbo Tunba, and had often been to Peking, sometimes in charge of the Pope’s caravan. At the time of the Boxer Trouble he was in China and once unfortunately all his goods had been captured by some Japanese soldiers. He explained to them that the goods captured did not belong to the Chinese Government—on which suspicion they had been seized—and begged to have them returned, but all in vain. They were going to carry everything away. Then he hastened to the Japanese general at headquarters, and complained that he was a Tibetan and the goods had[570] neither been brought for, nor were being carried for the Chinese Government, and besought the general that they should be given back. The general, seeing that he was a Tibetan, immediately wrote a note in Chinese and in some peculiar characters (undoubtedly Japanese) signed his name and handed it to him telling him to take it to the soldiers. He did as he was told, and the goods which had been seized were returned with no loss whatever. This event and other experiences made him think that the Japanese were in the habit of acting justly and righteously. At any rate he had spoken highly of the Japanese when he told the above story to Tsa Rong-ba. When Tsa Rong-ba heard the story and knew that the Choen Joe was an admirer of the Japanese as he himself was, he thought it might do no harm to discover to him the person of the Japanese Lama; he even thought it would be profitable for himself to do so, but I never dreamed that such a fancy had taken possession of his mind.

The Choen Joe, who was keenly gazing at me, suddenly cried out: “You are very strange,” to which I did not reply a word. Then he continued: “At first I thought you were a Mongolian, but I found my judgment mistaken. Nor are you to be taken for a Chinaman. Of course, you are not a European. Of what nationality in the world are you then?” I was about to reply to this impertinent question, when I was interrupted by Tsa Rong-ba who spoke in a knowing way: “This gentleman is a Japanese.” Just a few words, and all was over. It was the first time my nationality had been mentioned in Lhasa. A very annoying truth had been uttered, but I could not deny the impeachment, so continued silently looking into the chief’s face, and wondering what would be the next word I should hear from him. Then with a look as if relieved from some uneasiness he turned to the host and said:[571] “I see, I see, I thought he must be a Japanese, but then I thought it was impossible for a Japanese to penetrate into this country, and I hesitated to say so. Now that I hear you say so, I doubt it not, for I have seen many Japanese at Peking.”

The sentence was given by these judges before the defendant could speak a word, and thus the secret which had been kept for so long was brought to light in a moment. The Choen Joe now turned to me and said:

“This is very good news for me. I once thought that if I went to Japan and brought strange goods to Lhasa I could make a great deal of money. But I have heard that the Chinese language, which is the only foreign language I can speak, is not used in Japan except among a few Chinamen at the seaport towns. Besides, I know that foreign travellers are liable to be deceived by bad people, who abound everywhere, and Japan, I suppose, is not an exception. So I have abandoned my intention. But I am glad to find here such a good Japanese as you. I have heard of the fame of the Serai Amchi (doctor of Sera) and am very satisfied to find the noted doctor in this house. As you are so good a man will you not take me with you to Japan?”

The prospect was not so bad as I had expected. I told him that as I intended to go back to Japan once more, I would take him, and spoke many things about Japan. The caravan chief talked of his hard experiences in China, of the recovery of his goods by the favor of the general, and of the superiority of the Japanese soldiers in valor to those of the West. He spoke very highly of Japan, but did not seem to mean to flatter me; it was most likely that the words came from his real heart. Then I said:

“You and Tsa Rong-ba are the only men that know that I am a Japanese, but if you tell it to anyone else, I am afraid it may cause you both some trouble. So you must be very careful about it.”

“I appreciate your advice,” said the Choen Joe, “I will not tell it to anyone. If I do, it will be only when it is positively to your benefit, but not till then. When I disclose it you may be sure that you will have a great name in Tibet.” With such pleasant talkings we closed the day. I took my leave and lodged at the druggist’s for that night.

On the following day, (May 4th) my friend the Secretary of the Chinese Minister stepped into my room as usual. While we were talking together there was something in his manner that put me on the alert. He said: “You say you are from Foochee in China. Of course I don’t doubt it. But I see a great difference in your character from that of the ordinary people of China. It may sound strange, but did not your ancestors come from a foreign country?”

I replied that I had no definite knowledge about my ancestor’s original home, and asked him what had made him think that my character did not resemble that of the Chinese. Upon this he said:

“The Japanese are very smart by nature and push on with great patience, while most Chinese lack in quickness, of course with a few exceptions like yourself. Moreover the Chinese have in general the characteristic of sedateness which you see in me, but which I cannot see in you. Instead of being calm, you are always hustling and active. It is too delicate a distinction for words, but I am sure you have something in you which I cannot trace to the Chinese. But from whom are you descended?”

From this way of talking I could understand that he was closely examining me, and trying to find out my secret by my countenance and expression. It seemed probable that he already knew that I was not a Chinaman but a Japanese. But I did not give him any definite answer, and he left me.

Some while later on during the same day I had another startling story told me by the wife of the apothecary. She[573] began with: “Say, Kusho-la (your lordship). Don’t you think the most awful thing in the world is a madman?”

I asked her reason, and she said: “Why, that mad son of Para has been telling a strange story. It is a story told by a madman, so of course I think it cannot be depended upon; but he said that though it was a great secret, he knew of a horrible affair that was to take place in this country. When I asked what it was, he whispered to me: ‘There is a priest from Japan in this town. He calls himself a priest, but he is surely a great officer of the Japanese Government, who has been sent for the investigation of the country. It is no less a personage than the Serai Amchi. I met and talked with him once when I went to Darjeeling, and I found him a great man.’ This is what he tells me. Is it not strange? Nobody knows he has ever been to Darjeeling, but what do you think about it?”

I thought the madman was not mad if he had spoken that way, but answered her: “The story of a madman must be only taken as such.”

The lady continued, “Anyhow my husband and many others seem to believe it. I have told this to you as I heard it, and hope you will not mind.”

This conversation occurred on the 14th of May. That night I returned to the mansion of the Minister of the Treasury, and on the next day I came to the monastery at Sera. At night when all were fast asleep, I took out some paper and began to write a letter to the Pope. I did this as a preparation against the day when my secret should be disclosed.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:25 am

CHAPTER LXXX. The Secret Leaks Out.

Why did I write the appeal? you may ask. At that time I could not tell how the matter would turn out, and unless some measures were taken beforehand, incurable evil might be the outcome. So I must at any rate make it clear to all that I had come to this country for the study and cultivation of Buḍḍhism and with no other intentions.

I have a saying -- "If they say they're not doing it, they're doing it!" This is a rule of near-universal application, because nobody tells you what they're "not doing" unless they want to deflect your attention from what they are, in fact, doing. For example, no one tells you where they're not going this weekend, what they won't eat for lunch, or who they're not seeing after work.

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

For that purpose I thought it well to write the letter, which I have still by me. I flatter myself that it was written very nicely. I have written many compositions, both prose and poetry, in the Tibetan language, but I never wrote one that pleased me better. It took me three nights to complete it. I may summarise its contents as follows. As is considered proper in Tibetan the letter begins with respectful words to the master of the beautiful country which is purified with white snow. Then I say: “My original intention in coming to this country was to glorify Buḍḍhism and thus to find the way of saving the people of the world from spiritual pain. Among the several countries where Buḍḍhism prevails, the only places where the true features of the Great Vehicle are preserved as the essence of Buḍḍhism are Japan and Tibet. The time has already come when the seed of pure Buḍḍhism must be sown in every country of the world, for the people of the world are tired of bodily pleasures which can never satisfy, and are earnestly seeking for spiritual satisfaction. This demand can only be supplied from the fountain of genuine Buḍḍhism. It is our duty as well as our honor to do this. Impelled by this motive, I have come to this country to investigate whether Tibetan Buḍḍhism[575] agrees with that of Japan. Thanks be to the Buḍḍha the new Buḍḍhism in Tibet quite agrees with the real Shingon sect of Japan, both having their founder in the person of the Boḍhisaṭṭva Nāgārjuna. Therefore these two countries must work together towards the propagation of the true Buḍḍhism. This was the cause that has brought me to this country so far away and over mountains and rivers. My faithful spirit has certainly wrought on the heart of Buḍḍha, and I was admitted to the country which is closed from the world, to drink from the fountain of Truth; the Gods must therefore have accepted my ardent desire. If that be true, why should your Holiness not protect me who have already been protected by the Buḍḍha and other Gods; and why not co-operate with me in glorifying the world with the light of true Buḍḍhism?” In conclusion I added that I had been asked by Dhammapāla of Ceylon to present the Pope with a relic of Shākya Buḍḍha and a silver reliquary, and begged his acceptance of the gift. When the letter was finished I was in so much haste to copy it on good paper that I did not think anything of the consequence if it were presented—that my letter would disclose my person and that I should be put to death accordingly.

On the 20th of May I returned to Lhasa and lodged at the Minister’s. That day I went with the ex-Treasury Minister to the garden-party held at the forest of Tsemoe Lingka. This was my last good time in Tibet. At the party there were many old friends of mine present, and many country-gentlemen, who were still staying in Lhasa for the ceremony. I talked freely with them and spent the whole day in the most pleasant conversation on the subject of the lives of the ancient saints of Tibet and on various other topics. While I was thus passing a pleasant day, a very serious thing in regard to my person was occurring at the other end of the city of Lhasa.

On this same day, the caravan chief called on Yabsi Sarba (the house of the father of the new Grand Lama). The present Pope had lost both his parents, and his elder brother was looked upon as his father-in-law. He was dignified by the Government of China with the title of Prince, and lived in magnificence in the southern part of Lhasa. While they were talking together over their glasses of wine, the caravan chief found what he called a good opportunity to disclose my person. As I learned it from Tsa Rong-ba, the dialogue between them ran as follows:

“Has your Highness heard that there is a stranger in this country, who is neither Chinese nor Mongolian?”

“Tell me what he is,” said the Pope’s brother.

“He is a true Lama from Japan. The Japanese Lama resembles a Chinese Hoshang, but is far more praiseworthy. He takes only two meals a day and after midday nothing touches his mouth. He eats no meat and drinks no wine.”

“Where is he living?” asked the brother of the Pope.

“If I mention his name you must know where he is living. His name is Serai Amchi; the famous Serai Amchi is a Japanese.”

After a pause for consideration the Pope’s brother replied: “I have heard of Serai Amchi. He must be an expert physician to be sent for by the Pope, the nobility and the clergy. One who masters the art of medicine so thoroughly as to gain such a great reputation in so short a space of time cannot be a Chinese. I once suspected that he might be a European. But now that I hear this from you, my doubts about him have been removed. Yes, the Japanese can do quite as great things as the Europeans. But” (shaking his head) “this is news that troubles me not a little.”

“What troubles Your Highness?”

“If I am not wrongly informed, Japan is on very friendly terms with England. When I consider this[577] I cannot but suspect her. Besides, Japan is so strong a country that she can bully China. Such a country is very likely to think it easy to subdue a small country like our own. Moreover the religion of Japan is the same as that of Tibet; is that not a fact which might easily awaken the ambition for subjugation? Therefore I cannot take him for anything but a spy sent by the Japanese Government to investigate the state of things in Tibet for a sinister purpose. Will not the nobility who are connected with Serai Amchi suffer as did those who were connected with Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās when he entered the country? Will not the Sera monastery be closed again? The matter cannot be overlooked. Some measures must be taken about it.”

This conclusion was an unexpected one for the caravan chief, for he had thought the story would please His Highness. His disappointment was immediately followed by the feeling of fear, and with an intention to defend me he said:

“He cannot possibly be taken for a spy. He lives in Lhasa, where meat is considered necessary food, and he often goes to the temple of Sera where meat and meat gruel are freely given as alms to the priests, but he never touches them, and feeds only on scorched barley. Such a man is surely a Lama of Japan.”

This strong argument was at once denied by the Pope’s brother, who said:

“You consider so, for you are short of wisdom. There are devils that resemble Buḍḍha in this world; indeed, the greatest devil is the one that can make himself most resemble a Buḍḍha. For example, take the case of saint Upagupṭa. He was the fifth saint from Shākya Buḍḍha. He was born after the death of the Buḍḍha, and thought how he might see the real Buḍḍha, who is said to have been perfect in physique and physiognomy. He heard[578] that the devil-king of the sixth heaven had often seen the Buḍḍha while the latter was passing through His worldly life. So he thought he would go and ask the devil-king whether he would, by his miraculous power, give him a glimpse of the real Buḍḍha. He did so, and his request was granted at once. The devil-king immediately put on the appearance of Buḍḍha and sat on the ‘Diamond-Seat.’ He looked so Buḍḍha-like that the saint could but prostrate himself before the image. In a similar manner Serai Amchi, who really is a spy, may have taken the form of a Lama to deceive us. No, he cannot be trusted. The very fact that he could enter this country, so strictly closed from the rest of the world, tells that he is by no means an ordinary person. Did he alight from heaven? He must have had superhuman power to perform such a miracle. Therefore he must not be treated carelessly. At any rate this is a difficult problem to solve.” This argument was strong enough to make Choen Joe sober and pale.

That day (20th of May) towards evening Takbo Tunbai Choen Joe called on Tsa Rong-ba, as I learnt afterwards, with a rather melancholy face. He had determined not to say anything about his conversation with the Pope’s brother. But it was supper-time when he came in, and the host persuaded him to share with him a few glasses of drink, as is customary in Tibet. Pretty soon the host perceived that the caravan chief was drinking with unusual haste and a sad look. Being intimate friends, Tsa Rong-ba asked the reason, saying:

“You must be uneasy in your mind to drink in such a way. I wish you would tell me what is the matter with you.”

The caravan chief said that nothing annoyed him. But in the meanwhile, the drink had had its effect, and made the man who was resolved to say nothing speak out the[579] details of the whole thing as has just been stated. When the story was over it was midnight, and Choen Joe left the house, leaving the host and hostess in so much anxiety that they could not sleep at all. The next morning (May 21st) Tsa Rong-ba sent me a messenger accompanied by a horse to Sera, to take me back directly to his house. But I was not in the monastery, and this messenger could not find me at the Treasury Minister’s either, for on that day I did not go there. The anxiety of Tsa Rong-ba increased when I was not to be found. The special reason of his anxiety was this; I possessed a letter from Darjeeling which had reached me through the hand of Tsa Rong-ba, and if I were to be captured the letter would be confiscated, and it was evident that he would also be put in prison. Evil might come to him as well as to myself. No wonder he hunted for me everywhere, all over the city of Lhasa. Tired with hunting for me, he had almost given up his attempt, thinking that I must already have been captured, when towards evening I called at his door. His surprise was great, and he came to me almost trembling and with tears too, and said: “How lucky we are to have you here! Buḍḍha must have led you.”


I comprehended that something unusual had happened, but telling them to be quiet, I took my seat, and was ready to listen. Then they told me the whole story, one supplying what the other omitted. When they had finished, Tsa Rong-ba asked me:

“What do you intend to do? At any rate, I hope you will burn the letter I brought from Darjeeling. But, what are you going to do?”

I replied: “For myself, my course is already determined. I have written an appeal to the Pope. Whatever may befall me I have made up my mind.”

“Do you know all about it then?” said he with a surprised look.

“Yes, I know,” said I, “I could see such a thing.”

“That is why I looked upon you with respectful awe,” he answered. “I heard that the Pope’s brother said you have superhuman power, and I believe his saying is true.”

“No,” I returned “I have no superhuman power. Only I inferred that such a thing must happen. So I have made what I thought preparation against it.”

Tsa Rong-ba, who followed a peculiar kind of reasoning, protested: “No, do not say so; I know you heard the conversation between the caravan chief and the Pope’s brother by some mysterious means. Otherwise how would you come down to our house on such an occasion as this? But then why have you not been kind enough to call on us a little earlier? We could not sleep at all last night. But are you really going to present to the Pope the letter you have written to him? In doing so, you little think of what will become of us. I doubt not you are a venerable Lama, but the Pope’s brother is by no means a good-natured man. We cannot tell what he is going to say to the Pope, and if the Pope listens to him who can tell the result? But I feel sure we must suffer, don’t you think so?”

“I cannot tell,” said I, “what I shall do until I try samāḍhi (go into abstract contemplation). For the present I can only tell you that there are four things to be considered in the ‘silent contemplation’. They are as follows:

(1) If the presentation of my letter to the Pope does not do any harm to you, the Minister of the Treasury, and the Sera monastery, I will present the letter though I should suffer from doing so, for I am the only Japanese who has visited this country, and I think it would be very sad to leave this country without telling the people who I am, and what I have come for.

(2) If the presentation of my letter causes any harm to any of you, I will not present it, though I myself am free from danger.

(3) If I can go to India without giving notice to the Pope, and it does not cause any harm to any of my acquaintances, I will go to India directly.

(4) If the presentation of my letter would cause any harm to them after my departure, I will stay here and present the letter, because if it is the cause of evil whether I stay here or not, it is my duty to stay here and share the evil with my acquaintances to whom I have caused it. I will never be the only one to escape from danger. If I come to the conclusion by the contemplation that there will be no evil caused after my departure, I will leave this country. But as I am not fully contented with my own decision on my own account, I will go to my teacher Ganden Ti Rinpoche and consult with him. Of course I shall not say that I am a Japanese, nor that I am going back for that reason, but I will say that I must go on a pilgrimage and ask him his judgment whether my departure is advantageous for many people who are suffering; and if his judgment agrees with mine I will adopt it, and if not, I will go and ask the same of the Lama of Tse-Moeling, and if the latter’s judgment be the same as my teacher’s I will follow it, but if it agrees with mine, I shall follow that.”

The husband and wife, who were listening to me attentively, interrupted me here and told me that I needed not to ask another’s opinion; my own judgment would be good enough to be acted upon.

“No,” said I, “that will not do. The thing is too serious to be determined by myself; for it concerns others as well.”

They agreed with me and we parted. That night I was seated all alone in my room at the Treasury Minister’s and quietly entered into the silent contemplation and tried to find the best course to be taken. After some time I reached the ‘world of non-Ego,’ and the judgment was:[583] “If I stay in this country it will be harmful to the people, whether I present the appeal or not; and on the other hand if I leave the country, it is no great loss to these people.” Thus I came to the conclusion to leave the country, though it was not quite decided whether or not I should present the letter to the Pope before leaving.

Early on the next morning (27th of May) I called on Ganden Ti Rinpoche, and asked him to give me his judgment, simply stating that I was going on a pilgrimage. The master with a smiling face judged for me and said: “The sick people who (you say) are suffering, will get better by your going on a pilgrimage. But by the sick people you do not mean the bodily patients, do you? It may mean that if you stay here, other doctors in Lhasa cannot live, and so you are going to save them by your departure?”

He gave his judgment half in joke, but I thought the teacher was intelligent enough to perceive that I was leaving the country never to come back. I heard there were many great Lamas in Tibet, but he was surely the most respectable priest of all with whom I became acquainted. This was the last time I saw this venerable teacher.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:31 am

CHAPTER LXXXI. My Benefactor’s Noble Offer.

That day I returned to the Treasury Minister’s with a determination to tell the secret to him. But it was the 22nd of May and the Pope was to come back to Lhasa from his country-seat at Norbu Ling. The ex-Minister had gone out to see the Pope return, and I was also obliged to go, though I had many things to do for myself. The procession of the day was magnificent. The four Prime Ministers and the Ministers of several departments and other dignitaries were present, all dressed in new suits of clothes. But before the Pope arrived in Lhasa it had begun to rain heavily. Still no one but the servants and coachmen were allowed to wear anything to protect themselves against the rain. It was a pitiful sight to see the dignitaries dressed in silk on horse-back in the rain, getting wet through. But when the procession marched along the streets of Lhasa and the Pope entered his temple, the storm had passed, and it was fine again. When we got home I asked the ex-Minister and the nun to stay at home that evening, for I was going to tell them a secret which must not be spoken in the presence of others. The nun had treated me with motherly tenderness, and though we had been friends only for one year, yet our acquaintance seemed age-long, and I felt I ought to tell my secret to her and the ex-Minister, to whom I owed so much. It was certain that I must leave Lhasa, but how could I leave them without telling them all?

When night came, I called on them at the appointed time and told them that I was not a Chinese but a Japanese. Thinking, however, that they would not believe me I set before them the passport which I had taken with me. As[585] the ex-Minister had learned to read Chinese characters a little, he could read that part of the paper signed “Department for Foreign Affairs of the Japanese Empire” in Chinese characters. Assuring himself that I had told the truth, he said:


“At first I thought you were a Chinese as you said, but later I became very doubtful, because among the many Chinese I have met, there is none who equals you in earnestness of devotion to Buḍḍhism. I have also[586] often thought that most of the Chinese priests are ignorant of the Buḍḍhist religion, and that even the so-called learned and famous priests do not amount to much, but that the district of Foochee, from which you said you came, might be an exception, and that Buḍḍhism might be studied there with much zeal. Anyhow I thought it strange, but now my doubts have been removed.

“But I heard,” he continued after a pause, “that the Japanese are of the same race as the Europeans. Is it really so?”

I explained that they were entirely different races and that the Japanese belong to the same stock of races as the Tibetan, which is called the Mongolian. I also told him that the religion of the two countries is the same. It seemed he knew such things as these without waiting my explanation.

After a few such questions and answers he said, “Is that all that you call your secret? Is there anything else to tell me?”

I answered: “There is another thing. I think I must tell the Papal Government that I am a Japanese.”

When he heard me say this he frowned a little, and said, “Why must you talk? Is there any necessity for doing so?”

I replied that there was, and told him how my secret had been betrayed by Tsa Rong-ba, and how it had been told to the Pope’s brother, and so forth. But I did not say anything about the silent contemplation, because if I told it they would possibly have thought that I was anxious to leave for India without caring for their future, though my judgment said that my departure would cause no great harm to them.

He considered in silence for some time after I had finished my story, and then he said: “What are you going to do next?”

“As I have come to this country,” said I, “after so much trouble, I wish to inform the Pope that I am a Japanese, and here is the letter to the Pope written for that purpose.”

I took out the letter from my pocket and handed it to the ex-Minister, and continued:

“It is no difficult thing to present it to the Pope, but in doing so I must consider whether you might suffer from it, for you have been my friends and patrons for a long time. Therefore please bind me with a rope, take me to the court and tell the officers that you have found out that I am a foreigner. If you do so, you are surely free from trouble. As to myself, I will explain to the Government the causes of my intrusion into this country.”

While I was speaking thus the frowns on his face had increased, and when I concluded he interrupted:

“That will not do, my Japanese friend. If you take such a measure you will certainly be taken to prison, where you will die of hunger and cold, and if you don’t die of such causes you will be killed. Of course the Government will not sentence a foreigner to death, but then they can procure the same effect by using poison in secret. You have no need to hasten your destruction. What is the use of killing yourself?”

I was somewhat surprised to hear of such awful means to be used in the Tibetan jail, but I replied:

“It is of no use for me to succeed if my success is gained by the loss of others; it is far better to die and do others no harm. I shall not fly from danger and allow my benefactors to suffer, who have shown me as much kindness as parents show to their children.”

The affectionate old woman, who was listening to me with a sorrowful face and trembling limbs, could not bear any more, and threw herself down and wept bitterly.

Then the ex-Minister spoke to me in a determined tone: “It will never do to allow such a noble mind to die in order that we who are not far from the grave should survive. Though humble, I believe truly in the Buḍḍha, and cannot do such an action as to sacrifice a man to save myself. I know you too well to take you for a spy, or for a thief of the national religion. I know it from my long intercourse with you. Even I were to be killed for it, I could not rid myself of danger by persecuting a man who came here to study Buḍḍhism. How could I do such a thing? But now, in the present state of things in Tibet, it is not a good opportunity to disclose your nationality. Therefore return home for this time, and wait till the time will come. I am a brother and disciple of Ganden Ti Rinpoche, from whom I received the lesson of the ‘Great Benevolence.’ I cannot expose you to death while I myself escape from calamity. If we are to suffer after your departure, we must take it as due to a cause existing in a previous life, and resign ourselves.”

Saying this, he turned to the old nun and said:

“Don’t you think so too, my beloved Ningje Ise (mercy and wisdom)?”

The nun raised her face and said in a pleasant voice: “You have said the truth. How glad I am to hear it!” Then turning to me she said:

“As you are in danger, leave this country as quickly as you can. We can find some means of protecting ourselves; therefore it is better for you to cease thinking of us, and to start directly. Now is the best time to steal out of the city, for the visit of the second Pope will keep the city busy for this whole month, and no one will notice your departure. No better opportunity can be found. If it were on an ordinary day, you could not run away even though you were free from suspicion, for Lamenba—the chief physician to the Pope—wishes to keep you long in[589] this country, and has already spoken to the Pope about it. Lose no time in preparing for the journey. This is my sincere advice.”

As she spoke thus I observed tears in her eyes.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:32 am

CHAPTER LXXXII. Preparations for Departure.

When I heard them speak so kindly I was heartily pleased, and so touched that I could not restrain my tears. Though their advice was so reasonable and pleasing I was not inclined to take it immediately, and begged them earnestly to deliver me over to the Government so that no evil might befall them. They would not listen to me.

At length the nun said: “As it is of no use to argue here, is it not better to leave the matter to the judgment of Ti Rinpoche? and if according to his judgment there is no evil to be feared for you and for us, then you can present the letter as you wish. We are arguing in vain unless we can foretell the result of the matter.”

I was then obliged to tell them all about the ‘silent contemplation’ and its agreement with the judgment of Ti Rinpoche. When I told this their faces cleared and the ex-Minister said with a smile:

“If this is the case, our anxiety and argument are useless. The only course to be taken now is to leave this country immediately. It is of course of no use to speak of binding you with a rope. You have spoken such things because you thought of us, but it is all in vain. If Ti Rinpoche said your departure was better for yourself and ourselves, it is a sure thing, and if his judgment agrees with yours it is then the will of the Buḍḍha, the breach of which will cause you certain evil. Therefore proceed at once. Though we cannot protect you on your way, if it becomes public and some one pursues you, we will try to find some means for your escape.”

Their unselfish kindness toward me I shall ever remember. I retired with tears back to my room, and then I[591] packed all my sacred books and other writings which I had gathered and took them to the apothecary’s and said to him:

“I intend to go to Calcutta on a certain mission. I also want to make some purchases there. If I can obtain sufficient money from home to buy the books I want, I will soon be back. But if I cannot get the money at Calcutta I must return home and get it, and will come back next year or the year after next. I cannot say when I can come back, but at any rate I must start immediately. But the thing that troubles me most is the despatch of my baggage. I wish to carry these books home and show them to my fellow-countrymen. If I take all of them they must be packed and sent on a horse, or by some other means. Can you find any good way of doing this for me?”

Apothecary Li Tsu-shu was a man who believed in me so much that he would do anything for my sake. If I had not had such a friend, my case would have been undoubtedly hopeless. He was faithful to the end; if his confidence in me had not been so strong, he would not have done anything for me, or he might even have betrayed me to my undoing. He seemed to know that I was a Japanese, for, once when he came to my room, he saw some of the Japanese books in my library, and after that he seemed partly convinced that I was not a Chinese. It was when people began to talk much about my nationality that I saw him and told him that I was going home. He knew it was dangerous to have anything to do with me, but he willingly agreed to my request, and told me that he knew a Chinese merchant who was from the same town as himself, and a good friend of his; that I might go with him, for he was leaving for Calcutta on business in four days, and that as he had probably a few horses without freight he could take my things at a smaller charge than anyone else. The[592] apothecary was also kind enough to promise me that he would go to see the merchant and talk over the matter. As we were talking thus, the apothecary saw a man entering his house. He ran to him and said:

“We have just been talking of you. Lucky to see you here! Could you not take about two horses’ load to Darjeeling for this gentleman?”

As I saw the man I found that he was an old acquaintance of mine; I had often bought musk and other things from him and made him some medicine to sell in his store. He knew well that I was honest in transactions, and would have acceded to my request with pleasure. But he said that he could not take charge of my luggage, for he had no extra horses, but that he knew a man who was going to Calcutta in four or five days, and who would arrive at the city earlier than himself, and that as this man was carrying the salary of soldiers to the Castle of Tomo by the order of the Chinese Amban his horses were not loaded and might take my baggage, but that probably I must pay him more money. I said that I would willingly pay extra money if the baggage would arrive earlier, and asked him to go to that man to get the business settled. I was very glad to have everything thus arranged.

It was about the evening when we parted, and I returned to the monastery at Sera. The next thing to be done was to pack up my religious books and bring them to Lhasa. That night I was so busy packing up the books that I had no time for sleep, and the next day before noon I was able to send away all the packages to the druggist’s in Lhasa. This twenty-fifth day was fortunately the best for such a purpose. On any ordinary day there were always six or seven thousand priests in the temple, and if I were engaged in packing my things, it would have attracted their attention, and caused many enquiries. But on that day there were only two or[593] three men in each boarding-house. Therefore though I was busy all the night in packing and the next morning in sending the things to Lhasa, it caused no suspicion. But there was Chamba-ise, a little fellow who had served me for a long time. I could not leave him without doing something for him. I used to send him to a tutor for study while I was absent, and he would come back when I returned and draw water, make tea and do various other services for me. Now that I was leaving the Lamasery I could not leave him without notice. In the first place I must dismiss him, otherwise he would certainly think it strange to see me taking out my books. So I told this boy and a few others that I must go on a pilgrimage to Tsa-ri, as a younger brother of the ex-Minister lived there and had invited me. Tsa-ri is called the second Sacred Place in Tibet. In Tibet there are the three Sacred Places; the first is Kang Rinpoche or Mount Kailāsa in the north-western plain; the second is Tsa-ri, a peak in the Himālayas in the south-east which forms the frontier of Assam; the third is the highest mountain in the world, the famous Gaurīshānkara or Chomo Lhari, often called Mount Everest. As to the boy, I told him that it would probably take me four months to go there and come back, and that I would leave him money for four months’ tuition and board. But I was afraid a little boy like him would use the money all at once if it were handed him directly. So I took the money and deposited it with his teacher. To a man who had been my security since I entered the Sera seminary I sent a suit of priestly garments and some money; my tutor whose lectures I attended and many others were all presented with some money or things as souvenirs. When all these preparations were finished, it was past four o’clock in the afternoon. Then I went to the Great Hall of Je Tatsang to which I belonged, lighted butter-lamps, made some[594] offerings, and in front of the Image of the Shākya Buḍḍha I read my prayer of farewell, which ran as follows:

“Here in the Great Hall of Je Tatsang of the Sera Temple, Tibet, I, Ekai Jinkō, prostrate myself before the Buḍḍha our benevolent Master and pray. It is with great sorrow and regret that I see that the different deeds of human beings have caused the different existences of Buḍḍha among the believers: for the way to Buḍḍha is originally open to all and accessible to everyone. I, Ekai Jinkō, bound by the chain of deeds done in the previous world, have not been able to accomplish the union and conformity of the Japanese and Tibetan Buḍḍhists, and now am obliged to leave the country. May the good cause of the present day be the beginning of success, and of the union of the Japanese and the Tibetan Buḍḍhists at some future time, and also of illuminating the whole world with the light of Buḍḍhism.” And calling upon the name of Buḍḍha ten times together with an equal number of salutations I left the temple.

Coming down the steps of the Hall and passing the paved yard to the left, there is a descent of long and steep stone steps which leads to the front of the beautiful gate of Choe-ra (a Ḍharma garden) where the student priests are catechised. The premises of the Choe-ra, which are enclosed by white low walls, are very spacious. Here and there elms and willow-trees are planted tastefully, and magnolia flowers perfume the air in their season. A clear stream, which comes down from the rocky hill on the other side of the buildings, runs through the premises, and thus adds much to the beauty of the place, especially when the setting sun shines upon the stream, as it was then doing. This was the seat I loved best in Lhasa, and I could not leave it without paying a visit to this favorite resort of mine. When I came here it was late in the afternoon, and all[595] was quiet while I roamed about the place. Here my heart began to hesitate again. Though I had already bidden farewell to the Buḍḍha, thinking I should leave this country, yet I confess my determination was not strong enough.

“Must I now leave,” thought I, “this quiet land of Buḍḍha to which I have become attached; must I steal out of this beautiful country without telling who I am, just as a spy would do? Are there no means to say that I am a Japanese, without causing harm to others? Death comes to all sooner or later. Why should I not run the risk of death, presenting the letter to the Pope? When I have made such a good composition, how sorry I am not to show it to him!”

While I was thus confused in my mind, suddenly a voice ‘Giokpo peb’ (go back quickly) was heard from somewhere about the Choe-ra. I wondered who spoke those words, and to whom, and looked round, but nothing could be seen but the green leaves of the trees shining in the rays of the setting sun. Certainly it could not be a bird’s voice, and I thought it must be only my fancy. When I went on only two or three steps, the same “Giokpo peb” but in a louder and clearer tone reached my ear. Thinking somebody was talking to me, I cried out to ask who it was, looked about, and went round and behind the Choe-ra whence I thought the voice came, but no one was to be found. Struck with a strange feeling I was going in the direction of my boarding-place when I heard the same strange voice again and again. This strange voice had much to do with my final determination to go back quickly; and when I was fully resolved the voice was heard no more. I hastened to my room and fetched a few things left there, and went and lodged at the druggist’s in Lhasa.


The next day was spent in collecting the books which I had asked many booksellers to secure for me, and for some[596] of which I had paid in advance. By the evening I had obtained a large number. The following day (May 26th) was employed in the same business as the day before. In the afternoon, Li Tsu-shu made some boxes for me to put my things in. He was also kind enough to get me three sheets of yak-hide in which to wrap my boxes. In Lhasa many yaks are killed for food after two o’clock in the afternoon every day. The pelt fresh from the butchery is much used for packing and shipping goods. Things are wrapped in it while it is yet soft with the fur inside[597] and the still bloody and greasy side out, and then stitched. When it gets dry it is hard and strong, and well serves to protect the contents.

When all was ready it was the 27th of May. As the next day was the appointed day on which I could hire a horse from the Chinese merchant and start with him, I went to take my leave of the ex-Minister. I thanked him for the great favors I had for so long received from him, and he gave me several hints and suggestions for my journey. I borrowed a suit of priestly garments from him, for all my suits were packed up together with other things. He also gave me a hundred rupees, telling me to accept it as an acknowledgement of the favors I had done him. Though I thought the thank-offering ought to have been from my side, I was in much need of money, and so I accepted his present with many thanks and returned to the apothecary’s.

As I came back I learned from him that the merchant who was to go with me on the following day would not accompany me. I must tell how this unexpected hindrance came about on the eve of my departure. The Secretary of the Amban, of whom I spoke before, was a great friend of the merchant whom I expected to accompany. Now the Secretary, who was already suspecting me, told the merchant that I was not a Chinese, but must be a Japanese; that though he could not find the exact reason why I came to Tibet, it might be possible that I was spying in the service of the British Government, for now-a-days nobody would be so much devoted to Buḍḍhism as to come to Tibet as I declared I had done, and that if his suspicion proved to be true after my departure with the merchant the latter would have his head out off. The merchant was surprised at hearing such a story from a man who was regarded as the most learned and experienced among the Chinese in Tibet, and of course believed it, so[598] it was not possible in any way whatever to persuade him to take charge of my baggage.

But after telling this story, Li Tsu-shu told me that he might probably find some means to send off my baggage if I did not mind more expense, by making a special application to the servants of the Chinese Legation and calling the goods his drugs. I asked him to do so, and as to my own journey, as I needed a coolie to carry my personal luggage day and night, I asked him to hire one for me. The druggist went off directly to negotiate with them, but came back disappointed saying that the men whom he intended to see were not to be found.

Early the next morning (the 28th) the druggist went out to see his country-men who were going to the place called Tomo or Chumbi in Tibetan and Sui-shi in Chinese, and arranged with them to carry my goods to the place. I paid them the very high fare for the transportation in advance. He sent my luggage to the Chinese Legation that night. As for my coolie, Mrs. Li Tsu-shu secured a man called Tenba after trying her best. So I made all preparations for my departure for India by their kindness. I could feel certain of starting from Lhasa on the very next day, the 29th of May (the 20th of April according to the Tibetan calendar).
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:35 am

CHAPTER LXXXIII. A Tearful Departure from Lhasa.

Lhasa was at that time in a state of such intense excitement over the festivities that the people hardly seemed to know what they were doing. The police force of the city is not large: it consists of thirty constables (Kochakpa) and thirty policemen (Ragyabpa), and the whole energies of the force were devoted to the duty of guarding the persons of the Grand Lama and his Co-adjutor. Every official and priest was busily engaged in the duties of his office; none could spare even a thought for anything outside his immediate sphere of occupation—in short the time could not possibly have been more favorable for my plan of escaping from the city. Still it was necessary to take precautions, for there were many priests from Sera in the town, and I therefore determined to divert attention by wearing, instead of travelling clothes, a suit of ordinary ecclesiastical garments which I had borrowed from the Minister a few days before.

At eleven o’clock, on the day of my departure, my kind, host and hostess of the Thien-ho-thang prepared for me a farewell dinner of vegetables only. It was a very sad meal, and the two children, a boy of five and a girl of eleven years old, were almost inconsolable at the thought of my departure. Poor things, they did their best to retain me and I must confess that I never before felt so strongly the force of childish affection.

Some of the members of the family were very anxious to testify their respect by accompanying me for a mile or two on my journey, but as it would have been hard to escape observation had we left the house in a large party, we agreed to go out one by one, and meet again in the grove[600] in front of the Rebon Temple outside the capital. So, with a coolie to carry my baggage, I started off by myself through the crowded streets, and when right in front of the Great Temple was accosted by a policeman. I felt sure that something had been detected, and gave myself up for lost.

He looked me straight in the face, and said “I congratulate you,” and when he found I did not reply he repeated his congratulations. I did not know what he was congratulating me about, but at least it did not look as if he were going to arrest me, and I continued my silence, but he made three low bows as signs of his congratulations, and made as though I would pass on. Suddenly it occurred to me that I was wearing a suit of ecclesiastical garments borrowed from the Minister, and that doubtless the policeman had jumped to the conclusion that as I was wearing such dignified robes I had been appointed physician to His Holiness (as indeed it was rumored), and that he expected a reward of money for his well-meant felicitations. So I gave him a ‘single-handed blessing,’ and a tanka of money, which made him stick out his tongue in gratitude, and so went on my way. I reckoned it as a thing most auspicious that I should have met the man in front of the Temple, and thus have commenced my journey with words of felicitation.

There are some points about the Tibetan police which I must not omit to mention. They receive no salaries, and live on the alms of the community, though their methods of solicitation differ materially from those of ordinary beggars. At stated periods they go, usually in companies of three, through the streets, and standing at the gates of private houses cry out as follows:

“We have come to receive alms from the wealthy, and you are so wealthy that you can easily relieve our distress. We therefore pray you, the savior of the poor and the[601] friend of the needy, to give thirty pieces of gold to thirty poor men who with their wives live in miserable huts, and the gift you give us this day shall be brought home to our women and make them happy. We shall fill our broken cups with fragrant liquor and let them lie down this evening in a state of blissful intoxication. Lha-kyallo.[4]”

They will go on repeating these dirge-like petitions at the gate until at last some one comes out and gives them a few silver coins and some parched wheat-flour in a tin pan covered with a small kata. There is no fixed amount to be given, but if a rich man does not give them what they think they have a right to expect, they will let him know what they think. They are not supposed to beg at Temples, but as a matter of fact every Temple gives them something for the sake of its own credit, and for peace and quiet.

All the money that is thus collected is handed over to one of the Kochakpa, who distributes it in regular monthly instalments to the members of the Force. But the Lhasa police have also further sources of income. When a wealthy pilgrim from the country arrives in the city they ask for a donation from him, and if they do not get at least one tanka they will set the worthless people of the city on to attack him and not stir a finger for his protection. Every countryman therefore finds it to his interest to pay this blackmail to the police, and when I was in Lhasa as a layman I had paid my tanka like the others. But since I had assumed the priest’s robe they had not been able to demand anything from me, and therefore I suppose that my friend thought the opportunity of getting a present in return for his congratulations was too good to be lost.

If a policeman goes on a journey, say to arrest a thief, he takes nothing with him for the expenses of his journey. He goes to any house he chooses and takes what they give[602] him to eat and drink, and if he is going on to a place where there is no entertainment to be had he just orders the people of the house to provide him with whatever he requires. The Kochakpa however are far superior to the ordinary policemen. They have a regular salary from the Government, and so do not live on blackmail.

Having got rid of my policeman friend, I turned to the Temple for a final act of worship, and then passing under the Palace of the Grand Lama and over the bridge, came out upon the vast plain, where, by the small grove in front of the Rebon Temple, I found the clerk of the drug-store and a few friends waiting to take their leave of me. I had had my dinner, and I never drink wine: there was nothing left for me to do but to change my dress and commence my journey, which I did, requesting my friends to return my clerical clothes to the Minister of Finance. But my friends had brought some wine with them, and insisted on drinking to me before I went, repeatedly expressing their great sorrow at my departure and urging me to take great care of my health in the trying climate of India. They were also very anxious to know whether, after once returning to India, I should ever revisit Tibet again, and they several times expressed their great indebtedness to me. As for myself, I cannot say that I was very sorry to be leaving Lhasa, but the sight of their sorrow made me sad as I passed out of the grove of the Rebon Temple in the direction of Shingzonka, where I stopped for the night.

On the 30th of May, I hired post-horses and left Shingzonka. Here I had been obliged to find serious fault with my luggage-carrier, Tenba. Tibetans, as my readers must by this time be well aware, are prone to lies, and will grossly exaggerate the most trivial and insignificant matters. I had often spoken to Tenba about this, but in spite of my frequent admonitions, he had told the master of the[603] house where we lodged at Shingzonka that I was an incarnation of a Lama. Of course the innkeeper at once was all full of smiles and politeness, put me into a better room and did all he could for my comfort, and as far as that was concerned I had no reason for complaint. But I was afraid that by and by trouble might come to me by reason of that lie, and I spoke to him in severe terms not only about the wickedness but also about the inconvenience of uttering falsehoods.

“I only said ‘yes,’” urged the man in his own justification, “when he asked me if you were not an incarnation. If you go round as an incarnation, you are respected and honored, and can make lots of money. There is no profit in going about just as you are.”

“But, you miserable man,” I returned angrily, “I am not here for the purpose of making money. It is unutterably bad to make money by deceiving others.”

“But,” he grumbled, “everybody wants to make money”. Nevertheless he promised to be more careful with his tongue in the future.

That day we had dinner at Ne-thang, and going six miles further on arrived at the village of Nam. When my teacher, Rai Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās Bahāḍur, visited Nam some twenty years ago, it was a village of some thirty houses. It seems almost incredible that we stayed in the single house now standing in the place. The fact is that some six years after the Rai Bahāḍur’s departure from Tibet, some sixteen years ago, the whole village was swept away by a flood of the river Kichu. The villagers then removed their dwellings to a plateau between the ravines where they would be safe from future inundations, erecting just one house on the old site for the benefit of travellers.

So, to return to my story, I passed through Nam and reached the village of Jangtoe, where lived a priest whose acquaintance I had made at Sera.

“Where are you going?” he asked, as he served me with tea.

“On a pilgrimage to India,” was my politic reply, which was received with great joy, and made my host most sympathetic and helpful. He insisted on lending me a horse the next morning, and I was thus enabled to make a rapid journey to Chaksam, where I found several boats, some of hides and some of wood. I embarked on one of these latter, crossed to the other side and arrived at the station of Pashe, under the high and steep mountain of Genpala. At Pashe I hired another horse, (for I had sent back the priest’s horse from the river), and the next morning, 1st June, at four o’clock, started again on my journey. Half-way up the hill I found a Chinaman who had left Lhasa a day before myself. He was feeding his horse by the roadside, and drinking tea, and when I asked him about his luggage, he said that it was being sent after him.


On reaching the top of the mountain and looking back, I was able, in the clear air, to see not only Lhasa far away on the north-eastern horizon, but even the Grand Lama’s palace above it, a dim vision of heavenly beauty. Both in coming and in going I enjoyed this beautiful sight, and saluted the Lama’s Palace in the distance. Genpala rises fourteen thousand nine hundred feet above the sea, while Lhasa is twelve thousand, so that the mountain is nearly three thousand feet higher than the city. The distance, as a bird flies, between them is thirty-five miles, and though some Tibetan travellers deny the fact, I can vouch for it from experience that the Grand Lama’s Palace can be distinctly seen from a point of vantage on the summit of the mountain, though the slightest change in position causes the palace to disappear.


While speaking of Genpala I recollect an amusing story which I will here relate. There is in the house of a[605] rich man in Nepāl a Tibetan servant of the name of Penba-pun-tso, who accompanied his master on one occasion on a pilgrimage to Lhasa. There were several other Tibetans in the company. Now, whereas in Nepāl food is cheap and plentiful and every one gets enough, that is not the case in Lhasa. There, the Lama gets a good meal with meats of various kinds, vermicelli, and eggs; but the ordinary layman has to be contented with parched barley flour—not unmixed with sand and grit—put in a bowl with tea and eaten. And often there is not enough even of that. The pilgrims cannot always get all they require, and many lose strength, while all lose flesh.

At last the pilgrimage was over, all the noteworthy Lamas had been visited, and the party of Nepālese, on their way home, reached the summit of Mount Genpala. With one accord they all turned round to take a last farewell of the Holy City. “We are indeed fortunate,” they[606] murmured, “to have been allowed to accomplish this pilgrimage, and we pray (here they shed tears of pious fervor) that we may deserve to be re-born in the Holy Land of Buḍḍha.”

But Penba-pun-tso refused to join them in their prayers. He deliberately turned his back on the Holy City, and took no pains to conceal his disgust at the behavior of his companions.

“How joyful it is, brethren,” he replied to their remonstrances, “to have left behind Lhasa, the hateful abode of hungry demons and evil spirits. My prayer is that I may never have occasion to see the place again.”

“You are very hard on Lhasa,” they said.

“Not a bit of it,” was the reply. “I am only honest; that’s all. In my master’s house in Nepāl I get plenty of food—good rice, with no sand in it. Why should I call Lhasa the Holy City—a place where the greedy Lamas are the only men who get enough to eat?”

Penba’s pious companions were much shocked at his outspoken heresies. But Penba did not mind their threats.

“I may be punished for what I have said,” he calmly remarked; “but all the same I am glad not to have been born in Lhasa. The devils of the Holy City may punish me if they like.”

There is a great deal of truth in what the man said. Lhasa swarms with beggars and paupers, and may truly be called the City of hungry devils.

There are even to be found in Lhasa professional mendicants who are also usurious money-lenders. These men as a rule starve themselves in order to save a little money, which they conceal in some secret place underground and then lend out at exorbitant rates of interest. When they die, their secret hoard is lost, until some one some day digs it up by chance, when it is presented as treasure-trove to the priests of Sera or to those of the Ganden or Rebon Temples. Can these men, who starve themselves in order to make a little additional gain, be called anything but hungry devils? Truly, I can witness that Lhasa is the abode of these hungry spirits, and that the Lamas are flesh-eating ogres.

Penba-pun-tso, whose story thus amused me as I climbed over the steeps of Genpala, is still living at Nyallam on the borders of Nepāl and Tibet. I cannot say that I fully share his feelings against Lhasa, which I know as well probably as he does; but it is indeed a city in which wheat and tares grow together, a very few noble Boḍhisaṭṭvas dwelling in the midst of many extortionate demons. It is my earnest desire to return some day to the Holy City and there work for the important object of bringing together into living unity the Buḍḍhism of Japan and Tibet.

On our way down from the summit of Mount Genpala we diverted our steps a little in the direction of the village of Ta ma lung, a change of route necessitated by the desire to dine and to change horses, before proceeding to the post-station of Palte.

Palte is, as I have mentioned before, a very picturesque town on the shores of Lake Yamdo. We arrived towards nightfall after a long journey southward through beautiful winding roads, and here I fancy that my luggage coolie Tenba, who preceded me by a few minutes, must have announced me as a physician from Sera, for soon after my arrival the headman brought me a sick man for examination. I declined to prescribe for the man at first, but the more I drew back the more did the headman urge his suit, until I was at last reluctantly compelled to give him some medicine. I was surprised to find with what great reverence the people of the place treated “a physician from Sera”.

It was almost as if he had been a God of medicine, so great was the honor they paid him.

The next day, June 6th, I left Palte on horseback at two in the morning, and about eight o’clock reached the eastern extremity of Yase through beautiful scenery, which I need not however describe again. Some two[609] miles to the east of Yase there is a river which empties itself into the narrow arm of a lake, and is crossed by a stone bridge which leads the traveller towards the south. As far as this bridge my route had been the same as on my former journey through this country: but after crossing the bridge, I diverged in a south-easterly direction along the lake shore, and then turned to the south (still along the lake) for five miles, where I struck off and reached Nankartse in time for dinner. Here my servant, who was very tired, expected to stop, but I pushed on westward, until we came out on an immense plain where we beheld outspread before us the snow-clad mountains of the Bhūṭān frontier. As we pushed on the scenery became more and more beautiful, and the mountains closed in on both sides of us. At last, in the heart of a narrow ravine, we came to a solitary house beside a river. We should have had to go another five ri before reaching another house, so we determined to stop here.

The next morning, soon after midnight, I got up and aroused my servant. He did not want to leave his bed and grumbled about its being midnight and a long way to dawn, but we had before made up our minds for an early start so as to get ahead of possible pursuers, and so I kept to my purpose. It was a very lonely ascent through deep snow, and my servant was so scared by the darkness and the fear of pursuers that he did not dare to walk behind me, and when I made him go in front, he would often stop for me to reconnoitre some suspicious object ahead. For the road, he said, was full of malicious demons, and there was no knowing what harm they might not do to one.


I did my best to re-assure him by the fact of my presence and the example of my courage, and so, with slow and faltering steps we climbed up the five ri of steep mountain ascent and at daybreak reached the small village of Za-ra, when we had breakfast and succeeded in hiring horses.[610] At these mountain-stations it is almost impossible to hire an animal, for there are none kept there, and the traveller has to depend on pack-horses and travelling horses that may happen to pass by that way. What few post-horses there are, are all taken up by the Government, and never come into the hands of ordinary travellers. And yet it was very important for us to obtain animals, for we had to pass along the snowy peak of Nechen Kangsang, and though there are several places in the ascent as well as in the descent where riding is out of the question, over the[611] steep and ill-kept roads, there are also places in the higher plateau of the mountains where the rarefied atmosphere makes rapid travelling on foot a sheer impossibility.

Thanks, however, to our good fortune in procuring horses at Za-ra, we were able to push on towards the majestic mountain peaks as far as to Ralung, where we rested till midnight. We then arose, mounted our steeds, and following a stream for some ten and a half miles arrived at Tsanang. In Tibet there is no beautiful scenery except that of snowy mountains. When the snow-peaks disappear from sight, everything becomes monotonous and lonely.

The next day we rode into the post-town of Gyangtze, the third city of Tibet. The city contains a large Buḍḍhist Temple, Pankhor Choeten, inhabited by fifteen hundred priests, and in it was living the chief financial agent of the Lama Government, who was married to the niece of the old nun who once lived with me in the Minister’s residence. As he was an old and intimate friend of mine, I ventured to call upon him and was received with great joy. His residence, Serchok, was a large building on the outskirts of the grounds of the great Temple, and my friend was very urgent that I should spend some ten or twenty days with him. This I declined, on the ground that I was going on a pilgrimage; but as I was anxious to see the Temple, and as moreover it was absolutely necessary to provide oneself with all necessaries of life before attempting the trip across the mountains, I determined to stay for one or two days at least.

The temple is very large, and the tower is the largest in Tibet. The number of priests is comparatively small, but the monastery is about one-half the size of the Sera convent. Priests of the New Sect predominate, but those of the Old Sect are allowed to reside there, as are also the Sakya and Karma priests. I was shown a great number[612] of sacred articles preserved in the Temple, and then returned to my friend’s residence.

Gyangtze is a good emporium for trade. A large market is held every morning outside the gate of the great temple, and people flock in from the whole neighborhood to buy and sell. There are many shops, stalls, and booths in which goods of all kinds are exposed for sale—vegetables, meat, flower, milk, butter, cotton and articles to tempt the fancy of the buyers. Also wool and yak’s tails, on their road from the table-lands of the north-west to India, are brought here in transit, and are distributed among the merchants who come so far to obtain them.

After stopping one night in the temple, we started on June 1st, 1902, at five o’clock. By the kindness of my host, a horse was lent to me for five days, and so I passed through the town of Gyangtze, crossed the river Tsangchu, and gradually proceeded southward to the place where the nunnery of Nening stands. I was told that in this nunnery there was a living goddess called Dolma in Tibetan, only seven years of age. I did not however see her. After taking dinner at the house opposite the temple, we hurried on for about twenty-five miles, and came to the native village of my luggage-carrier Tenba. That night we lodged in a small temple where his brother was living, and my man and he had a good carouse that night.

“Your master’s complexion is unusually fair,” said his brother, “and differs little from that of Mongolians. Is he not a European?”

“No, no,” said my servant, eagerly trying to dispel his brother’s suspicion, “he is an honorable physician in Sera.”

“I know the physician in Sera,” answered his brother, entirely forgetting that I was in the next room; “but he is a doubtful sort of man, one that brings the dead back to[613] life. No man can do such things unless he is a European. Be careful, my good brother, that you come to no harm.”

“That is not so,” pleaded the other emphatically, relating what he had heard from the owner of Thien-ho-thang, “he is a Chinaman, an intimate friend of the owner of Thien-ho-thang.”

I pretended not to have heard the last night’s talk between the brothers, and early the next morning I left the house, and as we were at the point of departure the brother whispered something in my man’s ear. Walking toward the mountain south of us for about seven miles, we came to the post-station of Kangma. While we were resting, twelve or thirteen pack-horses led by a Chinaman, two of them with my baggage, came towards us in great haste. It seemed to me that the Chinese did not know the baggage was mine, and I was glad to see that it was on the way to Darjeeling.

The sight of my baggage may have increased Tenba’s suspicion. When it was first packed in Thien-ho-thang, he thought it was going to be left in the care of the drug-store, but now, to his surprise, he found it was going off somewhere. He shut his mouth, hung his head thoughtfully, and followed after me for a long while, till at last he suddenly broke the silence.

“As we are still some five or six days’ journey from the Phari Challenge Gate,” he suggested eagerly, yet with some hesitation, “would it not be better for us to take the other road? They are so very strict with their enquiries at the gate that it will be hard for you to get a proper passport, without a witness who can prove that you are only going on a short trip to India and that you will soon be back. Such a witness must be taken from the village itself, and it requires quite a lot of money to get one. You will also have to do some bribing to get a passport, and I very much doubt whether you have money[614] enough for the purpose. There is another way where I can get you through for about half the money required at Phari, and if you will entrust the matter to me I will take you to it. We must go by the secret path to Khamburong, from which point it will be easy to get into India; but it is a difficult road, and not altogether free from wild animals. If you are afraid of it, there is another route, through Bhūtān, though, to be sure, it is infested with highwaymen. Still, I dare say you will get through unmolested, if you conceal your luggage and wear old clothes. It is for you to choose.”

“Do you mean to tell me,” I replied, “that I had better take some other route than that of Phari on the ground of expense?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Tenba; “it is nonsense to throw away money like that.”

“I don’t know how much money it will require,” I replied deliberately, “but it is folly to risk one’s life unnecessarily. If we go by the secret path or through Bhūṭān the chances are nine to one that we lose our lives. It is better to lose money than one’s life. So don’t dream of going by a dangerous road, for there is no need for it. I am not without money; how much do you want? I promised to give you seven yen fifty sen monthly, and I intend to give you a handsome present as well for the work you undertake to do for me, but I shall not give you anything unless you stick to your bargain.”

The whole of this suggestion originated, I am sure, from his brother’s parting whisper, and I was glad to be able to dispel his suspicions, at least in some degree. Had I acted upon his suggestions, and given him the money he asked for to take me round by the secret path, his suspicions as to the shadiness of my character would have been confirmed, and he would only have waited for me to fall asleep to steal my luggage. It is impossible to trust oneself entirely[615] to Tibetans, for honesty is observed only among people who are well-known to one another, and only so long as actions are done before the public gaze. Social restraints are no sooner removed than the Tibetan is ready for any crime or enormity. One has to keep one’s eyes constantly open in travelling with such people.

After a pleasant walk of about five miles along the mountain ridge, we arrived at the village of Salu, where we stopped. We left at one o’clock the next morning (June 8th), much to the disgust of Tenba, who was again horribly afraid of the journey through the dark, and proceeded southward towards the mountains. More accurately, we were going to the south-west, and after proceeding for some seven and a half miles, reached a high plain. Eleven miles further, we came to a small lake with a river flowing to it. We kept along the east bank of the river for another three and a half miles, which brought us to Lake Lham tso, a sheet of water connected with the lower lake by the river. We could reach Phari by going round the lake on either side; but we chose to go along the left or eastern side.

From this point the snowy peaks of the Himālayas look like a row of beautiful maidens sitting in a line on a bench, and wearing snow-white bonnets. They are not very high, but there are great numbers of peaks, the lower slopes of which are covered in summer with grass, which would I believe make excellent pasture, especially along the borders of the lake where grass is profuse. We skirted the shores of the lake for about twenty miles and at last reached the village of Lham-maye, on a beautiful summer evening with the crescent moon shining faintly above us. It reminded me of home.


We stopped for the night in a large stone house, from which we had a view towards the south over a great mountain known in Tibetan as Chomo-Lhari (the mountain[617] of the Mother Goddess). There are many mountains of this name in Tibet, where nearly every snowy peak is accounted sacred to the deity and is called by her name. Some say that there are twenty-one Chomo-Lhari in Tibet, some give the number as thirty-two; but as nearly every large mountain goes by that name, the number must be far greater. This particular Chomo-Lhari sits, like the Buḍḍhist deity Vairochana, with an air of great solemnity in one corner of the plain, with its head in the clouds; while the snowy peaks which range themselves on either side of it, embracing the lake as it were with their gigantic masses, look like the Boḍhisaṭṭva Avalokiṭeshvara (representative of the great Mercy of Buḍḍha) and Boḍhisaṭṭva Manjushrī (representative of the great knowledge of Buḍḍha) offering before the great Buḍḍha Vairochana a sacrifice of silent praise. The whole scene seemed to me like a picture of the Buḍḍhist Heaven.

On this plateau, as on the great north-western plain of Tibet, neither wheat nor barley will grow, and the district is fit only for pasturage, and that only during the summer months. Lake Lham tso abounds in fish of all kinds, from seven to twelve inches in length, and it is much frequented during the summer by fishermen who catch and dry the fish for winter consumption. During the winter, when fishing is impossible, they take to begging, and so the population around the Lake consists mainly of people who are half fishermen and half beggars.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:37 am

CHAPTER LXXXIV. Five Gates to Pass.

On June 9th we were as usual early on horseback, and on our road towards the south. Tenba seemed to fall back into his old suspicious mood. We were due to reach the first Challenge Gate on the following morning, and he possibly feared that if anything leaked out he would be arrested and put into jail. So he began his attacks on me again.

“The other day,” he said, “you said that there was no need for us to take the secret path, but there you were wrong. It is not nearly such difficult travelling as you suppose. I have been over it twice myself, and the wild beasts can always be scared away by lighting fires. The officers at Phari are, as I have told you, both strict and extortionate. Fourteen or fifteen yen ought to be enough, but you may have to pay thirty or even fifty. You will be detained for three or four days at the very least, possibly for a week. If you are anxious to get on quickly you had better take the secret path. Why waste money and time?”

“Well,” I replied, “if the officials want to bleed me, I suppose they must. I have no objection to being bled. It will be one way of making an offering to the Dalai Lama.”

Again my feigned nonchalance cleared his mind of doubt, though it surprised him not a little. But a short time later a most strange and weird thing took place. We had gone some five miles further, when suddenly a band of ill-favored savage-looking men, four in number, stood in my path, made a profound bow, and begged me to do them a favor.

“We are on our way from the north,” they said in excited tones, “and we were taking salt to sell at Phari. Last night, while our watchmen were dozing, some robbers came up and drove off forty-five of our yaks. We do not know whether they were Tibetans or Bhūṭānese, but we intend to pursue them whoever they are, and we desire you to find out by divination which way they have gone.”

They had mistaken me for a soothsaying Tibetan priest, and there was nothing for me but to act up to the rôle. So I struck an attitude such as I had seen the native diviners assume, and said solemnly and with decision: “Go towards the north, as quickly as you can: it may be that you will catch them before evening.”

So they hurried off with great joy, leaving us to proceed on our journey to the village of Lham tso on the slope of Mount Chomo-Lhari. It is a poor village, the soil of which is said to produce nothing that is eatable, and the inhabitants are generally unable to pay taxes.

Bhūṭān is an independent country under the nominal rule of a King, whose power, however, does not go far over the various tribes within his Kingdom. Each tribe pays a tribute to Tibet, directly, and not through the King’s Government, and in return for the tribute receives a present from the Tibetan authorities, so that it is really an exchange of presents rather than a payment of tribute.

We were now not very far from the first Challenge Gate. I had had to tell Tenba repeatedly to stick to the public road, but I was obliged to have recourse to religious meditation before I could get him to act in accordance with my wishes.

Fortunately for my authority the men who had lost the yaks on the previous day came up to us. They had recovered every one of their lost animals, and had come to[620] express their gratitude and to make me a present of two tankas and a kata. This incident impressed my servant tremendously. He was now quite sure that I was a man gifted with extraordinary powers, and was more willing to acquiesce in my decision. That evening I recited the Holy Texts until all had fallen asleep. I myself went into a religious meditation-trance, by the light of which I decided to go by the public road.

Travellers taking this road are subjected to a first and very strict examination at the first gate-house at Phari. The first requisite is a witness, who for a consideration swears that the traveller is going into India on business for a short time, intending to come back. Then a little palm-oil procures the passport, armed with which he goes on to the second gate at Chumbi Samba. Here he produces the passport and goes on to the third gate at Pimbithang, where he is examined carefully by Chinese officials. The fourth gate is at Tomo Rinchen-gang at which the traveller receives a written certificate, which he has to show on reaching the great gate of Nyatong Castle. Here he has to do much bribery, and is strictly cross-examined. If he comes through the ordeal, he receives another paper which he has to take back to the fourth gate to be countersigned and viséd. At the fourth gate he gets some more papers which he has to take to the Chinese officer at Pimbithang, from whom he receives another document written in Chinese, which, together with the document received at the fourth gate, must be taken once more to the gate house at Nyatong Castle. At length, on the production of all these documents, he is allowed to pass through the castle gate into the village of Nyatong. Here he crosses a small bridge on the other side of which are some Chinese sentinels, the commander of these Chinese troops receiving from him the certificate which he has received at the third gate. The document from the fourth gate he takes with[621] him to his destination: its production on his return journey will enable him once more to be admitted to the sacred soil of Tibet.

Between Phari and Nyatong I came across a great number of friends and acquaintances—some of them were chance acquaintances, others who had known me at Darjeeling. There was a lady missionary, Miss Annie R. Taylor, who was living with her servants near the Nyatong Gate, and there were some ill-natured Tibetans who knew me so well that I was obliged to keep my eye constantly open. I might, I felt, have the good fortune to get into the gate-house, but whether I would come out again was a more difficult problem. I could hardly expect to get through without meeting any of my friends. If I were detained for any length of time at Phari, there was the danger that I might be arrested by messengers from Lhasa, though I knew that ten days must elapse before my absence from that city would be detected. The period from April 20 to April 30 (Tibetan style) is a period of confusion and bustle in Lhasa, and during that period it was almost impossible that I should be missed. The conclusion of the Panchen Lama’s rites would leave the officials with leisure on their hands: then my absence would be noted, and in the end they would send messengers after me.

The day on which I held my meditation was May 3, according to the Tibetan calendar, and I concluded therefore that two or three days more must elapse before my pursuers could reach me. But a delay of four or five days at Phari might be a very critical question for me, and it was just possible that while we were kept cooling our heels in the last of the gate-houses, the Government messengers might arrive, and all our labour be lost. Yet it was very strange that, in spite of all the difficulties of the way, it had been revealed to me in my meditation that the public road was the one I ought to take.

I had thought that the danger of the two roads was about equal; but I thought that I would rather be arrested on the public road and possibly be treated with violence, than fall among wild beasts or robbers on the secret path. I had moreover on several occasions tried the method of religious meditation, and always with success. I determined therefore to follow the path that had been revealed to me.

That night, I slept but very little, in a sitting position, and early the next morning I started off on horseback towards the great snowy peak of Chomo-Lhari. By going round the side of the mountain, and gradually proceeding south, after leaving lake Lham tso, we at last saw far to the east and south, the great peak towering up above the clouds almost like a snowy image of sitting Ḍharma. It was summer; yet the weather was so exceedingly cold that no plants could grow there, except lichens of flattened kinds. By dint of whipping my horse all the time, I tried very hard to reach Phari on that day; but as my servant walked on foot and could not keep up with me, it was quite dark when we came to the village of Chu-kya. It is on a very high plateau, and the climate is exceedingly cold. The land here is not only high, but large snow mountains stand round it on both sides in one continuous row and it has been said to be the bleakest and most barren wilderness in the Tsang district. At night unless dried yak dung can be collected, piled up and burned continually, the cold is almost intolerable. Notwithstanding that it was early summer, it was colder than our most rigorous winter in Japan: indeed it is the coldest, wildest, most barren place between Lhasa and Darjeeling. The next morning, June 11th, we took tea and started at four o’clock, going about five miles south along the river flowing through the wilderness. I came to the Phari Zong just at sunrise.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:38 am

CHAPTER LXXXV. The First Challenge Gate.

Phari is a large castle standing on a hill, in form like the Dalai Lama’s palace in Lhasa, but not so elegant. All the houses standing at the foot of it looked somewhat black. Phari is more or less of a prosperous town, situated on the plain between the snow-mountains; and as all the commodities imported from Darjeeling and Calcutta or Bombay come to this town, there is a custom-house for levying taxes. The customs duties for imported goods amount to one-tenth, two-tenths, sometimes even four-tenths of the original cost according to their nature. Most of the duties are paid in kind; but in cases where this is impossible, they are paid in money after the value has been reduced to the corresponding silver coins.

As we went through the town we saw by the side of it a large pond. On the road between the pond and the castle there were watchmen, who asked me where I was going to lodge. As I did not know where to stop, I requested them to find me a very good house, and when they saw my dress (which was suitable for a man of high position) they mistook me for a priest belonging to the nobility, and led me to a very good lodging-house.

There are no real inns or hotels in Tibet; what they call inns or hotels being no better than our Japanese Kichin-yado.

“Where are you going, Sir?” asked the inn-keeper respectfully, thinking that I was a high priest.

“I am going to Calcutta,” replied I; “and if circumstance allow me to worship at Buḍḍhagayā, I will do so; but as I have some pressing business, I am not sure whether I can or not.”

“What is your service, Sir?” he asked again.

“My service,” said I: “I have no need to tell it.”

“Where do you come from, my noble priest?” said he, intending from my reply to conjecture my station in life.

“From Lhasa,” replied I.

“Which part of Lhasa, Sir?”

“From the Sera temple.”

“I see,” said he, with sparkling eyes, believing that he had found out my secret; “you are an incarnation of the Lama.”

Before I could say “no,” my servant, who was sitting near me, spoke to him instantly: “The Dalai Lama’s” ... but before he could say more I stopped him with angry looks: “You must not talk nonsense; for it is no use.”

“Then, what is your station in life, Sir,” he asked me again, thinking that it is very strange that I should conceal my social position, “are you His Holiness’s chaplain?” “No” said I, “I am simply living in Sera and nothing else.”

The more he wanted to know about me, the more I tried to keep him in the dark, and I told him I could not comply with his desire.

“No, that is not good,” said the inn-keeper. “This is a very troublesome place; your condition must be thoroughly investigated, your dwelling and what position you hold, and all doubtful points must be verified. You must also produce a witness that though you are going to India you are sure to return here again. To get a witness is not an easy task; and to do this, I must first hear everything about you.”

“If that is so,” said I, “I shall make myself clear. I am a common priest from Sera studying dialects in the university department.”

“Your looks belie you,” said he. “From your circumstance and clothes, I conjecture that you are either a high clergyman, or an incarnation of the Lama.”

“You may take me for such,” said I, “entirely at your own convenience; but I am not what you think. The truth of what I say will be plain if you enquire about me at my convent.”

“Really?” said the inn-keeper, and withdrew, followed by the servant; the house was small, and their conversation in the room opposite could be distinctly heard.

“Your master has told me this and that,” said the inn-keeper, “yet I want to know his true status, otherwise it will be impossible for him to get out of this place for ten or twenty days.”

“But,” replied the servant, “I cannot tell you without making him angry.”

“In that case I shall do nothing more,” said the inn-keeper, “for a month.”

“He is in great haste,” replied the servant, “and he seems to have some pressing business. We have travelled the whole night through.”

“Is it not strange,” said the inn-keeper, talking very quickly, “that he should travel the whole night through? I don’t know what kind of business he has; but at any rate he is not a common priest; who is he?”

“Well then, I will tell you,” replied the servant, “if you will keep the secret, and not say you have heard it from me. He is, in truth, the physician of Sera.”

“Indeed;” said the host, “is he the physician who restores the dead to life?”

“Yes, he is,” replied the servant. “I am not quite certain, but according to the popular rumor, he went to the Grand Lama, and has been, I believe, appointed Court Physician. Properly speaking, I am not the servant that always attends on him. To confess the truth, as I came into his service only a little while before our departure, through the introduction of a drug-store keeper with whom I am acquainted. I don’t know my master very[626] well; but at any rate, his influence as a physician in Lhasa is immense.”

“Well then,” said the inn-keeper, “by as quick processes as possible, I must get him a passport within four or five days.”

“It will be most embarrassing, if you cannot,” replied my servant.

“By the way,” said the inn-keeper, with great earnestness, “talking about the physician, I recall that, among my relatives, there is a most distressing case. Would it not be possible for him to examine the patient?”

Said my servant, with an air of disgust, “He never treats a patient. He is obstinate and stiff-necked. On our way here if he had treated patients he would easily have made money, but notwithstanding my urgency, he always refused to do so.”

“Would you not be so kind,” said the inn-keeper, requesting him eagerly, “as to intercede with him for me?”

“As the inn-keeper,” said the servant, coming into my room somewhat perplexed, “was enquiring about your person in various ways, I made a slip of the tongue, and told him that you were a physician. Since I have been told that there are many patients in this town, I request you to examine them during our detention here for four or five days.”

“If I were to act as you ask me,” answered I, with more or less anger in my voice, “and examine patients, there would be no end to it; it is impossible for me to see patients, as it would take too much time.”

“As it is a means to deliver your person from death,” said the servant, “I request you by all means to accept the suggestion.”

I ended by giving my consent, but with an air of great reluctance. The inn-keeper was delighted and hurried away;[627] in a short time he returned with another man, who took me to a black-looking house. All the houses here look black; the reason is that they are made of turf cut up, like bricks, into sections of fourteen inches in length, seven inches in breadth, and three inches in thickness, dried and consolidated. It is very durable though not as hard as brick, and houses constructed of this material only are liable to be blown down by the wind. In order to protect them from falling, posts are inserted here and there. With the exception of one stone edifice, nearly all the buildings here are made of this material. It seems to me that, as the mountains are very far off and consequently great expense is required for the transportation of stone, turf is selected as the only material for the construction of houses. With the exception of one or two houses, all are only one storey high, quite the reverse of what I found at Lhasa. In the case of a two-storied building, only the lower storey was made of piled stones, and the upper one of turf: this is owing to the danger of the second storey coming down. I was conducted to such a two-storied house, where I only felt the pulse of the patient, who after a little while felt quite well again. The patient was the daughter of the house, and her disease, as in the first stage of either nervous trouble or consumption, was a feeling of melancholy, which kept her always in her room. Taking out a little quantity of medicine I gave it to her and also suggested to her to go to the temple to worship the Boḍhisaṭṭva Avalokiṭeshvara day and night, and then went back to my lodging. After a little while, the inn-keeper came to my room to express his thanks for the trouble I had taken with the patient, who had greatly improved.

“It is very hard here,” said he in answering to my request for a witness for the passport I wanted. “What do you intend to do, Sir?”

“I am greatly perplexed about it;” answered I, “but anyhow I must get someone as my witness. I am ready to pay a proper amount of remuneration for it.”

“The Government forbids us,” he said, “to act as witnesses for others, so I shall take you to a person who may act as your witness, and tell him the circumstances. If he consents you need have no fear of being made to pay an improper amount of money.”

He then took me to the house of a man who was ready to become my witness. This man was, contrary to my expectation, not a bad man; but it is customary for a Tibetan to extort money from anyone who wears good clothes. Notwithstanding my forbidding my companions to talk of my position and rank in Tibet, he told the other person that I was the venerable physician of Sera, and the Dalai Lama’s physician. As soon as he heard this, he instantly consented to become my witness.

“No remuneration is required,” said the man, “except a rupee and a half, necessary for the process. It may not be possible to get a passport at once. Whether the conference can be held to-morrow or the day after to-morrow, is not known; yet, I shall request them to hold it as quickly as possible. In that case, you may leave here within four or five days; but, as it will cause delay if a written petition is not presented to-day, I shall take you to the official at once.”

The gate-house is constructed among the houses of the common people at the foot of the castle. There was no room in it for holding a conference. There were fourteen or fifteen officials; but I could not tell whether there were any superior officials there or not. In Tibet, delay is the rule, and even though all the officials are present they never hold a conference, and sometimes will delay matters for four, five or even ten days. This is done merely to extort as much money as possible; the passport is given[629] sooner or later according to the amount of the bribe. On the advice of my witness, I handed in my written petition to the most dignified-looking man among the officials.

“Of course to-day,” said he, “no conference can be held; about the day after to-morrow we shall open the conference; and on that occasion I shall give you an answer any way. You need not come here; send the inn-keeper to hear the result of our conference.” The meaning was that, if I should send the inn-keeper on the appointed day, he would tell him that a passport could not be given on that day, but that if I offered so much money, it would be given within five days. Even this is the result of much bribery, as it would otherwise take eight or ten days to get it.

“As I have urgent business,” said I, “will it not be possible, by special permission, to obtain it to-day?”

“I don’t know,” replied the official, “what kind of business you have, but there is no precedent for giving a passport on the day of arrival. We can’t deliver one now; you had better go home.”

As the inn-keeper and the father of the daughter who received my treatment were with me, they invited the official apart and told him that I was the court-physician.

“On what business,” said the official, coming to me again, and with a great surprise, “are you going to India?”

“On some urgent business,” replied I. “Is it not possible for you to have the conference to-morrow?”

I could see that though I waited till the day after to-morrow, it would be quite impossible to get the passport, so I devised a scheme of my own to suit my purpose.

“If I wait till to-morrow,” said I in great excitement, “give me a note mentioning that though I arrived here on this date there was no time to open the conference, and you detained me here three days.”

“No such precedent,” said the chief official.

“I am not at all concerned about that,” said I; “I must get a note anyhow showing the cause of my detention here. If you want to know my position and my secret business, you may find it out by proper processes from the Commissioner of Foreign Affairs in Lhasa.”

“What is the business in general?” asked the chief official.

“I may say this much. There is in Lhasa a patient of great eminence; I am hurrying on the road to get the medicine for him. My going to Buḍḍhagayā is only a pretext; really, I am in great haste to get to Calcutta, and shall come back as soon as I get the medicine. If I am detained here two or three days I cannot fulfil my great responsibility; and if I must stay here for several days I must get a note to explain my detention as a proof for a subsequent day.”

“Properly speaking, what is your profession?” said the official.

“At present, I cannot make it clear to you,” said I gravely, “but my going to India may reveal my profession. Besides that, as I have very important business, as I have told you again and again, I can hardly stay here even one day. Please give me a note showing that I arrived here, and handed in the written petition for a passport, and mentioning my detention for some days.”

“Dear me! I never came across such a case,” said the chief official, greatly surprised, and turning pale. “Please wait for awhile. Having heard that you are a great physician, I request you, while you are waiting, to treat a patient here; but as you are unable to stay here long, we will not detain you longer. As for the passport, I can’t decide it myself, but we will consult together and as soon as we decide the matter, we will let you know immediately.”

While I was treating the patient at his request at three o’clock I was called out and went there again.

“To-day,” said the chief official, “we have broken our ordinary rule, and considering your private circumstances, we held a special conference and decided to give you a passport at four o’clock.”

In a very short time, about four o’clock that day, I received my passport. Even Government merchants who have their passport already must go through various consultations, for the examination of goods and other business, and are detained here for at least two or three days. To my great joy, I got a passport the same day that I arrived. I might have left that night, but as there was no house on the way I was obliged to stop till the next morning.

Departing early the next day, we gradually proceeded among the south-western mountains. The snow-mountains began to project here and there, leaving between them only small portions of plateau. After going about three miles, when we reached the top of the plateau, the Phari Castle was no more to be seen. On descending we found that last night’s hail had moistened the ground very much, the snow-mountains around wore white garments, and the reflexion of the sun-light was so bright that it hurt my eyes. The temperature was exceedingly cold, and the whole scenery was lonesome and lifeless, only various kinds of short grasses growing here and there near the flowing water. The top of this plateau forms the watershed, dividing on the one side the basins that drain on to the Tibetan plain, and on the other to India.

Beyond the steep ascent, and across the slope of the snow-mountain, there is a very large stream. Its water was so clear and transparent that all the pebbles at the bottom looked like white or black gems. I quenched my thirst with a palm-full of it; it was very cold and I felt as if my hand were almost shrivelled up. As I had sent the horse back from Phari Castle, I could not cross the water on horseback. While I was hesitating about taking[632] off my shoes and crossing the cold water, my servant carried the luggage to the other side and then took me also. Although this stream did not differ in temperature from the neck-deep-stream I had often crossed in the north-western plain, I had now become accustomed to the easy and comfortable life in Lhasa, so that I felt the cold almost unbearable. In times of distress and hardship, it is not impossible to stand the severest pains and sufferings; in times of ease and comfort, even the slightest discomfort seems almost intolerable.

After crossing the brook and descending about two miles we came to the foot of a snow-mountain where, among the scanty bushes, yellow, red, purple and light-pink flowers of various kinds were growing close together almost like a spreading carpet. As I never studied botany, I do not know the names of these plants; anyhow they were very beautiful. I was attracted also by the surrounding scenery; the incessant change of the snow-mountains was almost as if a fairy riding on the clouds were rambling about here and there. As I descended step by step, the rain fell quietly; and as the bodies of the snow-mountains gradually disappeared, their snowy peaks presented a still finer aspect. Here and there on both sides of the mountain path the dewdrops on the fragrant red and yellow azaleas and other flowers looked like mountain gems arranged in rows.

Descending still lower along the mountain brook, the bounding current dashed against the rock, and its spray splashing on our feet was one of the most pleasurable sensations I ever experienced. To the unrefined Tibetans such a delightful prospect often becomes the cause of complaint. My servant grumbled at the rainy weather, and told me that, if the sun were there, he might have changed the weather for us, so as to keep my luggage dry and make our lodging easy and comfortable. No doubt it was a great trouble for[633] him, but if he had had any love of nature, it would have diminished his trouble. As most of the Tibetans are born and die on the stony plains and bald mountains, they do not understand the idea of beauty in the least. Even in pictures, they have none representing the scenery of their own country; or if they have, their pictures are imitations of the Chinese style. For that reason my servant was quite indifferent as to whether he was amongst mountains of incomparable beauty, or on a barren wilderness with yak’s excrements scattered everywhere. I had entirely forgotten the discomfort of the rainy weather and my wet clothes in the pleasure of the scenery. If I could have taken a sketch or a photograph of it for the entertainment of my countrymen, my gratification would have been almost infinite.

As I proceeded slowly, the picturesque view changed from time to time, and the rhododendrons, the famous plants of the Himālaya mountains, growing here and there among old trees and rugged rocks, opened their bright flowers with indescribable beauty. Rare flowers and curious plants were bestrewn along both sides of the roaring brooks, the water of which was perfectly transparent and as cold as snow.


“Shall I stay in this land and become a fairy in this fine scenery? If I could describe the unutterable beauty of this fairy land, how much should I gratify my parents and countrymen!” was the hearty expression of the pleasure I felt, while I was sitting on a rock and enjoying the whole scene before me. Whenever I recollect the pleasure of that hour I feel as if I had been free from the cares of the dusty world.

The rain was falling furiously, and there was no place to get shelter or to cook our food. Having heard that a little further on there was a cave near a brook, we hurried there, and kindled a fire by collecting half-decayed branches of trees soaked with rain. We made tea, and after finishing our meal gradually descended, and came to the village of Dakarpo (the village of the white rock). That day we[635] walked twenty miles. The place can hardly be called a village. It is only a small barracks, with sixteen soldiers, and one solitary house where a number of soldiers’ wives were living at the side of the barracks. A large white rock sixty yards in height stands out prominently. I did not determine its nature; but it was an exceedingly white rock partly covered with mosses and lichens.

That night I stopped in the barracks. The duty of these soldiers did not oblige them to examine the passports of travellers.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:39 am

CHAPTER LXXXVI. The Second and Third Challenge Gates.

This station serves as a place for the transmission of letters between Phari castle and the castle of Choeten Karpo; that is, a station where the letters received from one place can be handed over to the other. In Tibet, there is no more perfect plan than this for the transmission of letters. In other places, for example, by going twenty or thirty miles letters can be handed in for transmission. Even this is only for letters from the Government to the local office, and not for private correspondence. Consequently in the case of the transmission of private letters, it must be done either by some one in the house or by some hired man.

That night I was allowed to sleep in a comfortable bed. It was the first time since my departure from India that I lay on a European bed. As it was in the rainy season, the next day was also rainy; but having no necessity to stay there, in spite of my servant’s murmurs, we started at five o’clock in the morning. This time we got into a very lonely forest, where numerous trees of enormous size, requiring three or four men to embrace them, were stretching up so close together that the sun could not penetrate. Although this is a part of the Tibetan dominion, yet they could not get timber from here on account of the lack of means of transportation. All the large rivers run towards the south; and in such a country as Tibet, where there is no good means of transportation, it is natural to leave even such splendid and exhaustless forests just as they are. In this forest of about four miles in circumference, there is level ground and a river flowing from a peak of the Phari in Tibet. This river begins with a very narrow stream, but after receiving several small brooks and rivulets it[637] becomes larger and wider as it goes lower and lower down towards the plains. After walking about six miles from Dakarpo, we arrived at the castle of Choeten Karpo.

This Choeten Karpo is not mentioned in any of the works of European authors that I have read. As this castle is of very recent construction, it is possibly not known to foreigners. It is occupied by two or three hundred Chinese soldiers. It seemed that this place was not well-known to the chief local official of Darjeeling; for he enquired of me particularly, when I arrived at Darjeeling, about the castle, its condition and the number of soldiers stationed there.

“It must be well-known to you,” said I, “why should you ask me questions like that?”

“Our secret-service men cannot go there,” replied he, “it is utterly impossible for us to know anything about it.”

I am not sure whether what he said was true or not; but it is a fact that even Tibetans living in Darjeeling seem not to know of the existence of such a castle. The Tibetans are shrewd in money-saving, but at the same time they are so entirely careless that though they see the gate of a castle, they never enquire how many soldiers are stationed there, what they are doing, and for what purpose they have been provided.

There is a passage right under the castle, which I entered without meeting with any rudeness. In it there are the lodgings of the Chinese soldiers, three hundred in number. Though the town is among the mountains it is very prosperous. Some of the soldiers are engaged in hair-dressing, others are selling vermicelli and toilet articles, or making tofu (a soft cream-like substance made from bean-curd). Most of them have wives and children, and are engaged in some suitable occupation. The barrack itself is the town and the soldiers in it are moved here every half-year from Shigatze or Gyangtze. They not only receive a salary[638] from the Chinese Government, but also a sum of money from the Tibetan Government; consequently they live fairly well on their double income.

On ordering our dinner on our arrival at the barracks in this soldier-town, we were abundantly served with boiled rice and various other foods cooked in Chinese style. As the feast principally consisted of pork and yak flesh, my servant ate with gusto. I did not eat the meat, and asked for salted vegetables instead. This was the first time on the journey that I enjoyed pickles such as I had had in Japan.

The castle is strongly constructed, and there are two gates at the centre of a large stone wall which extends to the south along the side of the mountain. On the door of the gate a notice is posted up announcing the daily opening from six o’clock in the morning to the same time in the afternoon. I heard from the neighboring people that except when the gate is opened on the report of a soldier for some urgent need, the notice is observed with strict accuracy, since the people at night might be in danger of their lives from the attacks of wild animals.

We then passed a small bridge, and after ascending about half a mile, and also descending through a forest along a river, we came out on a plain of half a mile in circumference, where beautiful flowers carpeted the ground, and many horses were grazing.

After leaving the plain and passing the bridge we went about half a mile, and arrived at the bridge of Chumbi. It is a large bridge twenty-five yards long and two yards wide, having no railing. At the eastern end of it stands a gate, in front of which there is a small house where a number of soldiers keep watch. Passports have to be handed to these soldiers, and if a man is considered by them a suspicious person, he is sure to be sent back; also it is said that without offering bribes one cannot pass through safely.

As soon as I reached the gate, the soldiers asked me where I was going. As my servant had shown my passport to the chief official, he directed the inferior officials to admit me without any enquiry. This was owing to the fact that it was said in the passport that no impolite treatment was to be accorded to the bearer. I had now passed through two guard-houses without the least hindrance, and must proceed to try for the third. For the new trial I felt a great confidence arising from my strong devotion, as I had passed my first trial with success according to the revelation which I had received in religious meditation.

After descending along a river for two miles and a half we arrived at the barracks of Pimbithang, the third guard-house. This day the rain fell in abundance, and we were so tired that we stopped in a building attached to the barracks. As I heard that there was no necessity for me to be examined here on the next day, I felt I must go to Tomo-Rinchen-gang, in order to obtain a note from the chief official of the guard-house. The note from the last guard-house being taken as a proof of our respectability, we were allowed to pass through the gate of Nyatong castle guarded by Chinese; and after enquiring about and receiving a note from the chief of the castle, the fifth guard-house, I was obliged to return to Pimbithang again. As I heard at Pimbithang that a note can be given only between eleven and half-past eleven o’clock, I had to go to Tomo-Rinchen-gang early the next day; but it seemed almost impossible to finish the matter within one day; it would certainly require three or four days to do so.

If I did nothing at this crisis, I should not only be in the ordinary danger of being overtaken by a pursuer, but as the information to catch such and such a man comes direct to Nyatong and may arrive there at all hours of the night, it might easily be utterly impossible for me to accomplish my object; so I tried to devise means of escaping[640] the impending danger and avoiding trouble. Just at that time the wife of the chief of Pimbithang (a Chinese military officer) came in to receive medical treatment from me. Who brought her to me, and on account of what statement she came to me, I do not know. She was a Tibetan woman, long suffering from hysteria. She was a rare beauty, and had almost unlimited influence over her husband. Military officers are of course entrusted with power to command soldiers; yet in their families, the wives are often the officers and their husbands are ready to obey their command like private soldiers. So much I was told by a soldier, who understood that his chief officer was a greatly henpecked husband.

As she took the trouble to come to me, I examined this patient as she desired. After describing the nature of her disease and the care it needed, I gave her the medicine which seemed most suitable. It gratified her so much that she asked me to receive something as a token of thanks for my having served her. Hearing that I had no desire to take anything from her, she returned home and then came back again bringing with her something wrapped in paper, but this I refused to receive. I told her that as I was to get a passport, I had to go to Nyatong first, to get a certificate to be presented to the guard-house here.

Then I said to her:

“Will you be so kind as to secure the immediate issue of a passport from the chief officer?”

“That can be easily done,” replied she; “though my husband is strict, and never delivers a passport even in case of his own men going out except from eleven to half past eleven o’clock, I will be responsible for it.”

“That is my request,” said I, returning the present in spite of her strong objection to receive it; “and I shall see you again when I return.”

Thanking me again and again for my medical treatment, she returned home with great joy. On the morrow if things in Pimbithang should come out as smoothly and favorably as I wished, everything in Nyatong would be done easily, for the arrangements for it were now made. But I was very anxious about matters at Pimbithang, and when I asked the soldier’s wife where I stopped whether all things would come out as I hoped, I was told that in spite of her husband’s refusal they certainly would, for she had almost unlimited power over her husband.

The next day, June 14th, at three o’clock in the morning, in spite of rain, I left and walked about two miles and arrived at Tomo-Rinchen-gang. Even then day had not dawned and no one was astir, and so I rested a while, the door of every house being fast closed. Happily, the rain presently stopped, and while I stood still near a closed shop doors began to be opened here and there. I asked the people where the guard-house was, and was told that it stood at the end of the village.

The guard-house is a very poor one, having no gate, only a small room in which to keep watch. I went there just at the time when the keeper was getting out of bed.

Telling the keeper my present circumstances, I asked for a note with which I could obtain a passport from the other guard-house. The keeper grumbled out that there had been no previous example of such a request. My servant let slip that his master was a physician in Sera. As soon as the keeper heard this, he asked the servant whether his master was the famous physician of the Dalai Lama or not. When I answered him vaguely and mysteriously as most of the Tibetan gentlemen do, he believed me immediately and gave me a note more readily than I expected.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:40 am

CHAPTER LXXXVII. The Fourth and Fifth Challenge Gates.

Leaving the village and walking about a mile, I climbed up step by step alongside a broad river among the south-western mountains. There were no tall trees, only here and there some small dwarf specimens and wheat growing in poor soil. Going on about a mile farther there is a castle which is the largest and last one of the three. The number of soldiers stationed in this castle is two hundred; whereas in Pimbithang and Choeten Karpo the number is respectively one hundred and two hundred, altogether making five hundred in number. It is said that about fifty soldiers are sometimes sent to Pimbithang. In this soldier’s town, as in the case of Choeten Karpo and Pimbithang, many of the men are engaged in various trades. Passing through the town, there is a very large gate by the side of which two soldiers were watching. I showed the note to them, and after fixing a seal on it, they readily allowed me to pass through. Walking a little further from the gate I saw the fifth guard-house where lay the greatest danger to my undertaking.

The reason why it was specially dangerous to me was the number of people who knew me. Of course there was no man who would act as my enemy, but as most of the Tibetans are shrewd money-savers, it was not certain that those who knew me would not tell my nationality to the Tibetan officials and thereby make a little money. There had been two English people there; one of whom was Miss Taylor, a missionary, who, as I said before, tried to get into Tibet from China. Proceeding as far as Nakchukha from which the distance to Lhasa is ten days’ journey by horse, and fifteen or twenty days’ journey by[643] walking, she was not allowed to go any further. Every one can go to Nakchukha, which forms the boundary between China and Tibet, but it is hard to step into the Dalai Lama’s dominion. Miss Taylor returned with the object of converting the Tibetan people, and now lives at the town of Nyatong, which by some is called Yatung.

As it is the boundary between British India and Tibet, there are many Tibetans and British officials there. Among those I knew very well were the Englishmen and their Secretaries hired by the Chinese Government to examine both import and export goods; besides there are three or four Tibetans from Darjeeling. If I had been detected by these men, there was no way of escape for me; but committing myself to the will of Buḍḍha, I proceeded rapidly onwards with firm steps. There were about ten houses; the large and elegant ones were occupied by officials, missionaries, or Chinese.

Opposite the house of the missionary stands the mansion of a man known by the official name Chyi Kyab (Superior), his personal name being Sardar Dargye. Sardar means coolie-leader, Dargye his personal name. In Darjeeling there are ḍanḍiwala or mountain palanquin carriers, so-called from the rudest and simplest form of palanquin used in mountain travel, which consists essentially of a basket carried by means of a pole. This man was originally the chief of these coolies, and the custom of this rascal was to deceive and threaten men and extort money by violence. As I heard that all in Darjeeling had suffered from his cruel treatment and reproached him vigorously, he must be a very bad man. Now I had to meet this man.

This upstart, who had been a coolie chief, being in Tibet appointed to high rank by the Dalai Lama, is invested with such great power and influence that he wears a hat adorned with coral beads. Like all upstarts, his speech is more arrogant than that of a Minister President in Lhasa,[644] and it was thought almost certain that if I should call at his mansion to see him, I should be driven out from his gate. Just in front of his house stood an elegant and well arranged house containing various chambers of convenient sizes, inhabited by Europeans. In it many servants were busily engaged in working here and there. Notwithstanding there were some among them who knew me, I passed by without seeing them. We went to Dargye’s mansion, but we were not allowed to go in. However one man came out, and looked at me awhile.

“Who is he?” asked the man from my servant in a whisper.

No sooner did the servant utter the words: “He is the physician of Sera,” than “Oh!” said the man, “is he the famous physician of Sera? Some say he is coming to this place.”

“There is an urgent call for my master,” said the servant, “we can’t lose even a day’s time. At Phari Castle we received our passport on the day of our arrival; give us the note as quickly as possible.”

As I was thinking that the servant for the most part had done well, the man said “Step this way,” and happily we were received.

The supervisor has two wives: one he married when he was coolie-chief, and the other after appointment as a supervisor.

Telling him the various circumstances of my journey, I requested him to give me a note allowing me to pass out of the guard-house.

“Tell me the whole truth of your business,” said the supervisor gravely.

“I must go to Calcutta on secret business,” said I sternly, “concerning the inner chamber of the Dalai Lama’s palace. It is so urgent that if possible I wish to return within twenty days; but if you compel me to[645] spend more time on the way, you must give me a certificate verifying my excuse to show when I return to Lhasa.”

“It is my duty,” persisted he, “I must hear the nature of the secret business.”

“Have you the right to hear,” said I gravely and with dignity, “the secret of the Prime Minister? Furthermore, have you the right to hear the secret which no one knows but the Dalai Lama? If you compel me positively, I shall tell you the secret of my business; but you must give me a certificate signed and sealed with the chief’s stamp, and assume the responsibility for my having told the secret. If you do so and keep all men at a distance, I shall lay open before you the whole of the Dalai Lama’s secret.”

“If it be so,” said he, giving me a note addressed to Tomo-Rinchen-gang, “I shall not ask to hear it. As it is a service of such great importance that it is impossible to detain you even a day, I shall arrange to get the passport as quickly as possible. I shall write a note which you may send by your servant to Tomo-Rinchen-gang. You will receive two copies of the note, which again must be taken to the Chinese military officer at Pimbithang to get a copy of the note there. By showing the one received from Pimbithang, you may pass this guard-house without any trouble.”


As I previously said, one of the two copies of notes obtained from Tomo-Rinchen-gang is written in Chinese, and the other in Tibetan. The one written in Chinese is to be taken to Pimbithang, the third guard-house, and handed in as a certificate to the Chinese military officer there; while the other one, as shown in the picture, written in Tibetan letters, is my return certificate which, when I re-enter, must be handed to the supervisor of the fifth guard-house, serving as a testimonial for the purpose of receiving a new passport there. But as I went out of[646] Tibet and have not yet returned, this return certificate remains in my hands as a memento.

To get a note from the supervisor Dargye was not an easy task. This man has a bad reputation as a taker of bribes. His personal appearance is disgusting. When I told him that I had secret business from the Dalai Lama, he instantly prostrated himself and bowed low again and again. I was surprised at his entire change of manner; but as I believe that, in every country, those who are haughty to their inferiors are also servile to their superiors and are usually hateful knaves, my feeling was only deepened by the sudden change.
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Re: Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Postby admin » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:41 am

CHAPTER LXXXVIII. The Final Gate Passed.

I handed over to my servant the note received from the supervisor of the fifth guard-house.

“Take the note to Tomo-Rinchen-gang,” said I to the servant privately; “you must get two notes there instead; but in Pimbithang, if it requires a long time to get one, go to the wife of the Chinese military officer, and rely on her; she will manage the matter exactly as we want.”

“That he gave it so soon,” said he, somewhat surprised, “was almost like a dream. If you do not go with me, I shall never get consent from Tomo-Rinchen-gang.”

“I thought so too,” said I, “but when I told the supervisor so, he told me that as everything is mentioned in this note, it is certain that the Chief of Tomo-Rinchen-gang will write a note to be sent to Pimbithang. He also said that I need not go there but should send the servant there, and myself wait here.”

The servant then, after receiving from me a note stamped with the seal of the supervisor, went back to Tomo-Rinchen-gang as fast as he could. On arriving there, he presented the note to the chief, and waited for a while. As the special instruction from the supervisor was mentioned on it, he at once made the two copies and gave them to the servant, who took them, and again went back two miles further to Pimbithang, to receive one written in Chinese characters.

As the time was about half past one when the servant arrived there, the keeper declined to give him a note. Consequently, according to my instructions, he went to the house of the Chinese military officer and requested his[648] wife to obtain the immediate delivery of the note he needed. She, without any hesitation, ran to the guard-house to see her husband, and told him to give it at once. When he told her that it was too late to give one and that he must wait till the next day, she lost her temper and exposed the true character of a Tibetan woman. Whereupon, the henpecked husband yielded to her demands and gave a note to the servant, who came back with it about four o’clock in the afternoon.

Rain was falling that day, and though I had thought of stopping a night there, it was better for us to depart if possible. If we left there and walked about half a day we should enter British India.

“To-day is rainy and walking is hard,” said the supervisor, “and furthermore, the distance from here to Nakthang is somewhat great, there being no inn on the way. But if you walk for about eight miles, there is one house; and it would be a good plan for you to stop there to-night. By doing so, to-morrow you may easily go to Nakthang; but if not, even if you start from here at three o’clock in the morning, it would be impossible to get there; I advise you therefore, though it is troublesome, to start from here to-day, since you have very important business to perform.”

“I am very tired to-day,” said I, “so I should like to stop here to-night. Is it possible for me to arrive at Nakthang if I leave to-morrow?”

“It is utterly impossible,” replied the supervisor somewhat gravely.

“How about going there?” asked I of the servant.

“It is almost impossible for me to walk,” replied the servant, who was weary and exhausted.

“As the servant of a master who has urgent business,” said the supervisor, in a somewhat scolding tone of voice, “it is extremely rude and impolite to say it is impossible to go.”

“Pardon me,” replied the servant shrinking almost like a rat among cats, “you are right, Sir.”

Fearing that to stay that night might perhaps become the source of subsequent evils, I bade farewell to the supervisor and departed.


The Nyatong castle, as shown in the picture, is strong and solid in structure, yet also magnificent in appearance. Leaving the post-town Nyatong and descending a little there is a river across which is a bridge two yards in width. After passing the small bridge and going on a little, there is a solitary house near which are stationed a number of[650] Chinese soldiers. I handed over the passport written in Chinese, which I had received at Pimbithang. One of the soldiers examined it carefully and permitted us to pass through. As we gradually ascended the mountain, the rain fell furiously and the ascent became very steep. The road hereabouts is pretty good, though the place forms the boundary of Tibet, and does not belong to the British dominion. Most Englishmen who are at present in Nyatong live on land rented from Tibet.

Ascending about two miles up the steep slope thickly grown with trees, it became dark, and then the servant commenced to complain.

“There are a great many lodging houses,” he grumbled “besides the supervisor’s. Can we not lodge somewhere to get out of such rain? I can’t move a step on account of the heavy luggage.”

“I will carry half of your burden,” said I, somewhat moved by his difficulties. I consoled him with great trouble and made him move on till eight o’clock in the evening; even then the distance to the solitary house was two miles more and he told me that he was unable to move even a step. Just at that point a small tent was pitched, and someone had a fire inside. Around the tent many mules were grazing, for mules are used by the people of Tomo-Rinchen-gang to convey wool to Kalenpong. I stepped into the tent and asked the man inside to lodge us. He declined my request, saying that the five of his party could hardly sleep in the small tent and no space was left for us too. But as my servant sat down on the ground and would not move, we at last succeeded in getting into the small tent.

It was so small in extent that we could not lie down and I was obliged to sit upright the whole night. While thus meditating I was almost overwhelmed by my feelings.

To pass through that succession of five strict and vigilant guard-houses in only three days must have been[651] miraculous. Even a Tibetan merchant accustomed to travel through there many times is obliged to spend at least seven or eight days in passing them. In spite of the rain, too, to pass through them safely in three days and come to that place—it seemed indeed miraculous. No chief of any guard-house had had any suspicion about me; even that shrewd and penetrating supervisor who had lived in India for twenty years of toil and hardship, not only did not suspect my mind and motive, but refrained from argument, bowed his head low, and sent me out the same day I arrived. This must have been entirely owing to the grace of the protection of our Holy Lord Buḍḍha; shedding tears of gratitude on account of it, I read the sacred books and passed the whole night without sleeping.
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