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- BEASTS MEN AND GODS - 40/45 -
of the swastika in the chest in the private study of the Bogdo.
The person of His Holiness is surrounded by five thousand Lamas. They are divided into many ranks from simple servants to the "Councillors of God," of which latter the Government consists. Among these Councillors are all the four Khans of Mongolia and the five highest Princes.
Of all the Lamas there are three classes of peculiar interest, about which the Living Buddha himself told me when I visited him with Djam Bolon.
"The God" sorrowfully mourned over the demoralized and sumptuous life led by the Lamas which decreased rapidly the number of fortune tellers and clairvoyants among their ranks, saying of it:
"If the Jahantsi and Narabanchi monasteries had not preserved their strict regime and rules, Ta Kure would have been left without prophets and fortune tellers. Barun Abaga Nar, Dorchiul-Jurdok and the other holy Lamas who had the power of seeing that which is hidden from the sight of the common people have gone with the blessing of the gods."
This class of Lamas is a very important one, because every important personage visiting the monasteries at Urga is shown to the Lama Tzuren or fortune teller without the knowledge of the visitor for the study of his destiny and fate, which are then communicated to the Bogdo Hutuktu, so that with these facts in his possession the Bogdo knows in what way to treat his guest and what policy to follow toward him. The Tzurens are mostly old men, skinny, exhausted and severe ascetics. But I have met some who were young, almost boys. They were the Hubilgan, "incarnate gods," the future Hutuktus and Gheghens of the various Mongolian monasteries.
The second class is the doctors or "Ta Lama." They observe the actions of plants and certain products from animals upon people, preserve Tibetan medicines and cures, and study anatomy very carefully but without making use of vivisection and the scalpel. They are skilful bone setters, masseurs and great connoisseurs of hypnotism and animal magnetism.
The third class is the highest rank of doctors, consisting chiefly of Tibetans and Kalmucks--poisoners. They may be said to be "doctors of political medicine." They live by themselves, apart from any associates, and are the great silent weapon in the hands of the Living Buddha. I was informed that a large portion of them are dumb. I saw one such doctor,--the very person who poisoned the Chinese physician sent by the Chinese Emperor from Peking to "liquidate" the Living Buddha,--a small white old fellow with a deeply wrinkled face, a curl of white hairs on his chin and with vivacious eyes that were ever shifting inquiringly about him. Whenever he comes to a monastery, the local "god" ceases to eat and drink in fear of the activities of this Mongolian Locusta. But even this cannot save the condemned, for a poisoned cap or shirt or boots, or a rosary, a bridle, books or religious articles soaked in a poisonous solution will surely accomplish the object of the Bogdo-Khan.
The deepest esteem and religious faithfulness surround the blind Pontiff. Before him all fall on their faces. Khans and Hutuktus approach him on their knees. Everything about him is dark, full of Oriental antiquity. The drunken blind man, listening to the banal arias of the gramophone or shaking his servants with an electric current from his dynamo, the ferocious old fellow poisoning his political enemies, the Lama keeping his people in darkness and deceiving them with his prophecies and fortune telling,--he is, however, not an entirely ordinary man.
One day we sat in the room of the Bogdo and Prince Djam Bolon translated to him my story of the Great War. The old fellow was listening very carefully but suddenly opened his eyes widely and began to give attention to some sounds coming in from outside the room. His face became reverent, supplicant and frightened.
"The Gods call me," he whispered and slowly moved into his private shrine, where he prayed loudly about two hours, kneeling immobile as a statue. His prayer consists of conversation with the invisible gods, to whose questions he himself gave the answers. He came out of the shrine pale and exhausted but pleased and happy. It was his personal prayer. During the regular temple service he did not participate in the prayers, for then he is "God." Sitting on his throne, he is carried and placed on the altar and there prayed to by the Lamas and the people. He only receives the prayers, hopes, tears, woe and desperation of the people, immobilely gazing into space with his sharp and bright but blind eyes. At various times in the service the Lamas robe him in different vestments, combinations of yellow and red, and change his caps. The service always finishes at the solemn moment when the Living Buddha with the tiara on his head pronounces the pontifical blessing upon the congregation, turning his face to all four cardinal points of the compass and finally stretching out his hands toward the northwest, that is, to Europe, whither in the belief of the Yellow Faith must travel the teachings of the wise Buddha.
After earnest prayers or long temple services the Pontiff seems very deeply shaken and often calls his secretaries and dictates his visions and prophecies, always very complicated and unaccompanied by his deductions.
Sometimes with the words "Their souls are communicating," he puts on his white robes and goes to pray in his shrine. Then all the gates of the palace are shut and all the Lamas are sunk in solemn, mystic fear; all are praying, telling their rosaries and whispering the orison: "Om! Mani padme Hung!" or turning the prayer wheels with their prayers or exorcisings; the fortune tellers read their horoscopes; the clairvoyants write out their visions; while Marambas search the ancient books for explanations of the words of the Living Buddha.
THE DUST OF CENTURIES
Have you ever seen the dusty cobwebs and the mould in the cellars of some ancient castle in Italy, France or England? This is the dust of centuries. Perhaps it touched the faces, helmets and swords of a Roman Augustus, St. Louis, the Inquisitor, Galileo or King Richard. Your heart is involuntarily contracted and you feel a respect for these witnesses of elapsed ages. This same impression came to me in Ta Kure, perhaps more deep, more realistic. Here life flows on almost as it flowed eight centuries ago; here man lives only in the past; and the contemporary only complicates and prevents the normal life.
"Today is a great day," the Living Buddha once said to me, "the day of the victory of Buddhism over all other religions. It was a long time ago--on this day Kublai Khan called to him the Lamas of all religions and ordered them to state to him how and what they believed. They praised their Gods and their Hutuktus. Discussions and quarrels began. Only one Lama remained silent. At last he mockingly smiled and said:
"'Great Emperor! Order each to prove the power of his Gods by the performance of a miracle and afterwards judge and choose.'
"Kublai Khan so ordered all the Lamas to show him a miracle but all were silent, confused and powerless before him.
"'Now,' said the Emperor, addressing the Lama who had tendered this suggestion, 'now you must prove the power of your Gods!'
"The Lama looked long and silently at the Emperor, turned and gazed at the whole assembly and then quietly stretched out his hand toward them. At this instant the golden goblet of the Emperor raised itself from the table and tipped before the lips of the Khan without a visible hand supporting it. The Emperor felt the delight of a fragrant wine. All were struck with astonishment and the Emperor spoke:
"'I elect to pray to your Gods and to them all people subject to me must pray. What is your faith? Who are you and from where do you come?'
"'My faith is the teaching of the wise Buddha. I am Pandita Lama, Turjo Gamba, from the distant and glorious monastery of Sakkia in Tibet, where dwells incarnate in a human body the Spirit of Buddha, his Wisdom and his Power. Remember, Emperor, that the peoples who hold our faith shall possess all the Western Universe and during eight hundred and eleven years shall spread their faith throughout the whole world.'
"Thus it happened on this same day many centuries ago! Lama Turjo Gamba did not return to Tibet but lived here in Ta Kure, where there was then only a small temple. From here he traveled to the Emperor at Karakorum and afterwards with him to the capital of China to fortify him in the Faith, to predict the fate of state affairs and to enlighten him according to the will of God."
The Living Buddha was silent for a time, whispered a prayer and then continued:
"Urga, the ancient nest of Buddhism. . . . With Jenghiz Khan on his European conquest went out the Olets or Kalmucks. They remained there almost four hundred years, living on the plains of Russia. Then they returned to Mongolia because the Yellow Lamas called them to light against the Kings of Tibet, Lamas of the 'red caps,' who were oppressing the people. The Kalmucks helped the Yellow Faith but they realized that Lhasa was too distant from the whole world and could not spread our Faith throughout the earth. Consequently the Kalmuck Gushi Khan brought up from Tibet a holy Lama, Undur Gheghen, who had visited the 'King of the World.' From that day the Bogdo Gheghen has continuously lived in Urga, a protector of the freedom of Mongolia and of the Chinese Emperors of Mongolian origin. Undur Gheghen was the first Living Buddha in the land of the Mongols. He left to us, his successors, the ring of Jenghiz Khan, which was sent by Kublai Khan to Dalai Lama in return for the miracle shown by the Lama Turjo Gamba; also the top of the skull of a black, mysterious miracle worker from India, using which as a bowl, Strongtsan, King of Tibet, drank during the temple ceremonies one thousand six hundred years ago; as well as an ancient stone statue of Buddha brought from Delhi by the founder of the Yellow Faith, Paspa."
The Bogdo clapped his hands and one of the secretaries took from a red kerchief a big silver key with which he unlocked the chest with the seals. The Living Buddha slipped his hand into the chest and drew forth a small box of carved ivory, from which he took out and
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