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Title: Three Years in Tibet
Author: Kawaguchi, Ekai
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: map]


[Illustration: AUTHOR IN 1909.]

  Three Years

  with the original Japanese illustrations

  _Late Rector of Gohyakurakan Monastery, Japan_.


  (_Registered Copyright._)



I was lately reading the Holy Text of the _Saḍḍharma-Puṇdarīka_ (the
Aphorisms of the White Lotus of the Wonderful or True Law) in a Samskṛṭ
manuscript under a Boḍhi-tree near Mṛga-Ḍāva (Sāranāṭh), Benares. Here
our Blessed Lord Buḍḍha Shākya-Muni taught His Holy Ḍharma just after
the accomplishment of His Buḍḍhahood at Buḍḍhagayā. Whilst doing so,
I was reminded of the time, eighteen years ago, when I had read the
same text in Chinese at a great Monastery named Ohbakusang at Kyoto in
Japan, a reading which determined me to undertake a visit to Tibet.

It was in March, 1891, that I gave up the Rectorship of the Monastery
of Gohyakurakan in Tokyo, and left for Kyoto, where I remained living
as a hermit for about three years, totally absorbed in the study of a
large collection of Buḍḍhist books in the Chinese language. My object
in doing so was to fulfil a long-felt desire to translate the texts
into Japanese in an easy style from the difficult and unintelligible

But I afterwards found that it was not a wise thing to rely upon the
Chinese texts alone, without comparing them with Tibetan translations
as well as with the original Samskṛṭ texts which are contained in
Mahāyāna Buḍḍhism. The Buḍḍhist Samskṛṭ texts were to be found in Tibet
and Nepāl. Of course, many of them had been discovered by European
Orientalists in Nepāl and a few in other parts of India and Japan. But
those texts had not yet been found which included the most important
manuscripts of which Buḍḍhist scholars were in great want. Then again,
the Tibetan texts were famous for being more accurate translations
than the Chinese. Now I do not say that the Tibetan translations are
superior to the Chinese. As literal translations, I think that they
are superior; but, for their general meaning, the Chinese are far
better than the Tibetan. Anyhow, it was my idea that I should study
the Tibetan language and Tibetan Buḍḍhism, and should try to discover
Samskṛṭ manuscripts in Tibet, if any were there available.

With these objects in view, I made up my mind to go to Tibet, though
the country was closed not only by the Local Government but also by
the surrounding lofty mountains. After making my preparations for some
time, I left Japan for Tibet in June, 1897, and returned to my country
in May, 1903. Then in October, 1904, I again left Japan for India and
Nepāl, with the object of studying Samskṛṭ, hoping, if possible, again
to penetrate into Tibet, in search of more manuscripts.

On my return to Japan, my countrymen received me with great enthusiasm,
as the first explorer of Tibet from Japan. The _Jiji_, a daily
newspaper in Tokyo, the most well-known, influential and widely
read paper in Japan, and also a famous paper in Ōsaka, called the
_Maimichi_, published my articles every day during 156 issues. After
this, I collected all these articles and gave them for publication in
two volumes to Hakubunkwan, a famous publisher in Tokyo. Afterwards
some well-known gentlemen in Japan, Mr. Sutejiro Fukuzawa, Mr. Sensuke
Hayakawa and Mr. Eiji Asabuki, proposed to me to get them translated
into English. They also helped me substantially in this translation,
and I take this opportunity of expressing my grateful thanks to them
for the favor thus conferred upon me.

When my translation was finished, the British expedition to Tibet
had been successful, and reports regarding it were soon afterwards
published. I therefore stopped the publication of my English
translation, for I thought that my book would not be of any use to the
English-reading public.

Recently, the President of the Theosophical Society, my esteemed friend
Mrs. Annie Besant, asked me to show her the translation. On reading it
she advised me to publish it quickly. I then told her that it would be
useless for me to publish such a book, as there were already Government
reports of the Tibetan expedition, and as Dr. Sven Hedin of Sweden
would soon publish an excellent book of his travels in Tibet. But
she was of opinion that such books would treat of the country from a
western point of view, whilst my book would prove interesting to the
reader from the point of view of an Asiatic, intimately acquainted with
the manners, the customs, and the inner life of the people. She also
pointed out to me that the book would prove attractive to the general
reader for its stirring incidents and adventures, and the dangers I had
had to pass through during my travels.

Thus then I lay this book before the English-knowing public. I take
this opportunity of expressing my grateful thanks to Mrs. Besant for
her continued kindness to me in looking over the translation, and for
rendering me help in the publication. Were it not for her, this book
would not have seen the light of day.

Here also I must not fail to express my sincere thanks to my intimate
friend Professor Jamshedji N. Unwalla, M.A., of the Central Hinḍū
College, Benares; for he composed all the verses of the book from my
free English prose translation, and looked over all the proof-sheets
carefully with me with heartiest kindness.

I must equally thank those people who helped me in my travels in a
substantial manner, as well as those who rendered me useful assistance
in my studies; nay, even those who threw obstacles in my way, for
they, after all, unconsciously rewarded me with the gift of the
power to accomplish the objects I had in view, by surmounting all the
difficulties I had to go through during my travels.

With reference to this publication, whilst reading the Aphorisms of
the White Lotus of the Wonderful Law this day, I cannot but feel
extremely sorry in my heart when I am reminded of those people who
suffered a great deal for my sake, some being even imprisoned for their
connexion with me when I was in Tibet. But on the other hand, it is
really gratifying to me, as well as to them, to know that, after all,
their sufferings for my sake will be amply compensated by the good
karma they have certainly acquired for themselves through their acts
of charity and benevolence, that have enabled me to read and carefully
study with greater knowledge, accuracy and enthusiasm, the most sacred
texts of our Holy Religion, than was possible for me before my travels
in Tibet. I assert this with implicit faith in the fact that good
deeds, according to the Sacred Canon, have indubitably the power to
purify Humanity, sunk in the illusions of this world, often compared
in our Holy Scriptures to a muddy and dirty pond; at the same time I
believe that that power to purify rests with the Glorious Lotus of the
Awe-inspiring Law, suffusing all with its brilliant effulgence; and
with sweet odor, itself, amidst its muddy surroundings, remaining for
ever stainless and unsullied.


  STAFF QUARTERS,         }
  _Benares City, 1909_.   }


  CHAPTER                                                             PAGE
  I. Novel farewell Presents.                                            1
  II. A Year in Darjeeling.                                             11
  III. A foretaste of Tibetan barbarism.                                15
  IV. Laying a false scent.                                             21
  V. Journey to Nepāl.                                                  25
  VI. I befriend Beggars.                                               35
  VII. The Sublime Himālaya.                                            40
  VIII. Dangers ahead.                                                  44
  IX. Beautiful Tsarang and Dirty Tsarangese.                           51
  X. Fame and Temptation.                                               60
  XI. Tibet at Last.                                                    69
  XII. The World of Snow.                                               77
  XIII. A kind old Dame.                                                81
  XIV. A holy Cave-Dweller.                                             86
  XV. In helpless Plight.                                               90
  XVI. A Foretaste of distressing Experiences.                          96
  XVII. A Beautiful Rescuer.                                            99
  XVIII. The Lighter Side of the Experiences.                          104
  XIX. The largest River of Tibet.                                     108
  XX. Dangers begin in Earnest.                                        112
  XXI. Overtaken by a Sand-Storm.                                      116
  XXII. 22,650 Feet above Sea-level.                                   123
  XXIII. I survive a Sleep in the Snow.                                127
  XXIV. ‘Bon’ and ‘Kyang’.                                             131
  XXV. The Power of Buḍḍhism.                                          135
  XXVI. Sacred Mānasarovara and its Legends.                           139
  XXVII. Bartering in Tibet.                                           144
  XXVIII. A Himālayan Romance.                                         150
  XXIX. On the Road to Nature’s Grand Maṇdala.                         162
  XXX. Wonders of Nature’s Maṇdala.                                    167
  XXXI. An Ominous Outlook.                                            178
  XXXII. A Cheerless Prospect.                                         187
  XXXIII. At Death’s Door.                                             191
  XXXIV. The Saint of the White Cave revisited.                        204
  XXXV. Some easier Days.                                              211
  XXXVI. War Against Suspicion.                                        218
  XXXVII. Across the Steppes.                                          227
  XXXVIII. Holy Texts in a Slaughter-house.                            233
  XXXIX. The Third Metropolis of Tibet.                                236
  XL. The Sakya Monastery.                                             241
  XLI. Shigatze.                                                       249
  XLII. A Supposed Miracle.                                            257
  XLIII. Manners and Customs.                                          264
  XLIV. On to Lhasa.                                                   280
  XLV. Arrival in Lhasa.                                               285
  XLVI. The Warrior-Priests of Sera.                                   291
  XLVII. Tibet and North China.                                        297
  XLVIII. Admission into Sera College.                                 304
  XLIX. Meeting with the Incarnate Boḍhisaṭṭva.                        311
  L. Life in the Sera Monastery.                                       323
  LI. My Tibetan Friends and Benefactors.                              329
  LII. Japan in Lhasa.                                                 335
  LIII. Scholastic Aspirants.                                          345
  LIV. Tibetan Weddings and Wedded Life.                               351
  LV. Wedding Ceremonies.                                              362
  LVI. Tibetan Punishments.                                            374
  LVII. A grim Funeral and grimmer Medicine.                           388
  LVIII. Foreign Explorers and the Policy of Seclusion.                397
  LIX. A Metropolis of Filth.                                          407
  LX. Lamaism.                                                         410
  LXI. The Tibetan Hierarchy.                                          417
  LXII. The Government.                                                428
  LXIII. Education and Castes.                                         435
  LXIV. Tibetan Trade and Industry.                                    447
  LXV. Currency and Printing-blocks.                                   461
  LXVI. The Festival of Lights.                                        467
  LXVII. Tibetan Women.                                                472
  LXVIII. Tibetan Boys and Girls.                                      479
  LXIX. The Care of the Sick.                                          484
  LXX. Outdoor Amusements.                                             489
  LXXI. Russia’s Tibetan Policy.                                       493
  LXXII. Tibet and British India.                                      509
  LXXIII. China, Nepāl and Tibet.                                      519
  LXXIV. The Future of Tibetan Diplomacy.                              526
  LXXV. The “Monlam” Festival.                                         531
  LXXVI. The Tibetan Soldiery.                                         549
  LXXVII. Tibetan Finance.                                             554
  LXXVIII. Future of the Tibetan Religions.                            561
  LXXIX. The Beginning of the Disclosure of the Secret.                566
  LXXX. The Secret Leaks Out.                                          574
  LXXXI. My Benefactor’s Noble Offer.                                  584
  LXXXII. Preparations for Departure.                                  590
  LXXXIII. A Tearful Departure from Lhasa.                             599
  LXXXIV. Five Gates to Pass.                                          618
  LXXXV. The First Challenge Gate.                                     623
  LXXXVI. The Second and Third Challenge Gates.                        636
  LXXXVII. The Fourth and Fifth Challenge Gates.                       642
  LXXXVIII. The Final Gate passed.                                     647
  LXXXIX. Good-bye, Tibet!                                             652
  XC. The Labche Tribe.                                                660
  XCI. Visit to my Old Teacher.                                        667
  XCII. My Tibetan Friends in Trouble.                                 671
  XCIII. Among Friends.                                                677
  XCIV. The Two Kings of Nepāl.                                        682
  XCV. Audience of the Two Kings.                                      685
  XCVI. Second Audience.                                               688
  XCVII. Once more in Kātmāndu.                                        692
  XCVIII. Interview with the Acting Prime Minister.                    697
  XCIX. Painful News from Lhasa.                                       700
  C. The King betrays his suspicion.                                   703
  CI. Third Audience.                                                  709
  CII. Farewell to Nepāl and its Good Kings.                           714
  CIII. All’s well that ends well.                                     718

Illustrations in the Text.

  1. Author’s departure from Japan.                                      6
  2. The Lama’s execution.                                              18
  3. On the banks of the Bichagori river.                               32
  4. A horse in difficulties.                                           49
  5. Tsarangese village girls.                                          57
  6. Entering Tibet from Nepāl.                                         75
  7. To a tent of nomad Tibetans.                                       79
  8. A night in the open and a snow-leopard.                            92
  9. Attacked by dogs and saved by a lady.                             100
  10. Nearly dying of thirst.                                          114
  11. A sand-storm.                                                    117
  12. Struggle in the river.                                           121
  13. Meditating in the face of death.                                 125
  14. A ludicrous race.                                                132
  15. Lake Mānasarovara.                                               140
  16. Religion _v._ Love.                                              151
  17. Near Mount Kailasa.                                              169
  18. Quarrel between brothers.                                        181
  19. Attacked by robbers.                                             192
  20. The cold moon reflected on the ice.                              202
  21. Fallen into a muddy swamp.                                       210
  22. Meeting a furious wild yak.                                      229
  23. Outline of the monastery of Tashi Lhunpo.                        249
  24. Reading the Texts.                                               266
  25. Priest fighting with hail.                                       274
  26. Outline of the residence of the Dalai Lama.                      287
  27. A vehement philosophical discussion.                             306
  28. An audience with the Dalai Lama.                                 316
  29. Inner room of the Dalai Lama’s country house.                    320
  30. Room in the finance secretary’s house.                           335
  31. Unexpected meeting with friends.                                 341
  32. Girl weeping at being suddenly commanded to marry.               356
  33. At the bridegroom’s gate. Throwing an imitation sword
          at the bride.                                           366, 367
  34. The wife of an Ex-Minister punished in public.              378, 379
  35. Funeral ceremonies: cutting up the dead body.               390, 391
  36. Lobon Padma Chungne.                                             411
  37. Je Tsong-kha-pa.                                                 414
  38. A soothsayer under mediumistic influence falling senseless.      426
  39. Flogging as a means of education.                                443
  40. Priest-traders loading their yaks.                               459
  41. New year’s reading of the Texts for the Japanese Emperor’s
          welfare.                                                     465
  42. Naming ceremony of a baby.                                       480
  43. A picnic party in summer.                                        491
  44. Prime Minister.                                                  502
  45. A corrupt Chief Justice of the monks.                            534
  46. The final ceremony of the Monlam.                                538
  47. A scene from the Monlam festival.                                541
  48. Procession of the Panchen or Tashi Lama in Lhasa.                568
  49. Critical meeting with Tsa Rong-ba and his wife.                  580
  50. Revealing the secret to the Ex-Minister.                         585
  51. A mysterious Voice in the garden of Sera.                        596
  52. A distant view of Lhasa.                                         605
  53. Farewell to Lhasa from the top of Genpala.                       606
  54. Crossing a mountain at midnight.                                 610
  55. Night scene on the Chomo-Lhari and Lham Tso.                     616
  56. Beautiful scenery in the Tibetan Himālayas.                      634
  57. The fortress of Nyatong.                                         649
  58. On the way to the snowy Jela-peak.                               654
  59. Accidental meeting with a friend and compatriot.                 679
  60. Struggle with a Nepālese soldier.                                690
  61. Meeting again with an old friend, Lama Buḍḍha Vajra.             695
  62. The author and his friend Buḍḍha Vajra enjoying the
          brilliant snow at Kātmāndu.                                  704
  63. Nāgārjuna’s cave of meditation in Nepāl.                         716


                                                              TO FACE PAGE

  1. The Author in 1909.                                   _Frontispiece._
  2. The Author just before leaving Japan.                               1
  3. Rai Bahāḍur Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās.                                     11
  4. Lama Sengchen Dorjechan.                                           15
  5. The Author meditating under the Boḍhi-tree.                        25
  6. Passport in Tibetan for the Author’s return to Tibet in
          the future.                                                  645
  7. The Author as a Tibetan Lama at Darjeeling on his return.         667
  8. The Author performing ceremonies in Tibetan costume.              669
  9. The Prime Minister of Nepāl, H. H. Chanḍra Shamsīr.               685
  10. The Commander-in-Chief of Nepāl, H. E. Bhim Shamsīr.             697
  11. Mount Gaurīshaṅkara, the highest peak in the world.
  (At the end of the volume).


  1. Chart of the Route followed by the Author. (At the end of the volume.)



Novel farewell presents.

In the month of May, 1897, I was ready to embark on my journey, which
promised nought but danger and uncertainty. I went about taking leave
of my friends and relatives in Tokyo. Endless were the kind and
heartfelt words poured on me, and many were the presents offered me to
wish me farewell; but the latter I uniformly declined to accept, save
in the form of sincerely given pledges. From those noted for excessive
use of intoxicants, I exacted a promise of absolute abstinence from
“the maddening water;” and from immoderate smokers I asked the
immediate discontinuance of the habit that would end in nicotine
poisoning. About forty persons willingly granted my appeal for this
somewhat novel kind of farewell presents. Many of these are still
remaining true to the word then given me, and others have apparently
forgotten them since. At all events, I valued these “presents”
most exceedingly. In Osaka, whither I went after leaving Tokyo, I
also succeeded in securing a large number of them. Three of them I
particularly prized, and should not fail to mention them here; for, as
I think of them now, I cannot help fancying that they had transformed
themselves into unseen powers that saved me from the otherwise certain

While still in Tokyo I called on Mr. Takabe Tona, a well-known
manufacturer of asphalt. Mr. Takabe had been a born fisher, especially
skilled in the use of the “shot-net,” and to catch fish had been the
joy and pleasure of his life. On the occasion of the leave-taking
visit which I paid him, I found him in a very despondent mood. He
volunteered to tell me that he had just lost a three-year old child of
his, and the loss had left his wife the most distracted woman in the
world, while he himself could not recover the peace of his mind, even
fishing having become devoid of its former charms for him. I said to my
host, who had always been a very intimate friend of mine and a member
of my former flock: “Do you really find it so hard to bear the death
of your child? What would you think of a person who dared to bind up
and kill a beloved child of yours, and roast and eat its flesh?” “Oh!
devilish! The devil only could do that; no man could,” answered he.
I quickly rejoined: “You are a fiend then, at least, to the fishes
of the deep”. Strong were the words I used then, but it was in the
fulness of my heart that I spoke them, and Mr. Takabe finally yielded
and promised me to fish no more. He was very obdurate at first; but
when I pointed out to him that it was at the risk of my life that I
was going to Tibet, and that for the sake of my religion, which was
also his, he stood up with a look of determination. He excused himself
from my presence for awhile, and then returned with some fishing-nets,
which he forthwith handed over to me, saying that those were the
weapons of murder with which he had caused the death of innumerable
denizens of the brine, and that I might do with them as I liked, for
he had no longer any use for them. I thereupon asked a daughter of the
host’s to build a fire for me in the yard; and, when it was ready, I
consigned the nets to flames in the presence of all--there were all
the members of the family and some visitors, besides, to witness the
scene. Among the visitors was Mr. Ogawa Katsutaro, a relative of the
family. This gentleman had also been an excellent sportsman, with
both gun and nets. He had seen the dramatic scene before him and heard
me pray for my host. As the nets went up in smoke, Mr. Ogawa rose and
said impressively: “Let me too wish that you fare well in Tibet, by
making to you the gift of a pledge: I pledge myself that I will never
more take the lives of other creatures for amusement; should I prove
false to these words let ‘Fudo Myo-oh’ visit me with death.” I had
never before felt so honored and gratified as I felt when I heard this
declaration. Then in Sakai, while taking leave of Mr. Ito Ichiro, an
old and lifelong friend of mine, who, also, counted net-fishing among
his favorite sports, I told him all about the burning of Mr. Takabe’s
nets; and he, too, did me the favor of following the example set by
my Tokyo friends. Then I called on Mr. Watanabe Ichibei at Osaka. He
is, as he has always been, a very wealthy man, now dealing chiefly
in stocks and trade with Korea. His former business was that of a
poultry-man, not in the sense of one who raises fowls, etc., but of one
who keeps an establishment where people go to have a poultry dinner.
His business throve wonderfully; but I knew that his circumstances were
such that he could well afford to forego such a sinful business as one
which involved the lives of hundreds of fowls every day, especially
as he had been a zealous believer of our religion. Several times
previously I had written him, beseeching him to give up his brutal
business, and I repeated the appeal on the occasion of my last visit
to him before my departure for Tibet, when he promised, to my great
gratification, that, as speedily as possible, he would change his
business, though to do so immediately was impracticable. I was still
more gratified when I learned that he had proved the genuineness of
his promise about a year and a half after my departure. Ordinarily
considered, my conduct in exacting these pledges might appear somewhat
presumptuous; but it ought to be remembered that the sick always need a
medicine too strong for a person in normal health, and the two classes
of people must always be treated differently in spiritual ministration
as in corporeal pathology. Be that as it may, I cannot help thinking of
these gifts of effective promises, as often as I recall my adventures
in the Himālayas and in Tibet, which often brought me to death’s door.
I know that the great love of the merciful Buḍḍha has always protected
me in my dangers; yet, who knows but that the saving of the lives of
hundreds and thousands of finny and feathered creatures, as the result
of these promises, contributed largely toward my miraculous escapes.

Farewell visits over, I was ready to start, but for some money. I
had had a small sum of one hundred yen of my own savings; but this
amount was swelled to 530 yen, by the generosity of Messrs. Watanabe,
Harukawa, and Kitamura of Osaka, Hige, Ito, Noda, and Yamanaka of
Sakai, and others. Of this total, I spent about one hundred in fitting
myself out for a peculiarly problematical journey, and the very modest
sum of half a thousand was all I had with me on my departure.

It is curious how little people believe your words, until you actually
begin to carry them out, especially when your attempt is a venturesome
one, and how they protest, expostulate, and even ridicule you, often
predicting failure behind your back, when they see that you are not to
be dissuaded. And I had the pleasure of going through these curious
experiences; for many indeed were those who came to me almost at the
last moment to advise, to ask, to beg me to change my mind and give
up my Tibetan trip, and I could see that they were all in earnest.
For instance, on the very eve of my departure, while spending my last
night at Mr. Maki’s in Osaka, a certain judge of the Local Court of
Wakayama came on purpose to tell me that I was bound to end my venture
in making myself a laughing-stock of the world by meeting death out of
fool-hardiness, and that I would do far better by staying at home and
engaging in my ecclesiastical work, a work which, he said, I had full
well qualified myself to undertake; to do the latter was especially
advisable for me, because the Buḍḍhist circle of Japan was in great
need of earnest and capable men, and so on. Seeing that I was not to be
moved in my determination, the judge said: “Suppose you lose your life
in the attempt? you will not be able to accomplish anything.” “But it
is just as uncertain whether I die, or I survive my venture. If I die,
well and good; it will be like the soldier’s death in a battle-field,
and I should be gratified to think that I fell in the cause of my
religion,” I answered. Then the judge gave me up for incorrigible and
went away, after wishing me farewell in a substantial manner. That was
on the night of June 24th, 1897. Early on the following morning I left
Osaka, and on the next day I embarked on the _Idzumi-maru_ at Kobe,
seen off by my friends and well-wishers already mentioned. Among them
was Mr. Noda Giichiro, who told me that he was very glad as well as
very sorry for this departure of mine, and that his words could not
give adequate expression to the feelings uppermost in his heart. I
thought these touching words expressed the feelings shared by my other
friends also.


Hats and handkerchiefs grew smaller and fainter until they went out
of sight, as the good ship _Idzumi_ steamed westward. Past Wada
promontory, my old acquaintances, the peaks of Kongo, Shigi and Ikoma,
in turn, disappeared in the rounding sea. In due time Moji was reached
and then, out of the Strait of Genkai, our ship headed direct for
Hongkong. At Hongkong, Mr. Thompson, an Englishman, boarded our ship,
and his advent proved to be a welcome change in the monotony of the
voyage. He said he had lived eighteen years in Japan, and he spoke
Japanese exceedingly well. I found in him an earnest and enthusiastic
Christian; and, as may be imagined, he and I came to spend much of
our time in religious controversies, which, as they were carried on,
it may be needless to add, in a most friendly way, became a source
of much pleasure and information, not only to ourselves, but also to
all on board. Another interesting experience which I went through
during the voyage was when I preached--and I preached quite a number
of times--before the officers and men of the ship, who proved the most
willing and interested audience I had ever come across.

On the 12th of July, the _Idzumi_ entered the port of Singapore, and
I put up at the Fusokwan Hotel there. On the 15th, I called at the
Japanese Consulate in the port, and saw Mr. Fujita Toshiro, our then
Consul there. Mr. Fujita had heard of me from the _Idzumi’s_ captain,
and he said to me: “I hear you are going to Tibet. I do not know how
you have got your venture mapped out, but I know it is a very difficult
thing to reach and enter that country. Even Col. Fukushima (now
Lieutenant-General, of trans-Siberian fame) made a halt at Darjeeling,
and had to retrace his steps thence, acknowledging practically the
impossibility of a Tibetan exploration, and I cannot see how you can
fare better. But if you must, I think there are only two ways of
accomplishing your purpose: namely, to force your way by the sheer
force of arms at the head of an expedition, for one; and to go as a
beggar, for the other. May I ask you about your programme?” I answered
Mr. Fujita to the effect that being a Buḍḍhist priest, as I was, the
first of the methods he had mentioned was out of the question for me,
and that my idea at the time was to follow the second course; although
I was far from having anything like a definite programme of my journey.
I told him, further, that I intended to wander on as the course of
events might lead me. I left the Consul in a very meditative mood.

I stayed a week in Fusokwan, and it was on the last day but one before
leaving it that I narrowly escaped a serious, even mortal, accident.
As a priest, I made it, as I make it now, my practice to do preaching
whenever and wherever an opportunity presented itself, and my rigid
adherence to this practice greatly pleased the proprietor of that
Singapore establishment. In consequence of this, I was treated with
special regard while there, and every day, when the bath was ready, I
was the first to be asked to have the warm water ablution, which is
always so welcome to a Japanese. On the 18th, the usual invitation was
extended to me, but I was just at that moment engaged in reading the
Text, and could not comply with it at once. The invitation was repeated
a second time, but, somehow or other, I was not ready to take my bath,
and remained in my room. Meanwhile, I heard a great noise, with a thud
that shook the whole building. A few moments later, I ascertained that
the sound and quaking were caused by the collapse and fall of the
bath-room from the second floor, where it had been situated, to the
ground below, with its bath, basin, and all the other contents, among
which the most important and unfortunate was a Japanese lady, who, as
I had been neglectful in accepting the invitation, was asked to have
her bath first. The lady was, as I afterward learned, very dangerously
hurt, buried, as she was, under _débris_ of falling stones, bricks and
timber, and she was taken to a local hospital, where she lay with very
little hope of recovery. I often shudder to think of what would have
become of me and of my Tibetan adventure, had I been more prompt, as
I had always been till then, in responding to all invitations of the
kind. I felt exceedingly sorry for the lady, who met the awful accident
practically in my stead; withal I look back to the incident as one
that augured well for my Tibetan undertaking, which, indeed, ended in

The day after the accident, on the 19th of July, I took passage on
an English steamer, the _Lightning_, which, after calling at Penang,
brought me to Calcutta on the 25th of the month. Placing myself under
the care of the Mahāboḍhi Society of Calcutta, I spent several days
in that city, in the course of which I learned from Mr. Chanḍra Bose,
a Secretary of the Society, that I could not do better for my purpose
than to go to Darjeeling, and make myself a pupil of Rai Bahāḍur Saraṭ
Chanḍra Ḍās, who, as I was told, had some time before spent several
months in Tibet, and was then compiling a Tibetan-English dictionary
at his country house in Darjeeling. Mr. Chanḍra Bose was good enough
to write a letter of introduction to the scholar at Darjeeling in my
favor, and, with it and also with kind parting wishes of my countrymen
in the city and others, I left Calcutta on August 2nd, by rail. Heading
north, the train in almost no time brought its passengers to the river
Gaṅgā. We crossed the mighty stream in a steamer, and then boarded
another train on the other side. Heading north still, the train now
passed through cocoanut groves and green paddy-fields, over which, as
night came on, giant fire-flies, the like of which in size are not
to be found in Japan, flew about in immense swarms. The sight was
especially interesting after the moon had disappeared. The following
morning, that is, on the 3rd of August, the train pulled up at Siligree
Station, and there its passengers, including myself, were transferred
to a train of small mountaineering cars, which, faring ever northward,
forthwith began its tortuous ascent of the Himālayas, or rather, of
the outer skirt of the mighty range. With its bends and turns and
climbings, as the train labored onward and upward through the famous
“ḍalai-jungle,” it looked like some amphibian monster on its war path,
as I fancied, while the grind of the car wheels, with its sound echoed
and re-echoed, seemed to spread quaking terror over peaks and dales.
By 3 P. M., the train had made a climb of fifty miles and then landed
us at Darjeeling, which place is 380 miles distant from Calcutta. At
the station I hired a _ḍanlee_, which is a sort of mountaineering
palanquin, and, borne in it, I soon afterward arrived at Rai Saraṭ’s
retreat, Lhasa Villa, which I found to be a magnificent mansion.



A year in Darjeeling.

It was just after the great earthquake in Assam, India, that I arrived
in Darjeeling, and, as I could see from a large number of entirely
collapsed and partly destroyed houses, this latter place also had had
its share of the seismic disturbances. As for the Saraṭ Villa, it too
had suffered more or less, and repair was already in progress. For all
that, I was received there with a whole-hearted welcome. An evening’s
talk was sufficient, however, to make my intentions clear to my kind
host, and, as my time was precious, Rai Saraṭ took me out, the very
next day after my arrival, to a temple called Ghoompahl, where I
was introduced to an aged Mongolian priest, who lived there and was
renowned for his scholarly attainments and also as a teacher of the
Tibetan language. The priest was then seventy-eight years of age, and
his name, which was Serab Gyamtso (Ocean of Knowledge), happened by a
curious coincidence to mean in the Tibetan tongue the same thing as
my own name Ekai meant. This discovery, at our first meeting, greatly
pleased my Tibetan tutor, as the old priest was thenceforth to be. Our
talk naturally devolved upon Buḍḍhism, but the conversation proved
to be a rather awkward affair, for though Rai Saraṭ kindly acted the
part of an interpreter for us, it had to be carried on, on my part,
in very rudimentary English. As it was, the first day of my tutelage
ended in my making the acquaintance of the Tibetan alphabet, and from
that time onward, I became a regular attendant at the temple, daily
walking three miles from and back to the Saraṭ mansion. One day, about
a month after this, Rai Saraṭ had me in his room and spoke to me thus:
“Well, Mr. Kawaguchi, I would advise you to give up your intention
of going to Tibet. It is a very risky undertaking, which it would be
worth risking if there were any chance of accomplishing it; but chances
are almost entirely against you. You can acquire all the knowledge of
the Tibetan language you want, here, and you can go back to Japan,
where you will be respected as a Tibetan scholar.” I told my host that
my purpose was not only to learn the Tibetan language, but that it
was to complete my studies in Buḍḍhism. “That may be,” said my host,
“and a very important thing it no doubt is with you; but what is the
use of attempting a thing when there is no hope of accomplishing it?
If you go into Tibet, the only thing you can count upon is that you
will be killed!” I retorted: “Have you not been there yourself? I do
not see why I cannot do the same thing.” Rai Saraṭ’s rejoinder was:
“Ah! That is just where you are mistaken; you must know that the times
are different, Mr. Kawaguchi. The ‘closed door’ policy is in full
operation, and is being carried out with the most jealous strictness in
Tibet to-day, and I know that I will never be able again to undertake
another trip into that country. Besides, when I made my trip, I had
with me an excellent pass, which I was fortunate to secure through
certain means, but there is no means, nor even hope, any longer of
procuring such a pass. Under the circumstances I should think it is
to your own interest to go home from here, after you have completed
the study of the Tibetan language.” I knew that my good host meant
all that he said; but I could not allow myself to be prevailed upon.
Instead, I utilised the occasion in telling him that further tutelage
under Lama Serab was not to my mind, because the aged priest was more
anxious to teach me the Tibetan Buḍḍhism than the Tibetan language.
I asked Rai Saraṭ to kindly devise for me some way, by which I might
acquire the vernacular Tibetan language. Finding me resolute in my
purpose, Rai Saraṭ, with his unswerving kindness, cheerfully agreed
to my request, and arranged for me that I should have a new private
teacher, besides a regular schooling. It was in this way. Just below
Rai Saraṭ’s mansion was a residence which consisted of two small but
pretty buildings. The residence belonged to a Lama called Shabdung, who
just then happened not to live there, but in a house in the business
quarters of Darjeeling. Rai Saraṭ sent for this Lama and asked him to
teach the “Japan Lama” the Tibetan language, the Lama returning to his
residence just mentioned with his entire household. Lama Shabdung was
only too pleased to do as was requested, and I was forthwith installed
a member of his household, that I might have ample opportunity of
learning the popular Tibetan language. On the other hand, I at the
same time matriculated into the Government School of Darjeeling, and
was there given systematic lessons in the same language by Prof. Tumi
Onden, the Head Teacher of the language department of Tibetans in that
School. I should not forget to mention here that, while I paid out of
my own pocket all the tuition fees and school expenses, as it was quite
proper that I should, I was made a beneficiary of my friend Rai Saraṭ
so far as my board was concerned, that good man insisting that to do
a little kindness in favor of such a “pure and noble-hearted man as
you are”--as he said--was to increase his own happiness. Not too well
stocked with the wherewithal as I was, I gratefully allowed myself to
be prevailed upon to accept his generosity. Indeed, I had only three
hundred yen with me when I arrived at Darjeeling; but, as it was, that
amount supported me for the seventeen months of my stay there. Had I
had to pay my own board, I would have had to cut down my stay there to
half the length of time.

At Lama Shabdung’s I lived as though back in my boyhood, attending the
school in the morning, and doing my lessons at home in the company of
the children of the family in the afternoon. It is a well known thing
that the best way to learn a foreign language is to live among the
people who speak it, but a discovery--as it was to me--that I made
while at Shabdung’s was that the best teachers of everyday language
are children. As a foreigner you ask them to teach you their language;
and you find that, led on by their instinctive curiosity and kindness,
not unmingled with a sense of pride, they are always the most anxious
and untiring teachers, and also that in their innocence they are
the most exacting and intolerant teachers, as they will brook no
mis-pronunciation or mis-accent, even the slightest errors. Next to
children, women are, I think, the best language teachers. At least such
are the conclusions I arrived at from the experiences of my ‘schooling
days’ in Darjeeling. For in six or seven months after my instalment
in the Shabdung household, I had become able to carry on all ordinary
conversation in the Tibetan tongue, with more ease than in my English
of two years’ hard learning, and I regard Tibetan as a more difficult
language than English. True, I made myself a most willing and zealous
pupil all through the tutelage; withal, I consider the progress I made
in that short space of time as quite remarkable, and that progress was
the gift of my female and juvenile teachers in the Shabdung family.
The more progress I made in my linguistic acquirement, the more eager
student I became in things Tibetan, and I found in my host a truly
charming conversationalist, himself fond of talking. Evening after
evening I sat, an absorbed listener to Lama Shabdung’s flowing and
inexhaustible store of narratives about Tibet.


A foretaste of Tibetan barbarism.

To give one of Lama Shabdung’s favourite recitals about Tibet: my
host, while there, studied Buḍḍhism under a high Lama of great virtues
and the most profound learning, called Sengchen Dorjechan (Great-Lion
Diamond-Treasury), who had been the tutor of the Secondary or Deputy
Pope, so to say, of Tibet. No man in Tibet was held in higher esteem
and deeper reverence than this holy man. It was this holy man himself
who taught my friend and benefactor Rai Saraṭ, when he was in Tibet.
Though Rai Saraṭ’s pupilage under the high Lama lasted only for a short
time, it had the most tragical consequences. For, after his return to
India, the Tibetan Government discovered to its own mortification that
Rai Saraṭ was an emissary of the British Government, and the parties
who had become in any way connected with his visit, more particularly
the man who had secretly furnished him with a pass, another in whose
house he had lodged and boarded, and the high Lama, were all thrown
into prison, the last named having afterward had to pay with his life
for his innocent crime.


Many are the reminiscences of this holy Lama, which show that he was
indeed a person very firm and enlightened in the Buḍḍhist faith, and
to that degree was the most lovable and adorable of men. But more
especially affecting, even sublimely beautiful, are the episodes
immediately preceding and surrounding his death, for the truth of which
I depend not on the narrative of Lama Shabdung alone, but largely
also upon what I was able to learn from persons of unquestionable
reliability, during my disguised stay in the capital of Tibet. To
mention a few of these: when an unpleasant rumor had just begun to be
circulated, soon after Rai Saraṭ’s departure from Tibet, about his
secret mission, the high Lama Sengchen knew at once that death was
at his door, but was not afraid. For, when it was hinted at by his
friends that he would become involved in a serious predicament, owing
to his acquaintance with Rai Saraṭ, he replied that he had always
considered it his heaven-ordained work to try to propagate and to
perpetuate Buḍḍhism, not among his own countrymen only, but among the
whole human race; that whether or not Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās was a man who
had entered Tibet with the object of “stealing away Buḍḍhism,” or to
play the part of a spy, was not his concern--the question had in any
case never occurred to him--and that if he were to suffer death for
having done what he had regarded it as his duty to do, he could not
help it. That this holy Lama was an advocate of active propagandism
may be gathered from the fact that, besides sending various Buḍḍhistic
images and ritualistic utensils to India, he had caused several
persons to go out there as missionaries, my teacher, the Manchurian
Lama Serab Gyamtso, in the Ghoompahl Temple of Darjeeling, being one
of these. Unfortunately, this undertaking did not prove a success,
but none the less it shows the lofty aspirations which actuated the
high Lama, who, as I was told, had deeply lamented the decadence, or
rather the almost entire disappearance, of Buḍḍhism in the land of its
origin, and was sincerely anxious to revive it there. It is nothing
uncommon in Japan to meet with Buḍḍhist priests interested in the
work or idea of foreign propagandism; but a person so minded is an
extreme rarity in that hermit-country Tibet, and that Lama Sengchen
was such a one indicates the greatness of his character, and that he
was a man above sectarian differences and international prejudices,
solely given to the noble idea of universal brotherhood under Buḍḍhism.
Being the man he was, he had many enemies among the high officials
of the hierarchical Government, who were in constant watch for an
opportunity to bring about his downfall. To these, his enemies, the
rumor about Prof. Saraṭ was a welcome one, which they lost no time in
turning to account. In all haste they despatched men to Darjeeling, and
ascertained that, in truth, Rai Saraṭ had smuggled himself into and
out of Tibet, and that, as the fact was, he had done so at the request
of the British Government of India. Then followed the incarceration,
already mentioned, of all those who had had anything to do with Rai
Saraṭ, the final upshot of which was sentence of death upon the high
Lama Sengchen Dorjechan, on the ground that the latter had harbored
in his temple, and divulged national secrets to, a foreign emissary.
The holy man’s execution was carried out on a certain day of June,
1887, and took the form of sinking him till he became drowned in the
river Konbo, which is a local name given to the great Brahmapuṭra.
As I recall the scene of that occasion, as I heard it described, I
see before my eyes the tear-drenched face of my friend Lama Shabdung,
who, struggling with emotion, would often tell me what he witnessed on
that day. Surrounded by an immense crowd of sympathising and sobbing
people, the noble Lama was found seated, and reading the sacred Text,
on a large piece of rock overhanging a side of the river, as the hour
of his execution approached. He was clothed in a coarse white fabric,
and looked serenely calm and perfectly composed, as he gave an order
to his executioners in these words: “When, in a little while, I have
finished reading the holy Text, I will shake this my finger three times
thus, and that will be the signal for you to sink me in the river.”
The instruction was in response to a question, if the high Lama wanted
to say or have done anything ere his execution, asked by one of the
executioners, who was already tying around the holy man’s body one end
of a thick rope, with which he was to be lowered under the water. In
the meantime, the suspense grew intense and the great multitude that
had gathered around had become blind to everything but the mighty,
cruel waters of the Brahmapuṭra, the executioners, and the holy priest,
and deaf to all but their own sobbings and wailings. They saw before
them a man of their hearts, of national esteem, profound in learning
and saintly in behavior, who, as a priest of the highest order, should
wear three layers of red and yellow silk, but who was wrapped in an
unclean prison-suit of white, and was now to die a victim to his
enemies’ malice. They knew all was not right, but they knew not how to
undo the wrong, and they appealed to their own tears. As it happened,
the day had been cloudy, and rain had even begun to come down in drops
as the high Lama raised one of his hands, the purpose of which act
was all too evident, and lamentation became loud and universal. Once,
twice, and three times the noble prisoner had shaken his finger, but
none of the executioners dared to come forward--they were in tears
themselves. Then the high Lama said: “My time is come: what are ye
doing? Speed me under water.” Thereupon, with heavy hands and heavier
hearts the executioners, after having weighted the high Lama’s loins
with a large stone, slowly lowered the whole burden into the rushing
waters of the Brahmapuṭra. After a while they pulled up what they
expected to have become the remains of the saintly man, but finding
that life had not yet departed, they again went through the drowning
process. When for a second time they raised the body, they found life
still lingering in it. The multitude, which saw how things went, became
clamorous in their demand that the holy man be now saved; while the
executioners themselves seemed unnerved and unable to go to their cruel
duty a third time. As the moments of indecision sped by, the high Lama,
most wonderful to tell, recovered sufficient strength to speak, and
say: “Lament ye not my death. For my phase of activity having come to
an end, I now depart with gratification, and that means that my evil
past ceases, so that my good future may begin--it is not ye that kill
me. All that I wish for, after my death, is a greater and ever-growing
prosperity for Buḍḍhism in Tibet. Now make ye haste, and sink me under
the water.” Thus urged, the executioners, sorrow-ridden, obeyed the
order, and they saw that life, in sooth, had departed at the third
raising of the body. Then, as the custom is in Tibet, they severed all
the limbs from the high Lama’s remains, and threw the different parts
separately into the stream, thus ending the grim business of execution.
It will be admitted by all, especially by all Buḍḍhists, that there
was something loftily admirable in the personality of a man who had
done and given his all for his faith and religion, and yet uttered not
a word of complaint against Providence or man, but, in serene, noble
meekness, met his most unmerited and most agonising death. As for me,
besides finding it most affecting, I felt a peculiarly direct interest
in the story of this high Lama’s execution, from the moment when I
was told of it for the first time. For, was I not on my way to Tibet?
Should I succeed in my purpose? Who could tell but that there might be
a repetition of that sad and cruel scene?

[Illustration: THE LAMA’S EXECUTION.]


Laying a false scent.

I rose early on the New Year’s day of 1898, and spent the greater part
of the morning, as was usual with me, in reading the sacred Text in
honor of the day, and also in praying for the health and long life of
their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress, and his Highness, the
Crown Prince, and for the prosperity of Japan. The New Year’s _uta_[1]
which I composed on the occasion was as follows:

[1] The word _uta_ in Japanese means a short epigrammatic poem,
expressed tersely, and inspired by some special occasion.

  In glory yonder, lo! the New Year’s Sun,
      His coruscating grateful beams forthshoots,
  Diffusing lucid roses on the snows
      That flash in dazzling spangles bright and clear;
  That Sun, the symbol on the Japan-flag
      My fancy lights with patriotic thrills.

I spent the twelve months following in closely devoting myself to the
study, and in efforts at the practical mastery, of the Tibetan tongue,
with the result that, toward the close of the year, I had become fairly
confident of my own proficiency in the use of the language both in
its literary and vernacular forms; and I made up my mind to start for
my destination with the coming of the year 1899. Then, it became a
momentous question for me to decide upon the route to take in entering

Besides the secret path, the Khambu-Rong, _i. e._, ‘Peach Valley’ pass,
there are three highways which one may choose in reaching Tibet from
Darjeeling. These are: first, the main road, which turns north-east
directly after leaving Darjeeling and runs through Nyatong; second,
that which traverses the western slope of Kañcheñjunga, the second
highest snow-capped peaks in the Range and brings the traveller to
Warong, a village on the frontier of Tibet; and the third, which takes
one direct from Sikkim through Khampa-Jong to Lhasa. As, however,
each of these roads is jealously guarded either with a fortified
gate or some sentinels, at its Tibetan terminus, it is a matter of
practical impossibility for a foreigner to gain admittance into the
hermit-country by going along any of them. Rai Saraṭ was of opinion
that, if I were to present myself at the Nyatong gate, tell the
guards there that I was a Japanese priest who wished to visit their
country for the sole purpose of studying Buḍḍhism, I might possibly
be allowed to pass in, provided that I was courteously persistent
in my solicitations; but I had reasons for thinking little of this
suggestion. At all events, what I had learned from my Tibetan tutors
did not sustain my friend’s view; instead, however, my own information
led me to a belief that a road to suit my purpose could be found
by proceeding through either the Kingdom of Bhūṭan or of Nepāl. It
appeared to me, further, that the route most advantageous to me would
be by way of Nepāl; for Bhūṭan had never been visited by the Buḍḍha,
and there was there little to learn for me in that connexion, though
that country had at one time or another been travelled over by Tibetan
priests of great renown; but the latter fact had nothing of importance
for me. I had been told, however, that Nepāl abounded in the Buḍḍha’s
footsteps, and that there was in existence there complete sets of the
Buḍḍhist Texts in Samskṛṭ. These were inducements which I could turn to
account, in the case of failure to enter Tibet. Moreover, no Japanese
had ever been in Nepāl before me, though it had been visited by some
Europeans and Americans. So I decided on a route _viâ_ Nepāl.

The decision made, it would have been all I could wish for, if it were
possible for me to journey to Nepāl direct from Darjeeling; there was
on the way grand and picturesque scenery incidentally to enjoy, besides
places sacred to Buḍḍhist pilgrims. But to do so was not possible for
me, or at least implied serious dangers. For most of the Tibetans
living in Darjeeling--and there were quite a number of them there--knew
that I was learning their language with the intention of some day
visiting their country; and it was perfectly manifest that the moment I
left that town with my face towards Tibet, they, or some of them at the
least, would come after me as far as some point where they might make
short work of me, or follow me into Tibet and there betray me to the
authorities, for they would be richly rewarded for so doing. To meet
the necessity of the case, I gave it out that, owing to an unexpected
occurrence, I was obliged to go home at once, and I left Darjeeling
for Calcutta, which place I reached on the 5th of January, 1899. I,
of course, let Rai Saraṭ into my secret, and he alone knew that the
day I left Darjeeling I started on my Tibetan journey in real earnest,
though back to Calcutta I took fare in sooth. On leaving Darjeeling,
my good host Rai Saraṭ Chanḍra earnestly wished me complete success in
my travels to Tibet, and gave vent to his hearty and sincere pleasure
in finding in me one, who, as bold and adventurous as himself, was
starting on a perilous but interesting expedition to that hitherto
unknown country. Previous to my departure from Darjeeling, I received
there 630 Rupees, which had been collected and forwarded to me through
the kind and never-failing efforts of my friends at home, Messrs. Hige,
Ito, Watanabe and others.

  Now over trackless snowy range I wend
    My lonely way to ‘Bhota,’[2] elsewhere named
  Tibet, where Dharma’s glorious Sun pours forth
    His Light and melts the cheerless snows of Doubt
  And Pain and Sorrow, vexing mortal men.

[2] Bhota is the name by which Tibet is known in Samskri.


Journey to Nepal.

During my second and short stay in Calcutta I had the good luck of
being introduced to a Nepālese named Jibbahaḍur, who was then a
Secretary of the Nepāl Government, but who is now the Minister Resident
of that country in Tibet. He was kind enough to write two letters
introducing me to a certain gentleman of influence in Nepāl.

On the 20th of January, 1899, I came to the famous Buḍḍhagayā, sacred
to Holy Shākyamuni Buḍḍha, and there met Mr. Dharmapala of Ceylon, who
happened to be there on a visit. I had a very interesting conversation
with him. On learning that I was on my way to Tibet, he asked me to do
him the favor of taking some presents for him to the Dalai Lama. The
presents consisted of a small relic of the Buḍḍha, enclosed in a silver
casket which was in the form of a miniature pagoda, and a volume of the
sacred Text written on palm leaves. I, of course, willingly complied
with the request of the Sinhalese gentleman, who expressed himself as
being very anxious to visit Tibet, but thought it useless to attempt a
trip thither, unless he were invited to do so. The night of that day
I spent meditating on the ‘Diamond Seat’ under the Boḍhi-tree--the
very tree under which, and the very stone on which, about two thousand
five hundred years ago, the holy Buḍḍha sat and reached Buḍḍhahood.
The feeling I then experienced is indescribable: all I can say is
that I sat the night out in the most serene and peaceful extasy. I
saw the tell-tale moon lodged, as it were, among the branches of the
Boḍhi-tree, shedding its pale light on the ‘Diamond Seat,’ and the
scene was superbly picturesque, and also hallowing, when I thought of
the days and nights the Buḍḍha spent in holy meditation at that very

  Whilst seated on the Diamond Seat, absorbed
    In thoughtful meditation full and deep
  The lunar orb, suspended o’er the tree--
    The Sacred Bodhi tree--shines in the sky.
  I wait with longing for the morning star
    To rise, the witness of that moment high
  When His Illumination gained the Lord
    The Perfect Buddha, Perfect Teacher Great.


After a few days’ stay in Buḍḍhagayā, I took the railway-train for
Nepāl, and a ride of a day and a night brought me to Sagauli, on the
morning of January 23. Sagauli is a station at a distance of two days’
journey from the Nepālese border. Here one boundary of the linguistic
territory of English was reached, and beyond neither that language nor
the Tibetan tongue was of any use--one had to speak either Hinḍūsṭāni
or Nepālese to be understood, and I knew neither. So it became a
necessary part of my Tibetan adventure to stop a while at Sagauli,
and make myself master of working Nepālese. It was like forging the
chain after catching a criminal. But up to then, my time had been all
taken up in learning Tibetan, and I had had no moment to spare for
anything else. By good fortune, however, my stay there was not to
be a long one. I found the postmaster of Sagauli, a Bengālī, to be
proficient both in English and Nepālese. As the thing had to be done
in the most expeditious way possible, I started my work by noting down
every Nepālese word the postmaster would teach me. The next day after
my arrival at Sagauli, while I was out on a walk near the station with
my note-book in hand, I noticed, among those who got off a train, a
company of three men, one of whom was a gentleman, apparently of forty
years of age and dressed in a Tibetan costume, another a priest about
fifty years old, and the third unmistakably their servant. Thereupon a
thought flashed on me that it would be a good thing for me if I could
travel with these Tibetans, as I took them to be, and I immediately
made bold to go up to them and ask whither they were going. I was told
that their destination was Nepāl, that they had not just then come
from Tibet, but that one of them was a Tibetan. It then became their
turn to question me, their opening enquiry being as to what country
I belonged. I replied that I was a Chinese. “Which direction did you
come from then?--did you travel by land or by sea?” was the rejoinder
sharply put to me next. That was a question I had to answer with
caution. For the rule then in force in Tibet was to admit into that
country no Chinaman coming by the sea. So I answered: “By land.” As we
conversed, so we walked, and presently we came in front of where I was
lodging. In that part of the world there is no such smart thing as a
hotel or an inn; all the accommodation one can get in this respect is a
shanty of a rather primitive type, with bamboo posts and a straw roof.
There are a number of these simple structures there, standing on the
roadside and intended only for travellers, who have, however, nothing
to pay for lodging in them--they only pay the price of eatables and
fuel, should they procure any. It was in one of these shanties that I
was stopping, and when I excused myself from the company of my newly
made acquaintances, the latter betook themselves into another on the
opposite side of the street. After a while the gentleman and the priest
came out of their shanty and called on me, evidently bent on finding
out who, or rather what, I was. For the first question with which they
challenged me was to what part of China I belonged. “To Fooshee,” I
replied, realising full well that I was to go through the ordeal of an
inquisition. “You speak Chinese, of course?” then asked the gentleman.
My reply in the affirmative caused him at once to talk to me in quite
fluent Chinese, which put me in no little consternation in secret.
Compelled by necessity, I ventured calmly: “You must be talking in the
official Peking dialect, while I can talk only in the common Fooshee
tongue, and I do not understand you at all.” He was not to let me
off yet. Says he next: “You can write in Chinese, I suppose.” Yes, I
could, and I wrote. Some of my characters were intelligible enough to
my guests, and some not, and after all it was agreed that it was best
to confine ourselves to Tibetan. As our conversation progressed, my
principal guest came to the crucial part of the inquisition and asked:
“You say you have come from the landward side: well, from what part
of Tibet have you come?” “In sooth, from Lhasa, sir; I have been on a
pilgrimage through Darjeeling to Buḍḍhagayā, and from thence here,”
I replied. I was requested to say, then, in what part of the city of
Lhasa I lived. Being informed that I was in the grand Sera monastery,
he wanted to know if I was acquainted with an old priest who was the
Tatsang Kenpo (grand teacher) of that institution. I was bold enough
to say that I was not a perfect stranger to the priest in question,
and made a right good use of what I had learned from Lama Shabdung at
Darjeeling. So far I managed to keep up my disguise, but each moment
that passed only added to my fear of being trapped, and compelled to
give myself away. To avoid this danger, I felt it important to head
off my inquisitorial visitors by dispelling their suspicion, if they
entertained any, about me. I was remarkably successful in this, the
information obtained from Lama Shabdung again doing me excellent
service. For, when I told my guests, in a most knowing way, all about
Shabbe Shata’s intrigue against the Tangye-ling, which was designed to
increase his own power, and the secret of which affair was not then
generally known, the recital seemed to make a great impression on them,
and to have had the effect of convincing them that I was the person I
pretended to be. So my ordeal was at an end; but there was yet in store
for me the most unexpected discovery I was to make about these men.

No longer curious as to my antecedents, my gentleman guest now asked
me: “You say you are going to Nepāl: may I ask you who is the person
you are directed to, and if you have ever been in that country?” I
had never been there before, but I had a letter of introduction with
me. From whom, to whom, could that be? The letters, I said--for I
had had two given me--were written in favor of me by Mr. Jibbahaḍur,
an official of the Nepālese Government, then residing in Calcutta,
and addressed to the Lama of the Great Tower of Mahāboḍha in Nepāl,
whose name, though I just happened to forget it, was on the letters.
This piece of information seemed greatly to interest the gentleman,
who could not help saying: “Why, that is strange! Mr. Jibbahaḍur is a
friend of mine: I wonder who can be the person to whom the letters are
addressed; will you permit me to look at them?” And the climax came
when I, in all willingness, took out the letters and showed them to my
guest, for he ejaculated: “Well, whoever would have thought it? These
are for me!”

I may here observe that in Nepāl, as I found out afterwards, the word
friend conveys a much deeper meaning, probably, than in any other
country. To be a friend there means practically the same thing as
being a brother, and the natives have a curious custom of observing
a special ceremony when any two of them tie the knot of friendship
between them. The ceremony resembles very much that of marriage, and
its celebration is made an occasion for a great festival, in which the
relatives and connexions of the parties concerned take part. To be
brief, the ceremony generally takes the form of exchanging glasses of
the native drink between the mutually chosen two, and they each have
to extend their liberalities even to their servants in honor of the
occasion. It is only after the observance of these formalities--which
signify a great deal to the natives--that any two Nepālese may each
call themselves the friend of the other.

It so happened that my erstwhile inquisitor proved to be the official
owner and Lama-Superior of the Great Tower above mentioned, who stood
in the relationship of a ‘friend’ to Mr. Jibbahaḍur. It was most
unexpected, but the discovery was none the less welcome to me, and I
besought him to take me, henceforth, under his care and protection.
Thus I came to be no longer a stranger and a solitary pilgrim, but a
guest, a companion, to a high personage of Nepāl. My newly acquired
friend, as I should call the Lama in our language, proposed that we
should start for Nepāl the next morning. This proposal was agreeable to
me, as was another that we should go afoot instead of on horse-back,
so that we might the better enjoy each other’s company, and perchance,
also, the grand scenery on the way. I say that all this was agreeable
to me, because, in addition to the obvious benefit I was sure to derive
from being in the company of these men, I entertained a secret hope
that I might learn a great deal, which would help me in executing the
main part of my adventures, yet to come.

While our talk was progressing in this fashion, two servants of the
Lama’s came in, running and all pale, with the unwelcome piece of news
that a thief had broken into their shed. This caused my callers to
take precipitate leave of me. I afterwards learned that the Lamas had
had three hundred and fifty rupees in cash, and some books and clothes,
stolen between them. I was in luck on that occasion, for the owner of
my shed told me subsequently that the thief, who caused such a loss to
the Lamas, had been on the look-out for a chance to loot my lodging,
and, as it happened, he finally made my newly made friends suffer for
me; I felt exceedingly sorry for them.

In the meantime I learned that the gentleman Lama’s name was Buḍḍha
Vajra (Enlightened Diamond), and that the old priest, whose name was
Mayar, and who was full of jokes, was a Doctor of Divinity of the Debon
monastery in Lhasa.

Early on the 25th of January we started on our journey, and proceeded
due north across the plain in which Sagauli stands. The next day we
arrived at a place called Beelganji, where stood the first guarded gate
of the Nepālese frontier. There I was given a pass, as for a Chinaman
living in Tibet. We passed the night of the following day in a village
situated a little way this side of the famous Dalai Jungle, which may
be regarded as an entrance to the great Himālayas. On the 28th we
proceeded past Simla, a village at the outer edge of the great jungle,
and thence, straight across the jungle itself, which has a width of
full eight miles, until we came to a village on the bank of a mountain
stream called Bichagori, where we took up our lodgings for the night.
About ten o’clock that night, while writing up my diary, I happened
to look out of the window of my shanty. The moon in her pale splendor
was shining brightly over the great jungle, and there was something
indescribably weird in the scene, whose silence was broken only by a
rushing stream. Suddenly I then heard a detonation, tremendous in its
volume and depth, which, as I felt, almost shook the ground. In reply
to my query, I was told by our innkeeper that the sound came from a
tiger, which evidently had just finished a fine repast on its victim,
and, having come to have a draught of river-water, could not help
giving vent to its sense of enjoyment. So an _uta_ came to me:

  The night sleeps still and calm,
            the moon shines bright,
  What ho!--so loud a roar
            the stillness breaks,
  Vibrating--ah! It is a tiger fierce!
            In ripples rough his roar terrific throws
  The surface even of the mountain stream.


For two days more the road lay now through a dale on the bank of a
river, then across a deep forest, and over a mountain, until we reached
a stage station called Binbit. So far the road was up a slow, gradual
incline, and horse-carriages and bullock-carts could be driven over it;
but now the ascent became so steep that it could be made only on foot,
or in a mountain-palanquin. We went on foot, commencing our climb as
early as four o’clock in the morning. After an ascent of something more
than three and a half miles, we came to a guarded gate named Tispance.
Here was a custom-house and a fortress, garrisoned by quite a number of
soldiers, and we had to go through an examination. Thence we climbed
a peak called Tisgari, from the top of which I, for the first time,
beheld with wonder the sublime sight of the mighty Himālayas, shining
majestically with their snow of ages. The grandeur of the scene was
so utterly beyond imagination, that the memory of what I had seen at
Darjeeling and Tiger Hill came back to me only as a faint vision. Down
Tisgari we came to Marku station, where we took lodging for the night.

Early on the 1st of February, we climbed up the peak C̣hanḍra
Giri, or Moon Peak, whose sides are covered with the flowers of
the rhododendron, the chief characteristic of the Himālayan Range.
Thence I saw again the snow-covered range of Himālaya, ever grand and
majestic. Just a little way down from the top of the peak, I saw,
spread before me like a picture, Kātmāndu the capital of Nepāl and the
country around. I saw also in that panorama two gilded towers rising
conspicuously against the sky, and Lama Buḍḍha Vajra told me that one
of them was the tomb of Kāṣyapa Buḍḍha, and the other that of Ṣikhī
Buḍḍha. On coming down the steep slope of the hill, we were met by four
or five men with two horses. They were men sent thither in advance to
wait for the return of Buḍḍha Vajra, and I was given one of the horses,
while my host took the other. We were met by about thirty more men on
entering a village, not far from the foot of the hill. The distance
from Sagauli railway station to this spot is roughly one hundred and
twenty-five miles.


I befriend Beggars.

The village that surrounds the great Kāṣyapa tower is generally known
by the name of Boḍḍha. Lama Buḍḍha Vajra, I found, was the Headman of
that village as well as the Superior of that mausoleum tower, which in
Tibetan is called Yambu Chorten Chenpo. Yambu is the general name by
which Kātmāndu is known in Tibet; and Chorten Chenpo means great tower.
The real name of the tower in full is, however, Ja Rung Kashol Chorten
Chenpo, which may be translated into: “Have finished giving order to
proceed with.” The tower has an interesting history of its own, which
explains this strange name. It is said in this history that Kāṣyapa was
a Buḍḍha that lived a long time before Shākyamuni Buḍḍha. After Kāṣyapa
Buḍḍha’s demise, a certain old woman, with her four sons, interred this
great sage’s remains at the spot over which the great mound now stands,
the latter having been built by the woman herself. Before starting on
the work of construction, she petitioned the King of the time, and
obtained permission to “proceed with” building a tower. By the time
that, as the result of great sacrifices on the part of the woman and
her four sons, the groundwork of the structure had been finished, those
who saw it were astonished at the greatness of the scale on which it
was undertaken. Especially was this the case with the high officials
of the government and the rich men of the country, who all said that
if such a poor old dame were to be allowed to complete building such a
stupendous tower, they themselves would have to dedicate a temple as
great as a mountain, and so they decided to ask the King to disallow
the further progress of the work. When the King was approached on the
matter his Majesty replied: “I have finished giving the order to the
woman to proceed with the work. Kings must not eat their words, and I
cannot undo my orders now.” So the tower was allowed to be finished,
and hence its unique name, “Ja Rung Kashol Chorten Chenpo.” I rather
think, however, that the tower must have been built after the days of
Shākyamuni Buḍḍha, for the above description from Tibetan books is
different from the records in Samskṛṭ, which are more reliable than the

Every year, between the middle of September and the middle of the
following February of the lunar calendar, crowds of visitors from
Tibet, Mongolia, China and Nepāl come to this place to pay their
respects to the great temple. The reason why they choose the most
apparently unfavorable season for their travel thither is because they
are liable to catch malarial fever if they come through the Himālayan
passes during the summer months. By far the greatest number of the
visitors are Tibetans, of whom, however, only a few are nobles and
grandees, the majority being impecunious pilgrims and beggars, who eke
out their existence by a sort of nomadic life, passing their winter in
the neighborhood of the tower and going back to Tibet in summer.

In Nepāl I had now arrived, and the reason of my presence there was,
of course, to choose a route for my purpose, for there are many
highways and pathways running between that country and Tibet. My
purpose was such that I could take nobody there into my confidence,
not even my kind and obliging host. For, to Lama Buḍḍha Vajra I was a
well-qualified Chinaman, who was to go back to Lhasa by openly taking
one of the public roads, and go on thence to China. Besides, I knew
that the Lama was a Tibetan interpreter to His Highness the King of
Nepāl, and that were I to divulge to him my secret, he was in duty
bound to tell it to his royal master, who, it was plain, would not
only not lend himself to my venture, but would at once put an end to
the further progress of my journey. I may note here that the Nepālese
fondly call Lama Buḍḍha Vajra, Gya Lama, which means “Chinese Lama,”
for he was a son born to a Chinese priest who married a Nepālese
lady, after having become the Superior of the tower. My host’s father
belonged to the old school, and enjoyed the privilege of marriage. It
was thus that Lama Buḍḍha Vajra came to take a fancy, and show special
favors, to me, considering me as a countryman of his. Be that as it
may, there remained for me the necessity of discovering a secret path
to Tibet. I was in luck again.

It occurred to me that the begging Tibetans, who go on pilgrimage
in and out of their country, could not be in possession of the pass
that gave them open passage through the numerous frontier gates. I
remembered also that no unprivileged person--even the natives--could
obtain permission to pass through these gates, either way, unless he
would bribe the guards heavily, and it was plain that these homeless
wanderers could not do this. Encouraged by these considerations, I
took to befriending the Tibetan mendicants, of whom there was then a
large number hanging about the Kāṣyapa Buḍḍha tower, and my liberality
to them soon made me very popular among them. Demurring at first,
they became quite communicative afterwards, when they had found out,
as I presume, that there was nothing to dread in me. I learned of
many secret passages, but none which I could consider safe for me.
For instance, they spoke of the Nyallam bye-path. By taking this
clandestine route one may avoid the Kirong gate, but one is in danger
of being challenged at a gate further in the interior. The Sharkongpo
path, on the other hand, brings the traveller to the Tenri gate. So
on with other paths, and it appeared an impossibility to discover a
route which would enable a person to reach the capital of Tibet from
that of Nepāl, without having to pass through some challenge gate. The
pass and bribery being beyond them, the native beggars and pilgrims
have one more resource left to them, and that is imploring a passage,
with prayer and supplication, when they come upon a challenge post, and
they generally succeed at the interior gates, I was told. It would be
different with me: there was every danger of my disguise being detected
while pleading with the guards. My persistent efforts finally brought
me, however, their reward. I ascertained that by taking a somewhat
roundabout way I might reach Lhasa without encountering the perils of
these challenge gates. Ordinarily, one should take a north-east course
after leaving the Nepālese capital, in order to make a direct journey
to Lhasa; but the one I have just referred to lay in the opposite
direction of north-west, through Lo, a border province of Nepāl, thence
across Jangtang, the north plain (but really the west plain) of Tibet,
and finally around the lake Mānasarovara. This bye-route I made up my
mind to take.

So far so good. But it would be courting suspicion to say that I chose
this particularly circuitous and dangerous route with no obvious reason
for it. Fortunately a good pretext was at hand for me. For I happened
to think of the identity of the lake Mānasarovara with the Anavatapta
Lake that often occurs in the Buḍḍhist Texts. However divided the
scholastic views are about this identity, it is popularly accepted,
and that was enough for my purpose. The identity granted, it could
be argued that Mount Kailāsa, by the side of the lake, was nature’s
Maṇdala, sacred to the memory of the Buḍḍha, which formed an important
station for Buḍḍhist pilgrims. So one day I said to my host: “Having
come thus far, I should always regret a rare opportunity lost, were
I to make a stork’s journey from here to Lhasa, and thence to China.
The Chinese Text speaks of Mount Kailāsa (Tib. Kang Rinpo Che) rising
high on the shore of lake Mānasarovara (Tib. Maphamyumtsho). I want to
visit that sacred mountain on my way home. So I should be very much
obliged to you if you would kindly get men to carry my luggage for me.”
The answer I got in reply was not encouraging, though sympathetic.
Gya Lama, in short, bade me give up my purpose, because, as he said,
the north-west plain was pathless and full of marauding robbers; it
had been his long-entertained desire to visit the sacred mountain
himself, but the difficulties mentioned had, so far, prevented him
from carrying it out, and he would strongly advise me against my rash
decision; to venture a trip through that region, with only one or two
servants, was like seeking death. My retort was that, it being one of
Buḍḍha’s teachings that “born into life, thou art destined to die,” I
was not afraid of death; in fact, death might overtake me at any time,
even while living comfortably under the Lama’s care; so that I should
consider myself well repaid if I met death while on a pilgrimage to a
holy place. Finding dissuasion useless with me, my host complimented me
on the firmness of my resolution, and took it upon himself to secure
for me reliable carriers. Then, after careful enquiries, he hired for
me a pilgrim party, consisting of two men and an old woman, the latter
of whom, in spite of her sixty years of age, was strong enough to brave
the hardships of an exceptionally difficult road. These people were
from Kham, a country noted for its robbers, but I was assured of the
perfect honesty and good intentions of the particular three I was to
engage. As a mark of his special kindness, Gya Lama promised to let a
trustworthy man under him accompany me as far as a place called Tukje,
to see that my two pilgrim servants served me faithfully.


The Sublime Himalaya.

It was in the beginning of the month of March, 1899, that, followed
by a retinue of three men and one old dame, I bade farewell to my
kind host and, seated on a snow-white pony, given me by my fatherly
friend, left the Kāṣyapa Buḍḍha tower. I was not in good health that
day, on account of fever and weakness, but I was obliged to start from
Kātmāndu, for it was very dangerous for me to stay there any longer,
as I was quite a stranger to the Nepālese, and they might find out
my nationality, and stop me from proceeding further. So I took the
assistance of the horse; and the good animal proved to be a splendid
mountaineer, and carried me up steep ascents and down abrupt descents
in perfect safety. We directed our course towards the north-west,
through the British Residency, the most beautiful and clean quarter
in Kātmāndu, and through Nagar-yon, a hill famous for a cave where
Nāgārjuna, a great Boḍhi-Saṭṭva, used to meditate. We arrived at a
village called Jittle-Pedee in the evening, and passed the night under
the eaves of a shop-keeper’s house.


The present Ruler of Nepāl is a Hinḍū, and keeps the caste system as
rigidly as it is kept in India, where the people belonging to that
religion do not allow a foreigner to enter their rooms, or to eat
with them. Therefore we were obliged to pass the night outside a
house, or under a rock, or in the forests. Here I must not omit some
interesting things about my travels among the Himālayan mountains
from Kātmāndu to the lake Mānasarovara through Nepāl. The country
being extra-territorial, I believe no bold European or American had
trodden this precipitous path before me; hence I would like to mention
everything connected therewith, but as my object is Tibet, I cannot
spend much space on the inner Himālayas of Nepāl. I shall only mention
briefly what will be considered interesting by my readers in general.

On the third day of our departure from Kātmāndu, we travelled for more
than forty miles, and arrived at a small trading town called Chunge,
situated on the west bank of the Kirong river (Tirsuli Gandak). Just
north of the town, on the bank of that river there is a pretty forest
in which we slept well through the night, in a lonely spot, lulled
by the rolling sounds of the mountain-rivers’ grand music. Early on
the following morning we started on the north-western path leading to
Pokhra, although there is a short way, only five days’ journey from
the place to Kirong in Tibet; but there the officers of the frontier
guard the passes against all strangers. In three days’ journey after
this we made about forty miles, passed the villages Bareng-Bareng and
Sareng, and, crossing the river Agu, we arrived at a famous town,
Algata. I have not met with any maps which mention this name. The town
is situated on the west bank of the river which the natives called
Buri-Gaṅgā (Buria Gandak); this river is crossed by an iron hanging
bridge. The town itself is important on account of its trade with
Tibet; I saw more than fifty people from Tibet and from Nishang--a
northern frontier province of Nepāl. During the nine days after leaving
Algata we passed many valleys, rocky mountains, streams, hill pastures,
forests full of rhododendrons, and deep forests of fir, oak and pine,
with the peaks of the snowy range in view. We also passed several
villages--Nimareshi, Daramhaje, Rutel, Manicheka and Sātmuni.

We made a distance of something less than one hundred miles, and then
reached a town called Pokhra. Pokhra looked like a town of villas at
home, the site being chosen for the beauty of its natural scenery.
Bamboo-covered ravines, flower-roofed heights, rich in green foliage,
picturesque because of a rushing and winding stream, itself set in
the midst of high mountains--such were the characteristic features
of Pokhra. The stream I speak of has its source in the Machipusa
(fish-tail) peak, and its waters are milky white, probably on account
of their carrying in them particles of mountain clay. In all my
travels in the Himālayas I saw no scenery so enchanting as that which
enraptured me at Pokhra. Another thing notable about that place was
that it was the cheapest spot in Nepāl for all kinds of commodities.
Twenty-five _sens_ bought, for instance, four _sho_ of rice there;
while, in other places, that amount would buy only two _sho_ and a half
at the most. At Pokhra I made a rather long stay of six days, as I had
to have a tent made before I proceeded further, and twenty-five rupees
bought for me one made to order, and large enough for cooking inside

After leaving Pokhra we turned due north, and the ascent became
very steep, so steep at places that I had to get off my horse, send
the animal by a round-about way through the valleys, and myself go
afoot for half-a-day. On one occasion I was proceeding on horseback
on a narrow path that ran along a very high precipice, when, deeply
engrossed as I was in thought about the near future, I found myself
all of a sudden thrown down to the ground, before I had had time to
free myself from a branch of a tree, which had caught me by the neck
and caused the disaster, assisted by the horse’s movement onward. Very
fortunately my horse came to a halt just then, and as I never let go
my hold of the bridle, I narrowly escaped from rolling a thousand
fathoms down a craggy precipice, to reach the bottom a mangled carcass!
Realising the danger I was in, I hastily tried to pick myself up, but
in vain; for evidently I had struck my hip very hard in my fall, and
could not raise myself up. Consequently I had to requisition the backs
of my two servants in turn, thus making an ascent of about a mile to
the top of the mountains we were crossing over. On reaching the top, I
found the pain too great to permit the continuance of my journey, and
I camped there for two days, during which time my diligent application
of some camphor tincture, which I had with me, to the injured parts,
gradually relieved me of my suffering. On resuming our journey, now
down the mountain, I could not help being profoundly impressed with
the power of impenetrable solitude, for the path lay through a valley
where nature, in her wildest seclusion, reigned supreme. My sense of
loneliness was heightened by the note of the cuckoo, which now and then
broke the oppressive silence, and an _uta_ then came to me thus:

  In tortuous paths my lonely way now lies
      Among rough mountain tracks and scenes all wild;
  The rocks and giant trees in silence stand,
      With naught to break the silent depths around
  Except the solitary cuckoo’s notes,
      That makes the awful silence more profound.


Dangers Ahead.

So the days passed and with these days I came to know more or less of
the different characteristics of my two servants; I found one to be a
rather impatient fellow, but prompt of decision, and the other a quiet
man with some education, of which he was not a little proud. The latter
seemed occasionally to hurt the feelings of the impatient one, and more
than once collisions had already occurred between the two. As for the
old woman pilgrim, she was a good honest soul, and that was all there
was about her, except that she seemed to know all about the two men. I
took pains to be strictly impartial in all my dealings with the three,
though her age entitled the old dame to special consideration on my
part, and she had it in full when I thought fit. It came to pass that,
apparently because of this treatment, the old woman came to think a
great deal of me. I had noticed in her manner something indicating that
she wished to speak to me, but was afraid to do so in the presence of
her two companions; so one morning I caused her to go a considerable
way ahead of us, and I started with my servants afterwards. Burdened
with my luggage as the men were, and riding on a horse as I was, it
was only natural that I should soon leave them lagging far behind, and
overtake the old woman. The good soul turned furtively back, and asked
if the two men were a long distance behind. I told her that they must
be at least five miles behind. Then she made a revelation to me, and it
was not of a very reassuring kind; for according to her I was doomed to
be killed. In short she told me that the impatient fellow was a robber
and murderer, having committed many crimes while at home in Kham, and
that, though the quiet one was not so bad a man, he had yet killed a
fellow-creature in a quarrel. At all events neither would think twice
before taking a man’s life. The old dame thought it certain that they,
or at least the impatient one, would pounce upon me as soon as we
reached the north-west plains of Tibet, and rob me of all my money and
effects, as well as of my life! Thereupon I said: “That could not be;
for they are both men of great honesty and uprightness.” She returned:
“Konjogsum (Holy Trinity)! send to me death, if I tell a lie!” These
are words of adjuration to which Tibetans attach great importance, and
I could not persuade myself to regard my informant’s warning as a mere
string of falsehoods. So another trouble ahead was added to my burdened

After travelling twelve days more and only making a distance of about
one hundred miles, we reached a Himālayan village called Tukje, where
then lived the local Governor, named Harkaman Suppa. Through Gya Lama’s
introduction I enjoyed the privilege of being received as a guest by
this Governor. Two days after my arrival there the special man whom
Gya Lama through his thoughtful kindness, as already told, had sent to
accompany me so far, took leave of me, apparently well satisfied that
my two servants were and would be all right. But they were far from
being all right, and I felt that I would never be able to accomplish
my journey unless I got rid of them. While I was worrying myself
with these thoughts, I came across information about the route that
lay before me that proved to me another source of discouragement. In
effect, it was that three months before the Tibetan Government had
detailed five soldiers to guard, against all foreigners and any strange
person, the road in my route which lay through the State of Lo; the
same precaution had been taken on all the other bye-ways and pathways
leading into Tibet, however secluded and narrow, even though narrow
enough for just one person to pass. And I had reason to believe that
this information was well founded; so that it became inevitable that I
should give up my idea of entering Tibet by smuggling myself into its
north-western plain. But there is ebb and flow even in troubles.

One evening, while still staying at the Governor’s, my servants, having
regaled themselves with the local drinks even to boisterousness, began
a-quarrelling, which largely consisted of exposing each other. In
brief, each accused the other of a somewhat cheerless intention of
making short work of me when opportunity should arrive, with the upshot
that they both came to me, each with a demand that he would like to be
discharged if the other were to continue in my service. I could not
have had a better opportunity, and I there and then dismissed both of
them, after having paid them off rather liberally. I also gave some
money with some little present in kind to the old woman, and bade her
go with the men. And thus I got rid of an imminent danger to my life.
But there remained the greater problem of what to do next, to retrace
my steps back to Kātmāndu being out of the question, while the route I
had chosen for myself had become unavailable.

It happened that, enjoying the Governor’s hospitality like myself, was
a Mongolian scholar named Serab Gyaltsan, who was acting as a doctor
of medicine, besides giving lessons in religious Texts to the local
priests. I had not been long at Governor Harkaman’s before I became
acquainted with this person, and soon found him to be a man possessed
of profound knowledge of not only Buḍḍhism but also of literary
subjects. Whatever were the reasons on my part, he and I after a while
came to an agreement for the exchange of knowledge, he instructing me
in Tibetan Buḍḍhism and literature and I teaching him Chinese Buḍḍhism.
This understanding arrived at, we took leave of Tukje and set out for
Tsarang in the province of Lo, where the Mongolian scholar had his
home. On our way thither, we visited the famous Chumik Gyatsa. Chumik
Gyatsa means a hundred fountains, and is the Mukuṭināṭh of Samskṛṭ,
which Hinḍūs as well as Buḍḍhists regard as a place of great sanctity.
The place apparently obtained the name it bears from the numberless
springs abounding thereabout, and a spot of particular fame there was
called Sala Mebar, Chula Mebar, Dola Mebar, which means burning in
earth, burning in water, burning in rock. On seeing the spot I found
this mystery to be nothing more than the fancy of the ignorant natives,
who saw a burning jet of natural gas escaping from a crevice in a slab
of rock, that formed a lid, so to say, over and close to the surface of
a beautiful crystal-like fountain, which was about one by two feet in
size, so that its prolonged flame looked, at the first glance, as if it
were crawling over the water. I noticed, however, that the mountains
round about bore ample evidences of old volcanic eruptions, at one time
or another, an extinct crater now changed to a pond, lava-rocks, and so
on, being all present. We passed a night encamped on the bank of the
river Kālīgaṅgā, that flows at the foot of the mountain which we had
just descended, after leaving the ‘hundred fountains’ behind us. The
following morning we had a disastrous time for three hours in trying to
cross a stream. In the first place I made a blunder in attempting to
wade across the stream on my horse, which, with my weight on his back
and treacherous mud-beds under his feet, found himself in a perilous
condition as soon as he had walked a few steps into the stream. I,
of course, got off him at once and climbed upon the bank behind me.
I then set about throwing into the river, near where the horse was,
stones, rocks, and broken branches of trees that I found lying about,
in order to improvise there a passable footway for myself as well as
for the Mongolian scholar and his animal. Stones flying and muddy water
splashing around him scared my horse, and, with a wild effort, he
struggled out and landed himself on the opposite bank; but my friend’s
pony remained immovable till we had managed to build a way across for
ourselves and pulled him after us. That day we stopped in a village
called Samar (red clay). On the next we again climbed half-way up a
mountain, and proceeded due north along a path that lay midway between
the top and bottom of its slope, that is to say, toward the north of


In the mountains below Tukje I found common pines and cedars growing in
fair abundance, but now these became very rare, the obtusa species of
pine taking their place, and even these attaining a height of not more
than twenty feet at the most, the ground being otherwise covered with
shrubby growths. Riding on the snow, which was still on the mountain,
we had made a distance of about fifteen miles before we reached a
hamlet named Kirung, where I found willow trees growing luxuriantly.
The inhabitants hereabout were all Tibetans, and I saw fluttering on
every house-top a white flag with certain religious texts printed on
it. These flags are to be seen everywhere in the interior of Tibet,
as I afterwards found, and that even where the people are living in
tents. Leaving the village, we rode on northwards, over snow, through
an obtusa-pine forest, till the night fell and the moon rose, when I
again heard a cuckoo. Then I had an _uta_:

  While marching onwards now the night o’ertakes
      The pilgrim bold, the snowy floor his bed;
  The moon-lit sky his canopy will be,
      His lullaby, the cuckoo’s notes.

That night we put up in an inn in a hamlet called Kimiyi (fountain
of fortune), that nestles in the snow-covered mountains. Ten miles
on the following day brought us within sight of Tsarang, which, on
reaching, I found to be a little town built on a plain which was about
eleven miles from east to west, and three miles or more from north to
south, enclosed by walls of snow-covered mountains. More accurately,
the plain has to its west a snow-capped mountain, whence it extends
in a very slow incline towards the east, until it breaks off into a
valley. From Tsarang to the north-west plain of Tibet is a day’s trip,
and the physical features of these regions are practically of the
same character, devoid of large trees and desolate in the extreme. It
was in the middle of May that I arrived in Tsarang, and I was told
that the farmers had just finished sowing wheat. Skirting the town of
Tsarang runs a stream, which has its rise in the mountain that forms
the western wall of the plain, and on an elevated part of the town
stands a castled palace, in which lives the King of the Lo State.
Before the Gūrkha tribe had subjugated Nepāl, Lo was an independent
State. At a little distance, opposite to the royal castle, is a temple
of considerable size, belonging to the Kargyu-pa sect of the old school
of Tibetan Buḍḍhism. The temple is a square structure of Tibetan style,
built of stone and painted red, and adjoining it is a stone building
painted white, which forms a dormitory for the priests of the temple.
On a piece of level land to the west of the palace and the temple a
group of about sixty large and small houses constitutes the town of


Beautiful Tsarang and Dirty Tsarangese.

At the foot of the mountain out of which we had emerged, and where the
plain began, we came upon a stone-turreted gate about twenty-four feet
in height. Standing by itself and entirely unprotected, the gate was
not intended, as I was told, for any military purpose; but it was used
for housing Buḍḍhas and other deities that would keep guard against the
invasion of the locality by evil genii. About a mile and a half to the
rear of the gate stood the town of Tsarang, at the entrance of which we
were met by fourteen or fifteen men, who, as it appeared, anticipated
our arrival. Serab Gyaltsan led me to the house of the Chief of the
town, which was of considerable size. As in Tibet so in Tsarang, all
well-to-do people generally have a separate chapel in their residence.
When they have a visitor of rank and social position, they, out of
respect, put him up in their chapel, and a person entitled to such
distinction in these localities is generally a Lama. So it was that, as
a Chinese Lama, I was given that privilege in the Chief’s chapel, which
I found to be a typical one of its kind, with its image-crowned altar,
a special depository for religious Texts, etc., and altogether much
superior in its general finish and furnishings to the family dwelling.
I may remark that these folk generally keep a good store of the Texts,
not because they make use of them themselves, but more as a matter of
form, the form showing their deep reverence for their religion; but it
is apparently beyond their ken that volumes of Texts are but so many
sheets of waste paper, if their possessors do not understand and live
by them.

By the side of the chapel in which I was installed there was another
small building, in which lived Serab Gyaltsan. My host was a widower,
quiet and amiable, and living with two grown-up daughters, about
twenty-three and eighteen years of age respectively, who between them
managed the household and the family business, employing under them a
number of servants, farm-hands and cattlemen. I could not but admire
the two young women for the creditable manner in which they attended
to their business. I also observed that the chief amusement of all the
villagers consisted in spending evenings in dances and comic songs,
except when they went to a sort of semi-religious meeting presided
over by a Lama Maṇi, who would narrate the stories of ancient priests
of great renown, or the biographies of the more famous monarchs of
Buḍḍhist States, to the great delight of his audience.

The days I spent in Tsarang were, in a sense, the days of my tutelage
in the art of living amidst filth and filthy habits. In point of
uncleanliness, Tibetans stand very high among the inhabitants of the
earth, but I think the natives of Tsarang go still higher in this
respect. In Tibet people wash themselves occasionally, but they almost
never do so in Tsarang. In the course of the twelve months that I
lived there, I only twice saw a person wash himself, the washing being
confined even then to the face and neck. Such being the case, the
native’s skin all over the body has on it a peculiarly repulsive shine
of polished dirt, so to say. I often noticed women, whose complexion
would have appeared quite fair if only an occasional scrubbing were
administered to the skin; but what can they do when it is a custom, as
it is among them, to laugh at persons who wash their faces nice and
clean, and to deride them as being very dirty in their habits? Not only
in their appearance, but in all that they do, the natives seem to have
absolutely no idea of cleanliness. To say that they think nothing of
making a cup of tea for you with the same fingers with which they have
just blown their nose, is to give only a very mild instance of their
filthiness, and I have no courage to dwell here on their many other
doings, which are altogether beyond imagination for those who have not
seen them done, and are too loathsome, even unto sickening, to recall
to mind. As it was, my life among these slovenly people did one good
thing for me, in that it thoroughly prepared me for what I had to
endure in Tibet.

My work with Serab Gyaltsan consisted in this: a lecture on Buḍḍhism
for three solid hours in the morning, which required much preparation,
and exercises in Tibetan rhetoric and penmanship for another three
hours in the afternoon, which was, however, of a very easy nature, and
gave me occasion to engage in discussions with my teacher.

There is in existence to this day in Tibet a sect of Buḍḍhists which
believes in a teaching originated by a priest whose name may be
translated into “born of the lotus flower” (Padma Sambhava) or Padma
Chungne in Tibetan, and whom they regard as their savior and as Buḍḍha
incarnate. His teaching is a sort of parody on Buḍḍhism proper, and
an attempt to sanctify the sexual relations of humankind, explaining
and interpreting all the important passages and tenets in the sacred
Text from a sensual standpoint. Indeed, Padma’s own life was simply
his teachings translated into actual practice, for he lived with eight
women whom he called his wives, drank intoxicants to his heart’s
content, and fed freely on animal food. Now in the Tibetan rhetoric
in which I took lessons under Serab Gyaltsan I found this lewd and
detestable teaching largely incorporated, and it was on this account
that hot disputes not unfrequently arose between my instructor and
myself. At times I felt sorry, as I feel sorry now, for my Serab,
because, from what I was able to gather, he is one of those on whom
(as the result of twenty years’ study, maintaining well the while his
undefiled priesthood) was conferred the title of Doctor by the great
monastery of Sera, but who, because of having afterwards yielded to
feminine temptation, lost his qualification to go back to Mongolia as
a respectable Lama, while out of shame it became impossible for him to
continue to live in Lhasa, so that he was compelled to pass his life in
obscure seclusion. I felt sorry for him all the more, because I found
him to be a profound and widely-read scholar, who could have risen in
life but for his carnal weakness. Another thing I noticed about him
to my pain was that he very easily became angry, like all the Mongols
I came across, but, like them also, he was very quick in becoming

I said I had disputes with my Serab. It was on one of these occasions
that I differed from him with regard to the real merits of a certain
Buḍḍhist saint. Thereupon, flying into a terrible rage, he caught hold
of my clothes near my throat with one hand, and, with the other picking
up a bar belonging to a table that stood between us, was about to
visit me with a blow. The situation was very humorous, and I broke out
into loud laughter, saying the next moment that I had always thought
a little better of him than to suppose that he was capable of such
an exhibition as he was thus making of himself, in defiance of the
teachings of the saint he revered so much. This took him aback, but he
did not let go his grasp. I saw him grind his teeth, and fire glared
in his eyes; he then removed his grasp and withdrew as if too wroth to
be near me. But reconciliation followed. So time passed on, I spending
seven to nine hours a day in preparation, besides the six hours of
the regular daily lessons. Out of the twenty-four hours, thirteen to
fifteen were thus taken up for purposes of study every day, with the
exception of Sundays, my other occupation being to take one meal a day
with some tea, and to go out for a walk. Sundays I invariably spent in
mountaineering of a somewhat unusual character. I had an idea that I
should never be able to compass the arduous journey before me, toiling
on in a rare atmosphere through trackless wildernesses at great heights
while burdened with heavy luggage on my back, unless I had a thorough
training beforehand for the purpose. Guided by these thoughts, I made
a point of carrying on my back a heavy load of stones when making my
Sunday climb, and of making the ascents with all possible speed. I
was in excellent health then, and I felt that the mountaineering made
it still better, especially with regard to my lungs. Such was the
life I led for awhile, and I shortly became quite a famous man in the
locality. It was in this way.

The natives hereabouts are merely, it may be said, creatures of animal
instincts. True, they engage in agricultural work to some extent, which
keeps them occupied during the summer months, but at the other seasons
they think of nothing but eating, drinking and sleeping, their minds
being otherwise filled with thoughts pertaining to sensual love. They
occasionally spend their evening in listening to a Lama Maṇi preaching
or lecturing, but only occasionally. They change their clothing but
once a year, casting off the old for the new; but if any of them is
brave enough to wear the same suit for two years, that person is made
an object of high praise. And as they never wash their wearing apparel,
it is always shining with grease and dirt. Indifferent as they are
to their appearance, they are very painstaking in preparing food, as
also in making their sleep comfortable. But their ruling passion is
that of carnal love, and that applies to all ages, from the young to
the very old. But as human beings they are subject to illness, and
like all uncivilised people they are intensely superstitious. To them
a Lama is omnipotent, for they believe that he can cure diseases and
divine all future events. So it came to pass that the Chinese Lama--I
myself--became an object of great esteem and reverence among them. For
it was not long before my presence in Tsarang became known among the
inhabitants, and my doings in the mountain on Sundays began to attract
their attention. Especially my altercations with Serab Gyaltsan, which
were often loud enough to be heard outside, furnished them with no
end of material for gossip, while the fact that the medicines I gave
away at their pressing request occasionally proved of good effect
contributed greatly to my fame. I knew not of these things myself at
first, but heard of them from my host’s daughters, who frequently
called to favor me with tea and sweets, when they would inform me of
what people were saying of me. The most ridiculous of all was their
interpretation of the quarrels between Serab and myself; they made out
that these disputes originated in Serab’s objecting to my giving away,
to the poor, things sent to me as presents, instead of giving them to
_him_, or to my giving some cash to beggars! Idle tales as these were,
they seemed to find ready ears among the natives, who looked on me as
a being of a higher order.


While treating of Tsarang, I may dwell a little on the natural beauties
of that place. Tsarang has but two seasons, namely, summer and winter,
and many are the natives that do not know even the names of the other
seasons. In summer, simple as is the contrast between the verdant
fields of luxuriant wheat, interspersed with patches of white and
pink buck-wheat, and the majestic peaks that keep guard over the
plain and look ever grand in their pure white robes of perennial snow,
the combination makes a striking picture. Throw into the picture a
buoyant army of butterflies, that flutter up and down, keeping time,
as it were, to the stirring melody of sky-larks, which is now and then
softened by the clear notes of a cuckoo, while the fields below are
resonant with the rustic melodies of joyous damsels, and the _tout
ensemble_ becomes at once as enchanting as it is archaic; and this is
the picture of Tsarang in summer, when the day is bright and warm. But
more sublimely spectacular is the view on its winter’s eve. The moment
the sun begins to descend behind the snow-covered mountains that rise
about ten miles to the west of the town, the equally snow-robed peaks
that tower above the eastern range become luminous masses of coral-red,
as the last rays of the sinking sun strike them. The ruby color
gradually changes into a golden-yellow, but that only for a moment,
and it fades away to reveal huge pillars of silver-white, shining out
majestically against the cloudless clear blue sky. The scene once more
changes as the dusk deepens, burying the peaks in faint uncertainty,
and the moon in her glory rises slowly from behind them, to spread
again an indescribable lustre of cold--if coldness has a color of its
own--over the mountain tops, which now look like a vision of celestial
seas hung in mid-air.

But Tsarang has its horrors as well as its charms, as when a snow
storm rages. The wind is often so strong that it blows away the tilled
surface of a farm, and in time changes it into a barren field of sand,
while the snow comes down in such abundance that it drifts itself into
huge mountains here and there on the plain. The cold is, of course,
intense on such occasions and nobody dares to go out. But the scene
on a moonlight night after a blizzard is worth seeing. The sky is
filled with clouds of dusty particles of snow, moving ever onward like
phantom armies, now thickening into ominous darkness and then thinning
into vapory transparency, through which one sees struggling, the lustre
of the grey steely moon. No scene so weirdly harrowing can be seen
anywhere else.


Fame and Temptation.

Since I had arrived in Tsarang early in May, 1899, nearly eight months
had sped by, and I found myself on the threshold of a New Year, whose
advent I observed with my usual ceremony of reading the Sacred Text,
and praying for the health and prosperity of my Sovereign and his
family, and the glory of Japan. The first day of the year 1900 filled
me with more than usual emotion. For was I not then thousands of miles
away from home, and was it not the second New Year’s Day which I had
spent on the heights of the Himālayas? Yet I was hale and hearty, both
in mind and body, and ready to resume my journey, the end of which the
future alone could reveal.

In order to give vent to my feelings of gratitude, not unmixed with
hope and fear, all deeply impressive, I ended the day by entertaining
the villagers of Tsarang, having previously provided for them a full
and liberal store of such viands and delicacies as were considered to
be most rare and sumptuous. I have already described how I had been
gaining fame and popularity among the villagers, my ascetic conduct
in the midst of unbridled licentiousness causing them to respect me,
and my generosity in the matter of medicines, of which I still had a
fairly large stock with me, making me much sought after by them; and
now, through my New Year’s treat, I seemed to have reached a pinnacle
of glory. For from that time onward I gradually perceived that traps
were being set for me, so that I might be tied down to Tsarang for
life. The arch-spirit in this conspiracy was my own instructor Serab,
who insisted that I should marry the youngest of my host’s daughters,
or rather who brought all his ingenuity to bear upon assisting her
to make a captive of my heart and person. Fortunately my faith proved
stronger than temptations, and enabled me to remain true to the
teachings of the Blessed One. Had I yielded then, Tsarang would have
had to-day one more dirt-covered and grease-shining priest among its
apathetic inhabitants, and that would have been all.

But, things having come to the pass which I have described, it became
urgent that I should make haste in discovering some secret passage
into Tibet. But it was as dangerous for me in Tsarang as it had been
in Kātmāndu to disclose my real intentions, and whatever discovery I
might make for my own purposes, I had to make it in some indirect and
roundabout way. After having once more racked my brains, I finally hit
upon the plan of working upon the weaknesses of the local people. The
Tibetan Government had began to levy customs duties even on personal
valuables. It was a most outrageous act; supposing one wanted to do
trade with the inhabitants of the north-west plain of Tibet, and to
take thither a stock of coral ornaments, or some useful knick-knacks
imported from Europe, how could one avoid being unjustly set upon and
robbed of the best part of one’s would-be profit, on first setting
foot upon Tibetan soil? Ah! there must be ways and bye-ways by
which to accomplish this, and to be absolutely safe from guards and
sentinels! Surely the plains might be reached, if one did not mind
three days of hard trudging over the trackless snow of the Himālayan
Range, to the north of the Dhavalagiri peak, and thence to Thorpo?
Having once got the villagers into the right humor, in some such way,
it was not necessarily a very hazardous job to keep on tapping them
for information. On the other side of that mountain yonder, they
would volunteer to tell me, there was a river which might be forded
at such and such a point, but which was dangerously treacherous at
others; or, that if not very cautious, one might die a victim to the
snow-leopard, while crossing over this or that mountain. All these
bits of information, and hosts of others, were carefully noted down,
and a synthetic study of these scraps finally convinced me that the
route I should choose was the one _viâ_ Thorpo; and so I decided. This
meant that I had to retrace my steps almost as far back as Tukje, or
more accurately to Malba, a village in the immediate neighborhood of
Tukje. Nor was this retreat without some advantages in itself, for
it would have only been to court suspicion and to run unnecessary
risks for me to strike off into pathless wilds in full view of the
Tsarang villagers, who were sure to come out in hordes to see me off
on my departure, not only out of respect for my person, but also
from curiosity to know whither I was bound after my lengthened stay
amongst them. The route decided upon, I could not however yet start
on my journey, because the season was then against me, the peaks and
defiles on my way being passable only during the months of June, July
and August. The mountains were not, of course, entirely free from snow
even during those three months, but for those thirteen weeks or so the
traverser would, as I was told, be secure as a rule from being frozen
to death. And therefore I bided my time.

To go back a little in my story, there came to Tsarang one Adam
Naring, the Chief of the village of Malba, whither I had to retrace my
footsteps. That was in October, 1899. Naring owned a yak ranch on the
north-west plains of Tibet, and he was openly privileged to have free
access thereto over the “King’s highway”. It was on his way back from
one of his periodic visits thither that he stopped at Tsarang, and, as
he put up at my host’s, I was introduced to him. He had in his chapel,
as he told me then, a set of Buḍḍhist Texts which he had brought home
from Tibet, and he was very anxious that I should go with him to his
house and read them over for the benefit of himself and his family. The
invitation was as unexpected as it was opportune, and I accepted it.
That was in October, 1899, as I have just said, and if my acceptance
of Naring’s invitation had no definite motive at the time, it stood me
in good stead afterwards. In the meantime, however, Naring had gone to
India on business, and it was not till March, 1900, that I had tidings
of his return to Malba. On the 10th of that month I bade good-bye to
Tsarang and its simple inhabitants.

My stay in Tsarang was not entirely devoid of results; for while there
I succeeded in persuading about fifteen persons to give up the use of
intoxicants, and some thirty others to abandon the habit of chewing
tobacco. These were all persons who had at one time or another received
medical treatment from me, and whom I persuaded to give pledges of
abstinence as the price they were to pay for my medicine.

Nearly a year’s stay in Tsarang had made me acquainted practically
with its entire population, and, on my departure, all these people
favored me with farewell presents of buckwheat flour, bread, maru,
butter, fried peaches--all in various quantities--while some gave
me kata and silver coins. At three in the afternoon of that 10th of
March I left my residence on horse-back, with my volumes of Buḍḍhist
Texts and other baggage loaded on two pack-ponies. The books I have
just referred to were given to me by one Nyendak, Lama-Superior of the
principal Buḍḍhist temple of Tsarang, in exchange for my white horse,
which had proved such a faithful animal on my journey from Nepāl, and
to which the priest had taken a great fancy. The books were chiefly
in manuscript, penned by a Sakya Paṇdiṭ, and altogether were worth at
least 600 rupees.

On reaching the outskirts of the village, I found about one hundred
persons waiting for me, and to each of these I gave the ‘double-handed
blessing’. The parting was not easy, and time sped on. It was now
five o’clock, and I left my well-wishers in tears behind me. Reaching
the village gate, by which I had come in some eleven months before,
I turned round to take a last look at Tsarang, and prayed in silence
for the safety of the villagers and their ever-increasing faith in
Buḍḍhism. Before the darkness set in I arrived at Kimiyi, and there
put up for the night. The next day’s journey brought me back to Tsuk,
a village on the Kālīgaṅgā, where I spent the evening in preaching
at the request of the inhabitants. At my departure the following
morning about twenty people came forward and asked me to give them the
‘hand-blessing,’ which they obtained with perfect willingness on my
part. My instructor, Serab Gyaltsan, had left Tsarang a little time
previous to my departure, but I had the good fortune to come upon him
at Tsuk, and to have an opportunity of thanking him for what I owed
him as a pupil of nearly a year’s standing before I bade him a most
heartfelt farewell.

The close of the third day after leaving Tsarang brought me to the
mountain-village of Malba and to the residence of Adam Naring, who
happened, however, to be away from his home just then. But the village
Chief’s father, Sonam Norbu by name, who probably had heard of me from
his son, was there to welcome me, and I was given the freedom of the
family chapel, which consisted of two neatly furnished apartments,
the innermost of which contained a fine set of Buḍḍha images, as
well as the Tibetan edition of the Sacred Text and other volumes of
ecclesiastical writings, while the windows of the front room commanded
a charming view of a peach orchard. I may note here that the altitude
of Malba being much lower than that of Tsarang, the soil in the former
place yields two different crops in the year, wheat coming first and
then buckwheat. Adam Naring owned a fine tract of land for these
crops. Five or six hundred yards beyond his residence was the Kālīgaṅgā
river, gliding serenely along with a fresh green wall of small
pine-trees to set off its waters. Towering behind and above the emerald
grove stood a range of snow-capped peaks, the _tout ensemble_ making a
view delightful for its primitive joys and natural beauty.

My old friend expressed his desire that I should make my stay
indefinitely long, so that he might have the benefit of my reading for
him the whole of the Sacred Texts; but I could only encourage him with
an ambiguous reply, as I had come to Malba only to wait for the time
when the snow-covered mountains should become passable. In the meantime
I spent my days in reading, and making extracts from the Sacred Texts,
and in so doing I could not help often recalling, with a deep sense of
gratitude, the six hours a day which for nearly one year I had devoted
to my study of Tibetan, under the rigid instruction of Serab Gyaltsan
at Tsarang.

About a fortnight after my arrival in Malba I received a letter from
Rai Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās, through a trader of Tukje, with whom I had
become acquainted while in Tsarang, and to whom I had entrusted a
letter to my friend at Darjeeling, as well as others to my folks at
home, on the occasion of his going down to Calcutta on business. Along
with his letter Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās sent me a number of the Mahāboḍhi
Society’s journal, which contained an account of an unsuccessful
attempt by a Buḍḍhist of my nationality to enter Tibet, and a
well-meant note of his in pencil to the effect that I must not lose my
life by exposing myself to too much danger. So far so good; but next
something which was not so good happened. The Tukje man, my whilom
messenger, had apparently formed an opinion of his own about my
personality, and set the quiet village of Malba astir with rumors about
myself. Chanḍra Ḍās was an official of the English Government, with a
salary of 600 rupees a month, and, as such, a very rare personage among
Bengālīs; and it was with this person that I corresponded; _ergo_, the
Chinese Lama (myself) must be a British agent in disguise, with some
secret mission to execute. So went the rumor, and the public opinion
of Malba had almost come to the conclusion that it was undesirable to
permit such a suspicious stranger in the village, when Adam Naring,
who by that time had come home, sought to speak to me in secret, with
indescribable fear written on his face. Poor honest soul! What he said
to me, when by ourselves, was of course to the effect that if there
were any truth in the rumor, he and his folks would be visited with
what punishment heaven only knew. I had expected this for some time
past, and had made up my mind how to act as soon as Naring approached
me on the subject. I turned round and, looking him squarely in the
face, said: “If you promise me, under oath, that you will not divulge
for three full years to come what I may tell you, I will let you
into my secret; but if you do not care to do so, we can only let the
rumor take care of itself, and wait for the Nepāl Government to take
any steps it may deem fit to take.” I knew Adam Naring was a man of
conscience, who could be trusted with a secret: he signified his
willingness to take an oath, and I placed before him a copy of the
sacred Scripture and obtained from him the needed promise.

Producing next my passport, given me by the Foreign Office in Japan,
which had on it an English as well as other translations of the
Japanese text, I showed it to my host, who understood just enough
English to follow out the spelling of some words in that language, and
explained to him the real object of my journey into Tibet. I did more.
I said to him that now that he possessed my secret, he was welcome to
make of it what use he liked; but that I believed him to be a true
and devoted Buḍḍhist, and that it behoved him well to assist me in my
enterprise by keeping silence, for by so acting he would be promoting
the cause of his own religion. In all this, I told my host nothing
but truth, and truth triumphed; for he believed every word I said
and approved of my adventure. Then we talked over the route I was to
take, and it was arranged at the same time that I should restart on my
journey in June or July.

This taking of my host into my confidence seemed to have greatly
appeased his mind; withal, I did not think it right for me to tax his
hospitality by prolonging my stay at his residence, and immediately
after the above incident I moved into the temple of the village, where,
nevertheless, I remained the object of his unswerving friendship, in
that he provided for me, while there, all travelling requisites, from
wearing apparel to provisions, which altogether made luggage weighing
about seventy-five pounds. At my request he also secured for me a guide
and carrier, who was to convey my packages as far as Khambuthang, or
the ‘land of Genii,’ in the valley of Dhavalagiri, while my part of
the load was to consist only of my collection of religious works. Thus
equipped, I left Malba on June 12th, 1900. By taking the direct route,
the North-west Steppe of Tibet may be reached from Malba in ten days,
but as I was to take in my way places sacred to Buḍḍhist pilgrims,
besides making other observations, I set aside twenty-three days for
the journey, which I began by traversing trackless wilds for three
days. At my departure I made an _uta_:

  My roof will be the sky; my bed, the earth;
    The grass my downy pillow soft at night;
  Thus like the hovering clouds and wandering streams,
    These lonely wilds alone I must traverse.

Once on the road, I found, however, that the sentiment of this effusion
applied more to what I had come through than to what followed, for
there was for days nothing but snow for my bed and rock for my pillow.


Tibet at Last.

After leaving Malba my route lay north-west, up a gradual ascent along
the banks of the river Kālīgaṅgā. We walked, however, only two and a
half miles on the day of our departure, the rain preventing our further
progress. Starting at about seven o’clock on the following morning, we
made a climb of about five miles up a narrow path, the bed of which
consisted of pointed stones and rocks of various degrees of sharpness,
and then refreshed ourselves with a light repast. On resuming our
ascent the incline became very steep and, the atmosphere growing rarer
and rarer, we could proceed no more than six miles or so before fatigue
overcame us, and at three in the afternoon we put up in a village
called Dankar, where I was obliged to stay and recuperate myself
during the whole of the next day. On the 15th we faced due north, and
five miles of a sharp ascent brought us to a glacier valley which we
crossed, and continued a climb of still steeper incline for about four
miles, after which we emerged on a somewhat wide foot-path. At 11 A. M.
we stopped for a rest. Not a drop of water was obtainable thereabouts,
but espying some herbs growing from under a light layer of snow in a
crevice of a rock, I pulled them up by the root, and, on chewing them,
found that the root tasted quite sour. With the help of this herb-root
we made a little lunch of buckwheat biscuits.

It was all ascent in the afternoon, and a very tortuous task it
was; now picking our foot-hold from rock to rock up a craggy
precipice--Mukhala Climb, where it made my head swim to look down
into the cañon a thousand feet below--now trusting my dear life to
my staff, when caught in a sand avalanche, if I may be allowed that
expression for the places where the thaw had caused the snow and rock
to slide down, leaving bare a loose sandy surface, which gave way
under one’s foot. As for my guide-carrier, he hopped, and skipped, and
balanced, and leaped, with the agility and sureness of a monkey, his
staff playing for him the part of a boat-hook in a most skilful hand,
and, in spite of his seventy-five pounds’ burden, he was so much at
home on the difficult ascent, that he was ever and anon at my side to
help me out of dangerous plights into which I would frequently fall,
with my staff stuck fast between two rocks, or while I involuntarily
acted the _rôle_ of a ball-dancer on a loosened boulder. To add to
the misery, with each step upward the air grew rarer and my breath
shorter, making me feel a scorching sensation in the brain, while
burning thirst was fast overcoming me--a morsel of snow, now and then
taken, being utterly insufficient to quench it. Many a time I had
almost fallen into a faint, and then my chronic tormentor, rheumatism,
began to assert itself. I could go no further; I wanted to lie down
on the snow and sleep for a long rest. But as often as I wished to do
so, I had a warning from my guide that a rest then would be sure death
for me, because, as he said, the air thereabouts was charged with a
poisonous gas, and I would soon succumb to its effect; he was innocent
of the knowledge of atmospheric rarity. I knew full well the weight of
this warning, and I struggled on with what was to me at that time a
superhuman effort. By the time we had finished wading across the sharp
slope of the treacherous sand, and landed upon a rock-paved flat, even
that effort failed me; I came to a halt in spite of myself, and also
of the guide, who said that water was obtainable a little distance
below. Finding me really helpless, the man went down and fetched me
some water, which I took with a restorative drug. In a little while
I felt better, and during the rest thus obtained I liberally applied
camphor-tincture over the smarting parts of my hands, which had more or
less suffered from the rigorous exercise they had had in the use of the
mountaineering staff. In the meantime night fell and, picking our way
by the uncertain star-light and the reflexion from the snow, we made a
sharp descent of some four miles, at the bottom of which we came upon
Sanda, a hamlet of about ten cottages, in one of which we lodged for
the night.

Sanda is a literally snow-bound little village, open to communication
from the rest of the world only during the three summer months, and
that through the precarious mountain path I had come over. I was
profoundly astonished to find any people making a permanent abode of
such a lonely secluded place, where the vegetation is so poor that the
inhabitants have no staple food but _tahu_, which is a cereal somewhat
akin to buckwheat, but much inferior in its dietetic qualities.
Nevertheless I must not omit to pay a tribute to the grandeur of the
natural scenery, the ever present snow-clad peaks, the gigantic heaps
upon heaps of rugged rocks, the serene quietude, all inspiring the mind
with awe and soul-lifting thoughts.

My exhaustion had been so great, that I was not able to resume the
journey until the 18th, on which day we had again to wade over a
treacherous slope, which yearly claimed, as I was told, a pilgrim or
two as victims to its ‘sand avalanche’. We headed north-west, and after
passing by a grand ancient forest of fir-trees, and then descending
along the bank of a shooting mountain stream, we reached Tashithang
(dale of brilliant illumination) at about 11 A. M. In the afternoon
we proceeded in the same direction along a path which overlooked
now a dangerously abrupt precipice of great depth, then a beautiful
valley overgrown with flowering plants and stately trees, the home
of ferocious wild animals, the least pugnacious of which are the
musk-deer. We passed that night under an overhanging piece of rock.
Throughout the 19th we kept on facing north-west, proceeding through
many similar scenes of nature, which grew, however, more fascinating
in their picturesque grandeur as we came nearer to the great peak of
Dhavalagiri. We had just reached the head of a slope of the great
snow-clad mountain called Tashila, when--not only affected by the cold
atmosphere, but as the result of general exhaustion--I became so weak
that only by transferring my share of the luggage to the shoulders of
my guide-carrier, in addition to his own, was I able to proceed slowly.
I was thoroughly fatigued, but the sublime beauty of the scenery was
so inspiring that I could not help standing still, lost in extatic
admiration, and fancying that I saw in the variously shaped elevations
the forms of giant deities of the Buḍḍhist mythology, sitting in solemn
mid-air conclave. I was only aroused from my reverie by the warning
of my guide that any further delay would kill me--because of the
atmospheric conditions--and, allowing him to help me on by taking hold
of one of my hands, we thence made a descent of about ten miles, and
once more spent the night under a sheltering rock.

On the 20th of June we began our journey with a climb up another steep
mountain, and in the valleys below I saw a species of deer, locally
called _nah_, ruminating in herds of two or three hundred. Further up
the mountain I came upon a number of wild yaks at short distances,
while on the far-off mountain sides I occasionally discerned animals
which, my guide told me, were snow-leopards, or _changku_ (mountain
dogs), both ferocious beasts that feed on their fellow-creatures,
including man. Scattered here and there on our way I frequently noticed
whitened bones of animals, most likely victims of these brutes. At some
places the thawing snow revealed the bleached remains of human beings,
probably frozen to death. The curious thing was that the skull and the
leg-bones were missing from every one of the skeletons I came across.
It was explained to me that the Tibetans manufactured certain utensils,
used for ritualistic purposes, from these portions of human bones; and
that it was their practice to appropriate them whenever they came upon
the remains of luckless wanderers! The sight and the information could
not but fill me with an extremely uncomfortable feeling, mixed with
one of profound sympathy, and many a time I prayed in silence for the
repose of the souls of the poor neglected brethren, as we went along
our way.

In due course we arrived at a village called Thorpo, situated on the
other side of the mountain we had crossed. Another name of the village
is Tsaka, and its inhabitants are believers in Bon, the ancient
religion of Tibet. Thence we travelled on until July 1st, making an
occasional stop of one or two days for recuperating purposes. On the
way we passed through much the same sort of scenery, abounding in
picturesque views as well as in various interesting plants and animals.

We had now come to the outer edge of the skirts of Mount Dhavalagiri.
My luggage had become considerably lessened in weight, owing to the
absence of what we had consumed on our way, and I now felt equal to
taking over the burdens on to my own back. I turned to my guide, and
told him that he could now go back, as I intended to make a lonely
pilgrimage to Khambuthang--the Sacred Peach Valley--by myself. Nothing
could have given him more astonishment than this intimation, for he
had all along been under the impression that he was to accompany me
back to Malba. He stoutly opposed my venturing on such a perilous
expedition, which nobody, he said, but a living Buḍḍha, or Boḍhisaṭṭva,
would dare to undertake. From the most ancient time, he continued,
there had been only one or two persons who had ever come out of the
valley alive, and it was absolutely certain that I should be torn to
pieces and devoured by the dreadful monsters that guarded its entrance
and exit. But I was not to be moved, and the man went back, with hot
tears of farewell, thinking no doubt that he had seen the last of me.
A solitary traveller, in one of the untrodden depths of the Himālayas,
and loaded with a dead weight of about sixty-five pounds, my progress
thenceforward was a succession of incidents and accidents of the most
dangerous nature, made doubly trying by innumerable hardships and

On that first day of July, 1900, early in the morning, after watching
the form of my faithful guide on his return journey until he had
disappeared behind a projecting rock, I then turned round and proceeded
due north. To my joy I found the pathway not so difficult as I had
expected, owing to the entire absence of rugged rocks. Still, there
was always enough to weigh me down with anxiety, as I had to push my
way over the trackless field of deep snow, with a solitary compass
and a mountain peak as my only guides. One night I slept on the snow
under the sky, and another I passed in the hollow of a cliff; three
days’ jogging, after parting with my carrier, brought me across to the
other side of the northern peak of the Dhavalagiri. It is here that the
dominion of Nepāl ends and


As I stood on that high point, which commanded on the south the
snow-capped heads of the Dhavalagiri family, and on the north the
undulating stretch of the North-east Steppes of Tibet, interspersed
here and there with shining streams of water, which appeared to flow
out of and then disappear into the clouds, I felt as if my whole being
had turned into a fountain of welling emotions. Toward the south,
far, far away, beyond the sky-reaching Dhavalagiri, I imagined that I
saw Buḍḍhagayā, sacred to our beloved Lord Buḍḍha, where I had vowed
my vow, and prayed for protection and mercy. That reminded me of the
parting words I left behind me, when bidding adieu to my folks and
friends at home. I had then said that in three years I would be able
to enter Tibet. That was on the 26th of June, 1897, and here I was
stepping on the soil of Tibet on the 4th of July, 1900.


How could I prevent myself from being transported with mingled feelings
of joy, gratitude and hope? But I was tired and hungry. I took my
luggage from my back and gently set it on a piece of rock, after
brushing off the snow, and then, taking out my store of provisions,
made some dough out of baked flour, snow and butter. Morsel after
morsel, the mixture, with a sprinkle of powdered pepper and salt, went
down my throat with unearthly sweetness, and I fancied that the Gods in
Paradise could not feast on dishes more exquisitely palatable. I made
away with two bowlfuls of the preparation with the greatest relish;
that ended my meal for the day.

I should observe here that I have always adhered, as I adhere now, to
the rule of one full meal a day, besides taking some dried fruits or
something of that kind for breakfast. I may also state that the bowl
of which I speak here was of a fairly large size, and two of them
constituted a full good repast, especially as the wheat produced in
cold latitudes seems to be richer in nutrition than that of warmer

Well, I had dined grandly. The ocean of snow stretched around me
and below me, far away. I was still in an extatic mood and all was
interesting. But in which direction was I to proceed in resuming my


The World of Snow.

According to the stock of information I had gathered, I was always to
head north until I came to Lake Mānasarovara, and the point I had now
to decide was how I might make the shortest cut to that body of fresh
water. There was nothing to guide me but my compass and a survey I took
of the vast expanse of snow to a great distance before me. The best I
could do was guess-work. Following the impulses of instinct more than
anything else, except the general direction indicated by the compass,
I decided on taking a north-westerly course in making the descent. So
I restarted, with the luggage on my back.

So far my route had lain principally on the sunny side of the mountains
and the snow, at the most, had not been more than five or six inches
deep; but from now onward I had to proceed along the reverse side,
covered over with an abundance of the crystal layers, the unguessable
thickness of which furnished me with a constant source of anxiety. In
some places my feet sank fourteen or fifteen inches in the snow, and
in others they did not go down more than seven or eight inches. This
wading in the snow was more fatiguing than I had imagined at first, and
the staff again rendered me great service; once or twice I found it a
difficult job to extricate myself, when my foot, after stamping through
the layers of snow, wedged itself tightly between two large pieces of
hard stone. This sort of trudging lasted for nearly three miles down a
gradual descent, at the end of which I emerged on a snowless beach of
loose pebbles and stones of different sizes. By that time my Tibetan
boots had become so far worn out, that at places my feet came into
direct contact with the hard gravel, which tore the skin and caused
blood to flow, leaving the crimson marks of my footsteps behind. During
the descent I felt little of my luggage, but now it began to tell on
me, as the foot-hold under me consisted of loose round pebbles, when
it was not sharp angular slabs of broken rock. Five miles onward, I
came upon a pair of ponds formed of melting snow, and respectively
about five miles and two and a half miles in circumference. Both the
ponds were thick with immense flocks of wild ducks of different sizes,
brownish or reddish in color, or spotted black on a white ground.
Otherwise the waters of the ponds were as clear as could be, and the
scenery around was picturesque in the extreme, so much so that, though
with lacerated feet and stark-stiff about my waist with rheumatic
pains, I almost forgot all that discomfort as I stood gazing around.
The prestige of the ponds, if they had any, was of little matter to
me then, but, as I happened to chance upon them all by myself, I was
destined to introduce them to the world; and I christened the larger
pond, which was rectangular in shape, ‘Ekai,’ after my own name,
and the smaller, which described nearly a perfect circle, ‘Jinkow,’
a name which I sometimes use for myself. A little conceit you may
call it if you like, but it was only for memory’s sake that I did
these things; and when a little way down I came upon a gourd-shaped
pond, about a mile and a quarter in circumference, I gave it the name
of ‘Hisago Ike’--calabash pond. Still holding to my north-westerly
direction, after having gone some distance I saw, to the north-west of
a snow-clad mountain that rose far in front of me, two or three tents
pitched on the ground. The sight aroused in me a sense of intense
curiosity mingled with anxiety. Suppose I went to them; what would
their occupants think of a stranger, suddenly emerging upon them from
pathless wilds? Once their suspicion was roused, I might in vain
hope to allay it; what was I to do then? I espied a declivity below
me, which extended north-west in a gradual descent, far out of sight
of the tents, and I saw that unless I took it, I should either come
on those tents or have my progress barred by a succession of high
mountains. With nothing else to help me to arrive at a decision, I
then entered on what is termed ‘Danjikwan sanmai’ in Japanese-Buḍḍhist
terminology, a meditative process of making up one’s mind, when neither
logic nor accurate knowledge is present to draw upon for arriving at
a conclusion. The process is, in short, one of abnegating self and
then forming a judgment, a method which borders on divination, or an
assertion of instinctive powers. The result was that I decided to take
the route that lay toward the tents, and by nightfall I came within
hailing distance of them, when a pack of five or six ferocious-looking
dogs caught sight of me and began barking furiously. They were
formidable animals with long shaggy fur and very cruel looks. I had
before then been told that when attacked by dogs of this kind I must
not strike them, but that I should only ward them off, quietly waving
a stick in front of their muzzles, and on this occasion I religiously
followed that instruction, and found to my entire satisfaction that the
dogs did not try to snap at me. Proceeding thus, and coming outside one
of the tents, I called out to its occupants.



A kind old Dame.

My call was responded to by an old woman who, coming out of the tent
and finding a tattered and tired wayfarer, said more to herself than
to me: “Why, it is a pilgrim, poor, poor.” Seeing no reason to suppose
that I appeared an object of suspicion to her, I ventured to inform her
that I was from the direction of Lhasa, bound for Kang Rinpoche, Mount
Kailāsa, and besought her to give me a night’s lodging in her tent,
as it was unbearably cold to sleep in the open air. My request was
cheerfully complied with and, inside the tent, the old dame expressed
her curiosity to know how I happened to be there, as the locality
was not one generally visited by pilgrims. She easily believed my
explanation to the effect that I had lost my way while heading for the
abode of Gelong Rinpoche, and then gave me a cup of tea out of a kettle
that stood boiling over the fire; accepting it with thanks, I declined
the baked flour offered immediately after. I may observe here that the
tea offered me was not brewed in the same way as we take it in Japan,
but it was more of the nature of a soup, the ingredients of which were
powdered tea-leaves, butter and salt, forbiddingly offensive in smell,
until one gets accustomed to it, when it is found to constitute a
very agreeable beverage. The Tibetan custom is to serve a guest with
a cup of this kind of tea first, and then to regale him with some
baked flour. I excused myself for declining the hospitality of my kind
hostess by informing her that I adhered strictly to the Buḍḍhist rule
of fasting hours, which piece of information produced a very favorable
impression on her as to my personality, as she seemed to respect me
all the more for it. Then, leading in the conversation that followed,
she told me that Gelong Rinpoche’s abode was at a day’s distance,
and that this Lama was the holiest of all the priests to be found
throughout the whole Jangthang (_Jangthang_, as I explained, literally
means ‘northern plain,’ but in Tibet itself the appellation is applied
to its western steppes). Continuing, the old hostess said that a visit
to the holy man always resulted in great spiritual benefit, and urged
me by all means to call on him. There was a river, she said, in my way,
the waters of which were too cold to be forded, and she offered me the
use of one of her yaks. Her son was away just then, but she expected
him back in the evening, and he could accompany me in the morning,
as she wanted him too to pay a visit to the holy man. All this was
very acceptable to me, but one thing that troubled me was the sorry
condition to which my boots had become reduced; and I asked the dame
if I could not mend them. Mending in this case meant, as I was told,
patching the worn-out places with yak’s hide, which required, however,
two days’ soaking in water before it became soft enough to be sewn. My
hostess said that they--she and her son--were to stay only one more day
in that particular spot where I had chanced upon them, and suggested
that I might make a stay of two or three days at Gelong Rinpoche’s,
so as to give myself the time to do some mending. She offered that I
should, on the morrow, put on her son’s spare pair of boots and proceed
to the holy Lama’s in them, saying that I might give them back to her
son after reaching my destination. In the night, just as I was going
to sleep, the son turned up, and more conversation ensued amongst us,
chiefly concerning the saintly man, of whom the mother and the son knew
no end of wonderful things, altogether superhuman in character.

Early the next morning, by order of the good old dame, the son busied
himself in getting a yak ready for me. The yak is a bovine somewhat
larger than our bull, though a little lower in height. Its hide is
covered all over very thickly with long shaggy hair, and its tail
terminates in a bushy tuft. The female yak is called _bri_ in Tibetan.
Its face looks very much like that of common cattle, but it has a
pair of piercing eyes, which give you a rather uncomfortable feeling
when turned full on you, while its horns are dangerously pointed and
threateningly shaped. A better acquaintance, however, shows the animal
to be a quiet and tractable one, even much more so than our cattle. I
may yet have occasion to tell what an invaluable beast of burden the
yak is for the Tibetan. My hostess’ son brought out three yaks, one for
me to ride, another for himself, and the third to carry his presents,
consisting of dried milk, butter and other things, to the holy man. As
for the good old dame, she proved to be the very essence of kindness,
and on my parting from her she loaded me with large quantities of baked
wheat-flour, dried milk, and butter, besides a farewell cup of tea, a
treatment which is considered great hospitality in Jangthang.

So equipped, we started on our trip in quest of the holy man of the
plain. After a ride of about two and a half miles, involving ascent and
descent of equal length towards the north-west, we were overtaken by
a hail-storm, and had to make a halt of two hours until it had blown
over. During the halt, we took down our luggage from the backs of the
yaks, so that it might not get wet, and I utilised that interval quite
profitably to myself by pumping the young man for information regarding
the routes and geography of the regions I was to go through before I
could reach my final destination. Resuming our ride, we soon came to
a river which was sixty yards wide, and easy to ford for men riding
on yaks, as we were. Crossing two more rivers of the like width, and
making an ascent of a little over six miles, we came in sight of a
large white cliff, which, as my companion informed me, was the dwelling
place of Gelong Rinpoche. Continuing the ascent and approaching nearer,
I found out that what had appeared like a huge and solid piece of rock
was really a hollow cliff forming a large cave, and that there was
another concave cliff in front of it, which was not white but greyish
in color, and was inhabited by one of Gelong Rinpoche’s disciples,
as I came to discover afterwards. It was about three o’clock in the
afternoon that we arrived at the entrance of the front cave, where
my companion asked if he could see Gelong Rinpoche, though he knew
that he was considerably behind the regular hour, setting forth the
hail incident as an excuse for his delay. The answer he received was
absolutely in the negative; so he took down the presents and entrusted
them to the disciple, to be sent up to Gelong Rinpoche as from Pasang
(his mother’s name), saying that he could not wait till the next day to
see the Lama, as he was going to strike his tent and move away there
and then.

Left alone with the occupant of the grey cliff, I found him to be an
ordinary Lama of rather good parts. In the cave, put away in proper
places, were articles of daily use for devotional practices, bedding,
the kitchen utensils, etc. Having obtained the Lama’s permission to
make a few days’ stay, I commenced my mending work by soaking in
water a piece of yak’s hide which the kind dame Pasang had given me
on parting. On my asking for information as to how I could reach Kang
Rinpoche, the answer I got was very discouraging. It was to the effect
that two or three days’ journey, after leaving the cave, would bring me
to a region inhabited by nomads; for another two or three days I should
be in the same region, and then, for the next fifteen or sixteen days,
I should have to go through a wilderness entirely destitute of human
kind. I was very fortunate, said my host, in that I had chanced upon
that ‘kind old dame,’ who was noted for her charity; otherwise I should
have had little possibility of obtaining even lodging accommodation,
still less of securing a companion to the cliff; and it was out of
the question for me to secure anything like a guide for my onward
journey; human beings were too scarce in those parts for such a luxury.
Furthermore he assured me that I should be pounced upon by robbers as
soon as I should reach the inhabited parts, as I seemed to be loaded
with luggage worth taking. I had nothing to fear on that score, I told
my host, because all I should do would be to hand over all I had. My
host then told me that he had been to Kang Rinpoche two or three times
himself, and gave me a minute description of the route I was to take
for that destination. After a meditation exercise, in which my host
joined, we both went to sleep at about midnight.

When I re-opened my eyes, I saw the Lama already making a fire outside
the cave. It should be remembered that I passed myself off as a pilgrim
from Lhasa, here as elsewhere, and I had to be ‘Lhasan’ in all I did.
That morning, therefore, I got up and set about reading the Sacred Text
without rinsing my mouth. How foul I felt in the mouth then! but then
it was ‘Lhasan,’ you see! When the usual tea, butter, and salt soup was
ready, my host gave me a bowlful of it, and then we breakfasted on the
regulation diet of baked flour, salt and pepper, all with uncleansed
mouths! After that, we whiled away the morning in religious talk until
eleven o’clock, when the hour for being presented to Gelong Rinpoche
had arrived.


A holy Cave-Dweller.

“_Gelong lobzang gonpo la kyabs su chio._” This is, as I was told and
as I observed myself, what the followers of the dweller in the white
cave--and that included natives living within a hundred-mile radius
of the cliff--said three times, accompanied by as many bowings in
the direction of the cave, every night before going to bed, and it
means: “I take my refuge in the Gelong, named noble-minded Savior.”
This shows in what high esteem the holy man to whom I was about to be
introduced was held by the local people. There had now gathered about
twenty people in front of the grey cave, waiting to be taken to the
white one. During my stay I noticed that a similar scene took place
every morning, the visitors passing the night before in their tents,
pitched at the foot of the mountain, on the top of which the caves are
situated. Outside the hours I mentioned before, the Lama was under no
circumstance whatever to be seen.

Shortly before noon I walked up to the white cave, together with the
waiting crowd. I found the entrance to the cave barred by a fence and
a closed gate. Soon after, a grey-haired old priest, of seventy years
of age, made his appearance, and, unlocking the gate, walked out to
where were the expectant devotees, each of whom gave an offering or
offerings, either of money or in kind, as his or her turn came to
receive _maṇi_. The _maṇi_ is a formula pronounced by the aged Lama,
who spoke the sacred words: “_Om maṇi padme hum_,” the recipient
repeating them. The _maṇi_ came after a brief sermon. Then followed the
imparting by the Lama of various instructive precepts to the audience;
but just previous to that, each person individually went up to a table,
on the other side of which sat their venerable teacher. After three
bows, they proceeded with bent body and the tongue stuck out--the mark
of profound obeisance--and, stopping in front of the table, held their
heads close to the Lama. The latter, with the palm of his right hand,
gently touched their heads by way of blessing, in acknowledgment of
their courtesy. In the case of an individual of social position, the
Lama used both hands in administering the blessing. I may explain here
the Tibetan mode of blessing. Tibetan Lamas use four kinds of blessing,
according to the rank of the person to whom it is administered. These
orders of blessing, which are at the same time those of greeting, which
they call _chakwang_ in Tibet, are first the ‘head to head blessing,’
which consists in touching the other’s head with one’s own forehead;
second the ‘double-handed blessing;’ third, the ‘single-handed
blessing;’ both of which are self-explanatory. The fourth is resorted
to by a Lama of the highest order toward his inferiors and laymen,
and consists in touching the head of the recipient with the tufted
end of a stick, which constitutes a special article used in Buḍḍhist
ritual. This last ceremony is performed only by the Dalai Lama in
Lhasa, and Paṇchen Rinpoche in Shigatse. Gelong Rinpoche received
me with the double-handed blessing. I found in him a stoutly built,
strikingly-featured, grey-haired old man of noble bearing, who,
because of his well-preserved physique, did not at first glance look
like a person who had passed the best part of his life in religious
meditation. But closer observation of what he did and said convinced me
that he was a man of true charity, dearly loving his fellow-creatures,
and I approached him with a feeling of profound respect. The first
thing he said to me was that I was not a man to wander about in a
dreary wilderness, and he asked me what had brought me to him. The
dialogue that then followed between Gelong Rinpoche and myself was
substantially as below:

“I am a travelling priest making a pilgrimage through different
countries in quest of Buḍḍhist truths. I have heard of your fame, and
have come to be taught one thing.”

“What can that be, friend?”

“You are saving the souls of the multitude, and I wish to learn the
grand secret which serves so well for your purpose.”

“Friend, you know that well enough yourself. All Buḍḍhism is in you,
and you have nothing to learn from me.”

“True, all Buḍḍhism is in the Self, but in ancient days Jenzai Dōji
travelled far and wide in search of fifty-three wise men, and we, the
Buḍḍhists, are all taught to derive lessons from the great hardships
then undergone by him. I am far from being a Jenzai Dōji, and yet I am
privileged to imitate him: it is thus that I have called on you.”

“Good! I have but one means to guide me in saving souls, and the ‘Grand
Gospel of Salvation’ is that guide of mine.”

“May I have the pleasure of seeing that Gospel?”

“Most certainly.” The Lama here went into his cave, and, fetching out a
volume, kindly lent it to me. On asking what was the gist of the Gospel
of Salvation, I was told that it resolved itself into teaching that the
three _yānas_ (vehicles) were but one _yāna_. I then withdrew and went
back to the grey cave, taking with me the borrowed volume, and I spent
the rest of the day in reading through the Gospel, which I found to
be a compilation, resembling in its tenets the _Hoke-kyo_--the _Sūṭra
Saḍḍharma Puṇdarīka_--and in some places it even read like extracts
from the last mentioned Gospel. The next day I turned cobbler, and
mended my boots. On the morning following, I revisited Gelong Rinpoche
and returned the Gospel. In so doing, the Lama and I had quite an
argument, which, in short, was an exchange of views, based on the
Tibetan school of Buḍḍhism on the part of the Lama, and on Japanese and
Chinese schools on mine.

On the 7th of July I made a parting call on the holy dweller of
the white cliff, when the good man presented me with considerable
quantities of baked flour, butter, and raisins, saying that without a
full and good supply of them I might die on the journey. This was all
very nice, but it increased my load by twenty pounds, an addition which
always counts a great deal to a solitary peddler, going a long distance
over difficult roads, as I was to do. Back in the grey cave, I once
more set myself to repairing my boots, but the work was new to me, and
I was more successful in sticking the needle into my finger than in
progressing with the job. The upshot was that the occupant of the cave,
taking pity on me, kindly did the greater part of the work for me.
Early on the 8th I bade good-bye to the kind-hearted disciple of Gelong
Rinpoche, and relaunched myself on my journey, with eighty-five solid
pounds on my back, which in no time began to ache under the weight.


In helpless Plight.

Some hours after leaving the grey cliff I reached a river about 180
yards wide. Before plunging into it to wade across, I took my noon-meal
of baked flour: it was then about eleven o’clock. The river was the
one of which I had been informed, and I knew it could be forded. After
the repast I took off my boots and trousers, and having also tucked
up the other portions of my dress, went down into the river. Oh! that
plunge! it nearly killed me; the water was bitingly cold, and I saw at
once that I could never survive the crossing of it. I at once turned
round and crawled up the bank, but the contact with the water had
already chilled me, and produced in me a sort of convulsion. What was
to be done? I happened to think of ointment as a remedy, as well as a
preventive, under the circumstances. I took out a bottle of clove oil
I had with me, and smeared it in abundance all over my body. What with
the sun shining and my giving myself a good rubbing all over, I felt
better. Then, equipped as before, I made a second plunge. The water was
cold, indeed cold enough to make my feet quite insensible before I had
gone half-way across, and the rest of the fording I managed simply by
the help of my two staves. The river was about hip-deep and the stream
quite rapid, and when I reached the opposite bank I found myself almost
a frigid body, stiff and numb in every part.

The next thing to be done was, of course, to recover the circulation of
blood in the almost frozen limbs; but I discovered this to be no easy
task, for my hands were too stiff to do anything, and it took full two
hours to put myself in shape to resume the journey. As it was, when I
started out at about two o’clock, my legs were so flabby that I felt
as if they were going to drop off. And my increased luggage weighed
so heavily on my back, that I was now compelled to take it down and
devise some new way of carrying it. This I did by dividing the baggage
into two equal parts and, tying one to each end of my two staves (which
I had tied together), I slung them across my shoulder. But two rough
round sticks grinding against the untrained flesh of the shoulder, with
eighty pounds of pressure, were not much of relief for a novice at
this method of carrying burdens, and at every hundred or two hundred
yards of my progress, which was tardy enough, I had to alter my mode of
conveyance. In the two hours which followed, I made an ascent of half a
mile and then a descent of about a mile, and when I had arrived at the
bank of a river at about four o’clock, exhaustion made further progress
impossible for me for the day.


Settled down for a bivouac, I set about making a fire to get tea ready.
In Tibetan wilds the only kind of fuel accessible to travellers (except
of course dead leaves of trees for kindling purposes) is the dry dung
of the yak (these animals being set loose to graze for themselves) and
the kyang, a species of native wild horse. I gathered some of these
lumps, and built them up into a sort of partially hollow cone, with a
broad base and low elevation, and then three pieces of nearly equal
size placed tripod-like around this cone completed my arrangement for
putting my tea-pot over the fire. But the fire was still to be made,
and I may say that making a fire of this description is not a very
easy performance until one acquires the knack of the thing; even a
pair of hand-bellows is of little help, especially when the fuel is
not sufficiently dry. Matches being unknown in those regions, I had
to resort to the old-fashioned method of obtaining sparks of fire by
striking a stone against a piece of iron, and it is again a matter of
art to make those sparks kindle the tinder. The tea-pot I carried with
me then was one large enough to hold a quart and a half of water. In
those high regions water boils very quickly, owing to the diminished
atmospheric pressure, and as soon as it began to boil I would throw
into it a handful of Chinese brick tea; but I had to let the mixture
stand boiling for at least two hours before I could obtain a liquor of
the right color and flavor. I should add that it is the usual practice
with Tibetans, which I followed, to put some natural soda (which is
found in Tibet) into the water when the tea is thrown in. When enough
boiling had been done, I would put in some butter and salt, and after
a little stirring all was ready to be served. It was this tedious
process that I went through on that river bank. After that, I went
about gathering all the dung I could find, and then, returning, piled
it up all over the fire to make it last the whole night--a precaution
which was necessary to keep off snow-leopards, which often prove to be
dangerous nocturnal enemies of man in these parts.

To keep a fire burning brightly through the night was, however, to
court a still greater danger, for it might attract marauding robbers,
on the look out from far-off hill and mountain tops. Of the two
dangers, that of robbers was the worst, for whereas a snow-leopard will
_sometimes_ leave a sleeping man alone, even with no fire, robbers
will _never_ leave him alone. Under these circumstances I left my fire
smouldering, with a well-pressed layer of sandy soil over it, so that
it would last till the morning, giving me at the same time enough
warmth to keep me alive. When the moon rose that night I saw it was
nearly full. Its pale light silvered the waters of the river before me.
All was quiet, save for the occasional roars of wild animals. With all
its dreary wildness, the scenery around was not without its charms that
appealed to the soul.

  When rising slow among the mountain heights,
    The moon I see in those Tibetan wilds,
  My fancy views that orb as Sovereign Lord
    Of that Celestial Land, my country dear,
  Those islands smiling in the far-off East.

The night was extremely cold, and I could not sleep. I sat up and
fell to meditation; and while I was wandering over the borderland,
half-awake and half-asleep, the morning came. With a start I got
up, and on going to the river’s edge I found its waters frozen. I
then stirred up the fire, and after due preparations made a hearty
breakfast. When ready to start on the day’s journey, I could not recall
the instruction given me before--whether to follow the river up its
course, which would lead up to a high peak, or to proceed down stream.
Here was a dilemma! but I felt sure of one thing, and that was that,
weak and exhausted, I could not survive the ascent of the steep peak.
By necessity, then, I proceeded down the stream, but I failed to come
upon a rock upon which, as I had been informed, I should find an image
of Buḍḍha carved. No wonder! for I took the wrong direction, as I
afterwards found out. Proceeding above five miles, I emerged upon an
extensive plain, which I judged must be seventeen or eighteen miles by
eight or nine, with the river flowing through it.

On consulting the compass I found that, in order to proceed towards the
north-west, I should have to cross the river, a prospect particularly
unpleasant just then, as I thought of the chilling effects of the icy
waters. As I stood taking a survey of the river in an undecided frame
of mind, I noticed a bonze wading across the stream towards me. As he
landed on the bank, I hailed him, and eventually found him to be a
pilgrim from Kham, bound for Gelong Rinpoche’s cave. Then I negotiated
with him to assist me across the river, after having astonished him
with my generosity in giving him a comparatively large quantity of
dried peaches and flour, articles particularly precious for a lonely
traveller through those regions. I made him understand that I was ill
and weak, and not equal to the task of crossing the river, heavily
burdened with luggage as I was. Whatever was the effect of this piece
of information, my liberality soon won him over to my help, and, taking
all my luggage on his back and leading me by the hand, he assisted me
to ford the stream. Having landed me and my luggage safely on the other
side, and having also told me that, following the course he pointed
out, I should come to an inhabited place after two days’ journey, he
bade me good-bye and once more crossed the river. I, for my part,
started forthwith, heading in the direction prescribed for me.


A Foretaste of distressing Experiences.

After parting with the Kham bonze, I had not proceeded far before I
began to feel a shortness of breath which increased in intensity as I
went along, and was followed by nausea of an acute type. I made a halt,
took down my luggage (which, by the way, had by this time produced very
painful bruises on my back) and then took a dose of _hotan_--a soothing
restorative. The result was that I brought up a good mouthful of
blood. Not being subject to heart disease, I concluded that I had been
affected by the rarity of the atmosphere. I think, as I thought then,
that our lung-capacity is only about one-half of that of the native
Tibetan. Be this as it may, I felt considerable alarm at this, my first
experience of internal hemorrhage, and thought it would be ill-advised
to continue my journey that day. I had made only eight miles, five up
and three down, over undulating land; but I was so greatly fatigued
that, without courage enough to go and search for yak-dung, I fell fast
asleep the moment I laid me down for a rest. I do not know how long
I had slept, when something pattering on my face awoke me. As soon
as I realised that I was lying under a heavy shower of large-sized
hail-stones, I tried to rise, but I could not; for my body literally
cracked and ached all over, as if I had been prostrated with a severe
attack of rheumatism. With a great effort I raised myself to a sitting
posture and endeavored to calm myself. After a while my pulse became
nearly normal and my breathing easier, and I knew that I was not yet to
die. But the general aching of the body did not abate at all, and it
was out of the question for me to resume the journey then, or to go
dung-gathering. Apparently there were some hours of night yet left, so
I went into the ‘meditation exercise,’ sitting upon a piece of sheep’s
hide and wrapped up in the _tuk-tuk_, a sort of native bed-quilt
weighing about twenty-five pounds, and made of thick sail-cloth lined
with sheep’s wool. Sleep was no more possible. As I looked up and
around, I saw the bright moon high above me, the uncertain shapes of
distant lofty peaks forming a most weird back-ground against the vast
sea of undulating plain. Alone upon one of the highest places in the
world, surrounded by mysterious uncertainty, made doubly so by the
paleness of the moonlight, both the scene and the situation would have
furnished me with enough matter for my soul’s musings, but, alas! for
my bodily pains. Yet the wild weirdness of the view was not altogether
lost on me, and I was gradually entering into the state of spiritual
conquest over bodily ailment, when I recalled the celebrated _uta_ of
that ancient divine of Japan, Daito Kokushi:

  On Shijyo Gojyo Bridge, a thoroughfare,
    I sit in silence holy undisturbed,
  The passing crowds of men and damsels fair,
    I look upon as waving sylvan trees.

In reply to this I composed the following:

  On grass among those lofty plains on earth,
    I enter meditation deep and wide,
  I choose, nor such secluded mountain-trees,
    Nor passing crowds of men and damsels fair.

I was almost in an extatic state, forgetful of all my pain, when
another _uta_ rose to my mind:

  O Mind! By Dharma’s genial light and warmth
    The pain-inflicting snows are melted fast,
  And flow in rushing streams that sweep away
    Delusive Ego and Non-Ego both.

Thus in meditation I sat out the night, and when the morning came I
breakfasted on some dried grapes. I felt much refreshed both in mind
and body, and made good progress on my journey that morning.

Coming to a small clear stream, I went through the process of
fire-making and tea-preparing, and then took a meal of baked flour.
Crossing the stream and then mounting an elevation, I saw far in front
of me one white and several black tents pitched in the plain. The sight
of a white tent puzzled me a good deal. Tibetan tent-cloth is almost
always dark in color, the natives weaving the stuff with yak’s hair,
which they first take between their teeth, draw out and twist into a
yarn between their fingers, putting it on to the loom when a sufficient
quantity of coarse thread has thus been obtained. I could not solve the
mystery; but it mattered little after all to me then; I only wanted to
reach the tents as quickly as possible, and to be allowed a few days’
rest there. I had walked about five miles, and the last mile or so
brought back on me the now chronic trouble, the pain of fatigue and
shortness of breath. When, somehow, I had managed to drag myself along
to the threshold of the largest of the tents, the welcome I received
was in the shape of five or six ferocious-looking native dogs, and it
was a right hot reception, to appreciate which I had to put all my
remaining energy into the gentle warning of my staff.


A Beautiful Rescuer.

While I was engaged in the pleasant work of warding off the dogs,
a woman, apparently roused by the loud barking of the animals, put
her head out of the tent. Hers was a beautiful face, so beautiful
that I was surprised to see it in such a wilderness. For a while the
woman stood staring at me, and then, coming out of the tent, she
scolded the dogs. One word from her was enough, and the beasts all
ran away crest-fallen and with tails down, so that I could not help
smiling at them. And, smiling, I asked the beauty of the wilderness
for a night’s lodging. Her answer was that she must first obtain the
permission of “her Lama,” and, so saying, she disappeared within the
tent. At her second appearance I was admitted into the tent, and a
very hospitable man “her Lama” proved to be. It was a great relief to
me. That afternoon and evening I spent in pleasant conversation with
my host and his wife. For two days more I was allowed to recuperate
myself in their tent, and in the interval I learned a good deal about
my future route. Among other things I was told that at half a day’s
distance on horseback there was a river called Kyang-chu (wild horse
river), a large tributary of the Brahmapuṭra, which I had to cross,
but that it admitted of fording only by those well acquainted with
its shallows. The necessity which thus arose of having a qualified
companion compelled me to prolong my stay with my kind host till the
13th of July. It was on the night of the 12th that, at the invitation
of my host, the occupants of the other tents, numbering about thirty
men and women, came to his tent to hear my preaching, as they had been
told by my host that I was a holy priest. My sermon to the assembly
procured for me various offerings in kind. Among the audience was a
young girl who insisted on my accepting from her a neck ornament,
consisting of seven coral beads and a gem. I took it from her hand for
a moment, but with sincere thanks I returned it her, as I really had no
use for it. But she, with the support of her companions, insisted on my
accepting it, and I was finally persuaded to take the gem alone, which
even now I keep, valuing it as a memento of a dear little girl of the
Tibetan wilds. The next day the owner of the white tent came to my host
and gave him some raisins, dried peaches and dates, taking in exchange
sheep’s wool, butter and other local products. This man proved to be a
trader from Ladak and spoke but little Tibetan. Apparently a devoted
Buḍḍhist, he asked me a great many things about my religion, and seemed
to be highly pleased with all my replies; so much so that he begged me
to come to his tent and dine with him. So at noon I went to his tent,
where he regaled me with delicacies considered to be costly in those
parts. It was this Ladak trader who was to start on the day following,
and to be my guide in crossing the Kyang-chu.


As for my host the Lama, I learned that he was really a man of the
order belonging to the new sect of Tibetan Buḍḍhism, which by the way
strictly enjoins celibacy and abstinence on all its priests, so I was
considerably perplexed at seeing him living with a wife. He called
himself Alchu Tulku, which means ‘incarnation of Alchu’--the name of
a place on the plateau. His wife was exceedingly beautiful, as I have
already hinted. But it was none of my business to pry into the matter
any further. It was enough for me that, after all my distressing
experiences, he received me with open arms, treated me with the utmost
kindness, and behaved in a manner bespeaking a large heart and deeply
charitable mind. I noticed that he owned about sixty yaks in addition
to two hundred sheep, and that he was very well circumstanced, though
he might not perhaps be called a very rich man. Besides, his charming
wife appeared to be thoroughly devoted to him, and he seemed in every
respect the master of a very happy home. What more could I wish for

But I was much surprised at a discovery which I made on coming
back to them from a visit to the white tent. When in the evening I
approached the Lama’s tent, I heard noises inside which suggested a
fearful quarrel at its height. On entering, I saw that a wonderful
metamorphosis had come over the erstwhile beauty. Her face was burning
red and undergoing the most disagreeable contortions I had ever seen,
as she went on calling her husband names and otherwise insulting him
in the vilest language imaginable. It was all about “another woman”
and also about the husband’s partiality for his own relatives. A man
of quiet disposition as the Lama was, he heroically maintained his
self-composure and silence until she dared to call him “beast,” when
he rose and feigned to beat her. He probably did so because he was
irritated at my appearance on the scene just at that juncture. But that
was a blundering move on his part, for the moment he raised his fist,
the now thoroughly maddened termagant threw herself at his feet, and,
with eyes shut, shouted, shrieked and howled, daring him to kill and
eat her! What could I do? I played the part of a peace-maker, and it
was lucky that I succeeded in the office. I got the woman to go to bed
on the one hand, and persuaded the Lama to spend the night with the
Ladak trader, to whose tent I accompanied him. And so the last night I
spent with my kind host brought me a rude awakening, which caused me to
shed tears of deep sympathy, not necessarily for Alchu Tulku only, but
for all my brethren of the Order, whose moral weakness had betrayed
them into breaking their vows of celibacy, and who in consequence were
forced to go through scenes as I have described.


The Lighter Side of the Experiences.

On the 14th of July I bade adieu to Alchu Lama, and, riding on a horse
he lent to me and in the company of the Ladak trader, I resumed my
journey, now heading due north. My luggage was taken care of by my
companion, who had six men under him and some ponies. First, we went
through an undulating land where snow remained here and there, and
grasses were struggling to grow. A ride of about fourteen miles brought
us to the river Kyang-chu, whence, about fifty miles to the north-west,
I saw a great snow-covered mountain. It was in that mountain that the
river had its rise, and, following its course with my eye, I saw it
flow into and disappear in the upper part of another elevation on the
south-east. The Kyang-chu was about four hundred and fifty yards wide
at places, while it narrowed to sixty yards or so at others, where its
waters shot between walls of huge rocks. Before crossing the river we
took our noon-meal. I was now a guest of my companion, and the latter’s
men went about gathering fuel and getting things ready, while I sat
down and read the Scriptures, and I had altogether an easy time of it.
Before our parting, Alchu Lama had given me about five _go_, or about
the fiftieth part of a peck of rice. I had this cooked, and invited my
companion and all his men to partake of it. It was a grand treat; I
had not tasted rice for a long time. Rice, by the way, comes to these
regions from Nepāl, and costs about seventy sen per _sho_, or ten _go_.

The river had a sandy bed of considerable depth, and it was judged
dangerous to make the ponies wade across it laden. All the baggage was
therefore taken from their backs, and carried across the stream piece
by piece by the men, who had stripped themselves naked. My companion
and I also divested ourselves of all our clothing, and began to cross
the icy stream. Where we forded it, the breadth must have been more
than four hundred yards. The depth of the water was from three to four
feet, and another danger was from the blocks of ice floating down from
the upper reaches, which we had to take good care to escape, for fear
of receiving serious cuts. After hard efforts we reached the opposite
shore, where, in the warm sun, I had time enough to recover myself from
the effects of the cold water while the men repacked the baggage on the

Once more in the saddle, we turned north-west along the river, and
after a jog of about fifteen miles we came upon a nomad station, where
seven or eight tents were visible. We were lodged in the largest tent,
the owner of which was an elderly man named Karma. The intimation
that I had come from Alchu Lama at once secured me most hospitable
treatment from Karma. In the Karma family I observed a very singular
type of married life, almost unique even in the wondrous land of Tibet,
where (as I will tell more in detail later on) nothing is more common
than three or five brothers with one communal wife. In Karma’s case
it was quite the opposite, for he was about fifty years old and had
three wives, all living. The eldest Mrs. Karma was about forty-seven
years of age, and blind; the next about thirty-five, and the third
about twenty-five. Mr. Karma had a single child by his youngest wife.
Polygamy is only very rarely practised in Tibet, though there are
instances of two or three sisters taking, or marrying, one common
husband for economy’s sake. Karma’s was the only instance I came across
in Tibet in which one man deliberately indulged in the luxury of three

Mr. Karma asked me to read the Sacred Books for his family, and I
readily consented, for a couple of days’ rest was not disagreeable
to me. While staying with him I bought an extra pair of boots, a
precaution which I had foolishly omitted to take before, to my great
inconvenience. I also purchased a sheep, to make it a beast of burden
for me.

On July 18th I left Karma’s, with about fifty pounds of luggage on my
back and twenty-five more on that of the sheep. I led the sheep with
a yak’s tail rope tied to its neck. The animal proved docile enough
for a couple of hundred yards, but not further. It wanted to go home,
and tried to assert its right to do so with tremendous force. For my
part, I stood on my own right, and there ensued a tug of war between
the sheep and its master, and a very lively one it was. I argued with
the animal, adducing various proofs of my determination, among which I
may mention a rather free use of one of my staves. But the sheep showed
that he had a stronger determination than mine, and I began to be
dragged backward. My severe exertions even threatened to cause me some
serious injury, and I finally gave in and allowed myself to be led back
to Karma’s, as I had a mind to find out the best way of managing the
animal. On my second call on him, Karma expressed his opinion that my
sheep was not yet broken sufficiently for travelling purposes, and that
the purchase of a better-trained one as its companion might induce the
refractory animal to obey my will. I followed the suggestion and paid
one yen twenty-five sen for an additional sheep; seventy sen would have
bought me a younger one, but I wanted a fully grown and fully broken
one, and I was obliged to stay there that night, for all his sheep had
gone to the plains. On that very evening I bought another, and tried
putting on his back one half of my share of the burden of the morning;
this one proved to be a very good companion to my first sheep, and
things went splendidly on the trial.


The largest River of Tibet.

On the day I left Karma’s, about three o’clock in the afternoon I was
overtaken by a party of men, the leader of whom happened to be, as
I afterwards found, the chief of the district of Hor-tosho, through
which I was then travelling. They accosted me. I saw in the glint of
the chief’s eyes something that told me that he had half a mind to
suspect me. I perceived at once the danger I might be in, and managed
to bring the conversation round to the subject of Gelong Rinpoche. As
good luck would have it, the chief happened to be a great believer in
Gelong Rinpoche. Had I met the holy man? Yes! And more--I had been
taught to study the mysteries of Boḍhi-saṭṭva and Mahā-saṭṭva, besides
having been given many valuable presents by the saintly Teacher. All
these incidents, of which I gave full particulars, had the effect of
completely melting away the suspicion which had almost formed in the
chief’s mind. He then invited me to come to his house-tent the next day
and read the Sacred Books for him. His name was Wangdak.

On the following day Wangdak lent me a horse and caused his men to look
after my luggage. A ride of something over ten miles brought me to the
chief’s habitation, where I found his worldly possessions quite equal
to the weighty position he held as a district chief. All went well. The
next day Wangdak caused one of his men and a horse to accompany me for
a distance of about six miles, at the end of which the servant with the
horse took leave of me, after informing me that one night’s bivouac and
some walking on a comparatively easy road would bring me to another
nomad station.

In due time I reached this station, where I found four tents, on
approaching which I was, as usual, met by a welcome-party of dogs. I
shall say no more of the canine welcome, which is an invariable thing
on arriving at a nomad’s tent. At one day’s distance from the station
I was to come to Tamchok Khanbab, which forms the upper course of
the Brahmapuṭra, and is the greatest of Tibetan rivers, and I needed
a guide, without whom I could not think of any attempt to cross it.
Unfortunately I found no one willing to become my guide, although I
made liberal offers of money and other things of value. I was almost
on the verge of despair, when a sickly looking old woman came to me.
She said that she was very ill and begged me to examine her, and to
tell her when she would die; a pleasant request, indeed! But I took
pity on her, for I could see that hers was a case of consumption in its
advanced stage. I granted her request, to please her, and also gave
her some harmless medicine to ease her mind, besides telling her how
to take care of herself, and other things such as a good doctor would
say when he knows his patient to be in a hopeless condition, but not
likely to die immediately. The old dame was gratified beyond measure,
and wished to give me something in return, and she implored me to say
what that something should be. Here was my chance. I told her the
plight I was in, and asked her to secure, if possible, a couple of men
and some horses--say three--to take me to, and help me to cross, the
river on the morrow. Nothing could be easier; she was only too glad to
be able to oblige so holy a Lama. When the morrow came all was done
as I had requested. It is a general thing for a Tibetan pack-horse to
carry on its back its driver and thirty pounds more or less of baggage.
In my case the horses had an easier time of it, because my luggage
was distributed on three of them. We started at five o’clock in the
morning, and having covered about seventeen miles by eleven o’clock,
we arrived on the banks of the Tamchok Khanbab. Here I prepared my
noon-meal in the usual manner, and took it before crossing the river.

This river was a mountain stream of considerable breadth, with
extensive sand-beaches on either side. The width of the beach alone
on the eastern side was about two and a half miles, and that on the
opposite side about half as much; the width of the stream itself, when
I crossed it, was not more than a little over a mile. It was at the
water’s edge that we took our meal. When all was ready for crossing,
I once more felt the necessity of anointing my body, but at the same
time I also felt the undesirability of letting my guides see what I was
doing. Under a certain pretext, therefore, I walked away from them,
and when out of their sight I quickly finished the operation. Then we
plunged into the water. The condition of the stream with its cuttingly
cold water was much the same as that of the Kyang-chu (except for the
greater width to be forded) and the water in some places was not more
than seven or eight inches deep; but the sand was so treacherous that
we often sank in it right up to our hips. In this case, as in the
other, my guides took my luggage on their backs, leaving the horses
behind, and also helped my sheep to cross. Upon _terra firma_ on the
other side, my men pointed to a gorge between two mountains rising to
the north-west, and told me that I was to go through the gorge, and
thence to Lake Mānasarovara, after traversing an uninhabited region for
fifteen or sixteen days; the road would take me to Mānasarovara first
and then to Kang Rinpoche. I thanked my guides for their trouble and
information, and gave them each a _Kata_. A kata is a small piece of
thin white silk, which Tibetans present as a compliment. It generally
accompanies a present, but is also given away by itself. The men,
after advising me to recite the Sacred Text from time to time, in
order that I might not be set upon and devoured by snow-leopards, bowed
their farewell and were gone, recrossing the river.


Dangers begin in Earnest.

After leaving the sandy beach of the Brahmapuṭra behind, about a
quarter of a mile’s trudging brought me to the outer edge of another
expanse of undulating plain, the elevations here and there assuming
the height of hills. Following the upper course of the river to the
north-west, I saw the titanic heights of the Himālayas, rising one
above another. Here I had to pasture my sheep, and, while taking a rest
myself, I drank deep and full of the grandeur of the scenery. The sight
here obtainable of the mighty peaks covered with glittering snow from
the top to the bottom was sublime in the extreme, incomparably more so
than what one sees from Darjeeling or Nepāl. As for the Brahmapuṭra,
it looked like a shining streamer hung out from the bosom of a great
mountain, and waving down and across an immense plain, till the eyes
could follow it no more. The sight gave me an _uta_:

  The distant clouds about the snowy range
      Pour forth the mighty Brahmaputra stream,
  That darts into the farthest skies which meet
      The far horizon of the distant lands.
  The river in its pride majestic seems
      The waving standard of the Buddha, named
  Vairochana, all Nature’s Brilliant Lord.

Like all the others of my production, this may not be worth the name of
_uta_. Call it a silly conceit of imagination, if you like; but when
I made these lines, I was feeling so jubilant that I could not help
giving vent to my emotion; for, conceit or no conceit, the imagination
would have been impossible to me, had I not succeeded in penetrating
into the untrodden wilderness of Tibet.

The sheep had now finished grazing, and dividing the burden of my
luggage among the three--myself and the two sheep--I started making
easy progress onward. I found the country around full of pools of
water, varying in size all the way from a hundred yards to a mile or so
in circumference, and I gave it the name of Chi-ike-ga Hara--Plain of
a thousand Ponds. About four o’clock in the afternoon I finished the
day’s journey by encamping near a good-sized pond. I then went about
to collect the usual fuel, but found none, except the dung of the wild
horse, and I concluded that the neighborhood was never visited even by
yaks. The night was extremely cold, so much so that I could not sleep
at all, and the following is an _uta_ that occurred to me in the midst
of shivering:

  On these high plateaux here no sound is heard
        Of man or beast, no crickets sing their tunes,
  The moon above, and I, her friend, below.

The following day I made about twelve miles before noon, over a country
much the same in topography. Proceeding north-west in the afternoon, I
came to the base of a huge mountain of snow, which I could not think
of crossing. For a while I went into meditation, and then wended my
way in a direction which fortunately proved to be the right one for my
purpose, as I found out afterwards. Right in the direction, but all
wrong in other respects, as what I have to tell will show.

As I pushed onwards, I soon came upon a region which was quite the
opposite of the country I had traversed in its entire absence of
water supply; neither a pool nor a brook was to be seen within the
eye’s range. I continued my progress until about seven o’clock in the
evening--I had walked about twenty-seven miles, all told, that day--but
not a drop of water could I find, and I felt as withered up as could
be. As for my sheep, there was some green grass growing for them to
graze on. I had no tea--in fact could not have any--that evening
before I went to sleep. It is wonderful how one gets accustomed even to
hardships; I slept well that night.


Before sunrise the next morning, on resuming my journey, I thought
I espied a stream of water coursing through a sandy country at a
distance which I judged to be about seven miles in the direction of
my progress. Not having had a drop of water, or anything whatever in
liquid form, since the afternoon of the previous day, I was of course
thirsty; but now I had prospect at least of obtaining some quenching
draught, and allaying the thirst with a pinch of _hotan_, now and
then, I made good headway. On reaching the supposed river, what was
my disappointment and dismay! Instead of a stream of water, I found
there the dry bed of a river, strewn with white pebbles glittering in
the sun! Then I could not help imagining myself to be a mere shadow,
wandering in mad quest of a soothing draught in the hot region of the
nether world, where all water turned into fire when brought to the
mouth. Once more I stood me unto my full length, and looked round for
water; but none could be seen, nothing but some blades of grass growing
here and there to the height of about five or six inches. I could do
nothing but endure the thirst, and wend my way on in the direction I
had chosen--north-west. After proceeding for some distance, I once more
thought that I perceived a body of water in the midst of another desert
of sand, but on coming to the spot the glittering specks of sand once
more disillusioned me only to intensify my thirst.


Overtaken by a Sand-Storm.

The tormenting thirst which I experienced after my second
disappointment simply beggars description. To say that I felt as if
my entire internal system were becoming parched is only to put it
mildly. But, however excruciating the torture might be, there was no
help for it after all but to move on in the hope of finding some water;
even the hope itself was now almost deserting me. I really felt that
I should die of thirst if I should fail to get some moisture during
the rest of the day, and were to pass another night waterless. I had
been constantly taking some _hotan_; but even that cooling fragrance
seemed to increase the distressing dryness. Thank heaven! about eleven
o’clock I came within sight of a declivity, and somehow I felt sure
that I should find some water at its bottom. Buḍḍha be praised! I was
right: there was some water. But alas! such water! To take the luggage
off my back, get out a wooden bowl, and run down into the hollow was
the work of an instant. But when I fetched out a bowlful of the water,
lo and behold! it was vermilion red, thick and (what was worse) alive
with myriads of little creatures! In short, it was a stagnant pool of
water, which for all I knew might have been becoming putrid for years.
Imagine how I then felt! I was dying with thirst, but the very look
of the water was forbidding. Then my religious scruples disallowed
my swallowing any water with living things in it. It was not long,
however, before I remembered a teaching of the Blessed Buḍḍha, in
which the Lord telleth that when water which is to be drunk contains
living things, it should be strained through a piece of woven stuff. I
went through the process; but the water remained red. There were no
more moving things in it, however, and I took a good long draught of
the vermilion liquid. That quenching draught, how delicious it was! I
imagine God’s nectar could not be sweeter. But a second bowlful--no, I
could not take it. In the usual manner, then, I built a fire and went
about boiling the filtered water. It was well-nigh twelve o’clock,
however, before the kettle began to boil, and it being against my rule,
as already told, to take any meal after noon, I prepared baked flour
with the red lukewarm water. And the lunch I then took was one of the
most enjoyable I ever had in Tibet.

[Illustration: A SAND-STORM.]

I had proceeded over the sandy desert for about two and a half miles,
after that memorable lunch, and it was now past three o’clock in the
afternoon, when a terrific sand-storm arose. A sand-storm is something
which one can never experience, or form any idea of, in Japan. As
strong gust after gust of wind arose, the loose sand actually surged
into big billows, tossing, dashing, tumbling, and sweeping, like the
angry waves of the mighty ocean. The wind burrowed deep into the ground
here and built high hills of sand there, filling the air with blinding
particles, which rested in heaps on the luggage, penetrated down the
neck, and made impossible any progress forward, while to stand still
was to risk being buried alive. Not knowing what else to do, I kept
moving just to shake off the sand, and to avoid being inhumed, while
reciting in silence some passages of the Holy Text.

Fortunately the storm lasted for only about an hour, and it subsided
with the same suddenness with which it arose. Then I resumed my
advance, and by about five o’clock I reached a place grown over with
creeping grass, and low thorny bush, the leaves of which were not green
but dark to almost blackness, owing probably to the cold climate. There
I bivouacked for the night, and I had an abundance of fuel with which
to make a fire, and afterwards thoroughly enjoyed my sleep, as I had
not done for many a night.

The next morning, after traversing the bush-land, I came to the foot
of a mountain which I had to climb. When half way up the slope I saw
a mountain stream flowing across my road, and it presented a rather
curious sight. For the river, at a very short distance, broadened into
a lake, and almost described a right angle when flowing out of this
and into another basin. Afterwards I ascertained the name of this
river to be Chema-yungdung-gi-chu, and that its waters flowed into the
Brahmapuṭra. I shuddered at the thought of having once more to cross an
icy mountain stream, but there was no help.

It was only nine o’clock in the morning when I reached the
Chema-yungdung-gi-chu, and I found ice quite thick still along its
banks. I waited till the ice began to melt, and I finished the
noon-meal before making a plunge into the water, not forgetting of
course the anointing process. My intention was to make my sheep carry
their shares of the luggage across the river; but to this proposal they
strenuously objected, probably knowing instinctively the depth of the
water. In the end I gave in, relieved the animals of their burden, and,
leaving the luggage behind, I led them into the water by their ropes.
I tucked up my clothes high, but the water proved to be much deeper
than I had judged; it came up to my shoulders, and all the clothing
I had on became wet through. The sheep proved good swimmers, and we
managed to get to the other side without any accident; of course they
might have been washed down and drowned, but for the assistance I gave
them by means of the ropes. Once on the bank, I tied one end of the
ropes to a large boulder, and after taking off all my clothing to get
dry I, stark naked, made a second plunge and returned for my luggage.
The second crossing was comparatively easy. After a rest of about
half an hour, and a thorough anointing for the second time, I made
all my baggage into one bundle to be balanced on my head. With that
acrobatic equipment, I entered the stream for a third time. All went
well, until, in mid-stream, I lost my foothold, treading on a slippery
stone in the bottom, and, what with the weight of the luggage on my
head, and more or less exhaustion after the repeated wadings, I fell
down into the water, while the bundle slid off my head. I had no time
even to bring my staff into service; all I could do was to take firm
hold of my luggage, and try to swim with one hand; for I was being fast
carried down into deep waters. The thought then occurred to me that, if
I tried to save my luggage, I might lose my life. But a second thought
made it plain to me that to lose my luggage would mean surer death,
because my route lay for ten days, at least, over an uninhabited tract
of wilderness, and thus it was wiser to cling to it while life lasted.
And cling to my luggage I did, but I was rapidly losing the power of
moving my free swimming arm, and, in only one hundred yards down the
swift stream, I should be washed into one of the lakes, whence I might
never be able to get to dry land. I should have said that the river,
at the point where I was crossing it, was a hundred and eighty yards
wide, more or less. I had now had quite a course of ice and water--all
involuntarily certainly--and a feeling of numbness was quickly coming
over me. I began to think that it might be just as well to be drowned
then as to die of starvation afterwards. In fact, I had spoken my
last desire: “O ye! All the Buḍḍhas of the ten quarters, as well as
the highest Teacher of this world, Buḍḍha Shākyamuni! I am not able
to accomplish my desires and to return the kindness of my parents,
friends, followers and specially the favors of all the Buḍḍhas, in
this life; but I desire that I be born again, in order to requite the
favors which I have already received from all.” At that moment, with a
thrill, I felt that the end of one of my staves had touched something
hard. In an instant courage returned to me, and on trying to stand up I
found that the water was only up to my breast. I was at that time about
forty yards from the bank I had started for. Feeble as I was, with
recovered strength I finally managed to reach the “shore of salvation”.
As for the luggage, heavy with the soaking water, it was impossible for
me to rebalance it on my head, and I pulled it along after me in the
water; but when I at last got upon the bank, it taxed all my remaining
energy to drag it out after me. Arrived on the bank, I found that I had
been carried more than two hundred and fifty yards down the stream from
the point whence I started to cross it, and I saw my sheep leisurely
grazing, perfectly unconscious of their master’s sad plight. I had no
strength, then, even to crawl up to where my sheep were. My fingers
were stiff and immovable, and I rubbed the regions over my heart and
lungs with closed fists. After an hour’s exercise of this kind, I more
or less recovered the circulation of blood in my limbs, and I was just
able partially to undo my baggage and to take out hotan--hotan, my
life-saving hotan, which Mrs. Ichibei Watanabe of Osaka gave me, when
bidding me farewell. A dose of hotan sent me into a fit of convulsions,
which lasted for nearly three hours. It was now past five o’clock, and
the sun was going down. The convulsions had almost left me. I then made
two bundles of my luggage, and in two crawling trips I carried them to
where I had left my sheep grazing. It was then that I thought of an
ancient method of torture, called _Oi-ishi_, which consisted in making
a suspect carry on his back an extremely heavy load--so rackingly heavy
I then felt to be the weight of my divided luggage. That evening I had
neither courage nor energy to make any fire, and I passed the night
wrapped up in my half-wet _tuk-tuk_. The luggage having been done up
in hides and skins, the water had not penetrated much into it, and I
was thus able to go to sleep dressed, and protected in partially dry

[Illustration: STRUGGLE IN THE RIVER.]


22,650 Feet above Sea-level.

The sun shone out brightly the next morning, and I dried my clothing
and the collection I then had of the sacred Scriptures. The latter I
still have in my possession, and every time I take them out, I cannot
help wondering how my life was spared when those things got wet. By one
o’clock in the afternoon I was ready to proceed, although I had not
half recovered from the effect of my experience of the day before, and
my things were far from being dry. Consequently even my own share of
the luggage proved heavier than before, while circumstances compelled
me to relieve my sheep of a part of theirs. To make things worse, I
had managed to get a painful cut on one of my feet during my last
effort to cross the Chema-yungdung-gi-chu, and altogether it was an
inauspicious start which I made on that afternoon. After all, however,
a step forward meant a step nearer to my destination, and with that
philosophical reasoning I dragged myself onward. In that way I had
proceeded for about five miles, when, to increase my difficulties, snow
began to fall thick and fast. When I had arrived near a small pond and
stopped to bivouac for the night, fire and tea were entirely out of the
question, for the elements were now engaged in a fearful strife--the
dazzling lightning, the deafening thunder, the shrieking wind and the
blinding blizzard were at war all at once. That which I had managed to
dry tolerably the day before became thoroughly wet again, and the whole
of the following morning was spent in repeating the process of the
preceding morning. No fire was obtainable even then, and consequently
no tea; so I allayed my hunger with some raisins before resuming my
journey shortly after noon. And little I dreamt of the danger that was
in store for me that afternoon and the day following.

I was still heading for the north-west, and in order to adhere to that
course I must now climb a snow-clad peak towering into the sky; I saw
no way of avoiding the task, and encouraged by an uncertain hope--still
a hope--of emerging upon or near Kang Rinpoche, or in the neighborhood
of Mount Kailāsa, I began the ascent of that great hill, which I
afterward ascertained to be a peak called Kon Gyu-i Kangri, that rises
twenty-two thousand six hundred and fifty feet above sea-level. By
five o’clock in the afternoon I had made an ascent of about ten miles,
and then it began to snow and to blow a gale. I thought it dangerous
to continue my ascent under these conditions, and turning first north
and then east, I essayed to make a rapid descent. The sun had now gone
down, and snow was falling faster than ever. But I had not yet found
a shelter and so continued my descent, having made up my mind to go
on until I found a hospitable shelving cliff, or some such haven. It
was, however, nothing but snow, snow, everywhere and all around--and
presently there were twelve inches on the ground. By and by my sheep
refused to proceed further, whether owing to hunger or not I could not
tell, though it was plain that they had not fed the whole afternoon,
because of the snow. At first I succeeded in getting them to move on
a little as the result of some physical reasoning, but presently even
that process of pleading failed. But the prospect of being frozen to
death prevented me from yielding to their not unreasonable obstinacy,
and putting all my strength into the ropes I dragged them onward. The
poor animals reluctantly obeyed me and walked on for about a hundred
yards, at the end of which, however, they came to a dead stop and began
to breathe heavily. Thereupon I felt no little alarm, thinking that
the animals might die that night. But what could I do? I knew that I
was many a days’ journey at least from the nearest human habitation. A
few more miles either way would not make much difference: so let fate
decide. Once in that frame of mind, I took out my night-coverings and
wrapped myself up and, protecting my head with a water-proof coat, I
sat myself down between my two sheep, with the determination to pass
the night in religious meditation.


My poor sheep! They crept close to me and lay there in the snow,
emitting occasionally their gentle cry, which I thought had never
sounded sadder. Nor had I ever felt so lonely as I did then. Wrapped up
in the clumsy manner that I have described, I still managed to smear
over my body the clove-oil, which seemed to prevent to some extent the
radiation of the heat of the body, and I began to feel considerably
warmer than I had been before. For all that, the cold increased
in intensity after midnight, and I began to feel that my power of
sensation was gradually deserting me. I seemed to be in a trance, and
vaguely thought that that must be the feeling of a man on the point of


I survive a Sleep in the Snow.

I was now wandering in a dream-land, if I may so describe the mental
condition of a man half-way on the road of being frozen to death.
Regret, resignation, and the hope of re-birth took turns in my mind,
and then all became a blank. During that blankness I no doubt looked
exactly like a dead person. Suddenly I awoke, fancying that somebody,
something, was stirring about me or near me. I opened my eyes, and saw
the two sheep shaking themselves; they were shaking snow off their
bodies. That was strange, I dreamily thought. I saw the sheep finish
shaking off the snow, and I wanted to shake it off too. But I could
not. I was rigid all over. Mechanically I next endeavored to recover
the use of my limbs. Presently I became more myself mentally, and I saw
the skies still presenting a dismal and threatening appearance, the
immense patches of black, black cloud still fleeing or pursuing, and
the sun struggling to force his life-giving rays between the intervals
of the hurrying vapors. On taking out my watch I found that it was
then half past ten--of what morning I could not tell. Had I slept only
one night, or two in the snow? The question was more than I could just
then solve. Nor did I feel that there was any necessity for its instant
solution. My immediate desire was for nourishment, and I took some
baked flour, helping it down with snow. I gave some also to my sheep,
which, by that time, had learnt to feed themselves on flour when green
grass was lacking.

I felt that the condition of my health was not equal to the task of
making a second attempt to climb over the Kon Gyu-i Kangri, and I
continued the descent when I resumed my journey, with the intention of
taking a long rest at the foot of the mountain. After going down more
than five miles I came to another mountain stream, and at the same time
down again came the snow. I almost trembled at a prospect of spending
another perilous night in the snow. Just at that juncture I heard some
clear, ringing sounds, as of a bird’s cry. Turning round, I saw seven
or eight cranes stalking along majestically in the shallow part of
the river. Never before had I seen a sight so poetically picturesque,
so representative of antique serenity. Some little time afterwards I
composed an _uta_ in memory of that enchanting scene:

  Like feathers white the snows fall down and lie
      There on the mountain-river’s sandy banks;
  Ko-kow, Ko-kow! sounds strange--a melody
      I hear--I search around for this strange cry.
  In quiet majesty those mountain cranes
      I find, are proudly strutting--singing thus.

The river was about one hundred and twenty yards wide, and crossing
it, I still proceeded down the incline. I had now come to the bottom
of a valley, and I saw at a distance what I took for a herd of yaks.
But I had before been deceived quite often by exposed boulders and
rocks which I had taken for yaks, and I was doubtful of my vision on
that occasion. But presently I saw the dark objects moving about,
and I was sure that they were yaks. The discovery, wholly unexpected
as it was, was delightful, for their presence implied that of some
fellow-creatures in the neighborhood. Coming up to the spot, I found
that the herd consisted of about sixty yaks, attended by some herdsmen.
On my questioning the men, they informed me that they had arrived at
the spot the evening before, and that a little further on I should come
upon a little camp of four tents. Towards these I forthwith directed my

My arrival in front of one of the tents was, as usual, hailed by a
pack of barking dogs. I begged the occupants of the first tent for a
night’s lodging, but met with a flat refusal. Probably my appearance
was against me: I had not shaved for two months, and my unkempt hair
and beard no doubt made me look wild, while under-feeding and general
exhaustion cannot have improved my features. Still I pleaded for
charity, but in vain. Dejectedly I moved to a second tent, but there
too I received no better treatment. In fact the treatment was worse:
for my urgent pleading, with a detailed account of my sufferings
during the previous eight days or so, only seemed to make the master
of the tent turn colder, even to the extent of finally charging me
with an intention to rob him. That was enough. I turned away, and a
great sadness came over me as I stood in the snow. My sheep bleated
pitifully, and I felt like crying myself. A third tent stood near, but
I could not muster courage enough to repeat my request there. The sight
of my sheep was melancholy in the extreme, and with an effort I made
an appeal at the fourth and last tent. To my great joy, I met a ready
welcome. I was utterly tired out, but a quiet rest near a comfortable
fire made me imagine the joys of paradise, and this I was allowed to
enjoy all that evening and through the next day. During that stay I
occupied my time in writing down the twenty-six desires which I had
formulated, with the hope of their accomplishment proving helpful to
the spiritual need of others as well as myself.

At five o’clock on the second morning I thanked my host for his
hospitality and left him. I now proceeded due north and, after trudging
over snow for nearly ten miles, I came out upon a more or less
grass-covered plain. By noon I had arrived near a pond, and there took
my midday meal. A survey from that point showed me that I had to cross
a sandy desert, which appeared to be larger in extent than the one I
had traversed after crossing the Chema Yungdung. The thought of another
sand-storm gave me new energy, born of fear, and I made no halt until
I had walked quite out of the desert.


‘Bon’ and ‘Kyang.’

I walked about five miles over the sand and then reached a piece of
grass-land. Beyond this I came to a plain of stones of curious shapes,
in the centre of which a solitary mountain rose to a considerable
height. I subsequently learned that the mountain was the sacred abode
of the deities of the Bon religion. Bonism is an ancient religion of
Tibet, which commanded considerable influence before the introduction
of Buḍḍhism into that country. It has still some adherents, but it
continues to exist only for its name’s sake. Originally Bonism very
much resembled Hinḍuism; but now, in theory, it is almost Buḍḍhism.
This similarity is explained in this way. When it was superseded by
Buḍḍhism, a certain Bon priest recast his religion after the pattern
of Buḍḍhism, and called the revised product the New Bonism. Without
attempting to give any special particulars of its doctrines, I may say
that the New Bonism, when shorn of its sacrifices, its toleration of
marriage and of the use of intoxicants, is only Buḍḍhism under another
name. The Bon deities have no shrines or temples dedicated to them, and
are believed to inhabit some particular mountain, or snowy peak, or
pond, or lake. And it was upon one of these divine abodes that I had
chanced, but lacking at the time all knowledge of Bonism, my attention
was soon diverted by coming in sight of a couple of _kyangs_.

[Illustration: A LUDICROUS RACE.]

As I have already said, kyang is the name given by the Tibetans to the
wild horse of their northern steppes. More accurately it is a species
of ass, quite as large in size as a large Japanese horse. In color it
is reddish brown, with black hair on the ridge of the back and black
mane and with the belly white. To all appearance it is an ordinary
horse, except for its tufted tail. It is a powerful animal, and is
extraordinarily fleet. It is never seen singly, but always in twos or
threes, if not in a herd of sixty or seventy. Its scientific name is
_Equus hemionis_, but it is for the most part called by its Tibetan
name, which is usually spelt _kyang_ in English. It has a curious habit
of turning round and round, when it comes within seeing distance of
a man. Even a mile and a quarter away, it will commence this turning
round at every short stage of its approach, and after each turn it
will stop for a while, to look at the man over its own back, like a
fox. Ultimately it comes up quite close. When quite near it will look
scared, and at the slightest thing will wheel round and dash away, but
only to stop and look back. When one thinks that it has run far away,
it will be found that it has circled back quite near, to take, as it
were, a silent survey of the stranger from behind. Altogether it is an
animal of very queer habits.

But to come back to my story: my two sheep, apparently frightened by
the approach of the rotating horses, made a dash for freedom with
such suddenness and simultaneity that I lost my hold of the two
ropes; I then proceeded to run a race with them, in a frantic effort
to recapture them. And a ludicrous race it was, in which I finally
fell panting and giddy. While it lasted the horses seemed thoroughly
to enjoy it, and getting into the spirit of the thing they galloped
with me, but only to chase my sheep further away from me. When I lay
prostrate, the sheep stopped running and began quietly to graze.
The horses also stopped, and appeared quite astonished at the whole
performance. I then perceived my blunder. On rising, I quietly walked
up to my sheep, and without a movement they allowed me to regain their

All is well that ends well. But on that occasion one thing was not
quite satisfactory, for I soon discovered that one of my sheep had lost
a part of my luggage from its back, no doubt during that memorable
race. I then set out to hunt after the lost bundle; but it was all
useless, for we had not run the race over any regular course, and
it was impossible to follow our footsteps. One may as well look for
a parcel lost in the sea, as try to hunt up a small bundle, lying
hidden under grass and leaves, somewhere in an immense plain. Besides,
I argued with myself thus: the missing bundle contained some fifty
rupees in cash, my watch and compass, and an assortment of western
trinkets; it would have been better not to lose the money, certainly,
but it was, after all, a small portion of what I had with me, and I
could do well without it. It was hard to part with the watch and the
compass, and the trinkets would have been of service in making friends
with the simple natives; but, looked at from another point of view,
the possession of these things might arouse the suspicion of the more
intelligent Tibetans, and it was most likely that the Lord Buḍḍha, in
His wisdom and mercy, had caused me to be rid of them. Arriving at this
conclusion, I gave up my search in a spirit of meek resignation.


The Power of Buddhism.

I had now walked about six miles to the north-west after the singular
proceedings which I described in the last chapter, and I emerged upon
a well-trodden road, which on consulting my store of information I was
able to identify as the path that, deviating from the Tibetan national
high-way, led to lake Mānasarovara. The discovery was as unexpected
as it was pleasing, for I was now within a pilgrim-frequented zone. A
few more steps, indeed, brought me in sight of a dark tent, standing
on the banks of a large river, named Gaṅgā by the Tibetans, where
my appeal for a night’s lodging was cheerfully granted. I found the
occupants of the tent to consist of three men and two women, the men
being brothers, one of the women the wife of the eldest brother, and
the other a daughter of another of the brothers. My first inclination
on being received into the tent was to feel easy in mind, for I had
been told that parties comprising women, even in Tibetan wilds, seldom
commit murder. But when I was informed that these people were from Dam
Gya-sho, I thought I was rather hasty in feeling so secure, for that
country, like the neighboring one of Kham, is noted for its production
of professional robbers and murderers. I had heard before that they
had even such a saying in that country as: “No murder, no food; no
pilgrimage, no absolution. On! onward on your pilgrimage, killing men
and visiting temples, killing men and visiting temples!” Even women of
that country, I had been told, think no more of committing homicide
than of killing a sheep. These reflexions did not bring much cheer to
my heart; but what could I do, since I was now in their hands? I could
only bide my time. Fortunately, they did not butcher me that night.

Early on August 3rd, that is to say, on the morning of the following
day, I proceeded in a north-westerly direction along the great stream,
with my newly-made companions, for such had the occupants of the tent
become, as they were heading for the same temporary destination as
myself. This river, I ascertained, had its rise in one of the snowy
peaks that I saw to the south-east, and emptied its waters into
Lake Mānasarovara. I judged it to be about two hundred and fifty
yards wide and fairly deep. Following the stream for about three and
three-quarters miles and then making an ascent, we came to a clear,
bubbling spring, which went by the name of Chumik Gaṅgā or the source
of the Gaṅgā, and we drank deep of the sacred water. Then we continued
our climb, now facing north, and arrived at another spring, which was
welling up in a most picturesque way from under an immense slab of
white marble. The natives call it Chumik thong-ga Rangchung, or the
fountain of joy, and it really made one’s heart glad to look at the
crystal-like water gushing up in all its purity. Both these springs are
regarded by the Hinḍūs, as by the Tibetans, as forming the sources of
the sacred Gaṅgā, and are both looked up to with religious reverence.

After leaving the springs, we proceeded north-west again, and came
once more to the river Gaṅgā, which we forded at the point where it
was at its broadest in that vicinity, and passed the night on its
banks. We had travelled only about nine miles that day. From the place
of our bivouac I saw to the north-west a great snow-clad mountain: it
was the Kang Rinpoche of Tibet, the Mount Kailāsa of the Hinḍū. Its
ancient name was Kang Tise. As far as my knowledge goes, it is the
most ideal of the snow-peaks of all the Himālayas. It inspired me with
the profoundest feelings of pure reverence, and I looked up to it as
a ‘natural maṇdala,’ the mansion of a Buḍḍha and Boḍhisaṭṭvas. Filled
with soul-stirring thoughts and fancies I addressed myself to this
sacred pillar of nature, confessed my sins, and performed to it the
obeisance of one hundred and eight bows. I also took out the manuscript
of my ‘twenty-six desires,’ and pledged their accomplishment to the
Buḍḍha. I then considered myself the luckiest of men, to have thus been
enabled to worship such a holy emblem of Buḍḍha’s power, and to vow
such vows in its sacred presence, and I mused:

  Whate’er my sufferings here and dangers dire,
      Whate’er befalls me on my onward march,
  All, all, I feel, is for the common good
      For others treading on Salvation’s path.

The sight of my performance of these devotional practices must have
been a matter of wonder and mystery to my companions. They had been
watching me like gaping and astonished children, and were all intensely
curious to know why I had bowed so many times, and read out such
strange Chinese sentences. I was glad to explain to them the general
meaning of my conduct and they seemed to be deeply struck with its
significance. They said that they had never known that the Chinese
Lamas were men of such Boḍhisaṭṭvic mind! The upshot was that they
asked me to preach to them that night, a request to which I was very
glad to accede. The preaching which followed, which I purposely made as
simple and as appealing to the heart as possible, seemed to affect them
profoundly, and to make the best possible impression on them; so much
so that they even shed tears of joy. The preaching over, they said in
all sincerity that they were glad of my companionship, and even offered
to regard me as their guest during the two months which they intended
to spend in pilgrimage to and round the Kang Rinpoche. They thought
that their pilgrimage over such holy ground, while serving such a holy
man as I now was to them, would absolve them completely from their
sins. Imagine the state of my mind then! These were of the people who
took other men’s lives with the same equanimity with which they cut
their vegetables; yet, touched now by the light of Buḍḍhism, their
minds had softened. I blessed the power of Buḍḍhism more than ever, and
could not hold back my tears as my companions shed theirs.


Sacred Manasarovara and its Legends.

It was now August 4th. After proceeding about ten miles over an
undulating range of mountains we came in sight of Man-ri, a peak
of perpetual snow, which has an altitude of 25,600 feet above the
sea-level. The view of Man-ri, rising majestically high above
the surrounding mountains (themselves of great elevation) was
sublimely grand. While standing absorbed in the severe magnificence
of the scenery, I was treated to another experience, which was as
soul-stirring as any earthly phenomenon could be. A magical change in
the weather was heralded by a sudden flash of lightning, followed by
another, yet another and another, new accompanied by rolling thunder.
Heavy pelting hail-stones then joined in the war of elements, which
literally shook the mighty mountains to their very foundations, and
filled the air with the utmost confusion of terrific noises and lurid
tongues of fire. Standing almost alone upon a great height, I saw
black clouds with fearful suddenness envelope the world of vision in
frightful darkness, made doubly dark by the contrasts produced by
the momentary glare of pale, penetrating lightning, which, in the
same instant, revealed the glittering snow on the grand peaks of the
Himālayas, and the deepest chasms, thousands of fathoms below!

The awe-inspiring scene lasted for about an hour, and then, with
equally wondrous suddenness, the sky became blue and the sun shone
forth, serene and calm, with not a whisper of wind to remind one of the
mighty commotions of the moment before. We did but little walking after
this wonderful sight, and, coming to the edge of a marsh-like pond,
we pitched our tent there for the night. I was now the guest of my
companions, and I was not sorry that I had nothing to do with gathering
the yak dung, or fetching water, and building the fire. I was given the
seat of honor in the tent, and nothing was exacted of me but to sit
down like a good priest, read the Sacred Text and then preach in the

On the 6th of August we had to go up a great slope of extremely sharp
inclination, and I was offered a ride on one of my companions’ yaks, an
offer which I readily accepted with entire satisfaction. Furthermore,
all my share of the luggage, as well as part of the burdens of my
sheep, was transferred to the back of one of my fellow-pilgrims, and
both myself and my original companions had altogether an easy time of
it, as was the case through the weeks that followed.

[Illustration: LAKE MANASAROVARA.]

About thirteen miles onwards a view opened before us which I shall
never forget, so exquisitely grand was the scenery. In short, we were
now in the presence of the sacred Lake Mānasarovara. A huge octagon in
shape, with marvellously symmetrical indentations, Lake Mānasarovara,
with its clear placid waters, and the mighty Mount Kailāsa guarding
its north-western corner, form a picture which is at once unique and
sublime, and well worthy of its dignified surroundings--calm, dustless
and rugged. Mount Kailāsa itself towers so majestically above the
peaks around, that I fancied I saw in it the image of our mighty Lord
Buḍḍha, calmly addressing His five hundred disciples. Verily, verily,
it was a natural maṇdala. The hunger and thirst, the perils of dashing
stream and freezing blizzard, the pain of writhing under heavy burdens,
the anxiety of wandering over trackless wilds, the exhaustion and the
lacerations, all the troubles and sufferings I had just come through,
seemed like dust, which was washed away and purified by the spiritual
waters of the lake; and thus I attained to the spiritual plane of
Non-Ego, together with this scenery showing Its-own-Reality.

Lake Mānasarovara is generally recognised as the highest body of fresh
water in the world, its elevation above the sea-level being something
over fifteen thousand five hundred feet. In Tibetan it is called
Mapham Yum-tso. It is the Anavaṭapṭa of Samskṛṭ (the lake without
heat or trouble) and in it centre many of the Buḍḍhistic legends. It
is this Anavaṭapṭa which forms the subject of the famous poetical
passage in the _Gospel of Kegon_, named in Japanese and in Samskṛṭ
_Ārya-Buḍḍha-Araṭan-saka-nāma Mahāvaipulya-Sūṭra_. The passage gives
the name of South Zenbu to a certain continent of the world. _Zenbu_ is
a deflection of _jamb_, a phonetic translation of the sound produced
by anything of weight falling into placid water. Now the legend has it
that in the centre of the Anavaṭapṭa is a tree which bears fruits that
are omnipotent in healing all human ills, and are consequently much
sought after both by Gods and men. When one of these fruits falls into
the pond it produces the sound _jamb_. Further, it is said that the
lake has four outlets for its waters, which are respectively called
Mabcha Khanbab (flowing out of a peacock’s mouth), Langchen Khanbab
(flowing out of a bull’s mouth), Tamchok Khanbab (flowing out of a
horse’s mouth), and Senge Khanbab (flowing out of a lion’s mouth),
which respectively form the sources of the four sacred rivers of India.
It is from these notions that the sacredness of the Anavaṭapṭa is
evolved, the name of Zenbu derived, and the religious relations between
Tibet and India established. As regards these four rivers, the legend
says: “The sands of silver are in the south river; the sands of gold
are in the west river; the sands of diamond are in the north river, and
the sands of emerald are in the east river.” These rivers are further
said each to circle seven times round the lake and then to take the
several directions indicated. It is said also that giant lotus flowers
bloom in the lake, the size of which is as large as those of the
paradise of the Buḍḍha Amitābha, and the Buḍḍha and Boḍhisaṭṭvas are
seen there sitting on those flowers, while in the surrounding mountains
are found the ‘hundred herbs,’ and also the birds of paradise singing
their celestial melodies. In short, Anavaṭapṭa is described to be the
only real paradise on earth, with a living Buḍḍha and five hundred
saints inhabiting Mount Kailāsa on its north-west, and five hundred
immortals making their home on Man-ri, that rises on its southern
shore, all enjoying eternal beatitude.

Reading that magnificent description, I believe that anybody would
desire to see the spot; but the things mentioned in the Scriptures
cannot be seen with our mortal eyes. The real thing is the region in
its wonderfully inspiring character, and an unutterably holy elevation
is to be felt there. On that night the brilliant moon was shining in
the sky and was reflected on the lake, and Mount Kailāsa appeared dimly
on the opposite bank. These impelled me to compose an _uta_:

  Among these mountains high here sleeps the lake
    Serene--“Devoid of seething cares”--so named
  By native bards; its broad expanse appears
    Like the octagonal mirror of Japan.
  The grand Kailas’ majestic capped with snow,
    The Moon o’erhanging from the skies above,
  Bestow their grateful shadows on the lake.
    Its watery brilliant sheen illumines me;
  All pangs of pain and sorrow washed away.
    With these my mind besoothed now wanders far
  E’en to Akashi in Japan, my home,
    A seashore known for moonlight splendors fair.


Bartering in Tibet.

The origin of the four rivers is given in the story just as I have
related it; but in reality there is not one of them that actually flows
directly out of the Lake. They have their sources in the mountains
which surround it, and the stories about the so-called ‘Horse’s’ and
‘Lion’s’ mouths are only legends, incapable of verification. The
head-waters of the Langchen Khanbab flow in a westerly direction;
those of the Mabcha Khanbab to the south; the sources of the Senge
Khanbab may be ascertained with tolerable accuracy; but those of the
Tamchok Khanbab have hitherto defied investigation. In India, the
river that flows from the Lake in an easterly direction is known as
the Brahmapuṭra, while the one that issues towards the south is the
Gaṅgā. The Sutlej flows away to the west, and the Siṭā, or Inḍus,
towards the north. It is, of course, possible that actual surveys of
Lake Mānasarovara have been made by European travellers, but in all
the maps that I have seen it is represented as being far smaller than
it actually is. It is, in truth, a very large body of fresh water, and
has a circumference of some eighty _ri_, or about two hundred miles.
The shape of the lake also, as it appears in the maps, is misleading.
It is in reality a fairly regular octagon with various indentations,
very much resembling a lotus-flower in shape. All the western maps, as
far as I know, give the student an idea of the Lake which is in many
respects misleading.

I arrived that night at a Buḍḍhist Temple known as Tse-ko-lo, on the
shores of Lake Mānasarovara, and in the evening heard from my host,
the superior of the Temple, a story which surprised me greatly. This
Lama, I should say, was a man of about fifty-five years of age; he was
extremely ignorant, but did not seem to be a man who would lie for the
mere pleasure of lying. He was very anxious to hear about the state of
Buḍḍhism in China (the reader will remember that I was supposed to be
a Chinese, Lama) and the readiness with which I answered his questions
warmed his heart and encouraged him to treat me to the following story.
He did not know, he said, how it might be with the priests in China,
but for himself he could not help feeling at times thoroughly disgusted
with his brethren in Tibet. In the immediate vicinity, for instance,
an ordinary priest might, he said, indulge himself in all manner of
excesses with impunity, and without attracting much attention, and
from time to time cases would arise of extreme depravity in a Lama.
For instance, there was the case of Alchu Tulku, a Lama supposed to
be an incarnation of Alchu, who had at one time been in charge of a
well-known temple in the vicinity of Lake Mānasarovara. This Lama
became so infatuated with a beautiful woman whom he took to himself
as his wife that he was betrayed into transferring the greater part
of the temple property as a gift to her father; and not content with
that crime he afterwards absconded from the temple, taking with him his
wife, and everything that he could carry away that was left of value in
the temple. He had heard rumors that this recreant priest was living
openly with his wife at Hor-tosho, and he asked me if I had not heard
anything about him when I was passing through the place.

The reader will be able to appreciate my astonishment when I tell him
that this absconding, dishonest priest was none other than he who had
induced the belle of the place to treat me with so much kindness! Truly
men are not always what they seem to be.

I did not conceal my astonishment from my host, but related to him all
the circumstances that had brought me within the reach of their kind
hospitalities, but he only smiled at what I told him.

“Ah! to be sure,” he said, “that’s just like the man; gentle and
lovable in outward demeanor, but at heart an arch-sinner, a very devil
incarnate, destroyer of the faith.”

It was a sad revelation to me. I had had every reason to be grateful
to the man and his wife for their hospitalities and I could have wept
to think that hypocrites of so black a dye should be found amongst the
followers of Buḍḍha. It was at least a comfort to think that things in
Japan were brighter than this.

The next morning I took a walk along the Lake, lost in admiration of
the magnificent mountain scenery that surrounded me on all sides, and
presently came across some Hinḍūs and Nepālese, apparently Brāhmaṇa
devotees, who had plunged into the Lake--it was about ten o’clock--and
were engaged in the performance of their religious ceremonies. To the
followers of the Hinḍū religion, Lake Mānasarovara is a sacred sheet
of water, and they worship Mount Kailāsa, which rises sky-high above
the lake, as being a material manifestation of the sacred Body of
Mahā-Shiva, one of the deities of the Indian Trinity. When they saw me,
they considered me to be a holy Buḍḍhist Lama, and pressed me to accept
from them presents consisting of many kinds of dried fruits.

I spent the next night at the same temple, and on the following morning
made my way to the range of mountains that stands like a great wall
to the north-west of the Lake. A zigzag climb of ten miles or so
brought me within view of Lake Lakgal-tso, in Tibetan, or, as it is
more commonly called, Rakas-tal. It is in shape something like a long
calabash, and in area smaller than Mānasarovara. Another seven and a
half miles brought me to a spot whence I could see the whole of its
surface, and here I made a further discovery. A mountain, some two and
a half miles round at the base, stands like a wall of partition between
the two lakes, and where this mountain slopes into a ravine it looks,
for all the world, as though there were a channel of communication for
the water from one lake to the other. I found, however, that there
was actually no such channel, but I discovered that the level of Lake
Lakgal is higher than that of Mānasarovara, and I was subsequently told
that, on rare occasions, every ten or fifteen years, after phenomenally
heavy rains, the waters of the two lakes do actually become connected,
and that at such times Lake Lakgal flows into Mānasarovara. Hence
arises the Tibetan legend that every fifteen years or so Lakgal, the
bridegroom, goes to visit Mānasarovara, the bride. This will account
for the statements of the guide-books to Kang Tise and Mount Kailāsa
that the relations between the two lakes are those of husband and wife.

Keeping Lake Lakgal in view, I now proceeded easily down hill for some
thirteen miles or so, until I arrived at a plain through which I found
a large river flowing. The river was over sixty feet wide, and was
known as the Mabcha Khanbab, one of the tributary sources of the Gaṅgā.
It is this river that, further south, flows through the city of Purang
on the borders of India and Tibet, and then, after winding through many
a defile and cañon of the Himālayas, eventually joins the main stream
of the Gaṅgā flowing from Haldahal. Modern Hinḍūs revere the Haldahal
branch as being the main stream of their sacred River, but in ancient
times it was mostly this Mabcha Khanbab that was considered to be the
principal source.

On the banks of this river we pitched our tent for the night. In the
neighborhood I found four or five similar encampments, occupied by
traders from Purang. Great numbers of nomads and pilgrims come to this
place in July and August of every year, and at these times, a very
brisk trade takes place which presents many curious and interesting

Tibet is still in the barter stage, and very little money is used
in trade. The people from the interior bring butter, marsh-salt,
wool, sheep, goats, and yaks’ tails, which they exchange for corn,
cotton, sugar and cloth, which are imported from India by Nepālese
and Tibetans, living in the region of perennial snow on the Indian
frontier. But sometimes, especially in selling wool and butter, they
will take money, generally Indian currency, the reckoning of which
is a great mystery to them. Ignorant of arithmetic and possessing no
abacus to count with, they have to do all their reckoning with the
beads of a rosary. In order to add five and two, they count first five
and then two beads on the string, and then count the whole number thus
produced to make sure that the total is really seven. It is a very
tedious process, but they are incapable of anything better. They cannot
do calculations without their beads, and they seem to be too dense to
grasp the simplest sum in arithmetic. Thus business is always slow:
when it comes to larger deals, involving several kinds of goods and
varying prices, it is almost distractingly complicated.

For such calculations they arm themselves with all sorts of aids,
black pebbles, white pebbles, bamboo sticks, and white shells. Each
white pebble represents a unit of one; when they have counted ten of
these they take them away, and substitute a black pebble, which means
ten. Ten black pebbles are equivalent to one bamboo stick, ten bamboo
sticks to one shell, ten shells to the Tibetan silver coin. But there
is no multiplication or division; everything is done by the extremely
slow process of adding one at a time, so that it will take a Tibetan
three days to do what a Japanese could do in half an hour. This is no
exaggeration. I stayed on the banks of this river for three whole
days and watched the traders doing their business, and I saw the whole
painful tediousness of the transaction.

These three days were memorable for another reason. The pilgrims who
had come with me became such warm admirers of my supposed virtues and
sang my praises with so much fervor that a pilgrim girl fell in love
with me.


A Himalayan Romance.

I was still in the company of the party of pilgrims I have already
referred to. It appeared that some of the party had come to form a
rather high opinion of me as a person of reverend qualities. Among
them was a young damsel who, it was not difficult to perceive, had
conceived a passion for me. The moment the thought dawned on me, I said
to myself: “It may be; it is nothing uncommon, rather is it quite usual
for women to cherish vain thoughts. She must have heard her elders
talking well of me, and have taken a fancy to me.” I at once set about
raising a barrier between us, which was none other than the teaching
of our common Buḍḍhism. When occasion allowed, I explained to her all
about the vows with which all true priests bind themselves and why they
do so. I depicted to her the horrors of hell that sinners create for
themselves even in this world, and which follow them into eternity as
the price they pay for momentary pleasures. These things I taught, not
only to the girl but to the whole party. For all that, I could not help
pitying the little innocent thing. A maiden of nineteen, with few or no
restraints on her romantic fancies, she must have thought it a grand
thing to be able to go back to her folk with a bride-groom of whom all
spoke so well. She was not beautiful, and yet not ugly: a comely little
thing was she. But I, though not old, had had my own experiences in
these matters in my younger days, and I was able to conquer temptations.

[Illustration: RELIGION _v._ LOVE.]

Here I may stop to observe that the country through which we were
travelling is called Ngari in Tibetan and Āri in Chinese. The region is
an extensive one, and includes Ladak and Khunu.

Purang, of which mention has been made more than once, is its central
mart and enjoys great prosperity, though located rather to the
south. Purang also forms a mid-Himālayan post of great religious
importance as a sacred spot for Buḍḍhist pilgrims. The town boasts, or
rather boasted, of its possession of three Buḍḍhist images of great
renown--those of the Boḍhisaṭṭva Mahāsaṭṭvas Manjushrī, Avalokiteshvara
and Vajrapāni. According to tradition these were brought thither from
Ceylon in olden times. Unfortunately about six months prior to my
arrival in Ngari a big fire broke out and destroyed two of these idols,
the image of Manjushrī alone being saved. Much as I wished to visit
Purang, I was apprehensive of many dangers to my impersonation if I
went thither, as the Tibetan Government maintains there a challenge
gate. My companions went there, however, leaving me behind, and I
spent the days of their absence in religious meditation. Joining them
again on their return, I continued my travels westwards, coming out in
due time to the north of Lake Lakgal. We next took our way along the
lake towards the north-west. Facing west and looking over the lake,
I saw islands spread out on its surface like the legs of a _gotoku_,
or tripod. So I gave them the name of Gotoku jimu, or Tripod islands.
Several days afterwards we arrived at a barter port called Gya-nima; it
was the 17th of August, 1900.

At Gya-nima barter is carried on only for two months in the year, that
is to say from the 15th of July to the 15th of September. The traders
chiefly come from the Indian part of the Himālaya mountains and meet
their Tibetan customers there. I was just in good time to see brisk
transactions going on. I saw no less than one hundred and fifty white
tents covering the otherwise barren wilderness, and some five or six
hundred people rushing about to sell and buy in their own fashion.

The Tibetan articles offered for sale here were wool, butter, yaks’
tails, and the like, while the purchases consisted of about the same
category of goods as I gave when speaking of the Mabcha Khanbab mart.
I stayed over night and spent the whole of the next day at the fair,
making a few small purchases. On the day following we went back to
Gya-karko, another barter port. Gya-nima was the most north-western
point I reached in my Tibetan journey. So far as reaching my
destination was concerned, I had hitherto been proceeding in an exactly
opposite direction to it, steadily going north-west instead of towards
Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. But from that point--Gya-nima--onwards,
each step I walked brought me nearer to the main road into Tibet, as
also to its capital. In Gya-karko I stayed for three or four days.
Here there were about one hundred and fifty tents, trade being carried
on even more vigorously than at Gya-nima. Gya-karko is a trading port
for people coming from the north-west plains of Tibet on the one hand
and the Hinḍūs inhabiting the Indian Himālayas on the other, who are
allowed by the Tibetan Government to come as far as this place.

Here I saw many merchants from the towns and villages of the Himālayas.
Among them was one from Milum, who spoke English. This man invited me
to dinner on the quiet, so to say. I accepted his invitation, but the
moment I had entered his tent I at once saw that he took me for an
English emissary. When left to ourselves he immediately addressed me
thus: “As I live under the government of your country, I shall never
make myself inconvenient to you. In return I wish you would do what
you can to help my business when you go back to India.” I thought that
these were very strange words to speak to me. On interrogating him,
I found out that he had conjectured that I was engaged in exploring
Tibet at the behest of the British Government. When I told him that I
was a Chinaman, he said: “If you are Chinese, you can no doubt speak
Chinese?” I answered him boldly in the affirmative. Then he brought in
a man who claimed to understand Chinese. I was not a little embarrassed
at this turn of affairs, but as I had had a similar experience with
Gya Lama in Nepāl it took me no time to recover sufficient equanimity
to answer him, and I felt much re-assured when I found that he could
not speak Chinese so well as I had anticipated. Then I wrote a number
of Chinese characters and wanted him to say if he knew them. The
man looked at me and seemed to say: “There you have me.” Finally he
broke into laughter and said: “I give up; let us talk in Tibetan.”
Then my host was greatly astonished and said: “Then you are indeed a
Chinaman! What can be better? China is a vast country. My father, who
is now living in my native country, was once in China. If there is
any business to be done with China I wish you would kindly put me on
the track;” and he gave me his address written in English. His manner
showed that he was in earnest, and that he was a man to be trusted. So
seeing that this man was going back to India, I thought it would be a
good idea to ask him to take with him my letters and deliver them for
me in India. It would have been imprudent for me to write things in
detail, but I scribbled just a few lines to my friend and teacher, Rai
Saraṭ Chanḍra Dās, informing him that I had penetrated the interior of
Tibet as far as Gya-karko, besides asking him to post some letters for
Japan which I enclosed, addressed to Mr. Hige Tokujuso and Ito Ichiso
of Sakai. A few coins put into the hand of the Milum man secured a
ready response to my request. The man proved the honest fellow I took
him for; for after my return to Japan I found that my letters had been
duly received by both Mr. Hige and Mr. Ito.

To return to my romance. We were still staying at Gya-karko, and I
was much embarrassed to find that little Dawa--for that was my little
maiden’s name--had by no means given up her affection for me. Dawa, I
may perhaps mention here, though I shall have occasion to refer to the
matter at greater length in another chapter, is a Tibetan name meaning
moon, given to persons born on a Monday; those born on a Friday being
named Pasang, and those on a Sunday, Nyima.

Well, my little Dawa proved herself to be an adept in the art of
love-making. It is wonderful how a little spark of passion, when once
kindled, burns up and fashions daring schemes and alluring pictures.
The maiden was always at my side, and spoke only of the good things she
would make mine, if I would only accompany her to her native country.
She said her mother was a lady of an exceedingly kind heart; that
her father owned about one hundred and sixty yaks and four hundred
sheep; that therefore her family was very rich and their life one
perpetual _chachang pemma_ or round of pleasures. She added that she
was their only daughter, and that she had not yet come across a man to
her heart, save one. I may perhaps explain that chachang pemma means
drinking tea and intoxicants alternately, and that in Tibet one is
considered to have attained the highest pinnacle of happiness when
he is able to indulge in a perpetual symposium--drinking, in turns,
tea with butter in it and then a spirit brewed from wheat. Only rich
persons can enjoy the luxury: but the mass of Tibetans consider this to
be the main object of life. Consequently chachang pemma is generally
used in the sense of earthly beatitude. By the way, the method of
manufacturing the butter-tea is very curious: butter, boiled juice of
tea and salt are first thrown together into a nearly cylindrical tub of
three feet in height; then a piston, if I may so call it, with a disc
large enough to fit the cask exactly, is worked up and down, to obtain
a thorough mixing of the ingredients. This pump-like action of the
piston is carried on by sheer force of hands and arms, and, as may be
imagined, requires a large amount of strength. The motion of the piston
transforms the mixture into a new beverage which the Tibetans call
_solcha_. It is said that these people can tell whether the solcha, or
butter-tea, will prove good or bad by listening to the sound produced
by the piston as it works up and down.

But to return to my story: Dawa never tired of telling me that her
family was prosperous; that even Lamas were allowed to marry in her
country; that it was really an excellent thing for every Lama to live
happily with a wife in this world; that it would be wise for me to do
so, and so on. Seeing that all her words were only wasted on me, she
seemed to imply that I was an incorrigible fool. Wiles of temptation
now came thick and fast upon me: but in such moments I happily
remembered the triumph of our Lord Shākyamuni at Buḍḍhagayā. The wise
One was about to attain to the state of Absolute Perfection. The king
of all that is evil was very much afraid of this, and sent his three
daughters to tempt him. The women tried all manner of allurements to
secure the fall of the Enlightened One, but in vain. When all had
failed the daughters of the King of Devils sang thus:

  How like a tender graceful flower am I,
      With all the lovely fragrance of my mouth,
  And its melodious music soft and sweet!
      Am I not mistress of all mirth and joys?
  Even Heav’nly bliss is naught to him who lives
      In amorous dalliance, dearly loved, with me.
  If thou rejectest me, there’s none so dull
      And stupid in the world compared with thee.

So sang the Sirens, but even they were powerless to conquer the Lord.
My Dawa could not of course approach the charms of the arch-devil’s
daughters, but her plaintive pleadings were there. And I--a common
mortal struggling on, but far from the gate of emancipation--I could
not but pity the poor little creature, though I strengthened myself by
saying: “Let it be so--a fool let me be.” I composed an _uta_ then:

  You call me stupid; that am I, I grant;
      But yet in love-affairs being wiser grown,
  ’Tis safe for me to be more stupid still.

It is true that women never let their mouths be the doors to their
mind; but they know a language unspoken, which is far more telling,
appealing and enticing, than that which mere sound and articulation
can convey. And my Dawa had never yet said in so many words what she
yearned to say. It happened, however, that Dawa’s father and brothers
were out shopping one day, and that the girl and I remained alone
in the tent. She thought probably that she could not get a better
opportunity for her purposes and she tried to make the most of it.
Just then I was mending my boots, and she almost frightened me with
her boldness. I am neither a block of wood, nor a piece of stone,
and I should have been supernatural if I had not felt the power of
temptation. But to yield to such a folly would be against my own
profession. Moreover I remembered with awe the omnipresence of our
Lord Buḍḍha, and was thus enabled to keep my heart under control. I
said to the maiden: “I have no doubt that all is excellent at your
home; but do you know whether your mother is still living or dead?”
The question was unexpected and almost stunned her, put as it was at
a moment when she had allowed her mind to wander so far away from
her dear mother. She was just able to say: “I do not know whether my
mother is living or dead. I have been on a pilgrimage with my father
for one year and perhaps more. My mother is a weak woman, and I parted
with her in tears, asking her to take the best care of herself, so
that she might be preserved. I do not know how she is faring now.”
Here was my chance--a chance of diverting the girl’s attention from
me. “H’m! you don’t know that?” said I; “only now you were telling me
of the bliss of your home, and yet you don’t know how your mother is
faring now?” Poor little maiden, her mind became disturbed. I almost
scolded her, pleaded with her, warned her. She, who claimed to be a
good daughter, to be so intent in the pursuit after ephemeral pleasures
as to let her thoughts wander away from her dear, good mother; could
it be possible? This somewhat highly colored statement of mine seemed
to cool down her passion and change it into fear and apprehension. Nor
was it extraordinary that she should have become so affected. For in
Tibet nothing is supposed to be too great for the Lama; he possesses
superhuman powers and can work miracles. Instead of an object of love,
I had now become an awe-inspiring Lama to my little Dawa. As such, I
counselled her with a good deal of earnestness, and finally succeeded
in subduing her passion and conquering the temptation.

We prolonged our stay at Gya-karko for several days more, and on the
26th of August I started again with the pilgrims. As we travelled on in
a north-easterly direction we came to a marshy plain interspersed with
pools of water. Farther on the marsh became deeper. I tried to probe
its depth with my stick, but the solid bottom was beyond my reach.
Knowing then that the marsh could not be forded, we retraced our steps
for about three miles and proceeded thence due east. Further on we
found that the waters flowing out of the marsh formed themselves into
three streams. We waded across them, and about ten miles further on
the marsh came to an end and we found ourselves among mountains, and
encamped for the night. Here there were many merchants on their way
to Gya-nima and Gya-karko, and many were the tents they had pitched
all round. While there I went on a begging tour amongst the tent
occupants--a practice which I put into execution whenever possible, in
pursuance of the Buḍḍha’s teaching. A day’s round, besides, generally
earned me enough to carry me through the next day. I may add that the
evening, whether after a day of journeying or of begging, I used to
spend in preaching among my travelling companions. I had my own reasons
for being painstaking in these preachings. I knew that religious
talks always softened the hearts of my companions, and this was very
necessary, as I might otherwise have been killed by them. I do not mean
to say that my life was in any immediate danger then, for there were
numbers of people always about, and besides, the region we were going
through was a country sacred to Buḍḍhism, and, once within the holy
zone, even the most wicked would not dare to commit either robbery or
murder. But it was necessary for me to take precautions in anticipation
of dangers that might befall me as soon as I should be out of this
sacred region. Such were the reasons why I did so much preaching, and
fortunately my sermons were well received by my companions.

On the 28th of August we travelled about twenty miles over an
undulating country. Throughout that distance we could not get a
drop of water, and I had nothing to drink except a cup of tea which
I took in the morning just before starting. We were of course all
terribly thirsty; yet to me the suffering was not half so great as
that I had felt during the former distressing experiences already
narrated. Towards the evening we came upon the upper course of the
Langchen Khanbab. This is the river called Sutlej in English. It is
the head-water of a river which flows westward into India, and, after
meeting with the Sitā, forms the great Indus that empties itself into
the Arabian Sea. My companions volunteered to tell me that this river
started from Lake Mānasarovara. When I pointed out to them that the
Lake Mānasarovara was surrounded by mountains on all sides and had no
outlet, they replied: “True, but the river has its source in a spring
to be found under a great rock, east of the monastery named Chugo
Gonpa (the monastery of the source of the river), in a gorge on the
north-western side of Mount Kailāsa. That spring is fed by the waters
of Lake Mānasarovara that travel thither underground. Hence it may
be said with equal truth that the river flows out of the lake.” This
was indeed an ingenious way of accounting for the popular belief. But
judging from the position of the river, it seemed to me that it must
take its origin on a higher level than that of Lake Mānasarovara and
I was not (nor am I now) ready to admit the correctness of the native
contention. On arriving at the bank of the river we pitched our tents
as usual and passed the night. On the following day, we visited a
sacred place of great fame in that neighborhood, called Reta-puri in
Tibetan pronunciation, but originally in Samskṛṭ Preṭapurī. Having
left our baggage, tents and other things with two men to take care of
them, I went on the journey thither with Dawa, her father and another
woman, four of us in all. As we proceeded westwards along the Langchen
Khanbab, we saw large boulders of rock making a walled avenue for a
distance of about 400 yards. Out of the rock region, we came upon a
river flowing down from the north to the Langchen Khanbab. There were
two others running parallel and at a short distance from one another.
They are called Tokpo Rabsum, which in Tibetan means three friendly
streams. We forded one of them and went up a hill for about a hundred
and twenty yards, when an extensive plain lay spread before our view.
I noticed that the plain was thickly covered with low bush-growths of
some thorny family, and the sight reminded me of our tea-plantations of
Uji. About a mile and a quarter further on we came to another stream,
the name of which is identical with that of the one we had already
crossed. Both these rivers were loin-deep and exceedingly cold, with
small ice-blocks floating in them. In fording the river I was much
benumbed, and on reaching the opposite banks I found that I had almost
lost my power of locomotion. So I told my companions to go on while I
rested a few minutes, and applied burning moxa to my benumbed limbs
in order to recover their use. Off they went, after telling me that
nothing could go wrong with me if I would only take the road in the
direction they pointed out to me. Tibetans are strong and healthy,
and extremely swift-footed into the bargain. I was no match for them
in this respect, especially with half-frozen feet and that was why I
told them not to wait for me. The smouldering moxa had its effect on
my legs. I felt then more alive, and after an hour’s rest I proceeded
westwards for five miles to a place where the plain came to an end.
Thence I walked down stream along a river until the temple for which
I was heading rose into view. The sight was a grand one, with its
maṇi-steps of stone which looked, at a distance, like a long train of
railway cars. Nor was this the only place where the maṇi steps could be
found. Many of them are to be seen in the Himālayas. I should add that
in that mighty range of sky-reaching mountains there lives a species
of strange birds, whose note is exactly like the whistle of a railway
engine. The maṇi-steps looking like a train before me made me think of
the whistle of those birds, and I felt as if I had arrived once more in
a civilised country!


On the Road to Nature’s Grand Mandala.

Apart from these fancies, I really felt as if I had entered a civilised
region, for beyond I espied a main building and priests’ quarters, and
also what looked like a stone tower.

The whole sight was really impressive. The presence of stone buildings
especially attracted my attention, for stones are very rare and costly
on a Tibetan steppe.

The place was the town just mentioned, called Reta-puri (town of
hungry devils), a name which Paldan Aṭīsha gave to the place when he
arrived here from India on the work of evangelisation. The name is not
inapplicable to the Tibetans.

The Tibetans may indeed be regarded as devils that live on dung, being
the most filthy race of all the people I have ever seen or heard of.

They must have presented a similarly filthy appearance at the time
of the visit of Aṭīsha, who therefore gave to the place the not
inappropriate title of Preṭa-purī. The Tibetans, thanks to their
ignorance of Samskṛṭ, are rather proud of the name, being under the
belief that it has some holy meaning. After Aṭīsha had founded a
temple, several high Lamas resided in this place, and a Lama called
Gyalwa Gottsang Pa, of the Dugpa sect, founded a most imposing
Lamaserai, which stands to this day.

It is, as I said, a very magnificent establishment, containing four or
five priests’ residential quarters, in one of which I passed a night.

My companion took leave of me after having completed his visit to the
holy places. I took a frugal lunch in my lodging and then, under the
guidance of one of the priests of the temple, sallied out to visit
all the holy objects on the premises. The main building was of stone
and measured about eight yards by ten. It was of one storey, and was
in this unlike most other Tibetan Lamaserais, which are generally
two or three storied. The most sacred relics in the temple were the
images of Shākyamuni and Lobon Rinpoche (Padma Chungne), founder of
the Old Sect of Tibet. To this Lobon are attached many strange legends
and traditions, such as would startle even the most degenerate of
Japanese priests; but I cannot here relate all those revolting stories.
I already knew the strange history of the founder of this Tibetan
sect, and so, when I noticed the two images worshipped side by side,
a sensation of nausea came over me. It was really blasphemy against
Buḍḍha, for Lobon was in practice a devil in the disguise of a priest,
and behaved as if he had been born for the very purpose of corrupting
and preventing the spread of the holy doctrines of Buḍḍha.

A curtain was hanging in front of the high altar, and one _tanka_,
about sixpence, was the fee for the privilege of looking at the relic
behind it. I paid the fee and found that the relic was nothing else
than the image engraved on stone of that abominable Lobon. Tradition
says that Lobon’s image was naturally inscribed on the rock when he
came here and stood before it, and this fantastic story is fully
believed in by the simple-minded folk of Tibet. They would not dare
to look straight at the image, for fear that their eyes might become
blind. I had no such superstition to deter me, and so I gazed with
careful scrutiny at the engraved image, and convinced myself that some
crafty priests must have drawn on a piece of rock a picture of some
priest and that the picture must have been afterwards tricked out with
suitable pigments. The engraving too was a clumsy piece of workmanship
destitute of any merit whatever, and without even the slightest
technical charm, such as might persuade the credulous to regard the
image as a natural impression on a rock.

I felt sorry for the sake of the Tibetan religion that such wicked
impositions should be suffered to prevail, though the Tibetan priests
may on their part reply that Japan is not much better in this respect
than Tibet, and that such frauds are not unknown in Japan.

Of whatever impious deeds the Lamas may be guilty, the whole
neighborhood was such as to inspire one with chaste thoughts and holy
ideas. This seems to be widely accepted in Tibet, for the Tibetans have
a saying to this effect: “Not to visit Reta-puri is not to visit the
snow-capped Kang Rinpoche; not to go around Lake Kholgyal is not to
perform the sacred circuit around Lake Mapham-yumtso.”

This saying means that the visit to Kang Rinpoche only completes
one-half of the holy journey unless Reta-puri is visited at the same
time, and that the visit to Lake Mapham-yumtso (Mānasarovara) will
avail nothing unless Kholgyal is visited at the same time.

The place indeed deserves this high honor, and undoubtedly it
constitutes one of nature’s best essays in landscape. Let me describe
here a little of this enchanting sight. First there was the river
Langchen Khanbab, flowing towards the west, with the opposite bank
steep and precipitous, and with rocks piled up here and there, some
yellow, some crimson, others blue, still others green, and some others
purple. The chequered coloring was beautiful, and looked like a rainbow
or a tinted fog, if such a thing could exist. It was a splendid sight.
And the rocks were highly fantastic, for some were sharp and angular,
and others protruded over the river. The nearer bank was equally abrupt
and was full of queerly shaped rocks, and each of those rocks bore a
name given to it by the priests of the temple. There was a rock which
was known by the name of the “Devil Surrender Rock;” another was called
the “Twin Images of the saintly Prince and his Lady;” a third bore the
name of “Tise Rock;” a fourth “Goddess of Mercy Rock;” and a fifth
“Kāṣyapa Buḍḍha Tower.” All these rocks were objects of veneration to
the common people.

I should have been deeply impressed by this unique grandeur of nature,
had it not been that I was scandalised by the sight of the misguided
veneration, if not worse, paid to the memory of Lobon Rinpoche. As it
was, even the kind explanations of my cicerone jarred on my ears.

About two hundred and fifty yards down the bank, from a cavern known as
the Divine Grotto, several hot springs were gushing out from between
the rocks. Three of them were rather large, while the other three were
smaller. The water of all the springs was warm, indeed some was so hot
that I could hardly dip the tip of my finger into it. The temperature
of that particular spring must have far exceeded 100° Fahrenheit. The
water of the springs was quite transparent, and all about them there
were many hard incrustations, some white, others red, still others
green or blue. The visitors to the place are said to carry away pieces
of this incrustation, which are believed to possess a high medicinal
value, and so they must have, if properly used.

After having visited all the places of interest, I returned to my
quarters and passed the night in meditation. The next morning I left
the place, and resumed my journey toward the tent.

Somehow I lost my way in the plain, and when I had already walked five
hours I had not reached the river which I ought to have reached in
about three hours. I looked round and noticed to my surprise that I had
been travelling towards the north, instead of towards the north-east.

Proceeding briskly onward in the right direction I at last reached a
river, which I crossed. By that time the sun had begun to decline, and
I had had nothing to eat all that day. I afterwards heard that the
people of the tent began to be alarmed at my non-appearance, and feared
that I must have been carried away by the river and drowned. When I
arrived at the tent, weary with the walk and with hunger, I saw the
daughter of the family coming out of the tent with some sheep. She was
highly delighted to see me, and I was told that she was about to go out
in search for me.

On the following day we proceeded eastward and arrived at the steppe
lying to the north-east of Lake Rakgal and north-west of Lake
Mānasarovara. It was a slope formed by the gradual descent of the spurs
of Tise toward Mānasarovara. That night we pitched our tent on that
plain, and then our journey towards the sacred mountains began.


Wonders of Nature’s Mandala.

That evening it transpired that the pilgrims could not perform the
pilgrimage in company, for every one of them declared his or her
intention of performing as many circuits as possible during a stay
of four or five days. Now the ordinary circuit--for there were three
different routes--measures about fifty miles, which was more than I
could perform in a day, even if I had wished to do as my companions
had resolved, and they intended to undertake three circuits during the
short stay; even the women wished to go round twice.

The pilgrims had to get up at midnight and to return to the tent at
about eight in the evening, after having performed the arduous journey.
I myself made rather elaborate preparations, and started on the holy
journey carrying four or five days’ food on my back. The route I
selected for my circuit was what was called the outermost circuit, and
led me round a snowy peak resembling in shape a human image, believed
here to be that of Shākyamuni, and around the lesser elevations rising
about that peak. Those elevations were compared to the principal
disciples of the Founder of Buḍḍhism. The route was indicated by a
narrow track, but it was really a breakneck journey, for in several
places the track went up to the summit of the central peak or to those
of some of the elevations round it.

The middle route is more difficult of accomplishment, and the innermost
route considerably more so. The last is therefore regarded as fit only
for supernatural beings, and he who accomplishes twenty-one circuits
round the outermost route obtains permission from the Lamas of the
four temples, to go round the middle route. This circuit is to a
large extent indicated by a more or less beaten track, but is so steep
and dangerous that ordinary persons hardly ever dare to try it. Not
unfrequently pilgrims who boldly attempt this most perilous journey are
killed by snow-slips, while huge boulders obstruct their passage in
several places. Since therefore this route is very rarely attempted by
pilgrims, quite marvellous tales are told about it.

[Illustration: NEAR MOUNT KAILASA.]

The outermost route, round which I undertook my circuit, has at each
of its four quarters a temple. These four temples are called the “Four
temples of Kang Rinpoche”. I first visited Nyenbo Rizon, which is
the name of the temple standing at the western corner. The temple is
dedicated to the Buḍḍha Amitābha and I heard that it is a very good
investment in a worldly sense, the donations from pious folk amounting
to as much as ten thousand yen during the three months of the summer
season. This coincidence between Japan and Tibet, concerning the
receipts of temples, is exceedingly interesting, for even in Japan
temples dedicated to the Buḍḍha Amitābha are the most popular and
enjoy the largest share of donations. At any rate such an income must
be regarded as extraordinary for a temple situated in a remote part
of Tibet. The income, I was told, all goes to the Treasury of the
Court of Bhūṭān, in whose jurisdiction are placed all the religious
establishments at Tise. This anomaly seems to have originated from the
fact that the priests of the Dugpa sect of Bhūṭān formerly reigned
supreme at this seat of religion.

The image of the Buḍḍha Amitābha, as enshrined in the temple, is made
of a white lustrous stone, and it struck me as a work of high technical
merit for Tibet. The features are of the Tibetan type, and looked mild
and affable, awaking in me pious thoughts.

In front of the image are erected two ivory tusks about five feet high
and very thick, and behind them I saw a hundred volumes of Tibetan
Buḍḍhist works arranged on shelves. These books were not there for
reading, but in order to receive as sacred objects the offering of the
burning lamp.

This use of Buḍḍhist books is peculiar, though it is preferable to the
outrageous treatment to which these books are sometimes subjected by
impious priests, who do not scruple to tear out leaves and use them for
various improper purposes.

After worship, I took from the pile a book that related to the Buḍḍha
Amitābha, read it, and then left the temple. Then began my journey
through Nature’s Tabernacles, the first object in which was the ‘Golden

The adjective ‘golden’ should not be taken in a literal sense,
for gold is not found near this place. Rhetorically, however, the
valley deserves this distinction, the scenery all round being really
magnificent. There are several fantastic rocks of great size towering
far into the sky, while beyond them peeps the snow-clad summit of the
peak of Tise. And from the crevices and narrow grooves between those
towering rocks shoot down several cascades as much as a thousand feet
in height. There are quite a number of them, but only seven are really
large. Those seven waterfalls have each a distinct individuality. Some
shoot down with great force and look not unlike the fabulous dragon
descending the rock, while others look milder and may be compared to
a white sheet suspended over the rock. I sat down in rapture at the
sight, and felt as if I had been transported to some heavenly place.
There are to the left several falls and also a range of snow-capped
peaks, but they are not to be compared in grandeur with those on the
right, at which I had been gazing with extasy. This one sight alone, I
thought, well repaid the labor of the journey. I wished to embody my
sentiments in a few verses, but the inspiration would not come, and
so I proceeded on my way, and soon emerged on the northern section of
the Tise group. There I found another Lama monastery, which bore the
quaint name of ‘Ri Ra Puri’ (meaning, ‘The place of the female yak’s
horn’). It originated in a tradition that once, in ancient times, Gyrva
Gottsang Pa, from Bhūṭān, went round this natural Maṇdala in order to
find his way in the wilderness. Whilst he was going to the mountain,
he found a female yak which proceeded before him and led him on an
untrodden path over the snows.

After finishing his route round the Holy Place, he arrived at this
spot; the female yak concealed herself in a cavern, now in the temple,
and accidentally one of her horns struck against a rock. It was
believed by the Lama that the female yak was a disguised form of the
mother of the Buḍḍha named Vajra.

This ‘Yak’s Horn Temple’ ranks next to the first temple in respect to
pecuniary income. It contains, however, a larger number of priests than
the other, there being about fifteen, while the latter has only four.

It was towards dusk that I reached this temple, and I was allowed to
lodge there for the night. The priest who appeared to be the senior man
in the place was very kind to me and offered his own chamber for my
use. It faced towards Mount Kailāsa. My host told me that the view of
the moon from this chamber was quite enchanting. He brought me a cup
of tea with plenty of butter in it, for I had told him that I made it
a rule to dispense with the evening meal. I spent a few pleasant hours
with my host, who pointed out to me, on the south from the temple, the
high majestic snow-covered peak of Mount Tise, representing the Buḍḍha
Shākyamuni; the three small snowy peaks before the mountain, he said,
were the Boḍhisaṭṭvas Manjushrī, Avalokiṭeshvara and Vajrapāṇi; he
then gave me a description in detail of other peaks, but I need not
narrate here what he explained to me, for the account of the range is
given in most works treating of Tibet and its geography.

That night I had one of the pleasantest experiences I remember during
my expedition to Tibet: it was a pleasure of an elevating kind. My mind
was subdued and captivated as I looked, in that still night and in that
remote and far-off place, at the soft rays of the moon reflected on the
crystal-like current that was flowing with a pleasant murmur. Just as,
in the holy Texts, the soft breeze stirring the branches of trees in
paradise is said to produce a pleasant note, that sounds to the ears of
the happy denizens of that blissful abode like the voice of some one
reading the Scriptures, so that sweet murmur of the moon-reflecting
stream deluded my enchanted ears into believing that they were
listening to the divine music of Buḍḍhism. Staying in that sacred
place, and surrounded by such soul-subduing phenomena, my mind soared
higher and higher, till it flew up to the eternal region beyond this
world of woe and care. The holy Founder tells us that the most sacred
region lies in one’s own pure mind, but I, sinful mortal as I was, felt
elevated and chastened when I found myself in such an environment.

The next day I stayed at the temple and spent the time with great
enjoyment. The following day I left the hospitable monastery and
resumed my journey, which included the surmounting of a steep hill,
known under the name of the ‘Hill of Salvation’. My host seemed to have
had some spiritual affinity with me in a past life, so considerate was
he in his behavior to me. For instance, he lent me a yak to carry me
over the hill, and moreover gave me some articles of food and various
delicacies. I took friendly leave of him, and then started on my
journey on the back of the yak, which was led by a guide.

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

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

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

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

Our path next lay over a hill known as the hill of the Dolma-la,
meaning the Pass of the Mother of the Savior. On ascending the hill
one sees to the right a snowy range of the northern parts of Mount
Kailāsa, named in Tibetan Gyalpo Norjingi Phoprang, which means the
“residence of King Kuvera”, the God of Wealth. The spot is very famous
to Indians also; even in early times in India the great poet Kāliḍāsa
described this magnificent mansion with its immense views in his
masterpiece of the _Meghaḍūṭa--The cloud-messenger_. Seeing it, I said
in my fancy: “Is it not really the mansion of the God of Wealth--that
crystal abode shining in the emerald sky?” I mused furthermore that a
mammon-worshipper will certainly one day explore that shining region,
expecting to find a diamond mine. On the crest of Dolma-la stands a
natural stone image of the Mother of the Savior. On the north-east of
it a number of queer-shaped rocks and fantastic stones are to be seen,
their points all looking like images. These were explained by my guide
as twenty-one images of the Mother of the Savior. This crest of the
hill is very high, and indeed does not appear lower in height than the
top of Tise itself, the height of which is about 22,300 feet above
sea-level. The air is therefore very rarefied and the temperature
very low. Even when I remained quiet I felt the effect of the high
altitude, for my heart beat rapidly and I suffered much pain. I thought
that I should hardly have been able to perform the journey on foot,
and that therefore I was deeply indebted to my host for lending me a
yak to carry me over the series of hills. The Tibetan pilgrims did
not seem to suffer to any particular extent from the effects of the
rarefied atmosphere. They possess capacious lungs and can therefore
climb any elevated hill without fatigue. Of course ordinary people,
who do not possess lungs half as large as those of the Tibetans, can
hardly expect to undertake this journey with so much ease. As it was, I
felt very much exhausted, even though I did not walk on foot but rode
on the yak. Near the foot of the hill I found a large pond which was
entirely frozen over--a pond associated with an interesting legend.
In ancient times, says that legend, the God of Wealth and his family
used the water of this pond to wash their hands, for in those days it
was not frozen in summer. Afterwards a woman pilgrim carrying a baby
on her back came to the pond. As she bent over to wash her hands, the
baby slipped off her back into the water and was drowned. The guardian
deities of the place then consulted how to provide against such
accidents, and they decided that the pond should be frozen over all the
year around.

The descent is rather sharp, and it was uncomfortable sitting on the
yak’s back, so I dismounted and trotted down after the animal.

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

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

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

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


An Ominous Outlook.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

While I was staying in the monastery one of my sheep suddenly fell
ill and died. I felt sorely grieved at his death, and read a suitable
service for him. The other sheep I had to sell, at half the price I
had paid for him, to one of four traders who arrived at the monastery
soon after I had reached it, for I could hardly manage him now, as he
was so peevish and disconsolate at the loss of his partner. To the four
men I also gave the flesh of the dead sheep, and they accepted it with
thanks. It happened that the party was travelling in the same direction
as myself, and they proposed that I should go with them. This was quite
a welcome suggestion, especially as the men were kind enough to offer
their services to carry my effects, for they had with them a number of

So once more I had travelling companions, and I left the monastery with
a far more cheerful heart than I had when I reached it. We proceeded
in a south-easterly direction, and soon came to a small round pond, a
little over half a mile in circumference. Proceeding along the right
side of the pond, we next came to a lake which is very long from
north-west to south-east, but very narrow. The whole circumference
is said to be about forty miles. This lake is bounded by rocky hills
on all sides, and the blackish rocks scattered here and there were
partially covered, especially in the crevices and sheltered spots
between the adjoining rocks, with a thin layer of snow, so that they
presented quite a pretty sight. I ascended a small elevation close by
the lake, and looked down on it and also on the small pond. From that
height the serpentine lake looked just like the fabulous dragon in
the act of clutching a round gem, the pond corresponding to the gem.
The snow-streaked rocks were not unlike a white fleece of cloud. This
lake is known by the name of Kong-gyu-i Tso, as I heard from my fellow
travellers. After proceeding about seventeen miles south-eastwards,
with the lake on our left, we reached its extremity. Here we were to
bivouac, as we had no tent, but I could not sleep on the snow-covered
plain. I therefore passed the night in my usual style, that is to say,
in religious meditation, the best expedient for a sleepless night.

Our road lay next day over a steep hill, and it was indeed such a
break-back ascent that it seemed to be trying even to the sturdy legs
and lungs of my Tibetan companions. As for myself, I was lucky enough
to get permission to ride on a yak’s back, and so I could negotiate the
ascent with no great difficulty. Descending the opposite slope of the
hill we soon reached a plain which, together with all the adjoining
country, was situated in the Kong-gyu district. On this plain I noticed
a white spot, not unlike a lake at a distance. My companions informed
me that the white thing was _puto_, and that the white spot indicated
the site of a lake which produced natural soda.

When we reached the lake my companions eagerly collected the deposit,
put it in skin-bags and fastened it to the back of the yaks. They told
me that the soda was to be mixed with tea.

We then went on over several low undulating hills, and finally reached
the lower course of the river Chema Yungdung, where I had narrowly
escaped drowning a short time before. As the season was now well
advanced, the river was much shallower and we were able to cross it
with comparative ease. I indeed could do so with perfect security, for
I was carried on a yak’s back.

We were travelling all these days at the rate of about twenty-five
miles a day, and I should hardly have been able to make such good
progress had it not been for the fact that I could ride every now and
then on a yak. What distressed me most was bivouacking in the open,
where sleep was out of the question in the cold autumn nights and on
ground covered with snow. After proceeding some twenty-five miles
to the south-east, on the following day we reached the Brahmapuṭra,
known in this region as Martsan-gi-chu or Kobei-chu, according to
the districts which it traversed. The lordly river was quite shallow
and could be crossed without trouble, and I did so as before on the
yak’s back. We found some tents by the bank of the river where we were
allowed to pass a night--quite a cheering change after so many nights
of bivouacking.

It was a moonless night, but the sky was full of stars, which threw
their twinkling rays on the water of the river. The vast range of the
Himālayas was clearly silhouetted, so as to make its sharp outline
perceptible. The majestic scene inspired me with poetic fervor:

  Like to the Milky Way in Heaven at night,
      With stars begemmed in countless numbers decked,
  The Brahmaputra flashes on the sight,
      His banks, fit haunt for Gods, appear
  In gorgeous splendors from the snowy height.

The following day I had to part from my companions, who were going to
a destination different from mine, and so I was again thrown on my own
wits and my own legs for continuing my journey. After having travelled
for so many days with the help of other people, I now had to travel
alone with nothing but my back on which to carry my effects, and my
journey on the following day was a cheerless and fatiguing one. The
load weighed heavily on my back, and the time I occupied in taking rest
was perhaps longer than that spent in actual progress. At last I was so
much exhausted that I could hardly move my limbs.


A Cheerless Prospect.

While I was taking rest in that helpless condition, I was fortunate
enough to see a Tibetan coming along my way leading a yak. When he
came to where I was sitting I greeted him, and asked him to carry my
luggage as far as he could without compromising his own convenience,
and promised him suitable pay for his trouble. He willingly consented,
and relieved my aching back of its load.

After travelling about three miles, I observed three men coming towards
us on horseback. They were fully armed, each with a gun, a lance and
a sword, and as they approached they looked like burly men, wearing
Tibetan hunting caps. I at once concluded that they must be highwaymen,
for evidently they were not pilgrims, the latter generally travelling
with a pack-horse or a yak to carry their necessaries; nor could they
be merchants, for they would travel in a caravan, according to the
fashion of the country. My companion came to the same conclusion and
began to show signs of fear. To encounter highwaymen is not quite
agreeable under any circumstances, so I was not cheered at the thought
of meeting those three fellows, but I was not at all afraid, for I made
up my mind to surrender whatever things they wished to have out of my
effects. I simply wished to keep my life, and for this the highwaymen
could have no use. With that idea I boldly advanced and soon came face
to face with the three cavaliers. They asked me whence I came, and
when I replied that I was returning from a visit to Mount Kailāsa they
further asked me if I had not seen some traders on my way. The traders
were their friends, they continued, and they were searching for them.

When I replied that I had not met with any such persons, the men
then said that I must be a Lama-priest, and as such they wished me
to perform some divination for them, to find out the whereabouts of
their friends. Now the meaning of their request was quite clear, they
wished to find the traders in order to assault and despoil them. For my
own part I was rather relieved when the three fellows disclosed their
intention, for I knew that highwaymen who were after traders with rich
goods would scorn the idea of robbing a poor Lama-priest such as they
took me to be. On the contrary they might offer some donation to such
a priest, if they asked him to undertake divination for their sake.
Highwaymen who do business on a large scale often prove a source of
substantial profit to Lama-priests, if a donation coming from such
quarters can be regarded as a legitimate profit.

Well, placed under such peculiar circumstances, I was obliged to give
them a ‘direction,’ and of course the direction I gave them was the one
which I judged least likely to be frequented by traders. The highwaymen
were highly pleased at my divination, thanked me, and then galloped
off in the direction I indicated. They did not offer me any donation,
however, for they said they had nothing to present to me now.

My companion had remained at a distance all the while as a terrified
spectator of this strange transaction between the highwaymen and
myself. When they had galloped away he emerged from his hiding-place,
and asked me what I was talking about with those dreadful men. I told
him in detail what had passed between the highwaymen and myself, and
relieved his anxiety by assuring him that my divination was a mere
sham, and was really intended to mislead them instead of giving them
any probable direction.

After having walked along a river bank for about eight miles we came
to a tent which belonged to my companion, and there were two or three
others besides. That night I slept in the tent of my guide, and I also
stayed there during the following day in order to give rest to my
fatigued limbs. On the following morning (that is on September 26th)
I purchased a goat according to the advice of my host, and packing my
effects on the animal’s back I left the place.

I was soon after overtaken by a fearful snowstorm, which obstructed
my sight and blocked my progress. My Tibetan garment was completely
drenched, and I was wet to the skin. I could not determine in which
direction I should proceed, for the storm blinded my eyes and I had
lost my compass; but though I could not be certain of the right
direction I had to move on as best I could, for to stand still was out
of the question. My situation was growing more and more desperate,
and I was at my wit’s end, not knowing what to do. As luck would have
it, just at that moment I met with a horseman. He at once noticed the
plight I was in and kindly offered me the hospitality of his tent. It
was a little _détour_, he said, for one going to Lhasa to go with him
to his tent, but it would be dangerous (though not probably fatal, as
the season was not yet far advanced) to pass that snowy night in the
open; the cold was too severe to expose oneself to it with safety at
night. I gratefully accepted the hospitable offer, transferred, as he
bade me, a part of my goat’s load on to the back of his horse, and
then, leading the goat, followed the horseman and soon reached his tent.

The following morning my host left quite early, and the people of the
tent, and of four or five others, broke up their camp and moved on in
the direction in which I also was to proceed for my journey towards
Lhasa. So I followed them, and trudged along the snow-covered ground
in a south-easterly direction for about fifteen miles. I had not yet
had occasion to talk with any of them, but I felt sure that they
would again extend to me their hospitality, and at least allow me to
share their tent at night, for they must see, I thought, that it was
impossible for me to sleep outside among the snow-covered hills. In
time the party made a halt, selected a suitable site for pitching their
camp, scraped off the snow, and set up their tents. All that while I
was watching the people at work, or gazing at the surrounding scenery.
When the tent-pitching was finished, I asked the people of the tent in
which I had slept the preceding night for permission to enjoy a similar
favor again. I was astonished to receive from them a blunt refusal.
Then I tried another tent, but with no better success, and my earnest
requests at the five or six other tents were all in vain. I at last
came to the only remaining tent, and I thought that as this was my
last chance I must somehow or other persuade the inmates to admit me,
whether they were willing to receive me or not; so I begged them--they
were an old dame and her daughter--for permission to sleep in their
tent, on the ground that I should probably be frozen to death if I were
to stay outside in the snow on that cold night, and urged that they
should take compassion on me. I added that I might repay their kindness
with a suitable present of money. The old woman was not softened at all
by my appeal. On the contrary she was angry with me, saying that I was
insulting her by trying to force hospitality from her. Why had I not
tried other tents inhabited by men, and why should I be so importunate
with her alone? I was insulting her because she was a woman, she added,
and she insisted on my leaving her tent. When I tried to protest
against this merciless treatment she stood up in an awful passion, and
raising aloft the Tibetan tongs, with which she was scraping together
the kindled yak’s dung, she made as though she would strike me.


At Death’s Door.

No one would take me into his tent, and I was thus quite at my wit’s
end. I retired to a distance of some dozen yards and, looking at the
four or five tents which appeared to be warm and cozy, remembered
Buḍḍha’s words: “For him who has no relationship to me, it is very
difficult to receive salvation from me.” These people were perfect
strangers to me, and therefore slept comfortably in their tents, while
I had to lie down on the cold ground, exposed to the severe winds. But,
I thought, the fact that I had asked them for a lodging might have
created a certain relationship, by means of which they might yet be
saved, and that it would not be quite in vain if I read the Holy Texts
for their salvation. Of course this was merely my duty as a follower
of Buḍḍha, whose love is universal. So I sat down on the ground and
recited the Buḍḍhist Text, with the kindest intentions. After a while
the girl whom I had lately asked for a lodging peeped from her tent and
stared at me, then hastily withdrew. Presently she appeared a second
time and, approaching me, said that she supposed I was conjuring evil
spirits to punish her and her mother for their refusal to lodge me.
This must not be done, said she. She and her mother had now agreed
that they should entertain me in their tent, and she had been sent for
me. There was something comical in the fact that my kind intentions
should be taken for revengeful motives, and that those motives should
be rewarded with kindness. But I attributed all to the benevolence
of Buḍḍha, and thankfully accepted the girl’s invitation. A Buḍḍhist
service was held that evening.

The following morning I left the tent very early, and walked south-east
for two miles and a half in a hilly district. Quite unexpectedly, two
men rushed out from behind a rock and stopped me. As they did not seem
like robbers, though they were armed, I was simple enough to think that
they were natives of the place making a trip. They approached close to
me and asked me what I had. I replied, “I had Buḍḍhism”. They did not
understand what I said and exclaimed:

“What is that you have on your back?”

“That is my food.”

“What is that sticking out on your breast?”

“That is my silver.”

No sooner had the last answer been given, than the men seized my
sticks, and I understood at once that they were robbers. Promptly
making up my mind what to do, I said:

“You want something of me?”

“Of course!” one of them said, showing his teeth.

“Well, then, there is no use in hurrying. I will give you all you want.
Be calm, and say what you want.”

“Produce your silver first.”

I gave them my purse.

“You seem to have some valuables on your back. Let us see.”

I obeyed. They also demanded to see my bag, which was being carried on
the goat, and, after ransacking it, returned me the Scriptures, the
bed-clothes that were heavy, and a few other things that were useless
to them. They took, however, all my food, saying that they needed it,
although neither could I do without food.

[Illustration: ATTACKED BY ROBBERS.]

It is a rule among the robbers of Tibet that, having taken all they
want, they should give their victim enough food for some three days,
provided that the latter read the Texts and ask for food. I thought
I would follow this custom, and I said that I possessed in my
breast-cloth a silver pagoda, containing relics of Buḍḍha, which Mr.
Ḍhammapāla of India had asked me to present to the Dalai Lama, and
which I did not wish to lose. The highwaymen at once wanted to know if
I could not give it to them, and I replied that if they wanted it I
would give it, but that as a layman could not keep it properly, they
must expect some misfortune as a punishment for their sacrilege.

So saying, I produced the pagoda and invited them to open it. This
was probably more than they expected. They would not even touch it,
but asked me to place it upon their heads with my benediction. I held
the pagoda over their heads and, reciting the three Refuges and Five
Commandments of Buḍḍha, prayed that their sins might be extinguished by
the merit of Ḍharma.

Then I stood up, and was going to ask of them a few days’ rations, when
two men on horseback put in an appearance far ahead, and before I could
look round, the robbers had gathered together all that they had seized,
and made off in the opposite direction. They ran over the mountains
like hares, and it was quite out of the question for me to give them
chase. I thought, therefore, to ask the horsemen for provisions. But
for some reason or other they climbed a mountain ahead of me, and did
not come as far as where I was. I called out to them and made signs by
turning my right hand inwards, according to the Tibetan custom. Perhaps
my voice did not reach them, or they had some business demanding urgent
attendance, for they paid no attention to me. Still I had left eight
Indian gold coins which I had kept close to my skin. My baggage having
been greatly diminished, I placed it all on my goat, and went on with
my journey. It was a steep mountain pass, and before I had travelled
eight miles it became dark. The night was spent as usual in bivouacking
in a crevice between the rocks.

The following morning I wished to take a north-easterly direction, so
as to reach a certain post-town; but having no compass, I could not
ascertain my bearings, and seem to have strayed off to the south-east
and eventually due south, instead of north-east, as I should have done.
The snow began to fall at three o’clock in the afternoon, and I walked
and walked until the evening, but met not a single human being. I was
exceedingly hungry, and so thirsty that I ate the snow. One meal a day
would have been sufficient for me, but the absolute fasting gave me no
small pain.

Darkness and hunger compelled me to stop, and I selected a hollow in
the ground as my bed, clearing it of snow. As there is always a danger
of being frozen dead when one is beset by a snow-storm in a vast
plain, I took the precaution to hold my breath, so as to minimise the
communication with the outside air, according to the methods learned
during my Buḍḍhist training. This, I think, is the best method for
bivouacking in the snow, and I soon fell asleep in the hollow.

On waking early next morning I saw the snow had fallen to a great
depth, but the weather was fine; and when I looked around, I thought
the mountains ahead resembled the hilly district called Nahru-ye, where
I had once been in the company of some herdsmen. Proceeding further,
I found the familiar Kyang-chu river, which I was delighted to see.
Sustained by the hope of finding some old acquaintances at Nahru-ye,
I walked some five miles in that direction. But nowhere was there any
human being to be seen; there was nothing but the snow. I was almost
despairing, owing to my extreme hunger and thirst, for I was entirely
exhausted, though I had no heavy baggage to carry. But I had to walk on
and on, eating a little snow from time to time to allay my hunger.

I thought that by travelling farther across the Kyang-chu river, I
should reach the place where Alchu Lama lived. He never wandered far
away from that place, and I might find him there; so I decided upon
travelling in that direction. I crossed the river about nine miles
above the place where I had crossed it on the previous occasion. The
water had decreased to about one-fifth of its usual amount, and it was
just freezing. I broke the ice with my sticks and crossed the river.
If the ice had been thick, the crossing of the river would have been a
very easy task, but the thin ice entailed the danger to the traveller
of being thrown into the deep current, and injured by the ice-blocks.
After many difficulties I reached the opposite bank, and walked due

Then the baggage which was being carried by the goat got lost. It
contained what the robbers had left--a carpet made of sheep-skin,
shoes, drugs, and such things. I searched everywhere, but in vain. I
had to give up my search and proceed further, for I wished to reach
a tent before night, as sleeping amid the snow on the open field
for several nights consecutively would mean the end of my life; so
I pushed on until eight o’clock and had covered twenty miles, when
another trouble cropped up in the shape of terrible pain in the eyes,
the result of the strong glare of the sun on the snow. My eyes felt as
if they would burst, and I could not remain quiet. Moreover the snow
recommenced falling in the evening, and the cold was extreme, and when
I lay down I felt the biting coldness of the snow on my head. I pressed
the snow on my eyes, but it did not lessen the pain in the least. A
cold sweat broke out all over me from the pain and cold, and, in trying
to calm myself, I found that my body was becoming benumbed by the
frost. I tried keeping my eyes shut, and anointed them abundantly with
the oil of cloves. But slumber was far from me. I rivetted my thoughts
on Buḍḍhism, and was doing my best to keep down the pain, when, quite
unexpectedly, I was inspired with an _uta_, which runs:

  Upon these plains of snow, my bed is snow,
      My pillow, snow; my food also the same;
  And this my snowy journey, full of pain.

The effusion soothed my heart, and I felt more than ever thankful for
the beauty of the Japanese language.

The next day, October 1, 1900, at about six in the morning I decided
to proceed on my journey. The snow had ceased, and the sun was shining
brightly, to the increased pain of my eyes. I could not walk with my
eyes shut; and yet the pain of keeping them open, however slightly, was
more than I could bear. I was so overcome by it that I would from time
to time fall down, wherever I might be. I had had no food for nearly
four days, and was so weak that the smallest stone lying in the snow
would bring me down. Fortunately I sustained no injury, owing to the
softness of the snow and the lightness of my body. There was a time,
however, when I got quite exasperated by hunger, the pain in my eyes,
and the weakness of my legs, and sat down in the snow, feeling that
I was fated to die. Intellectually, however, death was far from my
thoughts. Were there only some means of getting rid of my bodily pains,
I thought I could walk on and on, and at last reach safety.

At this juncture a horseman put in an appearance far ahead. I strained
my eyes, though with terrible pain, and thus made out that it was a
horseman. I stood up at once and signalled him to approach. I wished
to shout but could not; the effort seemed to choke me, and it was
only after enormous exertion that I squeezed out two feeble shouts
and wildly gesticulated. The horseman, having apparently observed me,
galloped towards me, to my great joy. Soon he was beside me, asking me
what I was doing in such a desert of snow, and I told him with uncommon
difficulty that I had been robbed of most of my baggage, had lost what
remained to me _en route_, and had had nothing to eat for over three or
four days. He was a young man, full of sympathy. Though he was provided
with extra provisions, he said, he would give me only some sweetmeats,
made of cream and brown sugar, a food which is esteemed as a rare
delicacy in the northern steppes of Tibet. I swallowed down the food
which he gave me so hurriedly that I did not even taste it.

I then enquired of him if I could not find a lodging hereabouts. His
reply was that he was a pilgrim, and that his parents and others were
staying beside the mountain ahead of us, and that I should be able to
obtain some accommodation there. He therefore advised me to come to his
tent, and, saying that he was in hurry, galloped away in that direction.

The distance was only a little above two miles, but I do not remember
how often I stumbled and fell down, and rested, and ate snow, before I
reached the tent. More than three hours were occupied on the journey,
and I did not reach the tent till past eleven o’clock, when the
young man came out to welcome me. His parents congratulated me on my
narrow escape from death, and entertained me with the best sort of
Tibetan food, which consisted of boiled rice covered with butter, and
accompanied by sugar and raisins. I did not take much of the food, for
fear that the sudden repletion might injure me, but I took a little
milk after a very modest repast. The pain in my eyes was no better.
There was no medicine, and the best I could do was to cool them with
snow. In spite of the fine bed with which I was accommodated I could
not sleep that night, owing to the pain I felt in my eyes.

These people, being pilgrims, were intending to move on day by day. The
next morning, therefore, I also had to proceed on my journey. But it
was some time before they could start, for they had to pull down the
tents and pack them on the yaks. I finished my tea therefore, and went
out of doors, while they were busily engaged in packing their effects.
I had walked to the further end of a row of four or five tents, when
seven or eight ferocious Tibetan dogs attacked me, barking loudly.
Handicapped as I was with the pain in my eyes, I could not deal with
these dogs so deftly as at other times. At first, I kept my eyes open
and brandished my two sticks, driving back the animals, which attacked
me from all sides. But once I was obliged to close my eyes, and
immediately a dog behind me seized one of my sticks. The next moment
another dog fastened his teeth on my right leg, and threw me down.

I uttered a feeble cry for help, which brought several men on the
scene, and they drove away the dogs with stones. But the blood flowed
out abundantly from the wound, which I held fast with my hands, and I
lay motionless until an aged dame brought me some medicine, which she
said was a marvellous cure for such wounds. I dressed the wound with
the medicine and bandaged it, and attempted to rise, but in vain. It
was impossible for me to stand up.

But as it was equally impossible that I should lie down there for ever,
I asked the people what they would advise me to do, and if they did
not know the whereabouts of Alchu Lama, whom I thought to be in that
vicinity. They asked me if I was acquainted with Alchu Lama, and, on
being answered in the affirmative, one of them volunteered to carry me
on his horse to the tent of Alchu Lama, who he said, being a physician,
would be able to cure me alike of the wound and of the eye-disease. I
rose with the support of the sticks, one of which broke under me and
had to be thrown away, and mounted on the horse.

Arriving at a place where there stood two tents, I perceived that these
tents were smaller than those of Alchu Lama. Though wondering at heart,
I alighted from the horse, and enquired at one of the tents for the
Lama, and I was informed that this was not the Lama’s tent, but that
of his wife’s father. I wanted to reach the Lama’s tents somehow, and
was speaking to that effect, when the wife, hearing my voice, said that
I was the revered Lama who had made a pilgrimage to the snowy peak of
Tise, and came out to see me.

“Where is your Lama?” I asked.

“He lives about two miles east of this place.”

“I wish to find him. Have you no one to take me to him?”

“I have nothing to do with the Lama any more, nor can I take you. But
if you want to go there, I will direct the man who has brought you here
to accompany you.”

“But why do you not yourself return to your own home?”

“Oh, there is no man so wicked as he; I intend to leave him.”

“That is not good,” said I.

Then we had a long talk, and after I had been given a repast, I rode to
the Lama’s tent.

The Lama being out, I was received by his domestics. When he returned
home in the evening, I related my adventures to him and asked him for
some medicine. He kindly dressed my wound with excellent drugs, and
gave me purgatives, saying that it was necessary for me to purge my
body in order to prevent the diffusion throughout my system of poison
which some of the dogs injected by their bites. He also said that I
should stay with him for at least a week, in order to recuperate.
Thanks to his directions, which I obeyed, I was in a few days greatly
relieved of the suffering both in my leg and eyes.

I had experienced enough of hardship, and had very poor prospects of
an easy life in the future. But still there was a genuine pleasure in
pushing on through hardships. About that time I composed a poem:

  All bitter hardships in this world of woe,
      Have I thus tasted now during this life;
  None will be left for me to suffer more.

One day I asked the Lama why he had sent his wife to her parents,
whereupon he explained the shortcomings of his wife. Both had their
reasons, and I could not say which was wrong. But, I said, the man
ought to have magnanimity and to console his wife, so that it was
advisable for the Lama to send for his wife to come back. I supported
my advice by the doctrines of Buḍḍhism, and made him yield to my
proposal. He sent two of his men for his wife, who, after making some
fuss, returned to his tent the same evening.

The following day, when I referred to the Discourse on the Five Vices,
which is included in the Gospel of the Buḍḍha _Life Eternal_ (one of
the three books of the Jōdō Sect, but not found in the Tibetan Canon)
the Lama expressed his desire to hear a lecture on it. I consented to
the request and expounded the discourse on the days following. The
sermon in question treats of all imaginable vices and sins devised by
mankind, arranging them into five classes and explaining them in the
most appropriate manner. During my lecture on this discourse the couple
were so deeply moved to repentance for their sins that they wept and at
times asked me to suspend the lecture. As their repentance was sincere,
I congratulated them on their progress in virtue. I stayed with them
for some ten days, and my bodily troubles were so much relieved that I
was able to regale my eyes with the magnificent view of the snow and
ice, lit up by the serene moon-light. This lovely scenery of nature
caused me to think of my country, and I had occasion to compose many
_utas_, two of which were as follows:

  The spotless sky is bathed in light serene
      By that cold moon with her all-tranquil ray;
  This pleasant scene fires me with memories sweet
      Of that dear mother-land now far away.

  Here on these lonely steppes the grass is dry,
      No reeds, no autumn flowers show their smiles;
  On high the moon shines on these wilds alone,
      Enhancing thus the loneliness profound.



The Saint of the White Cave revisited.

I spent some pleasant days here and was perfectly cured of my illness.
At the instance of Alchu Lama I decided to pay another visit to Gelong
Rinpoche. Our party, including the Lama, his wife, myself and three
domestics, all on horseback, and a horse which carried my baggage
and our presents to the holy man of the White Cave, rode south at
full speed, covering a distance of thirteen miles in a short time. It
was before eleven when we reached the cave, and we were ordered to
wait for a time before we could see the priest. At eleven those who
had assembled at the cave, about thirty in all, held a service, the
illustrious priest officiating, answering questions, and receiving
offerings. When all were about to withdraw, the Lama detained me,
saying he had something to talk to me about. Alchu Lama and his wife
thereupon bade me farewell, saying that I should take the road to
Lhasa, and we parted, I thanking them for their kindness.

I sat in front of the Lama, who was engaged in deep meditation, the
subject of which was not difficult to guess, for when I was at the
tent of Alchu Lama I had heard it stated that rumors were persistently
disseminated to the effect that the Lama who had made a pilgrimage to
the snowy peak of Tise (this referred to me) was not a Chinaman, though
he pretended to be one, but an Englishman, who was investigating the
situation of affairs in Tibet. Alchu Lama added that the ignorance of
the masses, who would take such a true lover of Buḍḍhism as myself
for a spy, was incorrigible. Such being the situation, I thought
the rumor must have reached the ears of the good man, who was in
consequence going to tell me something in reference to it. Presently
the priest asked me a most matter-of-fact question: what was my object
in proceeding to Lhasa, in spite of the overwhelming hardships which
beset me? I answered that I had no other object than to save all beings
by prosecuting my studies in Buḍḍhism. Thus I tried to parry his
matter-of-fact question with a metaphysical answer. The Lama at once

“Why do you want to save all beings?”

“Only because they are suffering from all sorts of pains.”

“Then you have all beings in view?”

I retorted with an equally idealistic answer: “Having no Ego, how can
I have all beings in view?”

The priest smiled, and, changing the subject of the conversation, asked
me if I had ever been troubled with love affairs. In reply I said that
though I had once greatly suffered in that connexion, I was at present
free from that torture, and hoped to remain so. Then he at once turned
to my adventure with the robbers, asking me whether I had hated those
robbers during the time I was with them, and whether I had not cursed
them after our parting, for the purpose of revenging myself on them.
I replied that there was no use in hating them, as they had robbed me
because I deserved to be robbed. I myself rather was hateful, who had
committed the sins which made me deserve the misfortune, and I was glad
that I could pay my debts. Such being my thoughts, there was no use in
invoking evil on their heads. On the contrary, I had prayed that on
account of their having come across me, they might become true men, or
saints, in the next life if not in this. The Lama then said:

“All your words are rightly said. But you will probably meet with many
such robbers on your way to Lhasa. They may even kill you. Then you
will not be able to accomplish your object of saving all beings. You
had better give up your intention of proceeding to Lhasa, and betake
yourself back to Nepāl. There is a good road from Lo to Nepāl. You must
go at once to Lo. If, on the contrary, you go to Lhasa, I believe you
will certainly be killed on the way.”

This he said suggestively, and continued in a solemn tone: “In order
to attain your object, you may take any means. Your journey to Lhasa
is not your only object. If you are sincere in saying that you want to
save all beings, you must leave for Nepāl!”

I replied: “I cannot commit myself to such an equivocal argument, and
I fail to concur in your opinion that any means is justifiable by its
end. The Gospel of the Buḍḍha, _Mighty Sun_, has it that the means is
the object, meaning that the practice of honest means is identical with
the attainment of an object. The fact that I enter Paradise is no more
the attainment of the object of my life, than is my arrival at Lhasa.
The practice of honest means being the object itself, I believe that at
the moment when I adopt honest means, I have attained my object.”

“Then what route will you take in your journey and whither will you go?”

“As a matter of fact, I shall take the mountain pass, and steer my way
to the capital of Tibet.”

“That is curious, that you should take the road exposed to fatal risks.
Better return to Nepāl. You say rash things. I know your future fate,
and know that if you go on your way, you will die!”

His words were intimidating, but I replied: “Really? But I do not know
my death, much less my birth. What I know is only to do what is honest.”

The Lama meditated for a while in deep silence, and then suddenly
changed the conversation, referring to the _Maṇi_, or the sealed book
of Tibet. I omit here our dialogue on this subject, as it is too
technical for general readers. We were so taken up with our religious
talk that we were unconscious of the approach of the evening.

The Lama’s suspicions were largely allayed, and he said that he
wondered how the people of the neighborhood were able to invent such
rumors, and that I was a true seeker after Buḍḍhism. He was sincerely
delighted with me and, saying that money and provisions were my first
necessaries, gave me twenty tankas of Tibetan silver, a lump of tea,
a big bag of baked flour, a copper pan, and other articles required
by travellers. The whole of the presents were valued at perhaps sixty
tankas, or fifteen yen in Japanese currency. I asked him to reduce the
amount of the presents, for I could not easily carry so much. He said
there was no need for my being troubled about that; for all along my
way farther on I should everywhere find his disciples, who when they
saw the travelling bag, would remember their master and carry the
baggage for me. So I accepted the presents and retired, but not before
he had promised to invest me the next morning with the mysterious power
of the _Maṇi_, for which I thanked him sincerely.

During that night, I decided to take the highway to Lhasa, for, I
thought the mountain pass was full of the Lama’s disciples, who,
in spite of their master, would cast suspicious eyes on me, and I
concluded, that if the highway was a little longer than the bye-way, it
was much safer.

The following morning I was initiated in the mysteries of _Maṇi_,
and about noon the following day I left the Lama Gelong’s cave. For
about five miles I descended the hill, carrying my baggage on my back,
and it was pretty heavy. Then I proceeded north, with the object of
reaching the highway and not as directed by the Lama, and when I had
walked another five miles, I saw two tents and a man, apparently a
wealthy grazier, coming out from one of them and cordially greeting
me. I was rather surprised, for I knew I had no acquaintances in that
neighborhood and I did not know his face. I felt a little embarrassed,
but I followed him into his tent, where I was met by Alchu Lama. He had
stayed the previous evening at the tent, and had told the man of our
blessed religious talk of the other night. The man, in consequence,
had wished to receive my benediction. Being informed of these facts,
I did as he wished. Soon after I left the place, accompanied by a man
and two horses carrying my things. I travelled eight miles east along
the bank of the Ngar Tsang-gi-chu, which I had crossed once on my way
from the cave of the White Cliff to the snowy peak of Tise. The same
evening I arrived in a place on the riverside, where the man who had
accompanied me put down my baggage and took his leave. During the
evening, I enquired about the best way to reach the high-road, and was
informed that I had to cross the Brahmapuṭra for a second time, and
that I needed a guide and a carrier in order to cross it. So I engaged
the men required.

The next morning I walked eastwards ten miles through a swampy plain,
and over a hilly pass which was five miles long, and then crossed
the Brahmapuṭra. On the farther bank of the river I found a tent of
miserable appearance, kept by an old woman and her daughter, whose
business it was to watch yaks straying about. I spent the following day
in patching up my shirts.

On October 16, I again walked over the swampy plain in an easterly
direction. The swampy plain in Tibet is dotted about with pools of
various depths in which grass is growing. Walking through the damp
place for about ten miles, I reached the Na-u Tsangbo, a large river
flowing from the northern steppes of Tibet and into the Brahmapuṭra.
I had previously been informed of the place where I could cross the
river, but the water reached my breast, and the current was rapid,
so that, as I was carrying the heavy baggage on my back, there were
times when I thought I should be swept away by the river. Moreover the
sandy mud which formed the river-bed sucked my feet deep down, and
made walking very difficult. Happily, however, I reached the opposite
bank in safety. Proceeding a little farther, I found a big tent, where
I was lodged that night. My invariable question was about the way to
the high-road. The people there informed me that ten or twelve miles
further to the north-east there was a post-town called Toksum Tazam,
which stood on the high-road. The Tibetan high-road over the steppes
has post-towns at intervals of four or five days’ journey from each
other. On this side of Toksum Tazam, on the side nearer to the snowy
peak of Tise, there is a post-town called Satsan Tazam. From this place
I was to travel along the highway, and I should be able to locate my
whereabouts exactly.

The following day I steered my way due east, and not in the
north-easterly direction, which would have led me to Toksum Tazam,
for this route was, I thought, rather a round-about way to reach the
high-road. The next day, the 19th October, 1900, I again proceeded due
east; but I met with a serious accident, which I must now describe.


Some easier days.

The plain was nothing but a swamp, and I was obliged to wade across
shallow streams alternating with mud flats. At one place I came to a
bog which, when I tried it with my stick, appeared to be very deep, so
that my only course was to select what seemed to be the narrowest part,
and to cross it as best I could. The bog at this place was not more
than four yards in width, and did not look as if it could be deep, as
it was covered with fine sand at the bottom of some shallow water, so
I began at once to cross it by making a bold plunge.

But alas! before I had gone two steps I had sunk deep into it, and,
though I tried to save myself by means of my sticks, I found myself
momentarily sinking further and further into the mire. I then took the
bundles I was carrying one by one off my shoulders, and threw them
on to the other side; then I stripped off my clothes and threw them
likewise, leaving myself exposed to the icy wind. Then I commenced
with the aid of my sticks to balance myself across the bog with as
much care and as gingerly as though I had been balancing myself on
a tight rope in my younger days. As soon as I got my body back into
a vertical position (for I had fallen almost flat upon my face), I
laid the shorter of my sticks horizontally across the mud so as to
give a resting place for my feet, and then with the aid of the longer
stick raised myself slowly until I got both my feet upon it. Then I
slowly moved my feet along the top of the horizontal stick, and thus,
thanks to the lightness of my body, which had been freed from all
encumbrances, I managed in a few minutes to reach _terra firma_.


I was shivering with cold when I got there, but I was exceedingly
proud of my acrobatic feat, and, wringing out my wet clothes as best
I could, put them on again and made my way to a tent which I saw near
the high-road, where I fortunately found some pilgrims who gave me
hospitality for the night.

The word “high-road” suggests to the mind the idea of a macadamised
thoroughfare, but that is not what the traveller finds in Tibet. The
high-road was nothing more than a beaten track, along which men and
beasts trod their way as best they could. In fact anything is called a
high-way in Tibet, if it is frequented by travellers, free from grass,
and not too stony. In desert places, where there is no grass to be
worn off, there are no high-roads, except in the immediate environs of
Lhasa. It would be a mistake to suppose that carriages could be used
on the high-road; there is no road in Tibet capable of being used by
either carriage or jinriksha. When some years ago the Rājā of Nepāl
presented the Dalai Lama with a carriage of European make, to be drawn
by four horses, many of the Dalai Lama’s advisers recommended him to
return the gift, as one which could not possibly be used in Tibet.
Another opinion, however, prevailed: it was urged that the carriage
had been brought from a great distance and could not well be returned
without impoliteness, and it was therefore placed as a curiosity in the
Palace at Lhasa, where it can be seen to this day. This was about four
years ago.

Bad roads are universal in Tibet, except around Lhasa and Shigatze, the
most advanced cities in the country. Still, bad as it was, I was glad
to be once more on the high-road, where there were no fortresses for
the molestation of travellers, and by which I might reasonably hope
to reach Lhasa in due time. One day, after a long stretch of desert
travelling, I reached a tent which was also a grog-shop--a somewhat
strange oasis in the midst of a desert. But it became intelligible
when I found that a large fair of salt, wool, and cattle had recently
been held in this locality and that the grog-shop had been opened in
connexion with the fair by a man from Mondan in the province of Lo. The
liquor sold was a kind of beer made from barley, and the grog-shop was
to remain here for about another month.

I reached the tent about dusk, and was delighted to find myself amongst
friends, for I had made the acquaintance of the landlady sometime
before at Tsarang. The old dame was delighted to see me. She had been
wondering what had become of me and was very glad that fortune had
guided my steps to her tent. She was anxious to know if I were going to
return to Tsarang, to which I gave an evasive answer, and she gave me
such a kind reception that I should have hesitated to accept it from
any but herself.

The next day I travelled over twelve miles to the south-east, with one
of the old lady’s servants to guide me and a yak to carry my luggage.
At the end of the journey we reached the house of a man named Gyal
Bum, to whom the dame introduced me as a venerable Lama, desirous of
hospitality. Gyal Bum is the second man in the province of Bomba, and
possesses two thousand yaks, five thousand sheep, and an enormous
amount of wealth. One of his tents was ninety yards square and had a
stone chapel annexed. There were two other tents, one of ordinary size,
the other very small and fitted up like a tea-house. The bottom edge of
the canvas of the large tent was turned inwards, and on it were placed
large quantities of goods, which served as weights to secure the tent.
The goods were all concealed under Tibetan blankets, and were mostly
butter, barley, wheat, wool, and the like. It was in this tent that I

Gyal Bum was about seventy-five years old, and his wife over eighty
and blind. They had no children, and the Tibetan law does not permit
the adoption of a child from another family. Should a man die without
children, his nearest relative, as a general but not universal rule,
becomes his heir. The old couple asked me many questions about
Buḍḍhism, which I answered as kindly as I could. They thought the
teaching was excellent, and as they had now no hopes except in a future
life, they asked me to conduct a benedictory service for them during
their life-time--a request to which I gave consent the more readily,
because I was much fatigued and wished to recuperate. The old gentleman
pressed me, indeed, to make a long stay of a year or more with him, but
this I declined, as I feared running any risks in view of the many wild
rumors about me that were being circulated throughout the Lo province.
Furthermore I was afraid that, however warmly I might be clad, I should
be unable to endure the severe rigors of a winter in those regions, for
I had already been obliged to borrow two fur coats from my host, and
still felt so cold that I was sure I could not winter in the tent. I
was obliged therefore to resist his importunities.

One incident will show that my anxieties about my health were not
groundless. One day while walking I felt a lump in my throat, which
I brought up and found to be a clot of blood, and the bleeding,
having once begun, went on with such persistence that I began to fear
consumption. I was much alarmed, as may be imagined, but the excellent
precepts of my religion enabled me to keep calm, and the more keenly I
felt the pain of the bleeding, the more I kept myself under control.
I sat down on the grass and stopped my respiration, as though for a
meditation, and was glad to find that the bleeding soon ceased, though
not before I had brought up quite a pool of blood. When I got home,
my pale face quite alarmed my host, and when I told him what had
happened, he said that the rarity of the atmosphere (he did not call
it ‘rarity,’ for of that he knew nothing) often had a similar effect
upon Chinese visitors. He fortunately knew of a very good remedy,
which he applied with great success, and thus relieved me of my fears
of a supposed consumption. Three days later I again brought up blood,
though in a decreased quantity, and the old gentleman told me that
after two such vomitings I should never be similarly troubled again.
He was quite right; henceforth I was free from these attacks, even at
Lhasa. The place Bomba is 15,000 feet above the sea-level; Lhasa is
only 12,000, and no one spits blood on account of the rarity of the
atmosphere at this latter place. My host kindly fed me up with milk and
other nourishing food, and when, a week later, I took my departure, he
presented me with the fur of an animal called _yi_, which he said was
the only thing that would do me any good. The yi is a sort of cat that
lives in the snow. It is somewhat larger than an ordinary cat, and its
fur is much valued in Tibet. My host’s present was a tippet of yi fur,
covering the shoulders, and I learned afterwards that such a tippet
would cost twenty-five yen when new, and ten yen for an old one. He
also gave me a quantity of butter and ten tankas of coin, and sent his
servant with a horse to put me well on my journey. Thus I travelled
some ten Japanese miles and reached the house of one Ajo-pu, a village
headman, where I lodged. I was very thankful that I had stayed with
Gyal Bum, for had I spat blood on the journey I should have died.

I left Ajo-pu’s house on the 29th October, 1900, and after going ten
_ri_ to the south-east, down a descent, reached the banks of the
Brahmapuṭra, which was already covered with ice and glittering in the
dazzling sun. I had not originally intended to go by this way, but by
the high-road, which would have taken me more to the east but Ajo-pu
had told me that at this season I should find no herdsmen along the
high-road until I reached Tadun-Tazam, while by the other road I
should come across them frequently. Sure enough, I found a tent on
the banks of the Brahmapuṭra, and was hospitably received by its kind
owner, a man of the name of Gyal-po. He told me that he was starting
the next day along the same route that I was taking, and offered to
take my baggage on one of his yaks. I was glad to be thus relieved of
my burden, and the next morning we all set off towards the south-east
along the river.

It was a sandy swampy country, and after some four _ri_ (ten miles) we
came to a plain of soft white sand which was very tiring to the feet,
so that I thankfully accepted Gyal-po’s offer of a bare-backed horse.
I am not a good horseman, but I trotted on bravely for a while, till
the pain in my hip-bone became unbearable. Then I changed my position
and rode sideways, like a lady, but then my legs began to hurt me, so
I jumped off at last and resumed my journey on foot. It was very hard
walking, but I consoled myself with thinking that, at any rate, I had
no luggage to carry, and so after a weary walk of five miles I came to
a narrow cañon through which the river flowed.

Through this defile we went, threading our way among the numerous
rocks, until at last we came to a place where three great rocks, in
shape like a man’s clenched fist, blocked the valley. Here the river
made a sharp turn to the south, while our road lay through a valley
to the south-east; so we bid adieu to the Brahmapuṭra. Presently we
crossed a big mountain and came out on an extensive plain. We had
travelled nearly twenty miles that day, and near the close of it I
separated from Gyal-po’s party. I was told that evening that there was
another river for me to cross before I got to Tadun-Tazam, and that as
it was full of perils I must hire a guide. This I did, and the next
day, after walking for fifteen miles towards the south-east, arrived
about ten o’clock at a river a hundred and twenty yards wide, which
was still covered with ice. The guide was afraid that the ice, which
was not thick enough to bear us, would cut our legs if we attempted to
wade through it, and on his advice we waited for the sun to melt it a
little. We therefore took our lunch, and at last about noon broke the
ice and began to wade across. The ice cut our legs in several places,
and our feet were quite benumbed with cold by the time we had got
across; but we walked on for another eighteen miles, and then stopped
for the night in a little tent.

The next day, November 1, I started at nine o’clock and walked till a
little past noon, when we crossed another icy rivulet. Twelve miles
more brought us to Tadun, the most famous temple in northern Tibet.
Tadun means the ‘seven hairs,’ and the tradition is that the hair of
seven Buḍḍhas are interred here. The temple stands on the summit of
a hill, and in its enclosure is a revenue office. It is in fact not
a temple but a town (Tazam), one of the most populous and wealthy in
northern Tibet.


War Against Suspicion.

I spent the whole of November 2nd, 1900, at the temple seeing its
treasures and images. The place was just sixty miles north of Tsarang
in the province of Lo in the Himālayas, and was frequented by merchants
from the latter. I did not know this fact, and after I had seen the
treasures I was walking round the temple, when to my astonishment I
was accosted by an old acquaintance. He was a notorious drunkard and
gambler, feared even by the natives of the Himālayas. While I was
in Lo he used to accuse me of being a British spy. When, however, a
member of his family became sick I gave him medicines, and this act of
kindness of mine softened down his bitterness against me, though it was
evident that he intended to take the first opportunity to quarrel with
me. On the present occasion it was clear that should I take no notice
of him. He would denounce me to the Tibetan Government and obstruct
the execution of my object; so I decided upon a plan of campaign.
Approaching him with a smile, I said I was delighted to see an old
acquaintance. I was myself a teetotaller, I added, but I had heard it
stated that the place had very good liquor. I would treat him to the
best to be obtained in the place if he did not object to coming to my
room. He accepted my invitation at once.

Ordering my landlord to bring a large quantity of the best liquor I
plied him with drink until four in the morning. I did not take anything
myself, but made believe to be drunk. After many glasses I got him dead
drunk, and he fell asleep. I also pretended to sleep. But as soon as
the landlord awoke at about half past five, I also rose and told him
that the man lying there was a dear friend of mine, and that I would
have him treated with the best liquor whenever he awoke, and that he
was never to let him go out of the house. If he should ask for my
whereabouts, he was to be told that I had gone towards Tsarang. With
these orders I paid my bills, tipped the landlord liberally, and set
out on my journey at six o’clock.

I did not of course go towards Tsarang, but took the highway running to
Lhasa. Yet my fears were not quite pacified, for the man I had to deal
with was noted for his shrewdness even among the Himālayans. He would
not only doubt the words of the landlord, but would suspect my reasons
for plying him with liquor, and would inform the Tibetan revenue
officials of my escape towards Lhasa. In the event of the mounted
officials giving chase to me, it would be all in vain for me to walk
as I was doing. What I wished with all my heart, even at the cost of
all my money, was to get a horse or to hire a man to carry my luggage.
But the plain being absolutely deserted, my desire was in vain. I was
hastening along the highway to the south-east, when a large body of
horsemen came galloping up from behind.

It was a caravan of eighty or ninety horses and sixteen men. I stopped
one of them, and asked him to tie my luggage on to one of the horses,
for which trouble I would pay, and to allow me to run behind them.
The man was a servant, and could not give me any definite answer. I
approached another man, who seemed to be the master and brought up the
rear, with a similar petition. He said that he was not able to comply
with my request for the present. But as the party was stopping that
night in a valley between the two hills which were visible ahead, he
advised me to push on, hard though the work might be, and wait there
till some arrangements could be made. I took his advice and summoned
up all my courage to reach those hills. At eight o’clock I reached the
mountain slope and found two big white tents. The chief and second
chief of the caravan seemed to be Lamas, the caravan itself having a
religious appearance. They offered me tea and meat, but I said I did
not eat any meat and gave my reasons for not doing so. The Lama was
apparently interested by my explanation, and asked me where I had come
from. I said I was a Chinese priest. The Lama thereupon spoke to me in
Chinese, which he seemed to understand a little. I told him that his
Chinese was the Pekin dialect, which I could not understand, and so
our conversation was held in Tibetan. He then produced some Chinese
characters and made me read and explain them, and until I had satisfied
him in this connexion he did not believe in my being a Chinaman.

I learned then that he was the Lama of a temple called Lhuntubu-chœ-ten
in the province of Luto on the north-western frontier of Tibet, near
to Ladak on the eastern border of Kashmīr. The first Lama was named
Lobsang Gendun, and the second Lobsang Yanbel. The man who advised me
to go there was the _Tsongbon_, or chief of the caravan, and acted as
the business manager for these Lamas. The rest of the party were either
monks or servants. They carried dried pears, raisins, silk, woollen
goods and other products of Kashmīr to Lhasa, whence they brought home
tea, Buḍḍhist pictures and images. They were a very good company, and
a very convenient one for me, if I could get them to carry my luggage
through this vast pastoral plain of Jangthang; but I did not wish them
to accompany me as far as Lhasa.

The Lama interrogated me as to the kind of Buḍḍhism I had learned and
the things I knew, and put before me many questions about Tibetan
Buḍḍhism. Happily, as I have already stated, I had been fully
instructed in Tibetan Buḍḍhism while at Tsarang by Dr. Gyaltsan, and
had studied the grammar with special care; so that not only was I able
to answer the questions quite easily, but I could explain many things
on the subject that these Lamas did not know. He was greatly surprised,
and asked me hundreds of questions in grammar, which he seemed to
have been studying, though without any insight. Without the help of
scientific analysis, which seems impossible for persons in these
countries, one cannot fully understand the grammar. As I proceeded with
the explanation of the subject, he proposed that I should accompany
the party, and said that they rode until two o’clock in the afternoon
every day, but that after that hour they always had plenty of leisure,
during which he wished to learn grammar. Moreover, he offered to pay me
suitable fees and give me food during the journey, if I would consent
to his request. This was just what I was longing for; even if he paid
me no fee, I should have been glad to comply with his wish.

When I awoke at four the next morning the party were making tea on a
fire of dry yak dung. Presently everybody was up, and seven or eight
men went out to collect the mules and horses, which had been left
during the night to find pasture for themselves. These animals often
wander over the mountains, and it will take at least one hour to bring
them back, and at times three hours. But these horses did not try to
get away from the men who went to fetch them, for they knew that they
would be well fed with beans as soon as they reached the tents and
before being loaded. The meal served to the caravan consisted chiefly
of the flesh of sheep, yaks and goats, and occasionally pork. The
grooms had thus to catch and feed the horses, strike the tents, load
them on the horses, harness the horses for their own use, and drive
up their own especial charges. My companions were sixteen in number,
fifteen of whom rode, and one walked. The latter was going to Lhasa for
the purpose of prosecuting his studies, and was in company with the
caravan simply for the reason that they came from the same province.
He and I, being pedestrians, took tea before the caravan packed its
effects, and left the place in a south-easterly direction.

My walking companion was a pedantic scholar. He had a very high
opinion of himself, but he knew nothing of the essential principles
of Buḍḍhism, nor did he recognise the existence of any sectional
differences. It seemed as if he had only a vague notion of the
doctrines. I was glad to have his company, such as it was, but he vexed
me greatly by his evident animosity towards me, which unfortunately
grew more violent as time progressed. The cause of this animosity
was, as I learned afterwards, the fact that I had explained on a
previous evening the Tibetan grammar, which, scholar though he was,
was all untrodden ground to him. He was of opinion that the knowledge
of grammar, unaccompanied by that of true Buḍḍhism, was a worthless
acquisition, which only fools would take the trouble to make. As his
manner disclosed his jealousy, I treated him with circumspection.

On that day we passed over a large hill and spent the night at a swampy
place, after having walked nearly twenty miles in all. A lecture on
grammar was again given, by request. On the 5th, I again walked in
company with the pedantic monk. After we had arrived at Lhasa he fell
into a destitute condition, and I, being then in happier circumstances,
did all I could to help him. But this occurred long afterwards. During
the journey, after some interesting conversation was held in connexion
with religious questions, the monk applied himself to the work of
systematically investigating my personality. Apparently he suspected
that I was an Englishman, or at least a European, on account of my
complexion, and his suspicion speedily grew into conviction. But as
his questions did not soar above what I had expected, I was able to
reply in a manner which dissipated his doubts. After we had traversed
the desert for five miles, we again reached the Brahmapuṭra, and a thaw
having set in at that time, we found the water was flowing on smoothly.
The clashing sound of the blocks of ice was inspiriting, and the sun
was beautifully reflected on the surface of the river. We walked
eastward along the bank for about seven miles, and then, leaving the
river, walked in a north-easterly direction by an up-hill road along
the Brahmapuṭra for another seven miles. Then we crossed the river on
horseback. A post-town called Niuk-Tazam stood a little to the north
on the river bank, but we did not visit it. We travelled two miles and
a half in an easterly direction and encamped on the slope of a hill.
That day I walked about twenty three miles. Until we had come to the
neighborhood of a town called Lharche the caravan which I accompanied
avoided stopping in towns, for the grass on which their horses fed was
not to be found abundantly in such places.

That night I felt for the first time safe from the man whom I had left
behind at Tadun, which was now sixty-five miles off. I felt that it
had been most fortunate that he had not awaked from his drunken sleep
until it was too late for him to inform the authorities of my presence,
for if he had had the least suspicion of my escape, he would not have
missed the opportunity for making money, enough to enable him to
indulge himself in a good bout of drinking.

The usual lessons in the Tibetan grammar and Buḍḍhism over, the
suspicious monk, who posed for a learned scholar, suddenly addressed
me, saying that having been in India, I must have seen Saraṭ Chanḍra
Ḍās, who explored Tibet. I replied that I did not know him, even by
name. There were three hundred millions of people in India, and however
famous a man might be, he must always be unknown to some. There was
a great difference between India and Tibet, and I asked to hear
something about the man the monk referred to. The monk then narrated
how Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās, twenty-three years ago, had cheated the Tibetan
authorities with a passport; how he had robbed Tibet of her Buḍḍhism,
with which he had returned to India; how on the discovery of the
affair, the greatest scholar and sage in Tibet, Sengchen Dorjechan, had
been executed, not to mention many other priests and laymen who were
put to death and many others whose property was confiscated.

After this the monk added that as Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās was a renowned
personage in India, it was impossible for me not to be acquainted with
him. Probably I pretended not to know him. These words were spoken in a
most unpleasant manner, but I put him off with a smile, saying that I
had never seen the face of the Queen of England, who was so renowned,
and that such a big country as India made such investigations hopeless.
The stories about Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās are quite well known in Tibet,
even children being familiar with them; but there are few who know him
by his real name, for he goes by the appellation of the ‘school bābū’
(school-master). The story of the Tibetans who smuggled a foreigner
into Tibet and were killed, and of those who concealed the fact from
the Government and forfeited their property, are tales that Tibetan
parents everywhere tell to their children.

Owing to the discovery of the adventures of Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās, all the
Tibetans have become as suspicious as detectives, and exercise the
greatest vigilance towards foreigners. I was fully acquainted with
these facts, so that I too exercised great caution even in dropping a
single word, however innocent and empty that word might be. But the
Tibetans were very cunning questioners; and the monk was one of the
most cunning. When I tried to laugh away his questions, he put other
queries on every imaginable point. Other Tibetans who were equally
suspicious joined him in harassing me. I felt for the moment just
as though I were besieged by an overwhelming force of the enemy. I
thought myself in danger, and with the view of changing the subject
of the conversation I turned the tables on them by asking them which
they revered more, the Buḍḍha or Lobon Rinpoche, the founder of the
old religion of Tibet. There is a saying in Tibet: “Padma Chungne is
superior to Buḍḍha,” Padma Chungne meaning “born from the Lotus,”
the founder of Lamaism. This question is an old one, and one about
which Tibetans are never tired of disputing, so when this subject was
introduced a most violent debate was started, and no one questioned me
any more about my personality.

But the incident was sufficient to put me on my guard. The Mongols have
a saying “Semnak Poepa,” meaning “black-hearted Tibetans.” Tibetans are
extremely inquisitive, and one of their characteristics is to conceal
their anger behind a smile, and to bide their time for vengeance. The
word, ‘Poepa’ means Tibetans, and they call their own country ‘Poe’.
They do not know that their country is called Tibet. ‘Poe’ means in
Tibetan ‘to summon’. The founders of that country, according to the
tradition, were a man of the name of Te-u Tonmar (red-faced monkey)
and a woman named Tak Shimmo (stone she-devil). The former was the
incarnate God of Mercy, and the latter the incarnate Yogini, who
induced Te-u Tonmar to be her husband. To them were born six sons,
whom they summoned into being, respectively, from the six quarters
of the universe: namely: Hell, Hunger, Animalism, Asura (fighting
demon), Humanity and Heaven. Thus the Tibetans called their country
‘the summoned’ or ‘Poe’. This tradition was perhaps fabricated by some
inventive Lama, for the purpose of connecting Tibetan religion with
Buḍḍhism. But it is a tradition which is believed by the natives.
The Hinḍūs do not call this country by the name of Tibet. They call
it Boḍha, one of the meanings of which is ‘knowing’ or ‘idea’. It is
not known how they came to call Tibet Boḍha, but according to their
scholars Poe is a contraction of Boḍha. The Hinḍūs have another name
for Tibet, namely, the country of ‘Hungry Devils’. This is clear even
from the fact that Paldan Aṭīsha invented, as I have already mentioned,
the name of Preṭapurī (town of hungry devils). Tibet has many other
names which deserve study, but which are too peculiar to be expounded.
At all events the ‘pa’ of Poepa means men, so that Poepa means the


Across the Steppes.

On November 6th, 1900, we took our way to the south-east, and marched
up and down several rolling hills, till after walking more than
twenty miles we reached the foot of a great snow-covered peak and
lodged there. On the 7th we again climbed up and down the spurs of
the Himālayas for a distance of over five miles, and arrived at the
Chaksam Tsangbo (river of the iron bridge). It was no fine suspension
bridge, but an iron rope, fastened to the rocks on either side, by
which travellers crossed the river hand over hand, and which gave the
river its name. For I heard that there is in the vicinity of Lhasa
another iron bridge, which consists of two iron chains, by means of
which one can very comfortably pass over the river. The bridge over
the Chaksam does not now exist; but the name of the river of the iron
bridge seems to have been derived from the fact that it was crossed
by one of these iron ropes, though which kind it was is more than I
can say. The river had a tremendously rapid current, thickly strewn
with blocks of ice; but I easily crossed it on my horse. Then we had
to travel through a plain between the hills, which were generally bare
and devoid of vegetation except when there was a swamp where grasses
were seen growing. The scene was exceedingly dismal, and there was
nothing to relieve the eye. We went on for some four miles, and came
to a rivulet, and at the end of another four miles arrived at a castle
called Sakka Zong. We lodged beside a swamp on the west of the castle,
which stands upon the summit of a hill. The style of its architecture
differs not much from that of a temple, though it presents a certain
martial aspect. There were no regular troops stationed there. When
needed the people in that vicinity, some two hundred in number, take
up arms. I was told that the year before last a tribe on the northern
plain had made an attack on this locality, with the result that the
latter lost twenty or thirty men and about two thousand yaks. The
trouble was still pending as a subject of litigation. Thus the castle
seems to be a fortification against the attacks of roaming tribes,
though it also has a revenue office in it. That day we travelled some
fifteen miles, and the evening was spent in my lecture on grammar, as
were many succeeding evenings.

The following day, after we had travelled eight miles, we passed the
southern fort, on a snow-clad mountain called Chomo-Lhari. Then we
travelled five miles more in a south-easterly direction, and encamped
for the night. Nothing occurred worthy of mention.

On the 9th we travelled for seventeen miles along the same lonely
mountain-pass leading to the south-east, and reached a valley in which
we observed an exceedingly large animal ahead of us. This strange beast
resembled a yak, though there was no doubt that it was not an ordinary
yak. On asking its name, I was informed that it was what the Tibetans
called a dongyak (wild yak). Its size was twice or three times that of
the domesticated animal, and it stood about seven feet high. It was
smaller than the elephant, but its eyes looked dangerous. Its horns
measured twenty-five inches in circumference and five feet in length.
These measurements were taken afterwards at Lhasa, where I saw the
horns of a wild yak. It is described as graminivorous; when it becomes
angry it will attack men or animals with its horns, often inflicting
fatal injuries. Its tongue is extremely rough and anything licked by
the animal would be torn to pieces. Once I saw the dried and very large
tongue of a young dongyak, which was being used as a brush for horses.


An honest fellow in the party asked me to prophesy, by my art of
divination, whether that night was to be passed in safety or not. I
thought he was afraid of the dongyak, but the truth was not so. He
pointed to a place a little below the slope, and said that in the
preceding year six merchants had been killed by robbers there. He was
therefore going to keep watch that night, and wished to know whether
robbers were coming. In order to pacify him, I said that nothing of the
kind was going to take place that night. But the features of the place
were anything but agreeable, as may be guessed from the fact that the
dongyak was quite at home there. The night was, however, spent without
any accident. The following day we travelled over the steppes for a
distance of fifteen miles, and again lodged near a swamp; we always
preferred swampy places for lodging, on account of the abundant grass.

On the 11th we travelled again for fifteen miles, and on the 12th
crossed a steep pass called Kur La, seven miles in length, and walked
seventeen miles eastwards, lodging again beside a swamp. It was about
that time that a change for the better came over the relations between
the pedantic monk and myself. Proud as he was, he seems to have thought
that hostility could not be maintained without serious loss to himself,
as the majority of the party had come to entertain a sincere love for
and confidence in me. He approached me with a kindly face, which could
not be repelled; whatever his motives may have been, it would have been
very ill-advised for me to quarrel with him, so I reciprocated his
kindness, with the result that our relations became perfectly smooth,
and I was glad to get rid of the fear that he might inform the Tibetan
authorities of his suspicions about me.

The following day, November 13th, we passed over two long slopes, and
the night was spent at the foot of a steep and rugged mountain. On the
morrow we proceeded about seven and a half miles in a south-easterly
direction, along a river flowing between rocks. A gentle slope of about
twelve miles was then accomplished, and the night was spent on the bank
of the river. On the 15th we proceeded further to the south-east along
the river-side route. When five miles were covered, we came out upon a
plain, which we crossed in an easterly direction. A journey of about
seven and a half miles over the plain brought us to a post-town called
Gyato Tazam, where I found a far greater number of stone buildings than
at any other post-town I had visited _en route_. I was informed that
the inhabitants of the town numbered about four hundred, representing
sixty families. The people differed much from the nomadic population
found in the Jangthang which we had visited before, something of
urbanity being visible in their manners. While the nomads are so rude
and vulgar that, whenever they speak, they speak bluntly, without any
regard to the persons addressed, the inhabitants of Gyato Tazam have a
more refined tone in their language, though it is of course modified by
the local dialect. After making some purchases in the town, we resumed
our journey. Wending our way about five miles into a mountain region,
we reached the bank of a stream, where we decided to pass the night.

Being the middle of November it was pretty cold, but fortunately my
companions proved themselves so obliging that, on our arrival there,
they went to the trouble of gathering a great mass of yak-dung, which
was burnt within the tent throughout the night. As I gave them lectures
on Tibetan grammar, the head priest of the party and a junior Lama were
very hospitable towards me and provided me with bedding, so that I felt
no cold at all. The following day, after proceeding a little less than
fifteen miles over two long steep slopes, we found ourselves on the
edge of a plain. We went about four miles further, and found in the
centre of the plain a temple standing upon two large pillar-like rocks,
which stood together and towered high into the sky. As these rocks
alone are 360 yards high, the entire height may well be imagined. The
temple is called the Sesum Gompa, and belongs to one of the old schools
of Lamaism. Passing under the temple, we proceeded further and reached
a marsh lying to the east, where we stopped for the night.

The following day we made a journey of about twenty miles through a
mountain district situated to the south-east, at the end of which
journey we found ourselves at a post-town called Sang Sang Tazam. We
did not take lodging in the town, but encamped upon a plain in the
eastern suburb, where we made as big a fire as we could, and yet felt
pretty cold, especially late at night. We awoke in the morning to find
ourselves completely frost-bound; indeed I wondered, at first sight,
if it had not snowed during the night. Thereupon I produced a short
_uta_, which may be rendered into English thus:

                            How beautiful
  It is to see grass dead, but blooming yet
  With frost, upon a high plateau.


Holy Texts in a Slaughter-House.

Heading in a south-easterly direction as before, we proceeded about
four miles, now over hills and then across moorland, and arrived at
the base of a mountain, where there stood three buildings. A strange
sensation came over me when I saw dozens of sheep’s hides dangling
from the eaves of these buildings. Nor was that all. They were also in
the habit, so I was told, of butchering yaks on the premises. It is
the custom of the Tibetans, I was told, to butcher cattle towards the
latter part of autumn, and dry the meat for preservation, there being
no fear of decomposition, owing to the cold climate of the country. The
Tibetans esteem this dried meat as quite a luxury, and claim that it
is the best food in the world. Not infrequently I heard people speak
anxiously about their stocks of preserved meat in summer. I was told
that autumn was the best time for killing cattle, because they yielded
excellent meat after their feast upon the rich summer grass. Tibetans,
however, dare not slaughter animals in their own villages, or near
their tents, and the three buildings in question are used as a common
slaughter-house by neighboring inhabitants. Generally the slaughter is
not carried out on behalf of a single individual or family, but of the
whole village. The beasts butchered on the day we visited the place
included two hundred and fifty sheep and goats, and thirty-five yaks.
Of the latter, fifteen were despatched after our arrival there. They
told me that the cries of the yak were very strange, and invited me to
witness the scene of the slaughter. What cruelty! how could I bear to
see it? Desirous, however, of knowing something about the operations, I
stood and watched the spectacle. Sadly and slowly a yak was conducted
into the yard, two men pushing the animal on from behind. As soon as
the proper point was reached, the legs of the poor creature were tied,
and tears were seen standing in its eyes, as if it were conscious of
its impending death as soon as it found itself in the pool of blood
left by its companions. The scene was indeed unbearable. I wished I had
money enough to redeem their lives, but I could see no help for it.
Just then a priest came in, Holy Texts in hand, and read them for the
doomed animal, on whose head the book and a rosary were placed. The
natives believe that this religious proceeding will enable the poor yak
to enter into a new state of existence and also absolve the doer of the
cruel deed from the evil consequences which might otherwise follow. I
hoped so, too, but even the Holy Texts read by the priest were now too
much for my endurance. A flood of tears came into my eyes, and I could
no longer stand the ghastly spectacle, but ran indoors. Presently,
thump! something fell outside the doors; alas! the poor creature was
beheaded. The natives handle a sharp knife so dexterously, that a
single blow with it is said to be sufficient to finish the deadly work.

The blood gushing forth from the body of the dead beast was received in
a pail, and afterwards boiled down into a kind of food said to be very
delicious. When desirous to obtain this food, the Tibetans often draw
blood even from the bodies of living yaks; this is done by means of a
gash made in the neck of the poor beast, wide enough to cause a flow of
the blood, but not to kill it. The blood taken in this way is said to
yield much less delicious food than that obtained from the slaughtered
animal. I then thought that the scene was the very extreme of cruelty,
but afterwards found that I had been miserably mistaken, for I observed
during my subsequent residence at Lhasa that more than fifty thousand
sheep, goats and yaks were slaughtered there during the three months
ending in December every year.

But to return to my itinerary. Leaving the scene of this tragedy, we
had to proceed up a very steep slope about nine miles long, and then
down another, seven and a half miles long. At the end of the latter
distance we found a river, on the banks of which we passed the night.
The next day, November 19th, we skirted the base of a mountain (upon
which there stood a big temple of the Old School, called the Tasang
Gompa) until we reached the bank of a river where we encamped for the
night. On the 20th we made a journey of five miles, again in a mountain
region, at the end of which we found ourselves at a village called
Larung, which was situated on the western shore of a lake bearing the
name of Manuyui Tso. It was about twelve miles in circumference, and
appeared to be very deep. For the first time during my journey, I
observed in this village patches of wheat-fields, dotted with cottages.


The Third Metropolis of Tibet.

Owing to the cold season I could not observe the condition of the wheat
actually growing in the fields, but I learned at the above village that
in that locality the wheat crop was considered ordinary when it was at
the rate of two bushels from two pecks of seeds, and unusually abundant
when the rate reached three bushels. In the neighborhood of Lhasa four
or five bushels are obtained from two pecks of seeds, if the weather
proves favorable, but three bushels are passed as fair.

This testifies to the primitiveness of the methods of farming obtaining
in Tibet. One cannot but be surprised at the ill-kept condition of
the fields which, with their ‘rich’ deposits of pebbles, cannot be
termed cultivated land in the proper sense of the word. I do not mean
to speak ill of the Tibetans, but this curious neglect of cleaning
the land is a fact; indeed, it is a universal feature of the country.
I once suggested to a native farmer the advisability of removing the
pebbles, but the reply was simply that such practices were not endorsed
by tradition. Tradition is to the Tibetans a heavenly dictate, and
controls all social arrangements. Those residing in more civilised
parts of the country, however, entertain somewhat more progressive
ideas, and have learned to utilise the products of modern ingenuity
from the West. The case is quite different with the mass of the people,
who are still laboring under a thousand and one forms of conservatism.
A very curious story, in a way substantiating the foregoing statement,
was told me by a village paṇdiṭ whom I could hardly credit, because
of the apparent absurdity of his narrative. The story, which is given
below, was subsequently confirmed, quite to my surprise, by more than
one citizen of Lhasa.

In Tibet, as in other countries, taxes are assessed on cultivated
fields, but, as the Tibetans are practically strangers to mathematics,
as stated in a preceding chapter, a very curious and primitive method
is adopted with regard to the land-measuring which forms the basis of
the assessment.

The method consists in setting two yaks, drawing a plough, to work upon
a given area, the assessment being made according to the time taken in
the tillage. In other words, the different plots of cultivated lands
are classified as lands of half a day’s tillage, or a day’s tillage,
and so on, as the case may be, and assessed accordingly.

After being entertained by the aforesaid scholar with many other
interesting stories concerning the manners and customs of Tibet,
as well as the conduct of native priests, we left the village and,
proceeding for twelve miles along the edge of the lake mentioned above,
reached a spot where we passed the night. On November 21st we struggled
on our way through a gorge extending over a distance of five miles,
till we found ourselves again on the edge of a big lake, called Nam
Tso Goga. It measured about twelve miles in circumference, and its
water was very pure. Proceeding along the northern bank of the lake, we
passed into a valley commonly called the Senge Rung, or Lions’ Vale.
This name must have been derived from the surrounding rocks, which
somewhat resemble the figure of the king of beasts. After a journey
of seven and a half miles through the vale, we arrived at a village
bearing the same name, and then at another, where we took lodgings.
We covered more than twenty-five miles that day, this forced journey
being due to the necessity of altering our travelling arrangements.
The fact was that, while our previous journey was through Jangthang,
so that it was necessary for us to stop early and graze our horses
sufficiently, we had now entered into a more peopled and cultivated
part of the country, where pastures were few, so that we could not stop
until we reached a village where we could secure sufficient fodder for
our animals. The fodder, which in Tibet usually consists of wheat and
barley stalks and the stems of bean plants, is generally purchased from
inn-keepers. The latter, however, extort such high prices, that fodder
enough to feed a horse during a night often costs the traveller full
thirty sen, though in some cases half that sum will be sufficient. In
addition, beans and a solution of butter are sometimes given to horses,
so that the caravan trade in the interior of Tibet is at once trying
and expensive.

On November 22nd we proceeded about twelve miles over a steep slope
and across plains, and arrived again on the northern bank of the
Brāhmapuṭra. At this place the river was not quite as it was when we
crossed it on our way. It now appeared quite fathomless, with its
waters azure-blue, though it was only about two hundred yards wide.
There was no hope of negotiating the stream on horseback, and we were
told that the river-bed would become much wider in summer. There was,
however, a ferry-boat service, a rectangular flat-bottomed boat,
resembling those we see used for the purpose in India. The boat had in
the middle of her stern a figure representing the head of a serpent,
and had capacity enough to accommodate thirty or forty persons and
twenty horses. When we landed on the opposite bank of the river, we
found ourselves in the outskirts of Lharche, the city which is the
third in importance in Tibet. Once there, we could fairly claim that we
had gone far into the interior of the forbidden country, for it is only
five days’ journey thence to Shigatze, the second Tibetan city.

Looking southward, we could see a caravanserai erected by the Chinese.
It is spacious but unfurnished, no one being in charge of it. It
serves the double purpose of accommodating the Chinese itinerant
traders and the native soldiers on march. We betook ourselves to the
building for the night, which proved a jolly as well as a noisy one.
It was thought very fortunate for us to have escaped from the dangers
of robbers and wild beasts which infested the north-western regions,
and my companions decided to celebrate the successful journey to their
hearts’ content.

Throughout the night they indulged themselves in a carouse, which was
enlivened by the attendance of several girls. During the next day,
November 23rd, I was still staying with the rest of our party at the
caravanserai, but as I was to part company with them on the 24th I read
the gospel of _Hokekyo_, as a mark of appreciation of the kindness
accorded to me by them throughout my journey with them. When the date
of my departure came, the head Lama gave me ten tankas as a reward
for my lectures on Tibetan grammar, while the rest of the party also
collected among themselves a certain sum of money which they presented
to me. A few of the party were to accompany me, for the Lama, with the
junior Lama and a servant, decided to go with me, so that I was not
alone on my road. We then set out, taking the road leading to the grand
Sakya monastery. As for the men of the caravan, they were to proceed to
Shigatze through Puntso-ling by the highway. Besides kindly carrying
my personal effects together with their own, the senior Lama and party
offered me the use of one of their horses, so that my trip with them
was a very comfortable one.

We proceeded in a southerly direction, and for a distance of five miles
our way passed through wheat-fields, the soil of which appeared to be
very rich. Of all the districts in Tibet, Lharche can supply barley,
wheat, beans, and butter at the lowest possible prices, which testified
to the position held by it with regard to agricultural products. We
then ascended a rapid slope for another five miles, again traversed
cultivated fields for about eleven miles, going in a south-easterly
direction, and reached a hamlet called Rendah. The next day, after we
had proceeded along a river for some eighteen miles, we saw before us
the imposing monastery of Sakya, which was surrounded by high stone
walls of about two hundred and twenty yards square, twenty feet high
and six feet thick. All the structures were of stone, painted white,
and the main edifice alone measured sixty feet in height, two hundred
feet from east to west, and two hundred and forty feet from south to
north. Over the walls, which were bow-shaped, rose a dark-colored
castle, crowned with _Saisho-doban_ (the victorious Standard of
Buḍḍhism), and _rodai_ (the disc for the dew of nectar) of dazzling
gold. The spectacle was sublime and impressive, at least so far as
outward appearances were concerned.


The Sakya Monastery.

We lodged at a neighboring inn which placed a cicerone at our service,
and proceeded to pay a visit to the celebrated monastery. Going through
the front gate and past several smaller buildings, we arrived in
front of the main edifice. At first sight the interior of the latter
appeared to be completely enclosed, but a closer examination showed
that light was let in through a courtyard. Entering the front hall,
seventy-eight feet by forty-two, we saw standing on both sides statues
of Vajrapāni, each about twenty-five feet high, one painted blue and
the other red, such as are seen on each side of the gate of every great
Japanese Temple. Each image has its right leg a little bent and the
left one put forward, while the right hand is raised towards the sky
and the left one vigorously stretched downward. The workmanship seemed
even to my lay eyes representative of Tibetan art, the muscles, for
instance, being very excellently moulded. There are also images of the
four heavenly kings, each thirty feet high, standing on the right side.
Again, looking to the left, we saw on the wall (which was of stone
over-laid with mud and then with some lime-like substance) beautiful
pictures of deities and saints, which covered a space twenty-four
feet by twenty-one. There is no fissure visible in the pictured area,
in spite of its dimensions. The structure as a whole is in good
repair. The front hall opens to an inner courtyard, paved with stone,
thirty-six feet by thirty, where the priests of the inferior orders
gather to dine and to read the scriptures, while the higher Lamas have
the privilege of living inside the building. Passing this courtyard
we entered the main chamber (which faces west) where the images of
Buḍḍhist deities are placed. There are two entrances to this chamber,
the southern one being open to the priests and the northern one to the
visitors. Once inside, we were lost in a sea of dazzling gold; the
splendor was simply beyond description. The ceilings and pillars are
all covered with gold brocade, and the images, more than three hundred
in number, are emblazoned with very fine gold. In the centre of the
room there stands a statue of Shākyamuni Buḍḍha, thirty-five feet high,
which, we were told, is made of mud covered with gold. In front of this
image are placed seven water-trays, some candle-sticks and a table for
oblations, all of pure gold, with the exception of a few articles made
of silver.

The disorderly manner in which the images are arranged, however,
greatly detracts from the impression produced by their intrinsic
merits. The spectacle is a grand exhibition of Buḍḍhist fine arts, but
put together without much order. In short, the chief feature of the
chamber consists in its splendor, but its effect is greatly impaired by
the tasteless and excessive decorations.

At the rear of this chamber there is another, sixty feet high and two
hundred and forty feet wide, which is full of valuable collections of
ancient Buḍḍhist manuscripts, some written in gilded letters on dark
blue-colored paper and others in Samskṛṭ on the leaves of the fan palm
tree (_Borassus flabelliformis_). Many of these scriptures were brought
all the way from India by the founder of the temple, Sakya Panḍiṭ, and
his successors, who sent their priests to that country for the purpose.

With regard to the scriptures in the Tibetan language, I was told that
they had a great number of them there, and that they were all written,
not printed. We left this chamber, and while we were again looking
round the main chamber I was struck with a strong and offensive smell
which, as my subsequent experiences taught me, is a curious feature of
every monastery in Tibet. I wondered how I had been insensible to such
a stench up to that time. Where did it come from? you may ask. Well! in
Tibetan temples clarified butter is used in lighting the lamps offered
to Buḍḍha, and the priests are so careless as to throw away upon the
floor the residue of tea and butter, which not only keeps the floor
always wet but also putrefies. This is why the chamber is filled with
such a sickening odor. Strangely enough, Tibetans regard this smell as
a sweet one, but I declare myself emphatically to the contrary. On both
sides of the main chamber we found two more chambers where different
figures were also kept. Of these images, the one which especially
attracted my attention was that of Padma Chungne, the founder of the
old school of Lamaism, for it is made entirely of precious stones. The
surrounding walls and the floor are also inlaid with gems, which are
amazingly beautiful.

Outside the main edifice there are several dormitories where some
five hundred men of the order live. Then standing to the south is the
stately residence of the ‘great instructor’ of the temple, Chamba
Pasang Tinle, who looks after the spiritual education of five hundred

We had an interview with this spiritual superior, who looked very
saint-like, seated on a dais covered with two mats in one of the
upper rooms. I wanted to ask him a few questions with regard to the
difference between the Sakya doctrines and those of the other sects
of Lamaism, but he told me that he was busy then and asked me to come
again the next day. We then retired and left the temple grounds.

I noticed several palatial buildings rising above a far-off willow
plantation. My companions told me that these buildings were the
residence of the Abbot of the temple, Sakya Koma Rinpoche, and we
proceeded to pay our respects to him. Koma Rinpoche means the ‘highest
treasure’ and is used only in addressing the Chinese Emperor and the
Abbot of the Sakya Monastery, whom Tibetans esteem as one of the two
sacred beings of the world. This being so, the natives who are honored
with an audience by the Abbot pay special respect to him, and when he
gives them his blessing in return it is not infrequently accompanied
by some presents. But in reality the Abbot is a layman, the essential
point of his excellence being that he is the descendant of Sakya Panḍiṭ
himself. He is married, takes meat for dinner, and even drinks wine, as
do all the secular people. In spite of these facts, not only the public
at large but also priests salute him with the rite of ‘three bows’
which as laid down by Buḍḍha is a mark of reverence due only to high
priests and not to laymen.

When we were received by the Abbot, I therefore paid him only such
respect as would be due to a personage of his rank. He has, however, a
very dignified mien, which bespeaks his noble descent.

While we were returning to our lodgings, I was blamed by my companions
for my failure to give the Abbot the ‘three bows,’ and when I told them
the reason of the omission they were astonished at my rigid observance
of the Buḍḍha’s teachings. The next day, when I called upon the ‘great
teacher’ at the appointed hour, I found him playing with a boy who was
behaving toward him in a very familiar way, as if he were his son. I
could not think that such a man, who was a genuine priest, was married,
and yet I very much suspected some such relation--a suspicion which was
afterwards confirmed during my sojourn at Lhasa.

At first I had intended to stay and study at the temple for at least
two weeks, but after this discovery I was now loath to remain with
such a degenerate priest. I left the town the next day, and as I was
now separated from my companions I had to carry my effects myself. For
a distance of two and a half miles the road gradually ascended along
a mountain rivulet in a south-easterly direction and then, turning
eastwards, became a steep descent of five miles. Proceeding ten miles
further in a south-easterly direction and along the stream I found
two dwellings, in one of which I lodged for the night. The next day I
again ascended a steep slope, two and a half miles long, and climbed
down another twice that length. As the day was snowy and my baggage got
wet, I was obliged to take lodgings at the first house I could find.
The next day, November 30th, I fortunately met seven or eight men who
seemed to be transport agents, and were driving forty or fifty asses,
and I was glad to place my things in their charge. Thus freed from
encumbrances, I, with the party, descended the Tharu river for five
miles. It then turned to the south-east, and after proceeding fifteen
miles further along the riverside, we found a village where we stopped.

The drivers, however, encamped in a neighboring meadow, where they
unburdened their animals and surrounded themselves on all sides
except one with the goods thus unloaded. As was customary with them,
the men improvised a kind of fire-place. On the first of December we
proceeded along the river for about ten miles and then left it; again
for ten miles, we ascended the eastern mountain called Rangla with
its perpendicular peaks of red rock. We lodged under the rock and on
the following day we ascended Rangla for five miles and marched more
than another five miles on the mountainous plains; we reached a big
monastery named Kang-chen and passed that night in a field south of the
monastery. At first, when I saw my drivers recklessly making their
way through the cultivated fields, I expressed my fear to them that we
might be caught by the farmers. “No,” was their reply, “you need not
bother yourself on that score.” They explained to me that these fields
were fallow ones, “which were enjoying their holidays” for this year,
so that any person might choose them as roads. It was a custom in this
locality to raise the wheat-crop every other year, leaving the fields
unemployed for the intervening year--a custom which did not obtain in
Lhasa and the neighborhood. Moreover, I was told, it was winter, when
the privilege held good in any year, and no one need entertain any fear
of intruding. At night I preached to my drivers, and the next day we
set out together, taking an easterly direction. We proceeded seven and
a half miles, when we found rising among the mountains a magnificent
temple, still under construction. On making enquiries I learned that
the work had been undertaken by the Tibetan Government, which is acting
under the advice of a soothsayer.

The latter had, I was told, declared that there exists a spring just
beneath the site of the building, that it is the mouth of a monstrous
dragon, and that unless a temple be erected over it, it will ultimately
burst out and deluge the whole country. Unfortunately this idea
is supported by a book of prophecies brought from China, which is
apparently the work of some priest with hidden motives. I read the book
and found it to be full of awe-inspiring predictions. It states, for
instance, that as wickedness obtains on the earth, a flood of water
will be brought upon it and everything on the face of it destroyed;
that fatal calamities, such as a great famine or war, will break out
as a prelude to such a flood. In addition, it is stated that the book
had been sent from heaven, and that therefore any one who is so
careless as to doubt its truth will be punished with immediate death.
I declared that these prophecies were all false, but of course nothing
extraordinary happened to me. The book may be well meant, but it is
full of nonsensical sayings. But Tibetans believe in it so firmly that
translated copies are being circulated all over the country. It is most
surprising that such superstitions should have led the Government to
begin a foolish undertaking at a great cost. But indeed, oracle-mongers
are held in high esteem, not only by the Government but also by the
general mass of the people, who consult them whenever they are at fault.

Passing under the above-mentioned temple we proceeded further, and
before we had gone far, we found some five vultures (known among
the natives by the name of Cha-goppo) perched on a hill-side. On
questioning my companions, I was told that there exists in Tibet a very
curious and unpleasant custom of offering the corpses of dead men to
vultures as a part of the funeral ceremony; that as in this locality
the people do not bring enough carrion to these birds, the latter are
always hungry; and that therefore they are granted an allowance of meat
from the kitchen of a temple called the Tashi Lhunpo. How they are fed
on human flesh at a funeral ceremony I shall relate later in my account
of Lhasa.

After some further journeying we arrived at an “abstinence house” (Nyun
ne Lhakhang in Tibetan), in the neighborhood of which there stood a
temple called the Nartang. Wanting to make some enquiries, I decided
to stay at this house, so that I parted company with my carriers, who
proceeded towards Shigatze. This house is used both by priests and
laymen for observing the ‘Eight rules of abstinence’ enjoined by the
Buḍḍha, or other forms of religious self-denial, such as silence or
abstinence from meat. Abstinence from flesh is considered an austerity
by Tibetan priests, because they eat meat, contrary to the ordinary
usages of Buḍḍhist monks.

The next day I visited the Nartang Temple, where I inspected the
most valuable of its treasures, which are immense heaps of wooden
printing-blocks, comprising the collection of all the Buḍḍhist writings
in Tibet, divided into two departments--Buḍḍha’s own preachings and
the works of the saints. In addition, they have an equally large
number of printing-blocks for the commentaries prepared by the native
Lamas. These blocks are kept in two large buildings, one of which
measures about 180 feet by sixty. This temple is the sole publisher
of the ‘collection of all the Buḍḍhist writings,’ the three hundred
priests who live there being printers. I called upon the head priest
of the temple, who had been specially sent from the Tashi Lhunpo
Temple, and found him very clever in conversation. The interview was
at once very instructive and agreeable to me, for the priest not only
gave me valuable information on Buḍḍhism but also accorded me cordial




The next day, December 5th, I proceeded for about eight miles across
a plain in a south-easterly direction, when the gold-colored roof of
a palatial building, with many white-painted dormitories for priests
close by, presented itself before my view. In addition, temple-like
buildings in red paint were seen rising amidst these structures,
making in all a grand and beautiful spectacle. The town before me was
Shigatze, the second capital of Tibet, and the palatial building was
the Tashi Lhunpo Temple. The name means ‘a glorious mass’ or ‘Mount
Sumeru,’ a legendary mountain mentioned in Buḍḍhist Scriptures. The
monastery owes its name to its founder, Gendun Tub, who thought that
the mountain at the rear of the temple resembled Sumeru. There were
altogether three thousand three hundred priests in the temple, but
sometimes the number increases to over five thousand; and though it
is but the second temple in the country it maintains the same dignity
as the papal see. The secular part of the city lay beyond the temple
and consisted of some three thousand five hundred dwellings. The
number of the inhabitants was stated by the natives to be over thirty
thousand, but this calculation cannot be much trusted, as the science
of statistics is utterly unknown in Tibet. I visited the temple, where
I asked for the dormitory called Peetuk Khamtsan, which is allotted to
the Lamaist monks from the north-eastern plateau, since I had feigned
myself to be one of these. At length I found it and settled myself
in it, for I intended to stay there for some time and to pick up any
knowledge I could from those with whom I might come into contact.

The Lama Superior of this temple is regarded as the second Grand Lama
of Tibet, for, though he does not possess any political influence, yet
with regard to the rank bestowed by the Chinese Emperor he is superior
even to the Dalai Lama himself. Sometimes a kind of regency under this
‘second Grand Lama’ takes place during the interval between the Dalai
Lama’s death and the enthronement of what in Tibet is believed to be
his re-incarnated self.

This second Grand Lama is commonly called Panchen Rinpoche, but his
real title is _Kyab-kon Chen-bo_, meaning ‘Great Protector,’ while
his name is Lobsang Choe-ki Nima, the ‘noble-minded religious sun’. I
was told he was eighteen years old, having been born in the year of
“sheep,” and was believed to be an incarnation of Amida-nyorai. At
the time of my visit he was away at a distant palace, so that I could
not see him. During my stay in the town my only business was to visit
various Lamas and scholars, with whom I discussed the teachings of

One day I called upon the tutor of the second Grand Lama, Tsan Chenba,
a venerable priest, seventy-four years of age, who was very kind to me.
As he was reputed to be the highest authority on Tibetan grammar and
rhetoric among the three thousand priests in the temple, I asked him
several grammatical questions, and in doing so I took care to select
such questions as were familiar to me, for I wanted to know in what
way my host would try to explain them. I was, however, disappointed,
as he confessed that he could give no answer and said that he could
only refer me to a learned physician living at Engon on the road to
Lhasa, who, he was inclined to believe, could give me a satisfactory
answer. I was, therefore, glad to take leave of him. _En passant_ it
may be stated that five branches of science--phonetics, medicine,
logic, engineering and religious science and philosophy--were centuries
ago introduced into Tibet from India, but now-a-days very few--I will
almost say no--Tibetans are proficient in them, or even in one of them.
Under present circumstances, those who take to the study of grammar
belong to very limited classes, the majority of them consisting of the
men in the Government service who learn just the elementary rules of
grammar, in order to be able to prepare official documents. It is not
wonderful therefore that there should be scholars who, in spite of
their zeal in the investigation and exposition of Buḍḍha’s doctrines,
are absolute strangers to history and other branches of science.

After a stay of several days at the temple, I was one day thinking of
leaving the town, when I was informed that the Grand Lama was expected
home presently, so I went out to witness his procession. It must be
noted that owing to the absence of roads in Tibet the procession
passed through the more beaten parts of the country, which served
as roads. On both sides of the route there stood cylindrical posts
upon which incense was burnt by the waiting crowds, both sacerdotal
and secular, most of whom prostrated themselves on the advent of the
_cortège_. The second Grand Lama was borne in a palanquin decorated
with gold brocades and gorgeous kinds of silk, and was accompanied by
about three hundred mounted attendants who, instead of being armed,
carried Buḍḍhist utensils. The procession was heralded by the native
band, using some kind of wind instruments and drums. The spectacle was
so splendid that I congratulated myself on my good fortune in having
witnessed it.

During that night, in compliance with the request of the priests
in my dormitory, I delivered a sermon on the ten Buḍḍhist virtues,
which seemed to please them greatly. They confessed to me that,
priests as they were, they found no interest in the theoretical and
dry expositions of Buḍḍha’s teachings to which they had been used to
listen, but that my delivery was so easy and pleasing that it aroused
in them a real zest for Buḍḍhism. This fact is a sad commentary on the
ignorance of the average Tibetan priests.

I learned subsequently, however, that the priests in this temple were
very rigid in their conduct, except in the habit of drinking. With
regard to this latter an amusing story is told. One day the Dalai
Lama of Lhasa met with the Grand Lama of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery.
In the course of conversation, the former said he was very sorry that
his priests were addicted to the use of tobacco. Panchen Rinpoche
sympathised, but stated that he was no less sorry that his own priests
were exceedingly partial to alcoholic drinks. They then discussed which
of the two luxuries was the more sinful, and also whether or not some
effective measures could be taken to prevent these vicious habits. But
even their great influence could do nothing, and the vicious practices
were open secrets. A curious rule was however enacted in order to
prevent the habit of drinking. Every priest returning from the street
was bound to present himself before the priestly guard at the gate of
the temple, who examined his breath, any disclosure of his drunkenness
being followed by an immediate punishment. Some impudent priests often
attempted to conceal their inebriation by eating a good deal of garlic,
the strong smell of which impregnated their breath and thus might
prevent detection.

Leaving the temple at ten on the morning of December 15th, I proceeded
about two miles across the city of Shigatze, when I reached the Tsanchu
river. The great bridge erected over it is called the Samba Shar, which
means eastern bridge. It measures about three hundred and sixty yards
in length and eight yards in breadth. It is unlike our own bridges,
for it consists of slabs of stones covered with earth, which are in
turn placed upon rows of long wooden boards spanning stone structures
erected in the water at equal distances of about ten yards. The bridge
has parapets made of stone. Passing over the bridge, I proceeded four
miles to the north, till I found myself on the bank of the Brahmapuṭra.
The road now turned to the east along that river, and a further journey
of about twelve miles brought me to a village called Pe, where I lodged
at a poor farmer’s. There I noticed with curiosity that turf instead of
the usual yak-dung was heaped besides the fire-place. I was told that
in that locality the dried roots of grasses were used as fuel; hence
the heaps of turf.

I also found a boy of about twelve years old sitting beside the
fire-place and learning to write. He had a bamboo stick for his pen,
and was writing with it upon white powder sprinkled over a small piece
of wood. Every now and then he presented his work to his father
and had its ill-done portions corrected by him, this process being
repeated over and over again. I wondered at the care with which the
child was taught to practise penmanship, in spite of the poor condition
of the family, but I soon learned the secret. Agriculture was the
sole industry in this locality, and if the tenant did not know how to
write and count, he would possibly be imposed upon by his landlord in
the payment of his rent. As to the art of counting, it was taught in
a very primitive way, stones, sticks or rosaries being used for the
purpose. With respect to writing and counting the poorer classes of
this locality were far above those in Lhasa, who were totally ignorant.

At night I preached to the members of the family, and the next day I
proceeded about five miles along the river already mentioned. The road,
which sloped eastward, now became very narrow, with the river on the
left and a very steep and rugged mountain on the right. I struggled
on for about four miles further, and then came out upon a wide space.
Looking to the right, I saw two large buildings standing on the summit
of a mountain. These buildings constitute the Engon temple where, as
the old priest of the Tashi Lhunpo temple had kindly informed me,
lives the celebrated grammarian. I climbed the mountain, and reached
the temple after an arduous ascent of more than two miles. There I
learned that the larger of the two edifices accommodates two hundred
and thirty male priests, while the other, situated a little lower, is
a nunnery where live seventy-two nuns. The history of this temple is
very interesting, but I need not dwell on it here in detail. I stayed
at the temple for the night, and the next day I had an interview with
its principal priest. The latter, however, talked only something of
Buḍḍhism, being ignorant of grammar and rhetoric, but was kind enough
to refer me to the physician, Amdo Ka-sang, of whom the old priest of
the Tashi Lhunpo had such a high opinion.

I then called upon this physician and grammarian, to whom I gave some
presents in token of my respect. After the usual greetings had been
exchanged, the host questioned me how long I had been studying the
Tibetan language. “Three years,” I replied. My host declared that the
study of grammar and rhetoric greatly depended upon the method used
and that, if the method were a poor one, the period of three years
would prove too short to accomplish anything. He then asked me a few
questions on grammar, which, as they were very simple, I answered
quickly. I asked him to put to me some more difficult questions on
rhetoric, but, to my great disappointment, he confessed that he had
no knowledge of rhetoric. I next asked him which of the Tibetan
grammarians he thought the best, to which question he answered that he
preferred Ngul-chu Lama’s grammar (Ngul-chu being the name of a temple)
which, in reality, is very imperfect. I almost doubted his sincerity,
so that I again asked him why he did not follow the views taken by Situ
Lama, who is well-known as the highest authority on Tibetan grammar.
To my great surprise, my host had never read Situ’s works, though he
had heard something of the grammarian. I then turned my questions to
the number of vowels in the Tibetan alphabet, about which there are
two different opinions among grammarians. This question, simple as it
may appear, has been the subject of much discussion, so that the study
of the Tibetan language must be started with this theme. My question
on this subject seemed to embarrass my host who, after some pondering,
said that there were sixteen vowels in the Tibetan alphabet, and began
to enumerate them. Curiously enough, all the vowels mentioned by him
were those of the Samskṛṭ alphabet, so I asked him what he thought of
the opinion that the number of the Tibetan vowels was five.

The doctor seemed abashed. He apologised for his mistake in having
mentioned the Samskṛṭ vowels, and admitted that the Tibetan vowels
numbered only five. (This five-vowel opinion is erroneous, though
several western scholars maintain it in their works. It must be noted
that the Tibetan characters were invented by Thumi Sambhota, who tells
us in his work that there were only four vowels in his language.) In
short, the interview proved a disappointment. The doctor possessed
very limited knowledge, being a great grammarian and rhetorician only
in the eyes of ignorant native priests. I returned to my room, where I
was asked by a priest on what subject I had talked with the ‘learned’
doctor. When I answered him that I had discussed some grammatical
questions with the doctor, the priest said with an air of importance
that the doctor was the highest authority on grammar and rhetoric
throughout the province of Tsan, that one or two interviews with him
would be insufficient to secure any benefit, and that I should stay
with him for at least two or three years if I really wished to study
grammar. In addition, the priest confessed that, long as he had had
the fortune to listen to the doctor’s lectures, he was still a total
stranger to grammar. I was so much tickled by these remarks that I
burst out laughing, which seemed somewhat to embarrass the priest.

The next day, December 18th, I proceeded about five miles over an
undulating country, going in a south-easterly direction, when I again
reached the Brahmapuṭra river. Crossing a vast plain which stretched
along the river, I made my way eastward, and was within some two miles
and a half of the Pombo Ri-o-che, a temple belonging to an older sect
of Lamaism, and situated upon a towering peak, when I was unexpectedly
called and stopped by someone.


A Supposed Miracle.

Turning about to see what it could be, I caught sight of two stout
fellows armed with Tibetan swords. On their approach, I asked them
what they wanted. Abruptly picking up a stone, the younger of them
threatened me and said: “What do you mean?”

“Run off,” he menaced, “or you shall die.”

Then I took my seat on a stone by the roadside and gave myself up for
lost. The men strode toward me, and violently seized my stick.

“Tell us what you have and where you come from,” they said.

“I am a pilgrim,” I answered, “and I come from Tise.”

“You have money?”

“I have a little,” I said, “not worth taking, as I was robbed at

“What have you on your back?”

“Some food and the Scriptures.”

“Unpack it and let us see; you may have much money there.”

“No, the money is in my pocket,” I said “and not in the baggage. Being
a priest, I never tell a lie. You may have either the money or the
baggage, if you wish.”

I was just going to give them money when three horsemen appeared riding
towards us, and at sight of them the highwaymen took to their heels,
leaving the stick and everything else. Thus I was saved.

“Who are they?” asked the horsemen, and on my answering that they had
demanded of me my money and baggage, they expressed their disgust.

“Go to yonder temple,” they added after a little pause, “and you will
find a village. Be quick and we will see you safe there.”

I thanked them and walked on toward the village, and the horsemen went
away westward after a little while. Instead of stopping there for the
night, I proceeded eastwards as far as Nya-mo-Hotta, a little village
about seven miles off, where I lodged. The following day I took lunch
at Teshok, and stopped at Tak-tsu-kha in the evening. On December 20th
at dawn, I went south-east through the deep snow, it having snowed very
hard the night before. While going along the river Brahmapuṭra, I saw
some cranes walking in the snow, and was so delighted that I forgot
that I was in so cold a climate.

Then I amused myself with composing _Utas_, of which the following is

  With crystals of the snow, how white the sand
    All spotted gleams upon the river banks!
  The flocks of cranes to me appear to sing
    The changeless glories of the Path of Truth
  In their melodious joyful bursts of song:
    On those bejewelled banks they tread in pride;
  With gait majestic slow they strut about.

Amid such beautiful scenes I went down along the southern bank of the
river, and after about eight miles’ walk I came to Kurum Namse, where
I took lunch. I proceeded still further east along the same stream for
about five miles, and found the river running north-east, while my road
lay south-east into the mountain. I went up the hill about four miles,
and stopped at Shab-Tontub.

On the following morning I went eastwards again along a clear stream,
and after about four miles I could see from its banks a rocky mountain,
at the foot of which there was a temple called Cham Chen Gompa (meaning
‘the monastery of the great image of Charity’, _i.e._, the Boḍhisaṭṭva
of that name), where there was an image of the Buḍḍha Maiṭreya
about thirty-five feet high. Boḍhisaṭṭva Maiṭreya (which name means
‘Charity’) is honored as next to Buḍḍha in rank, but in Tibet he is
worshipped as a Buḍḍha who will hereafter appear again on earth. I
worshipped at this temple, and then at the shrine of the divinities,
and of Shākyamuni Buḍḍha beside the temple. Then I entered a lamasery.
This temple, which is the largest between Lhasa and Shigatze, has two
hundred dormitories, with three hundred priests. The chief priest of
the house where I stopped was in great distress on account of some bad
dreams which he had had on several successive nights. He had dreamed
that he was dying, and this troubled him much, for he had immense
wealth. So he asked me to read the Scriptures to him, so that he might
be free from the supposed evil. I knew of no gospel specially suitable
for such purposes, but I thought that the reading of the Buḍḍhist canon
might do him good, so I told him that I would do as he wished, and from
the following day began reading _The Aphorisms of the White Lotus of
the Wonderful Law_ and other Scriptures in Tibetan.

It was on the 28th of December, as I remember, that a priest was going
to Kātmāndu in Nepāl, and I seized the occasion to send a letter home
by him, addressed to my bosom friend Tokujuro Hige. I paid him a
comparatively large sum of money and asked him to send it registered
from the post office of Nepāl. The man was reputed so honest that he
had never been known to tell a lie, but strangely enough the letter
failed to reach its address, as I have since discovered.

During the afternoon of the 31st I was sped on my way by the head
priest, who lent me a horse. I got on the horse, loaded it with my
baggage, and going east for about three miles, came to Ta-mi-la, where
I was asked to read the Scriptures. While riding to the village, I
lifted up my thanks to Buḍḍha for the grace by which I had been saved
through so many calamities and afflictions during the year, it being
the last day of the 33rd year of Meiji according to the Japanese mode
of reckoning (A.D. 1900). I did not know what adversities were yet in
store for me, but I could not but think that I might be kept safe to do
all I could for the cause of Buḍḍhism.

The New Year’s Day dawned, but I met with nothing special to mark the
day, as the Tibetans use the old calendar. Still I got up early at
three o’clock in the morning, and turning east, as I had done every
New Year’s Day, I began the New Year’s reading of the Scriptures.
For, as Buḍḍhism teaches us, it is our duty to pray for the health of
the sovereign, and every Buḍḍhist reads the Scriptures on New Year’s
Day, in however remote a place he may happen to be, and prays for the
welfare of the Imperial Family. I read the Scriptures at the village
till the 5th, and on the following day I proceeded seven miles to Omi,
where I stopped for the night. In a temple of this village there was
an image called in Tibetan _Sung Chung Dolma_ (the Mother of Salvation
who utters a command) which was about three feet high, and so beautiful
that it seemed as if it might even speak. The Tibetans told me that
the image at one time actually spoke. I read the Scriptures there for
two days, and received many gifts. I had met the highwaymen, and had
been robbed of my money, but money was constantly given to me, and my
reading the Scriptures earned me so many gifts, that I had now laid by
a considerable sum of money, and I was living on the food given to me
by others.

On the 12th of January, at 5 o’clock in the morning, I set out on my
journey with a coolie, who carried my baggage. We went on south-east
along the bank of a stream flowing through the mountains. Here we
found the snow turned into ice, and so slippery was the ground that
we had to take great care, lest we should fall. Going on for about
twelve miles, we found ourselves at Choe Ten, where there were many
hot springs, three of them warm enough to bathe in. I do not know for
what disease they might be really efficacious, though they seemed to
me to be good for rheumatism. I saw several places in the stream where
steaming springs could be seen boiling up. We took our lunch and again
went on eastward for about nine miles, till we came in sight of a
temple called Mani Lha-khang, in a willow plantation along the river.
This temple was so called, because it enshrined a large bronze cylinder
holding many pieces of paper each bearing the spell _mani_, consisting
of the following six sounds ‘Om-ma-ni-pad-me-hum’ and meaning “all will
be as we will.” The tube was beautifully wrapped in copper foil, and
ornamented with gold and silver. It had an iron axle through it and
was so formed that it would revolve from left to right. This temple
is among the most famous in Tibet. The founder of the temple was Je
Tsong-kha-pa, who started a new sect. His memory is held in great
esteem in the country, and especially in this temple, mostly because he
was the inventor of the “prayer-cylinder”.

I stopped at this temple, the keeper of which was very rude; without
any scruple he asked me to read his face for him, for he said I
looked out of the common. I had never studied physiognomy, but I
thought that I might thus teach a lesson to the Tibetans, who are
very superstitious. So I told him that I was very sorry for him, for
he seemed to be a man who, though often given money and other things,
would sustain much loss through other men, and for whom the future
would have nothing but debt. Singularly enough, this exactly told his
past life, and he was so surprised at my words, that he told all about
me to his richest neighbor, called Dorje Gyalpo (Prince Diamond). That
very evening a fine lady, who I was told was the wife of the rich
man, came to me with a child, and asked me to tell its fortune. This
troubled me not a little. But when I saw the sickly and feeble state
of the child I could easily guess what would happen, so I ventured to
tell her that I was very sorry, for the child seemed likely not to live
long, and I also told her about the philosophy of retribution. She
asked me if there was no way of saving its life. I thought how glad
I should be if I could have an opportunity of reading the ‘complete
Text,’ as I knew that I should have very little chance of doing so
after reaching Lhasa. I said therefore that a long reading of the
Scriptures might do some good. She went home early that evening.

Very strange indeed! the child fell so ill the following morning that
the whole family was struck with my chance prediction, and I was asked
to come to the house to read the Scriptures, even though it might take
several days to do so. I said I would, but as they had no copy of the
‘complete Scriptures’ I asked for a man to be sent to Rong Langba, a
little further up the hill, to borrow a copy. In the meanwhile I sat
in the usual religious meditation, when suddenly my ears caught the
sound of weeping and crying women in the kitchen. What could all that
mean? Something serious must have happened in the house. Still I kept
quiet, as it was none of my business to go and see. Soon, however,
the mistress of the house came to tell me that the child had died as
predicted, and she asked me to save it. I was also surprised to learn
how my words had come true, and hurried into the room, only to find the
child quite senseless and cold.

I felt the child’s pulse, which was beating faintly, though his body
was not warm and his neck was nearly stiff. I thought the disease might
be congestion of the brain, as I had read a few books on medicine. So
I called for some cold water, and put on to his head a piece of wet
cloth, while, at the same time, I rubbed his neck and head vigorously
for twenty minutes. It was only a short faint, and the child began
to come to his senses. You can easily imagine how glad was his
grandmother, who was almost beside herself with joy to see restored
to life the child whom they had supposed to be dead. I told her to
keep quiet and to continue rubbing till the child was perfectly well.
This won for me no small respect from all present, and I was asked to
stay for a long time to read the Scriptures. I, too, was glad to stay
there over two months during the cold season, enjoying my reading.
Besides reading the Scriptures, I often took walks among the hills and
valleys and on these occasions many children, with the one I had saved,
followed me in my walks quite as if they were my own children. I loved
the children so much, or rather was so loved by them, that my only
business besides my reading was to take them for walks.


Manners and Customs.

The Tibetans are very foul in their habits, some of which I may mention
here. In the house in which I stayed there were some twenty servants,
and they brought me a cup of tea every morning. They never washed the
cup which I used, but brought tea in it every day, and they would say
that it was quite clean, for I had used it only the night before,
though it was as dirty as it could be. They think cups are unclean
if they have been used by their inferiors, but they never wash those
used by themselves or their equals, for these are clean in their eyes,
though it is disgusting even to look at them. If I asked a servant to
wash my cup, it was wiped with his sleeve, which might be quite wet and
dirty from being used as a handkerchief. Then he said it was clean, and
poured tea into it. Just think of it! It is impossible to drink out of
such a cup, but still one must do so, for it would only arouse their
suspicions to be too strict about such matters. It seems to be nothing
compared with his other unclean habits that the Tibetan does not wash
his plates and dishes. He does not even wash or wipe himself after the
calls of nature, but behaves like the lower animals in this respect.
To this there is no single exception, from the high priest down to the
shepherd; every one does the same. I was, therefore, much laughed at
and suspected when I followed the Japanese custom in this particular,
and even the children would laugh at me. I was much troubled at this;
still I could not do otherwise. This was a still greater trouble in
the tents, for in Jangthang I used to have four or five dogs beside
me whenever I retired for private purposes. You can well imagine how
terrified I was at first, though I soon got accustomed to them. And no
sooner had I gone away than the dogs devoured the excrement. For this
reason there is little or no filth lying about in Jangthang.

Nor are these the Tibetan’s only unclean habits. He never washes his
body; many have never been washed since their birth. One would scarcely
believe that they boast in the country, if not in towns or cities, of
never having been washed. It calls forth laughter from others to wash
even the hands and face, and so the only clean part about them are
the palms of the hands and eyes, all other parts being jet-black. The
country gentlemen and the priests, however, have partially cleaned
faces, mouths and hands, though the other parts of their bodies are
just as black as can be. They are quite as black on their necks and
backs as the African negroes. Why then are their hands so white? It
is because they make dough with their own hands with flour in a bowl,
and the dirt of their hands is mixed with the dough. So Tibetan dishes
are made of dirt and flour, and the Tibetans eat with their teeth
black with sordes. It is a sickening sight! Why do they not wash their
bodies? Because they have a superstitious belief that it wipes off
happiness to wash the body. This belief is not quite so prevalent among
the inhabitants of Central Tibet as among those of the remote provinces
north of the Himālayas.

It is necessary at betrothal to show not only the countenance of the
girl, but also to show how black she is with filth. If she is all black
except her eyes, and her dress is bright with dirt and butter, she
is regarded as blessed. If she has a white face and clean hands she
will be less fortunate, for she is said to have washed away her luck.
Girls are equally superstitious about this, for they too attach much
importance in courting to the blackness of the boys. I know it is
difficult to credit what I have just stated; even I myself could not
believe it until I had visited several places and seen Tibetan habits
for myself. People below the middle class have no change of clothes,
but generally dress themselves in torn and filthy rags. They blow
their noses into their clothes in the presence of others. Their dress
is often as hard as hide with dried dirt. It is as it were a concrete
of butter, filth and mucus. But people above the middle class are a
little less untidy. The priesthood especially are instructed to wash
their hands and faces and keep their clothes clean. They are somewhat
cleaner, therefore, but only in comparison with their people. It was
often very difficult for me to accept invitations to dinner and tea
amid these foul habits. While at Tsarang I tried very hard to get
accustomed to them, but it is difficult to overcome physical revolt.

Still, amid these disagreeable things, the natural beauty of the
country often much comforted me. Once before the Tibetan New Year I
was reading as usual at my desk, while the people were busy preparing
for the New Year. I looked out of my window to see the snow. Oh the
splendor of the sight! You can little imagine how much I was delighted
when a crane appeared, strolling along in the snow, and filling me
with sentimental and poetical reminiscences of my native land. In this
wise I was comforted, amid the unpleasant habits of the people, by the
beautiful charms of nature, as well as by some interesting things which
I noticed among the ceremonies of the New Year.

The Tibetans use neither the Indian calendar, nor the Chinese, but the
Turkistan, which resembles the Chinese in that it has one leap year in
every four, but it is always one year behind the latter. We find many
strange things in its way of counting days. There are often given,
say, two seventh days, or we sometimes find the eleventh day after
the ninth but without the tenth. I could not quite make out what all
these meant. Upon inquiring from an astrologer, I was told that it was
sometimes necessary to add one day, or to leave one out, because they
were lucky or unlucky, and a lucky day was duplicated, while an unlucky
one must be omitted. In this convenient way is constructed the calendar
as generally used in Tibet, though some disagreements are found between
the calendars used in different parts of the country, as for instance
in fixing the New Year or other great days. But this is a matter that
should cause little wonder. The Tibetan calendar is computed by four
officials appointed by the Government, who count days with black and
white stones or shells. When their calendars differ, the best ones are
chosen, and an oracle is consulted to decide which is the proper one
to be adopted. The New Year’s ceremony is generally held on the day
given in the Government calendar, but it is very rarely that the New
Year’s Day of the Tibetan calendar falls on the same day as that of the
Chinese, there being generally a difference of one, two, or even three
days between them.

On New Year’s morning a piece of fire-colored silk, or handkerchiefs
sewn together in the shape of a flag, is put over a heap of baked
flour, on which are strewn some dried grapes, dried peaches and small
black persimmons. The head of the house first picks up some of the
fruits with his right hand, tosses them up three times, and eats
them. Then his wife, guests and servants follow his example one after
another. Next comes Tibetan tea, with fried cakes of wheat flour
for each. These are brought in on a tray, something in the shape of
a copper plate, gilded and white at the centre. They drink the tea
and eat the cakes, but, unlike the Japanese, exchange no words of
congratulation, and seem mostly to enjoy the eating. They take meat
dried, raw, and boiled, but roast meat is regarded as unceremonial.

Tibet produces fresh-water fish, but the Tibetans do not usually eat
it; they subsist chiefly on the meat of the yak, goat, and sheep,
for they consider it sinful to kill fish. Pork is eaten, but only by
the Tibetans who have dealings with the Chinese. After the morning
ceremony, they again meet at about ten o’clock to drink tea or wine,
and eat cake or fruits. At two in the afternoon they have dinner, at
which they eat, if rich, a sort of macaroni mixed with eggs. The soup
has mutton or something else dipped in it. At nine or ten o’clock in
the evening they make a sort of meat gruel, commonly composed of wheat
flour, wheat dumplings, meat, radishes, and cheese. But the course of
dishes mentioned above is not settled, for they sometimes eat the gruel
in the morning, though generally in the evening. The above are the
dishes taken by the Tibetans of the higher circles.

The lowest class find it hard to get cheese and meat for their gruel,
and put fat in their stead. Nor is it less difficult for them to get
radishes. If they put wheat dumplings in the gruel, which they make
on special occasions, it is reckoned among their best dishes; their
usual gruel is made very thick with baked flour with some herbs and
flowers put in it. In the winter, when they have no fresh herbs or
flowers, they use what they have stored and laid by during the summer.
The radish is however much grown in some parts of Tibet, where it is
largely used. The Tibetan is fonder of baked flour than of rice, all
classes generally living on the former. The Tibetans at Darjeeling live
on baked flour from Tibet, for they fall ill if they live on rice.
Baked flour can of course be had in India, but the Tibetan seems much
superior to the Indian, for they send orders to Tibet for their native

In this way I passed the festive New Year season, and, while reading
my Scriptures amid these charming scenes, learned much about Tibetan
customs and homes, and found good material for my study.

[Illustration: READING THE TEXTS.]

A little white and black bird like a crow, called _Kyaka_ in Tibetan,
used to come to my window. It was a knowing bird, and could tell one
man from another, and was very regular in its ways. One day while I was
looking out of my window I saw one of a flock, seemingly their head,
pecking another to death, as if angry with the latter because it had
quarrelled with the other members of the flock. I was surprised and
told my landlord about it, when he told me that birds were more regular
than men, and related several stories which showed how strict the birds
were. It is a common saying, he added, that one might deviate from
human laws by the breadth of a log, before a hair-breadth’s deviation
from bird’s law would be tolerated.--(_Cha tim ta nga tsam shikna mi
tim nya shing tsam shik go._)

Having stayed in this place a long time in order to read the
Scriptures, I was determined to leave on the 14th March, as it was
getting warmer. In the morning the family asked me to recite to them
the Three Refuges, and the Five Commands or moral precepts of Buḍḍhism,
which I did with pleasure. After dinner as I was leaving the house I
was presented with some money and a priest’s robe, red in color and
made of wool, which must have cost some thirty-five yen. I departed
accompanied by a servant, who carried my luggage, for they told me they
could not send me off on horseback, much though they desired to do so,
for all their horses were away on trading journeys.

Up the Yak-Chu river I went for about ten miles eastwards, till I came
to a post village called Che-sum, where I stopped for the night. I
started at six o’clock the next morning, and went on along the river
for another seven miles. It was a narrow pass, walled up between high
mountains; the snow lay deep in the valleys and the water of the
streams was frozen. At the end of about seven miles I came to a little
opening and, looking up to the top of a mountain on the left, I noticed
a white building which looked neither like a temple nor like the
dwelling of a priest. What could it be? Upon inquiring of my companion
I was told it was a hail-proof temple.

I had never heard of such a temple, and was surprised at seeing one.
When I heard the name for the first time I could not believe my own
ears, but when I asked more particularly about it at Lhasa, I found
that what had been told me was true. I will now relate the strange
method which the Tibetans have for keeping off hailstones, which they
dread exceedingly, especially in summer, for then the crops of wheat
and barley, which they can reap only once in a year or two, may be
entirely destroyed. So they naturally try to find some means to keep
off the hailstones, and the method they have discovered is certainly
curious enough.

The nation is so credulous in the matter of religion that they
indiscriminately believe whatever is told to them by their religious
teachers, the lamas. Thus for instance they believe that there are
eight kinds of evil spirits which delight in afflicting people and
send hail to hurt the crops. Some priests therefore maintain that
they must fight against and destroy these evil demons in order to
keep them off, and the old school profess that in order to combat
these spirits effectually they must know when the demons are preparing
the hail. During the winter when there is much snow, these spirits,
according to the priests, gather themselves at a certain place, where
they make large quantities of hail out of snow. They then store the
hail somewhere in heaven, and go to rest, until in the summer when
the crops are nearly ripe they throw down the hail from the air.
Hence the Tibetans must make sharp weapons to keep off the hail, and
consequently, while the spirits are preparing their hail, the Tibetans
hold a secret meeting in some ravine where they prepare ‘hail-proof
shells,’ which are pieces of mud about the size of a sparrow’s egg.
These are made by a priest, who works with a servant or two in some
lonely ravine, where by some secret method he makes many shells,
chanting words of incantation the while, whereby he lays a spell on
each shell he makes. These pellets are afterwards used as missiles
when hail falls in the summer, and are supposed to drive it back.
None but priests of good family may devote themselves to this work.
Every village has at least one priest called Ngak-pa (the chanters of
incantations of the old school) and during the winter these Ngak-pas
offer prayers, perform charms, or pray for blessings for others. But
the Tibetans have a general belief that the Ngak-pas sometimes curse
others. I was often told that such and such person had offended a
Ngak-pa and was cursed to death.

Having spent the winter in this way, the Ngak-pas during the summer
prepare to fight against the devils. Let me remark, in passing, that
Tibet has not four seasons, as we have, but the year is divided into
summer and winter. The four seasons are indeed mentioned in Tibetan
books, but there are in reality only two.

The summer there is from about the 15th of March to the 15th of
September and all the rest of the year is winter. As early as March or
April the ploughing of the fields and sowing of wheat begins, and then
the Ngak-pa proceeds to the Hail-Subduing-Temple, erected on the top
of one of the high mountains. This kind of temple is always built on
the most elevated place in the whole district, for the reason that the
greatest advantage is thus obtained for ascertaining the direction from
which the clouds containing hail issue forth. From the time that the
ears of the wheat begin to shoot, the priest continues to reside in the
temple, though from time to time, it is said, he visits his own house,
as he has not very much to do in the earlier part of his service. About
June, however, when the wheat has grown larger, the protection of
the crop from injury by hail becomes more urgent, so that the priest
never leaves the temple, and his time is fully taken up with making
offerings and sending up prayers for protection to various deities. The
service is gone through three times each day and night, and numberless
incantations are pronounced. What is more strange is that the great
hail storms generally occur when the larger part of the crops are
becoming ripe, and then it is the time for the priest on service to
bend his whole energies to the work of preventing the attack of hail.

When it happens that big masses of clouds are gathering overhead, the
Ngak-pa first assumes a solemn and stern aspect, drawing himself up
on the brink of the precipice as firm as the rock itself, and then
pronounces an enchantment with many flourishes of his rosary much in
the same manner as our warrior of old did with his baton. In a wild
attempt to drive away the hail clouds, he fights against the mountain,
but it often happens that the overwhelming host comes gloomily upon
him with thunders roaring and flashes of lightning that seem to shake
the ground under him and rend the sky above, and the volleys of big
hailstones follow, pouring down thick and fast, like arrows flying in
the thick of battle. The priest then, all in a frenzy, dances in fight
against the air, displaying a fury quite like a madman in a rage. With
charms uttered at the top of his voice he cuts the air right and left,
up and down, with his fist clenched and finger pointed. If in spite
of all his efforts, the volleys of hail thicken and strike the fields
beneath, the priest grows madder in his wrath, quickly snatches
handfuls of the bullets aforementioned which he carries about him, and
throws them violently against the clouds as if to strike them. If all
this avail nothing, he rends his garment to pieces, and throws the
rags up in the air, so perfectly mad is he in his attempt to put a
stop to the falling hailstones. When, as sometimes happens, the hail
goes drifting away and leaves the place unharmed, the priest is puffed
up with pride at the victory he has gained, and the people come to
congratulate him with a great show of gratitude. But when, unluckily
for him, the hail falls so heavily as to do much harm to the crops, his
reverence has to be punished with a fine, apportioned to the amount of
injury done by the hail, as provided by the law of the land.


To make up for the loss the Ngak-pa thus sustains, he is entitled at
other times, when the year passes with little or no hail, to obtain
an income under the name of “hail-prevention-tax;” a strange kind of
impost, is it not? The “hail-prevention-tax” is levied in kind, rated
at about two _sho_ of wheat per _tan_ of land, which is to be paid to
the Ngak-pa. In a plentiful year this rate may be increased to two and
a half _sho_. This is, indeed a heavy tax for the farmers in Tibet, for
it is an extra, in addition to the regular amount which they have to
pay to their Government.

There is another custom even more singular than that. The power of
jurisdiction over the district resides in the person of the Ngak-pa,
this being founded on the belief that the plentitude or deficiency of
the crops each summer is dependent entirely on his power. The Ngak-pa
being thus the administrator of justice receives a large salary in
that capacity in addition to his income as preventer of hail. It might
therefore be supposed that this class of priests is quite wealthy, but
the Tibetan Ngak-pas are most of them singularly poor. Their gains,
coming from deception founded upon the superstition of the people, are
soon dissipated, for what is ill-got is ill-spent, as the saying is.
But the influence they exercise over the people is very strong. For
instance, when a poor-looking Ngak-pa, attired like a beggar, meets
with a fine gentleman on the road, the latter is sure to stick out his
tongue and to bow down in profound respect. So these Ngak-pas gain much
in peaceful days, though they are at the same time subject to a heavy
penalty when the hail season sets in. Occasionally too, some of them
are flogged on their naked bodies. The Tibetans are very strict in this
respect, and no nobleman who has committed wrong is spared a flogging
because of his caste. So far about the hail tax.

From this temple I went eastwards for about seven miles, when I came to
a village called Yase. From the mountains east of this village flows a
river called Yakchu, which, running north-west, empties itself into the
Brahmapuṭra. Some European maps incorrectly give the Yakchu as having
its source in lake Yamdo. Going on some two miles, I found one of the
strangest lakes in the world. It is called lake Yamdo-Tso in Tibetan,
but some foreign maps call it lake Palti. Palti however is not the
name of the lake, but of the village on the western side. The lake is
about one hundred and eighty miles in circumference, and has an island
with a mountain range in its centre. Many lakes have small islands in
them, but authoritative geographers state that none has so large a
mountain as this. I must, however, here say that the land in the lake
is connected with the main land at two points on the south, so that it
is not actually an island. No words can describe the beautiful scenery
here. The lofty peaks of the Himālayas stand high in a line from the
south-east to the south-west of the lake, and add to its magnificence,
and the tempest often lashes it into high waves, which dash roaring
upon the shore. Standing on a high rock by the shore, I marvelled to
see the terrible scene of the angry lake waves, with the peaks of the
Himālayan mountains amidst the clouds, looking like a superhuman being.

I proceeded for about four miles to the east, and then the road turned
to the north-east. On the left stood a wall of high mountains, while
on the right I could see the peaks of mountains in the lake. I went
east and then north along a rather wide path by the lake for about
six miles, till I came to Palti. There is a castle on a hill in this
village, and very beautiful the lake looks when the castle throws its
shadow on the water.

I lodged at a house at the foot of this castle. I had walked
twenty-five miles that day, but the invigorating mountain scenery
dispelled my fatigue, though I had been very tired. On the following
day, March 16th, I started at four o’clock, in the snow and ice, and
went north-east along the lake. There were mountains on the left and
the lake on the right, as before. The path went pretty nearly north,
but straight up and down in a zig-zag along the mountain. Often I
slipped on the ice, or went deep into the snow, and I encountered much
trouble, which was, however, almost nothing when compared with those
which I had met in passing over the Himālayas.

At dawn I climbed up the mountain in deep snow, and looked down upon
the surface of the lake. I could see among the shadows of the mountains
the crescent moon beautifully reflected dimly and faintly on the water.
The bright day was soon coming, the moon began already to lose its
dim light, and the morning star twinkled on the surface of the water.
Amid the charms of nature I lost all my fatigue and weariness, and I
stood quite entranced. Soon the water-fowl were heard on the sands
along the lake, and some mandarin ducks were amusing themselves in
the water, while cranes were wildly flying about with noisy cries.
What a contrast it was with the scene of the day before! No pleasure
on a journey can be greater than travelling in this way at dawn. I
still went on for about twelve miles along the lake and came to a
little stream in the mountains at about nine o’clock. It is here that
travellers make tea, and bake their wheat for eating. The lake is full
of water, but it is poisonous.

A strange story is told about how it turned poisonous. About twenty
years ago, as the Tibetans tell, the famous Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās, an
Indian by birth, who passed for an Englishman, came from India and
pronounced a spell upon the lake; the water at once turned as red as
blood. A lama, they say, came along and turned the water back to its
original color, but it still remained poisonous. One cannot believe
anything that the Tibetans say, but the water seems to have really
turned red. Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās cannot have done that, but, unfortunately
for him, it was just after his return from Tibet that the water thus
changed. Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās, as every one knows, is an Indian, but
Tibetans, with few exceptions, think him to be an Englishman. Any way
the water of the lake must have been poisonous for a long time, for
the water is stagnant, there being no current, and there are divers
poisonous elements near the lake.

There also seem to be places where I think there must be coal; I saw
several kinds of strange ores and many kinds of herbs which I think
may have dissolved in the water and have colored it. I have seen some
foreign maps in which the water of this lake is made to flow into the
Brahmapuṭra, which is quite false.

I found several persons taking lunch as we did amid this beautiful
scenery. This being the way that runs between Lhasa and Shigatze there
were travellers on it, among whom was a soldier from Nepāl. He was one
of the most humorous fellows I ever saw, and was very good company for


On to Lhasa.

The soldier, whose company proved not altogether unwelcome in a travel
like mine, happened to be one of the Legation Guards of the Minister of
Nepāl at Lhasa. His love of his mother had tempted him from his duty,
but at Shigatze on his way to Nepāl his thought turned to his love of
a woman at Lhasa and this was so much greater than his love for his
mother that he suddenly changed his mind and determined to go back
to Lhasa. Among other things I asked him how many soldiers the Nepāl
Government kept stationed at Lhasa, and he answered that it was but a
few years ago that his Government first sent a guard to the Tibetan
capital. He told me that a great calamity befell the capital over ten
years ago.

It seems that there were about three hundred merchants of the Palpo
tribe of Nepāl at Lhasa. They are the most active and alert of the
Nepālese tribes, with regard to trading, and follow Indian, not Tibetan
Buḍḍhism. They engage in trade at Lhasa in woollen cloth, cotton, silk,
coral, jewels, dry goods, rice, beans and corn.

Some thirteen years ago, a Palpo merchant at Lhasa searched a Lhasa
woman on the charge that she had stolen a piece of coral from his shop.
When the coral was not found he became so angry that, in spite of her
protesting tears, he took her by force into his house. When she was
allowed to go out again, she told the people all that had happened.
The ‘warrior-priests’ of the Sera monastery heard of the affair and
became so irritated about the ill-treatment of the woman that some of
them came to enquire into the matter, and having ascertained what they
wanted went back to Sera and told their chief, who at once called out
the warrior-priests.

These warrior-priests are under one chief, at whose summons they gather
themselves together. Many of them were not in residence at that time,
but about one thousand assembled. These were preparing to march on
Lhasa to wreck vengeance on all the Palpo merchants, when the latter
got wind of the matter, Sera being only about four miles from the
capital. So they had fled from the city before the bellicose priests
entered Lhasa, each armed with sword or a large iron hook. These men
broke into the deserted houses of the merchants, and carried off
what they found. Among the raiders there were, besides the priests,
vagabonds of the city, who dispersed with their spoil the next morning
at daybreak. Presently the merchants returned to their houses, and were
much distressed to find their merchandise gone--their only property, as
they owned no land. Their loss was estimated at something under 230,000

This affair became a diplomatic question, and it took over five years
to settle it. The Tibetan Government had to compensate the merchants
and a party of twenty-five Nepālese soldiers came to be stationed at
Lhasa. The chief diplomatist in this affair on the Nepāl side was
Jibbahaḍur, whose name has already been mentioned; he was the Clerk of
the Nepālese Government, and is the present Nepālese Minister to Tibet.

As we walked on we found ourselves at the foot of a steep hill called
Genpala, which has an incline of about two and a half miles to its top,
from which I obtained my first view of Lhasa. From the summit I could
see, to the north-east, the Brahmapuṭra running south-east. There is
a large tributary called Kichu running from the north-east that flows
into this river. It runs through a large plain, in the middle of which
is a mountain with a high building; and this I saw showing beautifully
in the golden sunshine. This was the residence of the Dalai Lama of
Lhasa, and is called Tse Potala. Beyond the castle are to be seen roofs
towering high in the air, which look like those of a town. These are
the streets of Lhasa, which look very small, when seen so far off. I
rested for a while, and then gradually went down a great slope for
about seven miles till I came to Pache, where I stopped for the night.
Having walked all day in the snow and ice I was very foot-sore and
fatigued, as well I might be, for I had made twenty-five miles on foot
that day.

The following day, the 17th of March, I descended for another two
miles and a half and found myself on the banks of the Brahmapuṭra. I
walked some six miles along the southern bank of the river before I
came to the ferry of Chaksam, where I had to cross the river. Formerly
there was an iron bridge at this place, the remaining chains of which
may still be seen a little lower down the stream. The ferry boats are
rectangular in shape like Indian boats. But it is only in the winter
that these boats are used, for in the summer large vessels cannot pass
across. The Tibetans then use instead the yak-hide canoe. They sew
together the hides of three yaks, and the seams are painted over with
a sort of lacquer, to make them waterproof. These hide canoes float on
the water, and are used as ferry-boats even in the winter when there
are not many passengers. In Tibetan the word _Kowa_ (meaning ‘hide’)
also signifies a boat. The hide boat naturally absorbs much water and
soon gets too soft and heavy for use, and the Tibetan therefore dries
his hide boat in the sun after he has used it for half a day in the
water. It is so light that a man can easily lift it, and the Tibetan
will carry it on his back to the higher part of a stream, and will
float it down for a day or two loaded with goods or men. When the boat
is unloaded, it is again carried up the stream. But our party being
too many for a hide canoe I was ferried over the river in one of the
regular wooden boats.

Walking for about three miles on the dry sandy bed of the river, I
came to a beautiful place where I saw rocks and high trees casting
their shadows on the water. The ground about Lake Yamdo, of which I
have spoken elsewhere, is so elevated that it looks as much as 13,500
feet above sea level, but here it is only 11,500 feet high. Here, in
sunny places beside the water, the buds of the willows were already
out. After seeing only bald mountains and dead leaves for a long time,
the green leaves were a delightful sight. Though my coolie carried my
baggage, and I was not much troubled on that score, the old wounds on
my feet began to smart again, and I could hardly walk. In the midst of
my trouble there came along a horseman, to whom I gave a little money
to carry me on horseback. About two miles and a half further on we came
to a town called Chu-shur, a rather bustling place, situated in the
delta formed by the rivers Kichu and Brahmapuṭra, the former running
from the north-east and the latter from the north-west.

I hardly know any town on the way to Lhasa worse and more wicked
than this. The people of the town are indifferent, even unkind, to
strangers, and are much skilled in robbing them of their luggage. They
will steal both luggage and goods in transport in such a skilful manner
that they can hardly be detected. It is widely known in Tibet that no
place is richer in thieves than Chu-shur and I had often been warned to
be on my guard against them. There being so many skilful thieves and
the place being so much frequented by travellers, there is consequently
a good circulation of money, and one would suppose that Chu-shur had
many rich men; but strange to say, I was told upon enquiry that there
were more poor men in that town than in most of the other towns and
villages of Tibet. After dining there, I started towards the north-east
(on foot, as I could procure no horse) along the stream of the Kichu
river and walked on until I felt so much pain in my feet that I could
proceed no further. I had laid myself down on the grass to rest when,
to my boundless joy, a donkey-driver came along and I was given a lift
on the back of his animal for some ten miles, till I arrived at Jang.
At Jang something happened that prevented my coolie from following me
any further, and he deserted me. My feet were aching worse than ever,
for I had travelled about twenty-five miles that day by the help of
the donkey; but what to do on the following day I was at a loss to
conceive. Happily I was told of some men who were going with tax-meat
to the Government at Lhasa, and I asked them to take me on one of
their horses. They were going to pay the tax to the Government, yet
they did not take their horses from their own village, but hired them
elsewhere. They did not travel more than eight or nine miles a day, and
I, too, hired a horse for myself, placed my luggage in their charge,
and started together with them. We halted at a little village named
Nam to take rest, and here stopped for the night. On the following day
we went about six miles along a narrow rocky mountain path, which ran
north-east along the Kichu river, till we came to Nethang.


Arrival in Lhasa.

At Nethang there is a temple of the Mothers of Salvation, who are most
devoutly worshipped in Tibet, and it is said that it was founded by an
Indian hermit, Shrī Aṭīsha by name, who organised a new sect in Tibet.
I went there to worship the twenty-one Mothers of Salvation (Dolma
Nishu tsa chik in Tibetan) whose images I found very well made. On the
following day, the 20th, I again went on towards the north-east, along
the river, over a plain of about five miles, till I came to a large
bridge which I crossed, went on north-east for another four miles, and
came to a village called Sing Zonkha, where I stopped for the night. I
was to arrive at Lhasa, the capital of the country, on the following
day, March 21st.

I hired a horse at the village, and asked my companions to take care
of my baggage while I rode on amid the beautiful scenes of the place.
After about two miles, I saw on the left a splendid monastery, which at
first sight looked more like a large village, though it was in reality
the Rebung monastery, the largest of the kind in the vicinity of Lhasa.
It is indeed the largest monastery in the ecclesiastical district under
the Dalai Lama, and has an army of priests who number some 7,700 as
a general rule, though sometimes their number rises as high as nine
thousand. During the summer, when the priests go out into the country
on pilgrimage, there remain some six thousand only. This is one centre
of Tibetan learning, and has a college. I saw in all three colleges in
Central Tibet, the other two being the Sera college in Lhasa and that
at Ganden.

The former has 5,500 students, and the latter 3,300. But these numbers
are only nominal, and the colleges can, like the Rebung monastery,
take in either more or fewer students than their fixed number. At the
side of the road below this monastery is a place where yaks, sheep, and
goats are killed for the table of the Dalai Lama, and the Tibetans have
so superstitious a regard for the sheep (seven in number) the meat of
which is offered to the Dalai Lama daily, that they ask for such things
as the wool and other parts of the animal as keepsakes. Besides sheep,
the Dalai Lama eats other kinds of meat, which is also sent from the
same place.

It is not very sensible of the Pontiff to get his meat from such a
distant place, while he lives in the city of Lhasa; but he takes
another view. Lhasa is too near to his palace for the slaughter of
animals, and he does not want to have it thought that the animals are
killed for him. He desires to get his meat without being responsible
for giving the order to kill the animals. This looks very good,
but since it is settled that the meat served to him shall be taken
from this place, special care is taken in selecting the animals for
slaughter, and at bottom, therefore, it makes no difference whether his
meat is bought at Lhasa or at that particular place.

I went on for another five miles, and came to the foot of the hill on
which stood the palace of the Grand Lama, the place which I had seen
from Genpala.


The palace is so splendid that even its picture looks beautiful. I
am not going to describe it in detail, but there is a quaint little
story about it which shows the impression it creates at first sight.
A certain countryman once drove to Lhasa some asses heavily loaded
with butter. He saw the magnificent palace, and was so struck with its
beauty that he stood gazing at it, thinking that it must be a palace
of the Gods. When he recovered himself, he was mortified to find that
his asses had strayed away. When he had gathered them, he found that
there were nine instead of ten, and looked about anxiously to find the
lost one. When asked what he was looking for, he answered that some one
must have stolen his ass while he was looking at the palace, for he
had come thither with ten asses. It was some time before he found that
he had not counted the ass on which he was riding. This shows how the
magnificence of the palace had affected him. I went half a mile along a
wide road, south-east of the palace hill, and came to a bridge called
Yuthok Samba, a hundred and twenty feet by fifteen, over which is built
a roof in the Chinese style. I crossed the bridge and went on another
hundred and twenty yards before I found myself at the western gate of
Lhasa, constructed somewhat after the Chinese fashion. I passed through
the gate and rode on some two hundred and fifty yards, when I came to
a sort of large open court. Here I had to alight, for I was before the
large temple of Buḍḍha. I enquired how the image of Buḍḍha came to be
placed in the temple. It was before king Srong-tsan Gambo (who later
introduced Buḍḍhism into the country) was won to the religion, and
when he was engaged to Princess Un-ching, a daughter of the Chinese
Emperor Ta-sung of the Thang dynasty. She demanded a promise from his
father that Buḍḍhism should be widely preached in Tibet, and required
at the same time that she might be permitted to take with her an image
of Buḍḍha, which had just been brought from India. The request being
granted, the Princess took it to the city of Lhasa, where it has
remained ever since.

The image was thus brought into the country by the Princess at the
same time as Buḍḍhism itself. It was soon found necessary to preach a
new form of Buḍḍhism and to invent new characters in which to write
its teachings. So learned men, sixteen in number, were sent to India
to study Buḍḍhism, and to invent new characters. Consequently, new
Tibetan letters were formed, and Buḍḍhist doctrines were translated
into Tibetan. Budḍḍhism was thus taught for over thirteen centuries,
to the great advantage both of Tibet and of Buḍḍhism. This image of
Buḍḍha was not originally carved in China, but was made by a Buḍḍhist
sculptor, Vishvakarma by name, in India, whence it was introduced into
Tibet through China. When I lifted up my thanks before this image of
Buḍḍha for my safe arrival in Tibet, I could not help shedding tears
over the goodness of Buḍḍha, which enabled me to see His image at this
temple as well as at Buḍḍhagayā in India. I need not say, for the whole
story shows it, how great is my faith in Buḍḍha. I do not mean that I
do not respect other Buḍḍhist deities; still Buḍḍha claims the greatest
worship from me, and I have entirely given myself up to Him and His

There are many cheap inns and hotels in Lhasa, but as I had been
informed that they were not respectable, I desired to stay with a
friend, a son of the premier of Tibet. While at Darjeeling I had become
acquainted with this young noble, and he had offered me a lodging
during my stay in Lhasa. I liked him, and did many things for him, and
now, though I did not mean to demand a return for what I had done for
him, I had no alternative but to go to him. So I called at his house.
It was known as Bandesha--a magnificent mansion on a plot of about
three hundred and sixty feet square. I entered the house and asked if
he was in, but heard that my friend had become a lunatic. They told me
that he had gone out of his mind two years before, and that he went
mad at regular periods. I learned that he was staying at his brother’s
villa at Namsailing, and was obliged to go there for him, but there
also I could not find him, and was told the same thing. I waited there
for over two hours, as I was told he might come, and then I reflected
that it would be of no use for me to see a madman, on whom I could not
depend, so I made up my mind to direct my steps to the Sera monastery,
for I thought it would be better for me to be temporarily admitted
in the college, and then to pass the regular entrance examinations.
So I at once hired a coolie to carry my baggage, and started for the

Like the Rebung monastery, it was built on the slope of a hill, and
when seen from a distance looked like a village. Guided by the coolie,
I arrived at the monastery at four o’clock and at once called at the
dormitory of Pituk Khamtsan, giving myself out as a Tibetan, as I came
from Jangthang. Hitherto I had passed for a Chinaman, but as such I
should have had to go to Pate Khamtsan, where I feared I might be
detected. I had not trimmed my hair nor shaved my face, nor bathed
for a long time, and I cannot have been much cleaner than a Tibetan,
so I made up my mind to pass for one and to live among them. The
examinations for a Tibetan might be too difficult for me; still I could
command the Tibetan language almost as well as a native, and I was
often treated as one. I thought, therefore, that I could pass without
detection, and so for my own safety I entered the monastery in this
guise. The dormitory is occupied by several priests, who in turn, by
the year, take the charge of the house. The then head of the dormitory
was a very kind and simple old man, called La-toe-pa, and when I told
him about my desire to obtain temporary admission, he gave me every
particular as to what to do.

Before I go any further in my narrative, I must say something
briefly about the Sera college. It is divided into three
departments--Je-Ta-tsang, Maye Ta-tsang, and Ngakpa Ta-tsang. The first
department contains 3,800 priests, the second 2,500 and the third five
hundred. The former two departments have eighteen dormitories, named
Khamtsan. They differ in size, for the small ones have about fifty
priests in them, while there are over a thousand priests in the largest
ones. There were two hundred priests in the house at which I stayed.
Each Khamtsan has its own property, and all the Khamtsans as a whole
are called Sera. These are the largest divisions of the monastery, but
I will not enter into the sub-divisions.


The Warrior-Priests of Sera.

In Tibet there are two classes of priests, scholar-priests and
warrior-priests, who in Tibetan are called Lob-nyer and Thab-to
respectively. The former class of priests come to Sera, as their name
shows, with the purpose of study, at an expense of three yen or, if
they take the regular course, of eight yen a month. They graduate from
the college after a study of twenty years, during which time their
special study is the Buḍḍhist Catechism and philosophy, the principal
course of the Sera college. As they come to the college after they
have finished the study of the regular courses, most of them are from
thirty to thirty-five or thirty-six years of age when they graduate,
though a few clever priests receive the decree of doctor at the age of
twenty-eight years.

The warrior-priests have no money to pay for a course of study in the
college. They earn their way by gathering yak-dung from the fields or
by carrying from the bank of the river Kichu to the monastery wood
which has been brought in boats from Sam-ya-e or Kongbo. Then they
serve the scholar-priests as their servants. It is also among their
daily tasks to play flutes, lyres, harps, flageolets, to beat drums,
and to prepare offerings for the deities. The above tasks may not be
too humble for a low class of priests, but the warrior-priests have
another strange daily task to do by which they deserve their strange
name. Every day they repair to certain hills and practise throwing
large stones at a target, and thus test their muscles. They jump, run
up mountains, or leap down from high rocks. At intervals they sing
popular songs as loudly as they can, for they are proud of their good
voices. Then they practise fighting with clubs. When they have no fixed
task in the temple, they are seen going by threes or fives to their
respective places of practice. The reader may wonder of what use these
priests are in Tibet, and will perhaps be surprised to know that they
are of great use. When, for instance, the higher class Lamas travel
in the northern plains or in some remote district, they take these
priests as their body guards. They are very daring. Having no wives
to look after, they meet death calmly. So invincible and implacable
are these fighting priests that they are the most feared of any in
Tibet. They are very quarrelsome, too, though they rarely fall out
with one another without some serious provocation. They scarcely ever
fight for a pecuniary matter, but the beauty of young boys presents
an exciting cause, and the theft of a boy will often lead to a duel.
Once challenged, no priest can honorably avoid the duel, for to shun
it would instantly excommunicate him from among his fellow-priests
and he would be driven out of the temple. There are chiefs among the
warrior-priests, and they have rules of their own, with officers to see
them well carried out. This is an open secret, and the warrior-priests
are therefore allowed sometimes to do things quite unbecoming to
priests or anybody else. When any grave matter occurs, the chiefs are
often ordered to attend to it with the other warrior-priests.

A duel being agreed upon, both the fighters go to the appointed place,
mostly in the evening. They fight each other with swords while the
umpires judge their way of fighting. If either of the combatants
does anything cowardly or mean, the umpire leaves the fighters to
themselves, till one or the other is killed. If both fight bravely till
they are wounded, the umpire bids them stop fighting. He tells them
to make peace, and takes them to Lhasa, where they make friends over a
cup of chang (beer or wine). The use of all intoxicants being strictly
prohibited in the Sera monastery, many warrior-priests, when they go to
Lhasa, take the opportunity of drinking much of them, and under that
influence they do many rude things.

One day, some one accidentally discovered that I was a doctor, and
from that time I came to be paid undeserved respect by these priests.
When they were wounded in their feet or hands during their practice
they came to me for cure, and I was strangely successful with them. I
think that half-civilised people are more easily cured of wounds than
civilised people. A sprained arm was so easily set right, that the
warrior-priests began to consider me to be a doctor indispensable among
them. Besides, I scarcely ever took fees from them for their recovery,
and I gave them medicine gratis, except when they offered me something
in return and compelled me to accept it. This kindness won me their
hearts. They saw that it often made them worse to go to a native doctor
when they were wounded in a duel, while I treated their wounds, or
set their bones, gratis and far better than their native doctors did.
This pleased them so much that I became a great favorite among them.
Everywhere I was greeted with the protruded tongue of salutation.

Besides, I was helped and guarded by them in many respects. They are
very true to their duties and obligations. They may look a little
rough, but they are much more truthful than the nobles and other
priests of the land, who, though kind and truthful at first sight, are
deceitful and crafty in seeking their own benefit and happiness. The
warrior-priests are as a rule not deceitful and cunning at heart, and I
have found in them many other points that claim my respect and liking.
On the other hand, I was often troubled in my intercourse with the
Lamas, who hide a mean and crafty behavior under their warm garments of
wool. So far for the two classes of priests.

I had trimmed and shaved neither hair nor beard in my journey of over
ten months, so that they had grown very long. On the day after my
arrival, therefore, when I got a priest to shave my head, I asked him
to shave off my beard also. He wondered why I wanted to have it shaved
off, and told me that it would be very unwise of me to do so when it
had grown so beautiful. He seemed to think that I was joking, and I was
obliged to let it grow. A beard is much valued by the Tibetans, because
they generally have none, though the inhabitants of Kham and other
remote provinces grow beards. They are so eager to have a beard, that
after I was known to be a doctor I was often asked to give medicine to
make the beard grow. They would say that I must have used some medicine
to make my beard grow so long.

As my object was to be a student priest I bought a hat, a pair of
shoes, and a rosary, according to the regulations of the monastery. I
did not buy a priest’s robe, as I could in time use the one which had
been given to me. So I went to Je Ta-tsang, chief professor of the
department which I was to enter, for him to question me before I was
admitted as a probationary student; but I found that no examinations
were to be given. I called on the professor with a present of the best
tea to be procured in Tibet. His first question was: “Where are you
from? You look like a Mongolian; are you not one?” Being answered in
the negative, he asked me several geographical questions, for he was
well acquainted with the geography of the country. But I answered well,
as I had travelled through the provinces on my own feet. It was thus
settled that I might be admitted on probation. So I saluted the Lama
with my tongue out, and he put his right hand on my head, as usual,
and put a red cloth about two feet long round my neck as the sign of
my admission. The reader must know that one has to put such a piece of
cloth round the neck in the presence of all noble Lamas in Tibet. I had
then to appear before the priest who sees that the laws are carried
out, and to get his permission, and I found that as I had a permit from
the professor I could easily get the sanction of the priest, and thus
I was admitted into the college. I had then to prepare myself for the
regular entrance examination of the department of logic.

On the following day I found a teacher to help me in my preparation.
Finding however that one teacher was not sufficient for the many
subjects I had to study, I engaged a second, and I was thus soon busy
preparing myself. There was a Lama living in the dormitory opposite
to mine, a stout priest who seemed to be very learned. One day I was
called to his room to see him, and among other questions I was asked
if I had not come with a caravan of Ruto from Jangthang to the Sakya
temple. I was told that among the disciples of the Lama there was one
Tobten, a nice gentle Tibetan, and this person happened to be the one
who had treated me very kindly during my journey with the caravan. It
was this man who had asked me if I would take meat, and whom I had told
that I did not take it. I had hitherto been supposed to have come from
Jangthang, but now I was entirely unmasked.

“Then you are not from Jangthang,” said the Lama, and then he told
me that he had heard I was a Chinaman and good at writing Chinese
characters. On my confessing that I was not a Tibetan he was grieved,
because he feared that my deceit might bring trouble upon the
dormitory, for a Chinaman must go to Pate Khamtsan. He then asked
me why I had violated the regulations of the place, and I replied
that I had been robbed, as he might have heard from his disciple, at
Jangthang, and that I had not money enough to enter into the Pate
Khamtsan as a Chinaman. Besides, I said, I should have to pay something
for service every year, if I went to the Chinese house. Having told
him all these secrets, I then asked him to help me to stay with him,
as I could not go to the other house. The Lama said that his disciple
had told him of the robbery, and that he was very sorry for me, adding
that he would leave the matter till objection should be made. So I
was left there without further trouble, and I passed for a man from
Jangthang. In this way I kept on studying day and night, till I had a
great swelling in my shoulders. I was obliged to draw some blood from
the shoulders by a device of my own, and then I went to a druggist in
the city to buy some medicine, which soon cured the swelling.


Tibet and North China.

On the 7th of April I went to see a great service of prayer for the
Chinese Emperor in connexion with the “Boxer” war. It was held not only
at Sera, but at every temple in Tibet. At the monastery where I lived
they held a secret meeting for seven days, during which time special
priests offered secret prayers. They were then to perform something
secret for the victory of China. On enquiry I was told that Peking
was invaded by the troops of several foreign countries, and that the
Chinese seemed to have been beaten. They might be too late, they said,
but they prayed for the safety of the Emperor of China. I was quite
anxious to know more particulars, but they were all kept secret, and no
one would tell me any more.

The prayer service was held in the Tsochen Hall at Sera, and
commenced with a long warlike procession. First came the players on
lyres, flageolets, drums, and large flutes, followed by men carrying
incense-burners. Then came ten nice looking Tibetan boys, still in
their teens, all dressed in fine Buḍḍhist robes ornamented with colored
Chinese crape, and each burning incense. Next followed fifty spear-like
objects on each side of the road, each surmounted with a movable blade
like that of a Chinese spear. These blades had hilt guards, under which
hung gold brocade or fine colored Chinese crape, sixteen feet long,
thus making the spear twenty-five feet long altogether. The spear, the
handle of which was either of gold or gilt, seemed rather heavy, for
two strong warrior-priests carried each of them. Then came a triangular
board about six feet high, with various figures made of butter on it,
and after it another triangular board, four feet high, with some red
figure made of a mixture of baked flour, butter and honey. These boards
were borne by seven or eight men. After them came some two hundred
priests, dressed in handsome robes and scarfs quite dazzling to the
eye. Half of these beat drums, while the other half carried cymbals.
After these priests came the chief Lama, who was to offer the secret
prayer. He had dressed himself in the splendid robes of his high rank.
Last of all his disciples followed.

Thus the procession presented a grand sight, and the people of Lhasa
came out in great crowds to see it. It marched out about two hundred
yards from the great hall to an open yard outside the stone fence,
where the view opened as far as Lhasa. Another two hundred yards
further, the procession came before a grass-roofed shed, built of
bamboo, wood and straw. There the chief Lama recited something in front
of the triangular figures of butter and of baked wheat, and of the
spear-shaped objects, while the two hundred priests around him chanted
verses from the Buḍḍhist Scriptures, and beat drums and cymbals. A
priest with a pair of cymbals walked through the lines of the priests;
he seemed to be a sort of band-master, for he marched through their
ranks beating time. His steps and gait were very odd and different
from any dancings that I had ever seen. Soon the chief Lama was seen
pretending to throw away his rosary, at which signal the spear-bearers
threw their spears at the shed and then the triangular board of baked
flour was thrown at it also. They then set fire to the shed, at the
burning of which the priests as well as the spectators clapped their
hands, crying out “_Lha-kyallo! Lha-kyallo!_” This is a Tibetan word,
meaning “surely the Gods will triumph.” Thus was the ceremony over,
one of the most splendid I had ever seen in Buḍḍhism. On the following
day all the priests of the monastery were invited to Lhasa to attend
the _Cho-en Joe_ service, which lasted a month, to pray that the Dalai
Lama of Tibet might be kept from all evil during the year. This was a
celebration said to be only second in importance to the other. I also
went to Lhasa, and took lodging in the house of a Palpo merchant.

In the capital I got more definite information about the Boxer trouble.
Perhaps some merchants who had returned from China, or some who had
came from Nepāl or some who had been to India, might have brought the
news; but it was all very laughable and unreliable. Some would say the
Emperor of China had bequeathed his throne to the Crown Prince and
absconded, while others told me that the Emperor was defeated and was
then in Sin-an. The trouble was brought about, some said, by a wicked
minister, who married an English lady to the Emperor, while others
asserted that there was a country called Japan, which was so strong
that her troops took possession of Peking. Another said that a famine
prevailed in China and people were all famished; indeed, every sort of
rumor was abroad in the Tibetan capital.

I was especially pleased to hear something about Japan, even the very
name of which had not yet been heard in Tibet, and some merchants told
me that Japan was so powerful and so chivalrous that even when her army
had taken possession of Peking, she had sent shiploads of rice, wheat
and clothing to the Chinese capital to relieve tens of thousands of
natives who were suffering from famine. But others would say against
Japan that she could not be such a friendly country, but must have done
what she had done merely out of her crafty “land-grabbing diplomacy,”
as the British nation did. Rumor after rumor was making its way through
Tibet, and I did not know what to believe. Only I was pretty sure that
a war had broken out between China and other Powers. In the meantime
the Palpo merchant with whom I was staying was going to Nepāl. I
utilised the occasion and through his kindness sent two letters, one
to Rai Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās in India, and the other to Mr. I. Hige of my
native province. I was glad to find afterwards that they reached their
destination, but it was very difficult to send a letter in that way;
one must first see that the man by whom it is to be sent is honest
and not likely to betray one’s secret, and one cannot easily trust a
Tibetan. But my Tibetan had more than once been shown to be true to his

The Cho-en Joe was a meeting of a kind I had never seen before. In
the first place there was a Sakya temple over two hundred and forty
yards square, with another and central Sakya temple, one hundred and
twenty yards square. A wide pavement ran along inside the walls, where
the ordinary priests sat. The same kind of pavement was found on the
second and third floors. No priest was admitted into the Sakya temple
but the Dalai Lama or the “greater” professors, though they did not
always attend the meetings. Some twenty thousand priests attended
that celebration, while over twenty-five thousand assembled on the
occasion of the festival held at Lhasa for the safety of the Emperor
of China. About five in the morning the sound of flutes called all the
priests in Lhasa to the place of meeting. They chanted the Scriptures
and were given butter and tea, as usual, three times, at intervals of
thirty minutes. Of the twenty thousand very few were regular priests,
the rest being either warrior-priests or loafers, who came only with
the mean object of filling their stomachs. Instead of reciting from
the Scriptures, therefore, they were openly doing all sorts of things
during the meeting, such as singing profane songs, or pushing each
other about. One could see the rowdiness of these warrior-priests, who
sat there making obscene jokes, and often quarrelling with one another.

The warrior-priests being so lawless, some guard-priests are detailed
to keep order among them. The guard-priest does not judge between
the quarrelling priests, but strikes them any time he sees them
quarrelling. So he is much feared by the other priests, who take to
their huts at the first sign of his presence. Still he often takes
them by surprise, and thrashes them most mercilessly on head, limbs
or body, so that occasionally they even die from the effects of his
rough treatment. This is not, however, considered to be murder, the
perpetrator of the deed is not punished, and the body of his victim is
simply thrown away for the birds to devour.

Warrior-priests train themselves for two hours in the morning. They
take baked flour in tea during that time, and at the end they are given
some gruel. Usually the gruel is made of rice, with much meat in it,
and is given gratis. Each priest brings a bowl which holds a pint or
more, and he takes a bowlful of gruel and three cups of tea. On their
way back to their respective lodgings, they receive _ge_, which in
Tibetan means ‘alms,’ from the officers. It is said that some believers
give as much as twenty-five sen or fifty sen per head to each of the
priests. In this respect some Tibetan merchants, landowners and high
officers are very generous, for they are sometimes known to give eight
or nine thousand yen in alms to these priests. There are many who give
that sum in that way, and much money is known to be sent for that
object from Mongolia.

There once was among these priests a Russian spy from Mongolia. He
had the degree of doctor, and held the office of _Tsan-ni Kenbo_. He
often made such donations, and his fame had spread far and wide. Such
alms-giving, without religious faith, did not improve his spiritual
condition in the least; but so many merchants give money for the sake
of their business, that this doctor was content to think his alms had
also promoted his virtue. In these ways the priests get much money, and
the festival season is the best time of the year for them. Sufficiency
begets bad conduct, and it is during such times that the priests are
most contentious and vindictive, and that duels are most frequent.
A duel is not generally fought in Lhasa itself; as a rule they only
appoint the place and time for it and fight it after they get back to
their own dormitories, because while they are in Lhasa they are under
the authority of the magistrate priest of the Rebung temple, and not
of their own temples. This magistrate is known to be so severe, strict
and exacting, that they are afraid to fight a duel before him, and they
patiently wait till they return to their own temples.

On the day that the great celebration was over, I saw a festival
procession. First came groups dressed as the four divine kings,
followed by the eight devil kings, each with a special mark. Each group
was followed by three or five hundred priests, differently dressed.
Unlike a religious procession in Japan, which is as a rule very solemn,
the Tibetan procession marched in a sportive manner, for the persons
in it played with one another while moving. They would even joke with
the spectators. They carried in the procession various treasures and
musical instruments, such as drums, lyres, pipes, flageolets and Indian
flutes, the most attractive objects being some imitations of dragons.
There were many strange figures formed, as they told me, after the
model of the treasures of the submarine dragon’s palace. Imitations
were there of every instrument, treasure, or dress found in Tibet, and
of the old costumes that are found in Tibetan history; and several
Indian tribes were to be seen in the long procession of over two and a
half miles. It is impossible to enter into details, as I saw it only
once; my memory does not serve me for other particulars.

This procession had one of the strangest of origins. It is said that
Ngak Wang Gyamtso, the fifth Pontiff of the New Sect, devised the
procession after one which he saw in a dream in the Buḍḍhist Paradise,
and it seemed quite fitting that such a curious procession should have
so vague an origin.


Admission into Sera College.

I did not see as much of the festival as I might have done, because I
had to go through my formal entrance examinations before the festival
was entirely over, and I devoted all spare moments to preparation. Once
more I overworked myself, but I bought some more medicine, and was
soon well again. This caused no little wonder among my neighbors, and
I was often asked if I had studied medicine. I must have studied it,
they would say, because I could cure my own illness, and I was obliged
to tell them that I had read a few books on medicine. This led me to
practise it among them afterwards.

Before the celebrations were over, I went back to my own monastery
for my examination. It was on April 18th that I presented myself
with forty other candidates. I was given both written and oral
examinations, besides the recitation of a passage from the Scriptures.
The examinations were such as are generally given to those who have
finished the common course in Tibetan schools. They were not so
difficult for me as I had expected, and I was admitted to the college,
though all were not equally fortunate, for only seven out of the forty
passed. Among the successful members were a few warrior-priests also.
They had run into debt, and had since studied hard to be admitted.
But, let me say, their object was something more than mere study.
Scholarships were awarded, from fifty sen to one yen and sometimes
two yen a month per scholar-priest. The amount was not fixed, but it
generally came to some ten yen a year. It was on account of that sum of
money that many warrior-priests tried to pass the examination. I was
admitted as a student of the first class, in which priest-students
varying from boys in their teens to men in the forties and fifties were
studying the Buḍḍhist catechism, according to the Tibetan fashion.
Their way of studying was so interesting and active, and they were so
earnest and fervent, that one would have thought they were quarrelling
with one another while discussing.

The catechism is a very pleasant performance, and the ways of
questioning, emphasis, and intonation are quite interesting. The
catechised sits in a certain attitude, and the questioner stands up
with a rosary in his left hand, and walks towards him. He stretches
out his hands with the palm of the left hand downwards and that of the
right hand upwards and claps them together, uttering the words, _Chi!
chi tawa choe chan_. Here ‘Chi’ means the heart of the Boḍhisaṭṭva
Mañjushrī and its utterance is supposed to make the questioner one
with Him, whose real body is knowledge. The rest of the utterance
literally means, “in that nature of the truth.” The sense of the whole
is “We shall begin the discussion following the nature of Truth as it
is manifested in the Universe.” Then the discussion begins in earnest
according the rules of the logic of Nyāya. The first question, for
instance, may be whether Buḍḍha was human or not. Whether the answer
is in the affirmative or the negative, the questioner goes on to ask;
“But he was not above mortality, was he?” If he be answered in the
affirmative, he will say that it could not be so, for Buḍḍha was no
more than mortal. The answerer, if bright enough, will then reply that
Buḍḍha, though himself above death, submitted himself to it in his
incarnated body. He must say also that Buḍḍha had three bodies, called
in Saṁskṛṭ Ḍharmakāya, Sambhogakāya and Nirmānakāya, and in Tibetan,
Choeku, Lonjoeku and Tulku. These terms mean: ‘The all pervading body
consisting of the purest virtue of Truth in him’, ‘the body derived
from his countless virtues, enjoying complete happiness with the
light of Truth,’ and ‘the body derived from his boundless mercy and
transcendental knowledge for the good of all beings.’


If the catechised shows any weak point in his answers, the questioner
never fails to take advantage of the opportunity, and drives him on,
saying for example that Buḍḍha was a real man born in India. Whether
the answer be in the affirmative or negative, he will go on asking many
questions in succession, and that with so much animation that, when he
utters the words of a question, he beats time with hands and feet. The
teacher always teaches the catechists that the foot must come down so
strongly that the door of hell may be broken open, and that the hands
must make so great a noise that the voice of knowledge may frighten the
devils all over the world, by a fearless heart and a brave attitude.
The object of the questions and answers is to free the mind from all
worldliness, and to get into the very bottom of Truth, giving no power
to the devils of hell in the mind.

To show how excitedly the catechism is carried on, it is said that a
countryman once came to see the scene. The question happened to be
about physiognomy (kan-sa), which in Tibetan is synonymous with a
tobacco-pipe. The countryman thought that they were disputing over
a tobacco-pipe, and was very much surprised that a pipe should be
the matter of the quarrel, for the priests were seemingly very much
provoked and railed at each other and exchanged blows! Three years
later, the same countryman came to worship at the temple of Sera,
and again happened to see the priests disputing hotly about what he
thought to be a pipe. He saw them strike each other at the end of the
dispute, and felt very sorry for them. So he thought he would settle
the dispute by arbitration. He then walked among the priests, holding
out his pipe, which he meant to give them. Though it was none of his
business to come among the priests, he offered the pipe and begged them
to settle the dispute, thereby causing great laughter among them. It is
with such excitement and with hardly any formality that the questions
are asked and answered. Still it must not be supposed that one could
answer these questions without a knowledge of Buḍḍhism. One has to
read many texts and reference books before one can go through these
questions. It takes the natives twenty years of hard and unceasing
study, with examinations every year, to obtain the degree of a doctor.

The catechism forms the chief part of the education of Tibetan priests.
This method seems to excite so great an interest among priest-students
that there are always many Mongolians in Tibet, who come so far and
through so much hardship with the sole object of receiving education
there. There are three hundred Mongolians at the Sera college, and
hardly fewer at other large temples, such as that of Tashi Lhunpo. The
New Sect of Buḍḍhism owes a great deal of its fine prospects to its
catechism, while the Old Sect has already lost popularity and is now
tottering. It is by this spirited Catechism that the naturally dull and
lazy Tibetans are goaded on to understand Buḍḍhism, and are very rich,
for a half-civilised nation, in logical ideas. But let me add, it is
only the learned that are rich in logical ideas; the people at large,
who have received little education, are far from being intelligent.

The Catechism is generally held at some beautiful place, where there
are many fine trees, such as elms, willows, nuts, peaches and various
others which are not found in Japan, though on the whole Tibet does
not possess a large variety of trees. The ground under the trees is
covered with beautiful white sand. When the first Catechism is over,
the priests have what is termed the Garden of Truth, at some equally
well-wooded place, where there are varieties of flowers. The ground
there is also covered with white sand, and enclosed by stone walls five
or six feet high with a gateway constructed in Chinese fashion. The
priests gather themselves there to read from the Scriptures, and after
the reading, they begin questioning one another. Here they make no
difference of classes, but ask one another concerning their text books
and everything else. This helps them a great deal to improve their
knowledge and wisdom.

At the other place, there may be no more than one questioner and one
answerer, the rest keeping silence, whether the class consist of fifty
or a hundred priests. The questioner and the answerer might change, but
they could be taken only from that one class. In the garden, however,
there are no such limitations, there is no difference of classes, and
young and old priests are seen questioning each other. So one may
easily fancy how noisy and excited they are. While I was having a
Catechism among them under a peach-forest in blossom, snowflakes began
to fall on us. I stopped questioning and, struck with the beautiful
scene around me, I wrote two Japanese poems which served to give my
friends at home some idea of my thoughts.

  In spring the blooming flowers of the peach
    Are fully blown in “Dharma-garden” there,
  Greeting with welcome glee the friendly snows.
    Under their shades the wrangling priests discuss,
  With their vehement, uncouth gestures strange,
    Their doubts to melt, like to the melting snows
  Beneath these trees emitting odours sweet.

Day and night I studied in this way. But finding soon that it left me
too many precious hours to have only one teacher, I now found another
priest to teach me. I went to them to receive their instruction, while
they too sometimes came to teach me. I thus made considerable progress
in my learning.

There is a strange custom which a new college student has to observe
as a sign of his admittance. I had to go to Lhasa and to travel, as
a sign of my admittance, for two days to beg for fuel. But one day a
young priest next door quarrelled with another young priest and hit him
with a stone, which dislocated the bone of his upper arm. The wounded
lad was a special favorite of his instructor, who feared very much that
he might be deformed. Bone-setting is quite unknown to the Tibetans,
and their doctors, who have no knowledge of how to set a dislocated
bone, apply heated iron, or give some medicine to drink or use. I was
on my walk and happened to hear the pitiful cries of the wounded boy,
and was told, when I asked why they did not send for a doctor, that it
was far better not to do so, as it would only be a heavy expense for
nothing. They were not going to have one. When I asked if no doctor in
Tibet could set a dislocated bone, they seemed to be much surprised
at my improbable question. It was with some difficulty that I made
them believe that a dislocated bone can be easily set. So going to the
wounded boy, I easily set his bone, while a Tibetan held his head and
left hand. Then I acupunctured that part where the muscle was a little
swollen, and the boy was soon cured.


Meeting with the Incarnate Bodhisattva.

This healing made me an object of much talk, and I soon found myself
surrounded by many patients. I now began to fear that I should thus
be prevented from studying, and so fail to accomplish my chief end.
So I tried every means to keep the patients from me, but the more
I declined, the more patients I found brought to me, and I was at
last obliged to get some medicines from Thien-ho-thang (a Chinese
druggist) in Lhasa. I gave the medicines to these patients, most of
whom recovered either through their faith in me or through the efficacy
of the drugs; for I had studied the rudiments of medical science (of
the old school, it is true) and this enabled me to use the medicines.
There is one disease which is most feared as fatal by the Tibetans.
It is dropsy, little, if at all different from _beri-beri_. No one
in the neighborhood of Lhasa seemed to know how to cure the disease.
I prepared for it a medicine of which I had been told by a Tibetan
hermit, and gave it to some patients suffering from dropsy. I am glad
to say that this medicine cured six or seven patients out of every ten,
though I could not heal cases that were far gone.

This made me quite famous and my name, known only in my own monastery
at first, began to be known in the whole city of Lhasa and in the
country as far as Shigatze. Often two horses were sent on for me from
places of three days’ journey distant to take me to patients. I took no
reward from the poor, but gave them medicine gratis. This may have had
a great deal to do with my popularity, and I came to be regarded as a
God of medicine.

There are many cases of consumption in Tibet. I gave my medicine to
those patients who were in the first stages of the disease, but chronic
cases I left without any medicine, to meditation or religious services
that they might gain salvation, and die at ease. This, I was told,
made some patients fear to come to me, for it was said that those to
whom medicine was given recovered, while the others, whom I taught
about death and the future, without giving them any medicine, were
sure to die. Some did not like to be told that death was near them,
and women especially were frightened to come before me. The Tibetans
have a strange habit. When they fall ill, before any doctor is sent
for, a sorcerer is asked to see which doctor is best and what kind of
medicine is good. Some doctors, therefore, are so wicked as to bribe
the sorcerer to recommend them to the patients. The sorcerer, too,
being pleased enough to see the patients cured by the doctor whom he
suggested, began to recommend me to his patients when he saw my name
was making so great a stir in Tibet. He would tell his patients to be
sure to come to me. I never asked him to mention me, nor even saw him
in person; nor is it probable that he ever saw me. His recommendation
must have come out of his love of fame. When, therefore, a high officer
or priest fell ill and was told by his sorcerer to see me, I was sure
to be sent for. A horse was sent to bring me, generally with a letter
of introduction. Often I received a letter politely requesting me to
come, and wherever I went, therefore, I was very kindly received, for
the life of the patient was supposed to depend entirely on me.

Fame travels surprisingly fast, and at last mine reached the Royal
Court, so that I was one day called there. The Dalai Lama was not in
reality ill, but desired to see what I looked like. In Tibet it is no
easy matter to see His Holiness. He may be seen while passing, but no
ordinary priests or even high priests can have the privilege of talking
to him. This was, therefore a great honor to me, and I took the liberty
of riding the horse sent to take me to the Royal palace. The Grand Lama
was not then at Potala, but at his country palace called Nolpu Lingka,
in a forest along the Kichu, south-west of Potala. This palace is much
newer than the other, and the Pope enjoys the coolness there in summer.

I rode along a wide road in the forest for about three hundred and
fifty yards, till I came to a high stone wall over twenty feet high
and three hundred and fifty yards square. I went west through the
large gate in the wall, and found on both sides of the road inside the
gate many white boxes in the shape of post pillars about six yards
apart. In them incense is burned when the Dalai Lama goes along the
road. Lofty trees are grown in the courtyard on both sides of the
road, though there is a very wide lawn within the court. After about
a hundred yards, I came to a square piece of ground enclosed by stone
fences about one hundred and fifty yards square, along which were seen
many beautiful stone houses for the priest officials to live in. These
houses have each a flower garden which is beautifully decorated with as
many trees and plants as can be found in Tibet. What is stranger still,
at the four corners as well as some other parts of the stone fences are
found little kennels, in which two or three score strong Tibetan dogs
are chained. They bark terribly from their high pens. The Dalai Lama
is said to be so fond of dogs that whoever brings him a strong hound
is treated very kindly and receives great rewards. Hence many dogs are
brought from great distances. None of his predecessors, however, have
had such a liking for dogs. The gates to the Papal palace are at the
east and west corners of the walls and face south. About thirty yards
from the gate was a large house into which my horse was led. Then I was
taken to the house of the Court Physician.

This residence of the Court Physician has four large rooms, parlor,
study, servants’ room and kitchen. The house is approached through a
garden full of beautiful flowers, and one then comes to a curtain of
white linen. Going under the curtain, one enters another garden, at one
side of which is the entrance to the parlor.

The parlor has Chinese sliding doors in white, with panes of glass. In
the room were two images, one of Buḍḍha and the other of Tsong-kha-pa,
the founder of the New Sect, set on a gilt stand, with pictures of
dragons, peacocks, and flowers. Such images are found in most shrines
of the New Sect. Before the images were Tibetan candlesticks of silver,
with three butter-candles that were left burning both day and night.
The Physician was sitting on a Tibetan carpet with painted flowers, and
there were two beautiful high desks before him, in front of which there
was a fur cushion for the guest to sit upon. I was told to sit on this
fur cushion, and very soon a servant priest brought in the very best
tea, which he poured into the physician’s cup and then into mine on the
desk. The physician was said to be very kind and gentle, and his face
resembled mine so much that we might be taken for brothers.

The physician told me that the Dalai Lama was not seriously ill and
that it was because I had healed so many patients that he wished to see
me. But, he added, as he was very busy, I must not talk long with him.
He said that the Dalai Lama might have something that the physician
must consult me about.

After this talk with the physician, I was led by him to the Palace,
and we went north towards the gate mentioned above. There was a
guard-priest at the gate, who was dressed in a tight-sleeved priestly
cloak, which no common priests are allowed to put on. He keeps guard
with a club. Inside the gate there was a stone pavement some twenty
yards square, surrounded by covered ways, where there were some things
in the shape of stools. There was another gate about nine yards wide in
front of this. The inner gate was guarded by four priests, each with
a short club instead of a long one. Walking about ten yards from the
inner gate into the inner court, I found on both walls a picture of
a fierce looking Mongolian leading a tiger by a rein; and the walls,
which were roofed over, had a court between them. Instead of going
straight through the court, I went left along the covered way till I
came to the end of the western wall, when the Dalai Lama appeared from
his inner chamber.

He was preceded by _Dunnyel Chenmo_ the Lord Chamberlain, and _Choe Bon
Kenbo_ the Papal Chaplain. After His Holiness came _Yongjin Rinpoche_
the Papal Tutor. The Dalai Lama took his seat on the right hand chair
in front, and the two former attendants stood on each side, while the
Tutor sat on the chair a little below them. Seven or eight high priests
sat before His Holiness. The Court Physician leading me a little to
one side, in front of the Dalai Lama, saluted him. I saluted him three
times, and taking my robe off one of my shoulders I stepped before him,
when His Holiness stretched out his right hand to put it on my head.
Then I withdrew about four yards and stood beside the physician.


The Dalai Lama then began by praising me for having healed many poor
priests at Sera. He told me to stay long at Sera and to do as I had
done, and I answered that I would do with pleasure as he wished me.
I had been told that the Pope was well versed in Chinese, and I
feared that he might speak in Chinese, for then my imposture would be
discovered. I had made up my mind, therefore, that I would in that
case frankly tell him to what nationality I belonged, that I might be
worthy of a Japanese, for I deemed it to be a great honor to be granted
an interview with him.

Luckily, however, he did not talk Chinese, but instead inquired in
Tibetan about Buḍḍhism and Buḍḍhists in China, which I answered to
his satisfaction. He was pleased to tell me that he was thinking of
appointing me to some high office. After the talk I was honored by a
cup of tea in the presence of the Dalai Lama and drank it with much
ceremony, though he retired to his chamber before I had finished

The Dalai Lama was dressed in a cloak different from that of a common
priest. He had on a silk hood and a great robe called saṅghāṭi and
under it a fine _putuk_ of Tibetan wool about his waist. His under
dress was what is called _tema_ woven of the best Chinese sheep wool.
He wore a fine Papal crown on his head though he is said to be often
bare-headed, with no crown at all. He held a rosary in his left hand.
He was then aged twenty six. He is about five feet eight inches high,
a moderate height in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama looks very brave. His eye-brows are very high, and he is
very keen-eyed. Once a Chinese phrenologist remarked that the Tibetan
Pope would bring about war one day, to the great disturbance of the
country, for though brave-looking, he had an unlucky face. Whether the
prophesy comes true or not, he really looks the very man of whose face
a phrenologist would be sure to say something. He has a very sharp
and commanding voice, so that one could not but pay reverence in his
presence. From my long acquaintance with the Dalai Lama, during which I
heard and saw much of him and had frequent interviews with him, I judge
that he is richer in thoughts political than religious. He was bred in
Buḍḍhism, and in it he has great faith, and he is very anxious to clear
away all corruption from the Buḍḍhism and Buḍḍhists in Tibet.

But political thoughts are working most busily in his mind. He seems
to fear the British most, and is always thinking how to keep them from
Tibet. He seems to give full scope to all designs calculated to check
the encroaching force of the British. I could plainly see this while
remaining near him. Had he not been on his guard, however, which he
always is, he must have been poisoned by his retainers. He has often
been on the point of being poisoned, and each time his caution has
detected the conspiracy and the intriguers were put to death.

None of the five Dalai Lamas from the fourth to the ninth in Tibet
reached their twenty fifth year; all were poisoned when eighteen or
twenty-two years old. This is almost an open secret in Tibet, and the
reason is that, if a wise Dalai Lama is on the throne, his courtiers
cannot gratify their selfish desires. Some of these seem to have been
wise Dalai Lamas, for they received special education until they were
twenty-two or three years old. History proves that they have written
books to instruct the people.

I could not help shedding tears when the ex-Papal Minister of Finance,
at whose house I was staying at one time, told me about the fate of
the predecessors of the present Dalai Lama. The Papal Court is a den
of disloyal thieves who go by the name of courtiers, and they do all
they can to neutralise the force of the few loyal courtiers, who are
too weak to do anything against them. The ex-Minister for Finance was
among the ill-fated party driven out of the court by these toadies,
who pretended to pay great reverence to the sacred Monarch before the
people, simply because they could not otherwise stay in their offices.
When anything happened against their interests, they conspired to
communicate with one another and to accuse falsely the loyal courtiers.
They would often go so far as to slander them shamelessly, and say that
such and such a person had been guilty of a disrespectful act against
the Dalai Lama.

In this subtle way some wicked courtiers turned honest scholars or
priests out of the court, and the Dalai Lama is surrounded by these
pretended loyalist devils. Hence he is so dangerously situated, that
he is obliged to pay the greatest attention to what is offered him to
eat, lest some poison should have been put in it. I could not but shed
tears for him, when I thought that there could be no court on earth so
full of wicked courtiers. But the present Dalai Lama is so prudent and
particular that these evil doers can get no chance of doing anything
against him. Still, he is really in great danger. He is wise for his
age, for, young as he is, he seems to have great sympathy with the
afflicted, and is much respected, and indeed almost worshipped, by his
people, though much disliked by the evil local governors, whom he has
been known to punish, to deprive of their estates, and to imprison for
their evil deeds.


I often had occasion to see the inner chamber of the palace and found
that it was magnificent. It is built in the Indian, Chinese and Tibetan
styles. The garden has an artificial hill in it after the Chinese
fashion, while, as is seen in a Indian garden, it has a lawn outside
with some charming flowers. The place seems very good for walks. The
inside of the palace is built after the Tibetan style, while a part of
the roof is Chinese and the rest purely Indian. The royal garden has
various rocks and has here and there such trees as willows, peaches,
elms and many other strange trees found only in Tibet. In Tibet only
few flowers bloom in summer, though there are many in winter. A variety
of flowers, such as chrysanthemums, poppies, magnolias, tulips, and
others are planted in front of the palace veranda. The pavement is
decorated here and there with glittering jewels, and the walls are
painted by the best painters in Tibet. The papal throne stands on two
Tibetan mats at the farther side of the room, and beside the throne is
spread a thick Tibetan carpet, over which is a Chinese carpet of wool.
A table of costly wood is set on the carpets. There is a tea-bureau,
over which hangs a picture of Je Rinpoche, painted on a gold-dusted
canvas. There are many such rooms, besides, which I was not allowed to
enter, but which looked very beautiful from the outside. I was often
invited to the chief physician’s to talk about medicine with him. He
taught me several things about medicine that I did not know, though the
medical knowledge which I had gained from my own books enabled me to
keep up with him in the talk. This must have done a great deal to make
the chief physician welcome me so much. He even said he would be most
glad to recommend me as a Court Physician.

He said that he would do his best to that end, telling me at the same
time to see the premier and some other Ministers of State. My answer
was however that I could not very well stay long in Lhasa, for I was
most earnest to study Buḍḍhism. I told him also that I intended to go
to India to study Samskṛṭ, and at this he felt very sorry, for when I
left there would be no good doctor in the city. When I said that my
object was not medicine, but to study Buḍḍhism, the physician very
plausibly argued that as it was the ultimate object of Buḍḍhism to save
men, I might as well stay in the city as a doctor to practise medicine.
The doctor, I said, only relieved men of earthly pains, but could
hardly do anything toward the salvation of souls. What doctor, however
skilful, could save a dying patient? Besides, I feared I might do them
more harm than good, for I had only a smattering of medicine after all.
I might heal them of their diseases, but I could not give peace to
their souls, while a priest could free them from the most painful and
durable of all diseases. It was more urgent to study how to heal this.
Buḍḍha was the greatest doctor, who had given eighty-four thousand
religious medicines to eighty-four thousand mental diseases, and we,
as His disciples, I said, must study His ways of healing. On these
grounds I declined his offer. Finding me so firm in my resolution, the
physician went on to say that, if I ever tried to leave the city for
India, or some other far-off country, the Dalai Lama would give orders
to keep me in the country, and that my only happiness lay in staying to
work among the priests. When I heard this I began to repent that I had
been telling him my secrets rather too plainly. I feared it would put
me to some inconvenience to insist on going to India, and soon changed
the subject of our talk. So far about my medical practice; but now,
something took place of which I had never dreamed.


Life in the Sera Monastery.

What happened was this. It became a matter of hot discussion among the
priests of our dormitory Pituk Khamtsan whether they should leave me to
stay there or not, because I was being received by the Grand Lama, the
noblemen and the Ministers, as a great doctor. After a long discussion,
the priests came to an agreement that they should make a special rule
on my account, and put me in one of the best rooms. I was, of course,
pleased to be removed from my strangely smelling, dark and dirty room
to a free, clean apartment. I saw the Dalai Lama on July 21st, and was
removed into the good room toward the end of the same month. It is
one of the regulations of the college that no new-comer shall have a
separate room for himself, but that he shall live with some one else
in a room, though occasionally a rich student may enjoy the possession
of a dirty room for himself on admission. Though not among the poor,
I was not eligible to have a room, even a dirty one, all to myself.
A priest must reside there some ten years before he is allowed to
live in a room of the fourth class; after three years more he may be
removed to a study room of the third class. But it must be remembered
that everything depends on money. When he receives the degree of a
doctor, he is given a second-class room. The rooms of the first class
are used only by incarnate Lamas, who come to study. As things were I
was given a second-class study. It was a cosy structure of two storeys
with a kitchen and a closet. Some studies have third floors, but my new
quarters were only two-storied. The room upstairs was the best. To live
in such a house, however, one must have articles of furniture as well
as some servant-priests. I was now like a poor boy, who had grown up
all of a sudden and had been given a house to keep. I was obliged to
procure many articles needed for my new condition, all of which I had
fortunately money enough to buy.

The priests, though diverse in studies, may be classified into three
large divisions, higher, middle, and lower. By the middle class of
priests, I mean those who spend about seven yen a month for their
keep. They do not pay for their dwellings, which are provided by their
temple, though some Khamtsans, which are in debt, take rents from
their priests for their studying-rooms. When a Khamtsan is too full of
priests, some of them go to seek rooms for themselves in some other, in
which case they pay from one to three yen a month, or twenty-five sen
for a dirty room.

A suit of clothing as used by student-priests consists of a hood of
common wool cloth, a shirt, and a priest’s robe, besides a pair of
shoes. It costs twenty yen to provide all these articles. At breakfast
they take butter-tea and baked flour. Rich priests make tea for
themselves every morning, though three large bowlfuls are given in the
hall of the monastery. In the afternoon they drink tea again, this time
with some meat, chiefly dried, though at times raw. In the evening
they take some gruel of baked flour, cooked with cheese, radishes and
fat. Butter-tea is always found in a bowl on the table. The Tibetan
in general drinks much tea, because very few vegetables are eaten as
compared with the amount of meat. A tea-cup is covered with a silver
lid. When it gets cool, it is drunk and new tea is poured in again and
left some twenty minutes to cool, though in winter no more than five or
six minutes are needed, during which time those at table will talk to
one another, or read from the Scriptures or do some private business.
Such are the meals of a middle-class priest. Most priests have some
landed property, and some of them breed yaks, horses, sheep and goats
in the provinces, though it would be rare for one of the middle-class
to have more than some fifty yaks and ten horses. These animals are
also employed in ploughing the fields, but no more than ten lots of
land may be ploughed by two yaks in a day. The priests can hardly lead
a well-to-do life without such property or some private business, for
what they are given from their temples and by the believers is not
sufficient for them.

Few priests are without some private business or other--indeed, most
of them are engaged in trade. Agriculture comes next to trade, and
then cattle-breeding. Manufacturers of Buḍḍhist articles, painters
of Buḍḍhist pictures, tailors, carpenters, masons, shoemakers and
stone-layers are found among the priests; there is hardly any kind of
business in Tibet, but some of the priests are engaged in it. There
are, besides, many kinds of business in which none but priests engage.
The lower class of priests as well as the middle-class engage in
trade, but some rich priests have as many as from five hundred to four
thousand yaks and from one to six hundred horses. They have from one
to six hundred lots of land, each lot being as large as will take two
yaks to cultivate in a day. But there are not more than three or four
of the priests who have started in trade with a capital of five hundred
thousand yen. They live very luxuriously, wear priestly cloaks of the
best woollen texture produced in Tibet, and use very thick butter-tea
every morning, which is considered a great delicacy.

To make the best butter-tea, the tea is first boiled for half a day,
till it gets dark brown. After being skimmed, it is shaken several
times in the cylinder with some fresh yak butter and salt. This makes
the best tea, and a tea-pot full of such tea costs thirty-eight sen
to make. Tea-pots, or jars, are made of clay in the shape of ordinary
Japanese tea pots. I could not at first drink the tea, when I saw that
it looked like thick oil. Still, it is one of the best drinks among
the best circles in Tibet, who drink it every morning. It is usually
taken mixed with what is called _tsu_ and baked flour. The tsu is a
hardened mixture of cheese, butter and white sugar. The Tibetan puts
this substance into his tea. He eats meat dried, raw or cooked, even
at breakfast. At dinner the priests eat rice imported from Nepāl, the
price of which is about fifty sen per _sho_. They do not however eat
boiled rice by itself, but a bowlful of it mixed with grapes and sugar
and butter. After the rice, baked flour or egg macaroni is sometimes
eaten. In the evening wheat dumplings with gruel are served at table;
what they call gruel has in it some meat, radishes, cheese and butter.
The above is the usual course of dishes at the tables of the highest
circles. They cannot live a day without meat, and if on some occasion
they are kept from it, they are sure to say they are getting thinner.

The priests of the higher class live very comfortably, for they
build their own villas, or have their own temples; besides, they
have always the best dwellings of the temples to which they belong.
They are supported by their estates, as I said, and they keep, each
one of them, from five or six to seventy or eighty servants in their
houses. From among these servants are often selected treasurers and
stewards. The lower class of priests, on the contrary, live pitifully.
No words can half describe their poor condition. The warrior-priests,
though among the poorest, are still able to keep the wolf from their
doors, for they are employed as farmers or as guards, or in some other
private business, so that they earn money with which they live from
hand to mouth. There is another and far poorer class of priests--the
scholar-priests who have to support themselves in their studies, but
who must earn their living as well as their expenses as students.
They are too busy with their study to go out to make any money. What
they receive as offerings from the believers and as salary from their
temples, does not together amount to a little more than two or three
yen a month, and it is insufficient to support them. They can drink
tea gratis every morning at the temple, but they cannot get any baked
flour, which makes the chief part of a meal. Baked flour costs at least
one and a half yen a month. During the catechisms they go to Ta-tsang
where they are given three cups of tea for dinner. But it takes them a
month to review what they study in a month in catechisms. During the
period of review they must get some one to help them, and they have to
pay some fifty sen a month in return. Then they must have some fire
to keep them warm in the evening besides something to refresh them.
For refreshments they get tea-leaves with which the richer priests
have made their tea. Then they must get fuel to make tea out of these
leaves. The fuel is generally yak-dung, which costs thirty-five sen a
bag of two and a half bushels. A priest will burn three or four bagfuls
a month if he is not particular and careful, while a poor priest may
have to manage with a bagful a year.

The poorest priest has in his room a sheep’s fur, a wooden bowl, a
rosary and a dirty cushion, which makes a bed at night. In a corner are
found a stove, an earthen pan, and a pot or jar, which all belong to
the room. A bag hanging in one corner contains the baked flour which
supports his life; but it is very rarely full. The most precious items
of their property are the text books of the catechism. There are no
priests, however poor, but have five or six copies of the catechism.
These books, however, are not their permanent property, for they will
sell them as soon as their examinations are over. At night their bed
consists of their hood, an underdress and a bed covering, besides an
old blanket, which, however, is in the possession of only a limited
number. He who has a room of his own is among the best of this poor
class of priests. In most rooms of nine feet square, three or four
priests often have a pan in common. I felt so sorry sometimes when I
was called to see a patient among them that I not only gave medicine
for nothing, but sometimes gave him some money. Such is the condition
of the poorest priests, and I was told that they often passed a couple
of days without eating, when they were given little in the way of help.
When they receive a little money they will hurry to Lhasa, over three
miles off, to buy some baked flour. Some of them do not come home
directly from the city, for hunger often takes them to some little
restaurant, where they eat some macaroni. The consequence is that they
spend their money and are plunged again into such poverty that they
must live another couple of days without anything to eat. I hardly ever
passed them without giving them something, so that they at last came to
pay so much respect to me that they would stop when they saw me, and
wait in reverence while I passed.


My Tibetan Friends and Benefactors.

To go back a little in my story, my prosperity as a doctor obliged
me to buy much medicine, and I often went to Thien-ho-thang, a drug
store which was kept by Li Tsu-shu, a Chinese from Yunnang. In China
they make decoctions of their medicines, but the Tibetans take every
medicine in powdered form. Every medical herb and root is pulverised,
as well as some kinds of horns and stones. To get some of these
medicines I was often obliged to stop a couple of days in his house;
and as I bought great quantities of medicine, I came to be treated
very civilly as a good customer. He lent me a book on medicine, the
reading of which added not a little to my small knowledge, and I boldly
undertook every kind of patient. I know I made a very dangerous doctor,
but I was obliged to go on as a pedant domineering over a society of
ignoramuses. Still, I admit I possessed more knowledge of physiology
than most of the doctors in Lhasa, and I was in consequence more
trusted than they.

I frequently went to this druggist, who owned the largest of the three
Chinese drug stores in Lhasa. Li Tsu-shu was about thirty years old and
had a very fine house. He lived with his wife, a son and a daughter, a
mother-in-law and three maids. They treated me as if I were a member
of the family, probably because I was kind to them and gave them all
sorts of things that I received from my friends and clients. When,
for instance, somebody gave me too much cake, sugar, milk or grapes,
for my own use, I used to take them to the druggist to give them to
the children, who were consequently quite impatient to see me. If I
happened not to visit the house for a couple of days, they became
anxious about me. I was soon so much beloved by the children that we
seemed to have been friends for over ten years, and I was sometimes
asked if I had known them in China. This acquaintance with the children
helped me very much afterwards, when I was leaving Tibet.

This _Gyami Menkhang_ or Chinese druggist had his house in the street
of Wan-dzu Shing-khang, in Lhasa. Among those who used to come to his
store was Ma Tseng, Secretary to the Chinese Amban. He was a great
scholar and a man of worldly knowledge. He had a Tibetan mother and
was born in Tibet. He spoke Tibetan without a shade of Chinese accent,
while he spoke and read Chinese quite as well. He had read much in
Chinese, and had been twice in Peking. Three times he had gone to
India, visited Calcutta and Bombay as a peddler, and come back with
a great store of knowledge about foreign affairs. His office hours
being very short, he had much time to spare, and as he was a great
friend of the druggist’s, he came to him very often. This led me to
get acquainted with him, and I found him very amusing. He told me many
Tibetan secrets and many of their habits and customs both good and
bad. I soon found that what was told by him was always true. Being the
Secretary of the Chinese Amban, he was also acquainted with the secret
relations of the Tibetan and Chinese Governments. He was so talkative,
that he would tell me anything before I asked. His acquaintance pleased
me so much that when I was tired of reading I would take a walk to the
druggist’s, with no other object than to talk with this Secretary.

Once while standing at the door of the druggist’s, I saw a man
apparently of quality come towards me with his servant. The store
stands at the corner where the streets leading to Panang-sho and
Kache-hakhang meet, and this man came along Ani-sakan street toward
Panang-sho. He passed a few steps by me, when he turned and looked at
me. Then I heard his servant say that I must be the man. Walking to me
the nobleman said “Is it you?” I looked at him and found him, though
much thinner than before, to be the son of Para the Premier, whom I had
met at Darjeeling. He did not look like a man out of his senses, as I
had been told. He said that he was much pleased that I had come to his
country. He was on some important business, but went with me into the
house of the druggist. The wife of the druggist, who knew him, gave him
a chair, and the young noble seemed to be desirous to talk with me.
I hinted that it was not good for us to let it be known that we had
seen each other at Darjeeling, and began our talk by saying that it
was about half a year since we had met each other at Gyangtze. He also
was aware that his staying at Darjeeling should be kept a secret, and
carefully avoided talking about our having met in that town.

From what he said and did there, I could not find anything in him that
showed him to be an idiot; on the contrary, he was evidently a man of
much sense. Among other things he told me that three months before,
one of his servants committed theft and, when reproved severely, had
pierced him through the side with a sword with the result that a part
of his intestines could be seen. This, he added, made him so haggard.
When, after a long talk, he went on his way, the wife of the druggist
told me that the young man had hoodwinked me about the wounds, which
really were given him for wrong-doing on his side. She told me that
everything concerning his family was known to her, for she had before
been wife to his brother, who, not being allowed to live long with her,
simply because she was of birth too humble for his family, divorced
her and was now adopted at Namsailing. The young man, she told me, was
very prodigal, and deeply in debt, on account of which he was wounded.
To my question whether he was then beside himself, she answered that
he was mad or otherwise as it suited him, and not a man to be easily
trusted, for he was very good at taking money from others.

In Tibet, when people go out to enjoy the flowers (for the
flower-season is very short there) they pitch tents in the wheat-fields
or in a forest, and have every sort of merriment. This is called a
picnic of _lingka_, or forest party, and forms one of the merriest
amusements in Tibet. I was invited once to one of these villas in the
wheat-fields. I found there an old nun of about sixty years of age,
with seven or eight nun-attendants beside her. Hers was not a tent, but
a splendid house of wood, the walls of which were covered over inside
with painted cloth and outside with white cloth. Though temporary,
the building was well furnished. This old lady had been ill for over
fifteen years, and was aware that she was sinking. She said she knew
that her disease was incurable, but nevertheless desired to have such
a famous doctor as myself to feel her pulse, and would be satisfied
if I could only relieve her a little of her pain. I examined her and
found that her trouble was rheumatism, so I gave her a little tincture
of camphor, besides some medicine for her stomach, which was a little
out of order. Faith works wonders. My medicine told well and, her pain
of fifteen years gradually abating, she was soon able to enjoy sound
sleep, which had long been desired by her. Finally she became so well
that she could walk a little. Her raptures can be imagined, and she at
once reported the condition of her health to her family. It seems that
she was married, though not legally, to the Ex-Minister of Finance,
who was also a priest of the New Sect. Shame on Buḍḍhism therefore
that he was living with the nun. Priest nobles are generally supposed
to have wives, though not legally married to them; most of them keep
such women somewhere, and the nuns are the best class of women to be
their wives--at least so had thought the Ex-Minister of Finance. This
particular nun was old now and bent with age, though she was stoutly

When one of the man servants in the residence of the Minister of
Finance fell ill, I was sure to be summoned, for they put great faith
in me and I could not but believe that the Lord Buḍḍha was working
through me to cause me to succeed so wondrously among them. In this
wise I became acquainted with the Ex-Minister of Finance, who was a
deeply learned scholar, as well as an experienced diplomatist. Aged
sixty-two, he was about seven feet six inches in height--taller than
any other Tibetan I saw.

His dress took twice as much cloth as that of an ordinary person.
He knew men well, and was shrewd in business, exceedingly kind and
faithful and never deceitful. His only fault was his living with the
nun. While talking with me, they often repented with tears of the
folly they had committed with each other when young. He was not bad at
heart, but his passionate behavior soiled what should have been his
stainless purity, and also he was much influenced by worldly thoughts.
He had great sympathy with my condition, and often said that he was
very sorry for me to have to see a patient, who had been sent to me
from Lhasa, when the patients in Sera were keeping me so busy. Besides
being sorry for my lack of time for study, he warned me to be on my
guard. Upon my asking him what he meant, he disclosed his fear that I
might be poisoned like many other envied persons, for I had already
robbed many doctors of their business. When I expressed my concern,
he asked me if I should be contented with a moderate living. Being
assured that I should be quite satisfied if I could only obtain a mere
living, he said that he would support me, and offered me a dwelling in
his residence. It was not pretty, he said, but quiet and comfortable.
It was situated out of the way, so that few patients, except those who
were very dangerously ill, would be likely to trouble me, and I could
then study more devotedly. Not only, he said, could I give more time to
study, but I should also be on better terms with the city physicians,
if at the cost of some inconvenience on the part of general patients. I
was very glad to accept this kind offer, for I had been much regretting
the little time and opportunity I had to study Buḍḍhism, which was the
sole object of my coming to Lhasa through so many hardships.


Japan in Lhasa.

Everything went well with me, for I had earned much money, and
besides everything needed for my livelihood was to be given to me
by the Ex-Minister. So at last, leaving a young lad in charge of my
quarters at Sera, I removed to the residence of the Ex-Minister with
my furniture. I told the lad never to let it out of his mouth that I
was with the Ex-Minister, and to try to send most patients to some
other doctor in the city. I provided for him some way of living and
study. Still, I went to Sera occasionally to have my catechism. My
new dwelling was six yards by four. It was divided in the middle into
two rooms, and being the dwelling of a noble, the walls were brightly
colored green with various pictures. The thick carpet had flowers of
gold woven in it in the Tibetan style. There was a desk of ebony, as
well as a little Buḍḍhist shrine. The accommodation was very complete,
and everything was clean. Beside this residence there was another,
that of the present Minister of Finance. It was three storied, the
Ex-Minister Cham-ba Choe-sang’s being a two-storied house. It was quiet
there and my priest friends no more troubled me in my study by their
calls, but it was a little too far for me to go to my teacher’s.


Now it happened that I found a very good tutor. The Ex-Minister had
a natural half-brother, Ti Rinpoche (the present ruler of Tibet) by
title, whose father was a Chinaman. He was of Sera extraction, and had
been made a priest when seven years old, and was then sixty-seven years
of age. The previous year he was created the highest priest in all
Tibet. The title of his priestly rank is Ti Rinpoche of Ganden. There
is, in the temple of Ganden, a priestly seat on which Je Tsong-kha-pa,
the Founder of the New Sect, had sat, and on which none may sit but the
Dalai Lama and this highest priest. The former, however, cannot always
seat himself on it, while the latter, living at Ganden, can sit on it
any time. The Grand Lama had the right to sit on it by birth, while Ti
Rinpoche had had to have a secret training of thirty long years after
he had received the degree of doctor in Buḍḍhism, before he was given
the privilege. When this training of long years had made him a priest
perfectly learned and virtuous, he was elected the highest priest in
Tibet and given the privilege to sit on the seat. Any person or priest
who has attained moral and intellectual perfection after a study and
training of some fifty or sixty years may use this seat, except sons of
butchers, blacksmiths, hunters, and men of the lowest caste.

Hence in reality, the highest priest must be more learned and virtuous
than the Grand Lama. I was very fortunate to have as my tutor such a
high personage. This is a privilege denied to most people in Tibet,
where the distinction of castes is given so much importance, that it
is among the most difficult things for any one to have an interview
with such a great man. In this way, I succeeded in learning much about
the secrets of Tibetan Buḍḍhism. The highest priest at the first
glance at me seemed to know what kind of a man I am, and treated me
as what I suppose he thought me to be. He hinted, if indirectly, that
he felt some fear for me, and I, too, began to fear him. Still, he
must have found faithfulness in me, for he taught me Buḍḍhism in its
true form, and I felt correspondingly grateful to him, for none of the
many doctors, learned scholars, religionists, and hermits with whom I
studied Buḍḍhism influenced me half so much as this highest priest.
It must have been this virtuous Buḍḍhist, I believe, who influenced
the Ex-Minister, his brother, when fallen into so great a folly, to
repent of his sin and to live a peaceful life. And the nun-wife of the
Ex-Minister, let me add, was of hardly less active temper, though she
had not so many ideas as her husband.

This nun-wife had made a pilgrimage of repentance about twenty years
before to Kātmāndu in Nepāl. I was much delighted to hear the story
of this pilgrimage and its hardships, the more so as I had been in
Nepāl myself. I could not but be moved by the charitable deeds of both
the Ex-Minister and the nun, and instead of blaming them for their
bad behavior, which brought shame on Buḍḍhism, I rather sympathised
with them for it, as they had so many things in common. They taught
me how great was the power of charming love, and warned me against
it. The more acquainted I became with this family, the more fully I
began to know about it. I came to understand the state of the family,
the conditions of the servants, and every particular of the house.
On the other hand, I had little opportunity to talk with the present
Minister of Finance, who lived next to my house, for he was too busy
to receive guests. His name was Ten-Jin Choe Gyal; he was quiet and
very strong-willed, but when he talked to me he smiled and made me
feel quite at home with him. He put off all the dignity of a Minister,
mainly because, I believe, I was being treated by the Ex-Minister
and his nun-wife as if I were their son. Being in the Ministerial
chair, he was often able to disclose to me some important secrets of
the Government, and we talked quite confidentially with each other.
If any grave subject presented itself at the court, he usually gave
no opinion of his own there, but would consult with the Ex-Minister,
whom he regarded as his superior, and the Ex-Minister then gave him
his opinions about the subject, discussing it from various points
of view. The Ex-Minister would have been by that time promoted to
the position of the highest priest had it not been for his ill-famed
deeds of love, which were a cause of impeachment against him. Had this
strong man been appointed Premier under the present able Grand Lama,
we might have expected much wiser government in Tibet. I was often
present at the meetings of the two Ministers, and was requested to give
my humble opinions about the subjects discussed. This gave me a good
opportunity of studying Tibetan politics. While in the monastery, where
was discussed only the philosophy of Buḍḍhism, I could hear little or
nothing about the Government of the Grand Lama, which was generally
supposed to be good. The priests know only how reverently to bend their
heads before the Dalai Lama, but are entirely ignorant of the secrets
of their Government, or I should say the secrets are kept from the
priests; but now I succeeded in hearing many of the diplomatic secrets
about the relations of the Government with China, Britain, Russia and

I have already told how I met the Prince of Para at the druggist’s; now
I met no less unexpectedly a merchant of Darjeeling, Tsa Rong-ba by
name, who also proved afterwards a great help to me at the time of my
departure from Tibet. I think before I go on further I shall do well to
narrate how I happened to meet him. Once I was walking along Parkor,
the ‘Middle path for the circumambulation of the holy temple of the
Buḍḍha’ and the busiest street in Lhasa. At the sides of the street are
many shops, not very different from those in most other countries. Many
portable shops or stalls may also be seen in the street, in which daily
necessaries are sold, and articles of food, clothing and furniture.
Most of these things are of course made in Tibet, though some are
imports from Calcutta and Bombay as also from China. But the thing that
attracted my eye most was a box of Japanese matches. Japanese matches,
manufactured by Doi of Osaka, are imported into the capital of Tibet,
besides some other kinds without the names of the manufacturers on
them. There were to be seen, among others, those which have the trade
mark of two elephants and of one, as well as the wax candles with the
trade mark of an elephant coming out of a house. The paper was red
with a white picture on it. Some matches of Swedish make were also
imported, but they are now ousted by the Japanese. Some Japanese bamboo
blinds with pictures of women may also be seen in Tibet. Some _kutani_
porcelain is seen in the high circles, but rarely in stores or shops.
Japanese scroll pictures too are often found hanging in the houses of
rich families. These inanimate Japanese articles are more daring than
the people who made them!

Wishing that these articles, an outcome of Japanese civilisation,
might be conducive to light in dark Tibet, I walked along the street,
till I came to a shop where I saw a cake of soap. It looked as good
as any that could be found in the Tibetan capital. I walked into the
shop and asked how much it cost, and I noticed the master staring at
me. He looked very much like a merchant with whom I became acquainted
in Darjeeling but I could not believe that he could be settled there,
and wondered if he were a kinsman of that merchant. No, it was, as I
found afterwards, the man himself, whose name was Tsa Rong-ba. But I
had then so different an appearance myself that he too could not easily
recognise me. For while in Darjeeling I had usually dressed myself in
Japanese dress and scarcely went out in a Tibetan costume, though I
often put it on indoors. After my arrival in Tibet, I clothed myself
entirely as a Tibetan. Moreover I now had my beard growing long, which
I had not at Darjeeling. The man told me that the soap was too dear,
and showed me another cheap and good kind, but I liked the dearer one
better and bought two cakes of it. When I came home and showed them to
the Minister of Finance, he was so pleased with them for their good
smell that he asked me to let him have one cake, so I gave him both.


A couple of days afterwards I again went to Tsa Rong-ba’s to buy a few
cakes of the same soap, as I feared it might soon be out of stock.
Instead of selling me the soap, the master stared me in the face. When
I tried to pay the price, he began asking me if I knew him. The sound
of his voice plainly told me his identity and I laughed as I replied
that I knew him. He looked much surprised and told me to come into his
house. Telling his servants to close the doors of the shop, for it was
now getting dark, he led me into his house, which was small in size
but neat and clean. I was led into his parlor upstairs, and found his
wife who came with him from Darjeeling. I recognised her at once, but
she seemed to have quite forgotten me. Even when her husband said she
must know me, as she had received much kind treatment from me, she
could not recollect me, until he told her how she had received medicine
from me when ill at Darjeeling. She then expressed her joy at seeing me
in such a strange place and so unexpectedly.

Then the husband and wife expressed their great wonder that I, a
stranger, had succeeded in entering Tibet, when it was exceedingly
difficult for even a Tibetan to come or go to the capital. They did not
believe me when I told them that I had come by the way of Jangthang;
for they said there were soldiers placed on guard all along the road. I
said I had come through pathless wilds, but they refused to believe me.
But now I thought myself to be within a hair’s breadth of the danger
of detection, which would bring everything in my plan to naught. Were
I known to be a Japanese, some evil or other would certainly befall
me, and all the kindness of the Ministers and the priests at Sera to
me would end in air-bubbles. I feared this merchant might betray me to
the Government for his own benefit. I must get the better of him, I
thought, and I tried to do so.

Assuming a serious attitude, speaking in a determined tone of voice,
and looking the man and the woman straight in their eyes, I said:
“Here is a fine job for you; you can give me up to the authorities;
tell them that I am a ‘Japan Lama’ in disguise, who smuggled himself
into the country against its laws. By so doing you may serve a double
purpose, for I have been thinking that sooner or later I shall have to
do the same thing myself, only I was afraid that they might not believe
me. But if you do it for me you will save me the trouble, while the
authorities will believe; besides, you may come into a nice bit of
fortune; for they will reward you for your information with a large sum
of money. I have long made up my mind.”

I noticed a change come over the looks of the woman first: she turned
pale and even began to tremble; but the man spoke first, and, in a
tone of both appeal and reproach, earnestly protested that he had no
such intention as that of which I seemed to suspect him. Indeed he
went the length--quite voluntarily--of swearing by “Cho-o Rinpoche”
that he would never betray me, lest he should die. Still I urged them
both. He once more gave his pledge, in which the woman joined in the
most fear-stricken manner, both raising their hands, with which they
pointed in the direction of the ‘Buḍḍha temple’ of Lhasa. I knew what
the latter act with the words of the oath meant. I became convinced
of their sincerity, and saw that I was safe in their hands. For Cho-o
Rinpoche means “Holiness of the Savior” and forms in Tibet the most
solemn words of swearing which, when uttered in the manner described,
furnish the strongest possible proof of sincerity. It is true that
Tibetans are much given to swearing, and possess a great variety of
expressions for the purpose, there being forty-five of them to my own
knowledge. Those most commonly in use are “_Konjogsum_” (Holy three
treasures) and “_Ama tang te!_” (separate me from my mother). The
natives are in the habit of using these oaths as words of interjection.
But when, in all seriousness, they subject themselves to the form
observed by my host and his wife, they may safely be depended upon
for their absolute sincerity. As it was, I pressed them no further,
and they seemed to be well pleased at the final dispelling of all my
suspicion against them.

Before I took leave of them they asked me about my lodging, and finding
out I was the “_Serai amchi_,” the doctor of Sera, they were most
astonished and pleased--pleased to know that they had as acquaintance
a man of so great renown as I was then in Lhasa. From that time onward
I was a frequent visitor and trusted friend at Tsa Rong-ba’s, with
always something to give the good couple, as was the case with me at
Gyami menkhang’s, the Chinese druggist.


Scholastic Aspirants.

First, to speak of the nationalities of the aspirants; the students
in the three great colleges are not solely natives of Tibet; they
comprise Mongols proper, and also Khams, who belong to a somewhat
different race. In fact it is customary to place Mongols first in point
of numbers, then Tibetans, and last of all Khams. These three groups
of students are as distinct in their characteristics as they are in
their nationalities. Tibetans, generally speaking, are a very quiet,
courteous, and intelligent set of students, but are not at all inclined
to be diligent--indeed they are as a rule as lazy as they can be.
The fact that they are very dirty in their habits seems to come from
this their national weakness of being extremely and eternally idle.
During winter days, for instance, a Tibetan bonze who possesses the
ordinary means of living will simply do no work, beyond attending to
the routine of chanting the sacred text in the service-hall, and making
trips to the monastery kitchen for his ration of tea. When the weather
is fine he spends all his leisure hours basking in the warm sun and
squatting naked in front of his cell. Nothing can be more significant
of his instinctive indolence than the sight of him as he sits dozing
there the whole day long, putting on his head to dry a waste scrap of
some woollen stuff, with which he occasionally blows his nose. Such
behavior, excusable only in an old or decrepit person, is nothing
unusual in many of the young Tibetan priests. How lazy and sluggish the
average Tibetans are, it is almost beyond the power of Westerners to

Not so with the Mongols: one never sees them enjoying themselves in
such an indolent fashion. They study very hard and always take a very
active part in the catechetical exercises, principally because they
are alive to the purpose for which they have come so far from their
home and country. Four hundred out of the five hundred Mongols are
generally fine students; while the ratio has to be inverted in the case
of Tibetans, four hundred and fifty out of five hundred of whom are
but trash. In consequence of this, the bulk of the “students militant”
or warrior-priests of whom I have already spoken are Tibetans, Khams
and Mongols being seldom found among them. Mongols are studious and
progressive, but one common fault with them is that they are very
quick-tempered, so that the slightest thing causes them to flare up
in tremendous rage. Being always conscious of the fact that they are
the most assiduous of the students, and that the largest number of the
winners of the doctor’s degree always come from amongst them, they are
very proud and uppish. This Mongolian pride makes most Mongols, even
those that try to be calm and well-balanced, to be pitied for their
narrow-mindedness and petulance, in spite of all their other numerous
good qualities. A Mongol has it in him to become a great leader
like Genghis Khan; but the career of that great conqueror was but a
meteoric burst of short-lived splendor, and, like him, the Mongols as a
nation seem to be incapable of consolidating their national greatness
on anything like a permanent basis, or of carrying out any schemes
calculated to secure the permanent progress and improvement of their

The Khams, on the other hand, are infinitely superior in this respect
both to the Mongols and the Tibetans, and this in spite of the fact
that their country is generally supposed to be no better than a den
of thieves and robbers. A Kham is excitable, but he does not lose
his temper like a Mongol: indeed, he can be admirably patient and
persevering when he wills. In point of physique, too, he is far ahead
as a rule of both the others. The Khams are chivalrous men, blunt
and outspoken, and averse to flattery. My observations among the
students of Sera lead me to infer that more open-hearted, unaffected
students are to be found among the Khams than among any other of the
nationalities represented there. Mongols will occasionally demean
themselves by fawning upon others in order to gain some object dear
to their hearts, but the worst sinners in this respect are the
Tibetans--so much so that the Khams, unless they are thoroughly
Tibetanised Khams, are unwilling to enter into friendship with them. It
is said to the honor of the Khams that even their robbers are honorable
and will often give a helping hand to the poor and weak, and rescue
those who stand in imminent peril. The Kham women and children, as a
rule, share in the apathetic appearance of the men. They are often very
unbecomingly dressed and have none of the attractiveness of the Tibetan
women, who, like their husbands, fathers, and brothers, are generally
well-spoken and affable in outward demeanor, however full of thorns and
brambles their innermost hearts may be.

I have been able to give here only a brief and cursory notice of some
of the characteristic features of the principal tribes that inhabit
these unfrequented regions of Central Asia, with a few of the most
essential of the points of difference between them. I might carry
my subdivision much further, and speak of the Khams as Mankhams,
Bas, Tsarongs, etc., but that would involve a very long and not very
profitable discourse, and I therefore pass on to topics of greater

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

In Tibet, the social estimation of priest and scholars is made, not
according to their learning or virtue, nor yet according to the amount
of good they have done for their fellow-men, but entirely according to
the amount of property which they possess. Thus, a priest who owns an
estate of a thousand dollars, however mean and ignorant he may be, is
much more influential and far more highly esteemed in society than a
learned and virtuous priest who lives on a small income. They believe
in the almighty dollar, and twist S. Paul’s saying: “Though I have the
gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and
though I have all faith, so that I can remove mountains, and have not”
money, “I am nothing.” They are earnest therefore in making money, in
whatever way they find profitable. Some of them, as I have said, are
engaged in trade or industrial enterprises, and others in agriculture
or stock-farming. Besides, it is their custom to appropriate to
themselves the remuneration which they receive when they visit laymen’s
houses for the purpose of chanting the Sacred Text for them, in
accordance with their priestly duty.

It is pitiful to contemplate the condition of the students who, without
scholarship or support, are preparing in the colleges for their
degrees. They live hard struggling lives of study in the midst of want,
and yet the only stimulus that encourages them is the expectation that
they will be able to enjoy the comfortable life of high priests, when
they have got through the prescribed course of study and have achieved
the Doctorate. They do really suffer, but their sufferings are not, so
far as I know, those of the man of self-denial who strives hard and
struggles against difficulties for the noble ambition of winning souls
to salvation, or for some humanitarian purpose; they are exceedingly
patient in suffering, simply with the hope of reaping ease and comfort
in the latter part of their lives. After a hard monastic life of some
twenty years when they have completed the whole course of study, these
poor students will have the honor of getting the Doctor’s degree, a
title implying the highest learning, but in undue proportion costly;
for besides spending nearly half their lives in toils and struggles to
get it, they have to give a grand feast to all their schoolmasters to
celebrate their graduation. It is true, the feast consists only of meat
gruel, a sort of porridge of meat mixed with rice, but the quantity
given is enormous, as there are many capacious stomachs to be filled.

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


Tibetan Weddings and Wedded Life.

As I was lodging at the house of the Minister of Finance, I had the
good fortune to become acquainted with and occasionally to call on the
other Ministers of State, among whom was one of the Prime-Ministers,
of the name of Sho Khangwa. (In Tibet, there are four Prime-Ministers
and three Ministers of Finance; the senior Minister, in either case,
taking the actual business and standing responsible for the conduct
of affairs, while the others hold only nominal portfolios, assisting
in the work of the Department as vice-Ministers. Sho Khangwa was the
second Prime-Minister). During my stay in Lhasa, his daughter married
the son of a noble called the Prince of Yutok. I was invited to the
wedding, a ceremony most solemnly performed, which I attended with
curiosity and interest. Before proceeding to relate what I saw on
that occasion, I may make a few observations on Tibetan marriages
in general. No general statement can be made however with regard to
marriage-customs, as they vary vastly according to the different
localities. There are several books containing descriptions of Tibetan
marriages, but these are from the pens of European travellers, who
may perhaps have been in Chinese Tibet, or on the northern frontier
of Tibet proper, but were surely not permitted to visit Lhasa. So
although their descriptions may be correct, so far as they go, yet no
detailed account of a marriage in Lhasa is, so far as I know, to be
found in any of these books. It is next to impossible for a passing
visitor, especially in such a country as Tibet, where marriage-customs
and manners differ so much with the widely separated tribes, to give
any really trustworthy descriptions; still, as circumstances have
given me special opportunities of observing minutely the people’s life,
social and domestic, in Lhasa, and even of attending several wedding
ceremonies of the natives, it is not only proper, but may also possibly
be of some value, to relate my observations and experiences during my
stay in the city.

It is generally known that a peculiar system of marriage prevails in
Tibet--a plurality not of wives but of husbands. The cases of polyandry
are; first, when several brothers take the same woman as their wife at
the same time; second, when two or more men not brothers, marry the
same woman by mutual agreement; and thirdly, when a woman, already
married to one man, gains influence over her husband, and, with his
consent, marries another in addition. In case the mother of a family
dies, either the father or the son takes a new spouse, who becomes at
the same time the wife of the other male members of the family without
infringing the law of the country. They are quite insensible to the
shame of this dissolute condition of matrimonial relations, which can
scarcely be even imagined by people with a civilised moral sense;
and yet there do exist some restrictions: marriage of brothers with
sisters, or between cousins, is not only censured by the public as
immoral, but also prohibited by the law as criminal.

The wife’s authority over her husbands is something surprising. All
the money which the husbands have earned has to be handed over to
their wife, and if one of the husbands is found less clever or less
successful in making money than the others, she will give him a severe
scolding. When a husband needs money, he has to beg his wife to give
him so much for such and such a purpose, just as a child does to its
mother. If she happens to find any of her husbands keeping back his
earnings, she will break out in anger, and give him slaps instead of
caresses. In short, a wife generally exercises a commanding authority
over her husbands.

She will order them to go out shopping and to do this or that, and
husbands are quite obedient to the wife, too, and quite ready to do
everything that is required, or that they find suitable to soothe her.
When two or more men have anything to agree upon among them, they do
not decide for themselves, but run home and ask their wife’s opinion
before coming to a final decision, and, if she has no objection,
they will meet again and settle the matter. Though polyandry is the
prevailing system of marriage in Tibet, there are a few exceptional
cases of monogamistic couples, generally in cases where the husband is
in a comparatively influential position.

Another peculiarity in connexion with marriage is that an agreement, to
the effect that either husband or wife may divorce the other whenever
he or she has become averse to continuing as the other’s partner, is
acknowledged as a legitimate condition of a matrimonial contract.

I come now to a description of the marriage ceremony as observed in
Lhasa. The Tibetans, whether men or women, marry generally between the
twentieth and twenty-fifth years of age.

Although there are some exceptions (especially in the case of couples
married late in life, where the husband’s age much exceeds that of his
wife) usually both bride and groom are of about equal age. If a woman
who has five brothers as her husbands gives birth to a child, the
eldest of the brothers is called the father of the child and the rest
the uncles. One European writer says that in Tibet the eldest of the
brothers, who have the same woman as their wife, is called the great
father of her children, and the younger brothers their small fathers;
but this I have not been able to verify.

There is almost no such thing, so far as my experience of the Tibetans
has gone, as a woman choosing her own husbands. The choice of husbands
and all decision connected therewith are made by the parents only, and
the daughter herself who is going to be married is never permitted
to make any choice of her partner, nor even to take any part in the
consultation regarding her own marriage. She is compelled to marry
whomsoever her parents decide upon for her husband. Not only so, but
parents never tell their daughter at all that a proposal has been made,
or that they are going to give her in marriage, until the very day of
the wedding. These compulsory marriages, therefore, frequently end in
divorce. However, in the remote country or even in the city, sometimes
a girl selects her partner and obtains permission from her parents to
marry the man of her choice. Such cases, however are very exceptional.

It is the universal usage throughout the country for the parents of a
young man of marriageable age to make enquiries for a suitable bride
among families equal in lineage, fortune and rank with their own. When
such a girl is found, they at once communicate through a middleman with
the girl’s parents, asking whether she may be given as wife to their
sons. If the answer is a simple negative, the middleman understands
that the case is an entirely hopeless one; but if they say: “We will
see about it” or something to that effect, he will call on them several
times and talk of all the good qualities of the young man, his parents
and everything about him. Then the girl’s parents, after giving a
conditional consent to the proposal, go to a fortune-teller or a high
priest to ask his judgment and advice in this important matter, or they
will go to a sorcerer who is believed to be able to give information
about the future, and then only will they give a definite answer to the

The parents on each side keep the whole thing a secret from their son
or daughter, even after the betrothal has been decided upon. Thus both
bride and groom go to the very day of their wedding, without knowing
anything of their own marriage--neither the preliminary consultations
nor the name of the bride or groom; they are brought face to face for
the first time on the wedding day. There is no custom of exchanging
presents between bride and bridegroom, or of the bride’s bringing a
dowry to her husband as in Japan, and no consultation or arrangement is
made, or anything like a marriage-contract regarding the property of
the parties concerned; only the bride’s parents, to keep up the honor
of the family, have to furnish their daughter with all things needed
for her marriage, suitable to their social standing; else they would
be disgraced in the public eye. On the groom’s side also his parents
send a present of some money to the bride’s mother as ‘breast money’ or
nurse expense, remuneration for her marriage and care in bringing up
the girl. Then, again, the parents on both sides go and enquire of a
fortune-teller or sorcerer, before fixing upon the day of the wedding
or of beginning to make the necessary preparations.

On the morning of the wedding, the girl’s parents, who have already
been informed of the time when the middleman is to come from the
groom’s house, casually tell the girl that the weather being very fine
they intend going to the Temple, and that she had better go with them,
and that as they are going to have a “lingka feast” she had better
have her hair done, or words to that effect. The girl is generally
much delighted at hearing this, and starts at once to dress herself
quite unconscious of the stratagem. But sometimes a clever girl sees
through the artifice and breaks into tears of sorrow at her unexpected
departure from her old home.


A girl who is unaware of this artifice will wash and scrub her face and
body as her parents bid her, and make herself as smart as they please.
It is to be noted that, as a general custom in Tibet, ordinary people
never wash their faces or bodies at all, though the nobles do so every
morning just after leaving their beds. The manner in which they wash
their faces is almost more like a joke. When a nobleman gets up in the
morning, a maid or attendant will bring him a ladleful of warm water
which he first takes in the palms of his hands and then puts into his
mouth. After holding it in there for a while he spits it back into
his palms little by little and then washes his face with it. When the
water in the mouth is all gone, he will spit several times on to his
palms and again rub his face. It is true that basins are used by some
Tibetans: the above is however the normal way.

To return, the girl, knowing nothing about the trick in store for her
and expecting to go out for amusement, is cheerful and gay, busily
engaged in her toilet, and adorning her hair with her old comb and
pins, when her parents come to her with a new comb, pins and other
toilet articles (all of which have been secretly presented by the
groom’s parents through the middleman) and say to her: “Your pins and
comb are too old, my dear, we have some new ones for you; here they
are; and a good bottle of hair-oil too. You must dress yourself up
as nicely as possible,” and so on. Then when at last the toilet is
complete, the parents tell her for the first time that an engagement
has already been made with so and so, whom she has to marry that day.
This is the general custom not only in Lhasa, but also in Shigatze and
other towns.

But, as I have already said, a sagacious girl who can see through her
parents’ artifices is not generally willing to dress herself up for
the occasion, but will be found weeping at her unforeseen calamities
and sets herself to complaining in this strain “Oh! dear me! I don’t
want to leave my home. It is not fair of father and mother to marry
me off to a person whom I shall probably not like. How can I get out
of it?” And then she becomes very depressed, and devotes absolutely
no attention to her hair-dressing. In this case, however, the girl’s
friends, who are there to help in the preparations for her wedding, try
to cheer her up and encourage her to obey her parents, and even help
her to adorn and dress herself.

After all these preparations are over, the bride’s parents have to
give a series of farewell banquets for their daughter, which will last
two weeks, or even more sometimes, if their family is rich or high in
social rank, but two or three days only in the case of the poor. During
these festivities, the relatives and acquaintances of her parents visit
the family with presents of money, food, or clothes, to congratulate
them on their daughter’s happy wedding, the value of the presents
differing according to the visitor’s wealth as well as their intimacy
with the family. These visitors are cordially entertained with Tibetan
tea and cold spirits, which they drink to excess, visitors and host
alike enjoying the good things provided, and having a regular good time
or what they call a chachang pemma, the happiest state in the world.

While drinking, they eat nothing at all; but at the afternoon meal they
take some meat and wheat-cakes. The meat they eat is generally the
flesh of the yak, or that of goats or sheep; pork is sometimes used in
Lhasa, but beef is very rare throughout the country, and is especially
rare in the case of wedding feasts. Their cooking and bill of fare
are very simple: three dishes of meat, raw, dried and boiled (roast
meat is never seen at a wedding). The boiled meat is cooked in oil and
salt, or sometimes in salt and water and is brought in first, together
with _tsu_, a concoction of cheese, butter and sugar. When these are
all gone, a big dish of boiled rice mixed with butter, sugar, raisins
and Chinese persimmons is served. In the evening, again, the guests
are entertained to a dinner in which a sort of vermicelli, made of
wheat-flour and eggs, or pure Chinese cookery is set before the guests.
In this manner they have three or four meals a day; and besides these,
tea and intoxicants are constantly served during the intervals between
the meals. While eating and drinking the guests are regaled with
pleasant talk, and when the feasts begin to flag they revive the fun by
singing and dancing. It is very interesting to see men and women like
the moving beads of a rosary, dancing and jumping promiscuously round
and round the circles. They dance in a regular and systematic manner,
each keeping step with the music as carefully as if he were a soldier
at drill, and yet the regularity and solemnity of the dance does not
in least interfere with the keenness and zest of their enjoyment. The
instrument used in their dance music is called _damnyan_, and is often
used in accompanying singing as well as dancing.

Towards the close of the festive time (I may observe that it is only
the poorest folk that dispense with the prenuptial feasts), usually
on the eve of the wedding, the parents of the bridegroom send their
representative and the middleman, with a number of attendants, to the
bride’s home to receive the bride. They bring with them a present
of some money as _nurin_ or ‘breast money’ for the bride’s parents,
who are obliged to seem a little backward about taking it, etiquette
demanding that they should require a good deal of coaxing before
accepting such a present. The nurin may vary in amount from a couple of
dollars to two hundred or even five hundred dollars. Some parents (not
many) refuse it absolutely, saying that the girl being their beloved
daughter, it is not their expectation or their desire to receive any
nurin, but that they “only hope heartily that their daughter will be
loved by and enjoy a happy life among the family to which she is given
in marriage.”

Then the middleman gives the bride the dress, belt, Chinese shoes and
all other articles necessary for a bride during the wedding ceremony,
these too being presented by the groom’s parents, and these the bride
cannot refuse; she must wear them even though they do not suit her.
In addition to these gifts the bride generally receives a precious
gem, such as is usually worn by a woman of Lhasa on the middle of her
forehead. This gem is said to be a sign of a woman’s being married,
though in Lhasa there seems to exist no strict discrimination in the
matter, for unmarried women in that city often wear it as a mere
ornament. In Shigatze and the neighboring provinces, however, the use
of the gem is strictly restricted, as a matter of fact, exclusively to
married women, who wear it high up at the back of the head, so that
they can be easily distinguished from single females. In the case of a
divorce, a husband has simply to pluck off the gem from his wife’s head
without the trouble of going to court, or asking the authorities to
alter the census. This single act on the part of the husband properly
and perfectly certifies and legalises the divorce.

Besides the things necessary for a bride to wear during the ceremony
which the bridegroom’s parents have to provide, many valuable
ornaments, a fringe, neck-rings, ear-rings, finger-rings, ornamented
armlets and breast-jewels, are given by the bride’s own parents, for
what the groom’s parents send the bride-elect is confined to the dress,
belt, under-wear and shoes, to be worn on the occasion of the wedding

Then, those who come to receive the bride stay at the bride’s house
that night, and enjoy a few pleasant hours drinking with the family.

An interesting feature of this drinking feast is that the middleman
and the representatives of the bridegroom’s family have to be very
careful not to drink too much that night, because it is the custom
for the friends and relatives of the bride’s family to try to steal
something from them if the drink should happen to make them drowsy. If
they succeed, they show what they have stolen before all the guests
assembled the next morning, and boast of the success of their trick,
and their victims have to pay them some twenty tanka of Tibetan silver,
or two dollars and a half in American gold, as a penalty for their
carelessness. So the middleman and the others do all they can not to
be tempted to drink, while the bride’s friends and relatives ply their
guests with liquor and will take no refusal. The reader can imagine the
noise and uproar that sometimes ensue. But in urging their guests to
drink, the friends of the bride must strictly observe the old ancestral
customs, or else the middleman and the representatives of the groom’s
family will ridicule them for their ignorance, and thus everlasting
shame will come upon the bride’s family. The others, in their turn,
have to arm themselves with suitable reasons for abstinence. They have
to say that chang is the worst of all sorts of poison, that it is a
maker of quarrels or a robber of wisdom. The refusal to drink must
always be clothed in some proverbial expression of this kind, according
to the old time-honored customs, and the ordinary Tibetan would be very
much disappointed and almost feel that he had not been to a proper
wedding, if it was not accompanied with their friendly wranglings over
the cups.


Wedding Ceremonies.

Early in the morning of the nuptial day the father and mother give
a farewell banquet in the house of the bride. At the same time the
priests of the Old School, generally known as the ‘Scarlet-Hoods’ or
Red-Caps, are asked by the family to hold a festal service in honor of
the village and family Gods. The object of the festival is to inform
the Gods of the daughter’s being engaged and to take leave of them,
and further to pray the Gods not to do any injury to their family
because of their daughter’s leaving them for ever, as in return they
promise to make offerings to them and recite the Sacred Text for their
pleasure. Such ceremonies in general are held at the temple to which
the ‘Scarlet-Hoods’ belong. Simultaneously with the above another
festival is held in the house of the bride by the priest of the Bon
religion (pronounced Pon, but written Bon), the old religion of Tibet,
to propitiate the God Lu-i Gyalpo, or King-Dragon, who according
to the Tibetan mythology is the protector of the fortunes of each
individual family. It is a constant fear with Tibetans that if it
should ever happen that a man should provoke this God’s anger by any
means whatever, the consequence will be the entire destruction of his
fortune. Therefore lest the God should leave the family and follow
the daughter to whom he is affectionately attached, and thus abandon
the family to utter poverty, no efforts whatsoever are spared by the
family to keep him away from the daughter. The passages from the Bon
scripture which are read on the occasion of the ceremony are very
interesting. In most of the cases the sentences are the same, and, in
the main, are to the effect that the family to which the daughter has
been engaged is not enjoying such happiness as the maiden’s own family
enjoys; and again that it is not dignified for the King-Dragon to go
to another house in pursuit of a girl: it is advisable for the God to
stay with the present family and look after its interests, as before;
for boundless will be the happiness that he shall enjoy in case he
stays with the present family as hitherto. After all, this is not a
matter of mere traditional formality, for among the people of Tibet the
superstition is common that if the King-Dragon should leave a family
for ever to follow a daughter on her marriage, the family will be
reduced to utter poverty; hence these customs are universally observed
by the people.

The banquet over, there enters the preacher who is to exhort the
bride. He stands in front of the bride, and instructs her by means of
a collection of maxims which he has well committed to memory previous
to the ceremony. The preacher is a kind personage, selected from
people who are accomplished in such things. In almost all cases the
words of exhortation are about the same, and they are composed of very
easy expressions, so that anybody can understand them. The sentences
say that when the bride goes to the house of her husband, she must
behave with uniform kindness; that, as it is the duty of a woman to
be obedient to her superiors, once she goes to her husband’s she must
not only be obedient to her parents-in-law, but must also wait upon
her husband and his brothers and sisters with equal kindness, and more
especially must she love her husband’s younger brothers and sisters
with the same kindness that she has for her true brothers or sisters;
she must treat her servants as if they were her own children, and the
like. Here and there in the intervals of the exhortations is inserted
a story, which is told by the preacher with such skill that the bride
is generally deeply impressed. When the exhortation is over, the
father and mother of the bride sit before her, and with tears repeat
exhortations similar to those previously recited by the regular
preacher. Then also come the relatives and friends of the bride, who,
bursting into tears, and taking the bride by the hand, make their
exhortations most tenderly and in a most caressing manner. After these
ceremonies, the bride has at last to leave her old home. There is no
fixed standard as to the property which a bride takes with her to her
husband’s on the occasion of her marriage. Some are rich enough to take
a piece of land as a dowry, but some can afford only to take a few

When she leaves her house, the bride weeps bitterly, and all efforts to
get her on horseback are in vain, she prostrates herself on the ground
and lies there obstinately helpless. Her features become those of one
whose heart is too heavy to part with her parents and her home. In such
a case, the bride is lifted up and placed by friends on horseback. She
does not ride in the same manner as westerns do, but astride, after the
Japanese fashion. Women in Tibet are very good riders; they do not ride
with long stirrups, but with legs bent back, as if they were astride on
a very low bench, and use an extremely short stirrup leather. There is
no difference between men and women in the manner of riding. While in
Tibet I used to ride in the same manner, and during the first part of
my experiences I had a hard time of it, more especially in the case of
a long ride, after which I often felt much pain about my legs.

Now the bride, thus placed on horseback, makes her way to the house of
the bridegroom. She is dressed in the wedding garment which has been
presented to her by the bridegroom, and also wears the ornaments for
head and arms which have been presented to her by her own parents, and
her head and face are covered with _rin-chen na-nga_, the precious
cloths woven from sheep’s wool, in stripes of yellow, green, red,
white and black. On account of the cloth, no glimpse of her face can
be caught. The back of her neck is also covered with a small banner,
called the ‘banner of good omen’. This ‘banner of good omen’ is made of
a fine silk stuff dyed in five different colors, and is some fourteen
inches or so in length; it is inscribed with good wishes for her future.

The people who have come to see the bride off and those who have
come to receive her all go on horseback, and on their way to the
bridegroom’s house six banquets altogether are given by the relatives
of the bride and of the bridegroom. Those who have come to see the
bride off give three banquets at three different points on the road,
and those who have come to welcome her give three similar banquets.
Sometimes the banquets are given at places two miles apart, and
sometimes three, as the case may be, and after the sixth banquet
has duly taken place, the gate of the bridegroom’s house is at last
reached by the wedding procession. In these banquets, however nobody
drinks anything to excess, because every one is impressed with the
fact that he has been entrusted with the very important duty of taking
the bride in safety to the house of the bridegroom, and so the others,
recognising the situation, never press any one to drink to excess.
As a rule, it is customary in Tibet to press one’s guests to eat the
dainties which have been set before them, while for the guests it is
considered very impolite to taste such dainties immediately; to do so
without a great deal of pressure is to be as vulgar as a Chinaman. The
banquets are given by the friends of the bride and bridegroom at the
houses of their friends or at their own, but on the whole it is more
usual to have tents erected at convenient places in fields on the way
to the bridegroom’s house, and to entertain the wedding procession



Thus the gate of the bridegroom’s house is reached. It would not occur
to anybody that there should be any question as to whether the bride
could at once be admitted to the house of the bridegroom or not, as
those who had come to receive the bride on the way were the relatives
of the bridegroom. However, the fact is quite the reverse. This is
where the Tibetan custom appear so strange in the eyes of a foreigner.
When the bride reaches the gate, she finds it locked, bolted, and
barred against her ingress. In the crowd gathered in front of the gate
of the bridegroom’s house, there is a man whose duty it is to drive
away the evil spirits, or epidemic diseases, which, it is believed by
the people, may have followed the bride on her way to the bridegroom’s.
Hidden under his right hand, the man has a sword which is called the
_Torma_, or the sword of the secret charm, with which he tears such
evil spirits or epidemic diseases to pieces. The sword is made of a
mixture of baked flour, butter and water, fried hard and colored with
the red juice of a plant. Its shape is long and triangular, like a
bayonet; it looks like a sword, and is said to have some secret charm,
pronounced by a priest, concealed in it. The spectators do not know
which one in the crowd has the sword, but some one must have it, and as
soon as the bride arrives the man, taking advantage of any opportunity
that may offer, throws it in the face of the bride, and runs inside
the gate, the door of which opens to receive him as he discharges
this duty. No sooner has the man fled inside the gate, than the door
is again closed, and the bride is left standing outside, all covered
with the red fragments of the stuff that has been thrown at her. One
may wonder what can be the origin of such a custom, and one is told
that the bride, on taking leave of her family, has lost the protection
of the Gods of the village and of the house in which she has been
a resident, and the people are afraid that, for want of the divine
protection, the bride must have met with a crowd of evil spirits, or
epidemic diseases, on her way to the bridegroom’s house, and that these
might cause some injury to the new couple; hence the use of the Torma
to conquer such evil spirits, or epidemic diseases.

Then one wants to know why the man fled inside the gate, and caused
the door to be closed after him, immediately after throwing the sword
in the face of the bride. There is a peculiar sort of custom prevalent
at weddings, by which every one caught by the bride’s friends is bound
to pay them a penalty of twenty tanka, and therefore the man flies
inside the gate lest he should be caught by the people who have come to
see the bride off. By this time the people inside the gate, who have
been waiting for the arrival of the wedding procession, demand that
the bride’s party give _sheppa_ (explanation) at the gate, or else the
bride cannot be admitted. The sheppa consists of many beautiful words
and fine phrases, indicating wishes for good luck and happiness. In
response to their demands, the man in the wedding procession whose duty
it is to say the ‘explanation’ has to say: “We want to say sheppa, but
for lack of the kata we cannot do so.” On hearing this the man inside
the gate shows a tiny piece of kata through a chink in the gate and
says: “Here is the kata,” but no sooner has he done so than he promptly
pulls it back again. One may wonder why the people should pull the
cloth in so quickly, and one is told that it is in consideration of a
peculiar custom, that the man must pay twenty tanka as penalty to any
of the bride’s friends that can catch hold of the cloth; naturally
therefore, it is quickly pulled away. On seeing the kata, the man in
the wedding procession whose duty it is to say sheppa solemnly says as
follows: “This is the gate which leads to the store-house where many
precious and valuable things are kept; the pillars are built of gold
and the door of silver and inside the gate there is a hall of worship
which is made of natural cloisonné; there is also a palace, the inmates
of which are as virtuous and beautiful as angels and Gods.”

Words similar to these are said, and at the termination of the sheppa
the gate is open.

I must here not omit to say that on her way to the bridegroom’s, as she
is riding past a certain village, the bride is sometimes caught hold
of and carried off by the people of the village, on the pretext that
her coming will cause some injury to them, as it is believed by them
also that the bride has lost the protection of the Gods of her native
place, and that during her journey many evil spirits and epidemic
diseases must have taken hold of her, and that these, on arriving at
the village, will do great damage to its farms and cause much injury
to the inhabitants. So the people of the village carry off the bride
as a compensation for such prospective damage, and in order to get a
safe passage through the village the attendants of the bride must pay
ransom. I may say that this is a very rare occurrence in a town, but in
lonely parts of the country it will sometimes take place. It must be
understood that it is generally in the case of a family which is not
popular with its neighbors that the bride receives such treatment.

Upon the gate being opened, the mother of the bridegroom comes out with
some sour milk and _chema_ in her hands. Chema is a mixture of baked
flour, butter, sugar and taro-root. Taro-root is a kind of potato,
produced in Tibet, as large as a man’s little finger, and very nice to
eat. Chema and sour milk are used only when there is a celebration of
some extraordinary occasion. A little of this is distributed to each
person in the procession, who receives it on his palm and eats it. This
ceremony over, the mother leads the party into her house and gives a
banquet in honor of the bride, when the priest of the “Old School” is
called upon to inform the Gods of the village and of the house that an
addition has been made to the members of the family by the arrival of
the bride, and that, therefore, the Gods are prayed to extend their
arms to the bride, and to be her protectors henceforward.

These prayers over, the father and mother of the bridegroom give a
piece of kata to the couple, and to all the other people who have come
to see the bride off or to receive her. Such is the ceremony that makes
the happy couple husband and wife. Before the feasting has begun to
flag the newly married couple are removed to an adjacent room. The
people who have come either to see the bride off or to receive her,
stay in the house of the bridegroom, and attend the banquets which are
given daily, and during this time the friends and relatives come to
join the banquet, every one bringing with him a reasonable amount of
presents. The feasting lasts for two or three days at least, and for
a month at most. Tibetans are very fond of meat, and most of their
food is more fatty even than Chinese cookery. They give long banquets
richly furnished with such food, and the reader can well imagine how
foolishly idle are the people of Tibet in their habits. The feasting
over, the people who have come to see the bride off, or to receive her,
say good-bye to the house, but still, for several days following, the
friends and servants of the bride remain in the house with the bride,
this being the custom. If the bride is from a well-to-do family, she
takes with her a servant from her father’s house, and make her stay
with her in the new family to serve her as long as she lives. In this
way the wedding ceremonies come to an end. In one month or one year
after the marriage the bride, together with the bridegroom, comes to
her old home, and they stay there as long as she likes, sometimes for
one month and sometimes for three. When making the first visit to her
father’s house, the bride takes with her not more than two or three
persons. Her husband stays with her for several days, and then returns
to his house, but when the day comes on which the bride has promised
her husband to return to his house, the husband comes for her and takes
her home again.

In case the bridegroom has a brother, the bride must marry him also in
six or twelve months after marrying the eldest brother. The wedding
ceremony in such a case is carried on privately at the house of the
bridegroom, the mother of the bridegroom acting as the middleman. In
this case the eldest brother, to whom the bride was first married,
takes himself off from the house on business, or for pleasure, so as
to let the bride and his younger brother marry during his absence.
It makes no difference if the bridegroom has three or more brothers;
the bride has to marry each one of them separately, and in the same
manner. Sometimes the bride and her brothers-in-law live together at
their pleasure, without having any formal ceremonies to celebrate their

Such is the polyandry practised by the people of Tibet, and called the
_sa-sum_. In a family where the bride has more than one bridegroom, it
is very seldom that we find the brothers living together. If one of the
brothers is at home the other absents himself, either on business, if
he is a merchant, or on official duties. In this way all possible means
are taken to keep only one of the brothers at home, each in his turn.

Polyandry flourishes in Tibet even at the present time, and it is
considered by the general public to be the right thing to follow and,
in consequence, if ever a merchant (having been out of the country and
seen much of the outside world and observed how shameful his habits
at home have been) should protest against this sort of wedlock, he is
shunned by his fellow-men as a crank, and his protest brushed away with
“Luk-su-mindu,” which means “there is no such a custom (in Tibet).”
This peculiar and ridiculous wedlock, as well as this unreasonable
relationship between a husband and wife, has its origin in the Bon
religion, and in spite of the introduction of true Buḍḍhism into Tibet
the habit has come down to the present time and remains flourishing.
The fact is that among the Buḍḍhist believers there has scarcely
been any one who has ever given any thought to social problems, and
moreover, as the priests of ancient times were generally recluses,
who paid no attention whatever to the application of their religion
to the needs of the practical world, or to making the principles of
true Buḍḍhism as distinct as possible, the natural outcome has been
that this shameful custom, altogether contradictory to the principles
of Buḍḍhism, has remained in this part of the world. The blame lies
entirely with the priests; it must not be laid at the door of Buḍḍhism.


Tibetan Punishments.

One day early in October I left my residence in Lhasa and strolled
toward the Parkor. Parkor is the name of one of the principal
streets in that city, as I have already mentioned, and is the place
where criminals are exposed to public disgrace. Pillory in Tibet
takes various forms, the criminal being exposed sometimes with
only handcuffs, or fetters alone, and at others with both. On that
particular occasion I saw as many as twenty criminals undergoing
punishment, some of them tied to posts, while others were left fettered
at one of the street crossings. They were all well-dressed, and had
their necks fixed in a frame of thick wooden boards about 1-1/5 inches
thick, and three feet square. The frame had in the centre a hole
just large enough for the neck and was composed of two wooden boards
fastened together by means of ridges, and a lock. From this frame was
suspended a piece of paper informing the public of the nature of the
crime committed by the exposed person, and of the judgment passed upon
him, sentencing him to the pillory for a certain number of days and to
exile or flogging afterwards. The flogging generally ranges from three
hundred to seven hundred lashes. As so many criminals were pilloried
on that particular occasion, I could not read all the sentences, even
though my curiosity was stronger than the sense of pity that naturally
rose in my bosom when I beheld the miserable spectacle. I confess
that I read one or two of them, and found that the criminals were men
connected with the Tangye-ling monastery, the Lama superior of which is
qualified to succeed to the supreme power of the pontificate in case,
for one reason or another, the post of the Dalai Lama should happen
to fall vacant. The monastery is therefore one of the most influential
institutions in the Tibetan Hierarchy and generally contains a large
number of inmates, both priests and laymen.

Shortly before my arrival in Lhasa this high post was occupied by a
distinguished priest named Temo Rinpoche. His steward went under the
name of Norpu Che-ring, and this man was charged with the heinous crime
of having secretly made an attempt on the life of the Dalai Lama by
invoking the aid of evil deities. Norpu Che-ring’s conjuration was
conducted not according to the Buḍḍhist formula, but according to
that of the Bon religion. A piece of paper containing the dangerous
incantation was secreted in the soles of the beautiful foot-gear
worn by the Dalai Lama, which was then presented to his Holiness.
The incantation must have possessed an extraordinary potency, for it
was said that the Grand Lama invariably fell ill one way or another
whenever he put on these accursed objects. The cause of his illness was
at last traced to the foot-gear with its invocation paper by the wise
men in attendance on the Grand Lama.

This amazing revelation led to the wholesale arrest of all the persons
suspected of being privy to the crime, the venerable Temo Rinpoche
among the rest. Some people even regarded the latter as the ring-leader
in this plot and denounced him as having conspired against the life of
the Grand Lama in order to create for himself a chance of wielding the
supreme authority. At any rate Temo Rinpoche occupied the pontifical
seat as Regent before the present Grand Lama was installed on his
throne. Norpu Che-ring was the Prime-Minister to the Regent, and
conducted the affairs of state in a high-handed manner. Things were
even worse than this, for it is a fact, admitting of no dispute, that
Norpu was oppressive, and mercilessly put to death a large number of
innocent persons. He was therefore a _persona ingrata_ with at least a
section of the public, and some of his enemies lost no time in giving
a detailed denunciation of the despotic rule of the Regent and his
Prime-Minister as soon as the present Grand Lama was safely enthroned.
Naturally therefore the former Regent and his Lieutenant were not
regarded with favor by the Grand Lama, and such being the case, the
terrible revelation about the shoes was at once followed by their
arrest, and they were thrown into prison.

All this had occurred before my arrival. When I came to Lhasa Temo
Rinpoche had been dead for some time, but Norpu Che-ring was still
lingering in a stone dungeon which was guarded with special severity,
because of the grave nature of his crime. The dungeon had only one
narrow hole in the top, through which food was doled out to the
prisoner, or he himself was dragged out whenever he had to undergo
his examinations, which were always accompanied with torture. Hope
of escape was out of the question, and the only opportunity offered
him of seeing the sunshine was by no means a source of relief, for
it was invariably associated with the infliction of tortures of a
terribly excruciating character. The mere description of it chilled
my blood. The torture, as inflicted on Norpu Che-ring, was devised
with diabolical ingenuity, for it consisted in driving a sharpened
bamboo stick into the sensitive part of the finger directly underneath
the nail. After the nail had been sufficiently abused as a means of
torture, it was torn off, and the stick was next drilled in between the
flesh and the skin. As even criminals possess no more than ten fingers
on both hands the inquisitor had to make chary use of this stock of
torture, and took only one finger at a time, till the whole number was
disposed of. Such was the treatment the ex-Prime-Minister received at
his hands.

Norpu Che-ring bore this torture with admirable fortitude; he
persisted that the whole plot originated in him alone and was put in
execution by his own hands only. His master had nothing to do with
it. The inquisitors’ object in subjecting their former superior and
colleague to this infernal torture was to extort from him a confession
implicating Temo Rinpoche, but they were denied this satisfaction by
the unflinching courage of their victim. It is said that this suffering
of Norpu Che-ring had so far awakened the sympathy of Temo Rinpoche
himself that the latter tried, like the priest of noble heart that
he was, to take the whole responsibility of the plot upon his own
shoulders, declaring that Norpu was merely a tool who carried out his
orders, and that therefore the latter was entirely innocent of the
crime. Temo even advised his steward, whenever the two happened to be
together at the inquisition, to confess, as he, that is Temo, had done.

The steward, on his part, would reply that his master must have made
that baseless confession from the benevolent motive of saving his, the
steward’s life, but that he was not so mean and depraved as to seek an
unmerited deliverance at the cost of his venerable master’s life. And
so he preferred to suffer pain rather than to be released, and baffled
all the attempts of the torturers. By the time I reached Lhasa Norpu
had already endured this painful existence for two years, and during
that long period not one word even in the faintest way implicating his
master had passed his lips. From this it may be concluded that Temo had
really no hand in the plot. At the same time it must be remembered that
Temo was an elder brother of Norpu, and the fraternal affection which
the latter entertained towards the other might therefore have been too
strong to allow of his implicating Temo, even supposing that the late
Regent was really privy to the plot. Be the real circumstances what
they might, when I heard all these painful particulars, my sympathy
was powerfully aroused for Norpu, whatever hard words others might
utter against him; for the mere fact that he submitted so long to such
revolting punishments with such persevering fortitude and with such
faithful constancy to his master and brother, appealed strongly to my

The pilloried criminals whom I saw on that occasion were all
subordinates of Norpu Che-ring. Besides these, sixteen Bon priests had
been executed as accomplices, while the number of laymen and priests
who had been exiled on the same charge must have been large, though
the exact number was unknown to outsiders. The pilloried criminals
were apparently minor offenders, for half of them were sentenced to
exile and the remaining half to floggings of from three hundred to
five hundred lashes. The pillory was to last in each case for three to
seven days. Looking at these pitiable creatures I felt as if I were
witnessing a sight such as might exist in the Nether World. My heart
truly bled for the poor, helpless fellows.

Heavy with this sad reflexion I proceeded further on, and soon arrived
at a place to the south of a Buḍḍhist edifice; and there, near the
western corner of the building, flooded by sunshine, I beheld another
heart-rending sight. It was a beautiful lady in the pillory. Her neck
was secured in the regulation frame, just as was that of a rougher
criminal, and the ponderous piece of wood was weighing heavily upon her
frail shoulders. A piece of red cloth made of Bhūtān silk was upon her
head, which hung very low, for the frame around her neck did not allow
her to move it freely. Her eyes were closed. Three men, apparently
police constables, were near by as guards. A vessel containing baked
flour was lying there, and also some small delicacies that must have
been sent by relatives or friends. All this food she had to take from
the hands of one or other of the three rough attendants, for her
own hands were manacled. She was none other than the wife of Norpu
Che-ring, whose miserable story I have already told, and was a daughter
of the house of Do-ring, one of the oldest and most respected families
in the whole of the Tibetan aristocracy.


When her husband was arrested, he was at first confined in a cell less
terrible than the stone dungeon to which he was afterwards transferred.
But this early and apparently more considerate treatment only plunged
his family into greater misery. His wife was told that the jailer of
the prison in which her husband was incarcerated was not overstrict and
that he was open to corruption, and what faithful wife, even though
Tibetan, would resist the temptation placed before her under such
circumstances, of trying to seek some means of gaining admission to the
lonely cell where her dear lord was confined? And so it came to pass
that Madame Norpu bribed the jailer, and with his connivance was often
at her husband’s side; but somehow her transgression reached the ears
of the government, and she also was thrown into prison.

On the very morning of the day on which I came upon this piteous sight
of the pillory, she was led out of the prison, as I heard afterwards,
not however for liberation, but first to suffer at the gate of the
prison a flogging of three hundred lashes, and then to be conducted to
a busy thoroughfare to be pilloried for public disgrace.

Poor woman! she seemed to be almost insensible when I saw her, and
the mere sight of her emaciated form and death-pale face aroused
my strongest sympathy. The sentiment of pity was intensified when
I saw a group of idle spectators, among whom I even noticed some
aristocratic-looking persons, gazing at the pillory with callous
indifference. They were heartless enough to approach her place of
torture and read the judgment paper. The sentence, as I heard it read
aloud by these fellows, condemned her to so many whippings, then to
seven days pillory, and lastly to exile at such-and-such a place, there
to remain imprisoned, fettered and manacled. The spectators not only
read out the sentence with an air of perfect indifference, but some of
them even betrayed their depravity by reviling and jeering at the lady:
“Serve her right,” I heard them say; “their hard treatment of others
has brought them to this. Serve them right.” These aristocrats were
giving sardonic smiles, as if gloating over the misery of the house of
Norpu Che-ring.

Really the heartless depravity of these people was beyond description,
and I could not help feeling angry with them. These same people, I
thought, who seemed to take so much delight in the calamity of the
family of Norpu Che-ring, must have vied with each other in courting
his favor while he was in power and prosperity. Even if it were beyond
the comprehension of these brutes to appreciate the meaning of that
merciful principle which bids us “hate the offence but pity the
offender,” one would have expected them to be humane enough to show
some sympathy towards this woman who was paying so dearly for her
excusable indiscretion. But they seemed to be utterly impervious to
such sentiments, and so behaved themselves in that shameful manner. I,
who knew that political rivalry in Tibet was allowed to run to such an
extreme as to involve even innocent women in painful punishment, felt
sincerely sorry for the Lady Norpu, and returned to my residence with
a heavy heart. My sentiment on that particular occasion is partially
embodied in this _uta_ that occurred to me as I retraced my heavy steps:

  You, everchanging foolish herds of men,
      As fickle as the dew upon the trees,
  To blooming flowers your smiling welcome give;
      Why should your tears of pity cease to flow
  When blooms or withering flowers pass away?

On my return, when I saw my host, the former Minister of Finance, I
related to him what I had seen in the street, and asked him to tell
me all he knew about the affair. He fully shared my sympathy for the
unfortunate woman.

While Norpu Che-ring was in power, my host told me, he was held in
high respect. Nobody dared to whisper one word of blame about him and
his wife. Now they were fallen, and he felt really sorry for them.
It was true, he continued, that some people used to find fault with
the private conduct of Norpu Che-ring, and the former Minister could
not deny that there was some reason for that. But Temo Rinpoche was
a venerable man, pure in life, pious and benevolent, and had met
with such a sad end solely in consequence of the wicked intrigues of
his followers. My host was perfectly certain that Temo Rinpoche had
absolutely no hand in the plot. He said that he could not talk thus to
others; he could be confidential to me alone.

Tortures are carried to the extreme of diabolical ingenuity. They are
such as one might expect in hell. One method consists in drilling a
sharpened bamboo stick into the tender part of the tip of the fingers,
as already described. Another consists in placing ‘stone-bonnets’ on
the head of the victim. Each ‘bonnet’ weighs about eight pounds, and
one after another is heaped on as the torture proceeds. The weight at
first forces tears out of the eyes of the victim, but afterward, as the
weight is increased, the very eye-balls are forced from their sockets.
Then flogging, though far milder in itself, is a painful punishment,
as it is done with a heavy rod, cut fresh from a willow tree, the
criminal receiving it on the bared small of his back. The part is soon
torn open by the lashing, and the blood that oozes out is scattered
right and left as the beater continues his brutal task, until the
prescribed number, three hundred or five hundred blows as the case may
be, are given. Very often, and perhaps with the object of prolonging
the torture, the flogging is suspended, and the poor victim receives a
cup of water, after which the painful process is resumed. In nine cases
out of ten the victims of this corporeal punishment fall ill, and while
at Lhasa I more than once prescribed for persons who, as the result of
flogging, were bleeding internally. The wounds caused by the flogging
are shocking to see, as I know from my personal observations.

A prison-house is in any case an awful place, but more especially so
in Tibet, for even the best of them has nothing but mud walls and a
planked floor, and is very dark in the interior, even in broad day.
This absence of sunlight is itself a serious punishment in such a cold

As for food, prisoners are fed only once a day with a couple of
handfuls of baked flour. This is hardly sufficient to keep body and
soul together, so that a prisoner is generally obliged to ask his
friends to send him some food. Nothing, however, sent in from outside
reaches the prisoners entire, for the gaolers subtract for their own
mouths more than half of it, and only a small portion of the whole
quantity gets into the prisoners’ hands.

The most lenient form of punishment is a fine; then comes flogging, to
be followed, at a great distance, by the extraction of the eye-balls;
then the amputation of the hands. The amputation is not done all at
once, but only after the hands have been firmly tied for about twelve
hours, till they become completely paralysed. The criminals who are
about to suffer amputation are generally suspended by the wrists from
some elevated object with stout cord, and naughty street urchins are
allowed to pull the cord up and down at their pleasure. After this
treatment the hands are chopped off at the wrists in public. This
punishment is generally inflicted on thieves and robbers after their
fifth or sixth offence. Lhasa abounds in handless beggars and in
beggars minus their eye-balls; and perhaps the proportion of eyeless
beggars is larger than that of the handless ones.

Then there are other forms of mutilation also inflicted as punishment,
and of these ear-cutting and nose-slitting are the most painful.
Both parties in a case of adultery are visited with this physical
deformation. These forms of punishment are inflicted by the authorities
upon the accusation of the aggrieved party, the right of lodging the
complaint being limited, however, to the husband; in fact he himself
may with impunity cut off the ears or slit the noses of the criminal
parties, when taken _in flagrante delicto_. He has simply to report the
matter afterwards to the authorities.

With regard to exile there are two different kinds, one leaving a
criminal to live at large in the exiled place, and the other, which is
heavier, confining him in a local prison.

Capital punishment is carried out solely by immersion in water. There
are two modes of this execution: one by putting a criminal into a
bag made of hides and throwing the bag with its live contents into
the water; and the other by tying the criminal’s hands and feet and
throwing him into a river with a heavy stone tied to his body. The
executioners lift him out after about ten minutes, and if he is judged
to be still alive, down they plunge him again, and this lifting up
and down is repeated till the criminal expires. The lifeless body is
then cut to pieces, the head alone being kept, and all the rest of the
severed members are thrown into the river. The head is deposited in a
head vase, either at once, or after it has been exposed in public for
three or seven days, and the vase is carried to a building established
for this sole purpose, which bears a horrible name signifying
“Perpetual Damnation.” This practice comes from a superstition of the
people that those whose heads are kept in that edifice will forever be
precluded from being reborn in this world.

All these punishments struck me as entirely out of place for a country
in which Buḍḍhist doctrines are held in such high respect. Especially
did I think the idea of eternal damnation irreconcilable with the
principles of mercy and justice, for I should say that execution ought
to absolve criminals of their offences. Several other barbarous forms
of punishment are in vogue, but these I may omit here, for what I have
stated in the preceding paragraphs is enough to convey some idea of
criminal procedure as it exists in the Forbidden Land.

I stayed in Lhasa till about the middle of October 1901, when I decided
to return to Sera. My host kindly placed at my disposal one of his
horses and on this I jogged towards my destination. The snow had been
falling since the previous evening, and already the road was covered
with a thick layer of its crystal carpet. It was the first snow of the
season. On the road from Lhasa to Sera, by Shom-khe-Lamkha (priest’s
road), there is a river about half a mile on this side of Sera. This
river dries up in winter, and on the day I am speaking of its bed
was covered with snow. There I noticed a party of five or six young
priestlings of Sera, absorbed in the innocent sport of snowballing.
This highly amused me, calling forth in my mind’s eye the sights I had
frequently come across at home, and reminding me that human nature is,
after all, very much alike the world over. And so these little fellows
were pelting each other with soft missiles, running and pursuing,
shouting and laughing, forgetting for once the stern reprimanding
voices of their exacting masters, and I amused myself with composing an
_uta_, as follows.

  On yonder fields of snow the children play,
      And fight with snow-balls in great glee.
  They throw and scatter these amongst themselves,
      And in these heated contests melts the snow.

While I was watching the snow-fight, a burly fellow coming from
the direction of Lhasa overtook me and began to stare at me. I at
once recognised in him one of my old acquaintances, the youngest of
the three brothers whom I accompanied on the pilgrimage round Lake
Mānasarovara, who gave my face a sharp parting smack, as already
told. He seemed to be quite astonished, even frightened, when he saw
me, his whilom companion of humble attire, now transformed into an
aristocratic-looking personage, such as I must have appeared to him.
At any rate he avoided my eyes, and was about to walk off with hurried
steps, when I bade him stop, and asked him if he had forgotten my
face. The man could not but confess that he had not, and told me that
he was going to Sera. I made him come along with me, and treated him
quite hospitably at my quarters in the monastery, besides giving him a
farewell present on parting. When I thanked him for all the trouble he
had taken for me during our pilgrimage, the man bowed his head as if
in repentance, and even shed tears, no doubt of remorse. Before taking
his departure he told me that his brothers were living together at
their native place, and that they were all doing well.


A grim Funeral and grimmer Medicine.

It was just previous to the grand monthly catechising contest that I
returned to the Sera monastery. While I was busy with preparation, and
in eager expectation of taking part in this important function, one of
my acquaintances died and I had to attend his funeral. Incidentally
therefore I took part in a ceremony which is perhaps unique in the
world. I may observe here that in Tibetan funerals neither a coffin
nor urn is used in which to deposit the corpse. It is simply laid on
a frame made of two wooden poles, with a proper space between and two
cross pieces tied to them. The rectangular space thus described is
filled in with a rough sort of network of ropes, and over the netting
is spread a sheet of cloth for the reception of the corpse. Another
piece of cloth, pure white in color, is thrown over the corpse, and
that completes the arrangement. The whole burden is then carried on the
shoulders of two men, who insert their heads between the projecting
ends of the two longer poles.

Generally a funeral is performed on the third or fourth day after
death, the interval being spent in observances peculiar to Tibet. First
of all a properly qualified Lama is consulted as to the auspicious day
for performing the ceremony; then as to the special mode of funeral
and the final disposal of the corpse. The Lama consulted gives his
instructions on all these points after referring to his books, and bids
the relatives of the deceased read such and such passages in the Sacred
Texts, conduct the funeral ceremony on such and such day, and take the
bier from the house at such and such an hour of the day. The priest
also advises on the mode of burial, of which there are four in vogue;
the four modes being distinguishable from each other by the agencies to
be brought into service, namely: water, flame, earth, and birds of the
air. This last corresponds to the “air-burial” of Buḍḍhism.

Of the four kinds of burial, or more properly modes of disposing of
corpses, the one generally regarded as the best is to leave the corpse
to the vultures, known under the name of Cha-goppo in Tibet; then
comes cremation; then water-burial, and last land-burial. This last
method of interment is never adopted except when a person dies from
small-pox. In this particular case alone the Tibetans observe some
sanitary principles, though probably by mere accident and not from any
conviction, for they think that this dreadful epidemic is likely to
spread if the corpse of a person stricken down by small-pox is left
for birds or consigned to a river. Though cremation is considered
as a superior way of disposing of dead bodies, the process is by no
means easy in a country where faggots are scarce, for the dried dung
of the yak is hardly thought proper for the purpose. Hence cremation
is confined to the wealthier class only. Water-burial generally takes
place near a large stream; but, in consigning a dead body to the water,
it is first thoroughly dismembered, and thrown into the water piece by
piece. This troublesome course is adopted from the idea that a dead
body thrown in whole will not speedily disappear from sight.

These four processes of disposing of corpses originate from Hinḍū
philosophy, according to which human bodies are believed to consist
of four elements, earth, water, fire and air, and it is thought that
on death they should return to these original elements. Land-burial
corresponds to the returning to earth, cremation to fire, water-burial
to water, and the bird-devouring to the air, of which birds are the
denizens. The bodies of Lamas are mostly disposed of by this last
process, while those of a few privileged persons only, such as the
Dalai Lama, sub-Dalai Lama and other venerable Lamas, believed to be
incarnations of Boḍhisaṭṭvas, are given a special mode of burial.

‘Air-burial’ was chosen for the friend whose funeral I attended, and
I shall briefly describe how this ‘burial’ was performed. Leaving the
college at Sera, the _cortège_ proceeded eastward till it reached
the bank of a river near which, in a small valley formed between two
contiguous hills, stood a big boulder about twelve yards high. The top
of this stone was level and measured about fifteen feet square. This
was the ‘burial-ground’ for this particular kind of interment. On the
summits of the surrounding hills, and even on the inaccessible parts
of the rock itself, were perched a large number of vultures, with
their eyes glistening with greed. They are always waiting there for
‘burials’. When the bier was placed upon this rock, the white sheet was
taken off, and the priest who had come, with the rest of the mourners
and sympathisers, began to chant their texts to the accompaniment of
drums and cymbals. At the same time one man approached the corpse with
a broadsword, with which to ‘dress’ it. In ‘dressing’ the abdomen was
first cut open and the entrails removed. Next all the various members
of the body were severed, after which some other men, including a
few priests, undertook the finishing work of final ‘dressing’, which
consisted in separating the flesh and bones, just as butchers do with
slaughtered cattle. By this time the vultures had gathered in a flock
round the place, and big pieces, such as the flesh of the thighs, were
thrown to them and most voraciously did they devour them. Then the
bones had to be disposed of, and this was done by first throwing them
into one of the ten cavities on the rock, and pounding the heap with
big stones. When the bones had been fairly well pulverised a quantity
of baked flour was added to the mass, and this dainty mixture was also
given to the birds. The only thing that remained of the dead body was
the hair.


The Tibetans may practically be considered as a kind of cannibals.
I was struck with this notion while witnessing the burial ceremony.
All the cloths used in the burial go as a matter of course to the
grave-diggers, though they hardly deserve this name, as their duty
consists not in digging the grave but in chopping the flesh of the
corpse and pounding the bones. Even priests give them help, for the
pounding business is necessarily tedious and tiresome. Meanwhile the
pounders have to take refreshment, and tea is drunk almost incessantly,
for Tibetans are great tea-drinkers. The grave-diggers, or priests,
prepare tea, or help themselves to baked flour, with their hands
splashed over with a mash of human flesh and bones, for they never wash
their hands before they prepare tea or take food, the most they do
being to clap their hands, so as to get rid of the coarser fragments.
And thus they take a good deal of minced human flesh, bones or brain,
mixed with their tea or flour. They do so with perfect nonchalance; in
fact, they have no idea whatever how really abominable and horrible
their practice is, for they are accustomed to it. When I suggested that
they might wash their hands before taking refreshment, they looked at
me with an air of surprise. They scoffed at my suggestion, and even
observed that eating with unwashed hands really added relish to food;
besides, the spirit of the dead man would be satisfied when he saw them
take fragments of his mortal remains with their food without aversion.
It has been stated that the Tibetans are descendants of the Rākshasa
tribe--a tribe of fiendish cannibals who used to feed on human flesh;
and what I witnessed at the burial convinced me that, even at the
present day, they retained the horrible habit of their ancestors.

While the burial ceremony is going on, a religious service is also
conducted at the house of the deceased, and when the ceremony is
over, those who have attended it call at the house of the bereaved
family, where they are feasted by its members. I noticed that at
this entertainment intoxicants are served only to the laity. This
discrimination is not observed, however, in the country districts.

I shall next describe the mode of burying a Dalai Lama or a high-priest.

When a person of high distinction dies, his body is put in a big box
and marsh salt is copiously sprinkled over it till it is thoroughly
imbedded in this alkaline padding. All this while, religious chanting
goes on, accompanied by the music of flutes, pipes and other
instruments. The box is then kept in a temple for about three months,
during which time offerings are made regularly, as when the deceased
was yet alive, and his disciples keep vigil over it by turns. Before
the coffin lights are kept burning in several golden burners containing
melted butter, while holy water is offered in seven silver vessels.
Flowers of the season are also offered with other things. Every one
allowed to worship near the remains is expected to make some offering
in kind, accompanied by a small sum of money. By the time the three
months have elapsed, all the watery portion of the corpse has been
absorbed by the salt, and it has become hard and dry. It seems to me
(though I am not quite sure) that the Tibetan salt contains a large
percentage of soda or other alkalies; at any rate it is somewhat
different from the salt found in Japan. Perhaps some special
ingredients are mixed in the salt, when it is used for packing a corpse.

Be that as it may, when it is taken out of the coffin the corpse is
thoroughly hardened, and has all its parts shrunk up, owing to the loss
of all fluid elements, and the eyes are sunk in their sockets. Then
follows the process of ‘dressing’ the hardened corpse. The ‘dressing’
in this case is made with a compound of a certain kind of clay and
pulverised particles of white sandalwood, and also probably certain
drugs of foreign production. This compound is carefully spread over
all parts of the body. It is finally gilded, and a ‘natural’ image
is the result. This image is put in a tabernacle enclosed in a small
outer structure, which is highly decorated, and the whole thing, image
and all, is kept in a shrine. Such shrines are found in many parts
of Tibet; in the premises of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery at Shigatze
five such edifices are found, their roofs resplendent with gold. In
construction these roofs very much resemble the double roof of a palace
or similar building in China, and of course the decoration and size of
the edifice and tabernacle are different according to the rank of the
canonised Lamas, some of these structures being inlaid with gold and
others with silver.

At any rate, these images are objects of veneration to the Tibetans;
both priests and ordinary people visit and worship them. This peculiar
mode of embalming high Lamas has been wittily commented upon by a
certain Chinaman, who remarks that the practice is inconsistent with
the strong prejudice which Tibetans possess against earth-burial, as
this mode of burial, according to their superstition, sends the dead
person to hell. For the treatment accorded to the dead body of a Grand
Lama, or other distinguished priest, is in fact a sort of earth-burial,
in that the corpse is not given to birds or consigned to rivers or
flames, but is preserved in clay after it has been salted and hardened.

Now I come to the most wonderful medicines in the world. The first
is the salt used in packing corpses. This salt is considered as an
article of great virtue, and accessible only to a limited number of the
privileged class. It is distributed only among aristocratic people, and
among priests of distinction.

Only the wealthy merchants and great patrons of temples may hope,
through some powerful influence, to obtain a small quantity of this
precious dirt. The salt is a panacea for the Tibetan, who swallows a
small dose either by itself or dissolved in water for all kinds of ills
that flesh is heir to--from a slight attack of cold to a serious case
of fatal disease. Whatever medical quality this loathsome compound
possesses, one thing is certain--that it exercises a powerful influence
upon the untutored minds of the ignorant Tibetans, and so excellently
serves the purpose of “mental cure”. The salt medicine reminds me of
the existence in Tibet (and happily nowhere else) of another sort of
panacea equally abominable. The mere mention of the real nature of this
second series of so-called medicines, would, instead of curing the
people of other countries, infallibly make them sick, as the essential
ingredients are nothing less than the excreta, both liquid and solid,
of the Grand Lama or other high priests. These are mixed with other
substances and are made into pills, which are gilded over and sometimes
colored red. These pills, known under the name of _Tsa Chen-norpu_
(precious balls) are not on sale, they being accessible to ordinary
people only through some powerful influence, and even then only by
paying for them a large sum of money. The Tibetan is glad, however,
to procure these pills at any cost, for he is under a fond delusion
that they possess a most effective curative power. They are kept as
something like a family treasure, and are used as the last resort,
when all other means of treatment have failed. When, by some accident,
a patient despaired of by doctors recovers after he has been dosed with
a few of the ‘precious pills,’ the people of course extol their merit
to the skies; while if he dies, his case is regarded as having been
beyond cure, and the pills remain therefore the object of undiminished
faith. To do justice to this superstition, I ought to add that the
common Tibetans are kept entirely in the dark as to the ingredients
of the pills; they are taken as medicines prepared by the Grand Lama
himself according to a certain secret formula, and the shocking secret
is known only to a select few, who are entitled to attend the Dalai
Lama’s court.


Foreign Explorers and the Policy of Seclusion.

During the first decade of November, 1901, I returned to Lhasa to enjoy
as before the hospitality of the ex-Minister. At that time the Finance
Minister of the day was somewhat less occupied, and being, as I stated
before, a nephew of the nun who was mistress of the house where I was a
guest, and a gentleman of refined and affable manners, he used often to
call on and be invited to sit with the ex-Minister, the nun and myself,
and to take part in our chats. Sometimes I called upon the Minister
of the day in his apartments to talk with him. On one occasion our
conversation touched on the subject of a British female missionary, who
attempted to visit Lhasa.

“I wonder why British people are so desirous to come to our country,”
observed the Minister in the course of our talk. “I cannot at all
understand their motive. For instance, a British woman arrived some
eight or nine years ago at a place called Nakchukha on the boundary
between Tibet and China. She came there with two servants determined to
enter Tibet.”

It at once occurred to me that the Minister was referring to the case
of one Miss Annie R. Taylor, a missionary, who attempted to travel
from northern China to Darjeeling via Lhasa. My host did not know, or
could not remember, her name, but I knew it very well, having been
told of her bold venture while I was staying at Darjeeling, where I
accidentally met with one of the guides who had accompanied her. But I
prudently kept what I knew to myself, and listened to the Minister as
one eager to hear a strange and interesting story. The Minister went
on to tell me how the lady was stopped by the natives of the place
from proceeding further. It was very fortunate that the chieftain of
the local tribe was a man of a merciful turn of mind, as otherwise
she would have been murdered there and then. A report on the matter
was soon forwarded to Lhasa by the magistrate of the district, and my
host was then ordered by his Government to hasten to the spot, and
deal with the foreign adventuress in a suitable manner. In other words
his commission was to cause the lady at once to quit Tibetan soil.
The Minister took with him two of his servants, besides a number of
coolies, the party altogether numbering about thirty.

Arrived at Nakchukha, he at once caused the lady to be brought to him;
but when he saw her, he at first could not understand what she was
saying, for although she spoke Tibetan, it was in a dialect differing
from that in vogue at Lhasa. At last he succeeded in gathering the
drift of what she had to say, which was to this effect. She had come to
Tibet in order to acquaint herself with the sacred teachings of Tibetan
Buḍḍhism. With that object she wanted to make a pilgrimage to Lhasa and
to return home by way of Darjeeling. She then showed to the Minister a
passport she had obtained from the Emperor of China. The Minister told
her that personally he highly appreciated the lady’s purpose, but he
was under strict orders from the Grand Lama’s Government to forbid the
entrance of the lady and of any other foreigner within his dominions.
Should she, in disregard of this intimation, dare to push her way into
the interior, she would be sure to meet with some terrible mishap,
perhaps death, for the Grand Lama’s Government could not extend its
protection to a foreigner who, in defiance of its well-meant warning,
should attempt a journey through the wild districts of Tibet. His
Government did not like the idea of being entangled needlessly in
trouble with another country, and therefore absolutely demanded the
withdrawal of the lady from Tibet. As a messenger of the Grand Lama’s
Government, especially despatched for this purpose, he must ask the
lady to retrace her steps. The Minister dwelt on this point courteously
but firmly.

The lady on her part equally remained unyielding in her original
declaration, and persisted on repeating her request, not for one or
two days only, but even for four or five days in succession. When the
Minister pointed out how foolhardy she was in her desire, and why she
should rather return the way she had come under the protection of the
Grand Lama’s Government, which would, in that case, escort her back as
far as some safe place, the lady demanded an explanation as to why a
person, possessing a passport obtained from the Emperor of China, could
not travel through Tibet, which was a protectorate under that Emperor.
The Minister admitted the suzerainty of the Chinese Emperor, but said
that, at the same time, they were not obliged to obey the Emperor’s
will in everything, and that especially in the matter of seclusion they
were determined to oppose even the Emperor, should he try by force to
set aside this traditional policy. He further added, as he told me,
that if the lady should still persist in her intention, he would be
constrained to put her two Tibetan guides under arrest, and punish them
according to the laws of the land. This punishment would be waived,
however, if the lady desisted from her purpose and withdrew from Tibet.

After all these protracted negotiations, the lady was at last induced
to give up her point, and in about half a day’s time after their last
meeting she came to acquaint him with the change in her resolution. As
it was ascertained that the lady and her guides were subject to much
discomfort, having suffered robbery on the way, the Minister kindly
gave her some necessaries before she left Tibet for China.

After having narrated all these things the Minister once more gave
vent to his feeling of wonder at the inexplicable eagerness which
foreigners were wont to show in their desire to visit his country. I
for my part replied discreetly that neither did I know why they should
wish to enter it, but that I had heard that such attempts on the part
of foreigners were not a novelty. The Minister himself knew that cases
of strangers making attempts similar to that of the British lady were
not rare, and our conversation next turned to this part of Tibetan

The first authentic story of the arrival of a foreigner in Tibet is
recorded in the year 1328, when a priest of Pordenone, named Friar
Odoric, entered Tibet as a propagandist of the Roman Catholic Church.
His attempt failed, chiefly because the Tibetans of the time had
nothing in particular to learn from Odoric, for Tibet possessed many
priests of its own, who were able to perform many things differing
little from those recorded of Jesus Christ in their miraculous
character. Indeed Odoric himself seems to have profited by what he
saw in Tibet, instead of imparting anything new to the natives. He
took notes of many wonderful things performed by Tibetan priests, and
took them home, but he burnt most of those notes, for fear that their
publication might compromise the interests of his own religion. So only
a fragment of the account of his travels was preserved.

Some persons attribute this destruction of his own notes by Odoric
to the inaccuracies which he had subsequently discovered, and claim
that he destroyed them in order not to mislead future generations.
This explanation has generally been accepted in preference to the
other--that the Tibetan Buḍḍhism of the fourteenth century possessed a
larger number of miracles than those of Christianity. That the latter
was the more correct explanation of the two may be inferred, however,
from the fact that the Roman Catholic Church, while devoting great
energy to propagating its doctrines in China, kept itself aloof from
Tibet, having come to the conclusion that that country was beyond its
evangelising power.

In 1661 two brothers named Grueber and D’Orville, probably Frenchmen,
entered Tibet. It is doubtful whether they proceeded as far as Lhasa,
though it is stated that they went from Pekin to Lhasa and thence
through Nepāl to India. When Warren Hastings was the Viceroy of India,
he conceived the idea of establishing a regular trade connexion between
India and Tibet, and dispatched a commissioner, named George Bogle,
to the latter country in the year 1774. Bogle was accompanied by his
wife. He failed to reach Lhasa, but remained at Shigatze, and his
account of the journey is still extant in print. In 1781 Hastings again
dispatched a commissioner, this time under Captain Turner, who stayed
in Tibet for two years. Only one English explorer reached Lhasa from
India. That man was Thomas Manning, and it was in 1811.

About that time trade between India and Tibet had grown active, but
with the termination of Hasting’s viceroyalty and his return to England
the trade began to flag for lack of encouragement, till it ceased
altogether. All channels of communications have since that time become
almost closed between the two countries. Meanwhile other Christian
missionaries had begun pushing on their work with great activity, even
up to Lhasa, which they entered freely, and also to other places,
some of them not far from that city, and this movement on the part of
foreign propagandists put the Grand Lama’s Government on its guard.
Coming down as late as 1871, a Russian Colonel named Prejevalsky
entered Tibet across its eastern border through Kham, and reached
a place about five hundred miles from Lhasa. But he was compelled
to return thence homeward, at the bidding of Tibet’s hierarchical
Government. Apparently he at first passed through the Chinese region
of Tibet, but was stopped as soon as he had set his feet in the Dalai
Lama’s dominions. This Russian Officer, undaunted by his first failure,
next tried to enter Tibet from the north, and this time he reached a
place about one hundred and seventy miles from Lhasa on the boundary
line between the Chinese and the Tibetan territories, but was again
obliged to withdraw.

In 1879 an Englishman named Captain Hill entered Tibet from the
direction of Ta-chien-lu, but he also had to withdraw from Ba-lithang
on the boundary between the Chinese and Tibetan dominions. It was at
this place also that the Japanese priests, Messrs. Nōmi and Teramoto,
were driven back. My host the Minister once incidentally referred to
Mr. Nōmi’s attempt, and said that two priests from a country named
Japan reached Ba-lithang some years ago, but they were ordered to
withdraw, as it was not sufficiently clear whether they were really
Buḍḍhist priests or persons of other callings.

The last exploration I would mention here is that undertaken in 1881
and 1882 by Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās, my own teacher, of whom mention has been
made several times already. This Hinḍū had obtained in a very ingenious
way a pass from the Tibetan Government, and, armed with it, he first
proceeded as far as Shigatze, where he remained for two months; after
awhile he returned to India. That was in 1881. The result of his
exploration was reported to the British Government, and he was for a
second time asked to undertake another trip into Tibet in the following
year, having secured as before a Tibetan passport. On his second visit
he first reached Shigatze and afterward entered Lhasa. As I heard
from a Tibetan, he conducted his mission with extreme caution, seldom
venturing abroad in the daytime, and when obliged to do so he took
every care to avoid attracting the attention of the natives. He spent
most of his time in a room of a temple, and there secretly carried out
his investigations. In this way he stayed in Lhasa for twenty days;
then he went back to his sphere of work in other parts of Tibet and at
last returned to Darjeeling after an absence of less than a year.

I have mentioned, in a preceding chapter that when the real nature
of the mission of Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās had become known to the Tibetan
Government, it caused extraordinary disturbance, involving all the
officials who had been on duty at the barrier-gates through which the
Hinḍū had passed, as well as all the persons who had extended any sort
of hospitality to him during his stay in the country. All these persons
were thrown into prison and their property was confiscated. A number
of those whose complicity, unwitting though it was, was judged more
serious than that of the others were condemned to death and executed.
After this memorable occurrence, Tibet resolved more than ever to
enforce strictly the policy of exclusion against all foreigners.

In 1886 a Secretary of the American Legation at Peking, Mr. Rockhill,
tried to enter Tibet, only to repeat the failure of others, and all
other Christian missionaries who made similar attempts about that time
were also unsuccessful. The number of abortive Tibetan explorers must
be quite large; I myself heard of some twenty-five or twenty-six. I
should not wonder if the number would reach forty or even fifty, when
all the would-be explorers are taken into account. I have frequently
seen in our Japanese magazines and newspapers articles about Tibet,
which are highly misleading and often fictitious. The fact must be
that those articles are written on the incorrect information found in
most works on Tibet, and that the inaccuracy is further aggravated
by the inventive brains of the writers of the articles. One of the
most conspicuous instances of this kind is furnished in the case of
A. Csoma de Körös, a Hungarian, who first compiled a Tibetan-English
dictionary, having learned the language from a Lama in Ladak, a
district on the south-western boundary of Tibet, next to British India,
where the compiler resided for more than three years. The author
wanted to study the Tibetan language on its native soil and for that
reason attempted to enter Tibet. He found it impossible to carry out
his plan from Ladak, as the Tibetan frontier guards there forbade the
entry into their country of a stranger. Then it occurred to him that
he might succeed in his project if he started from Darjeeling, and
thither he went. Unfortunately, he caught jungle-fever while travelling
in the neighborhood of Darjeeling and died there, never having put
his foot on Tibetan soil. His tomb even now stands at a place near
Darjeeling, probably at the place where he fell ill. Writers on Tibet,
both Japanese and Western, mostly represent this Csoma as having spent
many years in Lhasa, and that is where the fiction comes in. Another
lexicographer, Jaeschke, compiled a Tibetan dictionary based on, but
much better than Csoma’s. Jaeschke never entered Tibet, and yet he is
generally credited with having successfully crossed the border and
reached Lhasa, and lived there for a considerable period. All such
errors being made by Western writers as well as by the Japanese, I do
not of course mean to blame the latter alone.

Besides the attempts at Tibetan exploration already referred to,
there have from time to time been a number of missionaries or spies
despatched by either Russia or England, who have frequently appeared at
Tibetan frontier stations only to arouse the suspicions of the Grand
Lama’s Government, until the latter has become irrevocably committed
to the policy of absolute seclusion. To do justice to the Tibetans,
they were originally a people highly hospitable to strangers. This
sentiment was superseded by one of fear and even of antipathy, as the
result of an insidious piece of advice which, probably prompted by some
policy of its own, the Government of China gave to Tibet; it was to
the effect that if the latter allowed the free entrance of foreigners
into her territories, they would destroy her Buḍḍhism, and replace it
with Christianity. The simple-minded Tibetan became dreadfully alarmed
at this warning; but even then he did not all at once put the policy
of exclusion into full force. The absolute exclusion dates from the
discovery of Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās’ mission. Since then, the enforcement of
the exclusion policy has become so strict that it now seems as though
Tibet has been converted into a nation of detectives and constables.

Especially for European people, with such visible marks of racial
distinction on the surface and also because they are accustomed to make
their attempts on a large scale, it has become morally impossible to
enter Tibet. Dr. Sven Hedin, for example, tried to enter repeatedly
from the north, while I was staying at Lhasa, but each time the
renowned explorer was baffled in his attempt, and he finally gave it
up altogether[3]. In view of such repeated attempts on the part of
foreigners, both the Lamas and ordinary people could not but suspect
the motive of these adventurers, and they have therefore naturally
come to the conclusion that all those foreigners must be entertaining
some sinister designs on Tibet. The popular idea about the supposed
designs of England is interesting, for the natives attribute it to
the desire on the part of English people to take possession of gold
mines which are plentifully found in their country. This is of course
a very superficial view, so far as the interest England seems to feel
toward Tibet is concerned; for the Tibetan policy of that country, in
my own humble opinion, comes from the desire to prevent Russia from
bringing Tibet under her sway and from using that highland as a base of
operations in carrying out her ambitious projects on India, for it is
evident that, with Russia securely established up there, England would
hardly be able to feel secure about the safety of India.

[3] Dr. Sven Hedin succeeded in entering Tibet from Kashmir in 1906.

The Tibetan Minister of the Treasury once said to me that it would
indeed be a great humiliation to Tibet if ever she were reduced to
being a tributary of another country, but that there might be another
calamity far more disastrous and unbearable in its effect, and that
was the danger of her national religion being superseded by a strange
faith. Therefore, the Minister continued, Tibet must oppose, at all
costs, any plans made by foreigners against her, and consequently the
latter should be prevented from hearing of the existence of factious
rivalries in the Hierarchy, for should they get an inkling of this
state of affairs, it would not take them long to turn this internal
dissension to serve their own mischievous ends. Hence it was absolutely
necessary for Tibet that she should forbid the entry of all foreigners
and keep them in the dark as to the real condition of the country. It
will thus be seen that the seclusion policy, which primarily originated
in religious motives, has since acquired a greater force from political
considerations, and it is not strange that no foreigners have been
allowed to enter Tibet since the revelation of the secret mission of
Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās. That incident, the then Minister of Finance told
me in referring to it, impressed the Tibetans more strongly than ever
with the necessity of locking their door against the intrusion of all


A Metropolis of Filth.

Shortly after I had the conversation recorded in the last chapter
with the Finance Minister, I went out with the ex-Minister and his
attendants for a walk round the _lingkor_ (circuit) of Lhasa, this
being the outermost circuit surrounding the city, and measuring about
six miles. The journey round this circuit is considered as a highly
pious act by Tibetans, who believe that it amounts to visiting every
temple and sacred stone house contained within the circuit. There are
several modes of performing this journey--walking steadily along,
making a bow at each step, or making one at every three steps. Our
journey on that occasion had no such religious meaning; it was merely a
walk. The walk, however, was rather trying to me, for my host was very
tall and had very long legs, so that I had to hurry to keep pace even
with his leisurely steps.

By the side of this circuit and to the east of Lhasa stood a queerly
shaped high fence, made of countless yak’s horns. The fence measures
from one hundred and twenty to two hundred and forty yards in length
and as it is entirely composed of the horns, it is hardly possible
to form an idea even in imagination of how many horns went to the
construction of the fence. The enclosure is used as a slaughtering
place for yak. It was not the first time that I had seen that fence,
but on that particular day I was able to observe it with greater care
than ever before. When I remarked to the ex-Minister how immense must
be the number of the beasts that had been slaughtered in the enclosure,
my host replied that he felt pity for the beasts. We soon arrived at an
opening in the fence and, peeping in, I saw some thirty yaks brought
there for slaughter. The work was done in a manner quite improper for
such a Buḍḍhist country as Tibet, for no pious ceremony was performed,
such as the touching of the head of a beast about to be slaughtered
with a Buḍḍhist Text. It was butchered quite unceremoniously, in a
thoroughly business-like manner. I subsequently learned that the
slaughter of animals is undertaken in Lhasa exclusively by Chinese
Muhammeḍans, who are of course not expected to care much about such
ceremonies. As it was, I saw a slaughterman chop off the head of a yak
in a very impious manner, and in the presence of the other poor beasts,
which were staring with tearful eyes at the butchery of their comrades.
I really felt pity for the beasts.

The ex-Minister was apparently impressed with a similar sentiment, for
he told me that he felt as though he could hardly swallow a morsel of
meat after he had witnessed such a horrible scene; yet such is human
depravity, he continued, that people soon forget this tender feeling
of compassion when they return home, and are displeased if no meat is
served to them at table. He could not but conclude therefore that the
Tibetans must be the descendants of Rākshasas or devils, and that the
blood of those impious savages must be still running in their veins.

The circuit is kept in excellent repair (comparatively speaking,
that is to say) for the Hierarchy maintains a regular staff of
road-commissioners who are charged with the duty of keeping the circuit
in good condition for the benefit of the pilgrims, who not unfrequently
have to kneel on the ground for their devotions.

The contrast which the condition of the circuit makes with that of
ordinary thoroughfares is beyond description. It is not merely that
the other roads are full of holes, but also that they have in their
midst open cesspools, specially constructed and openly frequented by
both men and women. The filth, the stench, the utter abomination of
the streets are extremely loathsome, especially after rains in summer,
for though there are plenty of dogs feeding about in the streets they
are not enough for the supply. Then remember that the Lhasa people
drink water from the shallow wells standing amidst such abominable
surroundings. The meaning of the word Lhasa itself is indeed absolutely
inappropriate; it signifies the ‘ground of deities,’ and therefore
supposedly a place of purity. As Panden Aṭīsha remarked, a place in
Tibet is really a city of devils, who subsist on vile substances. I
have often heard of the filthy condition of the streets in Chinese
cities, but I hardly believe they can be as filthy as the streets in
Lhasa, where the people live in utter defiance of all rules of hygiene
and even decency. The wonder is how they can escape being exterminated
by pestilence, which would be sure to visit most other places that
neglected, even in a far lesser degree, the laws of sanitation; and
yet, from what I observed during my residence in Lhasa, the people
did not seem to suffer to any perceptible extent from such unhygienic
surroundings. My own theory is that this immunity from epidemic must
be due to the extremely healthy climate of Lhasa. The winter there is
sufficiently cold, but is less uncomfortable than in our Hokkaido, for
though at night the mercury falls below freezing point, it rises to
forty or fifty degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime. In summer, too, the
thermometer rarely rises much above eighty. Indeed of all the places I
have travelled in or heard of, Lhasa seems to come first in point of
a healthy climate. It is owing to this precious gift of nature that
the people of Lhasa can live with impunity amidst filth and general

All these thoughts occurred to me while I walked round the circuit with
the ex-Minister, and also whenever I took a walk in the city.



I must here give a brief description of the Tibetan religion, for
without it any intelligent explanation of the political system is
impossible, while some notice, however cursory, of the administrative
organisation must precede an account of Tibetan diplomacy, upon which
I also wish to touch briefly.

In describing the Tibetan national religion, I must confine myself
only to a popular exposition of the subject, and must leave out of
consideration as much as possible other matters that are ulterior and

With that premise I must first of all state that Lamaism is divided
into two main branches, one older and the other more modern, the
former being popularly known as the ‘Red Cap Sect’ and the latter as
the ‘Yellow Cap.’ The older Sect is subdivided into a large number of
sub-sects, such as Sakya, Karmapa, Dukpa, Zokchenpa, and others, but
they all agree upon cardinal points and in the formula for attaining

The founder of the Old Sect was a Ṭānṭric priest named Lobon Padma
Chungne in Tibetan. That name was derived from a popular tradition
that he was born into this world out of a lotus flower in the Pond of
Ḍanakosha, in a Royal garden of the Kingdom of Urken, now in Cabul.
His career is full of myths far more fantastic than any of those in
the Japanese mythology, and there is very little that is tangible
and rational about it. One thing seems to be certain--that, although
a priest, he strictly enjoined on his disciples the practices of
flesh-eating, marriage and drinking. He ingeniously grafted carnal
practices on to Buḍḍhist doctrines, and declared that the only secret
of perfection for priests consisted in leading a jovial life, and that
by this means alone a man born into this world of ‘five impurities’ can
hope to attain quickly to Buḍḍhahood and salvation.

[Illustration: LOBON PADMA CHUNGNE.]

The doctrine that it is necessary to satisfy carnal desires is based
on the theory that great desires partake of the nature of Mahāboḍhi;
that as the greatest of human desires is sensuality, therefore man
can attain Mahāboḍhi by indulging this passion, for by it he can best
realise the first essential of the reality of Āṭman, that is oblivion
of self. The eating of animal flesh, another craving of men, conforms
to the principle of mercy, because the soul of the animal can be
brought under the beneficial influence of the Boḍhi in the eater, and
is thus enabled indirectly to attain this supreme state. Liquors give
pleasure to men, so that to enjoy ourselves by drinking them and to
live a pleasant life is an ideal state obtained by an intelligent act.
In short, according to the doctrines of the Old Sect, men can attain
Buḍḍhahood by holy contemplation accompanied by drinking liquors,
eating flesh, and indulgence in carnal desires. Such are, in the main,
the fundamental tenets of this particular Sect, the details of which I
could not give here even if I had ample space at my disposal, for they
are too full of obscenity. I may say, however, that this Sect tries to
justify the indulgence of human desires under the sanction of Buḍḍhism.

In Japan also there once existed the Tatekawa school of the Shingon
Sect, which did much to corrupt social order and morals by preaching
similar pernicious theories, though it is not possible to speak
authoritatively on this subject, as very few fragments of the texts and
canonical writings of that suppressed school are now extant. However,
the scope and plan of that quasi-religion must have been extremely

The Old Sect of Tibet is, on the other hand, on a large scale and its
doctrine has obtained a wide credence throughout the country.

The texts of this sect are still extant in Tibet and the Samskṛṭ texts
prepared in India with Tibetan translations are fairly numerous.
The Old Sect has undergone considerable modifications since its
introduction into Tibet, for the Lama priests have freely modified the
original according to their own views and opinions. In fact the Tibetan
texts of this particular Sect are far from preserving the original
forms of teaching and expression.

I have brought home, among other Lamaistic writings, quite a large
number of volumes treating on the esoteric side of the doctrines of the
Old Sect, which are credited as being most authentic, but I have to
keep them in a closed box, for they are too full of obscene passages to
allow of their being read by the many.

These degenerate doctrines were widely spread throughout Tibet until,
about five hundred years ago, they proved to be too pernicious even for
such a corrupt country as Tibet. A reaction arose against the Old Sect,
which took the shape of the so-called New Sect.

This was founded by Paldan Aṭīsha, a priest from India, in the eleventh
century A. D., and was after three centuries further perfected by Je
Tsong-kha-pa, who was born in a house “amidst onion plots” in Amdo,
a Chinese part of Tibet, situated to the north of Tibet proper. This
priest, perceiving the fearful state of corruption into which the
Tibetan religion had fallen, assigned to himself the Herculean task of
purging that Augean stable.

He took his ground on the fundamental proposition that priesthood
must stand on asceticism, that priesthood devoid of asceticism was
also void, and that of all the conditions of asceticism abstinence
from carnal desires was the most important, for a priest indulging in
these had nothing to distinguish him from a layman. Je Tsong-kha-pa
set an example of following his own precepts, but first he declared
for the necessity of enforcing rules of moral discipline for priests.
But there were not a sufficient number of priests qualified to
receive ordination. At last a number of his first convents and of the
supporters of his precepts were collected to form the nucleus of the
new movement, and they raised the standard of a spiritual campaign at
Ganden, a place about forty miles from Lhasa.

[Illustration: JE TSONG-KHA-PA.]

But the New Sect, in superseding the degenerated national religion, had
to conform itself to the national partiality for esoterism, which
is more or less present in every form of religion or cult prevailing
in Tibet, and it therefore included in its system certain esoteric
forms as distinct from the esoterism of the Old Sect. The New Sect did
not denounce the images worshipped by the followers of the Old Sect,
although they all consisted of dual figures of men and women, often
represented in offensive postures; it had, however, to give to them a
new interpretation of an abstract nature. Thus men were explained as
representing ‘proper means’ and women as representing ‘transcendental
knowledge,’ and it was said that the proper combination of the two
elements gave birth to Buḍḍhas. Therefore the birth of Buḍḍhas,
according to this interpretation, did not come from carnal indulgence.
Animal flesh, again, was interpreted as representing mercy, and
therefore not intended for eating, while liquors were considered as
embodying human intelligence, and as giving an object-lesson to teach
men how to exercise their inborn intelligence.

In that symbolic way the New Sect explained the precepts inculcated by
its older rival. The images that had been used by the latter were also
adopted, only with a new interpretation, so that externally the two
sects do not differ much from each other. Strange as it may appear, it
is highly probable that worldly circumstances obliged the New Sect to
assume this anomalous position. I have to stop here in my description
of the doctrinal side of the Tibetan religion, for to go further would
lead me into technical and abstruse points.

I shall describe next that peculiar practice or belief of the Tibetan
religion which is called incarnation.

The idea embodied in the doctrine of incarnation is that the Buḍḍhas,
or saints whose bodies are invisible to man, are reincarnated in the
shape of priests of pious virtue for the salvation of the people.
The scope of this incarnation is rather comprehensive in Tibet, for
almost every lama with any pretensions above the common level believes
that he is destined to be reborn into the world to work for salvation.
This idea seems to have undergone considerable modifications since it
was first conceived, so that such incarnations as are accepted to-day
appear quite different from those of older days, as I shall describe
further on.


The Tibetan Hierarchy.

More than four centuries ago there lived a priest named Gendun Tub
who was a disciple of the founder of the New Sect. It was this
priest who first originated the practice of invocation of oracles
which was subsequently elaborated into a peculiar habit of selecting
incarnations. It happened in this way. When Gendun Tub was about to
expire, he left word that he would be reborn at such and such a place.
Enquiry was made, and the birth of a boy was ascertained to have taken
place at the specified place. This would not be particularly marvellous
were it not for the fact, as recorded in tradition, that, as soon as he
could articulate, the boy declared his wish to return to his temple,
the name of which he declared to be Tashi Lhunpo, the very temple where
the venerable Gendun Tub had died. There was no longer any doubt in the
minds of his faithful disciples and followers that their master had
been reborn in that boy. The boy was conveyed to the temple, was there
brought up, and was finally installed as the second Grand Lama, called
Gendun Gyamtso.

Nothing particular occurred in this matter of incarnations during the
periods of his third and fourth successors, but they grew quite popular
afterwards, especially in the days of the fifth and the sixth Grand
Lamas, till at last the whole system of the consultation of divine
oracles assumed the shape in which it is found to-day. The fifth Grand
Lama was a great promoter of the oracle system. His name was Ngakwang
Gyamtso, and though the head of the New Sect, he investigated the
texts and all matters of the Old Sect and introduced into his own sect
many things pertaining to the Old. Oracle-invocation was extensively
practised in his time, and the privilege of undertaking this solemn
work was entrusted to four temples, or rather the deities presiding
over them, namely Nechung, Samye, Lamo and Gatong. From the fifth Grand
Lama also dates another innovation of far greater importance, that is
to say, the establishment of Hierarchical Government.

Before his time, the Grand Lamas held only spiritual power, and had
nothing to do with temporal or administrative affairs, for the Grand
Lamas had no territories to administer except a small glebe.

About that time a powerful Mongolian chieftain named Shrī Gaumi
Tenjin Choe Gyal invaded Tibet and subdued all the petty tribes that
had hitherto existed there. These numbered thirteen, each counting
according to tradition ten thousand families. Tibet may thus be
considered to have contained one hundred and thirty thousand families,
and, strange to say, this is also believed to be the present number of
the population, according to popular accounts.

The Mongolian conqueror disposed of the districts he had subdued in
a very interesting manner, for instead of bringing them under his
direct control he presented the whole region to the Grand Lama of the
day. Thus originated the system of the Hierarchy, which therefore
dates only about three centuries back. But to return to the subject of

By this time the process of consultation had to undergo considerable
modifications, owing to the fact that the high Lamas who were to be
reborn not unfrequently omitted the trouble of enlightening others
about the places of their re-appearance on the earth. These places had
to be discovered therefore, for the Tibetans firmly held, as they do
even to-day, that high Lamas who die are sure to re-incarnate somewhere
after the lapse of forty-nine days from the day of death. Hence arose
the necessity to determine the place of such re-incarnation, and this
task devolved on the oracle-invokers of one of the four particular
temples mentioned before.

The process as it is in vogue at present is essentially identical with
that prevailing in former times, and is exceedingly strange, to say the
least of it. The mediums or invokers who perform this holy business
behave themselves in such an extravagant way that the uninitiated would
consider them to be stark mad.

The consultation of the oracle is performed by a number of priests, one
of whom is a medium, the rest being assistants. These beat drums and
strike cymbals, whilst others chant the Texts. The medium is attired
in a gorgeous fashion. He wears a big head-cloth with silk pendants of
five hues hanging from behind. Sometimes strips of glittering brocade
are used instead. The garment is not unlike that worn by Japanese
priests, and is of yellow or red satin, decorated with figures of
flowers. From the knot of the sash hang long strips of cloth. Thus
attired, the medium waits for response from the deities, remaining
with closed eyes in a half sitting posture, while all the time the
discordant sounds made by the orchestra are kept up. After a while he
begins to tremble and shake, this movement gathering force, till all of
sudden he either falls on his back or jumps up, according to the nature
of the deity who responds to the invocation, and has now descended
into the body of the medium. He will then say, still continuing to
shudder, that the particular Lama has re-appeared at such and such a
place, and in such and such a house which faces in a certain direction;
that the family consists of a certain number of members; that a baby
born on a certain day is a re-incarnation of the dead Lama, and so on.
An enquiry is then made according to the direction and of course the
pronouncement of the oracle is confirmed, and a baby corresponding to
the description given is found in the house. The boy is left under the
care of his mother till he can be weaned, and then he is brought to the
specified temple where he is educated. In education special care is
taken to inspire in him the strong self-confidence that he is a holy

At any rate the practice of invoking divine oracles extensively came
into vogue from the time of the fifth Grand Lama, and is used for all
matters great or small, from vexed international problems to trifling
questions that easily admit of solution.

The oracle-giving deities, as I mentioned before, are four, and they
are regarded as the guardian angels of the Lama Hierarchy. Of the four
Nechung is the most powerful.

Suppose a Grand Lama dies, and a necessity arises to determine the
place of his re-incarnation. The four temples dedicated to the four
deities are ordered by the authorities to undertake the mysterious
business of identification, this order being generally issued about
a year after the death of the august Lama. All the priests of the
four temples are summoned on that occasion, and they separately
consult their own respective oracles. Their deities are, however,
not infallible, and often prove just as divided in their judgment as
ordinary mortals are, for very rarely do the four oracles coincide, and
usually those oracles produce three different candidates. The choice
has therefore to be made from among the three.

The three or four boy-candidates (as the case may be) are brought to
Lhasa, when they have reached the age of five years. The ceremony of
selection is next performed. This is of course conducted with great
pomp and solemnity. The dignitaries who are privileged to take part in
it are the Chinese Commissioner residing in Lhasa and the Regent Lama;
also the Prime Ministers and all the Ministers, Vice-Ministers and a
number of high Lamas are allowed to be present. First the names of
the boy-candidates (three or four in number, as the case may be) are
written on so many pieces of paper, and put in a golden urn which is
then sealed. For the period of a week a kind of high mass is performed
in the ceremony-hall, in order to entreat the divine intercession for
the selection of the real re-incarnation. When this period expires all
the dignitaries before-mentioned are once more assembled around the
sealed urn. This is carefully inspected and the seal is then taken
off. The Chinese Commissioner then takes a pair of tiny ivory sticks
something like ordinary chop-sticks in shape and size and, with his
eyes shut, puts them into the urn and solemnly picks out one of the
papers. The name written on that paper is read, and the bearer of that
name is acknowledged as Grand Lama-elect.

From what I have described, there is apparently little room, if any,
for trickery, but I have heard from the Secretary of the Chinese
Commissioner that dishonest practices are in reality not infrequent.
Indeed the temptations are too strong for greedy and dishonest
minds to resist, owing to the keen rivalry among the parents of the
boy-candidates to have their own boys selected. Strong interest urges
them on in this rivalry, for the parents of the Lama-elect are not only
entitled to receive the title of Duke from the Chinese Government,
but also enjoy many other advantages, above all the acquisition of a
large fortune. Under these circumstances the parents and relatives of
eligible boys are said to offer large bribes to the Chinese Amban, and
to others who are connected with the ceremony of selection. I do not
affirm the fact of bribes, but at least I have heard that cases of such
under-hand influence have occurred not unfrequently.

The selection of the Grand Lama is thus made by an elaborate process,
in which the influence of the oracle-invokers plays an important part.
The priests who have charge of this business are in most cases men
who make it their business to blackmail every applicant. Most of the
oracle-priests are therefore extremely wealthy.

The Nechung who are under the direct patronage of the Hierarchy, are
generally millionaires, as millionaires go in Tibet. This, taken in
conjunction with another fact, that the re-incarnations of higher Lamas
are generally sons of wealthy aristocrats, or merchants, and that it
is only very rarely that they are discovered among the lowly, must be
considered as suggesting the working of some such practices. I have
even heard that some unscrupulous people corrupt the oracle-priests for
the benefit of their unborn children, so as to have their boys accepted
as Lamas incarnate when born. From a worldly point of view the expense
incurred on this account not unfrequently proves a good ‘investment,’
if I may use the profane expression, for the boys who are the objects
of the oracles have a good chance of being installed in the temples
where their spiritual antecedents presided, which are sure to possess
large property. This property goes, it need hardly be added, to the
boys, after they have been duly installed. Whatever may have been the
practical effect of incarnation in former times, it is, as matters
stand at present, an incarnation of all vices and corruptions, instead
of the souls of departed Lamas.

I once remarked to certain Tibetans that the present mode of
incarnation was a glaring humbug, and that it was nothing less than an
embodiment of bribery.

To do justice to the incarnations themselves, they grow up, in eight
cases out of ten, to be Lamas of more than average ability, perhaps
because they are brought up with special care. Their teachers and
guardians treat their wards with kindness and never use rough language
to them even when they behave as they ought not to behave. In such case
the teachers and guardians appeal to their sense of honor and great

This reminds me of the necessity of treating children with
consideration, and that to abuse them as blockheads or fools, when they
err in their conduct or over their lessons, deprives them of the sense
of self-confidence, and hence prevents its natural development. They
must be educated in such a way as to allow full play to their sense of

The Tibetans have not adopted this particular mode of education for
their boy-incarnations from any deep conviction as to educational
policy; they are doing so out of their respect towards their

I should add, also, that the general mass of the people are left in
complete ignorance of all the tricks and intrigues that are concocted
and extensively carried on in the higher circles. With guileless
innocence the ordinary people swallow all the fabulous tales that are
circulated about the alleged evidences fabricated for establishing
the re-incarnation of Lamas. Those only who are acquainted with what
is going on behind the scenes at Lhasa and Shigatze treat those
‘evidences’ with scorn, and denounce the re-incarnation affair as
downright imposture and a mischievous farce. To them the re-incarnation
is an embodiment of bribery, nothing more nor less. At best it is a
fraud committed by oracle-priests at the instance of aristocrats who
are very often their patrons and protectors.

Oracles are not confined in their operation to matters of incarnation;
they are consulted for many other purposes. A Cabinet Minister who
has committed some error will hasten to those priests, especially to
the Nechung, to prevent his being punished, or to have the punishment
modified. In such a case a Minister has to pay to the priests a sum
varying from the minimum of one thousand yen to ten or twenty times
that amount, according to the gravity of the offence. When in time
that offence comes to the ears of the Government, and the question of
punishing the offender is brought on the _tapis_, the latter can sit
silent without much perturbation, secure in the thought that he has
forestalled the Government and has secretly ‘purchased’ a favorable
understanding with the consulters of the oracles. For to these
consulters the matter is sure to be brought, sooner or later, for their
decision, or more properly for the decision of their deity. The priests
will then consult the oracles, but with a foregone conclusion as to the
nature of the response, being bound by the accused party with fetters
of gold. The oracles will say: “Don’t punish the man, for to do so will
be to invite calamity on the country. Only reprimand is enough, for the
man is at heart well-meaning. His fault came from inadvertence.” And so
the Minister is absolved from the charge, or is sentenced merely to a
nominal punishment.

On the other hand, a Minister or any other high personage who is a
_persona ingrata_ to the Nechung priests is in danger of bringing down
on his head an oracle of terrible nature at any moment, and in the
presence of the Grand Lama himself. The unscrupulous priests will even
turn the virtues of their unfortunate victim into a means of denouncing
him. The power which those oracle-priests wield in the official circles
of the Grand Lama’s Government is therefore a formidable one, and the
officials hold them in even greater awe than they do their supreme
chief. The Nechung priests may be even regarded as wielding the real
power in the Hierarchical administration. It is true that the present
Grand Lama, being a man of great force of mind, does not blindly adopt
in all cases the insidious advice of the priests; still in the great
majority of cases he has to follow it, for to reject the Nechung’s
words is contrary to the traditions of the country.

The Nechung, who exercise such power even in small affairs, very often
prove to be broken reeds when they are confronted with grave national
questions. Suppose, for instance, they are asked to consult the
oracles about a diplomatic trouble, in the presence of the Dalai Lama
and other great dignitaries. The priests proceed to do so with pomp
and solemnity, attired in gorgeous dress befitting the occasion. In
time the deity responds to the invocation, and is consulted about the
policy which the Government has to adopt, say, about the trouble which
is supposed to have appeared between it and England. The medium will
remain silent, and simply continue to tremble for some time. He will
next make one high jump, and then drop down apparently unconscious.
The attendants of the medium are then thrown into consternation,
all whispering to each other with significant nods and head-shakes
that the deity must have been offended at the impious question put
to him, and must have therefore gone off in holy wrath. And so for a
grave question, for which the aid of the oracle is most needed, the
Hierarchical Government is left in the lurch and is compelled to give
decision according to its own mother-wit. Such is the farce of the


Men of learning and priests of sincere piety and honest conviction are
therefore bitterly (though not openly) opposed to the doings of those
oracle-priests, whom they denounce as Ministers of devils, and as
the worst enemies of religion. Fortunately, however, the two Lamaist
chiefs are not installed only by the agency of the Nechungs, as above

I may, for instance, refer in passing to the supposed parentage of
the present Tashi Lama, the second Grand Lama, of Tashi Lhunpo. He is
said to have been born of a dumb woman by some unknown father. Some
say that his father was a hermit, while others are of opinion that he
was a priest, but the most probable account is the one which I heard
from a certain authority, who informed me that a learned doctor, one
Meto-ke-sang (chrysanthemum-flower) of the monastery of Sera, was the
real father of the present head of the Tashi Lhunpo. This doctor became
a monomaniac after having studied the literature of the Old Sect,
roamed about the country, and at last cohabited with a dumb woman. The
result was the birth of the boy on whom fell the great honor. The Lama
is therefore, said to bear a great personal resemblance to that mad
doctor. Though this opinion was held by a reliable authority of the
Sera monastery with whom I was acquainted, of course I cannot vouch for
the authenticity of his explanation.


The Government.

I shall next describe the system of the Hierarchical Government, and
other matters relative to it based on the information I incidentally
obtained on those subjects during my stay in Lhasa. The information
is far from being complete, for besides the fact that the subjects
were entirely foreign to the primary objects of my Tibetan expedition,
and therefore I was not impelled to make any systematic inquiries, I
could not without inviting strong suspicion put any questions to my
friends in Lhasa about matters of Tibetan politics. Whatever knowledge
I could gather on the subject was derived incidentally in the course
of conversations with my distinguished host and some others, and as
the result of enquiries made in a highly guarded and roundabout way.
Hence there still remain many points in the Government system of which
I myself am ignorant.

With this reserve, I may state first of all that the Hierarchy is
composed of both clerical and lay departments, each consisting of an
equal number of men. The priests of higher rank who attend to the
affairs of State bear the title of “Tse Dung” and they number one
hundred and sixty-five, and there are lay officials of corresponding
rank and number known under the title of “Dung Khor”. The priestly
functionaries of higher rank are subject to the control of four Grand
Secretaries, bearing the title of “Tung yk chen mo” but the real power
is vested in the senior priest. Similarly four “Shabpe” (Premiers) are
appointed over the head of the higher lay officials. Of these four
“Shabpe” the one enjoying precedence in appointment holds the real
power, the other three being his councillors and advisers.

The Cabinet is composed of four Prime-Ministers, three Ministers of
Finance, two Ministers of War, a Minister of the Household, a Minister
of Religion, a Minister of Justice, and four Grand Secretaries
belonging to the Order.

All these higher posts, both of priests and laymen, are in most cases
filled only by men belonging to the privileged classes; very rarely do
they fall to the Ngak-pa, Bon-bo and Shal-ngo castes.

The Tibetan administration is of an anomalous description--a hybrid
partaking of feudalism on the one hand and of the modern system of
Local Government on the other.

The relation between Peers and commoners apparently resembles
feudalism. The first recipient of the title was granted a certain
tract of land in recognition of his service, and there at once sprung
up between this lord of the manor, as it were, and the inhabitants of
that particular place a relationship akin to that between sovereign and
subject. This lord is an absolute master of his people, both in regard
to their rights and even their lives.

The lord levies a poll-tax on the inhabitants, and even the poorest
are not exempted from this obligation. The levy varies considerably
according to the means of the payer, from say one tanka paid by a
poor inhabitant to even a hundred paid by a wealthier member of the
community. Besides, every freeholder must pay land tax, the land held
by him being understood theoretically to belong to the lord. However
heavy the burden of the poll-tax may be, each person is obliged to
pay it, for if he neglects to do so he is liable to be punished with
flogging and the confiscation of his property to boot. The only means
of escape from this obligation consists in becoming a monk, and there
must be in the Tibetan priesthood a large number of men who have turned
priests solely with this object of avoiding the payment of taxes.
The witty remark once made to me by my teacher, Ti Rinpoche, on this
subject may illustrate the state of affairs in the Tibetan priesthood.
He said: “I do not know whether to rejoice at or to regret the presence
of so many priests in Tibet. Some seem to take this as a sign of the
flourishing condition of the national religion and on that ground seem
to be satisfied with it. I cannot quite agree with this argument; on
the contrary I rather hold that it is better to have even two or three
precious diamonds than a heap of stones and broken tiles.” The motives
that lead people to become priests lying in that region, it is not
strange that the Tibetan priesthood should contain plenty of rubbish
with very few diamonds among them.

However, when it is remembered how heavy are the burdens imposed on
the shoulders of the people, it is not strange that they should try to
evade them by entering the Order. The condition of even the poorest
priest presents a great contrast to that of other poor people, for the
priest is at least sure to obtain every month a regular allowance,
small as it is, from the Hierarchical Government, while he can expect
more or less of extra allowances in the shape of occasional presents
from charitable people. But a poor layman cannot expect any help from
those quarters, and he has to support his family with his own labor and
to pay the poll-tax besides. Very often therefore he is hardly able
to drive the wolf of hunger from his door, and in such case his only
hope of succor lies in a loan from his landlord, or the lord of the
manor wherein he resides. But hope of repayment there is none, and so
the poor farmer gets that loan under a strange contract, that is to
say, by binding himself to offer his son or daughter as a servant to
the creditor when he or she attains a certain age. And so his child
when he has reached the age of (say) ten years is surrendered to the
creditor, who is entitled to employ him as a servant for fifteen or
twenty years, and for a loan which does not generally exceed ten yen.
The lives of the children of poor people may therefore be considered as
being foreclosed by their parents. Those pitiable children grow up to
be practically slaves of the Peers.

The relationship existing between the Peers and the people residing
on their estates, therefore, partakes of the nature of feudalism in
some essential respects, but it cannot be said that feudalism reigns
alone in Tibet to the exclusion of other systems of Government. On the
contrary a centralised form of Government prevails more or less at the
same time. The Peers, it must be remembered, do not generally reside
on their own estates; they reside in Lhasa and leave their estates in
charge of their stewards. And they are not unfrequently appointed by
the Central Government as Governors of certain districts.

Consequently the Tibetans may be said to be divided into two classes
of people, one being subject to the control of the lords of the manors
and other to that of the Central Government. Not unfrequently the two
overlap, and the same people are obliged to pay poll-tax to their lords
and other taxes to the Central Government.

The work of revenue collection is entrusted to two or three
Commissioners appointed from among the clerical or lay officials of
higher rank, and these, invested with judicial and executive powers,
are despatched every year to the provinces to collect revenue,
consisting of taxes, imposts and import duties, these being paid either
in money or kind.

The demands on revenue are many and various, and among the items
of ordinary expenditure may be mentioned first of all the sums
required for supporting, either wholly or partially, a large number
of priests residing both in Lhasa and in the provinces, the former
alone numbering about twenty-five thousand. The outlay on account of
building temples and religious ceremonies is not small, but that on
account of salaries paid to the officials of the Central Government
appears to be less. A Premier draws the yearly salary of about six
hundred _koku_ or four thousand bushels of wheat, the stipend being
generally paid in this grain. The first Lord of the Treasury draws
three hundred and sixty koku. What is very interesting about these
salaries is that the State functionaries very often relinquish the
right of receiving their salaries, and leave them unclaimed. My
host, who continued to hold for ten years the post of the Minister
of Finance, had persistently refrained during that long period from
claiming what was his due. When I marvelled at this strange act
of disinterestedness on his part, he replied that his own estate
supplied what he wanted and so he did not wish to give trouble to the
Grand Lama’s Exchequer. And he further informed me that most of his
colleagues who were men of means generally omitted to claim their
salaries wholly or in part, though there were some who punctually
received the money to which they were entitled by right. Not that even
those who showed themselves so disinterested in the matter of official
stipends are above corruption, for I heard that some of the Ministers
who declined their salaries did not scruple to receive or even to exact
bribes. In justice to them I may add that bribery is a universal vice
in Tibet, and is not regarded in so serious a light there as in more
enlightened countries. My host was a gentleman of strict integrity and
morals, but he used to accept presents offered out of respect to him.

The clerical and lay high functionaries, each numbering one hundred and
sixty-five, attend to the various affairs of State. They are sometimes
appointed as Governors of provinces, while at other times they are sent
on judicial business. In such cases appointments are never given to
clerical or lay officials only, but both are invariably appointed as
associates, and in equal number, one each or two, or sometimes four.
The Judicial Commissioners were formerly often guilty of injustice
and open to the charge of judging cases, not according to their real
deserts, but according to the amount of bribes offered. They are no
longer so now, thanks to the vigilance and energy of the present Dalai
Lama who, whenever such a case of wrong-doing comes to his ears, does
not hesitate to confiscate the property of the offending parties and
to deprive them of their rank. Sometimes when a case of grave moment
occurs it is submitted to the personal judgment of the Grand Lama

The Grand Lama is therefore placed in a highly anomalous position,
for while he is the dispenser of benevolence and the supreme head
of a religion preaching mercy and forbearance, he is obliged to
pass judgment and to sentence persons to exile or even to capital
punishment. As head of a religion he is positively forbidden by its
teachings to pass a decree of that nature, whether that decree is
justifiable in the worldly sense or not. But the Grand Lama does
issue decrees of this irreligious description. He is not, however, a
political chief, inasmuch as he faithfully adheres to the rules of
mortification enforced by his religion; he has no wife, for instance,
nor does he drink intoxicating liquor. His position is really highly

And yet all the priests in Tibet take from the Grand Lama the holy
vow of discipline; I myself was advised by my Tibetan friends to pass
that ceremony, but my religious scruples stood in the way, so I did
not follow the advice. However I was initiated by the Grand Lama in
the ‘Hidden Teaching,’ for this ceremony had nothing to do with my
religious convictions.

The Grand Lama himself being placed in this false position, all the
priests under him are naturally open to a similar charge. They are
partly priests and partly men of the world, and sometimes it is hardly
possible to distinguish them from ordinary laymen. For instance, the
Tibetan priests, as I have mentioned elsewhere, undertake farming or
business, while the young rowdies among them attend to the work of
ordinary soldiers. The only things that distinctly distinguish the
priests from laymen are that the former shave their hair and wear
priestly robes, and the latter do not; that is all. I am compelled
to say that Lamaism has fallen, and that it has assumed a form quite
contrary to that to which its great reformer Je Tsong-kha-pa elevated
it, and I am sincerely sorry for this degeneration. I shall next
describe the education and the caste system in Tibet.


Education and Castes.

Education is not widely diffused in Tibet. In the neighborhood of
Shigatze children are taught comparatively well the three subjects
of writing, arithmetic and reading, but in other places no provision
exists for teaching children, except at monasteries, so that the boys
and girls of ordinary people are generally left uneducated, especially
the latter.

As might naturally be expected, educational establishments are few and
far between. The only institutions worthy of the name are found on the
premises of the Palace at Lhasa, and of the Tashi Lhunpo monasteries in
Shigatze; all the rest are only ‘family schools’.

From the important position which priests command in Tibet, the system
of training them is pretty well developed, and it is only at religious
schools that one can obtain even a comparatively advanced education.
Sons of ordinary people can enjoy the benefit of that education only
by joining the order, for otherwise they are refused admission to
Government schools.

The doors of those schools are, of course, shut against boys of
humble origin. In Tibet there exists one class which is the lowest in
the scale of social gradation. This lowest grade is subdivided into
fishermen, ferry-men, smiths, and butchers. Smiths are relegated to
this grade in Tibet just as in India, and for the same reason--that
they pursue an objectionable occupation in making edged tools used for
slaughtering living things, the most sinful occupation of all. People
of this lowest grade are even prohibited from becoming priests, and if
ever they enter the privileged order it is by some surreptitious means
and by concealing their real rank. In this way some men of the lowest
origin have become priests at places remote from their native villages.
Compared with these despised classes, the ordinary people may be said
to enjoy a great advantage.

The classes who are entitled to enter the Government institutions are
only four:

1. _Ger-pa_, Peers; 2. _Ngak-pa_, the manṭra clan, 3. _Bon-bo_, the Old
Sect clan; 4. _Shal-ngo_, families of former chieftains.

The Peers consist of the descendants of former ministers and generals,
and contain the supreme class called _Yabshi_ which is composed of
families of the thirteen Grand Lamas, past and present, and also of
the descendants of the first King of Tibet, called Tichen Lha-kyari.
They all hold the rank of Duke. The descendants in the direct line of
that King still exist to this day, and their head is entitled to occupy
the same rank as the Grand Lama, only he does not possess any power in
public affairs. The highest posts in the Tibetan Hierarchy are within
the easy reach of the Yabshi men, who can become Prime Ministers or
other great dignitaries of state provided they are judged to possess
qualifications for undertaking those high functions. Even when they do
not occupy such elevated positions, they at least hold posts that are
of next in importance. All the remarks about the Yabshi apply to the
families of the Dalai Lamas, installed at Lhasa, for though the other
Patriarchs at Tashi Lhunpo also possess Yabshi of their own, they do
not enjoy the same privileges as the others. The descendants of the
Dalai Lama’s relatives, and those of the former King, may therefore be
considered as forming in practice the royal families of Tibet. These
should, for convenience, be set apart as a distinct class, though there
are other families that do not differ much from them in origin and
privilege. Of these, one called _De-pon Cheka_ (families of generals)
represents the descendants of the generals and captains who rendered
distinguished services when Tibet engaged in war. The merits of those
warriors, long since dead, obtain for their descendants great respect
from the public and they enjoy great privileges.

The next grade of the Peerage, but considerably below these, consists
of the descendants of families of great historic renown, or of
ministers of distinguished service. Though occupying the lowest grade
in the herald-book of the Peerage, even the portfolio of the Premier is
accessible to these Peers, provided that they are men of ability.

In general, honor and ability seldom go together in Tibet, for official
posts are freely sold and purchased, though buyers are limited. High
officials of real ability are even regarded as a nuisance by their
colleagues, and are liable to be dismissed through their intrigues.
Such being the case, by far the greater majority of high official posts
are held by men who have obtained them in exchange for money.

The class that ranks next to Peers is that of the Ngak-pas or miracle
workers, who are the descendants of Lamas who worked miracles, not
the least of them being their marriage in violation of the rules
of Lama priesthood. Those Lamas transmitted their ‘hidden arts’
exclusively to this social grade, which thus possesses hereditary
secrets. The Ngak-pas play an important part in the social organism
of Tibet. For instance they are entitled, as already mentioned, to
levy the ‘hail-tax’ in summer, and therefore to assume the function
of administrators. They are also held in great awe by provincials and
townsmen, as being magicians of power. The simple-minded folk believe
that if once they incur the displeasure of a Ngak-pa they may be cursed
by him, and therefore may bring upon themselves some calamity. As I
mentioned before, the Ngak-pa people occupy the advantageous position
of being able to procure money in the shape of proceeds of the
‘hail-tax,’ and of presents coming from all classes of people. Strange
as it may appear, the Ngak-pa men, while commanding such advantages,
are notoriously poor; they even stand as synonyms for poverty. Their
sole consolation is that they are conscious of the great power they
hold over all classes of people; and even Peers are often seen to
dismount from horseback and give a courteous salute when they happen to
meet a beggarly Ngak-pa in the street.

The third caste is the Bon-bo the name of an old religion which
prevailed in Tibet long before the introduction of Buḍḍhism. The
priests of this practically extinct religion were allowed to marry,
and have left behind them the class of people who represent this old
social institution in Tibet. The Bon-bo people have to play a certain
distinct rôle in public affairs. This is more of a ceremonial than
of a religious nature. It consists in worshipping local deities, and
undertaking ceremonies intended to secure their favor. When people
marry, they ask a Bon-bo man to pray for them to their local deity.
Sometimes he undertakes other kinds of prayer or even performs symbolic
rites with a benevolent or malevolent aim, according to circumstances.
Families of this particular class are found almost everywhere
throughout the country, though in limited numbers. In some remote
villages, as Tsar-ka in the Himālayas, all the villagers are said to
belong to this class, but in most cases only one or two families are
found in one village or in one district. In such cases the Bon-bo are
objects of great respect, and they sometimes act as local magistrates
or administrators. Even when they pursue any other kind of business,
they still command great respect from their neighbors as descendants of
ancient families.

Though the Bon-bo are descendants of an old religious order, their
present representatives are no longer priests, for they do not preach
their tenets to others, nor try to persuade them to become converts.
They are simply content to hand down their ancestral teachings and
traditions to their children and so maintain their distinct position in
society. Not unfrequently the young Bon-bo enter the priesthood, and
these take precedence over all the other Bon-bo. Strictly speaking the
respect which the people belonging to this particular class enjoy over
others at present is due to their honorable lineage.

The fourth class is “Shal-ngo” and is composed of the descendants of
ancient families who acquired power in the locality on account of their
wealth in either money or land. The Tibetans are in general a highly
conservative race, and therefore they succeed in most cases in keeping
intact their hereditary property. Their polyandrous custom too must
be conducive to that result, preventing as it does the splitting up
of family property among brothers. By far the great majority of the
Shal-ngo people possess therefore more or less property; and even a
poor Shal-ngo commands the same respect from the public as his richer

Common people are divided into two grades, one called _tong-ba_ and the
other _tong-du_. The former is superior, and includes all those common
people who possess some means and have not fallen into an ignoble state
of slavery. Tong-du means etymologically “petty people,” and their rank
being one grade lower than that of others, the people of this class are
engaged in menial service. Still they are not strictly speaking slaves;
they should more properly be considered as poor tenant-farmers, for
formerly these people used to stand in the relation of tenant-farmers
to land-owners, though such relation no longer exists.

Some tong-ba are reduced to more straitened circumstances than the
tong-du, but, generally considered, the tong-ba are distinguished from
the others by the possession of property, greater or less as the case
may be, while poverty is a special feature of the tong-du.

However low the tong-ba may fall in the worldly sense of the word,
and, on the other hand, however thriving the tong-du may become, a
strict line of demarcation still continues to separate the two classes.
Society continues to treat them as before, and as if nothing had
happened in their relative fortunes. No ordinary people deign to eat
with one belonging to the tong-du class, nor do they ever intermarry
with them.

This strict rule of social etiquette is in force even among the four
divisions of the lowest class, that is to say, ferry-men, fishermen,
smiths and butchers. Of the four, the first two rank higher than the
other two. Thus, though smiths and butchers are not permitted to eat in
the same room with common people, the other two classes are allowed to
do so, only they may not sit at table with a privileged plebeian, but
must eat or drink from their own vessels.

It is hardly necessary to add that a strong barrier is set up between
these four kinds of social outcasts and the ordinary common people, to
prevent their intermarriage; a man or woman belonging to the latter
class, who is so indiscreet as to obey the bidding of his or her heart
and to marry one of the despised race, is socially tabooed from his or
her own kith and kin. This punishment is permanent, and even when the
bond of this _mésalliance_ has been dissolved by divorce, or any other
cause, the fallen man or woman can never hope to regain the caste which
he or she has forfeited. The mark of social infamy will follow him or
her to the grave.

It is curious, however, that the issues of these _mésalliances_ form a
social class of their own. They are called _tak ta ril_, which means a
‘mixed race produced by black and white twisted together’. They occupy
a position even lower than that of the four despised classes mentioned
above, and are in fact the lowest caste in Tibet.

There is one interesting feature in regard to this rigid canon of
social caste, and that is the presence of gentlemen-smiths, who, being
men of a mechanical turn of mind, have become smiths from preference.
These gentlemen-smiths do not forfeit their birth and rank on this

Both by law and custom the higher classes enjoy special privileges,
and these go a long way. The children of aristocrats, for instance,
are entitled to exact from their humbler playmates great respect and
courtesy. When the latter so forget themselves in their disputes and
quarrels with their noble associates as to use rough language, they
are at once punished, even when they are in the right. It is evident
therefore from what has been stated that a plebeian, no matter how
wealthy, is obliged to behave respectfully under all circumstances to a
man belonging to the Ngak-pa or Bon-bo, even though the latter may be
as poor as a church mouse. As each social class forms practically one
distinct community with its own particular etiquette, customs and so
forth, ranks are more plainly visible on the surface in Tibet than in
most other countries. The Tibetan proverb corresponding to the western
saying that “blood will out” gains a special significance when applied
to the state of affairs prevailing in that semi-civilised country.

The aristocrats of Tibet are distinguished by noble mien and refined
manners. Conscious of their elevated position, they possess on the
whole a high sense of honor. The other privileged castes occupying
a lower plane, such as the men of the Ngak-pa and Bon-bo races and
the descendants of ancient grandees, still bear the marks of their
respectable birth and can easily be distinguished even by strangers
from the common people.

The common people are plebeian in their general bearing and appearance,
but one thing to their credit is that they are known for strict
honesty, and even extreme poverty seldom tempts them into committing
arts of larceny. On the other hand, the lower classes or social
outcasts are notorious for their criminal propensities to robbery and
murder. In practice they are characterised by crime and wretchedness;
they are criminals and beggars. Beggars in fact form a community
of their own, the profession being hereditary. These classes are
deservedly held in contempt by the public, and their faces even seem to
justify such treatment, for they are remarkable for ferocity, depravity
and vileness.

As I have mentioned before, lads belonging to the higher ranks are
entitled to enter Government schools, but the subjects taught there
are at best imperfect. The lessons consist only of learning by memory,
penmanship and counting. The first subject is the most important, next
comes penmanship, the latter receiving even a larger allotment of
hours than the other. Counting is a primitive affair, being taught by
means of pebbles, pieces of wood, or shells. The subject matters of
learning by memory are Buḍḍhist Texts, the elements of grammar, and
lastly rhetoric. This last is a subject of great ambition for Tibetan
scholars, who are just like Chinese in their fondness for grandiloquent
expressions. Documents to be presented to the Dalai Lama and other high
personages bristle with high-flown phraseology and with characters
rarely used in ordinary writing, and not found even in Buḍḍhist Texts.
The fact is that Tibetan scholars at present hold strange ideas about
writing, being of opinion that they should aim at composing in a style
unintelligible to ordinary persons. The more characters they can use
which cannot easily be understood by others, the better proof, they
think, have they given of the profundity of their scholarship. The
most scholarly compositions are practically hierographic so far as
their incomprehensibility is concerned.


The birch-rod is considered to be the most useful implement in
teaching; not exactly a birch-rod, however, but a flat piece of bamboo.
The cramming of difficult passages of rhetoric being the principal mode
of learning imposed on pupils, their masters are invariably of opinion
that they must make free use of the rod in order to quicken their
pupils’ progress. The relation between masters and pupils does not
differ much from that between gaolers and convicts. The latter, poor
fellows, hold their masters in such dread that they find it exceedingly
trying, at the sight of them and their formidable pedagogic weapons, to
compose their minds and to go on unfalteringly with their lessons. They
cower with fear, and are filled with the perturbing thought that the
rod is sure to descend upon them for the slightest stumble they make
in the path of learning. The ordinary way of using the rod is to give
thirty blows with it on the left palm of the pupil. Prudence counsels
the pupil to stretch out his hand with alacrity at the bidding of his
hard master, for in case he hesitates to do so the penalty is generally
doubled, and sixty blows instead of thirty are given. It is a cruel
sight to see a little pupil holding out his open hand and submitting to
the punishment with tearful eyes. Surely this is not education but mere

I once made an earnest remonstrance on this subject with the Minister
of Finance who, in common with the rest, used to teach his boys with
a liberal application of the rod. To do justice to the Minister, his
method of teaching was much more considerate than that of most of his
countrymen, and he very seldom resorted to rough handling, such as
binding pupils with cords over-night or compelling them to go without
dinner or supper. When however I remonstrated with him on the ground
that the infliction of corporal punishment was entirely opposed to all
sound principles of education, he at first defended the Tibetan system
with great earnestness. We had a somewhat animated though courteous
dispute on the subject; but at length, being a man of great candor of
mind, he seemed to perceive the merit of my position. At any rate he
ceased to use the rod as he did before, and generally confined himself
to giving a reprimand when any of his boys went astray with his
learning. The Minister afterward informed me that his boys seemed to
make better progress when they were spared the rod.

Abuse is also considered as an efficient means of educating boys.
“Beast,” “beggar,” “devil,” “ass,” “eater of parents’ flesh,” are
epithets applied to backward boys by their teachers, and this custom of
using foul language is naturally handed on from teachers to pupils, who
when they grow up are sure to pass on those slanderous appellations to
the next generation.

While the education of the sons of laymen is conducted with such
severity, that of boy disciples by Lama priests is extremely lenient,
and is quite in contrast to that of the others. The disciples are not
even reprimanded, much less chastised, when they neglect their work.
The priests generally leave them to do as they like, much as uxorious
husbands do towards their wilful wives, so that it is no wonder that
the disciples of Lamas very seldom make any good progress in learning.
They are spoiled by the excessive indulgence of their masters. Some of
these masters own the evil of their way of education, and are careful
not to spoil the youthful pupils placed under their care, and it is
precisely from among these latter disciples that priests of learning
and ability may be expected.

The memorising part of the Tibetan system of education, as mentioned
above, is a heavy burden on the pupils. To give some idea of what an
important part this work occupies in their system, I may note that
a young acolyte, who has grown to fifteen or sixteen years old, has
to commit to memory, from the oral instruction of his teachers, from
three hundred to five hundred pages of Buḍḍhist texts in the course of
a year. He has then to undergo an examination on what he has learned.
Even for a lad of weak memory, the number of pages is not less than one
hundred in a year. For those who have grown older, that is for those
whose age ranges between eighteen and thirty, the task imposed is still
more formidable, being five to eight hundred and even one thousand
pages. I was amazed at this mental feat of the Tibetan priests, for I
could barely learn fifty sheets in six months, that being the minimum
limit allotted for aspirants of poor memory.


Tibetan Trade and Industry.

I shall now describe the trade of Tibet, though my account must
necessarily be imperfect for obvious reasons.

I shall begin with an interesting incident that occurred to me in
November, 1901, when I was enabled to send home letters for the first
time after my arrival in the country. That was on the 18th of the
month, and through the agency of Tsa Rong-ba, a Tibetan trader with
whom I had become acquainted at Darjeeling. This man started for
Calcutta on Government business to buy iron, and as I knew him to be
trustworthy I entrusted him with a letter addressed to Saraṭ Chanḍra
Ḍās, in which were enclosed several others addressed to my friends and
relatives in Japan.

The iron which he was commissioned to procure was for the purpose
of manufacturing small arms at an arsenal situated at Dib near
Che-Cho-ling, on the bank of the river Kichu, which flows to the south
of Lhasa.

This industry was an innovation in Tibet, and in fact had begun only
about eight years before that time. It was introduced by a Tibetan
named Lha Tse-ring who had lived for a long time at Darjeeling and,
at the request of his Government, brought back with him about ten
gunsmiths, mostly Hinḍū and Cashmere Mohamedans. Only two of these
smiths remained in Tibet at the time I reached Lhasa, the rest
having returned home or died; but as several of the Tibetan smiths
had acquired the art from them, no inconvenience was experienced in
continuing the industry. This was a great improvement on the old
state of affairs, for Tibet had formerly possessed only flint-lock
muskets, and even these could not easily be introduced from India.
The manufacture of improved firearms was therefore a great boon to
the country, and the Government did not spare expense and trouble to
encourage the development of the art. Hence it came about that my
acquaintance was authorised by the Government to proceed to Calcutta
and procure a supply of iron.

It ought to be mentioned that about this time the departure of Tibetan
merchants to foreign countries for the transaction of business had
become quite frequent. They proceeded first of all to British India,
next to China, and lastly to the Russian territories. The trade with
the last was, however, quite insignificant as yet, and whatever
relations Tibet may have with Russia are in most cases political and
very rarely commercial.

I shall first describe the Tibetan trade with British India and Nepāl.

Of Tibetan products exported to India wool is the most important, and
next musk and the tails of yaks, furs and leathers. Buḍḍhist images and
books, being liable to confiscation when discovered, seldom go abroad,
though they are more or less in demand in India. Other goods exported
to India are insignificant. Formerly more or less Chinese tea for
consumption by the Tibetans residing at Darjeeling used to go to India,
but this is no longer the case.

The quantity of wool sent abroad is quite large. From five thousand
to six thousand mule-packs go to Darjeeling, about one thousand five
hundred to Bhūtān, about two thousand five hundred to Nepāl and about
three thousand to Ladak. These figures are of course far from precise,
for (reliable official returns being wanting) I based my estimates on
information obtained from the traders. Besides the figures given above,
there are quantities, greater or less, sent to China and also westward
to Mānasarovara, but as I did not visit either district, and moreover
had no means of making an estimate about them, I have nothing to say
on the subject.

Musk is obtained in Tibet, but from a certain species of deer and
not from civet-cats. The musk-deer is found almost everywhere in
that country. It is of about two and a half times or three times the
size of an ordinary cat, and though resembling the Japanese deer in
shape, it is not so tall as the other. The musk-deer subsists on
herbage, and is covered with light and soft fur of a deep grey color.
It has an exceedingly amiable face indicative of its mild nature.
One characteristic feature is that it has two small but pretty tusks
somewhat curved projecting from the upper jaws. The musk is found only
in the male, and is contained in a little pouch attached to the hinder
part. A strange fact is that the pouch is said to grow gradually in
size from the beginning to the middle of each lunar month and then
gradually to be reduced again until the end of the month, this periodic
change appearing with great regularity. The musk-deer is therefore shot
about the middle of the month, generally between the 13th and 15th.

The musk-deer is shot with a gun, but in preserved forests such as are
found round about Lhasa and other Buḍḍhist headquarters, where shooting
and hunting are strictly forbidden on pain of severe penalties,
hunters catch the animal, clandestinely of course, by means of traps.
Though the deer is found almost everywhere in Tibet, its principal
habitation is in such remote districts as Kong-bo, Tsari and Lo. Musk
is very cheap in all those districts, costing about one-tenth of the
price given in Japan. The musk produced there is also purer than that
produced in more prosperous places, for the people being simple-minded
do not tamper with it nor adulterate it with other substances. The
musk coming from Lo, for instance, is especially reputed for purity
and cheapness. The district is inhabited by half-naked aborigines,
who resemble in outward appearance both Tibetans and Hinḍūs, though
ethnologically they are more akin to the former than to the latter.

The musk produced by these savages is bartered against articles either
of ornament or domestic utility, such as mirrors, glass beads, iron
pans, sickles, knives, flour, confectionery and foreign trinkets.

Though the musk is obtainable at a very reasonable price in these
districts, the risks and dangers from highwaymen which traders
encounter on the road are so great that only those who are uncommonly
adventurous proceed thither to get a supply from the natives.

The Tibetan musk is sent in larger quantities to China than to India,
notwithstanding the fact that transport to the latter is easier. Almost
all goods from Tibet to China travel through Ta-chien-lu. However, even
at present, more or less is sent to Yunnan, whence Japan has been used
to obtain its supply. The so-called ‘Yunnan-musk’ so much prized in
Japan therefore comes originally from Tibet.

The ‘Blood-horn’ of the ‘Precious deer’ is the most valuable item among
the commodities on the export list to China. This horn makes a medicine
highly valued by Chinese physicians, being considered to possess the
power of invigorating the body, prolonging life and giving lustre to
the face. It is in fact used as an elixir by the Chinese. The horn
therefore commands a high price, and even in Tibet a Chinese merchant
will give as much as five hundred _yen_ in Japanese currency for a pair
of good horns. The inferior horns, however, can be bought at even two
or three _yen_ a piece, these being used not for medicine but only for
ornament. Sharp, experienced eyes are required to distinguish a good
and valuable horn from an inferior one, and even in Tibet there are not
many such experts.

This special kind of deer is found in the wild districts of the
south-eastern and north-western parts of Tibet, especially in the
former. It is a large animal, larger than an average horse, but in
shape it resembles an ordinary deer, only that it is plumper. As a rule
it is covered with greyish hair, though some are covered with fur of
other hues.

The horns are renewed every year, the growth beginning from about
January of the lunar calendar. The new horns are covered with a hairy
epidermis and consist of nothing but thickened blood. They continue to
grow, and about March or April produce one ramification. At the same
time the base becomes hard and bony, whilst the upper parts remain of
the same consistency as before. They are further ramified and elongated
with the lapse of time, and the growth reaches its climax by about
September, after which the counter process of decay commences and the
horns, now grown quite long, drop off about the middle of December.
The largest specimens I saw measured thirteen inches in length with
the main stem of about 1-4/5 inches in girth, and even such horns are
completely covered with hairy integument.

The best season for the horns, that is when they are medically most
efficacious, is believed to be April or May, and it is then that
the natives go out to hunt the animal. The shooting should be done
with accurate aim so as to drop the animal at once, and the hunters
therefore generally aim at the forehead. This is owing to the fact
that when the animal is only wounded, instead of being brought down by
a single shot, he invariably knocks his head against rocks or trees
and breaks the precious horns to pieces. About the month of April or
May, the animal, probably from the necessity of protecting his horns,
sojourns in less remote and rocky places, and this habit makes him fall
an easy prey to the hunter.

I may mention that I brought home a fine specimen of these horns
which I bought at Lhasa. They are genuine, for I had them judged by a
competent expert.

The exports to Nepāl comprise wool, yak-tails, salt, saltpetre,
woollen goods and a few other articles. To the districts lying to the
north-east of Tibet, that is to the north-western parts of China and
Mongolia, go various kinds of woollen goods; Buḍḍhist books also go
largely to Mongolia, as do also Buḍḍhist images, pictures and various
paraphernalia. These, considered as objects of art, are worthless,
though formerly Tibet produced images and pictures of high artistic
standard. The contrast between old and new images and pictures, both
of which are to be seen in most temples in Tibet, is sufficiently
glaring, for the latter are as a rule clumsy performances, offensive to
the taste and also to the sense of decency, being invariably bi-sexual
representations of men and women with one common body. I was once
struck with the notion that the Tibetans are characterised by four
serious defects, these being: filthiness, superstition, unnatural
customs (such as polyandry), and unnatural art. I should be sorely
perplexed if I were asked to name their redeeming points; but if I
had to do so, I should mention first of all the fine climate in the
vicinity of Lhasa and Shigatze, their sonorous and refreshing voices
in reading the Text, the animated style of their catechisms, and
their ancient art. But to cut short my digression, and to resume the
description of Tibetan trade, I must next give an account of the import

Of the imported goods, those coming from India are mostly in evidence.
Among them may be mentioned woollen cloth for decorating the rooms of
temples and for other uses, silk handkerchiefs, Burma _crêpes_, Benares
brocades, silk tissues, and cotton fabrics. White cotton piece-goods
are mostly in demand, next piece-goods of light blue and of russet
color. Figured chintzes of various patterns are also imported more or

Imports from China comprise first of all silk fabrics of sundry kinds,
as brocades, tussore silk, _crêpes_ and satins of various kinds. Silver
bullion and drugs are also imported, but in respect of value tea
stands first on the list of Chinese imports. From what I have roughly
estimated, the quantity of tea arriving at Lhasa alone will cost not
less than six hundred and fifty thousand _yen_ a year approximately,
while the import to Eastern Tibet, which is more thickly inhabited than
the other half of the country, must of course reach a larger figure,
for the Tibetans are great tea-drinkers and both high and low imbibe
a large quantity of the beverage all through the year. The poorest
people, who cannot afford to buy, are satisfied with a thin decoction
obtained from the refuse of the tea-pots of wealthier people. Tea is
rather costly, for one brick of inferior quality measuring about one
foot long, 6-1/2 inches wide and three inches thick costs two _yen_
seventy-five _sen_ at Lhasa; a brick consisting of only leaves without
any mixture of twigs cannot be obtained at less than five _yen_. The
prices rise as we go westward, owing to the cost of transportation, and
for a brick costing two _yen_ seventy-five _sen_ at Lhasa as much as
three _yen_ twenty-five _sen_ has to be paid in Western Tibet.

The imports from Bhūtān or Sikkim comprise tussore-silk goods, woollen
fabrics, and cotton goods.

Then from India, Kashmīr, or Nepāl are imported copper utensils,
grains, dried grapes, dried peaches, dates, medical drugs, and precious
stones of various kinds, as diamonds, rubies, agates, turquoises and
corals. Of these turquoises and corals are the most important, being
widely used by the Tibetans as a hair decoration. For this purpose the
best quality of turquoises are even more prized than diamonds, and a
good turquoise of the size of the tip of the small finger fetches as
much as one thousand two hundred _yen_. Coral without spots is rather
rare, and most of those seen on the heads of the Tibetan women are
spotted more or less. The Tibetans are fond of the reddish or deep
reddish variety, which are not popular among the Japanese. Superior
kinds come from China, and one good coral ball from China commands
from one hundred and twenty to two hundred and thirty _yen_. Indian
specimens are usually inferior in quality. Coral-beads are also
imported from that country. Glass beads do duty for corals for poorer
folk, and imitation corals made in Japan are sold also. These were
formerly passed off as genuine by dishonest merchants, and were sold
at comparatively speaking fabulous prices. They are now taken at their
proper value. Cheap foreign fancy goods and Japanese matches also find
their way to Tibet through India.

Several queer customs prevail in Tibet concerning business
transactions. The mode of selling woollen and cotton piece-goods is
particularly singular. The standard of measurement is the length of the
two outstretched hands, while another measurement based on the length
from the elbow to the tip of the fingers is also used. This measurement
is determined by the buyers, so that a large person enjoys the
advantage of getting a longer measure, while the merchant is subjected
to so much disadvantage. However, this primitive mode of measurement
is generally applied to the native products only, as for foreign cloth
the unit of measurement is a square, each side of which is equal to
the breadth of the cloth to be sold. This is called a _kha_, and a kha
varies with the breadth of each piece of cloth.

Very seldom are native merchants honest in their dealing; even the
most trustworthy ask a price ten to twenty per cent higher than is
reasonable, and the price asked by the more dishonest is really
monstrous, being double or even as much as five or six times the real

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

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

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

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

Though these tedious processes are omitted by big merchants, such as
those engaged in dealing in tea, all the others faithfully observe
them, especially those in the country.

It may be supposed that with so little to export and so much to import,
the country would be impoverished. This, however, is not the case, as
I shall explain. Tibet has been used to obtain a large amount of gold
from Mongolia--more as donations to Tibetan Lamas than as the price
paid for Tibetan goods. This influx of gold from Mongolia has done much
thus far in enabling the country to keep the balance of her trade. She
therefore cannot adopt an exclusion policy economically, even though
she may without much inconvenience do so politically. In fact the
enforcement of economic exclusion would be followed by serious internal
trouble, simply because it would put a stop to the inflow of gold from

However, so far as this Mongolian gold is concerned, it seems as if
circumstances were about to bring Tibet to a result tantamount to the
enforcement of economic exclusion, for since the war between Japan and
China and especially since the Boxer trouble the inflow of Mongolian
gold to Tibet has virtually ceased, so much so that the Mongolian
priests who are staying in Tibet for the prosecution of their studies
are sorely embarrassed owing to the non-arrival of their remittances
from home. Some of them have even been obliged to suspend regular
attendance at lectures, and to seek some means of earning their
livelihood, just as the poorer native Buḍḍhist students are accustomed
to do.

Another thing that adds to the economic difficulties of the Tibetans
is their tendency to grow more and more luxurious in their style of
living, a tendency that began to be particularly noticeable from
about twenty years ago. This has been inevitably brought about by the
foreign trade of Tibet and the arrival of goods of foreign origin. All
these circumstances have impressed the Tibetans with the necessity
of extending their sphere of trade with foreign countries instead of
confining their commercial operations within the narrow bounds of
their own country. The consequence is that a larger number of the
inhabitants have begun to proceed every year to China, India and Nepāl
on commercial enterprises.

Now suppose that Tibet should prohibit her people embarking in this
foreign trade, what would be the consequence? In the first place she
would be unable to get any supply of goods from India, China and other
countries, goods which are now articles of daily necessity for her
people. This, though sufficiently hard, might be endured; but what
would be unendurable would be the closing of Indian markets to the
wool of Tibet, India being the most important consumer of this staple
produce of the country. More wool being produced than can be reasonably
consumed at home, the close of foreign markets is certain to bring
down prices, and therefore to rob the sheep-farmers, or more properly
the nomadic people of that country, of the greater part of the income
they are at present enabled to get from their wool. The supply for food
is, on the other hand, less than the demand, and as the prices of this
essential of life cannot be expected to go down in proportion to those
of wool, the sheep-farmers who constitute the greater part of the whole
population would be threatened with starvation.

The incoming of gold from Mongolia being suspended, Tibet cannot, even
if she would, cut off her commercial relations with the outside world.

Urged by necessity, trade is advancing with great strides, judging at
least from the larger number of people engaged in it, for as matters
stand at present the Forbidden Land may without exaggeration be
considered as a “nation of shop-keepers”.

In fact all the people, with the exception of those who are
disqualified through physical defects and age, are engaged in business
of one kind or another. Even farmers are partly traders. In winter
when farm-work is slack they proceed to northern Tibet to lay in their
stock of salt, obtained from the salt lakes that are found there. Then
these men start for Bhūtān, Nepāl or Sikkim, to sell their goods in
those places.

Priests are not too proud to deal with secular dollars and cents, and
monasteries often trade on a large scale.


The Government itself is a trader, not directly, but through its
regular agents, who in virtue of the important trust reposed in them
enjoy various privileges, such as the liberty to requisition horses for
carrying their goods or to take lodgment _gratis_.

Peers are also traders, mostly by proxy, though some of them refrain
from making investments and are content to subsist on the income
derived from their land. None the less the business spirit permeates
the whole Peerage, and even these non-trading Peers are ready to make
small bargains now and then. Suppose a visitor to a Peer’s house takes
a fancy to some of the furniture or hall decoration in it. In such a
case it is not considered impolite for the visitor to ask the host
the price of that particular article, and to ask him, if the price is
considered reasonable, to sell it to him. Nor is it thought derogatory
for the host to sell his belongings, and so the bargain is struck when
both parties can come to terms. The whole proceeding is conducted with
the shrewdness and vigilant attention to details which characterise
regular businessmen.

It is interesting to note that even boy-disciples in monasteries are
traders in their own way, and do not hesitate to invest their money
whenever they happen to notice in the shops or other places articles
that appeal to their fancy. These they bring home and either sell,
(generally at a large profit) to other boys, or exchange for other

One great evil attends this propensity, and that is the danger of
stimulating cunning practices, each party trying to impose upon the
other in all those dealings.


Currency and Printing blocks.

Commodities are either bartered or bought with regular coins. I should
more strictly say _the coin_, there being only one kind of coin, and
that is a twenty-four _sen_ silver piece. That is the only legal tender
current. Transactions have to be conducted therefore in a rather
complicated manner, inasmuch as that coin admits of being divided in
two ways only. In the first place it may be cut into two, thereby
producing two twelve-_sen_ pieces; or it may be divided into a 2/3
piece and a 1/3 piece, the former passing at sixteen _sen_ and the
latter at eight. The cutting is far from being exact, and cut pieces
are in most cases perforated in the centre or worn down at the edges.
These however are passed and received without complaint.

In Lhasa and other prosperous places the unit of transactions is four
_sen_, but there being no four-_sen_ piece one must take with him in
making a purchase of four _sen_ one 2/3 piece valued at sixteen _sen_,
and receive in return for it one 1/2 piece valued at twelve _sen_. When
the seller happens not to possess this one-half piece, the buyer then
produces one 1/2 piece and one 2/3 piece, and receives in return for
the two one whole piece called a tanka which is valued at twenty-four
_sen_. For a purchase of eight _sen_ a buyer produces one tanka and
receives a 2/3 piece in change.

The unit of transaction being four _sen_ there are six gradations of
value between this minimum and a tanka, each possessing a distinct
denomination. Thus four _sen_ is called a _khakang_, eight _sen_ a
_karma_, twelve _sen_ a _chyekka_, sixteen _sen_ a _shokang_, twenty
_sen_ a _kabchi_ and twenty-four _sen_ a _tanka_.

In less prosperous places, and indeed everywhere except in Lhasa and
Shigatze, it is impossible to make a purchase of less than one tanka,
owing to be the absence of divided pieces of smaller value.

In some places are found silver pieces which are locally circulated,
as in the north-western steppes which form the boundary line between
Tibet and India. These pieces are semi-circular in shape, but are not
accepted in the Grand Lama’s dominions.

Here I should like to recount what occurred to me in my monetary
dealings. It was not an ordinary transaction, but a sort of blackmail
carried out at my expense.

I have spoken before of the prodigal son of the house of Para. One day
this man sent his servant to me with a letter and asked for a loan
of money, rather a large sum for Tibet. Of course he had no idea of
repaying me, and his loan was really blackmail. I sent back the servant
with half of what he had asked, together with a letter. I was told
that he was highly enraged at what I had done, exclaiming that I had
insulted him, and that he had not asked for the sum for charity, and so
on. At any rate he sent back the money to me, probably expecting that I
would then send him the whole sum asked for. But I did not oblige him
as he had expected, and took no notice of his threat. A few days after
another letter reached me from that young man, again asking for the sum
as at first. I decided to save myself from further annoyance and so I
sent the sum. Like master, like servant; the latter, having heard most
probably from his spendthrift master that I was a Japanese, came to me
for a loan or blackmail of fifty _yen_. I gave that sum too, for I knew
that they could not annoy me repeatedly with impunity.

About that time I chiefly devoted my leisure to collecting Buḍḍhist
books, for I had a fairly large amount of money. I must remark here
that Buḍḍhist works not in ordinary use are not sold by booksellers in
Tibet; they are kept in the form of blocks at one monastery or another,
and any person who wishes to get a copy of any of such works must
obtain from the owner of the copyright permission to get an impression
of it. In return for this permission an applicant has to forward
some fee and some donation to the monastery which owns and keeps the
particular set of blocks from which he wishes to get an impression
or impressions, this donation generally consisting of a quantity of
tussore silk. The fee, more or less differing in rate according to
monasteries and kind of blocks, ranges from about twenty-five _sen_
to about one _yen_ twenty _sen_ per hundred sheets. The permission
obtained, the applicant next engages either three or six printers,
two printers and one assorter forming a special printing party, so to
say. Wages for the men are generally fifty _sen_ a day without board,
and as they work in a very dilatory manner, the cost of printing is
rather heavy. The paper used in printing is of native origin, made of a
certain plant, the leaves and roots of which are poisonous. The roots
are white and produce excellent tough fibres. The Tibetan paper is
therefore sufficiently strong and durable, but is not white, owing to
bad bleaching.

Booksellers in Tibet, at least so far as I observed at Lhasa, do
not sell their books at their own houses, but at open stalls in the
courtyard in front of the western door of the great temple-shrine of
the Buḍḍha Shākyamuni, called Cho Khang. I saw ten such bookstalls
in Lhasa and two or three at the bazaar in Shigatze, and those
stallkeepers arranged their stock in trade in heaps instead of leaving
their books open to invite inspection, as booksellers of other
countries do.

The books which I collected either through purchase, or by getting
special impressions from the original blocks, were at first kept in
my room at the Sera monastery, and my collection was a subject of
wonder and curiosity to the priests who were quartered in the rooms
not far from my own. The collection, they were heard saying to each
other, contained three times as many books as even a learned doctor
possessed in Tibet, and they could not but wonder how I, a student from
a remote country, could carry home so many books. I therefore kept all
my subsequent purchases in my room at the house of my host, in order to
avoid suspicion.

Meanwhile the end of the month of December drew near and at last the
New Year’s eve arrived. I made an arrangement to keep the day according
to the Japanese custom. Accordingly I sent my boy to the Sakya Temple
in the city with clarified butter to make an offering of light to the
Buḍḍha enshrined in the edifice. This is done by putting clarified
butter into the gold lamps placed before the tabernacle. Any one who
wishes to make this offering has simply to pay in the usual charge
of two tanka to the keepers of the edifice, and on that particular
occasion I therefore sent my boy with two tanka pieces.

I arranged my own room in a manner suitable to the occasion. I hung
a roll on which was painted an image of Buḍḍha, set in front of it a
tiny sacred tabernacle, then three stands of silver lamps, and lastly
various offerings. After the preliminary service had been concluded,
I began, after the hour of midnight, a regular service and kept it
up till four in the morning of the New Year’s Day. Then I performed
a ceremony in order to pray for the prosperity of their Imperial
Majesties the Emperor and Empress, H. I. H. the Crown Prince, and
also for the greater prosperity and glory of the Empire of Japan. I
thought that during the three thousand years that had elapsed since the
founding of the Empire this must be the first time that one of its own
subjects had offered such a prayer in that city of the Forbidden Land;
then a strange sensation came over me, and somehow I felt grateful
tears rising in my eyes.


As I turned my eyes outward, while continuing the service, I noticed
the New Year’s sun beginning to ascend in the eastern sky, reflecting
its golden rays on the snow that covered the surrounding hills and
plains. Nearer before my eyes and in the spacious court of the
monastery, several snow-white cranes were stalking at leisure, now and
then uttering their peculiar cry. The whole scene was exquisite and
quite captivating; how I should have liked to invite my own countrymen
to come and share this pleasure with me! The service, the thought about
my dear home, the snow-scene, the cranes, and the New Year’s Day--these
roused in me a chain of peculiar sentiments at once delightful and sad,
and this strange association of thoughts I embodied on that occasion in
a couple of awkward _utas_ freely rendered into prose thus:--

“Here on this Roof of the World and amidst the ascending dawn heralded
by the cry of the cranes, I glorify the long and prosperous reign of
our sovereign liege who reigns over his realm in the Far East.

“I hear in the garden of the holy seat the voice of the pure-white
cranes, glorifying the triumph of the Holy Religion.”


The Festival of Lights.

On January 4th, 1902, that is to say, on November 25th of the
lunar calendar, the festival of Sang-joe commenced, this being the
anniversary day of the death of Je Tsong-kha-pa the great Lamaist
reformer. This may be called the “Festival of Lights,” every roof in
Lhasa and in all the adjoining villages blazing with lights set burning
in honor of the occasion. Hundreds, even thousands of such butter-fed
lights were burning on the roofs of monasteries, and presented a unique
sight, such as is rarely seen in other parts of the world.

The Sang-joe is one of the most popular festivals, and lasts for two
weeks. It is the season when the Tibetans, priests and laymen, give
themselves up to great rejoicing, when dancing, singing and feasting
are the order of the day, and when people put on their gala dresses.

The arrival of the season is announced by an interesting custom, a sort
of religious blackmail, enforced at the expense of people of position
from about the second decade of the month of November according to
the lunar calendar. According to this custom every person enjoys the
privilege, for the sake of the coming festival, of begging a present of
money from any superior in rank or position who may visit his house.
Even people of good position and means do not think it beneath them to
exercise this privilege of begging. I myself felt the effect of this
custom and was obliged to present here a _tanka_ and there two tanka.
In this way I spent about five _yen_ in Japanese money during this
season of public begging. I did not doubt it when I was told by some
acquaintance that my Sang-joe item next year would be threefold what
it was in the present year, owing to the enlargement of the circle of
my acquaintances.

The religious side of Sang-joe is a sort of vigil, performed every
night from about midnight to early dawn, the service consisting of the
reading in company of holy Texts. This midnight ceremony is a solemn
affair which every person in the monastery is obliged to attend.

As I attended this ceremony in the Sera monastery I was highly
impressed with the solemnity of the function, and felt that the
peculiarly subdued tones of the chanting exerted upon my mind a
powerful effect. It seemed to me as if angels were conducting the

The whole surroundings were in keeping with the solemnity of the
occasion. The lofty hall was hung with tapestries of glittering brocade
and satin; the pillars were wound with red woollen cloth with floral
designs in blue and white; while on the walls and from the upper parts
of the pillars were hung religious pictures regarded as masterpieces in
Tibet. All these were lighted up by several thousand lamps containing
melted butter, the lamps shining bright and clear with pure-white rays,
not unlike those of gas-burners.

Sitting in the hall amidst such sacred surroundings, and listening
to the chanting of the holy Texts, thoughts of profound piety took
possession of my mind, and I felt as if I were transported to the
region of Buḍḍha.

The Sang-joe is also a great occasion of alms and charity, and the
priests, especially the acolytes and disciples, go round at dawn to
collect alms in the temple when the service is concluded. The people
being more generously disposed at this season than at other times
give quite liberally. I am sorry to say that this pious inclination
on the part of the people is often abused by mischievous priests,
who do not scruple to go, in violation of the rules, on a second or
even third or fourth round of begging at one time. I was astonished
to hear that the priests who are on duty to prevent such irregular
practices are in many cases the very instigators, abetting the younger
disciples in committing them. The ill-gotten proceeds go into the
pockets of those unscrupulous ‘inspectors’ who, urged on by greed,
even go to the extreme of thrashing the young disciples when they
refuse to go on fraudulent errands of this particular description.
Now and then the erratic doings of these lads come to the ears of the
higher authorities, who summon them and inflict upon them a severe
reprimand, together with the more smarting punishment of a flogging.
The incorrigible disciples are not disconcerted in the least, being
conscious that they have their protectors in the official inspectors,
and of course they are immune from expulsion from the monastery.

These mischievous young people are in most cases warrior-priests.
These warrior-priests, of whom an account has already been given, are
easily distinguished from the rest by their peculiar appearance and
especially by their way of dressing the hair. Sometimes their heads are
shaved bald, but more often they leave ringlets at each temple, and
consider that these locks of four or five inches long give them a smart
appearance. This manner of hair-dressing is not approved by the Lama
authorities, and when they take notice of the locks they ruthlessly
pull them off, leaving the temples swollen and bloody. Painful as
this treatment is, the warriors rather glory in it, and swagger about
the streets to display the marks of their courage. They are, however,
cautious to conceal their ‘smart’ hair-dressing from the notice of the
authorities, so that when they present themselves in the monastery
they either tuck their ringlets behind the ears or besmear their faces
with lamp-black compounded with butter. When at first I saw such
blackened faces I wondered what the blackening meant, but afterwards
I was informed of the reason of the strange phenomenon and my wonder
disappeared as I became accustomed to the sight.

I am sorry to say that the warrior-priests are not merely offensive
in appearance; they are generally also guilty of far more grave
offences, and the nights of the holy service are abused as occasions
for indulging in fearful malpractices. They really seem to be the
descendants of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah mentioned in the bible.

They are often quite particular in small affairs. They are afraid of
killing tiny insects, are strict in not stepping over broken tiles of a
monastery when they find them on the road, but walk round them to the
right, and never to the left. And yet they, and even their superiors,
commit grave sin without much remorse. Really they are straining at
gnats and swallowing camels.

There lived once in Tibet a humorous priest named Duk Nyon, a Tibetan
Rabelais, who was celebrated for his amusing though none the less
sensible way of teaching. This priest met on the road a priest of the
New Sect, and it may be imagined that sharp repartees must have been
exchanged between the two. On the road Duk Nyon noticed a small stone,
which he carefully avoided and instead of walking over it walked round
it. Next they came to a big rock, which hardly admitted of walking
over. The humorist stooped low to give momentum to his body and the
next instant he jumped over it. His companion marvelled at this
strange behavior of Duk Nyon; he could not understand why he should
have avoided a small stone and then should jump over a large one. So
the New Sect priest bantered Duk Nyon on what he considered a silly
proceeding, but Duk Nyon replied that he had been merely giving an
object-lesson to the New Sect folk, who were meticulously exact about
small things, but were wont to leap over grave sins without remorse.
The story goes that his companion was much abashed at this home-thrust
of the humorist. This witty remark of the old priest may be said to
hold true even at the present time, for though the Sang-joe presents a
solemn and impressive front outwardly, it is full of abominable sights
behind the scenes. It is merely a season of criminal indulgence for the
warrior-priests and other undesirable classes.


Tibetan Women.

As the position of women bears a vital relation to the prosperity and
greatness of a country, I shall devote a chapter to this subject. Of
the women of Tibet those residing in Lhasa are regarded as models of
Tibetan womanhood, and they therefore demand most attention.

First let me describe the Lhasa ladies, beginning with their mode of

It is interesting to note that the women’s garments do not differ much
in appearance from those of men; both are cut in the same way, and the
only perceptible difference in appearance, if difference it be, is
that women are attired with more taste and elegance than men. Another
distinguishing mark in Tibetan attire is a sash, a narrow band about
an inch and a half wide and eight feet long, terminating at one end in
a fringe. The sash is not tied, as in Japan, but is merely wound round
the body with the end tucked in. Some persons wear a belt made of a
piece of silk cloth, passing it three times round the body.

The ladies of Lhasa dress their hair somewhat like their sisters of
Mongolia, though this fashion is not followed by those in Shigatze and
other parts of Tibet. They use a large quantity of false hair, imported
from China, their natural supply being rather scanty. The hair is
divided into two equal parts down the middle, and each half is plaited
into a braid and left flowing behind. The ends of the braids are tied
with red or green cords with fringed knots, and these two cords are
connected by other beaded cords, the cords consisting usually of seven
or eight threads on which pearls are strung as beads with a larger
pearl or turquoise in the middle.

They also wear a head-ornament made of turquoises or corals, with
one large piece surmounting the rest; and they put on the middle of
the head a cap made of small pearls. Then there are usually golden
ear-rings and a breast ornament (which may cost as much as three or
four thousand _yen_), besides a necklace of precious stones. The
pendant is generally a miniature golden tabernacle which may cost
from two hundred to three hundred _yen_. The arms are decorated with
bracelets, the right one made of pretty shells and the left one of
engraved silver. I must not omit to mention that all the Lhasan women,
both rich and poor, use an apron, which in the case of the ladies is
made of the best Tibetan wool woven in variegated hues. Finger-rings
are comparatively plain, being generally of silver, excepting those
worn by ladies of the highest class. Shoes are also pretty, and are
made of red and green woollen fabrics.

With all their splendid attire, the Lhasan ladies follow a strange
custom in their toilet, for they often paint their faces, not with
white powder as their sisters of other countries do, but with a
reddish-black substance. The Tibetans think that the natural color of
the flesh peeping from underneath the soot adds very much to the charm
of the appearance.

The complexion of the Lhasan women is not quite fair, but very much
resembles that of their Japanese sisters. In general appearance too the
two cannot be easily distinguished, but the women of Lhasa, and indeed
of all Tibet, are taller in stature and stronger in constitution than
the women of Japan. Indeed one hardly ever finds in Tibet women who
are so short and frail as are the average Japanese ladies. The Tibetan
ladies being moreover attired in loose and capacious garments look very

The ladies of the higher classes have fair complexions and are as
pretty as their sisters of Japan.

The women of Kham and the surrounding districts are especially
fair-complexioned, but they generally lack attractiveness, and look
cold and repellent. Their way of speaking also strikes one as inelegant
and uninviting. In contrast to them, their sisters of Lhasa are
charming to look at, and full of attraction. Their only defect is that
they lack weight and dignity, such as commands respect from others,
and their daily conduct is not quite edifying. For instance, they do
not mind eating while walking in the streets. They are also excitable,
or pretend to be excited by trifling circumstances, are prone to flirt
and to be flippant, and seldom possess such nobleness as befits women
of rank. If one criticises them severely, one would say that they are
more like ballet-girls than ladies of high station. They are therefore
objects more to be loved and pitied, than to be respected and adored.
Altogether they lack _character_. Probably this singular defect may
have been brought about by the polyandrous custom of the country.

There are many things which I might cite to the discredit of the fair
sex of Tibet, but of these I will single out only two, their love
of liquor and their uncleanly habits. Uncleanliness is, it is true,
universal in Tibet, but it naturally stands out more conspicuously in
contrast to the general habits of women in other countries, especially
in Japan. Most of the Tibetan women are content with simply washing
their faces and hands, but this washing is seldom extended to other
parts of the body; the ladies of the higher classes however, are less
open to this charge; having no particular business, they have plenty of
time to devote to their toilet.

That which is particularly noteworthy about the women of Tibet, and
probably constitutes their chief merit, is their great activity, both
in the matter of business and also in other respects. The women of
the middle and lower classes, for instance, regard trade as their
own proper sphere of activity, and they are therefore very shrewd in
business of every description. They even choose their husbands from a
business point of view.

As ladies are not required to engage in such kind of work, their
activity is more shown in the form of counsels to their husbands,
whether invited or not. It seems that the Tibetan ladies enjoy great
influence over their husbands, for not only are they allowed to have
a voice in the affairs of men, but are often taken into confidence by
them about matters of importance.

The ladies, perhaps, command even more leisure than their sisters in
other countries. They have practically no special and public duties,
while their domestic cares are also very light, as they do not
undertake sewing. Sewing is considered in Tibet as men’s work, and even
for a little stitching they rely on the tailor. Nor do the ladies of
Tibet care much about weaving and spinning, though some women of the
lower classes pursue either one or both as their regular profession.
Spinning is done with primitive distaffs, and is a tedious and awkward
process, incapable of producing yarn of an even and fine size. Yarns
such as are produced by spinning jennies are never obtained from native

The condition of Tibetan women with regard to men, especially in
the provinces, may be considered as surpassing the ideal of western
women, so far as the theory of equality of rights between the sexes
is concerned. For their stout sisters of Tibet enjoy from the public
almost equal treatment with men. They receive, for instance, equal
wages with men, and indeed there is nothing wonderful in this when it
is remembered that the women of Tibet, being strongly built and sturdy,
can work just as well as the rougher sex, and therefore are perfectly
entitled to receive the same remuneration. These women, though looking
modest and lovely, are nevertheless very courageous at heart, so that
when they fall into a passion their husbands are hardly able to keep
them under control. They rage like beings possessed, and no soothing
words or apologies can pacify them. Cases in which husbands were
apologising on bent knees to wives furious with passion often came to
my notice while I was staying in Tibet. They are demure as cats when
they are at peace, but when their passion is roused they are dreadful
as tigers. They are very selfish and really rule the roost. What is
worse, they are not always faithful to their husbands, but regard acts
of inconstancy as something of quite ordinary nature; and they are
often audacious enough to lay the blame on the shoulders of their poor
hen-pecked husbands, alleging their inability to support their own

The whole attention of the Tibetan women is concentrated on their own
selfish interests, and they do not care a straw for the good of their
husbands so long as they are satisfied. The shrewdness they exercise
in promoting their own selfish aims is something remarkable. From the
highest to the lowest, they are allowed to have their own savings, more
or less, according to their position and circumstances, and fortified
with that source of strength they receive a decree of divorce from
their husbands without any sense of regret. They will, in that case,
pack up their belongings and leave their husbands’ doors with alacrity.

On the other hand, Tibetan women are extremely affectionate and
considerate to the men of their own liking, as if to make amends for
their lack of virtue towards the husbands they do not love. They lavish
their love upon them, devote their whole attention to pleasing them,
and spare neither pains nor money to anticipate their wishes and so to
give them satisfaction. In short, the women of Tibet seem to possess
two antagonistic qualities, and are disposed to run to extremes.

Perhaps this apparent anomaly comes from their immoral habits, and
also from the fact that the sense of chastity in women must have been
seriously affected by the polyandrous custom of the country. Though
sufficiently shrewd to protect their own interests, they are never
self-dependent; they invariably lean on the help of one man or another,
even when they have sufficient means at their disposal to support
themselves and their children. If a husband dies and leaves his widow
and children enough to live on, very rarely does the bereaved woman
remain faithful to the memory of her departed husband. Only very ugly
or old women remain widows; all the rest marry again with indecent
haste. Indeed the idea of fidelity to the husband of her first love
never seems to enter the mind of even a well-educated woman, for
such stories of faithfulness as are common in other countries are
conspicuous by their absence in Tibet.

I shall touch only briefly on the occupations of Tibetan women of the
middle and lower classes. The women in the provinces attend to farming
and rear cattle, sheep or yaks. But the commonest business for them
is the making of butter and other substances obtained from milk, the
process being in this wise: first the milk is subjected to heat, and
then left to cool till a coating of cream appears on the surface. This
cream is skimmed off, and to the remainder a quantity of sour milk
is added and the mixture left for about a day in a covered vessel.
The mixture becomes curdled, and this curdled milk is transferred to
a narrow deep vessel and a small quantity of lukewarm water is added
to it. A piece of wood of the same shape as, and in size slightly
smaller than, the vessel is put into it, and is moved up and down by
a handle. When the curdled mass is sufficiently churned in this way,
the fat begins to separate from the watery portion. According to the
condition of that separation, more or less lukewarm water is added and
the stirring is resumed, till the butter-fat and water are completely
separated. The butter is then strained, and the remainder is boiled
till coagulated clots appear, easily separable from the sour watery
portion. These clots are known as _chura_, and they are very nice
to eat. The water or whey, though sour, is not unpalatable, and is
especially good for quenching thirst. The chura is used either fresh or
in a dried form, the latter corresponding to the cheese used by western


Tibetan Boys and Girls.

Boys enjoy better treatment in Tibet than their sisters, this
discrimination beginning soon after their birth. Thus the naming
ceremony is almost always performed for boys and very seldom for girls.
Though differing more or less according to localities, this naming
ceremony is generally performed after the lapse of three days from the
time of birth. One strange custom about the birth is that a baby is
never washed, nor is there a regular midwife. The only thing done to
the new-born baby is the anointing of its body (especially the head)
with butter, this being carried out twice a day. As this anointing is
rather copiously applied, the Tibetan baby may perhaps be described as
being subjected to butter-washing.

On the naming-day, a priest is asked to perform the ceremony. The
process commences with the sprinkling of holy water on the baby’s head.
The water is first blessed by the priest, and a quantity of yellow
powder made of the saffron flower is then added to it.


The name is generally determined according to the day of the birth, and
especially according to the nomenclature of the days of the week. For
instance a boy or a girl who is born on Sunday is named Nyima, this
meaning Sun in Tibetan. The babies born on Monday bear the common name
of Dawa; those on Saturday Penba; those on Friday Pasang; and so on.
This general use of the same names giving rise to confusion, a specific
individual surname has to be given to each baby. The individual
appellation either precedes or follows the common designation. One baby
bears the name of Nyima-Chering meaning “Sun longevity,” another
Dawa-pun-tsuok, meaning “Moon-all-perfection.”

The choice of such individual names is usually made by the Lama who
attends the ceremony, or is determined by an oracle-consulter, and only
rarely by the father of the baby.

Sometimes the week nomenclature is disregarded and names of abstract
meaning are given to the babies; sometimes also names of animals are
used. On the whole the surnames are of an abstract nature as in the
case of Japanese names. I may add that the boys take a religious name
when they enter the priesthood.

On the naming-day of boys a great feast is held in honor of the
occasion, and the relatives and friends of the family are invited to
it. These of course bring with them suitable presents, such as casks
of liquor, rolls of cloth, or money. The ceremony and the banquet that
accompanies it are chiefly observed by people residing in or near a
city, for in the provinces only wealthy people can afford to follow
this custom.

When the naming ceremony is concluded, the officiating priest reads
a service, in order to inform the patron deity of the place or of
the family of the birth of a baby, and of the fact that that baby
has received such and such a name, and praying that the baby shall
be taken under the protection of that patron deity. This service may
be undertaken by a priest of either the New or Old Sect or by an
oracle-consulter. The last named functionary performs with his own hand
all the ceremony of name-giving, when a baby is born to him, and does
not entrust this business to another priest.

The beginning of school-attendance is another great occasion for boys,
and it arrives when the boy attains the age of eight or nine. This day
also is celebrated with a feast, to which the relatives and friends of
the house are invited, and these present to the boy a kata, which the
boy hangs around his neck with the two ends suspended over his breast.
If the boy is sent to a teacher residing at some distance from his
home, he leaves his paternal roof and lives under that of his master;
but when his master lives in the neighborhood he daily attends his
lessons from home.

The other great occasions for boys are at the end of school life, and
the admission to official service, the latter requiring a ceremony of
far greater importance and a more splendid banquet than the other.

The ceremonies performed for the benefit of female children are fewer
in number than those for their brothers. Generally only one ceremony
is performed, this being a festival for celebrating the advent of
girlhood, and consists of dressing her hair for the first time since
her birth. The dressing is done in a simple style. The hair is tied and
made to hang down behind in four braids, surmounted with a pretty hair
ornament made of red coral and turquoises. On this occasion a large
number of people are invited to a feast, and these bring to the house
various kinds of presents.

Boys’ amusements are much like those in Japan. In winter, for instance,
they play at snow-balling, and in summer their favorite sport is
wrestling. Throwing stones to a distance, pitching at a target with a
stone, skipping, either singly or in company, hitting from a distance
a small piece of hardened clay with another piece, or the striking
out from a circle marked on the ground a silver piece placed in its
centre by means of a stone or any other hard object--these are some
of the popular games of boys. Sometimes both boys and girls join
in theatricals. Ball-games are now and then seen, but not often.
Horse-riding too is a great amusement for boys, but only the sons
of rich families can indulge in this. Poorer boys have to content
themselves with mounting on improvised horses, such as rocks or logs of

The Tibetan girls do not differ much from those of other countries
in preferring quiet and refined games to the rough sports of their
brothers. Dolls are a favorite amusement, and then singing, which is
either theatrical (Aje-lhamo) or religious (Lama-mani). The latter
is associated with an interesting custom, and is an imitation of
“Lama-mani,” who go about the country singing or reciting in quaint
plaintive tones the famous deeds of the Buḍḍha, or high priests, or
even great warriors. These Lama-manis do not use instruments, but
possess pictures illustrating the popular historical accounts of those
mighty persons. The Tibetan girls sing those pieces, in imitation of
the recitation of the minstrels, one girl acting as conductor and the
rest of the juvenile company reciting in chorus, with now and then a
religious chant interposed.

I may mention here that Lama-manis are quite numerous in Tibet. In
winter and when the field work is suspended, they go on tour in the
provinces, but about the month of May, when the field-work is resumed
and the provincials are busy with it, the minstrels return to Lhasa
and ply their trade there. Their arrival at the capital generally
coincides with the appearance of the red dragon-flies, so these flies
are popularly known by the rather respectable name of ‘Lama-mani.’


The Care of the Sick.

The tending of sick persons is a task assigned to women in Tibet,
and the peculiar notions prevailing about the treatment of patients
makes this task doubly onerous. Tibetan doctors strictly forbid their
patients to sleep in the day-time, and so those who tend them have to
follow this injunction of the doctors and keep the unfortunate patients
awake. The patients are not allowed to lie in bed but are made to
remain leaning upon some supports specially prepared for them. One or
more nurses sit by their sides to give them any help they need, and
above all to prevent them from going to sleep. These nurses cannot long
stand the strain of constant watching, and therefore they are relieved
in turn, to resume the task after they have taken more or less rest.
The nurses faithfully attend to their duty, are very quiet so as not to
annoy the patients, wakeful as they are, and above all to satisfy any
of their wants, to comfort and humor them, and also to keep the rooms
clean. This cleaning must be judged strictly by a Tibetan standard, for
viewed from the Japanese standpoint it hardly deserves the name. The
patients are also kept comparatively clean, considering the general
filthy habits of the Tibetans. The effect of this insanitary condition
at once makes itself felt to the olfactory sense of a foreigner who
is accustomed to more perfect arrangements at home, for as soon as he
enters the room a peculiar offensive smell greets his nose.

But the most important and tiresome part of the nursing duty is to keep
the patient awake, and sometimes nurses are specially appointed to
attend to this work. These nurses keep beside them a bowl containing
cold water and one or two wooden sprinklers. When the patient is about
to fall asleep, a nurse sprinkles water on his face, and this has the
effect of preventing sleep. When this water-sprinkling fails, the nurse
embraces the patient from behind and slightly presses him forward.
Sometimes they call the patient by name and cause him to recover
consciousness. The patient is thankful for the trouble taken by the
nurses, being well aware that they do it in obedience to the doctor’s
orders, and from their wish to ensure his recovery.

The idea that a patient must not be allowed to sleep in the day-time
is strongly impressed on the minds of Tibetans, both professional and
non-professional. The doctors enjoin both on him and on the nurses to
observe this point strictly as the first essential for his recovery,
and any person who comes to visit him first of all gives a similar
warning. “Don’t allow him to fall asleep,” repeats the visitor to the
nurses, and reminds them that they are principally responsible for
carrying out faithfully this cardinal necessity in the treatment of the

When a patient dies, the neighbors suspect that his nurses may not have
been strict enough, and must have suffered him to fall asleep!

I tried to find out the reasons that have brought about this strange
medical custom, and it was easy for me to make enquiries, having
been obliged to play the part of a quack doctor through the earnest
importunities of the simple-minded Tibetans. So far as I could
ascertain from those enquiries, the idea seems to be that patients
suffering from some diseases are liable to develop more fever when
they sleep in the day-time, while patients suffering from a local
disease, resembling dropsy, not unfrequently die while asleep or
while in a state of coma. It seems to have been derived from some
cases that occurred some time in the past, the unscientific doctors
of Tibet having jumped to a general conclusion from certain specific
occurrences. I need hardly add that this non-sleep prescription is
efficacious (if ever it is efficacious at all) for the Tibetans only.
When at times I suffered from disease while in Lhasa I slept as freely
as I wished, and of course I found myself feeling all the better for it.

The fact is that, in Tibet, superstition plays a far more important
part than medicine in the treatment of diseases.

People believe that a disease is the work of an evil spirit which
enters the body of a person, and therefore they conclude that that
spirit must first be exorcised before a patient may be entrusted to the
care of a doctor. There being various kinds of evil spirits, some high
Lama must be consulted in order to determine which particular one has
possessed a given patient. A priest before whom the matter is brought
consults books on demonology, then pronounces that the disease is the
work of such and such an evil spirit, and that for exorcising him such
and such a service must be performed.

The consulting priest may specify the name of a Lama when the service
to be read is one of importance, but when it is an ordinary one it may
be performed by any Lama. At the same time the consulting priest issues
directions about medical treatment--that a doctor should be called in
after the service has been performed for so many days, or that such
and such a doctor should be invited simultaneously with the religious
performance, or that medical aid may be dispensed with altogether.

These directions are given orally when the Lama who issues them is
one of secondary position, but when he is one of exalted rank the
directions are written by one of his attendants and the sheet is
authenticated by the mark of his own seal.

The Tibetans put implicit faith in the directions issued by such high
Lamas, and follow them literally. For instance, when the Lama directs
them not to seek the aid of medicine, say for the first five days, and
orders the patient only to perform the rites of exorcism during that
period, they are sure to do so. A patient, who might have recovered
had the aid of medicine been at once invoked, may then die, but his
family will never blame the Lama for it. They will rather hold him in
greater respect than before, attributing to him an extraordinary power
of foresight. They will say that he had foreseen the hopelessness of
the patient’s case, and therefore told them not to take the unnecessary
trouble of calling in the aid of a doctor until after the lapse of five
days. The reverend priest knew, they think, that the patient would die
by that time. Anybody who should dare to hold the Lama responsible for
the death of the patient would run a serious risk of being denounced by
the faithful believers as a heretic and as a person of depraved mind.
Even those who at heart condemn the mischievous and fatal meddling of
the priests in the case of diseases prudently keep silence, for fear of
calling down upon themselves the wrath of the fanatical populace.

To speak the truth, the Tibetan doctors hardly deserve to be trusted.
The word ‘doctor’ as applied to them is a gross outrage on the noble
science, for they possess merely the knowledge (and this too of a very
shallow kind) of the primitive medicine of ancient India. As even that
knowledge is the result of oral instruction transmitted from father to
son for many generations, and not acquired from studying medical works
or from investigation, the Tibetan ‘doctors’ are utterly incompetent
for the important function assigned to them.

The doctors practically possess only one stock medicine, which is the
root of a certain poisonous herb called _tsa-tuk_ in Tibet. Being a
strong stimulant it is fatal in a large dose, and even a limited
quantity causes a temporary paralysis of the different parts of the
body and sometimes violent diarrhœa. A change of any kind is likely
to be taken as a hopeful sign by patients, and so the Tibetan doctors
always use more or less of this drug for all kinds of illness, just as
the Japanese doctors were accustomed to use liquorice-root in olden

Knowing as I do how untrustworthy and even dangerous the prescriptions
of Tibetan doctors are, I sometimes thought that if the choice between
the two evils had to be made I should rather recommend to sick people
an exclusive reliance on prayers and faith-cure instead of on the risky
medicines prepared by these quacks.


Outdoor Amusements.

There are various methods of feasting in Tibet, but the one which
appeals most strongly to the fancy of the people and is, I think, the
most refined, is the _Lingka_. This is a sort of garden party held in
woody places situated in the outskirts of the city of Lhasa.

The Tibetans seldom behave respectably and with courtesy when they
meet in a social reunion; too frequently on such occasions disputes
or even quarrels are liable to occur. But in a Lingka party all those
who participate in it behave with decorum, and even people who are
generally regarded as quarrelsome characters appear genteel and affable
in deference to the best tradition of the country. A Lingka carried out
by a party of warrior-priests is sufficiently animated, but very seldom
do they mar the occasion with unseemly quarrels.

The places where this refined amusement is held are, as before
mentioned, situated very close to the city, and are found in all
directions except the south, where flows a river. In the remainder of
the circuit woods and groves are scattered here and there, and also
patches of velvety lawns. Some of the groves are enclosed and are
attached to the private villas of wealthy people, but there are plenty
of groves and lawns which are left open to the public.

These lawns and groves present a charming appearance in spring, and
the people of Lhasa, after having been chained to the town through the
desolate and dreary scenes of winter, feel themselves inspired with a
new life when they meet again on turf which is resuming its vigor and
putting on a new coat of velvet. There are peach-trees with their buds
about to burst open, while by the streams may be seen willow-trees
with their elegant pendant twigs covered with fresh green leaves.

The whole city of Lhasa finds its heart beating with a new life, as it
were, in agreeable harmony with the fascinating surroundings of nature.
The season of pure and innocent amusements has arrived, and the people,
urged on by the natural cravings of their hearts, sally forth to the
fields in small parties or large, and enjoy themselves with picnics.

The picnic outfit comprises baked flour, fried vegetables or meats,
cheese, raisins, dried peaches, dried animal flesh, sacks of liquor
and tea-sets. There are two kinds of native liquors, one being made of
barley or wheat and the other of rice. Of the two the former is used
to a greater extent than the latter. The barley liquor is brewed in a
very simple way. A certain quantity of barley, generally at the rate of
one _sho_ of the grain to five _sho_ of the liquor, is roasted, then
left to cool, and while it is being cooled a quantity of malt is added,
and the mixture is put in a jug and kept in a warm place. In three
days the mixture is converted into yeast, and to it water is added and
thoroughly stirred. The liquor is then ready, and it is ladled out as
occasion requires, or the whole watery portion is strained and put in
another vessel. In brewing a superior kind of the liquor, only about
two _sho_ of water is added to one _sho_ of the grain and the strained
liquid is left to ripen for some weeks. This superior liquor is used
only by wealthy people.

The ordinary barley liquor is very weak and does not intoxicate unless
a large quantity is drunk. The climate too being comparatively cool and
the atmosphere very dry, the fumes of the liquor soon disappear even
when a man has imbibed a large quantity.

So, prepared with all those provisions, the parties spread their mats
on the turf, and enjoy themselves to their hearts’ contents from nine
in the morning to six in the afternoon.


Let us suppose that a carpet is laid on the velvety lawn in a wood,
and that there are liquors and delicacies to which the party will
help themselves. There will also be singing and dancing. Dancing is
generally accompanied by vocal music, and it occupies in the eyes of
Tibetan people a very important place on the programme of a public
function of this kind. Everybody appears to think that there is nothing
more enjoyable in life than the art of cadenced steps and graceful
postures. Even the country people who from lack of opportunities cannot
learn the art, appreciate and enjoy it just as well as the inhabitants
of cities. Strangers like myself do not see any great merit in the
Tibetan dancing, but to their eyes it is certainly amusing. In short,
the picnic is a source of most refined relaxation to the Tibetans, for
on such occasions they sing and dance, they drink the best of liquors
and eat the best of delicacies, their enjoyment very much enhanced by
the exquisite environment. Here flows a limpid current drawn from
the river Kichu and on its banks are gambolling and running children
and adults. There stand majestic snow-capped peaks with their slopes
covered with verdant forests. Lhasa indeed seems to justify at such
time its classic name of the ‘Ground of Deities’.

The above description applies to a picnic given by people of the higher
classes, but their inferiors also have picnics of their own.

The picnics got up by people of the lower classes are of course
less refined, and the amusements include the drinking of liquors,
gambolling, and maybe wrestling. Tibetan wrestling possesses a
peculiarity of its own, quite distinct from that prevailing in Japan.
The wrestlers generally keep apart from their antagonists and do not
tug and close in as do their _confrères_ of Japan. Very seldom does
a Tibetan wrestler aim at throwing down his antagonist, the contest
consisting in the use of the arms. The picnickers also amuse themselves
with competitions of stone-flinging, which is a favorite game of the
warrior priests, and sometimes they try a foot-race. Dancing is a
favorite item of amusement in the picnics of the vulgar folks also,
and it does not differ much in form from that of people of the higher
circles, though it somewhat lacks elegance and at times it even strikes
one as scandalous. Still, one beautiful point about the picnics even
of the lower people is that very seldom does a quarrel or any such
unseemly incident mar the sweet pleasure of the occasion, and it is
evident that the _changsa_ of the lingka exerts upon them a high moral
influence and indirectly leads them to good. Whether for people of the
higher circles or for their inferiors, among the changsas the lingka
is the purest and most refined of their amusements and is the one most
conducive to fraternal feeling and good fellowship.


Russia’s Tibetan Policy.

Before proceeding to give an account, necessarily imperfect, of
Tibetan diplomacy, I must explain what is the public opinion of the
country as to patriotism. I am sorry to say that the attitude of the
people in this respect by no means does them credit. So far as my
limited observation goes, the Tibetans, who are sufficiently shrewd in
attending to their own interest, are not so sensitive to matters of
national importance. It seems as if they were destitute of the sense
of patriotism, as the term is understood by ordinary people. Not that
they are totally ignorant of the meaning of “fatherland,” but they
are rather inclined to turn that meaning to their own advantage in
preference to the interest of their country. Such seems, in short, the
general idea of the politicians of to-day.

The Tibetans are more jealous with regard to their religion. A few of
them, a very limited few it is true, seem to be prepared to defend and
promote it at the expense of their private interest, though even in
this respect the majority are so far unscrupulous as to abuse their
religion for their own ends. In the eyes of the common people, religion
is the most important product of the country, and they think therefore
that they must preserve it at any cost. Their ignorance necessarily
makes them fanatics and they believe that any one who works any injury
to their religion deserves death. The Hierarchical Government makes a
great deal of capital out of this fanatical tendency of the masses. The
holy religion is its justification when it persecutes persons obnoxious
to it, and when it has committed any wrong it seeks refuge under the
same holy name. The Government too often works mischief in the name of
religion, but the masses do not of course suspect any such thing--or
even if they do now and then harbor a suspicion, they are deterred from
giving vent to their sentiments, for to speak ill of the religion is a
heinous crime in Tibet.

I have already stated how in general the Tibetan women are highly
selfish and but poorly developed in the sense of public duty. One
might naturally suppose that the children born of such mothers must
be similarly deficient in this important point. I thought at first
that the Tibetan men were less open to this charge than their wives
and sisters, but I soon found this to be a mistake. I found the men
not much better than the women, and equally absorbed in their selfish
desires while totally neglecting the interests of the State. A foreign
country knowing this weak point, and wishing to push its interests
in the Forbidden Land, has only to form its diplomatic procedure
accordingly. In other words, it has merely to captivate the hearts of
the rulers of Tibet, for once the influential Cabinet Ministers of the
Hierarchical Government are won over, the next step will be an easy
matter. The greedy Ministers will be ready to listen to any insidious
advice coming from outside, provided that the advice carries with it
literally the proper weight of gold. They will not care a straw about
the welfare of the State or the interest of the general public, if only
they themselves are satisfied.

However, foreign diplomatists desiring to succeed in their policy of
gaining influence over Tibet must not think that they have an easy
task before them. Gold is most acceptable to all Tibetan statesmen,
but at times gold alone may not carry the point. The fact is that
Tibet has no diplomatic policy in any dignified sense of the word.
Its foreign doings are determined by sentiment, which is necessarily
destitute of any solid foundation, but is susceptible to change from
a trivial cause. A foreign country which has given a large bribe to
the principal statesmen of Tibet may find afterwards that its enormous
disbursements on this account have been a mere waste of money, and
that the recipients who were believed to have been secured with golden
chains have broken loose from them, for some mere triviality. It is
impossible to rely on the faith of the Tibetan statesmen, for they are
entirely led by sentiment and never by rational conviction.

The Muscovites seem to conduct their Tibetan policy with consummate
dexterity. Their manœuvres date from a long time (at least thirty
years) back, when Russia’s activity towards Tibet began to attract the
public attention of the Powers concerned. Russia has selected a highly
effective instrument in promoting her interest over Tibet.

There was a Mongolian tribe called the Buriats, which peopled a
district far away to the north-east of Tibet towards Mongolia. The
tribe was originally feudatory to China, but it passed some time ago
under the control of Russia. The astute Muscovites have taken great
pains to insinuate themselves into the grateful regard of this tribe.
Contrary to their vaunted policy at home, they have never attempted to
convert the Mongolians into believers of the Greek Church, but have
treated their religion with a strange toleration. The Muscovites even
went farther and actually rendered help in promoting the interests of
the Lamaist faith, by granting its monasteries more or less pecuniary
aid. It was evident that this policy of Russia originated from the
deep-laid plan of captivating the hearts of the priests, whose
influence was, as it still is, immense over the people. From this tribe
quite a large number of young priests are sent to Tibet to prosecute
their studies at the principal seats of Lamaist learning. These young
Mongolians are found at the religious centres of Ganden, Rebon, Sera,
Tashi Lhunpo and at other places. There must be altogether two hundred
such students at those seats of learning; several able priests have
appeared from among them, one of whom, Dorje by name, became a high
tutor to the present Dalai Lama while he was a minor.

This great priest obtained from the Hierarchical Government some
twenty years ago the honorable title of “Tsan-ni Kenbo,” which means
an “instructor in the Lamaist Catechism.” There were besides him three
other instructors; but he is said to have virtually monopolised the
confidence of the young Lama Chief. Nor was this confidence misplaced,
so far as the relation of teaching and learning was concerned, for
the Mongolian priest surpassed his three colleagues both in ability
and in learning, and as he omitted no pains to win the heart of his
little pupil, the latter was naturally led to hold him in the greatest
estimation and affection.

The Tsan-ni Kenbo returned home when, on his pupil’s attaining
majority, his services as tutor were no longer required. It is quite
likely that he described minutely the results of his work in Tibet to
the Russian Government, for it is conceivable that he may have been
entrusted by it with some important business during his stay at Lhasa.
Soon the Tsan-ni Kenbo re-visited Lhasa, and this time as a priest of
great wealth, instead of as a poor student, as he was at first. He
brought with him a large amount of gold, also boxes of curios made in
Russia. The money and the curios must have come to him from the Russian
Government. The Dalai Lama and his Ministers were the recipients of
the gold and curios, and among the Ministers a young man named Shata
appears to have been honored with the largest share. The name of the
Tsan-ni Kenbo had been remembered with respect since his departure
from Lhasa, and his re-appearance as a liberal distributor of gifts
completed his triumph.

The Dalai Lama was now ready to lend a willing ear to anything his
former tutor represented to him, while the friendship between him and
the young Premier grew so fraternal that they are said to have vowed
to stand by each other as brothers born. The astute Tsan-ni did not
of course confine his crafty endeavors to the higher circles alone;
the priest classes received from him a large share of attention, due
to the mighty influence which they wield over the masses. Liberal
donations were therefore more than once presented to all the important
monasteries of Tibet, with which of course the priests of these
monasteries were delighted. In their eyes the Tsan-ni was a Mongolian
priest of immense wealth and pious heart, and the idea of suspecting
how he came to be possessed of such wealth never entered their
unsophisticated minds. So they had nothing but unqualified praise
for him. When at rare intervals some inquisitive priests asked the
Government officers about the origin of the Tsan-ni’s fortune, the
latter would inform them with a knowing look that the Mongolian Lama
was regarded with something like regal respect by his countrymen, who
vied with each other in presenting gold and other precious things to
that venerable priest. There was nothing strange about his acquisition
of wealth. And so the Government and priesthood placed themselves at
the feet of the Tsan-ni and adored him as their benefactor.

The Zaune’s programme of ‘conquest’ was really comprehensive and
included a general plan intended for the masses. It was based on an old
tradition of Tibet and involved no extra disbursements on his part. It
must be remembered that a work written in former times by some Lama of
the New Sect contained a prophetic pronouncement--a pronouncement which
was supported by some others--that some centuries hence a mighty prince
would make his appearance somewhere to the north of Kashmīr, and would
bring the whole world under his sway, and under the domination of
the Buḍḍhist faith. Now Kashmīr and the places near it are districts
of great natural beauty and delightful situation, and Buḍḍhism once
attained a high prosperity in them, before they were subdued by the
Muhammadan conquerors. This would-be “prophet” must have concluded _a
priori_ that as the faith had once prevailed there, therefore it must
one day recover its original prosperity. Starting from this peculiar
surmise the prophet jumped to the conclusion that the place, from its
advantageous natural position, must in some remote future make its
power felt through the world, and that this would be achieved by some
powerful prince.

This announcement alone was not sufficiently attractive to awake the
interest of the Tibetans, and so the unborn prince was represented
as a holy incarnation of the founder of the national religion of
Tibet, Tsong-kha-pa, and his Ministers were to be incarnations of his
principal disciples, as Jam yan Choeje, Chamba Choeje and Gendun Tub.
The prophet went into further details and gave the name of the future
great country as “Chang Shambhala;” Chang denoting “northward” and
“Shambhala” the name of a certain city or place, if I remember rightly,
to the north of Kashmīr. With a precision worthy of Swift’s pen, the
prophet located the new Buḍḍhist empire of the future at a distance
some three thousand miles north-west of Buḍḍhagayā in Hinḍūsṭān, and
he even described at some length the route to be taken in reaching
the imaginary country. This utopian account has obtained belief from
a section of the Tibetan priest-class, and some of them are said to
have undertaken a quest for this future empire, so that they might at
least have the satisfaction of inspecting its cradle. Now the Tibetan
prophet bequeathed us this important forecast with the idea that when
the Tibetan religion degenerated, it would be saved from extinction
by the appearance of that mighty Buḍḍhist prince, who would extend his
benevolent influence over the whole world. I should state that this
announcement is widely accepted as truth by the common people of Tibet.

The Tsan-ni Kenbo was perfectly familiar with the existence of this
marvellous tradition, and he was not slow to utilise it for promoting
his own ambitious schemes. He wrote a pamphlet with the special object
of demonstrating that “Chang Shambhala” means Russia, and that the Tsar
is the incarnation of Je Tsong-kha-pa. The Tsar, this Russian emissary
wrote, is a worthy reincarnation of that venerable founder, being
benevolent to his people, courteous in his relations to neighboring
countries, and above all endowed with a virtuous mind. This fact and
the existence of several points of coincidence between Russia and the
country indicated in the sacred prophecy indisputably proved that
Russia must be that country, that anybody who doubted it was an enemy
of Buḍḍhism and of the august will of the Founder of the New Sect, and
that in short all the faithful believers in Buḍḍhism must pay respect
to the Tsar as a Chang-chub Semba Semba Chenbo, which in Tibetan
indicates one next to Buḍḍha, or as a new embodiment of the Founder,
and must obey him.

Such is said to be the tenor of that particular writing of the Tsan-ni
Kenbo. It seems to exist in three different versions, Tibetan,
Mongolian and Russian. I have not been able to see a copy, but it was
from the lips of a trustworthy person that I gathered the drift of the
exposition given in the pamphlet. Indeed the Tsan-ni’s pamphlet was
preserved with jealous care by all who had copies of it, such care
as is bestowed by a pious bibliographer on a rare text of Buḍḍhist
writing. I knew several priests who undoubtedly possessed copies of
the pamphlet, but I could not ask permission to inspect them, for fear
that such a request might awake their suspicion. The one from whom
I confidentially obtained the drift of the writing told me that he
found in it some unknown letters. I concluded that the letters must be

Tsan-ni Kenbo’s artful scheme has been crowned with great success, for
to-day almost every Tibetan blindly believes in the ingenious story
concocted by the Mongolian priest, and holds that the Tsar will sooner
or later subdue the whole world and found a gigantic Buḍḍhist empire.
So the Tibetans may be regarded as extreme Russophiles, thanks to the
machination of the Tsan-ni Kenbo.

There is another minor reason which has very much raised the credit of
Russia in the eyes of the Tibetans; I mean the arrival of costly fancy
goods from that country. Now, the fancy goods coming from British India
are all cheap things which are hardly fit for the uses for which they
are intended. The reason is obvious; as the Tibetans cannot afford
to buy goods of superior quality, the merchants who forward these to
Tibet must necessarily select only those articles that are readily
marketable. The goods coming from Russia, on the other hand, are
not intended for sale; they are exclusively for presents. Naturally
therefore the goods coming from Russia are of superior quality and can
well stand the wear and tear of use. The ignorant Tibetans do not of
course exercise any great discernment, and seeing that the goods from
England and Russia make such a striking contrast with each other they
naturally jump to the conclusion that the English goods are trash,
and that the people who produce such things must be an inferior and
unreliable race.

I heard during my stay in Tibet a strange story the authenticity of
which admitted of no doubt. It was kept as a great secret and occurred
about two years ago. At that time the Dalai Lama received as a
present a suit of Episcopal robes from the Tsar, a present forwarded
through the hands of the Tsar’s emissary. It was a splendid garment
glittering with gold and was accepted, I was told, with gratitude by
the Grand Lama. The Tsar’s act in giving such a present to him is open
to a serious charge. If the Tsar presented the suit as a specimen
of an embroidered fabric, then that act amounted to sacrilege, for
the Bishop’s ceremonial robe is a sign of a high religious function,
and when a person receives it from the superior Head of the holy
church it means that that person has been installed in the seat of
a Bishop. On the other hand if the Tsar presented the suit from
religious considerations his act is equally inexplicable and deserves
condemnation, for he must have been perfectly aware that Lamaism is
an entirely distinct religion from the State religion of Russia, and
that the chief of the Tibetan religion therefore has nothing to do with
such an official garment. It was really a strange transaction. On the
part of the recipient there were extenuating circumstances. The fact
is, he must have been entirely ignorant as to the real nature of the
present. He must have accepted it merely as a costly garment with no
special meaning attached to it. I am certain he would have rejected
the offer at once had he had even a faint inkling of its nature. He
was therefore a victim of ignorance and perhaps of imposition, for the
Tsan-ni Kenbo, who knew all about this present, must have made some
plausible explanations to the Dalai Lama when the latter asked him
about it. Shata, the Premier and bosom friend of the Tsan-ni, probably
played some part in the imposture.

[Illustration: PRIME MINISTER.]

Who is Shata? Shata, whose name I have before mentioned, is the eldest
of the Premiers, and comes from one of the most illustrious families
of Tibet. His house stood in hereditary feud with the great monastery
Tangye-ling whose head, Lama Temo Rinpoche, acted as Regent before
the present Dalai Lama had been installed. At that time the star of
Shata was in the decline. He could not even live in Tibet with safety,
and had to leave the country as a voluntary exile. As a wanderer he
lived sometimes at Darjeeling and at other times in Sikkim. It was
during this period of his wandering existence that he observed the
administration of India by England, and heard much about how India came
to be subjugated by that Power. Shata therefore is the best authority
in Tibet about England’s Indian policy. His mind was filled with the
dread of England. He was overawed by her power and must have trembled
at the mere idea of the possibility of her crossing the Himālayas and
entering Tibet, which could hardly hope to resist the northward march
of England, when once the latter made up her mind to invade the land.
He must have thought during his exile that Tibet would have to choose
between Russia and China in seeking foreign help against the possible
aggression of England. Evidently therefore he carried home some such
idea as to Tibetan policy when affairs allowed him to return home
with safety, that is to say, when his enemy had resigned the Regency
and surrendered the supreme power to the Dalai Lama. Shata was soon
nominated a Premier, and the power he then acquired was first of all
employed and abused in destroying his old enemy and his followers.
The maladministration and unjust practices of which those followers
had been guilty during the ascendancy of their master furnished a
sufficient cause for bringing a serious charge against the latter. The
poor Temo Rinpoche was arrested for a crime of which he was innocent,
and died a victim to his enemy, as already told.

Shata is an unscrupulous man and is resourceful in intrigues. But he
is nevertheless a man of vigorous mind and does not hesitate about the
means, when once he makes up his mind to compass anything.

He is the best informed man in Tibet, comparatively speaking, in
diplomatic affairs, and so he must possess a certain definite view
about the foreign policy of Tibet, and his pro-Russian tendency must
have come from his strong conviction, though this conviction rested on
a slender base. This tendency was of course stimulated and encouraged
by the Tsan-ni Kenbo, who did not neglect to work upon the other’s
inclination when he saw that it was highly favorable to him. Shata
on his part must have rendered help to his Mongolian friend when the
latter wished to offer the strange present to the Dalai Lama. I do
not say that the other Ministers approved of Shata’s acts in this
significant transaction, or even of his pro-Russian policy. On the
contrary some of them may have deprecated both as being opposed to the
interests of Tibet. But they could hardly speak out their minds, and
even if they did they could not restrain Shata, for the simple reason
that the executive authority practically rests in the hands of the
Senior Premier. He very seldom consulted his colleagues, still less was
he inclined to accept advice coming from them. Under the circumstances
they must have connived at the acceptance of the bishop’s apparel, even
if they knew about it.

China’s loss of prestige in Tibet since the Japano-Chinese war owing
to her inability to assert her power over the vassal state has much to
do with this pro-Russian leaning. China is no longer respected, much
less feared by the Tibetans. Previous to that war and before China’s
internal incompetence had been laid bare by Japan, relations like those
between master and vassal bound Tibet to China. The latter interfered
with the internal affairs of Tibet and meted out punishments freely to
the Tibetan dignitaries and even to the Grand Lama. Now she is entirely
helpless. She could not even demand explanations from Tibet when that
country was thrown into an unusual agitation about the Temo Rinpoche’s
affair. The Tibetans are now conducting themselves in utter disregard
or even in defiance of the wishes of China, for they are aware of the
powerlessness of China to take any active steps against them. They know
that their former suzerain is fallen and is therefore no longer to be
depended upon. They are prejudiced against England on account of her
subjugation of India, and so they have naturally concluded that they
should establish friendly relations with Russia, which they knew was
England’s bitter foe.

It is evident that the Dalai Lama himself favors this view, and it may
safely be presumed that unless he was favorably disposed towards Russia
he would never have accepted the bishop’s garment from the Tsar. He is
too intelligent a man to accept any present from a foreign sovereign as
a mere compliment.

The Dalai Lama’s friendly inclination was clearly established when in
December, 1900, he sent to Russia his grand Chamberlain as envoy with
three followers. Leaving Lhasa on that date the party first proceeded
towards the Tsan-ni Kenbo’s native place, whence they were taken by
the Siberian railway, and in time reached S. Petersburg. The party
was received with warm welcome by that court, to which it offered
presents brought from Tibet. It is said that on that occasion a secret
understanding was reached between the two Governments.

It was about December of 1901 or January of the following year that
the party returned home. By that time I had already been residing in
Lhasa for some time. About two months after the return of the party
I went out on a short trip on horseback to a place about fifty miles
north-east of Lhasa. While I was there I saw two hundred camels fully
loaded arrive from the north-east. The load consisted of small boxes,
two packed on each camel. Every load was covered with skin, and so I
could not even guess what it contained. The smallness of the boxes
however arrested my attention, and I came to the conclusion that some
Mongolians must have been bringing ingots of silver as a present to
the Dalai Lama. I asked some of the drivers about the contents of
the boxes, but they could not tell me anything. They were hired at
some intermediate station, and so knew nothing about the contents.
However they believed that the boxes contained silver, but they knew
for certain that these boxes did not come from China. They had been
informed by somebody that they came from some unknown place.

When I returned to the house of my host, the Minister of Finance came
in and informed him that on that day a heavy load had arrived from
Russia. On my host inquiring what were the contents of the load, the
Minister replied that this was a secret. I took a hint from this
talk of the Minister and left the room. I had however by good chance
discovered that the load came from Russia, and though I could not as
yet form any idea about the contents, I tried to get some reliable

Now I knew one Government officer who was one of the worst repositories
imaginable for any secret; he was such a gossip that it was easy
to worm out anything from him. One day I met him and gradually the
trend of our conversation was turned to the last caravan. I found him
quite communicative as usual, and so I asked him about the contents
of the load. The gentleman was so far obliging, that he told me
(confidentially, he said) that another caravan of three hundred camels
had arrived some time before, and that the load brought by so many
camels consisted of small fire-arms, bullets, and other interesting
objects. He was quite elated with the weapons, saying that now for the
first time Tibet was sufficiently armed to resist any attack which
England might undertake against her, and could defiantly reject any
improper request which that aggressive power, as the Tibetans believe
her to be, might make to her.

I had the opportunity to inspect one of the guns sent by Russia. It
was apparently one of modern pattern, but it did not impress me as
possessing any long range nor seem to be quite fit for active service.
The stock bore an inscription attesting that it was made in the United
States of America. The Tibetans being ignorant of Roman letters and
English firmly believed that all the weapons were made in Russia.
It seems that about one-half of the load of the five hundred camels
consisted of small arms and ammunition.

The Chinese Government appears mortified to see Tibet endeavoring to
break off her traditional relation with China, and to attach herself
to Russia. The Chinese Amban once tried to interfere with the Tsan-ni
Kenbo’s dealings in Lhasa, and even intended to arrest him. But it was
of no avail, as the Tibetan Government extended protection to the man
and defeated the purposes of the Amban. On one occasion the Tsan-ni
was secretly sent to Darjeeling and on another occasion to Nepāl, and
the Amban could never catch hold of him. It appears that the British
Government watched the movements of the Tsan-ni, and this suspicion of
England against him appears to have been shared by the Nepāl Government.

Apparently therefore the Russian manœuvres in Tibet have succeeded, and
the question that naturally arises is this: “Is Russia’s footing in
Tibet so firmly established as to enable her to make with any hope of
success an attempt on India with Tibet as her base?” I cannot answer
this question affirmatively, for Russia’s influence in Tibet has not
yet taken a deep root. She can count only on the Dalai Lama and his
Senior Premier as her most reliable friends, and the support of the
rest who are simply blind followers of those two cannot be counted
upon. Of course those blind followers would remain pro-Russian, if
Russia should persist in actively pushing on her policy of fascination;
but as their attitude does not rest on a solid foundation they may
abandon it any time when affairs take a turn unfavorable for Russia.
For it must be remembered that by no means the whole of the higher
classes of Tibet are even passive supporters of the policy marked out
by the Dalai Lama and his trusted lieutenants. On the contrary, there
are some few who are secretly suspicious of the motives of Russia. The
Tsar, they think, may be the sovereign who is the incarnate Founder,
but his very munificence towards Tibet may have some deep meaning
at bottom. That munificence may not be for nothing; if it is, then
Russia must be regarded as a country composed of people who are
quite godly--a very rare thing in this world of give and take, where
selfishness is a guiding motive. Is it not more reasonable and safer to
interpret these repeated acts of outward friendship as coming from her
ambitious design to place a snare before Tibet and finally to absorb
the country? Such ideas are, I say, confined to only a very limited
section, and are exchanged in whispers between confidential friends.
They do not seem to have reached the ears of the Dalai Lama and the
Senior Premier. But those ideas already contain in them a germ of a
dangerous nature, which at some favorable opportunity may develop into
a powerful anti-Russian movement. Russia therefore will experience
a keen disappointment if she considers her footing in Tibet firmly
planted beyond any fear of shaking, and neglects to keep watch over the
state of affairs in that country. If she neglects this, all the gold
she has disbursed in the shape of presents and bribes will prove so
much mere waste.


Tibet and British India.

The Tibetans are on the whole a hospitable people, and the unfavorable
discrimination made against England is mainly attributable to mutual
misunderstanding. On the part of England that misunderstanding
led to the adoption of a rough and ready method instead of one of
ingratiation, and so England is singled out as an object of abhorrence
by Tibet. England had opportunities to score a greater success in
Tibet than that achieved by Russia, and had she followed the Russian
method her influence would now have extended far beyond the Himālayas.
Instead, she tried to coerce Tibet, and so she failed. It is like
crying over spilt milk to speak of this failure at present, but I
cannot help regretting it for the sake of England. She would have saved
much of the trouble and money she has subsequently been obliged to give
in consequence of her too hasty policy, occasioned by her ignorance
of the temper of the Tibetans and the general state of affairs in
their country. As it was, since England sent her abortive expedition
of force, the attitude of Tibet towards that Power has become one of
pronounced hostility. The revelation of the secret mission of Saraṭ
Chanḍra Ḍās and the serious agitation that occurred in Tibet, including
the execution of several noted men, such as the virtuous Sengchen
Dorjechan and others, has completely estranged the Tibetan Government
from England. That revelation has had a far-reaching effect that has
involved the interests of other countries, for it confirmed the Tibetan
Government in its prejudice in favor of a exclusory policy. Tibet has
been closed up entirely since that time, not only against British
India, but even against Russia and Persia. The Lama believers of India
even are prohibited from entering the country. Such being the case,
should England ever wish to transact any business with Tibet she would
be obliged to do so by force.

Not that England neglects to take measures calculated to win the
favorable opinion of the Tibetans. The Indian Viceroy is, for instance,
endeavoring to convey friendly impressions to such of the Tibetans as
may happen to come to frontier places, such as Darjeeling or Sikkim.
Thus the children of those Tibetans are at liberty to enter any
Government schools without paying fees, while boys of a hopeful nature
are patronised by the Government and are sent at Government expense to
higher institutions. At present there are quite a number of Tibetan
lads who, after graduation from their respective courses, are employed
by the Indian Government as surveyors, Post Office clerks or teachers.
Then the privilege of carrying on the business of palanquin-bearers,
quite a lucrative occupation, is practically reserved for the Tibetans,
at least at Darjeeling. Not even natives of India, still less people of
other countries, are easily allowed to start this business. The Indian
Police officers too are quite indulgent towards the Tibetans, and never
deal with them so strictly as with the Indian natives.

The Tibetans residing at Darjeeling are therefore quite satisfied with
their lot. Most of them feel sincerely grateful towards the British
Government and are ready to repay it with friendly service. The
longer they remain under the British protection, the stronger grows
this sentiment. They are impressed with the treatment of the British
Government, its straightforwardness, veracity and benevolence, in
contrast to the merciless dealings of the Government at home, which
inflicts shocking punishments for even minor offences. They are well
aware that the Lama’s Government cuts off a man’s arms or extracts his
eye-balls for larceny, or similar minor crimes, while in India capital
punishment is very seldom inflicted even on offenders of a grave
character; the humane treatment of criminals by the British Government
is a thing that can hardly be dreamed of by the people of Tibet. The
roads in India are an object of marvel to the Tibetans who arrive there
for the first time. The presence of free hospitals, of free asylums, of
educational institutions, the railways, telegraphs and telephones--all
these are objects of wonder and marvel to those Tibetans, and it is not
strange that most of them become the more disinclined to return home
the longer they live in India. In the presence of these evidences of
material greatness, the Tibetans naturally come to the conclusion that
a Government which can afford to establish and maintain such splendid
structures must be immensely rich, and they therefore begin to nurture
the hope of having such a wealthy and great Government over them, and
of sharing in its prosperity. This sentiment seems to be especially
strong among those of the higher classes, who have seen India, and it
is shared by their inferiors who know that greatness only from hearsay.

The policy of indirectly winning the goodwill of the Tibetans, so far
pursued by the Indian Government, has failed, however, to produce any
perceptible effect on the Government circles of Tibet. They are too far
engrossed with personal interests to be open to any great extent to
indirect suasion of a moral nature. They are far more inclined to gain
advantage for themselves directly from offers of bribes than to profit
by an exemplary model of administration. The main reason why they
are favorably disposed towards Russia is because they have received
gold from that country; it was never by the effect of any display
of good administrative method that Russia has succeeded so well. In
short, these greedy Tibetan officials offer their friendship to the
highest bidders, and they do not care at all whence the gold comes so
long as they grasp a large sum. The policy of the British Government
therefore rests on a pedestal set a little too high to be understood
and appreciated by the majority of the official circles of Tibet.

The attitude of the priesthood towards England is a puzzled one. They
are puzzled to determine whether they should denounce the English
as devils incarnate, or respect them as the incarnations of saints.
The benevolent arrangements made by them, such as establishing
philanthropic institutions, laying of railroads and such like, lead
the sceptical Lamas to think that Englishmen must understand the ways
of Buḍḍhism and be a godly race. But when they think that these same
Englishmen did not scruple to annex other people’s land to their own
dominions, their favorable impression about Englishmen receives a
sudden and complete check. These two conflicting notions seem to have
taken a deep hold on their minds, and they try to solve the puzzle
without compromising their two convictions. They explain that there
must be two distinct kinds of Englishmen in India, one benevolent and
godly and the other infernal and quite wicked. Otherwise, they think,
such a marvellous phenomenon as that witnessed in India could hardly
have been possible.

The same priests held a strange notion about the late Queen. They
believed her to be an incarnation of the patron Goddess of the
Cho-khang temple in Lhasa, and therefore endowed with a supernatural
power of subjugating and governing the whole world. Because of this
occult affinity the Queen entertained, they believed, a fraternal
feeling towards Tibet, but some of the courtiers about her were
wicked and obstructed her benevolent intentions, just as the great
Buḍḍha himself had among His disciples some wicked and incorrigible
characters. The Tibetans, they said, must get rid of those pernicious
persons for the Queen.

When the news of the death of the Queen reached Tibet, the people,
while mourning for her, at the same time rejoiced, for they thought
that their Panden Lhamo, the Goddess in question, was once more
restored to them.

I may add that I was frequently asked by the literates and other men of
learning of my own impression about British India, for they knew that
I had visited Buḍḍhagayā and other places in India. On such occasions
I merely confined myself as much as possible to general remarks, for I
feared that any accurate explanation might awake their suspicions about
my supposed personality.

The existence of the Siberian railway can hardly be expected to give
any great help to Russia, if ever the latter should be obliged from
one reason or another to send a warlike expedition to Lhasa. The
distance from the nearest station to Lhasa is prohibitive of any such
undertaking, for the march, even if nothing happens on the road,
must require five or six months and is through districts abounding
in deserts and hills. The presence of wild natives in Amdo and Kham
is also a discouraging factor, for they are people who are perfectly
uncontrollable, given up to plunder and murder, and of course
thoroughly at home in their own haunts. Even discipline and superior
weapons would not balance the natural advantages which these dreadful
people enjoy over intruders, however well informed the latter may be
about the topography of the districts. Russia can hardly expect to
subdue Tibet by force of arms. It was in consideration of this fact
that the Tsan-ni Kenbo has been endeavoring to impose upon the Tibetans
that audacious fiction about the identity of the Tsar’s person with
that of the long dead Founder of the New Sect, so that his master might
accomplish by peaceful means what he could hardly effect by force.

However, even the Tsan-ni’s painstaking efforts appear to have fallen
short of his expectations, and there is a danger of a reaction setting
in against him.

It must be remembered that the sentiment of the common people towards
China still retains its old force, even though they know that the power
of their old patron has considerably declined lately. They are well
aware that Tibet has been placed from time immemorial in a state of
vassalage to China, that Prince Srong-tsan Gambo who first introduced
Buḍḍhism into Tibet had as his wife a daughter of the then Emperor of
China, while the Tibetans believe that the present Emperor of China
is an incarnation of a Buḍḍhist deity (the Chang-chub Semba Tambe
yang in Tibetan) worshipped on Mount Utai, China. And so both from
tradition and prejudice and from present superstition, the mass of the
people, who are conservative, cannot but regard China with a lingering
sentiment of respect and attachment, and the position which China still
occupies in the niches of their hearts can hardly be supplanted by
Russia, even when the Tsan-ni Kenbo ingeniously represents her as the
country indicated in the Tibetan _Book of Prophecy_.

As I have mentioned before, some few of the influential Government
officials do not seem to approve of the Tsan-ni’s movement. They even
suspect that Russia might have some sinister object in view when she
presented gold and other valuable things to the Dalai Lama and others.
Tibet has no newspapers, but even without that organ of public opinion
the public become acquainted sooner or later with most important
occurrences, and so it stands to reason that the unfavorable view which
is secretly entertained by a limited number of thoughtful men must
have leaked out one way or other to at least a section of the public.
The result is that not a small number of priests have begun to side,
though not as an organised movement, with these prudent thinkers, and
therefore to rebel against Shata and his faction. The priests of the
colleges and the warrior-priests seem to be particularly conspicuous
in this reactionary movement. Indeed the fact is that Shata has never
been a _persona grata_ with those young men since the tragedy of Temo
Rinpoche, and so they were inclined to view anything done by the crafty
author of that tragedy with suspicious eyes. Then again the thoughtful
portion of the college-priests never tolerated the Nechung oracles.
They despised the oracle-priests as not much better than men of unsound
mind, as drunkards, and corrupters of national interests. The very fact
that Shata patronised this vile set further estranged him from the

Under the circumstances, something like a reaction seems already to
have set in against the pro-Russian agitation ingeniously planned by
the Tsan-ni Kenbo. It remains to be seen what steps Russia will take
towards Tibet to prevent the Lama’s country from slipping away from her

In reviewing the relations that formerly existed between British
India and Tibet, it must be stated first of all that British India
was closely connected with Tibet many years ago. At least Tibet’s
attitude toward the Indian Government was not embittered by any hostile
sentiment. In the eighteenth century, during the Governor-Generalship
of Warren Hastings, he sent George Bogle to make commercial
arrangements between the two countries. This gentleman resided a few
years at Shigatze. Then Captain Turner also lived at the same place
as a commercial agent for some time. After that time India did not
send any more such commissioners, but till about twenty-four years
ago the Indian natives were permitted to enter Tibet unmolested. They
were generally pilgrims or priests bent on visiting the sacred places.
Quite a large number of such Indians must have entered Tibet. Prior
to the exploration of Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās it was not an uncommon sight,
I have been told, to see a party of naked priests, each carrying a
water-vessel made of gourd, and iron tongs, and with faces smeared with
ashes, proceeding towards Tibet. Though official relations had ceased
between Tibet and India, their people therefore were bound together by
some friendly connexions till quite recently. It is not unlikely that
if the Indian Government had made at that time some advances acceptable
to Tibet, it would have succeeded in establishing cordial relations
with the latter.

The exploration of Saraṭ Chanḍra Ḍās disguised as an ordinary Sikkimese
priest, and the frontier trouble that followed it, completely changed
the attitude of Tibet towards India and the outer world and made it
adopt a strict policy of exclusion. The publication of the results of
that exploration directed the attention of the Indian Government to the
question of delimiting the boundary between Sikkim, its protectorate,
and Tibet. It was at that time that the Tibetan Government adopted
most indiscreet measures at the instance of a fanatical Nechung, and
proceeded to build a fort at a frontier place which distinctly belonged
to Sikkim. The Tibetan Government is said to have at first hesitated
to follow that insidious advice, but the Nechung was clamorous and
declared that his presence in the fort would disarm any troops which
the Indian Government might send against it. Tibet therefore, continued
the fanatic, need not be afraid of the Indian Government and must
proceed to construct a fort with all promptitude. He argued that the
presence of a fort would go far towards promoting Tibet’s cause in
settling the boundary dispute and the fort would become the permanent
boundary mark.

Accordingly the fort was built at a place that was beyond the
legitimate boundary line of Tibet. Soon the Indian troops arrived
and, ‘infidels’ as they were, they made short work of it, in utter
defiance of the terrible anathema hurled by the indomitable Nechung
against them. The stronghold was carried by assault by the invaders.
The crumbled stone walls standing on a hill at a place about twenty
miles on this side of Nyatong, which marks the boundary between Sikkim
and Tibet, indicate the site of this short-lived stronghold built by
the Tibetan Government. Now in building a fort in a place which the
Tibetans themselves knew to belong to Sikkim, they may have reasoned
with self-complacency that as Sikkim formerly belonged to Tibet,
therefore they might not improperly revive their original claim on,
at least, a portion of that district now under the jurisdiction of
England. Of course England could never concur in such an arrangement,
and the trouble between her and Tibet at last culminated in war. This
was about sixteen years ago. The issue of that war was from the first
a foregone conclusion, and the troops sent by the Indian Government
easily put to rout the fighting men of Tibet. The latter held better
positions, but they lacked discipline, training and good weapons,
while they had the further disadvantage of being commanded by would-be
generals and captains who did not care to lead their men in person, but
contented themselves with issuing orders and leaving them to be carried
out anyhow. Needless to add that the orders could never be carried out,
but were invariably frustrated by the invaders. The Tibetan generals
and captains escaped unhurt, for the simple reason that they had
never exposed themselves to danger. After issuing orders, they always
remained in the camp and spent their time in gambling, leaving their
soldiers to be killed or wounded on the field. Thus the war ended
with some heavy casualty returns on the Tibetan side, and far shorter
returns on the part of the invaders.

As the result of this war the frontier line was drawn through Nyatong,
and though the Indian Government would have been justified in extending
it further down to Chumbi Samba, it did not push its claim so far.

Apparently the action of the Indian Viceroy of that time was crowned
with success, but when this complication is viewed with an eye to
a longer and more permanent end, I cannot approve of the measures
adopted by him. He should I think, have adopted a course of leniency
instead of one of stern punishment, and should have endeavored by
some clever manœuvres, not excluding a rather liberal disbursement
of secret service funds, to win the good-will of the ruling circles
of Tibet. I think the result would have been far more advantageous
for the future success of England than recovering at the point of the
bayonet a barren tract covering only thirty miles in area. Who knows
but that the influence of England might have been firmly established in
Tibet by this time if that patronising policy had been adopted then,
and that Englishmen might not be free to come and reside in and about
Lhasa to enjoy the pure atmosphere and cool and healthy climate of that


China, Nepal and Tibet.

It requires the erudition and investigations of experts to write with
any adequacy about the earlier relations between China and Tibet. I
must therefore confine myself here only to the existing state of those

Tibet is nominally a protectorate of China, and as such she is bound
to pay a tribute to the Suzerain State. In days gone by, Tibet used
to forward this tribute to China, but subsequently the payment was
commuted against expenses which China had to allow Tibet, on account
of the Grand Prayer which is performed every year at Lhasa for the
prosperity of the Chinese Emperor. As a result of this arrangement,
Tibet ceased to send the tribute and China to send the prayer fund.

The loss of Chinese prestige in Tibet has been truly extraordinary
since the Japano-Chinese War. Previous to that disastrous event, China
used to treat Tibet in a high-handed way, while the latter, overawed
by the display of force of the Suzerain, tamely submitted. All is
now changed, and instead of that subservient attitude Tibet regards
China with scorn. The Tibetans have come to the conclusion that their
masters are no longer able to protect and help them, and therefore
do not deserve to be feared and respected any more. It can easily be
understood how the Chinese are mortified at this sudden downfall of
their prestige in Tibet. They have tried to recover their old position,
but all their endeavors have as yet been of no avail. The Tibetans
listen to Chinese advice when it is acceptable, but any order that is
distasteful to them is utterly disregarded.

While I was staying in Lhasa a yellow paper, containing the Chinese
Emperor’s decree issued at the termination of the Boxer trouble,
was hung up in the square of that city. The decree was addressed to
all the eighteen provinces of China and all her protectorates. It
warned the people under pain of severe penalty against molesting and
persecuting foreigners, as they, the people, were too frequently liable
to do from their ignorance of the state of affairs abroad and their
misunderstanding of the motives of the foreigners who came to their
respective districts. These foreigners, the decree continued, have
really come to engage in industrial pursuits or in diffusing religion,
and for other purposes beneficial alike to the people and themselves.
In order to promote these aims of mutual benefit, the middle kingdom
has been opened so as to allow foreigners freedom of travelling to
any place they wish, and so, concluded the decree, this policy of
welcome and hospitality should be adopted in all the provinces and

Two other decrees of like import arrived afterwards and were similarly
posted up, and I thought at that time that the allies must have entered
Peking, and that this decree must have been issued as a result of the
conclusion of peace between the Powers and China.

The decree, however, failed to produce any particular impression on
the Tibetans. I asked a high Government official what Tibet was going
to do with the order set forth in the decree, and whether the Tibetan
Government, in the face of that injunction, could refuse, for instance,
to allow Englishmen to enter the country. The official scornfully
replied that his Government was not obliged to obey an order which the
Chinese Emperor issued at his own pleasure. And besides it was highly
doubtful whether the Emperor, who was an incarnation of a high saint,
could have issued a decree of that nature, which he must have known to
be utterly opposed to the interests and traditional policy of Tibet.
It was more probably clandestinely issued by some wicked men near the
Emperor’s person, as a result of bribes received from foreigners. It
did not deserve to be trusted, much less to be obeyed, declared my
Tibetan friend.

Whatever be the motive, therefore, the Tibetans are utterly indifferent
to most of the decrees coming from China, and treat them like so many
gamblers’ oaths, neither more nor less.

Whether it be from polygamous customs or from other causes, the fact
remains, though it is not possible to prove it by accurate statistical
returns, that the population of Nepāl is rapidly increasing. It must
be remembered that the Government takes great pains to increase its
population, in order to expand its interests both at home and abroad,
and, probably under the impression that polygamy is conducive to that
end, it is encouraging this questionable practice. In Nepāl therefore
even a man who can hardly support his family has two or three wives,
and one who is better off has many more. Apparently this policy is
attended with success, so far as the main object aimed at is concerned,
for I have never seen so many children anywhere as I saw in Nepāl,
where every family consisted of a large number of boys and girls.

Be the cause what it may, the beneficial effect of this steady advance
of population is plainly visible in that country, where almost every
nook and corner of available land is brought under tillage, where woods
are tended with extreme care, and even the remote forests inhabited by
wild beasts are made to contribute their share to the stock of lumber,
of which a large portion is annually exported to lower India. Already
the population of Nepāl appears to be too large for the limited area
of the country, and so a considerable emigration is taking place. Thus
we find the Nepālese serving in the army of the Indian Government, or
pursuing trade or opening up wild lands in Sikkim or at Darjeeling.
Above all the Nepālese seem to cast their longing glances towards
Tibet as the best field for their superfluous population; for Tibet,
while possessing an area about twelve-fold that of Nepāl, is far more
thinly populated. They even seem to be prepared to go through the
ordeal of war, if necessary, to secure that best outlet for their needy
population, which cannot find sufficient elbowroom at home. Perhaps
the Nepāl Government has that contingency in view in maintaining,
as it does, a standing army which is evidently far above its home
requirements in numerical strength.

In Nepāl the military department receives appropriations which are
quite out of proportion to those set apart for peaceful matters, as
education, justice and philanthropy. Indeed the Nepāl troops, the
famous Gurkhas, may even rival regular British troops in discipline and
effectiveness; they may perhaps even surpass the others in mountain
warfare, such as would take place in their own country. Certainly in
their capacity of enduring hardships and in running up and down hills,
bearing heavy knapsacks, they are superior to the British soldiers.
They very much resemble the Japanese soldiers in stature and general
appearance, and also in temperament. The one might easily be mistaken
for the other, so close is the resemblance between the two. In short,
as fighters in mountainous places the Gurkhas form ideal soldiers; and
it seems as though circumstances will sooner or later compel Nepāl to
employ for her self-defence this highly effective force. Russia is at
the bottom of the impending trouble, while Tibet supplies the immediate

The Russianising tendency of Tibet has recently put Nepāl on her guard,
and when intelligence reached Nepāl that Tibet had concluded a secret
treaty with Russia, that the Dalai Lama had received a bishop’s robe
from the Tsar, and that a large quantity of arms and ammunition had
reached Lhasa from S. Petersburg, Nepāl became considerably alarmed,
and with good reason. For with Russia established in Tibet, Nepāl
must necessarily feel uneasy, as it would be exposed to the danger of
absorption. The very presence of a powerful neighbor must subject Nepāl
to a great strain which can hardly be borne for long.

It is not surprising to hear that Nepāl is said to have communicated
in an informal manner with Tibet and to have demanded an explanation
of the rumors concerning the conclusion of a secret treaty between her
and Russia, adding that if that were really the case then Nepāl, from
considerations of self-defence, must oppose that arrangement even if
the opposition entailed an appeal to arms. What reply Tibet has made
to this communication is not accurately known, but that Nepāl sent an
informal message to this effect admits of no doubt.

Nepāl may be driven to declare war on Tibet should the latter persist
in pursuing her pro-Russian policy, and allow Russia to establish
herself in that country; and it is quite likely that England may be
pleased to see Nepāl adopt that resolute attitude. She may even extend
a helping hand, for instance by supplying part of the war expense, and
thus enabling Nepāl to prosecute that movement. The reason is obvious,
for England has nothing to lose but everything to gain from trouble
between Nepāl and Tibet, in which the former may certainly be expected
to win. But even if Nepāl is victorious her victory will bring her
only a small benefit, and the lion’s share will go to England; Nepāl
therefore would be placed in the rather foolish position of having
taken the chestnuts from the fire for the British lion to eat. The
present Ruler of Nepāl is too intelligent a statesman not to perceive
that--judging at least from my personal observations, when I was
allowed to see the Ruler, the Cabinet Minister. He knows that it would
be far better for his countrymen to content himself with the reality
of benefit rather than with the glory of a successful but necessarily
costly war. He should confine himself to making some arrangements
with Tibet by which the Nepālese may be enabled to enter, or settle
in Tibet, and to carry on profitable undertakings there. If once his
countrymen establish their influence in Tibet by virtue of economic
undertakings, then they may regard with comparative complacency any
advance of Russian influence in Tibet, for Nepāl would be in a position
to counteract that influence by peaceful means or even by war if

Thus, it is hardly likely that Nepāl will go to extreme measures
towards Tibet, even if England should cleverly encourage her.

It must be remembered that the relations between the two countries are
not yet strained. The Tibetans do not seem to harbor any ill-feeling
towards their neighbors beyond the mountains, nor do they regard them
as a whole with fear, though they do fear the Gurkhas on account of
their valor and discipline. The Tibetan Government also seems to be
desirous of maintaining a friendly relation with Nepāl. For instance,
when on one occasion the Ruler of Nepāl sent his messenger to Tibet
to procure a set of Tibetan sūṭras, the Dalai Lama, who heard of that
errand, caused a set to be sent to Nepāl as a present from himself,
which is now kept in the Royal Library of Nepāl.

The Nepāl Government, on its part, appears to be doing its best to
create a favorable impression on the Tibetans. The Ruler, it must be
remembered, is not a Buḍḍhist but a Brāhmaṇa; still, he pursues the
policy of toleration towards all faiths, and is especially kindly to
Buḍḍhists. The Buḍḍhists from Tibet who are staying in Nepāl enjoy
protection from the Government, and the Ruler not unfrequently makes
grants of money or timber when Buḍḍhist temples are to be built in his
dominion. The care bestowed by the Ruler on the Buḍḍhists is highly
appreciated by their friends at home, and Nepāl is therefore favorably
situated for winning the hearts of the Tibetan people. It is easily
conceivable that with a judicious use of secret service funds Nepāl
might easily establish her influence in Tibet. This, however, cannot be
readily expected from that country, as internal conditions now are, for
order is far from being firmly established in that little kingdom, and
domestic troubles and administrative changes occur too frequently. Even
the Prime Minister, who wields the real power, has been assassinated
more than once, while changes have very frequently taken place in the
incumbency of that post. Nepāl is at present too deeply absorbed in her
internal affairs, and cannot spare either energy or money for pursuing
any consistent policy towards Tibet. Thus, though the military service
of Nepāl is sufficiently creditable, her diplomacy leaves much to be


The Future of Tibetan Diplomacy.

Tibet may be said to be menaced by three countries--England, Russia
and Nepāl, for China is at present a negligible quantity as a factor
in determining its future. The question is which of the three is most
likely to become master of that table-land. It is evident that the
three can never come to terms in regard to this question; at best
England and Nepāl may combine for attaining their common object, but
the combination of Russia with either of them is out of the question.
Russia’s ambition in bringing Tibet under her control is too obviously
at variance with the interest of the other two to admit of their coming
to terms with her, for Russia’s occupation would be merely preparatory
to the far greater end of making a descent on the fertile plains on the
south side of the Himālayas by using Tibet as a base of operation. As
circumstances stand, Nepāl has to confine her ambition to pushing her
interests in Tibet by peaceful means. This is evidently the safest and
most prudent plan for that country, seeing that when once that object
has been attained her interest would remain unimpaired whether Tibet
should fall into the hands of England or into those of Russia. After
all, therefore, the future of Tibet is a problem to be solved between
those two Powers. At present Russia has the ears of an important
section of the ruling circles of Tibet, while on the other hand England
has the mass of the Tibetan people on her side. The Russian policy,
depending as it does on clever manœuvres and a free use of gold, is in
danger of being upset by any sudden turn of affairs in Tibet, while the
procedure of England being moderate and matter-of-fact is more lasting
in its effect. Which policy is more likely to prevail cannot easily
be determined, for though moderation and practical method will win in
the long run, diplomacy is a ticklish affair and must take many other
factors into consideration. At any rate England is warned to be on the
alert, for otherwise Russia may steal a march upon her and upon Lhasa.

If the Russian troops should ever succeed in reaching Lhasa, that would
open up a new era for Tibet, for the country would passively submit to
the Russian rule. The Tibetans, it must be remembered, are thoroughly
imbued with the spirit of negative fatalism, and the arrival of Russian
troops in Lhasa would therefore be regarded as the inevitable effect
of a predetermined causation, and therefore as an event that must be
submitted to without resistance. The entry of those troops would never
rouse the patriotic sentiment of the people. But the effect of this
imaginary entry would constitute a serious menace to India. In fact,
with Russia established in the natural strongholds of Tibet, India, it
may be said, would be placed at the mercy of Russia, which could send
her troops at any moment down to the fertile plains below. Thus would
the dream of Peter the Great be realised, and of course the British
supremacy on the sea would avail nothing against this overland descent
across the Himālayas. Some may think that what I have stated is too
extravagant, and is utterly beyond the sphere of possibility. I reply
that any such thought comes from ignorance of the natural position of
Tibet. Any person who has ever personally observed the immense strength
which Tibet naturally commands must agree with me that its occupation
by Russia would be followed sooner or later by that of India by the
same aggressive power.

The question naturally arises: “Will Tibet then cease to be an
independent country?” It is of course impossible to come to any
positive conclusion about it, but from what I have observed and
studied I cannot give a reassuring answer. The spirit of dependence on
the strong is too deeply implanted in the hearts of the Tibetan people
to be superseded now by the spirit of self-assertion and independence.
During the long period of more than a thousand years, the Tibetan
people has always maintained the idea of relying upon one or another
great power, placing itself under the protection of one suzerain State
or another, first India and then China. How far the Tibetans lack the
manly spirit of independence may easily be judged from the following
story about the Dalai Lama, who is unquestionably a man of character,
gifted with energy and power of decision, who would be well qualified
to lead his country to progress and prosperity did he possess modern
knowledge and were he well informed of the general trend of affairs
abroad. He is thoroughly familiar with the condition of his own people,
and has done much towards satisfying popular wishes, redressing
grievances and discouraging corrupt practices. If ever there were a man
in Tibet whose heart was set on maintaining the independence of the
country, it must be the Dalai Lama. So I had thought, but my fond hope
was rudely shaken, and I was left in despair about the future of Tibet.

This supreme chief of the Lama Hierarchy has recently undergone a
complete change in his attitude towards England. Formerly whenever
England opened some negotiation with Tibet, the Dalai Lama was overcome
by great perturbation, while any display of force on the part of
England invariably plunged him into the deepest anxiety. He was often
seen on such occasions to shut himself up in a room and, refusing food
or rest, to be absorbed in painful reflexions. Now all is changed, and
the same Dalai Lama regards all threats or even encroachments with
indifference or even defiance. For instance, when England, chiefly to
feel the attitude of Tibet and not from any object of encroachment,
included, when fixing the boundary, a small piece of land that had
formerly belonged to Tibet, the Dalai Lama was not at all perturbed.
Instead of that he is said to have talked big and breathed defiance,
saying that he would make England rue this sooner or later. His
subjects, it is reported, were highly impressed on this occasion and
they began to regard him as a great hero.

For my part this sudden change in the behavior of the supreme Lama only
caused me to heave a heavy sigh for the future of Tibet. It cruelly
disillusioned me of the great hopes I had reposed in his character for
the welfare of his country. The reason why the Grand Lama, who was
at first as timid as a hare towards England, should become suddenly
as bold as a lion, is not far to seek. The conclusion of a secret
treaty with Russia was at the bottom of the strange phenomenon. Strong
in the idea that Russia, as she had promised the Dalai Lama, would
extend help whenever his country was threatened by England, he who had
formerly trembled at the mere thought of the possibility of England’s
encroachment began now to hurl defiance at her. He may even have
thought that the arrival of a large number of arms from Russia would
enable Tibet to resist England single-handed. In short, the Dalai Lama
believed that Russia being the only country in the world strong enough
to thwart England, therefore he need no longer be harassed by any fear
of the latter country.

With the Dalai Lama--perhaps one of the greatest Lama pontiffs that has
ever sat on the throne--given up shamelessly, and even with exultation,
to that servile thought of subserviency, and with no great men prepared
to uphold the independence of the country, Tibet must be looked upon
as doomed. All things considered therefore, unless some miracle should
happen, she is sure to be absorbed by some strong Power sooner or
later, and there is no hope that she will continue to exist as an
independent country.


The “Monlam” Festival.

_Monlam_ literally means supplication, but in practice it is the
name of the great Tibetan festival performed for the benefit of the
reigning Emperor of China, the offering of prayers to the deities for
his prosperity and long life. The festival commences either on the
3rd or 4th of January, according to the lunar calendar, and closes on
the 25th of the month. The three days beginning on New Year’s Day and
ending with the 3rd are given up to the New Year’s Festival, and from
the following day the great Monlam season sets in.

In order to make arrangements for the coming festival, the priests are
given holiday from the 20th of December. Holiday however is a gross
misnomer, for the days are spent in profane pleasures and in all sorts
of sinful amusements. The temples are no longer sacred places; they are
more like gambling-houses--places where the priests make themselves
merry by holding revels far into the night. Now is the time when the
Tibetan priesthood bids good-bye for a while to all moral and social
restraints, when young and old indulge themselves freely to their
heart’s content, and when those who remain aloof from this universal
practice are laughed at as old fogeys. I had been regularly employing
one little boy to run errands and to do all sorts of work. In order to
allow him to enjoy the season, I engaged another boy on this occasion.
I might have dispensed with this additional boy altogether, for as the
two boys never remained at home, and even stayed away at night, it was
just as if I had had no boy at all. And so for days and days religion
and piety were suspended and in their places profanity and vice were
allowed to reign supreme.

The wild season being over--it lasts about twelve days--the Monlam
festival commences. This is preceded by the arrival of priests at
Lhasa from all parts of Tibet. From the monasteries of Sera, Rebon,
Ganden and other large and small temples, situated at a greater or
less distance, arrive the contingents of the priestly hosts. These
must number about twenty-five thousand, sometimes more and sometimes
less, according to the year. They take up their quarters in ordinary
houses, for the citizens are under obligation to offer one or two
rooms for the use of the priests during this season, just as people
of other countries are obliged to do for soldiers when they carry out
manœuvres in their neighborhood. And as in the case when soldiers are
billeted, so the priests who come from the country are crowded in their
temporary abodes. Some of them are even obliged to sleep outside,
owing to lack of accommodation, but they do not seem to mind the
discomfort much, so long as snow does not fall. Besides the priests,
the city receives at the same time an equally numerous host of lay
visitors from the country, so that the population of Lhasa during this
festival season is swollen to twice its regular number, or even more.
In ordinary days Lhasa contains about fifty thousand inhabitants, but
there must be at least a hundred thousand on this special occasion. I
ought to state that formerly, and before the time of the present Dalai
Lama, the arrival of the Monlam festival was signalised not by the
inflow of people from the country but by the contrary movement, the
temporary exodus of the citizens to the provinces. Since the accession
of the present Grand Lama the direction of the temporary movement has
been reversed, and the festival has begun to be celebrated amidst
a vast concourse of the people instead of amidst a desolate scene.
This apparent anomaly was due to the extortion which the Festival
Commissioners practised on the citizens.

This function is undertaken by two of the higher priests of the Rebon
Monastery, the largest of the three important establishments, who take
charge of the judicial affairs of the temple during the term of one
year, and are known by the title of Shal-ngo. The appointment to the
post of Shal-ngo was and still is an expensive affair for its holder,
for he must present to the officials who determine the nomination
bribes amounting to perhaps five thousand _yen_. As soon as the post
has been secured at such a cost the Shal-ngo loses no time in employing
it as a means of recovering that sum, with heavy interest, during his
short tenure of office and especially during the two festival seasons
of Monlam and Sang-joe, over which the two Commissioners exercise
absolute control. They set themselves to collect enough to enable
them to live in competence and luxury during the rest of their lives.
Driven by this inordinate greed, the dealings of the Commissioners
are excessively strict during those days. Fines are imposed for every
trivial offence; the citizens are frequently fined as much as two
hundred _yen_, in Japanese currency, on the pretext of the imperfect
cleansing of the doorways or of the streets in front of their houses.
The parties engaged in a quarrel are ordered to pay a similarly heavy
fine, and without any discrimination as to the relative justice of
their causes. Then too the festival seasons are a dreadful time for
those who have debts not yet redeemed, for then the creditors can
easily recover the sum through the help of the Commissioners, provided
they are prepared to give to them one-half the sum thus recovered. On
receipt of a petition from a creditor, the greedy officials at once
order the debtors and their friends to pay the money on pain of having
their property confiscated. The whole proceedings of the Festival
Commissioners, therefore, are not much better than the villainous
practices of brigands and highwaymen. It is not to be wondered at that
at the approach of the festivals the citizens began in a hurry to lock
away their valuable property in the secret depths of their houses, and
then leaving one or two men to take charge during their absence, left
the city for the country, the houses being given over as lodgings for
the priests. During the Monlam season, therefore, there did not remain
in the city even one-tenth of its ordinary population.


The shark-like practices of the Shal-ngos are not confined to the
festival seasons or to the citizens; on the contrary, they prey even
on their brother-priests for the purpose of satisfying their voracious
greed, and extort money from them. The Shal-ngos are like wolves in a
fold of sheep, or like robbers living with impunity amidst ordinary
law abiding people. That such gross abuses and injustice should have
been allowed within the sacred precincts of a monastery is really
marvellous, but it is a fact. The Shal-ngos’ extortions from the
citizens were checked when the present Dalai Lama ascended the throne,
and the citizens were thus enabled to live in peace and to participate
in the festival during the Monlam season, but the sinful practices of
the Legal Commissioners in other quarters are still left uncurtailed.

An interesting story is told which shows how the Shal-ngos are abhorred
and detested by the Tibetans. A certain Lama, superstitiously believed
to possess a supernatural power of visiting any place in this world or
the next and of visiting Paradise or Hell, was once asked by a merchant
of Lhasa to tell him with what he, the Lama, had been most impressed
during his visits to Hell. The Lama replied that he was surprised to
see so many priests suffering tortures at the hands of the guardians
of Hell. However he continued with an air of veracity, the tortures
to which ordinary priests were being subjected were not very extreme,
and they were therefore allowed to live in their new abode with less
suffering. But the tortures inflicted on the Shal-ngos of Rebon
monastery were horrible; they were such that the mere recollection of
them caused his hair to stand on end. Such is the story told at the
expense of these Lama sharks, and indeed from the way in which they
act during their short tenure of the office, Hell, and the lowest
circle in it, seems to be the only place for which they are fit.

Lhasa puts on her cleanest and finest appearance with the advent of
this season. The filth and garbage that have been left accumulating
during the preceding months are carried away, the gutters are cleaned,
and the public are no longer allowed to drop dirt about or in any way
to pollute the streets.

The grand service is performed at the magnificent three-storied edifice
which is so conspicuous in Lhasa, namely the Cho Khang, the celebrated
Buḍḍha’s Hall. During the service this hall is packed to overflowing
with priests and pious believers, and there is not space left to move
one’s elbows. Not infrequently, therefore, casualties are said to

The service is performed three times a day, first from five to seven
in the morning, then from ten to a little before one and lastly from
three to about half past four in the afternoon. The second service
is the most important one for the priests who attend the ceremony,
as it is accompanied by monetary gifts. The gifts come either from
philanthropic folk or from the Government, and range on each occasion
from twenty-four _sen_ (Japanese) to seventy-two _sen_. The gifts
generally amount during the period of the Festival to about ten _yen_
for ordinary priests. This sum is considerably larger on a special
occasion, as when a Dalai Lama is enthroned or dies, when it may
increase to about twenty _yen_.

The receipts of the higher Lamas during this season are far
greater--often one thousand, two thousand or even as much five thousand

On the other hand all the priests who arrive in Lhasa to attend the
ceremony are required to pay their own lodging expenses, at the rate
of twenty-five to fifty _sen_ a day. For a room or set of rooms better
furnished than usual the charge may be three to five _yen_, and of
course only aristocratic priests can afford to hire such rooms. The
lodging of the priests is somewhat exclusive, and they are forbidden to
stay at houses selling liquors, or containing many females.

During this season, besides the Festival Commissioners who are the
Lama sharks of the year, a special office for supervising priests,
called _Khamtsan-gi Giken_, is created, commissioned with the duty of
controlling the conduct of the priests. Quarrels are, however, very
rare during the season, though from the ordinary behavior of priests
they might naturally be expected to occasion such troubles. At any
rate the priests maintain decorum externally. They are expected to
attend the three services performed each day, and they are not allowed
to attend the ceremony at their own temples, even when those temples
are situated near the city. They must live in the city, and remain
there, unless under exceptional circumstances, such as illness. The
attendance at the three services is not compulsory, yet it is very
rarely neglected, for a distribution of gifts is very often made at
each service.


On January 15th, according to the lunar calendar, the most magnificent
ceremony is carried out at night. The offerings are arranged around
the Buḍḍha’s Hall, and the most conspicuous object among them is a
triangular wooden frame with sharp apex, the structure measuring about
forty feet high and thirty feet long at the base. Two dragons in an
ascending position are fixed to the two sides, while about the middle
of the frame the “Enchanted Garden” is represented, peopled either with
figures of the Buḍḍha teaching human beings or of Princes and other
important dignitaries. These figures are all made of butter. Besides
human figures there are figures of several of the alleged birds of
paradise, such as are mentioned in Buḍḍhist books. All these are of
Tibetan workmanship, and creditably executed, probably as a result
of long experience. I should add that the butter figures are all
finely painted and even gilded, and as the butter takes color easily
the effect produced is very splendid, when those highly decorated and
painted figures are seen by the light of butter-lamps or torches that
are burning at a suitable distance from the figures. There must be as
many as a hundred and twenty such ornamental structures around the
Hall, while the lamps and torches that are burning are quite countless.
Indeed, it seemed to me as if some gorgeous scene such as we imagine to
exist only in Heaven had been transplanted to earth on that particular
occasion. To the Tibetans the scene as exhibited on this particular
night marks the high-water level of all that is splendid in this world,
and it is therefore quoted as an ideal standard in speaking of anything
that is uncommonly magnificent.

This offering ceremony concludes at about two o’clock the following
morning, and two hours later the decorated figures are removed, for
they are in danger of being melted when exposed to the rays of the sun.
The ceremony, it must be remembered, is attended only by a limited
number of priests, probably three hundred at the utmost out of the
twenty-five thousand who are present in the city to attend the Monlam
festival. The privilege of inspecting this yearly show is therefore
regarded as a great honor by the Tibetan priests.

The reason why this magnificent display is denied to the inspection of
the majority of priests and to the whole of the populace is because
formerly, when it was open to universal inspection, uncontrollable
commotion attended by casualties used to mar the function. And so
the authorities decided about thirty years ago to perform it in this
semi-private manner.

The ceremony begins at about eight in the evening and closes, as
before mentioned, at about four the following morning. The function
is sometimes inspected by the Dalai Lama, while at other times he does
not come, as was the case when I had the good fortune to witness it
in the company of the ex-Finance Minister. The Amban however does not
omit to attend the ceremony. He was attired in the gorgeous official
garments of China, and sat in a carriage lit up inside with twenty-four
tussore silk lanterns in which were burning foreign-made candles. On
his head he wore the official cap befitting his rank. The procession
was preceded by a cavalcade of Chinese officers also in their gala
dresses, and behind the carriage followed another train of mounted
guards. It was really a fine scene, this procession of the Chinese
Amban as it passed through the streets lit up with tens of thousands of
butter-lamps; only I thought that the sight was too showy and that it
lacked the element of solemnity.

After the procession of the Amban followed the trains of the high
priests, then high lay officials and last of all the Premiers. On that
occasion only two of the four Premiers attended, the other two being
unable to be present.

The Premiers come to the function in order to inspect the offerings,
which are contributed by the Peers and the wealthy as a sort of
obligation. Butter decorations are expensive things, costing from three
hundred to two thousand yen in Japanese currency, according to their
magnitude and the finish of the workmanship; and here were over one
hundred and twenty such costly decorations arranged as offerings, and
that only for one evening. I believe no such costly butter decorations
are to be seen anywhere else in the world.


During the festival I remained as before under the hospitable roof of
the ex-Minister, and though through the favor of my host I inspected
the offering ceremony, I did not attend the prayer services. The
former I saw from mere curiosity and as an outsider. The scene on
the occasion was sufficiently enjoyable; I went first to the quarters
assigned to the warrior-priests and observed that these young men were
spending their time in their own customary way even during the time of
the service, singing songs, trying feats of arms, or engaged in hot
disputes or even open quarrels. All at once the clamor ceased and order
was restored as if by magic, and the young priests were seen demurely
reciting the service; they had noticed some subordinates of the
Festival Commissioners coming towards them in order to maintain order.
Those subordinates were armed with willow sticks about four feet long
and fairly thick--sticks which were green and supple and well suited
for inflicting stinging blows.

Then I moved on to the quarters where the learned priests were intently
engaged in carrying out the examination held for the aspirants to the
highest degrees obtainable in Tibet. The examination was oral and in
the form of interrogations put to the candidates by the examination
committee, the latter being composed of the most celebrated theologians
in the three colleges. The candidates too were not unworthy to be
examined by such divines, for those only are qualified to apply for
permission to undergo the examination who have studied hard for twenty
years, and have acquired a thorough knowledge of all the abstruse
points in Buḍḍhist theology and have made themselves masters of the art
of question and answer. The learned discourses delivered by examiners
and examinees awoke in me high admiration. The forensic skill of the
two parties was such as I had rarely seen anywhere else. The examiners
put most tortuous questions to entice the candidates into the snare of
sophistry, while the latter met them with replies similarly searching
and intended to upset the whole stratagem of the querents. So forcible
and exciting were the arguments offered by both parties that they
might be compared, I thought, to a fierce contest such as might take
place between a lion and a tiger.

The examination was indeed an exhibition of a truly intellectual
nature, and was attended not only by the committee and candidates
but by almost all the learned theologians and their disciples. These
strangers were sitting round the examination tables and freely
criticised the questions put and replies made. They even raised shouts
of applause or of laughter, whenever either convincingly refuted his
antagonist or was worsted in the argument. I observed the laughter to
be especially contagious and the merry sound raised by two or three men
in the strangers’ quarters would spread to all the others in the hall,
till the walls resounded with the loud “ha, ha, ha” coming from several
thousand throats.

Every year during the Monlam season sixteen candidates selected from
the three colleges are given the degree of _Lha Ramba_, meaning
‘Special Doctor,’ and this degree is the most honorable one open to
Tibetan divines. Only those of exceptional acquirements can hope for it.

On the occasion of the _Choen joe_ festival also, sixteen candidates
of the secondary grade are sent from the universities to pass the
examination for the _Tso Ramba_ degree. Then there are inferior
degrees, which are granted by the monasteries to the young priests
studying there. There are two such degrees, one called _Do Ramba_ and
the other _Rim-shi_. Sometimes divines of great erudition are found
among the holders of the Do Ramba degree, men even more learned than
the ‘Special Doctors.’ The fact is that the examination for the highest
degree is expensive, when one wishes to procure that title at one jump
and without previously obtaining the intermediary Do Ramba.

It is not rare, therefore to find among the Do Ramba men theologians
whose learning can even outshine that of the proud holders of
the highest degree, for there are often men who from pecuniary
considerations only are withheld from attempting the examination.
The holders of the Do Ramba degree therefore differ considerably in
learning, but this cannot be said of those holding the other title
of Rim-shi, the latter being in nine cases out of ten of mediocre
learning. This degree is easily procurable for a certain sum of money
when one has studied five or six years at the monasteries of Rebon
and Ganden, and so the young priests from the country generally avail
themselves of this convenient transaction and return home as proud
holders of the Doctor’s title, and as objects of respect and wonder for
their learning among the local folk. In Tibet therefore, as in other
parts of the world, cheap Doctors flaunt their learning, and pass for
prodigies among the simple-minded people of the country.

The Doctors of the highest grade are unquestionably theologians of
great erudition, for knowledge of the ordinary Buḍḍhist text-books is
not enough for the aspirants to that title; they must study and make
themselves at home in the complete cycle of Buḍḍhist works. Perhaps
the Tibetan first class Doctors possess a better knowledge of Buḍḍhist
theology and are more at home in all its ramifications than are the
Japanese Buḍḍhist divines; for though there are quite a large number
of theologians in Japan who are thoroughly versed in the philosophy
and doctrine of their own particular sects it cannot boast so many
divines whose knowledge completely covers the whole field of Buḍḍhist

During the festival I frequently went to the Hall to see the
function as a curious observer, but for the rest I devoted my time
to prosecuting my studies under a Lhakhamba Doctor and the learned
Mae Kenbo of the Sera monastery. Thus while the other priests were
attending to their worldly business of making money, I detached myself
from society and was absorbed in study. I had the more reason to
devote myself to this self-imposed task, for the time I had fixed
for my departure from Tibet was drawing nearer. Not that I had
hitherto neglected the main object which prompted me to undertake this
self-assigned expedition to Lhasa; on the contrary, even when I was
obliged, from unavoidable circumstances, to act the part of an amateur
doctor and prescribe treatment to Tibetan patients, I never suspended
my study; I either read Buḍḍhist works or attended lectures.

On March 4th of the solar calendar (January 24th of the Tibetan
almanac) the sword festival was celebrated at Lhasa. I had the good
fortune to witness this performance also, though the function is not
open to general inspection. I observed it from the window of a certain
Peer, an acquaintance of mine, whose house fronted the Buḍḍha’s Hall.

I may call the Sword Festival a sort of Tibetan military review. At
any rate the regulars in and about Lhasa participated in it, and also
the special soldiers temporarily organised for the occasion. They were
all mounted, and numbered altogether perhaps two thousand five hundred
men. They were quaintly accoutred, and seemed to be divided according
to the colors of the pieces of cloth attached to the back of their
helmets and hanging down behind. I saw a party of about five hundred
troopers distinguished by white cloths, then another with purple
cloths, while there was a third which used cloths of variegated dyes.
But irrespective of the different colors, they were all clad in a sort
of armor and carried small flags also of different colors. Some were
armed with bows and arrows and others with guns, and the procession of
the gaily attired soldiery was not unlike the rows of decorated May
dolls arranged for sale in Tokyo on the eve of the Boys’ Festival in

The proceedings began with a signal gun. As the booming sound subsided
the procession of soldiery made its appearance and each division went
past the Grand Lama’s seat constructed on an elevated stand to the west
of the Hall. With the termination of this march-past a party of about
three hundred priests, carrying a flat drum each with a long handle
and with the figure of a dragon inscribed upon its face, came out of
the main edifice. Each of them carried in his right hand a crooked
drum-stick. This party took its stand in a circle in front of the Hall.
Next marched out the second party of priests all gorgeously attired in
glittering coats and brocade tunics, each carrying a metallic bowl used
in religious services. I must mention that the function demands of the
soldiery and priests the washing of their bodies with warm water on the
preceding evening, and so on that particular occasion those Tibetans,
careless and negligent of bodily cleanliness at other times, are for
the first time in the year almost decently clean.

The metallic-bowl party was arranged in a row around the drum party,
and soon the signal for the service was given by one of the bowl-men
who was apparently a leader. It was a peculiar signal, and consisted in
striking on the bowl and starting a strange dancing movement. On this
the two parties beat their drums and bowls in some sort of tune. After
this had gone on for some time the whole party burst out into a chorus
of ominous howls, not unlike the roar of the tiger. As the thousand
priests composing the two parties all howled to the fullest extent of
their throats, the noise made was sufficiently loud.

After the howling parties had completed their part in this ceremony,
out marched a party of Nechung priests, those oracle-mongers of
Tibet to whom reference has been made more than once already. The
oracle-mongers’ party was heralded by a number of sacred-sword-bearers
in two rows, about a dozen in each. The sword carried measured about
four feet in length and was set off with pieces of silk cloth of five
different colors. The sword-bearers were followed by the bearers of
golden censers and other sacred caskets or vessels. Then followed the
oracle-monger, dressed _cap-à-pie_ in all the glittering fashion which
Tibetan ingenuity alone could devise. He was clad in gold brocade and
wore head-gear of the same cloth. He behaved like a man stricken with
palsy, was supported right and left by an assistant, and his eyes were
shut. Gasping like a fish out of water and walking with a tottering
gait not unlike that of a man who has lost his power of locomotion
through too much liquor, the Nechung slowly emerged from the Hall. By
the ignorant populace he was greeted as an object of veneration, but
there were seen not a small number of priests and laymen who looked
upon this peculiar appearance of the Nechung with eyes of undisguised

The part assigned to this Lama fanatic is one of semi-divine character,
he being required to act as a guardian angel, to prevent any mishaps
occurring during the ceremony of the ‘Sword Festival’.

Last of all slowly marched forth the procession of the Ganden Ti
Rinpoche. I saw him under a capacious and highly decorated awning
which is the same sort of umbrella as that of the Grand Lama. He was
attired in the ceremonial robe befitting his rank of Ti Rinpoche. His
appearance was highly impressive and even those priests who had viewed
the oracle-mongers with well-deserved scorn were seen in attitudes
of sincere respect. That was also my sentiment as my eyes met him;
for he truly impressed me as a living Buḍḍha. To the Ti Rinpoche was
entrusted the most important function in this ceremony, the hurling of
the sacred sword in order to avert any evil spirits that may obstruct
the prosperous reign of the Chinese Emperor. With this sword-hurling
the ceremony was brought to a close.

Though in principle this ceremony concludes the Monlam, in practice
it comes to an end only on the following morning and with a custom
of practical utility--that of carrying stones to the banks of the
river Kichu which flows by Lhasa, and is often liable to overflow and
flood the city. The stones required for this purpose are brought by
the country people, and are sold at ten or twenty _sen_ a piece, and
each priest or citizen who attends the ceremony buys one or two such
stones and conveys them to the banks either on his own back or by hired
carriers. The stones thus conveyed to the banks are supposed to possess
the effect of atoning for their sins. The banks must acquire great
strength in consequence of this stone-piling.


The Tibetan Soldiery.

The standing army of Tibet is said to consist of five thousand men, but
from my own observation I think this number somewhat exaggerated. In
any case, it is hardly sufficient to protect a country containing six
millions of inhabitants against foreign invasion and civil commotion.
However, in Tibet social order is not kept by soldiers, nor by the
despotic power of the ruler. Religion is the force that keeps the
country in good order. The mass of the people would never take arms
against the Pope whom they believe to be a living Buḍḍha. This idea
is so thoroughly infused into them that there have been really very
few cases of rebellion in Tibet, hence there is no necessity for a
great number of soldiers. The history of the country testifies that
civil commotions take place only when the chief Lama has died, and the
new master is too young to take up the Government for himself, and so
leaves the entire business to the Agent and Ministers, who abuse their
power, or when the regent tyrannises over and offends the people. But
when the master is old enough to manage the affairs of the country he
is revered as a living Buḍḍha, against whom no one protests. Minor
difficulties may arise, but they are easily settled without recourse
to arms. The real causes that have made Tibet feel the necessity of
having a standing army have been her two quarrels with Nepāl and one
with British India. Since then Tibet has ever had a regular army,
distributed as follows: at Lhasa one thousand men, at Shigatze two
thousand, at Tingri, an important fort on the Nepāl frontier, nominally
five hundred but possibly only three hundred (there are several hundred
Chinese soldiers here), five hundred at Gyantze, five hundred at Dam,
and another five hundred at Mankham, making five thousand in all.
The Chinese soldiers stationed in the country number two thousand
altogether, and are distributed equally at the four places--Lhasa,
Tingri, Shigatze, and Tomo. Every five hundred Tibetan soldiers are
under a chief called De Bon. The lower officers are one for every two
hundred and fifty, one for every twenty-five and one for every five.

The Tibetan soldiers receive only one bushel of barley a month as
salary. They have no regular barracks to live in together, but live
in ordinary residences which, however, are built at the cost of the
citizens. They are scattered throughout the city, and keep stores or
carry on any kind of trade, as do the common people. They are obliged
to do some kind of work, for they cannot keep their wives and children
on the one bushel of barley a month. But they are free from house-rent,
and I have often heard the citizens complain of the burden of building
houses for the soldiers. The Chinese soldiers also live in ordinary
houses like the Tibetans, and are exempt from rent.

In return for his paltry remuneration, the Tibetan soldier has to be
drilled four or five times a month, and to be present at the great
manœuvres once a year. The manœuvres are held in the vicinity of
a little village called Dabchi, which lies about two miles north
of Lhasa on the road leading to the Sera monastery. In the village
there is a shrine of Kwanti (a Chinese war-God) whom the Tibetans
call Gesergi Gyalpo (saffron king), and who is much revered as a God
for driving away evil spirits, though the Chinese settlers form the
greater proportion of his actual worshippers. Close by there is another
temple called by the name of the village, in which live priests who
take the services at the Kwanti shrine. Many objects of interest are
kept in the shrine, but the most curious things are the images of
blue demons, red demons, and other inhabitants of hell, all arranged
as if they were retainers of Kwanti. North of this shrine there is a
high mound about one furlong square, with an arsenal standing in the
centre. Thence spreads a vast plain five miles to the north, half a
mile to the west and five miles to the east. This is the scene of the
great parade. Soldiers are summoned from all parts of the country to
attend the parade, which is usually held towards the end of September
or the beginning of October, when the barley harvest is over, and the
crops safely out of harm’s way. The first two days are reserved for
the Chinese soldiers and the following two for the Tibetan. The review
is honored by the presence of the Amban and of the higher Tibetan
officers, who give prizes in money ranging from fifty cents to five
dollars, or silver medals, to any soldiers who have displayed notable
ability. In Tibet archery is still considered an essential art of
warriors, yet artillery has recently been introduced, and is taught by
Chinese officers or by Tibetans who have been educated in India. The
Tibetan artillery does not amount to much.

My own observations lead me to suspect the valor of the Chinese and
Tibetan soldiers, and I doubt whether they can claim to have any
more strength than the ordinary citizens. Among the Chinese soldiers
pale countenances are very common, and though the Tibetan soldiers
look stouter, in courage I can see no difference. The cause of their
insignificance is to be traced to the difficulty they have in living
upon their small pay. The warrior-priests are far more soldier-like
than the regular soldiers; they have no wives nor children to take
care of, and have therefore nothing to fear. They are indeed far more
estimable than the professional soldiers, whose first business in
time of war is to plunder the natives instead of serving the country.
This is all because the soldiers have families, a fact which in my
opinion is the greatest hindrance to warlike purposes. The Tibetans are
emotional by nature, and out of such people, especially when they also
have to support families, it is no easy task to make a brave army.

One exception must be made--the people of Kham. Outwardly wild, they
are natural soldiers. In this district all the inhabitants, not
excluding the women, may be called fighters. Their usual vocations are
trading, farming, and cattle-raising, but their favorite profession
is robbery. This is the business most admired by all; they deem it a
great honor to defeat other tribes and kill as many foes as they can.
In Kham they have robber-songs as we have war-songs: songs in which the
people take much delight, even the children singing the lively airs
to which they are fitted; and as there are no war-songs in Tibet the
robber-songs of Kham are substituted for them. Here is one:


  Upon those boundless plateaux, green with grass;
    Along those sloping tortuous pathless paths;
  Amidst those pointed hornlike rocky steeps
    My charger iron-hoofed I bestride
    With daring valor to attack my foes.


  When hail-storms rage their fiercest round my head,
    With all their stones like bullets pelting me,
  And when tempestuous snow-drifts roll in rage,
    Like mighty greedy waves engulfing me,
  I fear not--nay these perils great I like
    To brave; for, clad in iron boots my feet,
  I headlong rush, stout-hearted as I am,
    Unwed, assured of final victory.


  My wife, my children and my parents dear
    Are not my refuge here; I trust not them;
  My refuge only is my spirit brave
    Adventurous, that can resist and stand
    Against misfortunes and e’en dangers dire.

These songs all begin with _A, la, la, la; la, la, la, mo_ and end with
_la, la, mo, la; la, la, la, mo_. Once when I met a Tibetan soldier of
my acquaintance, I asked why they used robber-songs instead of having
war-songs of their own. He was a talkative kind of man and proceeded to
explain in an oratorical tone.

“As you well know, the meaning of the songs is very good and noble; it
is the courage praised in songs like these that strengthens a country.
But even good songs, when used for robbery, are indeed wicked weapons,
and the singers thereof great sinners. They are the same songs, but how
great is the difference in their results! In one case they promote, and
in the other they destroy, humanity and righteousness.”


Tibetan Finance.

I shall next briefly describe the finance of the Tibetan Government. It
must be remembered, however, that this subject is extremely complicated
and hardly admits of accurate explanation even by financial experts,
for nobody except the Revenue Officials can form an approximate idea
of the revenue and expenditure of the Government. All that I could
get from the Minister of Finance was that a considerable margin of
difference existed according to the year. This must partly come from
the fact that taxes are paid in kind, and as the market is necessarily
subject to fluctuation even in such an exclusive place as Tibet, the
Government cannot always realise the same amount of money from the sale
of grain and other commodities collected by the Revenue authorities.
Of course anything like statistical returns are unknown in Tibet, and
my task being hampered by such serious drawbacks, I can only give here
a short account of how the taxes are collected, how they are paid and
by what portion of the people, and how the revenue thus collected is
disbursed, and such matters, which lie on the surface so that I could
easily observe and investigate them.

The Treasury Department of the Papal Government is called _Labrang
Chenbo_, which means the large Kitchen of the Lama. It is so-called,
because various kinds of staples are carried in there as duty from the
land under his direct jurisdiction, and from landlords holding under
a sort of feudal tenure. As there are no such conveniences as drafts
or money orders, these staples have to be transported directly from
each district to the central treasury, whatever the distance. But the
taxpayer has one solace: he can easily obtain, on his way to the
treasury, the service of post-horses, such service on such occasions
being compulsory. The articles thus collected consist of barley,
wheat, beans, buck-wheat, meal and butter. But from districts in which
custom-houses are established various other things, such as coral gems,
cotton, woollen and silk goods, raisins and peaches are accepted. Other
districts pay animal-skins, and thus the large Kitchen is an ‘omnium
gatherum.’ Truly a strange method of collecting taxes!

One peculiarity in Tibet is the use of an abundant variety of weights
and measures; there are twenty scales for weighing meal, and thirty-two
boxes for measuring grain. Bo-chik is the name given to a box of the
average size, and it measures about half a bushel. But tax-collectors
use, when necessity arises, measures half as large or half as small as
these, so that the largest measure holds three quarters of a bushel,
while the smallest holds a quarter. The small ones are generally used
to measure the staples from provinces such as the native place of the
Dalai Lama, or such as have personal relations to some high officials
of the Government. Thus, though a favored district is supposed to pay
the same number of bushels as the others, it pays in reality only
one-half of what the most unfortunate district has to pay. Nor is the
measure used for one district a fixed one; it may change from year to
year. Suppose one of the most favored districts has produced a great
rascal, or rebel, or has done anything that displeases the Government.
The whole people of that district are responsible for it; they are
obliged to pay by the largest measure, that is, twice as much as they
did in the preceding year. Thus the various kinds of offences make
it necessary to have thirty-two varieties of measures and twenty of
weight. It is to be noted however that when the Government has to
dispose of those stuffs, it never uses the larger measures, though if
too small ones are used, it certainly causes complaints on the part of
the buyers; hence the middle-sized ones are mostly used. All expenses
of Government, such as salaries for priests and officers and wages for
mechanics and tradesmen in its service are paid with an average measure.

The chief expense of the Government is, as I have stated before,
that for the service of the Buḍḍha Shākyamuni. The money used for
the repairing of temples and towers, and for the purchase of stone
lanterns and other furniture amounts to a large sum; but by far the
greater proportion is spent for butter, which is used instead of oil
for the myriads of lights which are kept burning day and night. The
stands arranged in rows in the temple of the Buḍḍha in Lhasa alone
number no less than two thousand five hundred and in some special
cases ten thousand or even a hundred thousand lamps are lighted, all
of them burning butter of a high price. In Tibet the substitution of
vegetable oil for _mal_ is considered, not exactly sin, but at least
a pollution and desecration of Buḍḍha; not a few Lamas leave a clause
in their wills that rapeseed oil should not be offered for their souls
after death. In front of the image of the Buḍḍha in Lhasa are placed
twenty-four large light-stands of pure gold. These and some others have
big oil-holders, large enough to hold five gallons of mal. Almost all
the mal used for the service of the Buḍḍha is furnished by the Treasury
of the Government, though a small part of it is offered by religious

Costly mal used, in former times, to be offered by Mongolians, to the
great relief of the Papal Treasury, but the offering has recently been
stopped entirely. The burdens of the Tibetan people themselves have
been proportionately increased, but as the fixed rate of the tax cannot
be increased the bigger measures are used more frequently.

In each province there are two places where the collection of taxes is
made for the Government, one of which is the temple, and the other the
Local Government office; for the people are divided into two classes:
(1) those who are governed by the temple and (2) those who are governed
by the Local Government. They pay their taxes to the Central Government
through their respective Governors. In each local district, there is
what is called a Zong. This was originally a castle built for warlike
purposes, but in time of peace it serves as a Government office, where
all the functions of Government are carried on, so taxes are also
collected there. The Zong is almost always found standing on the top
of a hillock of about three hundred feet and a Zongpon (chief of the
castle), generally a layman, lives in it. He is the chief Governor of
the district and collects taxes and sends the things or money he has
gathered to the Central Government. The Zongpon is not paid by the
Central Government directly, but subtracts the equivalent of his pay
from the taxes he has collected. The Central Government does not send
goods or money to the Local Government except on such few occasions
as need special help from the national Treasury. The people under the
direct jurisdiction of the Central Government are sometimes made to pay
a poll-tax. The people who belong to the nobility and the higher class
of priests are of course assessed by their landowners, but there is no
definite regulation as to their payment to the Central Government; the
people of some districts pay, while others are exempt.

Part of the work done by the Tibetan Minister of the Treasury is the
management of the subscriptions of the people. Everything offered to
the Buḍḍhist Temple and given to the priests at the time of the Great
Assembly is at once paid into the Treasury, to be given out only by
the order of the Minister of that department. Another business taken
by the Minister is the household expenses of the Pope. These expenses
are not fixed, and the Pope can draw out as much as he pleases within
the limit of usage, and his own moderation. It is said that since the
accession of the present Pope both the expenditure and the revenue have
been greatly increased. The Minister of the Treasury has also to pay
all the salaries of officials and priests in the service of the Papal
Government. These expenses for salaries are very small, as compared
with those of other countries, but the officials and priests derive an
additional income from the land in their own possession.

Officers and priests in Tibet can each borrow fifteen hundred dollars
from the Government at an interest of five per cent a year and they
can lend it again at fifteen per cent, which is the current rate of
interest in Tibet, though usurers sometimes charge over thirty per
cent. Thus any officer can make at least ten per cent on fifteen
hundred dollars without running much risk. If an officer or priest
fails to repay the loan the amount is not subtracted from his next
year’s loan. Compound interest is unknown in Tibet however long the
debtor may prolong his payment; it is forbidden by the law. Another
subsidy given by the Government is six dollars extra pay per annum to
each priest of the Three Great Temples. In this connexion it must also
be stated that the Three Great Temples just mentioned receive a vast
amount of mal from the Government.

The supplementary resources of the Pope’s revenue are subscriptions
from the members and laymen, the leases from meadow-lands in his
personal possession, and profits acquired by his own trading, which
is carried on by his own caravans. The Pope’s caravans must be
distinguished from those of the Treasury Department.

The Treasury of the Grand Lama is called Che Labrang, which means the
Lama’s kitchen on the hill, because the Lama’s palace is located
on a hill. It is called Potala and the place is a castle, a temple,
and a palace at once. As a castle it has no equal in Tibet, in view
of the strength of its fortifications; as a temple, it can look down
upon all other lamaseries of the country for elegance and gaudiness.
As a palace, of course there is no building that surpasses it. But in
spite of all this, there is a deplorable defect in its water supply.
Within the high walls that defend the dwellers from the attacks of an
enemy there is no well or spring whatever. The people have to go far
away to get a bucket of water from a well which can only be reached by
descending a hundred and fifty feet of stone steps and crossing another
hundred and fifty feet of level ground. To reach the top of the hill
one has to climb another three hundred feet, making the journey three
quarters of a mile altogether. It is of course no easy work for the
residents to carry water so far, and there are therefore many workers
who make it their business to do this for them, charging about twelve
cents per man a month. The aristocratic priests, who bear the title
of _Namgyal Tatsang_, live in one part of the castle and number one
hundred and sixty-five. They represent the highest type of the Tibetan
priesthood and are all selected with great care, even physique and
physiognomy being taken into consideration. They live in good style at
the Pope’s personal cost.

The property of the Grand Lama, after his death, is divided in the
following way: One-half of the property (in fact a little more than
half) has to be divided among his relatives in his native place, and
the remaining half is distributed as gifts among the priests of the
Great Temples and those of the New Sect. In the case of an ordinary
priest, if he leaves property worth five thousand dollars about four
thousand is used in gifts to the priests and for the expense of
lights, and almost all the remaining thousand is used for his funeral
expenses, leaving perhaps three hundred to his disciples. In cases when
a priest leaves very little money, his disciples are obliged to borrow
money to supply the want of gifts and money for lights in his honor--a
custom entirely foreign to the laity.


Future of the Tibetan Religions.

The Tibetans are essentially a religious people. Foreigners call them
superstitious, and indeed my own observation also testifies that their
faith is veritably a mass of superstition. Yet it would be inaccurate
to say that there is no truth in their religion. A small but precious
jewel is often found among useless rubbish; wise men will not throw
away the jewel along with the rubbish, even though it may not be
found at the first glance. I can find at least two precious things
in the creed of the Tibetans. One of them is that they recognise
the existence of a superhuman being who protects us. They are also
sure of the possibility of communication with this being by dint of
religious faith. It is true that they have several unreasonable rites
of worship, which may be compared to the rubbish round the jewel, but
in the midst of them they know that Buḍḍha is all love, that He removes
calamities from us, and makes us happy at length. They also recognise
the existence of deities subject to the emotions of anger, and ready
to punish those that offend them; but even ignorant Tibetans know the
difference between the Gods and the Buḍḍha, the former to be feared,
and the latter simply an object of gratitude.

The other precious thing I can point out is their belief in the law
of cause and effect. According to this law, each deed is rewarded
according to its deserts; whatever vices one commits will be followed
by suffering; on the other hand, every man shall enjoy the result of
the good that he has done. They also believe that the law of cause
and effect is everlasting, the seed making the fruit, and the fruit
the seed, and so on for ever. In the same way, they think, our mind
is imperishable, and often reproduced in the world. Thus far their
faith is worthy enough, but the doctrine of transmigration, of which
they have a too firm conviction, is apt to lead to superstition. The
Tibetans often really think such and such Lamas have been born again
in such and such places. But the precious Buḍḍhist creed that one’s
mind and body are everlastingly in accordance with the law of cause and
effect and self-compensation is so thoroughly taught to every Tibetan
from his childhood by his mother, that the home lessons of the Tibetan
children almost always take the form of sermons on their mythology and
miscellaneous stories connected with Buḍḍhism. In sooth, Buḍḍhism is
so deeply ingrained in the country that no other religion can exist in
Tibet, unless it be explained by the light of Buḍḍhism. Thus, the Old
Bon religion has been greatly modified and has indeed entirely lost
its original form and been replaced by the New Bonism, which resembles
the Ryōbu Shinto of Japan, in which the Sun God is interpreted as
the incarnation of Buḍḍha; but the Tibetan goes further than the
Ryōbu Shintoist did. By Bon is meant Shinnyo or Truth, or rather the
incarnation of Shinnyo, and it is considered to be one branch of

One of the things which most struck me was that Muhammadanism is
found in Tibet, mostly among the Chinese and the descendants of the
immigrants from Kashmīr. They number about three hundred in Lhasa and
Shigatze, cling pertinaciously to their doctrines, and have two temples
in the suburbs of Lhasa, with two cemeteries on the side of a distant
mountain. One of the temples is for the Musulmāns from Kashmīr, and the
other for the Chinese. It is rather strange to see the calm existence
of Muhammadanism in a country where Buḍḍhism is so predominant. One
thing that the Musulmāns in Tibet say is very striking. They declare
that according to their religion there exist previous and future
worlds, but that man is reborn as man, never as a lower animal, as
Buḍḍhism says, and that the final destiny of the human soul is the
Kingdom of Heaven or Hell. I once argued with some of the Muhammadans
that no such doctrine as transmigration is to be found in the _Koran_,
in which mention is made of the future world, but none about the past.
Then I suspected that it might have been adopted from the Christian
religion, for in the bible the subject is just touched on. But I
doubted whether any doctrine of that sort had ever been pronounced upon
by the Muhammadan Kalifate. When they heard me speak thus they simply
said: “There is, there really is, the doctrine of future and previous
worlds in the Muhammadan religion,” and they said it with a straight
face. They really seemed to think so, but I think it a modification
derived from Buḍḍhism.

Of late Christian missionaries have been trying to introduce their
religion into Tibet, and I can but admire their undaunted spirit. But
the country does not admit any foreigners, so their utmost efforts
have no effect on the interior. They attempt therefore to convert
the Tibetans who come to Darjeeling, or those who live about Sikkim.
For these purposes hundreds of thousands of dollars have already
been spent, and the bible and many other religious books have been
translated into the Tibetan language. There are also many books
written in Tibetan against Buḍḍhism. As soon as Darjeeling was opened
to foreigners, the first pioneers to the town were the Christian
missionaries, and ever since they have been preaching their religion
with utmost zeal.

Notwithstanding all their endeavors, Christian missions have been so
far a failure. The so-called members are false members, and the more
earnest are not genuine Tibetans, but Sikkimese who pretend to be
Tibetans. It can truly be said that there is not a single Tibetan from
the interior of the country who really believes in Christianity, though
there are a few who declare themselves Christian because they can thus
get a living. Go to the house of a reputed Christian and you will
always find in some inner room of his house the image of Buḍḍha, before
which butter-lamps are burned in secret day and night. When he goes
out he pretends to be a Christian, and on Sunday he carries his bible
and goes to church! Such a Christian of course quickly turns his back
upon Christ when his pocket is full, or he is not likely to receive
any more. The missionaries make a mistake if they think that they can
easily convert a Buḍḍhist into a Christian; for the reverse is the
case. Let me state some fundamental differences between Christianity
and Buḍḍhism. By the ‘Enlightenment’ of Buḍḍhism one obtains absolute
freedom; the greatest spiritual freedom is to be attained by one’s
self, while in Christianity there is an infinite power called God who
prevents one from attaining absolute freedom. Again the nature of
cause and effect is not clear in the Christian religion. I read in the
bible “A good tree will bear good fruits and a bad tree will bear bad
fruits.” Therefore I cannot say that the doctrine of cause and effect
is not alluded to at all in this religion, but its scope is limited.
If they would extend the text and make it applicable to previous and
future lives, then I think they might open the way for Christianity to
reach the Tibetans. Furthermore the sentence “Thy faith has saved thee”
of Christ means exactly what Buḍḍha meant: “Of one’s own deeds, one’s
own reward.” But it seems to me that the true meaning of the words
of Christ is not fully developed and that its application is far too
narrow. I think this is one cause of the unpopularity of Christianity
among the Tibetans, who have a very deep belief in the theory of
“receiving according to one’s own deeds.” These are the chief reasons,
I believe, why Christianity obtains so few followers among the Tibetans
after so many years of hard work by scores of missionaries at the cost
of millions of dollars.

To sum up what we have seen: The predominant religion at present is
Buḍḍhism, and the others are the Bon, the Muhammadan and the Christian.
We have seen how the old pre-Buḍḍhist Bon religion has been transformed
into the New Bon, which is now looked upon as a sect of Buḍḍhism, and
how the Muhammadan religion existing within a very small sphere of
influence has shown a gradual approach to Buḍḍhism, though unnoticed
by themselves. As to the Christianity of Tibet, it does not seem
probable that it can flourish in this land unless the present sectarian
prejudices of the Churches are entirely removed and a new form and
attitude be given it, so as to adapt it to the Tibetan people. The
present Tibetan Buḍḍhism is corrupt and on the road to decay; still
it has some jewels in it, and is almost naturally inherent in every
Tibetan, and it is probable that it will continue to be predominant in
the country by its own _vis inertiae_ until a great man comes to the
front to undertake the work of religious reformation and to restate the
truths of the Great Freedom of Buḍḍha.


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. (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 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 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: “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

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

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 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.


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.
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 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 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 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

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 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

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

(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: “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

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.


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 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 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
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.


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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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).


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 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 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.

[4] The words “_Lha-kyallo_” mean: the virtuous God will be victorious.

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 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 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.

[Illustration: A DISTANT VIEW OF LHASA.]

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 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
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

“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

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 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. 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 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
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 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 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

“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 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 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.


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

“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

“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 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 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.


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

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.”