The Dalai Lama is Removing the Thrones of His Spiritual Teacher

Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden Blog: Breaking News From India  

Ganden Lachi and Shartse monasteries are situated at Mundgod in South India. In both these monasteries stands a throne for Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, the spiritual master of the Dalai Lama.

Ganden Lachi and Shartse monasteries were threatened: “You must remove these thrones or else we will not hold the great prayer festival together in Drepung monastery.”
It is quite certain that the thrones will be removed forever from the monasteries in order to appease the Tibetan Government in exile and the Dalai Lama.

8 responses to “The Dalai Lama is Removing the Thrones of His Spiritual Teacher

  • Tsering Chodron

    What a sad moment in history when the picture of one of the greatest master in the Gelugpa tradition is removed.
    The Dalai Lama has created a situation that is breaking the hearts of so many Buddhists in the world, by mixing politics and dharma, to the point where his own spiritual guide’s picture, a holy being such as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, is seen as a treat to him and the fulfillment of his wishes. These are definitely degerated times in the Tibetan Buddhist world. It helps to understand why Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has separated from Tibetan Buddhism a long time ago. May Dorje Shugden protect the precious teachings of Buddha from being mixed with politics in this world.

  • Dalai Lama is Breaking the Hearts of Buddhists Around the World « Western Shugden Society

    […] post info By goldenmala Categories: western shugden society Tags: dalai lama and dorje shugden, dalai lama controversy, dorje shugden, geshe kelsang gyatso, kyabje trijang rinpoche, new kadampa tradition, politics, shugden, tibetan buddhism Comment posted about the Dalai Lama Removing His Guru’s Thrones and Images: […]

  • lionheart

    Just unbelievable hypocrisy of this one-time Dharma student-turned-politician called “dalai lama”.

  • Thom

    Once upon a time, Many Great High Lamas entered the Deep Forest in the Highlands of Southern Indiana. Great Teachers from many distant lands converged to Turn The Great Wheel Of Dharam to the Land Of The Red Men in The West. Together, and also One by One, they brought the Teachings Of Lord Buddha to the Native People.
    H.H. Domo Geshe Rinpoche, pioneered the path and secured the dias ,for H.H. Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang Rinpoche, a Great Master, now a young man brought the First of His Teachings to the Americas accompanied by the Gonsar[new monastery builder]Tulku to consecrate his first Monastery in the Americas.
    H..H.Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche had already given the blueprints for the New Throne, from which the Tachings would commence to those who would listen, and this was many,many people came to all of the Teachings.
    One day as the Teak wood was being transported for the construction of the throne. A car came out of nowhere and slammed all the wood and the driver to the side. No one really hurt and none of the wood damaged. But the ugly head of jeaulously showed it’s head and disdain for the Dharma to flourish. The throne was built and filled with most of our Lineage Masters taught from over the last 12 years.
    The Throne built for Trijang Rinpoche is secured and served by a thriving community of lay and monks since this first day. Now they expand the Monastery to over an 100 acres and other cities in the Tri State have Centers. All Protected by The Supreme Protector of The Dharam Shri Lord Dorje Shugden.
    All the people were blessed forever and ever and lived Happily Ever After !

  • Thom

    The Shadow of the Dalai Lama –
    The War of the Oracle Gods and the Shugden Affair


    The Tibetans can be described without exaggeration as being “addicted to oracles”. The most varied methods of augury and clairvoyance have been an everyday presence in the Land of Snows since time immemorial. The following types of oracle, all of which are still employed (among the Tibetans in exile as well), are described on an Internet site: doughball divination, dice divination, divination on a rosary, bootstrap divination, the interpretation of “incidental” signs, clairvoyant dreams, examining flames, observing a butter lamp, mirror divination, shoulder-blade divination, and hearing divination (HPI 10). When the “Great Fifth” seized worldly power in Tibet in the 17th century, he founded the institution of a state oracle so as to be able to obtain divinatory advice about the business of government. This is a matter of a human medium who serves as the mouthpiece of a particular deity. Still today, this form of “supernatural” consultation forms an important division within the Tibetan government in exile. The opinions of oracles are obtained for all important political events, often by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in person. He is — in the accusations of his opponents — all but obsessed by divinations; it is primarily the prophecies of the state oracle which are mentioned. But before we examine this accusation, we should take a closer look at the history and character of this “state oracle”.

    The Tibetan state oracle

    In the Tibet of old, the state oracle (or rather its human medium) lived, as one of the highest ranking lamas in the Nechung residence. “It” had at its command a considerable “court” and celebrated its liturgies in a temple of its own. The predominant color of the interior temple was black. On the walls of the gloomy shrine hung mysterious weapons, from which great magical effects were supposed to emanate. In the corners lurked stuffed birds, tigers, and leopards. Pictures of terror gods looked back at the visitor, who suddenly stood in front of a mask of dried leather feared across the whole country. Among the chief iconographic motifs of the temple was the depiction of human ribcages.

    At the beginning of an oracle session, the Nechung Lama is sent into a trance via all manner of ritual song and incense. After a while eyes close, his facial muscles begin to twitch, his brow becomes dark red and glistens with sweat. The prophet god then visibly enters him, then during his trance the medium develops — and this is confirmed by photographs and western eyewitness reports — almost superhuman powers. He can bend iron swords and, although he carries a metal crown weighing over 80 pounds (!) on his head, perform a wild dance. Incomprehensible sounds come from his foaming lips. This is supposed to be a sacred language. Only once it has been deciphered by the priests can the content of the oracle message be recognized.

    The deity conjured up by the Nechung Lama is called Pehar or Pedkar. However often only his adjutant is invoked, Dorje Drakden by name. This is because a direct appearance by Pehar can be so violent that it threatens the life of his medium (the Nechung Lama). Pehar has under his command a group of five wrathful gods, who together are called the “protective wheel”. It seems sensible to make a few thoughts about this prophesying god, who has for centuries exercised such a decisive influence upon Tibetan politics and still continues to do so.

    In iconographic representations, Pehar has three faces of different colors. He wears a bamboo hat which is crowned with a vajra upon his head. In his hands he holds a bow and arrow, a sword, a cleaver, and a club. His mount is a snow lion.

    Pehar’s original home lay in the north of Tibet, there where in the conception of the old Tibetans (in the Gesar epic) the “devil’s country” was to be found. In earlier times he reigned as war god of the Hor Mongols. According to the sagas, this wild tribe was counted among the bitterest opponents of the pre-Buddhist Tibetans and their national hero, Gesar of Ling.

    Old documents from Tunhuang describe the Hor as “flesh-eating red demons” (Stein, 1993, p. 36). Their martial king had laid waste to the Land of Snows and stolen its queen, the wife of Gesar of Ling. After terrible battles the Tibetan national hero defeated the rapacious Hors, to whom we are indebted for the word horde, and won their commitment and that of their chief god, Pehar, with an eternal oath of loyalty. Over the centuries the term Hor was then used to refer to various Mongolian tribes, including those of Genghis Khan. Hence, Pehar (the principal oracle god of the Dalai Lama) was originally a bitter arch-enemy of the Tibetans.

    Where Gesar had rendered the Mongol god harmless, it was the Maha Siddha Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) who brought Buddhism to Tibet who first succeeded in actually putting Pehar to work. The saga tells how Guru Rinpoche pressed a vajra upon the barbaric god’s head and thus magically mastered him. After this act, Pehar was able to be incorporated into the Buddhist pantheon as a servant. For seven hundred years his chief residence was the founding monastery Samye, by the construction of which he had to assist as a “forced laborer”. About 900 years later the “Great Fifth” transported him (i.e., his symbol) to Nechung in the vicinity of the Drepung monastery and advanced the former war god of the Hor to state oracle. Since, after his “Buddhization”, he did not want to be reminded of his former defeat (by the national hero, Gesar), not a single verse from the Gesar epic was allowed to be cited in the Drepung monastery or at any other location where he had stayed.

    The question soon arises as to why of all gods Pehar, the former ferocious and cruel opponent of the Land of Snows, was given the delicate office of being a supernatural governmental advisor to the Tibetan “god-king”. Surely this would have sooner been the entitlement of a Bodhisattva like Avalokiteshvara or a national hero like Gesar of Ling.

    With this question too, the key is to be sought in the “political theology” of the “Great Fifth”. We may recall that both the conferring of the title of Dalai Lama and the establishment of the hierarch’s secular power were the actions of the Mongolians and not of the Tibetan people. In contrast, as we have reported, in the 17th century the national forces of the country were actually gathered under the kings of Tsang and around the throne of the Karmapa (the leader of the “red” Kagyupa sect). Thus, it does not take much fantasy to be able to sketch out why Pehar was chosen as the advisor of the “yellow” Buddhist state (then represented by the Fifth Dalai Lama). It was expected of the former Mongolian god and opponent of Tibet that he tame the recalcitrant Tibetans (who supported the Karmapa). In this his interests were in complete accord with those of the “god-king”. Additionally, the “Great Fifth” himself was a descendant of an aristocratic family which traced its lineage back to the Hor Mongols. Pehar, the later state oracle, is thus a foreign deity imposed upon the Tibetan people.

    It is true that the oracle god has sworn an oath of loyalty, but it is — in the lamas’ opinion — by no means ruled out that he may one day break this and unleash his full vengeance upon the Tibetans who defeated him in times gone by. He has in his own words explained to Padmasambhava what will then happen. He will destroy the houses and the fields. The children of the Land of Snows will have to endure famine and will be driven insane. The fruit of the and will be destroyed by hail and swarms of insects. The strong will be carried off and only the weak shall survive. Wars shall devastate the roof of the world. Pehar himself will interrupt the meditations of the lamas, rob their spells of their magic power, and force them to commit suicide. Brothers will rape their sisters. He will make the wisdom consorts (the mudras) of the tantra masters bad and heretical, yes, transform them into enemies of the teaching who emigrate to the lands of the unbelievers. But first he shall copulate with them. “I,” Pehar proclaims, “the lord of the temples, the stupas and scriptures, I shall possess the fair bodies of all virgins” (Sierksma, 1966, p. 165).

    In the sphere of practical politics the recommendations of the Mongolian martial god have also not always been advantageous for the Tibetans. For example, he gave the Thirteenth Dalai Lama the catastrophic advice that he should attack the British army under Colonel Younghusband which led to a massacre of the Tibetan soldiers.

    Current politics and the oracle system

    One would think that the Tibetans in exile would these days have distanced themselves from such a warlike deity as Pehar, who constantly threatens them with bloody acts of revenge, especially after their experiences at the hands of the Chinese occupying forces. One would further assume that, given the Kundun’s strident professions of democracy, the oracle system as such would be in decline or have even been abandoned. But the opposite is the case: in Dharamsala the divinatory arts, astrology, the interpretation of dreams, and even the drawing of lots still have a most decisive (!) influence upon the politics of the Tibetans in exile. Every (!) politically significant step is first taken once the mediums, soothsayers, and court astrologers have been consulted, every important state-political activity requires the invocation of the wrathful Mongolian god, Pehar. This tendency has increased in recent years. Today there are said to be three further mediums (who represent different deities) whose services are made use of. Among these is a young and attractive girl from an eastern province of Tibet. Some members of the community of Tibetans in exile are therefore of the opinion that the various oracles misuse His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama for their own ends and force their will upon him.

    Now, how does the “god-king” see this through his own eyes? “Even some Tibetans,” we learn from the Kundun, “mostly those who consider themselves ‘progressive’, have misgivings about my continued use of this ancient method of intelligence gathering. But I do so for the simple reason that as I look back over the many occasions when I have asked questions of the oracle, on each one of them time has proved that his answer was correct” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993 I, p. 312). “I not only believe in spirits, but in various kinds of spirits!”, His Holiness further admits, “… To this category belongs the state oracle Nechung (Pehar). We consider these spirits reliable, then they have a long history without any controversy in over 1000 years” (Tagesanzeiger (Switzerland), March 23, 1998). Pehar determined the point in time in which the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and with the statement “that the shine of the ‘wish-fulfilling jewel’ [one of the Dalai Lama’s names] will light up in the West” predicted the spread of Buddhism in Europe and North America. (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993a, p. 154).

    Even the aggression of his oracle god is not denied by the Kundun: “ His [task], in his capacity as protector and defender, is wrathful. [!] However, although our functions are similar, my relationship with Nechung is that of commander to lieutenant: I never bow down to him. It is for Nechung to bow to the Dalai Lama” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993 I, p. 312). This statement confirms once again that from a tantric viewpoint, the politics of the Tibetans in exile is not conducted by people, but by gods. As Avalokiteshvara and the Kalachakra deity, the Dalai Lama commands the Mongolian god, Pehar, to make predictions about the future. [1] The Kundun’s comment in this quotation that his functions and the “functions” of Pehar are “similar” is ambiguous. Does he want to allude to his own “wrathful aspect” here? On September 4, 1987 a new Nechung medium was enthroned in Dharamsala, since the old one had died three years before. His official confirmation was attained following a demonstrative trance session at which the Kundun, cabinet members of the Tibetan government in exile and the parliamentary chairman were present. About two months later another séance was held before the Council of Ministers and a number of high lamas. This illustrious assembly of the highest ranking representatives of the Tibetan people shows how the political prophecies and instructions of the god Pehar are taken seriously not just by the Dalai Lama but also by the “people’s representatives” of the Tibetans in exile. Thus, in political decisions neither reason nor the majority of votes, nor even public opinion have the last word, but rather the Mongolian oracle god.

    Dorje Shugden—a threat to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s life?

    Since 1996 at the latest, Pehar and his Nechung medium have met with embittered competition from among the Tibetan’s own ranks. This is a matter of the tutelary and divinatory deity, Dorje Shugden. In pictures, Dorje Shugden is depicted riding grim-faced through a lake of boiling blood upon a snow lion. It is primarily conservative circles among the Gelugpas (the “Yellow Hats”) who have grouped around this figure. They demand the exclusive supremacy of the yellow sect (the Gelugpas) over the other Buddhist schools.

    This traditional political position of the Shugden worshippers is not acceptable to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (although he himself is a member of the yellow sect) because he is working towards an integration of all Tibet’s religious orientations, including the Bonpos. With the same resolve as the “Great Fifth” he sees a one-off chance to multiply the power of his own institution in a collective movement involving all schools. It is therefore not surprising that even the early history of Dorje Shugden features an irreconcilable confrontation between the protective god and the Fifth Dalai Lama, which appears to be repeating itself today.

    What took place on that occasion, and what has been the history of the recalcitrant Shugden? The “pan-Buddhist” program of the “Great Fifth”, but especially his occult tendency towards the Nyingmapa sect, led the abbot of the powerful Drepung (Yellow Hat) monastery, Drakpa Gyaltsen, to organize a rebellion against the ruler in the Potala. The conspiracy was discovered and was not carried out.

    The two oracle gods at daggers drawn: Shugden [l] and Nechung [r]

    Most probably at the command of the in such matters unscrupulous god-king, the rebel was murdered first. Whilst the corpse was being burned on a pyre, a threatening cloud which resembled a huge black hand, the hand of the avenger, was formed by the ascending smoke. After his death the murdered lama, Drakpa Gyaltsen, transformed into a martial spirit and took on the fearsome name of Dorje Shugden, which means the “Bellower of the Thunderbolt”. He continued to pursue his political goals from the beyond.

    Shortly after his death — the legend reports — all manner of unhappy incidents befell the country. Towns and villages were afflicted with sicknesses. The Tibetan government constantly made wrong decisions, even the Fifth Dalai Lama was not spared. Every time he wanted to have a meal in the middle of the day, his victim (Dorje Shugden) manifested himself as an invisible evil force, up-ended the dinner tables and damaged the “ His Holiness’s possessions”. [2] Ultimately it proved possible to subdue the vengeful spirit through all manner of rituals, but he did not therefore remain inactive.

    With the assistance of a human medium, through whom he still today communicates with his priests, the abbot who had transformed into a protective god organized (from the beyond, so to speak) a oppositional grouping within the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) order, who wanted (and still want) to enforce the absolute supremacy of their order by magical and practical political means. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century the invocation of Shugden by the powerful Yellow Hat lama, Pabongka Rinpoche, was used to suppress the Nyingmapas and Kagyupas in eastern Tibet. An outright ritual war was fought out: “… whenever this [Shugden] ritual was practiced in the Gelugpa monasteries, the surrounding monasteries of the other schools [performed] certain practices so as to check the negative forces again” (Kagyü Life 21-1996, p. 34).

    Nonetheless the “reactionary” Shugden movement constantly gained in popularity, especially among members of the Tibetan nobility too. Later, this “sub-sect” of the Yellow Hats came to understand itself as a secret nest of resistance against the Chinese occupation force, since the traditional protectors of Tibet (Palden Lhamo or Pehar, for example) had allegedly betrayed and left the country. One of the chief representatives of the secret conservative alliance (Trijang Rinpoche) was a teacher of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who himself initiated his divine pupil into the Shugden cult.

    The reverence for Shugden is likewise high among the Tibetans in exile, and is well distributed worldwide (everywhere where Gelugpas are to be found). A fifth, in some other versions even two-thirds, of the yellow sect are said to pray to the reactionary dharmapala (tutelary spirit). But in the meantime the movement has also spread among Westerners. These are primarily from the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), an English-based grouping around the lama Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The declaration of exclusion from his former monastery says of the latter that, “this demon with broken commitments, Kelsang Gyatso, burns with the flame of unbearable spite toward the unsurpassed omniscient XIV Dalai Lama, the only staff of life of religious people in Tibet, whose activities and kindness equal the sky” (Lopez, 1998, p. 195). His supporters provide online information about their conflict with Dharamsala under the name of the Shugden Supporters Community (SSC).

    The Kundun and Shugden

    It is true that in the year 1976 the Fourteenth Dalai Lama had already declared that he did not wish for his person to associated in any way with Dorje Shugden, especially because the worship of this “reactionary” spirit had come into conflict with three other dharmapalas (tutelary gods) which he revered highly, the oracle god Pehar, the terrible Palden Lhamo, and the protective god Dharmaraja. Rumors report of a dream of the Kundun in which Shugden and Pehar had fought with one another. On a number of occasions Pehar prophesied via the Nechung Lama that Shugden was attempting to undermine the sovereignty of the Kundun and thus deliver Tibet into the hands of the Chinese. The Mongolian god received unexpected support in his accusations through a young attractive female medium by name of Tsering Chenma, who, during the preparations for a Kalachakra initiation (!) in Lahaul Spiti announced that 30 members of the Dorje Shugden Society would attack the Dalai Lama in the course of the initiation. Thereupon the Kundun’s security staff searched all present for weapons. Nothing was found and not a single representative of the Shugden society was in attendance (Burns, Newsgroup 1).

    Yet another, female (!) oracle was questioned about the Shugden affair. During the session and in the presence of the Dalai Lama, the woman is supposed to have fallen upon a monk and whilst she tore at his clothes and shook his head cried out: “This Lama is bad, he is following Dorje Shugden, take him out, take him out” (Burns, Newsgroup 9).

    The majority of the Tibetans in exile were naturally not informed about such incidents, which were more or less played out behind closed doors, and were thus most surprised at the sharpness and lack of compromise with which the Kundun repeated his criticisms of the Shugden movement in 1996.

    On March 21, during the initiation into a particular tantra (Hayagriva) he turned to those present with the following words: “I have recently said several prayers for the well-being of our nation and religion. It has become fairly clear that Dolgyal [another name for Shugden] is a spirit of the dark forces. … If any of you intend to continue to invoke Dolgyal [Shugden], it would be better for you to stay away from this authorization, to stand up and leave this place. It is unfitting if you continue to sit here. It will be of no use to you. It will in contrast have the effect of shortening the life of the Gyalwa Rinpoche [of the Dalai Lama, that is, his own life]. Which is not good. If there are, however, some among you who want that Gyalwa Rinpoche [he himself] should soon die, then just stay” (Kagyü Life 21-1996, p. 35).

    At another location the Kundun announced his fear that Shugden was seeking to spoil all his pleasure in life via psychic terror: “You should not think that dangers for my life come only from someone armed with a knife, a gun or a bomb. Such an event is extremely unlikely. But dangers to my life may arise if my advice is constantly spurned, causing me to feel discouraged and to see no further purpose in life” (Kashag, HPI 11).

    Such statements by His Holiness may imply that the Dalai Lama (and behind him the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara) is very fearful of this vengeful spirit, which induced the Indian Associated Press to make the mocking comment that, “a 350-year old ghost is haunting the Dalai Lama” (Associated Press, August 21, 1997, 2:54 a.m.). At any rate,, the god-king’s security service which protects his residence in Dharamsala in the meantime consists of 100 police officers.

    The following statement by the Kundun has been leaked from a secret meeting of influential exiled Tibetan politicians and high lamas which the Dalai Lama called to discuss the Shugden case in Caux (Switzerland): “Everyone who is affiliated with the Tibetan Society of Ganden Phodrang government (Tibetan Government) should relinquish ties with Dhogyal (Shugden). This is necessary since it poses danger to the religious and temporal situation in Tibet. As for foreigners, it makes no difference to us if they walk with their feet up and their head down. We have taught Dharma to them, not they to us. … We should do it [carry out this ban] in such a way to ensure that in future generations not even the name of Dholgyal [Shugden] is remembered” (Burns, Newsgroup 1).

    Numerous Tibetans who had in the past been initiated into the Shugden cult by the personal teacher of the Kundun, Trijang Rinpoche, and believed that through this they enjoyed His Holiness’s favor, saw themselves all at once betrayed after the ban and felt deeply disappointed. For the sophisticated Dalai Lama, however, the sectarian position of the “yellow fundamentalists” and “sectarians” was no longer bearable and quite obviously a significant obstacle on his mission to compel all sects to accept his absolute control and thus limit the supremacy of the Gelugpas. “This Shugden spirit”, the Kundun has said, “has for over 360 years created tensions between the Gelug tradition and the other schools. … Some may [because of the ban] have lost trust in me. But at the same time numerous followers of the Kagyupa or Nyingma schools have recognized that the Dalai Lama is pursuing a truly non-sectarian course. I believe this Shugden worship has been like an agonizing boil for 360 years. Now like a modern surgeon I have undertaken a small operation” (Tagesanzeiger (Switzerland), March 23, 1998).

    He then also branded the Shugden cult as “idolatry” and as a “relapse into shamanism” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1997, No. 158, p. 10). On March 30, 1996 the ban on the worship of Shugden was pronounced by governmental decree. The “mouthpiece” of the Kundun in the USA, Robert Thurman, emotionally denounced the “sectarians” and publicly disparaged them as the “Taliban of Buddhism”.

    In the meantime the accusations coming out of Dharamsala against the Shugden worshippers fill many pages: they were cooperating with the Chinese and received funding from Beijing; they were fouling their own nest; they were playing “Russian roulette”, because they dragged the whole exile Tibetan case (and thereby themselves) into the depths. They were trying to kill the Kundun.

    The accusations made by the Shugden worshippers

    On the other hand, the Shugden followers, whose leader has meanwhile been officially declared to be an “enemy of the people”, speak of a true witch hunt directed against them which has already been in progress for a number of months. They accuse the Dalai Lama of a flagrant breach of human rights and the right to freedom of religion and do not shy from drawing comparisons with the Chinese occupation force and the Catholic Inquisition. Houses belonging to the sect are said to have been illegally searched by followers of the Kundun, masked bands of thugs to have attacked defenseless Shugden believers, images of and altars to the protective god to have been deliberately burned and thrown into rivers. Lists of the names of Dorje Shugden practitioners (“enemies of the people”) are said to have been drawn up and pictures of them and their children to have been hung out in public buildings so as to defame them. It is said that followers of the protective deity have been completely refused entry to the offices of the government in exile and that the children of their families no longer have access to the official schools. Following a resolution of the so-called Tibetan Cholsum Convention (held between August 27 and 31, 1998) Shugden followers were unable to travel internationally or draw pensions, state child assistance, or social security payments. In it, Tibetans are forbidden to read the writings of the cult and they were called upon to burn them.

    A militant underground organization with the name of the “secret society for the destruction of internal and external enemies of Tibet” threatened to murder two young lineage holders, the lamas Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (13-years-old) [3] and Song Rinpoche (11-years-old), who (under the influence of their teacher) performed rites in honor of Dorje Shugden: “… we will destroy your life and your activities” (Swiss Television, SF1, January 6, 1998). In a document from this group tabled by Shugden followers, it says: “Anyone who goes against the policy of the government must be singled out one-pointedly, opposed and given the death penalty. … As for the reincarnations of Trijang and Song Rinpoche, if they do not stop practicing Dhogyal [Shugden] and contradict with the word of H.HH. the Dalai Lama, not only will we not be able to respect them, but their life and their activities will suffer destruction. This is our first warning” (Burns, Newsgroup 1). Whilst a Western television crew were filming, a Tibetan monk who cooperated with the reporters received a death threat: “… in seven days you will be dead!” (Swiss Television, SF1, January 6, 1998).

    In addition Dharamsala has exerted vehement psychological pressure on Buddhist centers in the West and forbidden them from performing Shugden rituals. In a word — the worshippers of the protective god had become the “Jews of Buddhism” (Newsweek, April 28, 1997, p. 26).

    In London, where the sect has around 3000 members, there were protest demonstrations at which pictures of the Kundun were held high with the slogan, “Your Smiles Charm, Your Actions Harm”. He was referred to here as a “merciless dictator, who oppresses his people more than the Chinese do” (Kagyü Life 21, 1996, p. 34).

    However, in an official communiqué from May 14, 1996, the government in exile denied all accusations. In contrast — they announced that death threats had been sent from Shugden to the offices of His Holiness and the Tibetan Women’s Association. “If there comes division among prominent persons in the Yellow Hat Sect, there will be bloodshed in the monasteries and settlements across India”, one of the threatening letters is said to have stated (Newsweek, April 28, 1997, p. 26; retranslation). Both sides clearly fear that their lives are threatened by the other side.

    All these mutual fears, accusations, and slander in the battle between the two oracle gods reached their climax in the ritual murder of the lama Lobsang Gyatso on February 4, 1997 which we have described above. Lobsang Gyatso was considered a special friend of the Dalai Lama and a pronounced opponent of the Shugden sect. A few days after the murder a press release from the government in exile coursed around the world in which Dorje Shugden followers were said to certainly be responsible for the murder. There was talk of confessions and arrests. This opinion remains current among a broad public to this day.

    As evidence, among other things a letter to the murder victim (Lobsang Gyatso) was cited in which (it was said) the secretary of the Dorje Shugden Society had threatened the abbot with murder. Tashi Wangdu, a minister of the Tibetan government in exile, held this document, written in Tibetan, in his hand and showed it again on January 25, 1998 in Swiss Television (on the “Sternstunde”[Star Hour] program). However, this turned out to be a deliberate and very blatant attempt to mislead, then the Tibetan document, which was later translated, does not contain a single word of a murder threat. Rather, it contains a polite invitation to Lobsang Gyatso to discuss “theological” questions with the Dorje Shugden Society in Delhi (Gassner, 1999).

    But this document was enough to arrest all known followers of the protective god (Shugden) in Delhi and illegally imprison them. However, they denied participating in the crime in any form whatsoever. [4] Indeed, despite interrogations lasting weeks by the Indian criminal police, nothing has been proven. The evidence is so meager that it is most likely that the crime was committed by another party. The matter was also seen so by a court in Dharamsala, which negated any connection between the Dorje Shugden Society and the murders of February 4.

    For this reason, there are claims from the Shugden followers that the Dalai Lama’s circle tried to pin the blame on them in order to muzzle and marginalize them. In light of the power-political ambitions and relative strength of the sect — it is said to have over 20,000 active members in India alone — this version also makes sense. Some western worshippers of the protective god even go so far as to claim that a higher order from the Kundun lay behind the deed. Until the murderers are convicted, a good criminologist must keep his or her eye on all of these possibilities.

    Reactions of the Tibetan parliament

    Within the Tibetan parliament in exile, the incidents have led to great nervousness and high tension. A resolution was passed demanding that “in essence government departments, organizations, associations, monasteries and their branches under the direction of the exile Tibetan government should abide by the ban against worship of Dhogyal” (Burns, Newsgroup 1).

    In the further reactions of the people’s representatives one can read just how risky the whole matter is seen to be. Hence, during the parliamentary session of September 20, 1997 one of the members established that “an unprecedented amount of literature is being published everywhere that criticizes the Dalai Lama and belittles the Tibetan Exile Government” (Burns, Newsgroup 1). This is “extremely dangerous” and in the principal monasteries there was open talk of a schism. During the parliamentary session the government was strongly criticized for not having done anything to treat the Shugden affair as a internal Tibetan matter, but rather to have told the whole world about it, thus bringing it to the attention of an international public. We have to conclude from the committed discussions of the parliamentary members that the power and potential influence of the Shugden followers are actually more significant than one would have thought from the previous official statements out of Dharamsala.

    On the third day of the session the situation in parliament had reached such a dead end that there seemed to be nothing more to say. What do the representatives of Tibetans in exile do in such a situation? — They consult the state oracle! It is not the members of parliament as the representatives of the people’s will but rather the oracle god Pehar who decides which course the government is to steer in the controversy surrounding the recalcitrant Dorje Shugden. The grotesqueness of the situation can hardly be topped, since Pehar and Shugden — as we learn from the writings of both parties — are the most bitter of enemies. How, then, is the Mongolian god (Pehar) supposed to provide an objective judgment about his arch-enemy (Shugden)? Indeed, it was Pehar, who in 1996 prophesied for the Dalai Lama that his life and hence the fate of Tibet wee endangered by the Shugden cult. In contrast , the Shugden oracle announced that the Kundun has been falsely advised by Pehar for years. Hence what the state oracle consulted by parliament would say was clear in advance. The advice was to combat the Shugden followers with uncompromising keenness.

    This interesting case is thus a matter of a war between two oracle gods who seek control over the politics of Tibet. No other example since the flight of the Dalai Lama (in 1959) has so clearly revealed to the public that “gods” are at work behind the Tibetan state, the realpolitik of the Kundun, and the power groupings of the society of Tibetans in exile. One may well be completely skeptical about such entities, but one cannot avoid acknowledging that the ruling elite and the subjects of the Lamaist state are guided by just such an ancient world view. How these occult struggles are to be reconciled with the untiringly repeated professions of belief in democracy is difficult to comprehend from a western-oriented way of thinking.

    Dharamsala is completely aware that antidemocratic methods must arouse disquiet in the West. For example, in contrast to before, since the mid-eighties reports about the pronouncements of oracles no longer play a large role in the Tibetan Review (the exile Tibetans’ most important foreign-language organ of the press). Only since the “Shugden affair” (1996) has the excessive use of oracle mediums in the politics of the Tibetans in exile been rediscovered and become known worldwide. In monastic circles it is openly joked that the Kundun employs more oracles than ministers. “Favorites and sorcerers manipulate the sovereign”, it says in a Spanish magazine, with “demons and deities fighting to control people’s minds …” (Más Allá de la Ciencia, No. 103, 1997).

    Nevertheless, the Kundun has succeeded amazingly well in marginalizing the Shugden cult internationally and branding it as medieval superstition. For example, the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, which normally takes an extremely critical stance towards religious matters, was prepared to blindly take up the official version of the Shugden story from Dharamsala: the Shugden followers, Der Spiegel reported, were responsible for two (!) murders and their flight could be traced to China and the Chinese secret service (Spiegel, 16/1998, p. 119). Nearly all western media stereotypically repeat that the ritual murderers came from the ranks of the protective god (for example, Time Magazine Asia, September 28, 1998).

    One of the arguments of the Shugden followers in this “battle of the gods” is the claim that the Dalai Lama is engaged in selling his own country to the Chinese. He (they argue) is not acting in the interests of his people at all, since in his Strasbourg Declaration he renounced the national sovereignty of Tibet as his goal.

    It is not possible for us to form a final judgment about such a charge; however, what we can in any case assume is the fact that the Mongolian war god Pehar (the Nechung oracle) can have no interest in the (well-being of the)Tibetans and their nation, against whom he in former times grimly struggled as a Hor Mongol and who then enslaved him. Of course, the national interests of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama could also collide with his worldwide ambitions concerning the spread of Tantric Buddhism. We shall return to this topic in our article on his politics towards China.

    If — as the tantric belief maintains- deities are pulling the strings behind the scenes of “human” politics, then a direct consequence of this is that magic (as an invocatory art of gaining influence over gods and demons) must be counted among the “political” activities par excellence. Magic as statecraft is therefore a Tibetan specialty. Let us take a closer look at this “portfolio”.


    [1] Here we ought to ask how a lesser deity like Pehar is able to predict the future at all for the hierarchically superior Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and the incarnated time god (Kalachakra) who are embodied in the Dalai Lama.

    [2] According to statements by the followers of Shugden, the Fifth Dalai Lama is supposed to have later changed his mind and prayed to the protective deity. He is even said to have molded the first statue of Dorje Shugden with his own hands and have composed prayers to the protective god. This statue is said to currently be found in Nepal.

    [3] Trijang Rinpoche is the reincarnation of the deceased lama who previously initiated the Fourteenth Dalai Lama into the Shugden cult whilst his teacher.

    [4] Up until now (February 1998) the police claim to have identified two of the six murderers. These have slipped over the border into Nepal, however.

    © Victor & Victoria Trimondi

  • Thom

    The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Magic as a political instrument


    Since his flight from Tibet (in 1959), the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has negotiated the international political and cultural stage like a sensitive democrat and enlightened man of the world. As a matter of course he lays claim to all the western “virtues” of humanism, freedom of opinion, rational argument, belief in technical and scientific progress, etc. One gains the impression that he is an open-minded and modern president of a modern nation, who masterfully combines his cosmopolitanism with an elevated, spiritually based, ethical system. But this practical, reasoning facade is deceptive. Behind it is hidden a deeply rooted belief in supernatural powers and magic practices which are supposed to exercise a decisive influence upon social and political events.

    Invocation of demons

    Since time immemorial ritual magic and politics have been one in Tibet. A large proportion of these magic practices are devoted to the annihilation of enemies, and especially to the neutralizing of political opponents. The help of demons was necessary for such ends. And they could be found everywhere — the Land of Snows all but overflowed with terror gods, fateful spirits, vampires, ghouls, vengeful goddesses, devils, messengers of death and similar entities, who, in the words of Matthias Hermanns, “completely overgrow the mild and goodly elements [of Buddhism] and hardly let them reveal their advantages” (Hermanns, 1965, p. 401).

    For this reason, invocations of demons were not at all rare occurrences nor were they restricted to the spheres of personal and family life. They were in general among the most preferred functions of the lamas. Hence, “demonology” was a high science taught at the monastic universities, and ritual dealings with malevolent spirits were — as we shall see in a moment — an important function of the lamaist state. [1]

    For the demons to appear they have to be offered the appropriate objects of their lust as a sacrifice, each class of devil having its own particular taste. René von Nebesky-Wojkowitz describes a number of culinary specialties from the Lamaist “demon recipe books”: cakes made of dark flour and blood; five different sorts of meat, including human flesh; the skull of the child of an incestuous relationship filled with blood and mustard seeds; the skin of a boy; bowls of blood and brain; a lamp filled with human fat with a wick made of human hair; and a dough like mixture of gall, brain, blood and human entrails (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1955, p. 261).

    Once the gods had accepted the sacrifice they stood at the ritual master’s disposal. The four-armed protective deity, Mahakala, was considered a particularly active assistant when it came to the destruction of enemies. In national matters his bloodthirsty emanation, the six-handed Kschetrapala, was called upon. The magician in charge wrote the war god’s mantra on a piece of paper in gold ink or blood from the blade of a sword together with the wishes he hoped to have granted, and began the invocation.

    Towards the end of the forties the Gelugpa lamas sent Kschetrapala into battle against the Chinese. He was cast into a roughly three-yard high sacrificial cake (or torma). This was then set alight outside Lhasa, and whilst the priests lowered their victory banner the demon freed himself and flew in the direction of the threatened border with his army. A real battle of the spirits took place here, as a “nine-headed Chinese demon”, who was assumed to have assisted the Communists in all matters concerning Tibet, appeared on the battlefield. Both spirit princes (the Tibetan and the Chinese) have been mortal enemies for centuries. Obviously the nine-headed emerged from this final battle of the demons as the victor.

    The Chinese claim that 21 individuals were killed in this enemy ritual so that their organs could be used to construct the huge torma. Relatives of the victims are supposed to have testified to this (Grunfeld, 1996, p. 29).Now, one could with good reason doubt the Chinese accusations because of the political situation between the “Middle Kingdom” and the “Roof of the World”, but not because they contradict the logic of Tibetan rites of war — these have been recorded in numerous tantric texts.

    Likewise in the middle of last century, the Yellow Hats from the Samye monastery were commissioned by the Tibetan government with the task of capturing the army of the red tsan demons in four huge “cross-hairs” in order to then send them off against the enemies of the Land of Snows. This magic instrument, a right-angled net of many-colored threads, stood upon a multistage base, each of which was filled with such tantric substances as soil form charnel fields, human skulls, murder weapons, the tips of the noses, hearts, and lips of men who died an unnatural death, poisonous plants, and similar things. The repulsive mixture was supposed to attract the tsan like a moth to a candle, so that they would become inescapably caught in the spells said over the spirit trap (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1955, p. 258). Following the seven-day deep meditation of a high lama it was ready and the demons could be given the command to set out against the enemy.

    Such a ritual is also said to have summoned up a terrible earthquake and great panic in Nepal in earlier times, when Tibet was at war with the Nepalese. Experience had shown, however, that it sometimes takes a long time before the effects of such harmful rites are felt. It took two decades after the successful occupation of Tibet by the English (in 1904) before there was an earthquake in the Indian province of Bihar in which a number of British soldiers lost their lives. The Tibetans also traced this natural disaster back to magical activities which they had conducted prior to the invasion.

    “Voodoo magic”

    The practice widely known from the Haitian voodoo religion of making a likeness of an enemy or a doll and torturing or destroying this in their place is also widespread in Tibetan Buddhism. Usually, some substance belonging to the opponent, be it a hair or a swatch from their clothing, has to be incorporated into the substitute. It is, however, sufficient to note their name on a piece of paper. Even so, sometimes hard-to-find ingredients are necessary for an effective destructive ritual, as shown by the following Buddhist ritual: “Draw a red magic diagram in the form of a half-moon, then write the name and lineage of the victim on a piece of cotton which has been used to cover the corpse of a plague victim. As ink, use the blood of a dark-skinned Brahmin girl. Call upon the protective deities and hold the piece of material in black smoke. Then lay it in the magic diagram. Swinging a magic dagger made from the bones of a plague victim, recite the appropriate incantation a hundred thousand times. Then place the piece of material there where the victim makes his nightly camp” (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1955, p.260). This induces the death of the person. [2]

    The same ritual text includes a recipe for the inducement of madness: “draw a white magic circle on the summit of a mountain and place the figure of the victim in it which you have to prepare from the deadly leaves of a poisonous tree. Then write the name and lineage of the victims on this figure with white sandalwood resin. Hold it in the smoke from burnt human fat. Whilst you recite the appropriate spell, take a demon dagger made of bone in your right hand and touch the head of the figure with it. Finally, leave it behind in a place where mamo demonesses are in the habit of congregating” (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1955, p. 261).

    Such “voodoo practices” were no rare and unhealthy products of the Nyingmapa sect or the despised pre-Buddhist Bonpos. Under the Fifth Dalai Lama they became part of the elevated politics of state. The “Great Fifth” had a terrible “recipe book” (the Golden Manuscript) recorded on black thangkas which was exclusively concerned with magical techniques for destroying an enemy. In it there a number of variations upon the so-called gan tad ritual are also described: a man or a woman depicting the victim are drawn in the center of a circle. They are shackled with heavy chains around their hands and feet. Around the figures the tantra master has written harmful sayings like the following. “the life be cut, the heart be cut, the body be cut, the power be cut, the descent be cut” (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1993, p. 483). The latter means that the victim’s relatives should also be destroyed. Now the menstrual blood of a prostitute must be dripped onto the spells, the drawings are given hair and nails. According to some texts a little dirt scraped from a shoe, or some plaster from the victim’s house are sufficient. Then the ritual master folds the paper up in a piece of cloth. The whole thing is stuffed into a yak’s horn with further horrible ingredients which we would rather not have to list. Gloves have to be worn when conducting the ritual, since the substances can have most harmful effects upon the magician if he comes into contact with them. In a cemetery he entreats an army of demons to descend upon the horn and impregnate it with their destructive energy. Then it is buried on the land of the enemy, who dies soon afterwards.

    The “Great Fifth” is supposed to have performed a “voodoo” ritual for the defeat of the Kagyupa and the Tsang clan in the Ganden monastery temple. He regarded them, “whose spirit has been clouded by Mara and their devotion to the Karmapa”, as enemies of the faith (Ahmad, 1970, p. 103). In the ritual, a likeness of the Prince of Tsang in the form of a torma (dough cake) was employed. Incorporated into the dough figure were the blood of a boy fallen in the battles, human flesh, beer, poison, and so on. 200 years later, when the Tibetans went to war with the Nepalese, the lamas had a substitute made of the commander of the Nepalese army and conducted a destructive ritual with this. The commander died soon after and the enemy army’s plans for invasion had to be abandoned (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1993, p. 495).

    Among other things, Tibetan magic is premised upon the existence of a force or energy possessed by every living creature and which is known as la. However, this life energy does not need to be stored within a person, it can be found completely outside of them, in a lake, a mountain, a tree, or an animal for instance. A person can also possess several las. If one of his energy centers is attacked or destroyed he is able to regenerate himself out of the others. Among aristocrats and high lamas we may find the la in “royal” animals like the snow lion, bears, tigers, or elephants. For the “middle class” of society we have animals like the ox, horse, yak, sheep, or mule, and for the lower classes the rat, dog, and scorpion. The la can also keep alive a family, a tribe, or a whole people. For example, Lake Yamdrok is said to contain the life energy of the Tibetan nation and there is a saying that the whole people would die out if it went dry. There is in fact a rumor among the Tibetans in exile that the Chinese planned to drain the entire lake (Tibetan Review, January 1992, p. 4).

    If a tantra master wants to put an enemy out of action through magic, then he must find his la and launch a ritual attack upon it. This is of course also true for political opponents. If the life energy of an enemy is hidden in a tree, for instance, then it makes sense to fell it. The opponent would instantly collapse. Every lama is supposed on principle to be capable of locating the la of a person via astrology and clairvoyance.

    Magic wonder weapons

    In the armories of the Kalachakra Tantra and of the “Great Fifth”, we find the “magic wheel with the sword spokes”, described by a contemporary lama in the following words: “It is a magic weapon of fearsome efficacy, a great wheel with eight razor-edge sharpened swords as spokes. Our magicians employed it a long time ago in the battle against foreign intruders. The wheel was charged with magic forces and then loosed upon the enemy. It flew spinning through the air at the enemy troops and its rapidly rotating spikes mowed the soldiers down in their hundreds. The devastation wrought by this weapon was so terrible that the government forbade that it ever be used again. The authorities even ordered that all plans for its construction be destroyed” (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1955, p. 257).

    A further magic appliance, which was, albeit without success, still put to use under the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, was to be found in a Yellow Hat monastery near Lhasa (Kardo Gompa). It was referred to as the “mill of the death demons” and consisted of two small round stones resting upon each other, the upper one of which could be rotated. René von Nebesky-Wojkowitz reports how the lamas started up this killing machine in 1950 at the beginning of the conflict with China: “The ‘Mill of the Death Demons’ was employed by the Tibetan government to kill the leaders of the opposing party. A priest who was especially experienced in the arts of black magic was appointed by the authorities to operate the instrument. In meditations extending over weeks he had to try to transfer the life energy (la) of the people he was supposed to kill into a number of mustard seeds. If he noticed from curtains indications that he had succeeded, then he laid the seeds between the stones and crushed them. …. The exterminating force which emanated from this magic appliance is supposed to even have had its effect upon the magician who operated it. Some of them, it is said, died after turning the ‘Mill of the Death Demons'” (Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 1955, pp. 257-258).

    The “Great Fifth” as magician and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

    The Fifth Dalai Lama was a enthusiast and a master of magic ritual politics. A distinction was drawn in the ceremonies he conducted between continuous, annually repeated state events, and special, mostly enemy-combating events. His “rituals [were] concerned with power; spiritual and political”, writes Samten Karmay, “… we stand in the arena of the dawn of modern Tibetan history” (Karmay, 1988, p. 26).

    The god-king was firmly convinced that he owed his political victories primarily to “the profound potency of the tantric rites” and only secondarily to the intervention of the Mongolians (Ahmad, 1970, p. 134). According to a Kagyupa document, the Mongolian occupation of the Land of Snows was the work of nine terror gods who were freed by the Gelugpas under the condition that they fetch the Mongolian hordes into Tibet to protect their order. “But in the process they brought much suffering on our land”, we read at the close of the document (Bell, 1994, p. 98).

    The visions and practices of the magic obsessed Fifth Dalai Lama are -as we have already mentioned — recorded in two volumes he wrote: firstly the Sealed and Secret Biography and then the Golden Manuscript. This abundantly illustrated book of rituals, which resembles the notorious grimoires (books of magic) of the European Middle Ages, was, in the master’s own words, written “for all those who wish to do drawings and paintings of the heavens and the deities” (Karmay, 1988, p. 19). [3]

    Magic drawing from the Golden Manuscript of the Fifth Dalai Lama

    We have no direct knowledge of any modern “voodoo practices” performed by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who has chosen the magician prince from the 17th century, the “Great Fifth”, as his most important model. Here, the Kundun has just as skillfully succeeded in laying a veil over the shadowy world of his occult ritual life as with the sexual magic initiations of Tantrism. But there are rumors and insinuations which allow one to suspect that he too deliberately conducts or has conducted such tantric killing rites.

    In one case this is completely obvious and he himself has confirmed this. Thus we may read in the most recent edition of his autobiography of how he staged a rite connected to the Kalachakra Tantra on the day of Mao Zedong’s death. „On the second the ceremony’s three days, Mao died. And the third day, it rained all morning. But, in the afternoon, there appeared one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen. I was certain that it must be a good omen” we hear from the Dalai Lama’s own mouth (Dalai Lama XIV, 1990, 222). The biographer of His Holiness, Claude B. Levenson, reports of this ritual that it was a matter of “an extremely strict practice which demanded complete seclusion lasting several weeks combined with a very special teaching of the Fifth Dalai Lama” (Levenson, 1990, p. 242). Recalling the strange death of the Empress Dowager Ci Xi and her imperial adoptive son described above, one may well ask whether this “strict practice” may not have been a killing rite recorded in the Golden Manuscript of the “Great Fifth”. In Buddhist circles the death of Mao Zedong is also celebrated as the victory of spiritual/magic forces over the raw violence of materialism.

    In such a context, and from a tantric/magic viewpoint, the visiting of Deng Xiaoping by Gyalo Thondup, one of the Dalai Lama’s brothers and himself a tulku, to may also have a momentous significance. Thondup negotiated with the Chinese party head over the question of Tibet. Deng died a few days after this meeting, on February 12, 1997 (Playboy [German edition], March 1998, p. 44).

    Mandala politics

    In contrast, the Fourteenth Dalai constantly and quite publicly conducts a magic practice which is less spectacular, but from a tantric point of view just as significant as the killing of a political opponent — it is just that this is not recognized as a act of magic. We are talking about the construction of mandalas, especially the Kalachakra sand mandala.

    We have already reported in detail on the homologies between a tantric mandala, the body of a yogi, the social environment, and the universe. Consistently thought through, this equivalence means that the construction of a mandala must be regarded as a magic political act. Through a magic diagram, a tantra master can “energetically” occupy and lay claim to the location of its construction and the corresponding environs. People within range of the power of such a magic architectural construction are influenced by the mandala’s energy and their consciousness is manipulated by it.

    The Kalachakra sand mandala thus serves not only to initiate adepts but also likewise as a magic title of possession, with which control over a particular territory can be legitimated. Accordingly, the magic power of the diagram gives its constructors the chance to symbolically conquer new territories. One builds a magic circle (a mandala) and “anchors” it in the region to be claimed. Then one summonses the gods and supplicates them to take up residence in the “mandala palace”. (The mandala is so to speak “energized” with divine forces.) After a particular territory has been occupied by a mandala (or cosmogram), it is automatically transformed into a sacred center of Buddhist cosmology.[4] Every construction of a mandala also implies — if one takes it seriously — the magic subjugation of the inhabitants of the region in which the “magic circle” is constructed.

    In the case of the Kalachakra sand mandala the places in which it has been built are transformed into domains under the control of the Tibetan time gods. Accordingly, from a tantric viewpoint, the Kalachakra mandala constructed at great expense in New York in 1991 would be a cosmological demonstration of power which aimed to say that the city now stood under the governing authority or at least spiritual influence of Kalachakra and Vishvamata. Since in this case it was the Fourteenth Dalai Lama who conducted the ritual as the supreme tantra master, he would have to be regarded as the spiritual/magic sovereign of the metropolis. Such fantastic speculations are a product of the ancient logic of his own magic system, and are incompatible with our ideas. We are nonetheless convinced that the laws of magic affect human reality proportional to the degree to which people believe in them.

    Further, there is no doubt that the magic diagrams evoke an exceptional fascination in some observers. This is confirmed, for example, by Malcolm Arth, art director of an American museum in which Tibetan monks constructed a Kalachakra sand mandala: “The average museum visitor spends about ten seconds before a work of art, but for this exhibit, time is measured in minutes, sometime hours. Even the youngsters, who come into the museum and run around as if it were a playground — these same youngsters walk into this space, and something happens to them. They’re transformed” (Bryant, 1992, pp. 245-246). The American Buddhist, Barry Bryant, even talks of an “electric kind of energy” which pervades the space in which the Kalachakra mandala is found (Bryant, 1992, p. 247).

    However, what most people from the West evaluate as a purely artistic pleasure, is experienced by the lamas and their western followers as a numinous encounter with supernatural forces and powers concentrated within a mandala. This idea can be extended so far that modern exhibitions of Tibetan artworks can be conceived by their Buddhist organizers as temples and initiation paths through which the visitors knowingly or unknowingly proceed. Mircea Eliade has described the progression through a holy place (a temple) in ancient times as follows: “Every ritual procession is equivalent to a progression to the center, and the entry into a temple repeats the entry into a mandala in an initiation or the progress of the kundalini through the chakras” (Eliade, 1985, p. 253).

    The major Tibet exhibition “Weisheit und Liebe” (Wisdom and Love), on view in Bonn in the summer of 1996 as well as at a number locations around the world, was designed along precisely these lines by Robert A. F. Thurman and Marylin M. Rhie. The conception behind this exhibition, Thurman writes, “is symbolically significant. It … draws its guiding principle from the mandala of the “wheel of time” [Kalachakra], the mystic site which embodies the perfect history and cosmos of the Buddha. … The arrangement of the individual exhibits reflects the deliberate attempt to simulate the environment of a Tibetan temple” (Thurman and Rhie, 1996, pp. 13–14).

    At the entrance one passed a Kalachakra sand mandala. The visitor then entered the various historical phases of Indian Buddhism arranged into separate rooms, beginning with the legends from the life of Buddha, then Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. The simulated “initiatory path” led on to Tibet passing through the four main schools in the following order: Nyingmapa, Sakyapa, Kagyupa, and then Gelugpa. After the “visitor/initiand” had so to speak obtained the secret teachings of the various sects, he or she stepped into the final “hall” of the exhibition temple. This was again, like the start, dedicated to the Kalachakra Tantra.

    Through the construction of this exhibition the history of Buddhism and of Tibet was presented as a mystery play played out over centuries. Every single epoch in the history of the Buddhist doctrine counted as a kind of initiatory stage in the evolutionary progression of humanity which was supposed to culminate in the establishment of a global Shambhala state. The same initiatory role was filled by the four Tibetan schools. They all stood — in the interpretation of the exhibitor — in a hierarchic relation to one another. Each step up was based on the one before it: the Sakyapas on the Nyingmapas, the Kagyupas on the Sakyapas, and the Gelugpas on the Kagyupas. The message was that the history of Buddhism, especially in Tibet, had had to progress like a initiand through the individual schools and sects step by step so as to further develop its awareness and then reach its highest earthly goal in the person of the Dalai Lama.

    The visitor entered the exhibition through a room which contained a Kalachakra sand mandala (the “time palace”). This was supposed to proclaim that from now on he or she was moving through the dimension of (historical) time. In accordance with the cyclical world view of Buddhism, however, the journey through time ended there where it had begun. Thus at the end of the tour the visitor left the exhibition via the same room through which he or she had entered it, and once more passed by the sand mandala (the “time palace”).

    If the Tibet exhibition in Bonn was in Thurman’s words supposed to have a symbolic significance, then the final message was catastrophic for the visitor. The final (!) image in the “temple exhibition” (before one re-entered the room containing the Kalachakra sand mandala) depicted the apocalyptic Shambhala battle, or (as the catalog literally referred to it) the “Buddhist Armageddon”.[5] We would like to quote from the official, enthusiastically written explanatory text which accompanied the thangka: “The forces of Good from the kingdom of Shambhala fight against the powers of Evil who hold the world in their control, centuries in the future. Phalanxes of soldiers go into combat, great carts full of soldiers, as small as Lilliputians are drawn into battle by huge white elephants, laser-like (!) weapons loose their fire and fantastic elephant-like animals mill together and struggle beneath the glowing sphere of the kingdom” (Thurman and Rhie, 1996, p. 482). With this doomsday vision before their eyes the visitors leave the “temple” and return to the Kalachakra sand mandala.

    But who was the ruler of this time palace, who is the time god (Kalachakra) and the time goddess (Vishvamata) in one? None other than the patron of the Tibet exhibition in Bonn, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. He destroyed the Kalachakra sand mandala in Bonn in the ritual we have described above and then absorbed its energies (the time gods residing in it). If we pursue this tantric logic further, then after the absorption of the mandala energies the Kundun assumed control over the region which had been sealed by the magic diagram (the sand mandala). In brief, he became the spiritual regent of Bonn! Let us repeat, this is not our idea, it is rather the ancient logic of the tantric system. That it however in this instance corresponded with reality is shown by the enormous success His Holiness enjoyed in the German Bundestag (House of Representatives) after visiting his “Kalachakra Temple” in Bonn (in 1996). The Kohl government had to subsequently endure its most severe political acid test in relations with China because of the question of Tibet.

    Scattered about the whole world in parallel to his Kalachakra initiations, sand mandalas have been constructed for the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. What appears to a western observer to be a valuable traditional work of art, is in its intentions a seal of power of the Tibetan gods and a magic foundation for the striven-for world dominion of the ADI BUDDHA (in the figure of the Kundun).


    [1] The discipline is indebted to the Austrian, René de Nebesky-Wojkowitz, for the most profound insight into Tibetan demonology, his great work, Oracles and Demons of Tibet. His early death, and his wife’s suicide shortly afterwards are seen by the Tantra researcher, John Blofeld ,as an act of revenge by the spirits whom he described.

    [2] Of course, these killing practices stand in irreconcilable opposition to the Buddhist commandment to not harm any living being. To gloss over this discordance, the lamas have a clever excuse on hand: the ritual master prevents the victim from perpetrating further bad deeds which would only burden him with bad karma and bring him certain damnation.

    [3] The Golden Manuscript is considered the precursor of the black thangkas, which otherwise first emerged in the 18th century. They were especially developed for the evocation of tantric terror gods. The background of the images is always of the darkest color; the illustrations are sparsely drawn, often in gold ink — hence the name of the Golden Manuscript. This technique gives the images a mysterious, dangerous character. The deities “spring out of the awful darkness of cosmic night, all aflame” comments Guiseppe Tucci (Karmay, 1988, p. 22).

    [4] Such a magic occupation does not even need to be performed via an external act; a specially trained lama can mentally execute it through the power of imagination alone.

    [5] The catalog text did indeed use the Hebrew term armageddon, just as the doomsday guru Shoko Asahara also spoke of “Armageddon”.
    © Victor & Victoria Trimondi

  • Thom
    The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – The war gods behind the mask of peace THE WAR GODS BEHIND THE MASK OF PEACE ——————————————————————————– The aggressiveness of the Tibetan tutelary gods (Dharmapalas) Gesar of Ling – the Tibetan “Siegfried” The Tibetan warrior kings and the clerical successors The Dalai Lamas as the supreme war lords The historical distortion of the “peaceful” Tibetans Is the XIV Dalai Lama the “greatest living prince of peace” Tibetan guerrillas and the CIA Marching music and terror Political calculation and the Buddhist message of peace “Buddha has smiled”: The Dalai Lama and the Indian atomic tests ——————————————————————————– When Buddhism is talked about today in the West, then the warlike past of Tibet is not a topic. The majority of people understand the Buddha’s teaching to be a religion with a program that includes inner and outer peace, humans living together in harmony, the rejection of any form of violence or aggression, a commandment against all killing, and in general a radically pacifist attitude. Such a fundamental ethical attitude is rightly demanded by Buddhists through an appeal to their founder. Admittedly, the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, was born as the descendant of a king from the warrior caste, however, he abandoned his family, became “homeless”, and distanced himself from every aspect of the art of war. He did so not just for moral reasons, but also because he recognized that wars are the expression of one’s own misdirected awareness and that the dualism taken to its limits in war contained a false view of the world. Reduced to a concise formula, what he wanted to say with this was that in the final instance the ego and its enemy are one. Shakyamuni was a pacifist because he was an idealist epistemologist. Only later, in Mahayana Buddhism, did the ethical argument for the fundamental pacifism of the dharma (the doctrine) emerge alongside the philosophical one. A strict ban on killing, the requirement of nonviolence, and compassion with all living beings were considered the three supreme moral maxims. Both of these arguments against war, the epistemological and the human-political, today play a fundamental role in the international self-presentation of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Tirelessly and upon countless occasions over the last decades His Holiness has done what he can for world peace. For this reason he received the Nobel peace prize in 1989. His pacifist sermons and political programs were not the least reason for the fact that the Tibet of old (prior to the Chinese occupation) was increasingly seen and admired in the West as a peaceful sanctuary, inhabited by unwarlike and highly ethically developed people, a paradise on earth. A western student of the dharma has summarized Tibet’s history in the following concise sentence: “Buddhism turned their [the Tibetan] society from a fierce grim world of war and intrigue into a peaceful, colorful, cheerful realm of pleasant und meaningful living” (quoted by Lopez, 1998, p. 7). With this longed-for image the Kundun seized upon a thread already spun by numerous Euro-American authors (since the nineteen-thirties), above all James Hilton, in his best-seller The Lost Horizon. Under the leadership of their lamas, the Tibetans in exile have thus succeeded in presenting themselves to the world public as a spiritual people of peace threatened by genocide, who in a period rocked by conflicts wish to spread their pacifist message. “A confession with which one cannot go wrong”, wrote the German news magazine, Spiegel, in reference to Tibetan Buddhism, “Two-and-a-half thousand years of peaceableness in place of the inquisition, monks who always seemed cheerful rather than officious and impertinent religious leaders, hope for nirvana rather than the threat of jihad — Buddhism harms no-one and has become trendy” (Spiegel, 16/1998, p. 109). And the German Buddhist and actor Sigmar Solbach explained to his television audience that “a war has never been fought in the name of Buddhism” (Spiegel, 16/1998, p. 109). Regrettably, the opposite is the case — countless wars have been fought in the name of Buddhism just as they have in the name of Christianity. The Shambhala myth has rightly — as we shall demonstrate on the basis of historical events — been described as the “Buddhist jihad” (holy war). The aggressiveness of the Tibetan tutelary gods (dharmapalas) When we examine the iconography of Tantric Buddhism it literally swarms with aggressive warriors, demons, vampires, monsters, sword bearers, flame magicians, and avenging gods, who have at their disposal an overflowing arsenal of weapons: spears, spikes, darts, shields, clubs, hooks, slings, knives, daggers, and all manner of killing machines. This downright grotesque collection of repellant figures reflects on the one hand the social struggles which Indian Buddhism had to endure in the dispute with Hinduism and later with Islam. On the other it is a dogmatic part of the tantric project, which makes wrath, aggression, murder, and the annihilation of enemies the starting point of its system of rituals. A total of three types of warlike deities are distinguished in Vajrayana Buddhism: The horror aspect of a peaceful Buddha, the so-called heruka. The “flesh-eating” dakini who challenges the adept on his initiatory path. Warlike foreign gods who have been incorporated in the tantric system as “protectors of the faith” (dharmapala). In all three cases the “wrathful gods” direct their potential for aggression outwards, against the “enemies of the faith”, and without exaggerating one can say that the heruka aspect of a Buddha plays just as great a role in the cultural life of Tibetan Buddhism as the peaceful aspect of a compassionate Bodhisattva. In Lamaism, Tibet’s mystic history and “civilization” has always been experienced and portrayed as the coercion and enslavement of the local gods and demons. If these wanted to remain alive after their magic struggle with the magician lamas then they had to commit themselves under oath to serve in future as a protective guard under Tibetan command. Their basic warlike attitude was thus neither reduced at all nor transformed by Buddhism, rather it was used as a means to achieve its own ambitions and thus increased. This metapolitics of the Lamaist clergy has led to a systematic extension and expansion of its grotesque pandemonium, which afflicted the country across the centuries. There was no temple in which these monsters were not (and still are) prayed to. In the gloomy gokhang, the chamber or hall where their cult worship took (and still takes) place, hung (and still hang) their black thangkas, surrounded by an arsenal of bizarre weapons, masks and stuffed animals. Dried human organs were discovered there, the tanned skin of enemies and the bones of children. Earlier western visitors experienced this realm of shadows as a “chaotic, contradictory world like the images formed in a delirium” (Sierksma, 1966, p. 166). There are dreadful rumors about the obscure rituals which were performed in the “horror chambers” (Austin Waddell), and not without reason, then human flesh, blood, and other bodily substances were considered the most effective sacrificial offerings with which to appease the terror gods. If this flow of bloody food for the demons ever dries up, then according to Tibetan prophecies they fall upon innocent people, indeed even upon lamas so as to still their vampire-like thirst (Hermanns, 1956, p. 198). Shrine of the tibetan war god Begtse The number of “red and black executioners”, as the “protectors of the doctrine” are sometimes known, is legion, since every place in the land is served by its own regional demons. Nonetheless some among them are especially prominent, like the war god Begtse, for example, also known as Chamsrin. In the iconography he strides over corpses swinging a sword in his right hand and holding a human heart to his mouth with the left so that he can consume it. His spouse, Dongmarma the “red face”, chews at a corpse and is mounted upon a man-eating bear. Another “protective god”, Yama, the judge of the dead, king of hell and an emanation of Avalokiteshvara (and thus also of the Dalai Lama), threatens with a club in the form of a child’s skeleton in his right hand. Palden Lhamo, the Tibetan god-king’s protective goddess whom we have already introduced, gallops through a lake of blood using her son’s skin as a saddle. Even for the “superhuman” lamas this hellish army is only with difficulty kept under control. Hence it is not rare that demons succeed in breaking free of their magical chains and then loosing their wrath upon even the pious believers. For instance, in the past women were not allowed to enter the main temple of the Kumbum monastery because the “terrible gods” worshipped there would then fall into a blind rage and there was a danger that they would take it out upon all of humanity. Sometimes the rebellious spirits even seized the body of a naive monk, possessed him with their destructive energy and then ran amok in this form. Or, the other way around, a disappointed lama who felt himself to have been unjustly treated in life upon dying transformed into a merciless vengeful spirit. [1] The Tibetan government (the Kashag) and the Dalai Lama must also defend themselves time and again against acts of revenge by opposing protective spirits. In connection with the Shugden affair described above, James Burns refers to a total of 11 historical examples (Burns, Newsgroup 9). The clergy in the Tibet of old was busy day and night defending themselves from foreign demons and keeping their own under control. This was not motivated by fear alone, then the fees for defensive rituals against malevolent spirits counted as a lucrative source of income if not the most significant of all. As soon as something did not seem right, the superstitious peoples suspected that a demon was at work and fetched a lama to act as an exorcist for a fee and drive it out. The Dutch psychologist and cultural critic, Fokke Sierksma, interpreted the cult of the terror gods as an “incomplete acculturation of a warrior nation that for the sake of Buddhism has had to give up a part of itself, of a Buddhism that for that warrior nation has also had to abandon an integral part, while the two have not found ultimate reconciliation” (Sierksma, 1966, p. 168). We do not find it difficult to agree with this judgment. Yet it must be added that the abandonment of Buddhist principles like nonviolence and peaceableness did not first begin in Tibet; it is, rather, implicit in the tantric doctrine itself. Thus it was not the case that a pacifist Buddhism came out of India to tame a warlike country, rather, the Indian founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism themselves brought numerous terror gods with them and thereby significantly added to the already existing army of native demons. Mahakala, Vajrabhairava, Yama, Acala, or whatever their names may be, are all of Indian origin. Gesar of Ling: The Tibetan “Siegfried” Anybody who wishes to gain further insight into the ancient warrior mentality of the Tibetans cannot avoid studying the pre-Buddhist Gesar epic. Old shamanic beliefs and “heathen” uses of magic play just as great a role in the adventures of this national hero as the language of weapons. The adventures of Gesar von Ling have been compared with the Germanic Nibelungen epic, and not without reason: daredevilry, braggadocio, intrepid courage, thirst for revenge, sporting contests, tumultuous slaughter, military strategy, tricks, deception, betrayal can be found in both, just like joy and suffering in love, courtly love, feminine devotion, rape, mighty amazons, sorceresses, marital infidelity, jealousy, revenge of the Furies. On the basis of the similarities spanning whole scenes it may not even be ruled out that the poets composing both epics drew upon the same sources. One difference lies perhaps in that in Gesar’s milieu it is even more barbarically eaten and drunk than among the Germanic warriors. Even if the name of the hero may be historically derived from a Tibetification of the Latin Caesar (“emperor”), his mythic origin is of a divine nature. The old soldier was dispatched from heaven to fulfill a mission. His divine parents sent him to earth so that he could free the country of Ling (Tibet) from an evil demon which, after many superhuman deeds, he also succeeded in doing. We do not intend to report here on the fantastic adventures of the hero. What interests us is Gesar’s thoroughly aggressive mentality. The numerous episodes that tell of the proud self-awareness and physical strength of the women are especially striking, so that the epic can definitely not have been penned by a lama. In some versions (several widely differing ones are known) there are also quite heretical comments about the Buddhist clergy and a biting sarcasm which spares no aspect of monastic life. What remains beyond any criticism is, however, is an unbounded glorification of war. This made Gesar a model for all the military forces of central Asia. As a sample of the bragging cruelty which dominates the whole epic, we quote a passage translated by Charles Bell — the song of a knight from Gesar’s retinue: We do not need swords; our right hands are enough. We split the body in the middle, and cut the side into pieces. Other men use clubs made of wood; We require no wood; our thumbs and forefingers are enough. We can destroy by rubbing thrice with our fingers….. The blood of the liver [of our enemies] will escape from the mouth. Though we do not injure the skin, We will take out all the entrails through the mouth. The man will still be alive, Though his heart will come to his mouth…. This body [of our enemy] with eyes and head Will be made into a hat for the king of the white tent tribe. I offer the heart to the war god of the white people of Ling (Bell, 1994, pp. 13-14) There is little trace of ethics, morality, or Buddhist compassion here! In an anthology edited by Geoffrey Samuel, Pema Tsering and Rudolf Kaschewsky also indicate that “the basic principle [of the epic] is to seek one’s own advantage by any means available. Whether the opponent is led astray by deception, whether treachery is exploited or the other’s weakness brutally made use of, scruples or any qualms of conscience are entirely lacking. If there is a basic idea that runs through the whole work it is the principle that might is right” (Tsering and Kaschewsky in Samuel, 1994, p. 64). But this is precisely what makes the pre-Buddhist Gesar myth so interesting for the philosophy of the Tantrics. It is for this reason that Geoffrey Samuel also reaches the conclusion that the epic is “a classical expression of the shamanic Vajrayana religion of Tibet” (Samuel, 1993, 55). This would indeed mean that both systems, the Tantric Buddhism of India and the pre-Buddhist shamanism of Tibet, entered into a culture-bearing symbiosis with one another. The Nyingmapas, for example, saw in the hero (Gesar) an incarnation of Padmasambhava, who returned to drive the demons out of the Land of Snows. Other Lamaist interpreters of the epic celebrate Gesar as “lord over the three-layered cosmos” and as Chakravartin (Hummel, 1993, p. 53). The belief that the “Great Fifth” was an incarnation of the semi-divine warrior was and is still widely distributed. In eastern Tibet at the start of last century the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was worshipped as Gesar reborn. In contrast, the supreme clerical incarnation in Mongolia, the Jabtsundamba Khutuktu, is considered to be an embodiment of Gesar’s miraculous horse. A connection has also often been drawn between the rough daredevil and the Shambhala myth. Following his earthly demise he is supposed to have gone to the mythic country in order to wait for the prophesied final battle. After he “has left this mortal world once more, there is, according to the Tibetans, a connection between him and the Lamaist apocalypse” (Hummel, 1993, p. 37). Even in the twentieth century, his archetype as a militant salvational figure played an important role for the Tibetan guerrillas in the fifties and sixties. In the struggle against the Chinese Communists the return of the war hero was longed for so that Tibet could be freed from the “red tyranny”. The myth is currently again experiencing a renaissance in Tibetan underground circles. In 1982 there was a movement in the province of Amdo whose leader, Sonam Phuntsog, proclaimed himself to be an incarnation of Gesar the war hero. The group’s activities were mostly of a magic nature and consisted above all in the invocation of the terror gods. In good dualist form, these announced via a possession that „now is the time when the deities of the ‘white side’ hold their heads high and the demons of the ‘dark side’ are defeated” (Schwartz, 1994. p. 229). It is astounding how seriously the “atheist” Chinese take such magic séances and that they ban them as “open rebellion”. The Gesar myth is experiencing a renaissance in the West as well. For example, the Red Hat lama Chögyam Trungpa, allows the barbarian to be worshipped by his pupils in the USA as a militant role-model. In the meantime, the hero has become a symbol for freedom and self-confidence worthy of emulation for many western Buddhists who have not made the slightest effort to examine his atavistic lifestyle. Even the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (“the greatest living prince of peace”) does not criticize the war hero, but rather goes so far as to see him — this view must be regarded as a high point of tantric inversion — as a master of compassion: “Could Gesar return one day, as some people claim and others believe?” asks the Kundun, and answers, “The fact is that he promised this. … Is it not also said that Gesar is an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of boundless compassion? He is thus also a master and masters have much power …” (Levenson, 1990, p. 83). There is speculation in Buddhist circles on the basis of such quotations as to whether His Holiness (likewise an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara) is not also an embodiment of the barbaric Gesar, particularly since the “Great Fifth” also claimed to be so. The question of how compatible such a martial past can be with the award of the Nobel peace prize remains unanswered, however. According to Ronald D. Schwartz, in the current protest movements in Tibet the return of the mythic warrior Gesar, the appearance of the Shambhala king, and the epiphany of Buddha Maitreya are eschatologically linked with the „immediate and tangible possibility of the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet” (Schwartz, 1994, p. 231). Rainbows and earthquakes are supposed to show that superhuman forces are also at work in the rebellion. [2] However, so that Gesar’s martial character does not scare off western souls or bring them into conflict with their Buddhist ideals, the lamas solve the problem — as always in such cases — with a subjectification of the myth. Hence, in the adventures of Gesar Tarthang Tulku sees every adept’s inner struggle with his bad self: “Interpreted symbolically, King Gesar, representing freedom and liberation from the bondage of ignorance, is the King of the human mind. The Kingdom of Ling is the realm of restless experience that must be unified and strengthened. The treasure to win and protect is our own understanding. The enemies that we must conquer are emotionality and ignorance” (quoted by Samuel, 1994, p. 65). Western pupils, of whom hardly any may have read the violent epic, swallow such messages with shining eyes. But if it were consistently applied to the spiritual struggles, the Gesar pattern would imply that one would have to employ brutality, murder, underhandedness, disloyalty, rape, coarseness, boasting, mercilessness, and similar traits against oneself in order to attain enlightenment. What counts is victory, and in achieving it all means are allowed. The political danger which can arise from such an undifferentiated glorification of Gesar may perhaps become obvious if we think back to the Nibelungen epic, which, as we have already mentioned, may according to several researchers draw upon the same mythic sources. For the majority of Germans the fateful glorification of Siegfried the dragonslayer by the national socialists (the Nazis) still raises a shudder. Yet in comparison to his barbaric Tibetan “brother”, the blond Germanic knight still appears noble, honest, good-natured, and pious. The Tibetan warrior kings and their clerical successors In the guidelines for a new form of government after the liberation of the Land of Snows from the imposition of the Chinese will, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama wrote (in 1993) that, “under the control of its kings and the Dalai Lamas the political system of Tibet was firmly anchored in its spiritual values. As a consequence peace and happiness reigned in Tibet” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993b, p. 24). Whether this statement is true can only be proved by the events of history. Let us cast a glance back then, into Tibet’s past. As successful and brutal military leaders, the two most important kings of the Yarlung dynasty, Songtsen Gampo (617-650) and Trisong Detsen (742-803), extended their dominion deep into China with a thorough-going politics of war. Both were, at least according to the sagas, incarnations of Bodhisattvas, i.e., compassionate beings, although the Tibetan armies were feared throughout all of inner Asia for their merciless cruelty. Reports from the Tang annals also admire the highly developed art of war of the Tibetan “barbarians”. Even modern authors still today enthuse about the good old days when Tibet was still a major military power: „These armies were probably better run and disciplined than those of late Medieval Europe and would be recognisable in their general structure to Generals of the modern era like generals like Wellington and Rommel”, we can read in a 1990 issue of the Tibetan Review (Tibetan Review, October 1990, p. 15). After the fall of the Yarlung dynasty there were indeed no more major military incidents for centuries. But this was in no way because the Tibetans had become more peaceful and compassionate. Completely the opposite was true, the individual sects in mutual dispute and the various factions among the people were so weakened by the frequent internecine wars that it was not possible for an overarching state to be formed. It was not at all rare for great lamas and their many monastic minions to wage outright war against one another. In such conflicts, none of the orientations shied away from inviting outsiders into the country so as to take to the field against the others with their help. Up until well into the twentieth century the Chinese and Mongolians could thus in any case intervene in Tibetan politics as the invited allies of particular monasteries. For example, in 1290 the Brigung monastery of the Kagyupa sect was razed to the ground by armed Sakyapa monks with help from the Mongolians. “The misery was greater even than among those who have gone into Hell!” (Bell, 1994, p. 67), a Red Hat text records. The only reason the numerous military disputes in the history of the Land of Snows are not more widely known about is because they usually only involved smaller groups. Hence the battles neither continued for long, nor were they spread over a wide territory. In addition, the “pure doctrine” officially forbade any use of violence and thus all disputes between the orders were hushed up or repressed as soon as possible by both parties. As paradox as it may well sound, the country remained relatively “quiet” and “peaceful”, because all of the parties were so embroiled in wars with one another. But in the moment in which it came to the creation of a larger state structure under the Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century, a most cruelly conducted civil war was the necessary precondition. The Dalai Lamas as supreme war lords These days there is an unwillingness to speak about this terrible civil war between the Gelugpas and the Kagyupas from which the “Great Fifth” emerged as the hero of the battlefield. We know that the Fifth Dalai Lama called up the war god Begtse against the Tibetans several times so as to force through his political will. Additionally, in eastern Tibet he was celebrated as an incarnation of the ancient hero, Gesar. He himself was the author of a number of battle hymns like the following: Brave and tested are the warriors, sharp and irresistible the weapons, hard and unbreakable the shields, Fleet and enduring the horses. (Sierksma, 1966, p. 140) This brutal call to absolutely annihilate the enemy into its third generation was also composed by him: Make the lines like trees that have had their roots cut; Make the female lines like brooks that have dried up in winter; Make the children and grandchildren like eggs smashed against rocks; Make the servants and followers like heaps of grass consumed by fire; Make their dominion like a lamp whose oil has been exhausted; In short, annihilate any traces of them, even their names. (quoted by Sperling, 2001, p. 318) With these instructions to batter his enemy’s children to death against the rocks and to make their women barren, the „Great Fifth” (the preeminent historical model for the current Fourteenth Dalai Lama) turned to the Mongolians under Gushri Khan and thus legitimated the terrible deeds they inflicted upon the Tibetans. „One may say with some confidence,” Elliot Sperling writes, „that the Fifth Dalai Lama does not fit the standard image that many people today have of a Dalai Lama, particularly the image of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate” (Sperling, 2001, p. 319). Barely two centuries later (at the end of the 18th century) a Red Hat lama sought revenge for the humiliation of his order by the Dalai Lama, and fetched the Indian gurkhas into the country. The “Great Thirteenth” himself formed an army consisting of regular troops, a lay militia, and the “golden army” as the monastic soldiers were known. Warrior monks were nothing out of the ordinary in the Tibet of old, although their training and their military equipment was less than desirable. They firmly believed in the law of violence, worshipped their special deities, and maintained their own secret cults. Lama ‘Longear’ was the leader of the troops in the lamasery, it says in western travel report of a lama commander (at the start of the twentieth century). “Although a monk, he didn’t know how to say his prayers and because he had killed several people was not allowed to have part in the chanting services. But he was considered a man of courage and audacity — greatly feared in the lamasery, a mighty friend and terror to his enemies” (quoted by Sierksma, 1966, p. 130). The Tibetan army assembled by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was composed of three services: the cavalry, equipped with lances and breastplates, the somewhat more modern infantry, and the artillery. Oddly enough, the name of Allah was engraved in the riders’ helmets. These came from a Mohammedan army which was said to have once moved against Lhasa. A terrible snowstorm surprised them and froze them all to death. Their weapons and armor were later brought into the capital and displayed there in an annual parade. It was probably believed that the helmets would offer protection in the battle against the Mohammedans — the arch-enemy from the Kalachakra Tantra — since they would not dare to fire at the holy name of their supreme god. This army of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, to a large part composed of serfs, was more or less picturesque, which naturally did their warlike, “unBuddhist” performance no harm. Yet one did not just fight with weapons in the hand but also operated magically. During the “Great Prayer Festival” for example tormas (dough figures) of the cavalry and the infantry were thrown into a fire so as to do harm to the enemies of the land through this fire magic. Every single sacrificial offering was supposed to later “function [like a] bomb” in reality (Chö-Yang, vol. 1 no. 2, 1987, p. 93). [3] Of even greater martial pomposity than the Tibetan army was the so-called “monks’ police”. Heinrich Harrer (the “best friend of the Dalai Lama”) describes the “dark fellows” who were responsible for law and order in Lhasa at the beginning of the fifties in the following words: “The figures in the red habits are not always gentle and learned brethren. The majority re coarse and unfeeling fellows for whom the whip of discipline cannot be strong enough. … They tie a red band around their naked arm and blacken their faces with soot to as to appear really frightening. They have a huge key tucked into their belts which can serve as a knuckleduster or a throwing weapon as required. It is not rare for them to also carry a sharp cobblers’ knife hidden in their pocket. Many of them are notorious fighters; even their impudent stride seems provocative; their readiness to attack is well known, and one avoids aggravating them” (Harrer, 1984, pp. 216-217). Just like the police from Lhasa, the officers and other ranks of the Tibetan armed forces tended towards excessive corruption and of a night committed all manner of crimes. Like the western mafia they demanded protection money from businesses and threatened to attack life and limb if not paid. This was certainly not the intention of their supreme military commander, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who still in his last will dreamed of “efficient and well-equipped troops … as a sure deterrent against any adversaries” (Michael, 1982, p. 173). Since the once mighty Tibet has been unable to develop itself into a great military power again since the fall of the Yarlung dynasty (in the ninth century), the country all but vibrates with bottled-up military energy. This has been confirmed by a number of western travelers. The British friend of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Charles Bell, was also forced to ascertain “that the martial energy of the Tibetans, though sapped by Buddhism, has not even now been destroyed. Should Buddhism ever go, the combative spirit will return” (Bell, 1994, p. 77). Bell overlooks here that this spirit is already a part of tantric practice, yet he seems to have an inkling of this when he continues as follows: “Indeed, Tibet expects later to fight for her religion. You can sometimes read in Tibetan books about the country called Shambhala … a mystical country which, three or four centuries hence, will be the scene of hostilities, fierce and decisive, between Buddhists and Muhammadans” (Bell, 1994, p. 77). It is a Tibetan saying that “for The Buddha faced by foemen his disciples don their armor” (Bell, 1994, p. 191). The historical distortion of the “peaceful” Tibetans The impression, widely distributed in the West, of ancient Tibet as a peaceful country is thus a deliberate and gross misrepresentation of history. Even official texts from the Tibetan tradition are seldom tempted to such pacifist exaggerations as is the Dalai Lama today, above all since being awarded the Nobel peace prize. The local historians knew full well about the fighting spirit and aggressive potential which slumbered in the Tibetan soul. They did not deny that the lamas often enough had to use violence in their own interests. The Mani Kambum, a book about the mythic history of Tibet from the 13th century, reported already that its inhabitants had inherited faith, wisdom, and goodness from their father, Avalokiteshvara, and from their mother, Srinmo, however, “pleasure in killing, bodily strength, and courage” (Stein, 1993, p. 37). Lamaism’s evaluation of war is fundamentally positive and affirmative, as long as it involves the spread of Buddhism. (We shall later demonstrate this through many examples.) This in no sense implicates a discontinuity between historical reality and the Buddhist/pacifist doctrine. Vajrayana itself cultivates an aggressive, warlike behavior and indeed not just so as to overcome it through mental control. Wars are declared — as is usual among other religions as well — so as to proceed against the “enemies of the faith”. The state religion of the Land of Snows (Vajrayana) has always been essentially warlike, and a Buddhist Tantric reaches for his weapon not just in desperation, but also so as to conquer and to eliminate opponents. The virtues of a soldier — courage, self-sacrifice, bravery, honor, endurance, cunning, even fury, hate, and mercilessness — are likewise counted among the spiritual disciplines of Buddhist Tantrism. Yet the lamas do not conduct “wars” on real battlefields alone. Many more battles are fought in the imagination. Anyone can ascertain this, even if they only cast a fleeting glance over the aggressive tantric iconography. Likewise, all (!) tantras apply military language to religious events and describe the struggle of the spirit against its besmirchment as a “war”. Along the path to enlightenment it is fought, beaten, pierced through, burned up, cut to pieces, chained, decapitated, defeated, destroyed, won, and exulted. The Buddhas take to the battlefield of samsara (our so-called world of illusion) as “victors”, “heroes”, “fighters”, “generals”, and “army commanders”. Accordingly, Tibetan society has always revered the “figure of the warrior” alongside the “figure of the saint” (Buddha, Bodhisattva, or tulku) as their supreme archetype. From the half mythical kings of the 7th century to the modern guerilla leaders of the Khampas, the “fighting hero” is the heroic archetype adopted even today by thousands of youths and young men in Tibet and in exile. Already from the beginnings of Tibetan history on the border between “warrior” and “saint” has been blurred. A good “pupil” of the Vajrayana and a Shambhala “warrior” are still identical today. Is the Fourteenth Dalai Lama the “greatest living prince of peace”? Since being awarded the Nobel peace prize (in 1989) the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has been celebrated in the western press as the “greatest living prince of peace”. With a self-confident and kindly smile he accepts this appellation and modestly reminds his audience what an enormous debt he owes to Mahatma Gandhi. Armed with the latter’s doctrine of nonviolence (ahimsa), there is no topic which His Holiness speaks of more often or with more emotion than that of “outer” and “inner” peace. “For me, violence cannot possibly be the way” is in recent years the phrase most often heard upon his lips (Levenson, 1992, p. 349). Ahimsa (the rejection of all violence) was originally not a Buddhist value, especially not in the context of the tantras. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, for example, when Gandhi encouraged him in a letter to join in with his idea, did not at all know where he was at with the term. Be that as it may — the future Tibet, freed from the Chinese yoke, is in the words of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama supposed to be transformed into a “peace and ahimsa zone”. There will be no army, no weapons, above all no nuclear warheads any more in the Land of Snows after its liberation. Further, the Kundun considers the trade in military hardware to be something just as irresponsible as the aggressive and uncontrolled temper of an individual. In an exemplary fashion he invites the Israelis and the Palestinians to lay down their weapons. He proclaims the demilitarization of the entire planet as a desirable final goal. War toys Surprisingly, in opposition to this constantly publicly demonstrated basic pacifist attitude there stands a particular fascination for the art of warfare which captivated His Holiness whilst still a child. In Martin Scorsese’s film (Kundun) about the life of the Dalai Lama, this fondness is graphically depicted in a short scene. The child god-king is playing with some tin soldiers. Suddenly, with a sweep of his hand he knocks them aside and cries out emphatically, “I want power!”. This film anecdote could well be more realistic than the widespread and pious legend in which the young god-king had these tin soldiers melted down and then recast as toy monks. As an adolescent the Kundun enjoyed target practice with an air gun he inherited from his predecessor and is still proud of being a good shot. Without embarrassment he reveals in his autobiography that he owns an air pistol and that he practices target shooting with it. One day he killed a hornet which was plundering a wasp’s nest. “A protector of the unprotected!” was the reverential comment of one of his biographers on this piece of sharp shooting (Hicks and Chögyam, 1985, p. 197). The Kundun’s openly admitted weakness for war literature and war films has surprised not a few of his admirers. As a youth he enthused over English military books. They provided him with the images from which to construct models of fighter planes, ships, and tanks. Later he had passages from them translated into Tibetan. Towards the end of the forties the former member of the Nazi SS, Heinrich Harrer, had to recount for him the only recently played out events of the second world war. There has been little change in this passion for military objects since his youth. As late as 1997 the Kundun admitted his enthusiasm for uniforms in an interview: “but [they] are also very attractive. … Every button on the jacket shines so prettily. And then the belt. The insignia” (Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, March 21, 1997, p. 79). On a visit to Germany in 1998 the Nobel peace prize winner told how “even as a child I liked looking at illustrated books from my predecessor’s library, especially about the First World War. I loved all the instruments, the weapons and the tanks, the airplanes, the fantastic battleships and submarines. Later I asked for books about World War II. When I visited China in 1954 I knew more about it than the Chinese did” (Zeitmagazin, no. 44, October 22, 1998, p. 24). Asked (again in Germany) about his television viewing habits, he chatted about his preference for war films: “Earlier though, I had a favorite program. You won’t believe me! ‘M.A.S.H.’ — the US series about the Vietnam War. Very funny … (laughs)(Focus 44/1998, p. 272). When he was visiting Normandy in 1986, he unexpectedly and in complete contradiction to the planned schedule expressed the wish to see the Allied bridgehead from the Second World War. “I also wanted to see the weapons, these mighty cannon and all these rifles which painfully moved me. In the vicinity of these machines, these weapons, and this sand I felt and shared the emotions of those who were there then …” (Levenson, 1992, p. 291). Despite such pious affirmations of compassion with the victims of battle, here too his childlike enthusiasm for the machinery of war can be heard. Or is it only a mood of the “time god”, whose enthusiasm for various systems of weaponry is — as we have already reported — expressed at such length in the Kalachakra Tantra? Even if such martial preferences and play may normally be harmless, we must never forget that, unlike an ordinary person, the Dalai Lama represents a symbolic figure. In the meantime, all the pious aspects which are otherwise known of the childhood and life of the god-king are, thanks to a powerful film propaganda, considered to be a wonderful omen and the indicators of a cosmic plan. Is it then not logically consistent to also interpret his fascination for the military milieu as a sign which flags the aggressive potential of his religion? Reting Rinpoche and the murder of the Dalai Lama’s father The early life of the young Dalai Lama was anything but peaceful. In the forties his milieu was caught up in violent and bloody clashes which could in no way be blamed solely on the Chinese. Although the then regent, the discoverer and first teacher of the god-king, Reting Rinpoche, had transferred the business of state to his successor, Taktra Rinpoche, in 1941, he later wanted to regain the power he had lost. Thus, from 1945 on it came to ever more serious discordances between the Tibetan government and the ex-regent. Uncouth and feared for his escapades countrywide, the Dalai Lama’s father, Choekyong Tsering, counted among the latter’s faithful followers. In 1947 he died suddenly at the age of 47 during a meal. It is not just Gyalo Thondup, one of the Kundun’s brothers, who is convinced that he was poisoned by someone from government circles (Craig, 1997, p. 120). Shortly after the poisoning, Reting Rinpoche decided to stage an open rebellion. His followers attempted to assassinate the regent, Taktra, and approached the Chinese about weapons and munitions. But they were soon overpowered by Tibetan government troops, who took captive the ex-regent. Monks from the Sera monastery rushed to his aid. First of all they murdered their abbot, a Taktra supporter. Then, under the leadership of an 18-year-old lama, Tsenya Rinpoche, who had been recognized as the incarnation of a wrathful tutelary deity (dharmapala) and was referred to by his fellow monks as a “war leader”, they stormed off to Lhasa in order to free Reting Rinpoche. But this revolt also collapsed under the artillery fire of the government troops. At least 200 Sera monks lost their lives in this monastic “civil war”. Reting’s residence was razed to the ground. Soon afterwards he was charged with treason, found guilty, and thrown into the notorious Potala dungeons. He is said to have been cruelly tortured and later strangled. According to other reports he was poisoned (Goldstein, 1989, p. 513). A high-ranking official who was said to have sympathized with the rebels had his eyeballs squeezed out. Just how cruel and tormenting the atmosphere of this time was has been described later by a Tibetan refugee (!):”Rivalry, in-fighting, corruption, nepotism, it was decadent and horrible. Everything was a matter of show, ceremonial, jockeying for position” (quoted by Craig, 1997, p. 123). Tibetan guerrillas and the CIA In the fifties and with the support of the USA, a guerilla army was developed in Tibet which over many years undertook military action against the Chinese occupation forces. A broad scale anti-Communist offensive was planned together with Taiwanese special units and indirect support from the Indian secret service. At the head of the rebellion stood the proud and “cruel” Khampas. These nomads had been feared as brigands for centuries, so that the word Khampa in Tibet is a synonym for robber. In the mid-fifties the American secret service (CIA) had brought several groups of the wild tribe to Taiwan via eastern Pakistan and later to Camp Hale in the USA. There they received training in guerilla tactics. Afterwards the majority of them were dropped back into Tibet with parachutes. Some of them made contact with the government in Lhasa at that stage. Others did not shy away from their traditional trade of robbery and became a real nuisance for the rural population whom they were actually supposed to liberate from the Chinese and not drive into further misery through pillaging. Despite the Dalai Lama’s constant affirmations, still repeated today, that his flight took place without any external influence, it was in fact played out months in advance in Washington by high military officials. Everything went as planned. In 1959, the American-trained guerillas collected His Holiness from his summer residence (in Lhasa). During the long trek to the Indian border the underground fighters were in constant radio contact with the Americans and were supplied with food and equipment by aircraft. We learn from an “initiate” that “this fantastic escape and its major significance have been buried in the lore of the CIA as one of the successes that are not talked about. The Dalai Lama would never have been saved without the CIA” (Grunfeld, 1996, pp. 155-156). In addition, the Chinese were not particularly interested in pursuing the refugees since they believed they would be better able to deal with the rebellion in Tibet if the Kundun was out of the country. Mao Zedong is thus said to have personally approved of the flight of the Dalai Lama after the fact (Tibetan Review, January 1995, p. 10). Yes — Beijing was convinced for months after the exodus that His Holiness had been kidnapped by the Khampas. In fact, the Chinese had every reason to make such an assumption, as becomes apparent from a piece of correspondence between the Kundun and the Chinese military commander of Lhasa, General Tan Guansan. Only a few days before the god-king was able to flee the town, he had turned to the General with the most urgent appeal to protect him from the “reactionary, evil elements “ who “are carrying out activities endangering me under the pretext of protecting my safety” (Grunfeld, 1996, p. 135). What he meant by these “evil elements” were hundreds of Tibetans who had surrounded his summer palace day and night to cheer him on. This crowd was called upon a number of times by the Dalai Lama’s political staff to abandon their “siege” since it was provoking the Chinese and there was a real danger that they would answer with artillery fire at the illegal rally and in so doing quite possibly threaten the life of the Kundun. But the people nevertheless remained, on the pretext of caring for the security of their “god-king”. Thereupon the latter wrote the above request to General Tan Guansan. But in a furtive maneuver he was secretly collected by a group of Khampas and brought to the Indian border unharmed. The flight, organized by the CIA and tolerated by the Chinese, was later mythologized by the western press and the Dalai Lama himself into a divine exodus. There was mysterious talk of a “mystic cloud” which was supposed to have veiled the column of refugees during the long trek to India and protected them from the view of and attack by the Chinese enemy. The CIA airplanes which gave the refugees air cover and provided them with supplies of food became Chinese “reconnaissance” flights which circled above the fleeing god-king but, thanks to wondrous providence and the “mystic cloud”, were unable to discern anything. ——————————————————————————– “Resistance fighters escorted the Dalai Lama through guerrilla-held territory. The two CIA-trained men met up with the escape party halfway on their journey and accompanied them to the Indian border, keeping the Americans updated about their progress. The Dalai Lama’s escape triggered a massive military operation by the Chinese who brutally quelled the revolt in Lhasa and went on the offensive against the resistance bases in southern Tibet. The guerrillas suffered major setbacks. Andrug Gompo Tashi and the remainder of his force had no choice but to join the exodus of Tibetans who were streaming across the Himalaya, following their leader into exile.” (From the Film The Shadow Circus – The CIA in Tibet) ——————————————————————————– Even if the Kundun has for years publicly distanced himself from the Tibetan guerillas, he always showed great sympathy in the community of Tibetans in exile for “his” underground fighters. His Holiness has also valued the services of his guerillas in exile and on a number of occasions since 1959 publicly stood by them. “Despite my belief”, he says in his autobiography published in 1964 “I much admire their courage and their determination to take on the fierce struggle which they began for our freedom, our culture, and religion. I thank them for their strength and their daring, and also personally for the protection which they gave me. … Hence I could not honorably give them the advice to avoid violence. In order to fight they had sacrificed their homes and all the comforts and advantages of a peaceful life. Now they could not see any alternative to continuing to struggle and I had nothing to oppose that with” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1964, p. 190). In the new edition of the autobiography of the in the meantime winner of the Nobel peace prize which appeared in 1990 (Freedom in Exile), this passage is no longer mentioned. It is too obvious a contradiction of the current image of the Kundun as “the supreme prince of peace of the century”. Another statement, which can be read in the biography, The Last Dalai Lama by Michael Harris Goodman, shows even more clearly the god-king’s two-facedness concerning nonviolence: “In [the message]”, he is supposed to have said, “I called the guerillas ‘reactionaries’, stated that the Tibetan people should not support them. At the same time the delegation was instructed to tell the guerillas to keep on fighting. We spoke in two tongues, the official and the unofficial. Officially we regarded their act as rebellion, and unofficially we regard them as heroes and told them so” (Goodman, 1986, p. 271). Already in exile, at the beginning of the sixties the Dalai Lama bestowed on a distinguished rebel leader the same honors which normally accompany an appointment to the rank of general (Grunfeld, 1996, p. 142). At the same time a number of volunteer exile Tibetans flew to the USA in order to once again be trained in guerilla warfare under the supervision of the CIA. The action was mediated by Gyalo Thondup, a elder brother of the Dalai Lama. Parallel to this, together with the Indian secret service Thondup established the Special Frontier Force (SFF) in 1962 with exile Tibetan recruits, a powerful and well-equipped mountain army which could be dropped into Tibet by parachute at any moment. It had 10,500 men under arms and its own officer corps. At the same time the “National Volunteer Defence Army” was founded. It can hardly be assumed that the Kundun was not very well informed about these ambitious military projects of his brother. Nonetheless it continues to be officially denied up to the present day. His Holiness is also not supposed to have known anything about the $1.7 million which the CIA provided annually to the Tibetans for military activities in the sixties. The armed struggle of the Tibetans was prepared for at the highest political levels, primarily in Washington, Delhi, and Taipei. The only reason it was not brought into action was that at the start of the seventies Richard Nixon began with his pro-China politics and cancelled all military support for the Tibetans. But without American support the outlook for a guerilla war was completely hopeless, and from this point on the Dalai Lama publicly distanced himself from any use of violence. Military action now no longer had any chance of success and in Dharamsala the work began of effectively reformulating the history of the Tibetan guerillas „in that one encouraged the fiction that the popular resistance had been nonviolent”, as Jamyan Norbu writes, before continuing, Tibetan officials, Buddhist followers, Western supporters and intellectuals […] regard the resistance movement as an embarrassment […] because it somehow detracts from the preferred peace-loving image of Tibet as a Shangri-La” (Huber, 2001, p. 369). The Nobel peace prize winner’s statements on the armed struggle of the Tibetans are most contradictory and were in the past more oriented to the political situation and constellations of power than fundamental principles. At times the Dalai Lama expressed the view that “it is quite appropriate to fight for a just cause and even to kill” (Levenson, 1992, p. 135). In an interview in 1980 he answered the question of whether violence and religion did not exclude one another as follows: „They can be combined. It depends on the motivation and the result. With good motivation and result, and if under the circumstances there is no other alternative, then violence is permissible” (Avedon, 1980, p. 34). Only since 1989, after he was awarded the Nobel peace prize, has the god-king cultivated an exclusively pacifist retrospective on the violent history of his country. A few years ago one still heard from His Holiness that there was much which was aggressive in the Tibet of old, about which one could not exactly be happy. From 1989 on, the stereotypical message is that there had only been “peace and happiness” in the Land of Snows’ past. [4] Earlier, the Kundun had stated that “the Tibetans are predisposed to be fairly aggressive and warlike” and could only be tamed by Buddhism (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993a, p. 18). Today, we read from the same author that “The Tibetan people are of an upright, gentle, and friendly nature” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993b, p. 34), whilst at the same time the Indian press describes Tibetan youths in Dharamsala as “militant”, “violent”, “impatient” and “restless” (Tibetan Review, May 1991, p. 19). In 1994 a Tibetan youth stabbed a young Indian which led to violence breaking out against the exile Tibetan community. Marching music and terror Are the Tibetans a peaceful people? In the camp of the Tibetans in exile a somewhat different tone is struck than at the western press conferences of the Dalai Lama. Anyone who has ever participated in the official festivities of the Tibetan national holiday (March 10) in Dharamsala and seen the uniformed groups of youths parading past the Lion Throne of His Holiness, anyone who has been able to experience the ceremonies of the flag and hear the war and fighting songs sung there, must have gained the impression that this was a military parade and definitely not a peace festival of gentle monks. Admittedly, the Kundun also always introduces these festivities with a profession of nonviolence, but after his speech — in the words of the historian, Christiaan Klieger — „the tone of the event turns decidedly martial” (Klieger, 1991, p. 62). The Khampa warriors with whom we are already familiar appear in ancient leopard skin uniforms. Guards of honor salute the Tibetan flag, on which the two snow lions symbolize the twin pillars of church and state. Enthusiastically sounds the tune of “Song of the Uprising People” (Long shog), which was composed as a military march. Its two final verses go as follows: Tibet follows its true leader … The Great Protector, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Accepted by Tibetans in and out. The red-handed butcher – enemy, The imperialistic Red Chinese, Will surely be kicked out of Tibet. Rise up, all patriots! (Klieger, 1991, p. 63) Such warlike marching songs may be of great importance for the formation of the poorly developed Tibetan national consciousness — they are also sung with the appropriate gusto by all present — but they have absolutely nothing to do with the much invoked principle of ahimsa. In contrast, they reify the concept of an enemy and glorify His Holiness (“the greatest living apostle of peace”) as the “supreme military commander”. The warlike tendencies among the Tibetans in exile are not exhausted by marching music and ceremonial displays during the national holiday celebrations. Already at the start of the sixties a small group of militants resolved “that the time had come to employ terrorism in the fight for Tibet” (Avedon, 1985, p. 146). In 1998, at a press conference in Dharamsala, Kuncho Tender, a militant who spent 20 years in the Tibetan underground, argued for a renaissance of the guerilla movement in Tibet “which would kill one Chinese after another until the country [is] free” (Associated Press, Dharamsala, May 28, 1998). Discussion about “terror as an instrument of politics” is also very current once more among radical Tibetan underground groups in the occupied Land of Snows, for example the Tiger-Leopard Youth Organization: „Our non_violent methods”, it says in a letter from this organization to the United Nations General Secretary, „have been taken as a sign of weakness. We are determined to regain our freedom, and the recent UN vote [in which a criticism of China was rejected] clearly shows us that without bloodshed, sabotage, and aggressive acts we will not gain publicity, sympathy and support. […] So why should we not follow the destructive path?” (Schwartz, 1994, p. 224). Further the young patriots affirm that they are aware that these methods disagree with the politics of the Dalai Lama but no other option remained open to them. Another underground organization from eastern Tibet calls itself the „Volunteer Army to Defend Buddhism” (Huber, 2001, p. 363). Calling themselves this shows that this group does not see the “destructive path” to liberation as being in contradiction to their religion. In contrast, an urgent prayer with which the terrible protective gods of the country are invoked and incited against the Chinese enemy counts as part of the daily work of the underground. In 1996 there were three bomb attacks in Lhasa. Such activities cannot harm the Kundun at all, then by publicly criticizing them he furthers his image as an “apostle of peace”. This need not prevent him from secretly encouraging the “armed groups” as he already did with the Khampas. Even if this contradicts his pacifist professions, it does not contradict the principles of Tantric Buddhism. In the meantime, discussions about Buddhism and the military are becoming an increasingly popular topic in Buddhist circles in the West. For example, there was an article in the journal Tricycle in 1996 with the title Apology of a Buddhist Soldier, in which the author gathered together arguments which are supposed to legitimate a “just” war for a Buddhist (Tricycle, V (3), p. 71). It is of course all very ethical, with reference to, among others, the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka (273–226 B.C.E.) who united India into a peaceful realm. Ashoka was, however, a great and cruel military commander who conducted the bloodiest of campaigns before he achieved power,. Some Buddhist traditions revere him without inhibition as a merciless war hero. “Thus the need to kill”, P. J. Tambiah writes in reference to the Emperor, “before becoming a great king who can the rule righteously is a Buddhist root dilemma. — Kings must be good killers before they can turn to piety and good works” (Tambiah, 1976, pp. 50, 522). Political calculation and the Buddhist message of peace It is not the task of our analysis to make a personal choice between “armed rebellion” and the “ahimsa principle” or to answer the question whether violent action in Tibet is morally justified and makes sense in terms of national politics. We also do not want -as the Chinese attempt to do — to expose the Kundun as no more than a fanatical warmonger in sheep’s clothing. Perhaps, by and large he is personally a peace-loving person, but without doubt he represents a culture which has from its very origins been warlike and which does not even think of admitting to its violent past, let alone reappraising it. Instead, Dharamsala and the current Dalai Lama make a constant propaganda project of presenting Tibetan Buddhism and the history of Tibet to the world public as a storehouse of eternal teachings about nonviolence and peace. There is thus a refusal to accept that the Kundun first acquired his pacifist ideas (e.g., under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi) after his flight; instead it is implied that they are drawn from the inexhaustible inheritance of a many hundred year old tradition and history. Even the aggressive “Great Fifth” and the “Great Thirteenth” with his strong interest in military matters now appear as the precursors of the current “Buddhism of peace”. On the basis of this distortion, the current Dalai Lama is able to fully identify with his fifth incarnation without having to mention his warlike and Machiavellian power politics and murderous magic: “By holding the position of the Fifth Dalai Lama I am supposed to follow what he did, this is the reason I have to interfere”, the Kundun explained in 1997 (HPI 006). Thus there is much which speaks for the pacifism of the Dalai Lama being nothing more than a calculated political move and never having been the expression of a principle. Jamyang Norbu, co-director of the Tibetan cultural institute, thus accuses his “revered leader” (the Kundun) and his exile Tibetan politicians of fostering the formation of the western myth of the good and peaceful Tibet of old. At no stage in history have the Tibetans been particularly pacifist — the terrible fighting out of the conflicts between individual monasteries proves this, as well as the bloody resistance to the occupation in the fifties. “The government in exile”, says Norbu, “capitalizes upon the western clichés, hampers a demythologization, a critical examination of its own history” (Spiegel, 16/1998). There is also absolutely no intention of doing this. For the Dalai Lama the fundamental orientation to be adopted is dependent upon what is favorable in the prevailing power-political situation. Thus a immediate volte-face to a fighting lineage is thoroughly laid out in his system. Neither religious, nor ideological, and definitely not historical incarnational obstacles stand in the way of a possible decision to go to war. In contrast, the Tibetan war gods have been waiting for centuries to strike out and re-conquer their former extended empire. Every higher tantra includes a call to battle against the “enemies of the faith”. In any event, the Kalachakra ritual and the ideology at work behind it are to be understood as a declaration of war on the non-Buddhist world. Important members of the Tibetan clergy have already reserved their places in the great doomsday army of Shambhala. „Many of them already know the names and ranks they will have.” (Bernbaum, 1980, p. 29, 30). When the political circumstances are ripe the “simple monk” from Dharamsala will have to set aside his personal pacifist tendencies and, as the embodied Kalachakra deity, will hardly shrink from summoning Begtse the god of slaughter or from himself appearing in the guise of a heruka. “The wrathful goddesses and the enraged gods are there,” we learn from his own mouth (before he was awarded the Nobel peace prize), “in order to demonstrate that one can grasp the use of violence as a method; it is an effective instrument, but it can never ever be a purpose” (Levenson, 1992, p. 284). There is no noteworthy political leader in the violent history of humankind who would have thought otherwise. Even for dictators like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin violence was never an end in itself, but rather an “effective instrument” for the attainment of “honorable” goals. Even some western voices these days no longer shrink from drawing attention to the dangerous and violent aspects of the figure of the Kundun in fascination: “This man has something of a pouncing wild cat, a snow leopard imbued with freedom and loneliness which no cage could hold back”, his biographer, Claude B. Levenson, has written (Levenson, 1992, p. 160). “Buddha has smiled”: The Dalai Lama and the Indian atomic tests of 1998 In the opinion of the Indian military as well, the religion of the Buddha appears to be not so pacifist as it is presented to us e here in the West. Why else would the first Indian nuclear weapons tests (in 1974) have been referred to under the secret code of “The Lord Buddha has smiled!”? Why were the spectacular tests in 1998 deliberately launched on the birthday of the Gautama Buddha? (Focus, 21/1998, p. 297; Spiegel, 21/1998, p. 162). In fact the sole “living Buddha” at this time, the Dalai Lama, has a profound interest in the Indian atomic tests. For him (“as the smiling third party”) a confrontation between the two Asian giants (China and India) would be of great political advantage. It was thus only logical that the “god-king” from Tibet gave the demonstration of a nuclear capability by his host cou
  • Thom

    The Shadow of the Dalai Lama –

    The spearhead of the Shambhala war


    War in the Tibet of old on a number of occasions meant the military intervention of various Mongolian tribes into the internal affairs of the country. Over the course of time a deep cultural connection with the warlike nomads from the north developed which ultimately led to a complete Buddhization of Mongolia. Today this is interpreted by Buddhist “historians” as a pacification of the country and its inhabitants. But let us examine more closely some prominent events in the history of Central Asia under Buddhist control.

    Genghis Khan as a Bodhisattva

    The greatest conqueror of all humankind, at least as far as the expansion of the territory under his control is concerned, was Genghis Khan (1167–1227). He united the peoples of the Mongolian steppes in Asia and from them formed a horseback army which struck fear into the hearts of Europe and China just as much as it did in the Islamic states. His way of conducting warfare was for the times extremely modern. The preparations for an offensive usually took several years. He had the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents studied in detail. This was achieved by among other things a cleverly constructed network of spies and agents. His notorious cavalry was neither chaotic nor wild, nor as large as it was often said to be by the peoples that he conquered. In contrast, they were distinguished by strict discipline, had the absolutely best equipment, and were courageous, extremely effective, and usually outnumbered by their enemies. The longer the preparations for war were, the more rapidly the battles were decided, and that with a merciless cruelty. Women and children found just as little pity as the aged and the sick. If a city opposed the great Khan, every living creature within it had to be exterminated, even the animals — the dogs and rats were executed. Yet for those who submitted to him, he became a redeemer, God-man, and prince of peace. To this day the Mongolians have not forgotten that the man who conquered and ruled the world was of their blood.

    Tactically at least, in wanting to expand into Mongolia Tibetan Lamaism did well to declare Genghis Khan, revered as divine, to be one of their own. It stood in the way of this move that the world conqueror was no follower of the Buddhist teachings and trusted only in himself, or in the shamanist religious practices of his ancestors. There are even serious indications that he felt attracted to monotheistic ideas in order to be able to legitimate his unique global dominion.

    Yet through an appeal to their ADI BUDDHA system the lamas could readily match their monotheistic competitors. According to legend a contest between the religions did also took place before the ruler’s throne, which from the Tibetan viewpoint was won by the Buddhists. The same story is recounted by the Mohammedans, yet ends with the “ruler of the world” having decided in favor of the Teachings of the Prophet. In comparison, the proverbial cruelty of the Mongolian khan was no obstacle to his fabricated “Buddhization”, since he could without further ado be integrated into the tantric system as the fearful aspect of a Buddha (a heruka) or as a bloodthirsty dharmapala (tutelary god).Thus more and more stories were invented which portrayed him as a representative of the Holy Doctrine (the dharma).

    Among other things, Mongolian lamas constructed an ancestry which traced back to a Buddhist Indian law-king and put this in place of the zoomorphic legend common among the shamans that Genghis Khan was the son of a wolf and a deer. Another story tells of how he was descended from a royal Tibetan family. It is firmly believed that he was in correspondence with a great abbot of the Sakyapa sect and had asked him for spiritual protection. The following sentence stands in a forged letter in which the Mongol addresses the Tibetan hierarch: “Holy one! Well did I want to summon you; but because my worldly business is still incomplete, I have not summoned you. I trust you from here, protect me from there” (Schulemann, 1958, p. 89). A further document “from his hand” is supposed to have freed the order from paying taxes. In the struggle against the Chinese, Genghis Khan — it is reported — prayed to ADI BUDDHA.

    The Buddhization of Mongolia

    But it was only after the death of the Great Khan that the missionary lamas succeeded in converting the Mongolian tribes to Buddhism, even if this was a process which stretched out over four centuries. (Incidentally, this was definitely not true for all, then a number took up the Islamic faith.) Various smaller contacts aside, the voyage of the Sakya, Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen, to the court of the nomad ruler Godän Khan (in 1244), stands at the outset of the conversion project, which ultimately brought all of northern Mongolia under Buddhist influence. The great abbot, already very advanced in years, convinced the Mongolians of the power of his religion by healing Ugedai’s son of a serious illness. The records celebrate their subsequent conversion as a triumph of civilization over barbarism.

    Some 40 years later (1279), there followed a meeting between Chögyel Phagpa, likewise a Tibetan great abbot of the Sakyapa lineage, and Kublai Khan, the Mongolian conqueror of China and the founder of the Yuan dynasty. At these talks topics which concerned the political situation of Tibet were also discussed. The adroit hierarch from the Land of Snows succeeded in persuading the Emperor to grant him the title of “King of the Great and Valuable Law” and thus a measure of worldly authority over the not yet united Tibet. In return, the Phagpa lama initiated the Emperor into the Hevajra Tantra.

    Three hundred years later (in 1578), the Gelugpa abbot, Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso, met with Althan Khan and received from him the fateful name of “Dalai Lama”. At the time he was only the spiritual ruler and in turn gave the Mongolian prince the title of the “Thousand-Golden-Wheel turning World Ruler”. From 1637 on the cooperation between the “Great Fifth” and Gushri Khan began. By the beginning of the 18th century at the latest, the Buddhization of Mongolia was complete and the country lay firmly in the hand of the Yellow Church.

    But it would be wrong to believe that the conversion of the Mongolian rulers had led to a fundamental rejection of the warlike politics of the tribes. It is true that it was at times a moderating influence. For instance, the Third Dalai Lama had demanded that women and slaves no longer be slaughtered as sacrificial offerings during the ancient memorial services for the deceased princes of the steppe. But it would fill pages if we were to report on the cruelty and mercilessness of the “Buddhist” Khans. As long as it concerned the combating of “enemies of the faith”, the lamas were prepared to make any compromise regarding violence. Here the aggressive potential of the protective deities (the dharmapala) could be lived out in reality without limits. Yet to be fair one has to say that both elements, the pacification and the militarization developed in parallel, as is indeed readily possible in the paradoxical world of the tantric doctrines. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the proverbial fighting spirit of the Mongolians would once more really shine forth and then, as we shall see, combine with the martial ideology of the Kalachakra Tantra.

    Before the Communists seized power in Mongolia in the twenties, more than a quarter of the male population were simple monks. The main contingent of lamas belonged to the Gelugpa order and thus at least officially obeyed the god-king from Lhasa. Real power, however, was exercised by the supreme Khutuktu, the Mongolian term for an incarnated Buddha being (in the Tibetan language: Kundun). At the beginning of his term in office his authority only extended to religious matters, then constitutionally the steppe land of Genghis Khan had become a province of China.

    In the year 1911 there was a revolt and the “living Buddha”, Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, was proclaimed as the first head of state (Bogd Khan) of the autonomous Mongolian peoples. At the same time the country declared its independence. In the constitutional decree it said: “We have elevated the Bogd, radiant as the sun, myriad aged, as the Great Khan of Mongolia and his consort Tsagaan Dar as the mother of the nation” (Onon, 1989, p. 16). The great lama’s response included the following: “After accepting the elevation by all to become the Great Khan of the Mongolian Nation, I shall endlessly strive to spread the Buddhist religion as brightly as the lights of the million suns …” (Onon, 1989, p. 18).

    From now on, just as in Tibet a Buddhocracy with the incarnation of a god at its helm reigned in Mongolia. In 1912 an envoy of the Dalai Lama signed an agreement with the new head of state in which the two hierarchs each recognized the sovereignty of the other and their countries as autonomous states. The agreement was to be binding for all time and pronounced Tibetan Buddhism to be the sole state religion.

    Jabtsundamba Khutuktu (1870–1924) was not a native Mongol, but was born in Lhasa as the son of a senior civil servant in the administration of the Dalai Lama. At the age of four his monastic life began in Khüre, the Mongolian capital at the time. Even as a younger man he led a dissolute life. He loved women and wine and justified his liberties with tantric arguments. This even made its way into the Mongolian school books of the time, where we are able to read that there are two kinds of Buddhism: the “virtuous way” and the “mantra path”. Whoever follows the latter, “strolls, even without giving up the drinking of intoxicating beverages, marriage, or a worldly occupation, if he contemplates the essence of the Absolute, … along the path of the great yoga master.” (Glasenapp, 1940, p. 24). When on his visit to Mongolia the Thirteenth Dalai Lama made malicious comments about dissoluteness of his brother-in-office, the Khutuktu is said to have foamed with rage and relations between the two sank to a new low.

    The “living Buddha” from Mongolia was brutal to his subjects and not rarely overstepped the border to cruelty. He is accredited with numerous poisonings. It was not entirely without justification that he trusted nobody and suspected all. Nonetheless he possessed political acumen, an unbreakable ambition, and also a noteworthy audacity. Time and again he understood how, even in the most unfathomable situations, to seize political power for himself, and survived as head of state even after the Communists had conquered the country. His steadfastness in the face of the Chinese garnered him the respect of both ordinary people and the nobility.

    There had barely been a peaceful period for him. Soon after its declaration of independence (in 1911) the country became a plaything of the most varied interests: the Chinese, Tsarist Russians, Communists, and numerous national and regional groupings attempted to gain control of the state. Blind and marked by the consumption of alcohol, the Khutuktu died in 1924. The Byelorussian, Ferdinand Ossendowski, who was fleeing through the country at the time attributes the following prophecy and vision to the Khutuktu, which, even if it is not historically authenticated, conjures up the spirit of an aggressive pan-Mongolism: “Near Karakorum and on the shores of Ubsa Nor I see the huge multi-colored camps. … Above them I see the old banners of Jenghiz Khan, of the kings of Tibet, Siam, Afghanistan, and of Indian princes; the sacred signs of all the Lamaite Pontiffs; the coats of arms of the Khans of the Olets; and the simple signs of the north-Mongolian tribes. …. There is the roar and crackling of fire and the ferocious sound of battle. Who is leading these warriors who there beneath the reddened sky are shedding their own and others’ blood? … I see … a new great migration of peoples, the last march of the Mongols …” (Ossendowski, 1924, pp. 315-316).

    In the same year that Jabtsundamba Khutuktu died the “Mongolian Revolutionary People’s Party” (the Communists) seized complete governmental control, which they were to exercise for over 60 years. Nonetheless speculation about the new incarnation of the “living Buddha” continued. Here the Communists appealed to an old prediction according to which the eighth Khutuktu would be reborn as a Shambhala general and would thus no longer be able to appear here on earth. But the cunning lamas countered with the argument that this would not hamper the immediate embodiment of the ninth Khutuktu. It was decided to approach the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and the Ninth Panchen Lama for advice. However, the Communist Party prevailed and in 1930 conducted a large-scale show trial of several Mongolian nobles and spiritual leaders in connection with this search for a new incarnation.

    There were attempts in Mongolia at the time to make Communist and Buddhist ideas compatible with one another. In so doing, lamas became excited about the myth that Lenin was a reincarnation of the historical Buddha. But other voices were likewise to be heard. In a pamphlet from the twenties we can also read that “Red Russia and Lenin are reincarnation of Langdarma, the enemy of the faith” (Bawden, 1969, p. 265). Under Josef Stalin this variety of opinion vanished for good. The Communist Party proceeded mercilessly against the religious institutions of Mongolia, drove the monks out of the monasteries, had the temples closed and forbade any form of clerical teaching program.

    The Mongolian Shambhala myth

    We do not intend to consider in detail the recent history of Mongolia. What primarily interests us are the tantric patterns which had an effect behind the political stage. Since the 19th century prophetic religious literature has flourished in the country. Among the many mystic hopes for salvation, the Shambhala myth ranks as the foremost. It has always accompanied the Mongolian nationalist movement and is today enjoying a powerful renaissance after the end of Communism. Up until the thirties it was almost self-evident for the Lamaist milieu of the country that the conflicts with China and Russia were to be seen as a preliminary skirmish to a future, worldwide, final battle which would end in a universal victory for Buddhism. In this, the figures of the Rudra Chakrin, of the Buddha Maitreya, and of Genghis Khan were combined into an overpowering messianic figure who would firstly spread unimaginable horror so as to then lead the converted masses, above all the Mongols as the chosen people, into paradise. The soldiers of the Mongolian army proudly called themselves “Shambhala warriors”. In a song of war from the year 1919 we may read

    We raised the yellow flag

    For the greatness of the Buddha doctrine;

    We, the pupils of the Khutuktu,

    Went into the battle of Shambhala!

    (Bleichsteiner, 1937, p. 104).

    Five years later, in 1924, the Russian, Nicholas Roerich, met a troop of Mongolian horsemen in Urga who sang:

    Let us die in this war,

    To be reborn

    As horsemen of the Ruler of Shambhala

    (Schule der Lebensweisheit, 1990, p. 66).

    He was informed in mysterious tones that a year before his arrival a Mongol boy had been born, upon whom the entire people’s hopes for salvation hung, because he was an incarnation of Shambhala.

    The Buriat, Agvan Dorjiev, a confidante of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, about him we still have much to report, persistently involved himself in every event which has affected Mongolia since the beginning of the twentieth century. “It was his special contribution”, John Snelling writes, “to expand pan-Mongolism, which has been called ‘the most powerful single idea in Central Asia in the twentieth century’, into the more expansive pan-Buddhism, which, as we have already noted, he based upon the Kalachakra myths, including the legend of the messianic kingdom of Shambhala” Snelling, 1993, p. 96).

    The Shambhala myth lived on in the underground after Communist accession to power, as if a military intervention from out of the mythic kingdom were imminent. In 1935 and 1936 ritual were performed in Khorinsk in order to speed up the intervention by the king of Shambhala. The lamas produced postcards on which could be seen how the armies of Shambhala poured forth out of a rising sun. Not without reason, the Soviet secret service suspected this to be a reference to Japan, whose flag carries the national symbol of the rising sun. In fact, the Japanese did make use of the Shambhala legend in their own imperialist interests and attempted to win over Mongolian lamas as agents through appeals to the myth.

    Dambijantsan, the bloodthirsty avenging lama

    To what inhumanity and cruelty the tantric scheme can lead in times of war is shown by the story of the “avenging lama”, a Red Hat monk by the name of Dambijantsan. He was a Kalmyk from the Volga region who was imprisoned in Russia for revolutionary activities. “After an adventurous flight”, writes Robert Bleichsteiner, “he went to Tibet and India, where he was trained in tantric magic. In the nineties he began his political activities in Mongolia. An errant knight of Lamaism, demon of the steppes, and tantric in the style of Padmasambhava, he awakened vague hopes among some, fear among others, shrank from no crime, emerged unscathed from all dangers, so that he was considered invulnerable and unassailable, in brief, he held the whole Gobi in his thrall” (Bleichsteiner, 1937,p. 110).

    Dambijantsan believed himself to be the incarnation of the west Mongolian war hero, Amursana. He succeeded over a number of years in commanding a relatively large armed force and in executing a noteworthy number of victorious military actions. For these he was awarded high-ranking religious and noble titles by the “living Buddha” from Urga. The Russian, Ferdinand Ossendowski, reported of him, albeit under another name (Tushegoun Lama) [1], that “Everyone who disobeyed his orders perished. Such a one never knew the day or the hour when, in his yurta or beside his galloping horse on the plains, the strange and powerful friend of the Dalai Lama would appear. The stroke of a knife, a bullet or strong fingers strangling the neck like a vise accomplished the justice of the plans of this miracle worker” (Ossendowski, 1924, p. 116). There was in fact the rumor that the god-king from Lhasa had honored the militant Kalmyk.

    Dambijantsan’s form of warfare was of a calculated cruelty which he nonetheless regarded as a religious act of virtue. On August 6, 1912, after the taking of Khobdo, he had Chinese and Sarten prisoners slaughtered within a tantric rite. Like an Aztec sacrificial priest, in full regalia, he stabbed them in the chest with a knife and tore their hearts out with his left hand. He laid these together with parts of the brain and some entrails in skull bowls so as to offer them up as bali sacrifices to the Tibetan terror gods. Although officially a governor of the Khutuktu, for the next two years he conducted himself like an autocrat in western Mongolia and tyrannized a huge territory with a reign of violence “beyond all reason and measure” (Bawden, 1969, p. 198). On the walls of the yurt he live in hung the peeled skins of his enemies.

    It was first the Bolsheviks who clearly bothered him. He fled into the Gobi desert and entrenched himself there with a number of loyal followers in a fort. His end was just as bloody as the rest of his life. The Russians sent out a Mongolian prince who pretended to be an envoy of the “living Buddha”, and thus gained entry to the camp without harm. In front of the unsuspecting “avenging lama” he fired off six shots at him from a revolver. He then tore the heart from the body of his victim and devoured it before the eyes of all present, in order — as he later said — to frighten and horrify his followers. He thus managed to flee. Later he returned to the site with the Russians and collected the head of Dambijantsan as proof. But the “tearing out and eating of the heart” was in this case not just a terrible means of spreading dread, but also part of a traditional cult among the Mongolian warrior caste, which was already practiced under Genghis Khan and had survived over the centuries. There is also talk of it in a passage from the Gesar epic which we have already quoted. It is likewise found as a motif in Tibetan thangkas: Begtse, the highly revered war god, swings a sword in his right hand whilst holding a human heart to his mouth with his left.

    In light of the dreadful tortures of which the Chinese army was accused, and the merciless butchery with which the Mongolian forces responded, an extremely cruel form of warfare was the rule in Central Asia in the nineteen twenties. Hence an appreciation of the avenging lama has arisen among the populace of Mongolia which sometimes extends to a glorification of his life and deeds. The Russian, Ossendowski, also saw in him an almost supernatural redeemer.

    Von Ungern Sternberg: The “Order of Buddhist Warriors”

    In 1919 the army of the Byelorussian general, Roman von Ungern Sternberg, joined up with Dambijantsan. The native Balt was of a similar cruelly eccentric nature to the “avenger lama”. Under Admiral Kolchak he first established a Byelorussian bastion in the east against the Bolsheviks. He saw the Communists as “evil spirits in human shape” (Webb, 1976, p. 202). Later he went to Mongolia.

    Through his daredevilry he there succeeded in building up an army of his own and positioning himself at its head. This was soon to excite fear and horror because of its atavistic cruelty. It consisted of Russians, Mongolians, Tibetans, and Chinese. According to Ossendowski, the Tibetan and Mongolian regiments wore a uniform of red jackets with epaulettes upon which the swastika of Genghis Khan and the initials of the “living Buddha” from Urga were emblazoned. (In the occult scene von Ungern Sternberg is thus seen as a precursor of German national socialism.)

    In assembling his army the baron applied the tantric “law of inversion” with utmost precision. The hired soldiers were firstly stuffed with alcohol, opium, and hashish to the point of collapse and then left to sober up overnight. Anyone who now still drank was shot. The General himself was considered invulnerable. In one battle 74 bullets were caught in his coat and saddle without him being harmed. Everyone called the Balt with the shaggy moustache and tousled hair the “mad baron”. We have at hand a bizarre portrait from an eyewitness who saw him in the last days before his defeat: “The baron with his head dropped to his chest, silently rode in front of his troops. He had lost his hat and clothing. On his naked chest numerous Mongolian talismans were hanging on a bright yellow cord. He looked like the incarnation of a prehistoric ape man. People were afraid even to look at him” (quoted by Webb, 1976, p. 203).

    This man succeeded in bringing the Khutuktu, driven away by the Chinese, back to Urga. Together with him he staged a tantric defense ritual against the Red Army in 1921, albeit without much success. After this, the hierarch lost trust in his former savior and is said to have made contact with the Reds himself in order to be rid of the Balt. At any rate, he ordered the Mongolian troops under the general’s command to desert. Von Ungern Sternberg was then captured by the Bolsheviks and shot. After this, the Communists pushed on to Urga and a year later occupied the capital. The Khutuktu had acted correctly in his own interests, then until his death he remained at least pro forma the head of state, although real power was transferred step by step into the hands of the Communist Party.

    All manner of occult speculations surround von Ungern Sternberg, which may essentially be traced to one source, the best-seller we have already quoted several times by the Russian, Ferdinand Ossendowski, with the German title of Tiere, Menschen, Götter [English: Beasts, Men and Gods]. The book as a whole is seen by historians as problematic, but is, however, considered authentic in regard to its portrayal of the baron (Webb, 1976, p. 201). Von Ungern Sternberg quite wanted to establish an “order of military Buddhists”. “For what?”, Ossendowski has him ask rhetorically. “For the protection of the processes of evolution of humanity and for the struggle against revolution, because I am certain that evolution leads to the Divinity and revolution to bestiality” (Ossendowski, 1924, p. 245). This order was supposed to be the elite of an Asian state, which united the Chinese, the Mongolians, the Tibetans, the Afghans, the Tatars, the Buriats, the Kyrgyzstanis, and the Kalmyks.

    After calculating his horoscope the lamas recognized in von Sternberg the incarnation of the mighty Tamerlan (1336-1405), the founder of the second Mongolian Empire. The general accepted this recognition with pride and joy, and as an embodiment of the great Khan drafted his vision of a world empire as a “military and moral defense against the rotten West…” (Webb, 1976, p. 202). “In Asia there will be a great state from the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the shore of the Volga”, Ossendowski presents the baron as prophesying. “The wise religion of Buddha shall run to the north and the west. It will be the victory of the spirit. A conqueror and leader will appear stronger and more stalwart than Jenghiz Khan …. and he will keep power in his hands until the happy day when, from his subterranean capital, shall emerge the king of the world” (Ossendowski, 1924, p. 265).

    Here he had uttered the key phrase which continues to this day to hold the occult scene of the West enthralled, the “king of the world”. This figure is supposed to govern in a kingdom below the ground somewhere in Central Asia and from here exercise an influence on human history. Even if Ossendowski refers to his magic empire under the name of Agarthi, it is only a variant upon or supplement to the Shambhala myth.[2] His “King of the World” is identical to the ruler of the Kalachakra kingdom. He “knows all the forces of the world and reads all the souls of humankind and the great book of their destiny. Invisibly he rules eight hundred million men on the surface of the earth and they will accomplish his every order” (Ossendowski, 1924, p. 302). Referring to Ossendowski, the French occultist, René Guénon, speculates that the Chakravartin may be present as a trinity in our world of appearances: in the figure of the Dalai Lama he represents spirituality, in the person of the Panchen Lama knowledge, and in his emanation as Bogdo Khan (Khutuktu) the art of war (Guénon, 1958, p. 37).

    The Fourteenth Dalai Lama and Mongolia

    Since the end of the fifties the pressure on the remainder of the “Yellow Church” in Mongolia has slowly declined. In the year 1979 the Fourteenth Dalai Lama visited for the first time. Moscow, which was involved in a confrontation with China, was glad of such visits. However it was not until 1990 that the Communist Party of Mongolia relinquished its monopoly on power. In 1992 a new democratic constitution came into effect.

    Today (in 1999) the old monasteries destroyed by the Communists are being rebuilt, in part with western support. Since the beginning of the nineties a real “re-Lamaization” is underway among the Mongolians and with it a renaissance of the Shambhala myth and a renewed spread of the Kalachakra ritual. The Gelugpa order is attracting so many new members there that the majority of the novices cannot be guaranteed a proper training because there are not enough tantric teachers. The consequence is a sizeable army of unqualified monks, who not rarely earn their living through all manner of dubious magic practices and who represent a dangerous potential for a possible wave of Buddhist fundamentalism.

    The person who with great organizational skill is supervising and accelerating the “rebirth” of Lamaism in Mongolia goes by the name of Bakula Rinpoche, a former teacher of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and his right hand in the question of Mongolian politics. The lama, recognized as a higher tulku, surprisingly also functions as an Indian ambassador in Ulan Bator alongside his religious activities, and is accepted and supported in this dual role as ambassador for India and as a central figure in the “re-Lamaization process” by the local government. In September of 1993 he had an urn containing the ashes of the historical Buddha brought to Mongolia for several weeks from India, a privilege which to date no other country has been accorded by the Indian government. Bakula enjoys such a great influence that in 1994 he announced to the Mongolians that the ninth incarnation of the Jabtsundamba Khutuktu, the supreme spiritual figure of their country, had been discovered in India.

    The Dalai Lama is aware of the great importance of Mongolia for his global politics. He is constantly a guest there and conducts noteworthy mass events (in 1979, 1982, 1991, 1994, and 1995). In Ulan Bator in 1996 the god-king celebrated the Kalachakra ritual in front of a huge, enthusiastic crowd. When he visited the Mongolian Buriats in Russia in 1994, he was asked by them to recognize the greatest military leader of the world, Genghis Khan, as a “Bodhisattva”. The winner of the Nobel peace prize smiled enigmatically and silently proceeded to another point on the agenda. The Kundun enjoys a boundless reverence in Mongolia as in no other part of the world (except Tibet). The grand hopes of this impoverished people who once ruled the world hang on him. He appears to many Mongolians to be the savior who can lead them out of the wretched financial state they are currently in and restore their fame from the times of Genghis Khan.


    [1] It must be the same person, since the author refers to him as a Kalmyk Russian and as the “avenging lama”.

    [2] Marco Pallis is of the opinion that Ossendowski has simply substituted the name Agarthi for Shambhala, because the former was very well known in Russia as a “world center”, whilst the name Shambhala had no associations (Robin, 1986, pp. 314-315).

    © Victor & Victoria Trimondi

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