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Last of a Good Lama

Jan 09, 2007 04:58 AM
by Mark Jaqua

    Here's a good one from BCW VIII:


[Lucifer, Vol. I, No. 1, September, 
1887, p. 51]

   Whatever may be said against godless 
Buddhism, its influence, wherever it 
penetrates, is most beneficent. One finds 
the Spirit of “Lord Buddha . . . most 
pitiful, the Teacher of Nirvâna and 
the Law,” ennobling even the least 
philosophical of the dissenting sects 
of his religion—the Lamaism of the 
nomadic Kalmucks. The Caspian Steppes 
witnessed, only a few months ago, the 
solemn cremation and burial of a 
Mongolian saint, whose ashes were 
watered by as many Christian as Lamaic 
tears. The high priest to the Russian 
Kalmucks of the Volga died December 26th, 
1886, near Vetlyanka, once the seat 
of the most terrible epidemics.* The 
Gelungs had chosen the day of ceremony 
in accordance with their sacred books; 
the hour was fixed astrologically, and 
at noon on January 4th, 1887, the 
imposing ceremony took place. More 
than 80,000 people assembling from all 
the neighbouring Cossack _stanitzas_ 
and Kalmuck _ooloosses,_ formed a procession 
surrounding the pillar of cremation. 
The corpse having been fixed in an iron 
arm-chair, used on such ceremonies, 
was introduced into the hollow pillar, 
the flames being fed with supplies 
of fresh butter. During the whole burning, 
the crowd never ceased weeping and 
lamenting, the Russians being most 
violent in their expressions of sorrow, 
and with reason. For long years the 
defunct Lama had been a kind father 
to all the poor in the country, whether 
Christian or Lamaist. Whole villages 
of proletarians had been fed, clothed, 
and their poll-taxes paid out of his 
own private income. His property in 
pasture lands, cattle, and tithes was 
very large, yet the Lama was ever in 
want of money. With his death, the poor 
wretches, who could hardly keep soul 
in their bodies, have no prospect but 
starvation. Thus the tears of the 
Christians were as abundant, if not 
quite as unselfish, as those of the 
poor Pagans. Only the year before, 
the good Lama received 4,000 roubles 
from a Kalmuck _oolooss_ (camp) and gave 
the whole to rebuild a burned down 
Russian village, and thus saved hundreds 
from death by hunger. He was never known 
during his long life to refuse any man, 
woman, or child, in need, whether Pagan 
or Christian, depriving himself of every 
comfort to help his poorer fellow-creatures. 
Thus died the last of the Lamas of the 
priestly hierarchy sent to the Astrakhan 
Kalmucks from beyond the “Snowy Range” 
some sixty years ago. A shameful story 
is told of how a travelling Christian 
pilgrim imposed on the good Lama. The 
Lama had entrusted him with 30,000 roubles 
to be placed in the neighbouring town: 
but the Christian pilgrim disappeared, 
and the money with him.

     - Blavatsky CW, Vol. VIII, pp. 28-30


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