Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mongolia | Ulaan Baatar | Roerich Museum | Telo Tulku Rinpoche

Wandered by the Roerich-Shambhala Museum for the reception and talk by Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the Shadjin Lama of Kalymkia. As usual for Roerich Museum events Tout UB was in attendance.
Telo Tulku Rinpoche with Museum panjandrums Bira and Ishdorj

I had the honor of presenting to the Telo Rinpoche, the sixth Diluv Khutagt, a copy, fresh from the presses, of The Diluv Khutagt of Mongolia, the memoirs and autobiography of his previous incarnation, the Fifth Diluv Khutagt.
Diluv Khutagt’s Political Memoirs and Autobiography

I had first read the Diluv Khutagt’s book in the august environs of the Reading Room of the Library of Congress circa 1985. I had xeroxed a copy and carried it with me through all my Travels in Mongolia. I have always thought this book should be better known, and now, over two decades later, I finally had the pleasure of introducing a new edition. The Wheel of Time grinds slowly, but fine. It is now available at various outlets, including the Ikh Nomiin Delgüür, (Big Book Store) just north of the Ulaan Baatar Hotel, and the commercial scriptorium in the State Department Store.

Although the Telo Rinpoche is the sixth Diluv Khutagt his lineage goes back much further. The Fifth Diluv Khutagt comments on this in his Autobiography:

Until the fall of the Manchu dynasty, there were fourteen higher Incarnations in Outer Mongolia who, in their successive embodiments, after being recognized and installed by the Church, had to be confirmed in their incumbency by the Manchu Emperor. Of these I am one. My successive incarnations are as follows: One of the companions and disciples of Gotama Buddha was Mangala. One of his later Incarnations was Dilowa, who was so named because in his worldly occupation he was a pounder of sesamum seed to make oil. Tila is the Sanskrit of sesamum. One of his later Incarnations, in Tibet, was Milarapa. The first Incarnation of Milarapa to appear in Mongolia was Dambadorji. In the Ordos region of Inner Mongolia there are two groups of mountains, the Great and Little Arjai. In the caves in the Little Arjai, Dambadorji built his first monastery, in the period of the reign of the Ming dynasty in China (1368-1643). This monastery was destroyed by Legden Khan of the Chahar Mongols, in the time of trouble when the Ming dynasty of the Chinese was falling and the Ch’ing dynasty of the Manchus being set up. The next Incarnation of Dambadorji was Erhe Bogda Lama, who built the monastery of Banchin Jo, also in the Ordos. In the K’ang Hsi period of the Manchu dynasty (1662-1722) my incarnation was recognized, under the designation of Diluv Khutagt, by the Manchu Emperors. My present Incarnation is the fifth under this designation, and the third to appear in Outer Mongolia. While I was in the Ordos, under the designation of Erhe Bogda Lama, Narobanchin was my disciple. Later he was reincarnated in Outer Mongolia,and built the Narobanchin monastery. When in a later reincarnation I myself appeared in the same region of Outer Mongolia, the Narobanchin Khutagt invited me to share his monastery with him, and thus it has been ever since, and that is why I am the Diluv Khutagt of Narobanchin Monastery.

I was also able to present to the Rinpoche Four Books by the Roerichs which we have recently published. Saraa, Co-Publisher of The Diluv Khutagt of Mongolia and the Roerich books, shown here with the Rinpoche.
Saraa and Anzha, the Rinpoche’s factotum, who also acted as my guide when I was in Kalmykia, framing the Shambhala Thangka now on display in the museum.
All-in-all quite a lively and informative gathering. The only thing missing, as far as I was concerned, was a cameo appearance by Lady GaGa.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mongolia | Ulaan Baatar | White Tiger

Got a call asking if I would take some photos of Inner Mongolian Lama Sanjaachodbachoigijaltsan, a.k.a. Tsagaan Bar (White Tiger) and his students for a book he is preparing. Tsagaan Bar just finished leading a 100 day meditation retreat in Darkhan City, Darkhan Aimag, and is now going back to Inner Mongolia. He plans to return soon however and lead more retreats.

Below are some of the photos I took of him and his students. I did not choose the postures and hand positions and will not attempt to explain their significance.


Sanjaachodbachoigijaltsan’s student Sodnom

Sanjaachodbachoigijaltsan’s student Norovsüren
Sanjaachodbachoigijaltsan’s student Sanjaa Dubmaa
Here I am (on the right) posing with Sodnom

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mongolia | Natural and Historical Monuments | Saridgiin Khiid

See a new, revised account of Saridgiin Khiid, the monastery founded by Zanabazar and intended to be the center of Buddhism in Mongolia. It was later destroyed by Zanabazar’s arch nemesis Galdan Bolshigt.
Ruins of Saridgiin Khiid

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mongolia | Zaisan Tolgoi | Lady GaGa

Spent an afternoon holed up in my hovel in Zaisan Tolgoi watching the rain clouds blow over Bogd Khan Mountain as I drank Shan Ling Xi Ooolong Tea and listened to Lady GaGa. I’m thinking she is a reincarnation of a Tokharian Caravanserai Singer I once heard.

As so often happens when I drink Shan Ling Xi Oolong Tea on rainy afternoons my thoughts soon drifted to Kuchean Dancers:
A rigorous, twirling dance, the Sogdian Whirl was usually performed on a colorful felt carpet. The dance took the Tang Capital of Xian by storm. Not only the emperor, but his favorite concubine, the infamous Yang Guifei—along with her "favorite," the 400 pound Sogdian-Turk An Lushan—could perform this exotic dance, snacking on Lychees from Canton and sipping grape wine out of Roman cut glass goblets, all night long. There were Sogdian dances danced to Persian melodies, played on Persian lutes and harps, Indian dances and music and those from the Northern steppes and Korea. Without a doubt, most famous of all the Tang dances was the music and dance of Kucha.
I should point out the Sogdian Whirl, popular during the Tang Dynasty in the 8th century, was updated as The Locomotion in 1962 by Little Eva.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

China | Xinjiang | Urumqi

Update: Death Toll Rises to 156 in Ethnic Clashes in Western China. The riots have now spread to Khotan. Update #2: Internet service has now been cut to Xinjiang: China Locks Down Restive Region After Deadly Clashes.

My favorite city in China, Urumqi, is experiencing serious problems. See Riots Erupt in Western China Amid Ethnic Tension. Haven’t heard from any of my friends there yet. They are usually very hesitant to communicate by email, which they are convinced is monitored by the government. Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang, which I used to visit quite frequently. Given the difficulty of acquiring Chinese visas here in the Big Buuz I doubt if I will be going back any time soon.

Downtown Urumqi

Uighur Market District in Urumqi

Uighur Carpet dealer in downtown Urumqi

Pomegranates in the Uighur Market