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A monthly magazine devoted to the promulgation of Theosophy as it was given by those who brought it.
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'S NO RELIGION HIGHER THAN TR
The Parent Theosophical Society was formed at New York, U. S. A., in 1875, by H. P. Blavatsky, with whom were associated William Q. Judge, Henry S. Olcott, and others.
The defined Objects of the Society were as follows:
I. To form a nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color. II. The study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences, and the demonstration of the importance of such study; and
III. The investigation of the unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man.
Assent to the First Object only was obligatory on the part of all Fellows, the other Objects being subsidiary and optional.
The real treasure is that laid up through charity and piety, temperance and selfcontrol. The treasure thus hid is secure, and passes not away. Though we leave the fleeting riches of the world, this a man carries with him-a treasure that no wrong of others, and no thief, can steal.-Nidhikanada-Sutta.
At the end of life the soul goes forth alone; whereupon only our good deeds befriend us.-Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king, v. I, 560.
No Theosophical Society, as such, is responsible for any opinion or declaration in this magazine, by whomsoever expressed, unless contained in an official document.
Where any article, or statement, has the author's name attached, he alone is responsible, and for those which are unsigned, the Editors will be accountable.
REINCARNATIONS IN TIBET*
O little is known by Europeans of what is going on in Tibet, and even in the more accessible Bhootan, that an Anglo-Indian paper, one of those which pretend to know, and certainly discuss every blessed subject, whether they really know anything of it or not, actually came out with the following bit of valuable information :—
"It may not be generally known that the Deb Raja of Bhootan, who died in June last, but whose decease has been kept dark till the present moment, probably to prevent disturbances, is our old and successful opponent of 1864-65
The Bhootan Government consists of a spiritual chief, called the Dhurm Raja, an incarnation of Buddha (?!!) who never dies-and a civil ruler called the Deb Raja in whom is supposed to centre all authority."
A more ignorant assertion could hardly have been made. It may be argued that “Christian" writers believe even less in Buddha's reincarnations than the Buddhists of Ceylon, and, therefore, trouble themselves very little, whether or not they are accurate in their statements. But, in such a case, why touch a subject at all? Large sums are annually spent by Governments to secure old Asiatic manuscripts and learn the truth about old religions and peoples, and it is not showing respect for either science or truth to mislead people interested in them by a flippant and contemptuous treatment of facts.
On the authority of direct information received at our Headquarters we will try to give a more correct view of the situation than has hitherto been had from books. Our informants are firstly -some very learned lamas; secondly-a European gentleman and
• This article was first printed by H. P. Blavatsky in The Theosophist for March, 1882.
traveller, who prefers not to give his name; and thirdly-a highly educated young Chinaman, brought up in America, who has since preferred to the luxuries of worldly life and the pleasures of Western civilization, the comparative privations of a religious and contemplative life in Tibet. Both of the two last-named gentlemen are Fellows of our Society, and the latter-our "Celestial" Brother losing, moreover, no opportunity of corresponding with us. A message from him has been just received via Darjeeling.
In the present article, it is not much that we will have to say. Beyond contradicting the queer notion of the Bhootanese Dharma Raja being "an incarnation of Buddha," we will only point out a few absurdities, in which some prejudiced writers have indulged.
It certainly was never known-least of all in Tibet-that the spiritual chief of the Bhootanese was "an incarnation of Buddha. who never dies." The "Dug-pal or Red Caps" belong to the old Nyang-na-pa sect, who resisted the religious reform introduced by Tsong-kha-pa between the latter part of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries. It was only after a lama coming to them from Tibet in the tenth century had converted them from the old Buddhist faith so strongly mixed up with the Bhon practices of the aborigines-into the Shammar sect, that, in opposition to the reformed "Gyelukpas," the Bhootanese set up a regular system of reincarnations. It is not Buddha though, or "Sang-gyas' -as he is called by the Tibetans-who incarnates himself in the Dharma Raja, but quite another personage; one of whom we will speak about later on.
Now what do the Orientalists know of Tibet, its civil administration, and especially its religion and its rites? That, which they have learned from the contradictory, and in every case imperfect statements of a few Roman Catholic monks, and of two or three daring lay travellers, who, ignorant of the language, could scarcely be expected to give us even a bird's-eye view of the country. The missionaries, who introduced themselves in 1719, stealthily into Lhassa, were suffered to remain there but a short time and were finally forcibly expelled from Tibet. The letters of the JesuitsDesideri, and Johann Grueber, and especially that of Fra della Penna, teem with the greatest absurdities. Certainly as superstitious, and apparently far more so than the ignorant Tibetans themselves, on whom they father every iniquity, one has but to read these letters to recognize in them that spirit of odium theologicum felt by every Christian, and especially Catholic missionary for the
1 The term "Dug-pa" in Tibet is deprecatory. They themselves pronounce it "Dög-pa" from the root to "bind" (religious binders to the old faith); while the paramount sectthe Gyeluk-pa (yellow caps) and the people, use the word in the sense of "Dug-pa" mischief-makers, sorcerers. The Bhootanese are generally called Dug-pa throughout Tibet and even in some parts of Northern India.-ED. The Theosophist.
2 Out of twelve Capuchin friars who, under the leadership of Father della Penna, established a mission at Lhassa, nine died shortly after, and only three returned home to tell the tale. (See Tibet, by Mr. Clements R. Markham.)
See Appendix to Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet. By Clements R. Markham, C. B., F. R. S., Trübner & Co., London.-ED. The Theosophist.
"heathen" and their creeds; a spirit which blinds one entirely to the sense of justice. And when could have been found any better opportunity to ventilate their monkish ill-humour and vindictiveness than in the matter of Tibet, the very land of mystery, mysticism and seclusion? Beside these few prejudiced "historians," but five more men of Europe ever stepped into Tibet. Of these, three— Bogle, Hamilton and Turner-penetrated no farther than its borderlands; Manning-the only European who is known to have set his foot into Lha-ssa'-died without revealing its secrets, for reasons suspected, though never admitted, by his only surviving nephew -a clergyman; and Csömo de Korös, who never went beyond Zanskar, and the lamasery of Phag-dal."
The regular system of the Lamaïc incarnations of "Sang-gyas" (or Buddha) began with Tsong-kha-pa. This reformer is not the incarnation of one of the five celestial Dhyans, or heavenly Buddhas, as is generally supposed, said to have been created by Sakya Muni after he had risen to Nirvana, but that of "Amita," one of the Chinese names for Buddha. The records preserved in the Gön-pa (lamasery) of "Tda-shi Hlum-po" (spelt by the English Teshu Lumbo) show that Sang-gyas incarnated himself in Tsong-kha-pa in consequence of the great degradation his doctrines had fallen into. Until then, there had been no other incarnations than those of the five celestial Buddhas and of their Boddhisatwas, each of the former having created (read, overshadowed with his spiritual wisdom) five of the last-named-there were, and now are in all but thirty incarnations-five Dhyans and twenty-five Boddhisatwas. It was be
cause, among many other reforms, Tsong-kha-pa forbade necromancy, (which is practiced to this day with the most disgusting rites, by the Bhöns-the aborigines of Tibet-with whom the Red Caps, or Shammars, had always fraternized) that the latter resisted his authority. This act was followed by a split between the two sects. Separating entirely from the Gyalukpas, the Dugpas (Red Caps)— from the first in a great minority-settled in various parts of Tibet, chiefly its borderlands, and principally in Nepaul and Bhootan. But, while they retained a sort of independence at the monastery of Sakia-Djong, the Tibetan residence of their spiritual (?) chief Gong-sso Rimbo-chay, the Bhootanese have been from their beginning the tributaries and vassals of the Dalaï-Lamas. In his letter to Warren Hastings in 1774, the Tda-shi Lama, who calls the Bhootans "a rude and ignorant race," whose "Deb Rajah is dependent
1 We speak of the present century. It is very dubious whether the two missionaries Huc and Gabet ever entered Lha-ssa. The Lamas deny it.-ED. The Theosophist.
2 We are well aware that the name is generally written Pugdal, but it is erroneous to do so. "Pugdal" means nothing, and the Tibetans do not give meaningless names to their sacred buildings. We do not know how Csömo de Korös spells it, but, as in the case of Pho-ta-la of Lha-ssa loosely spelt "Potala"-the lamasery of Phäg-dal derives its name from Phag-pa (phäg-eminent in holiness, Buddha-like, spiritual; and pha-man, father, the title of "Awalokiteswara," the Boddhisatwa who incarnates himself in the Dalai Lama of Lha-ssa. The valley of the Ganges where Buddha preached and lived, is also called "Phag-yul," the holy, spiritual land; the word phag coming from the one root-Pha or Pho being the corruption of Fo-(or Buddha) as the Tibetan alphabet contains no letter F.-ED. The Theosophist.