A Mongolian Living Buddha,Biography of the Kanjurwa Khutughtu by Paul Hyer

A Mongolian Living Buddha,Biography of the Kanjurwa Khutughtu

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  • Book Name A Mongolian Living Buddha,Biography of the Kanjurwa Khutughtu
  • Author Paul Hyer
  • Language, Pages Engish, 225 Pgs. (HB)
  • Last Updated 2024 / 02 / 09
  • ISBN 9788170304234 ,8170304237

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A Mongolian Living Buddha,Biography of the Kanjurwa Khutughtu
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This account is, to our knowledge, the first full biography in a Western language of what is popularly called a Mongolian "living Buddha (Khubilghann)." Several such accounts have been in preparation but as yet none have been published.

One objective of the authors is to preserve an account of a key historical figure, of certain important institutions, and of a customary religious life style which was traditional in Mongolia but which now has passed into history. The Kanjurwa khutughtu (high—ranking transformation or reincarnate lama) was a leader in the world of Lamaist Buddhism in Inner Mongolia during the critical period from the 1920s to the end of World War II in 1945. In a broad context the reader must bear in mind that economically and politically Inner Mongolia was a sub-region of China, this to the distress of the Mongols. Within this context the Kanjurwa’s life and experience span many important events and movements: the establishment of the Republic of China with Inner Mongolia subordinated to it as a special administrative region; increasing cultural change for the Mongols with more external contacts; the period of warlords in China following World War I that also greatly affected Mongolia, followed by the rise of the Nationalist Government at Nanking with its nominal unification of China in the late 1920s and early 1930s; the rise of a modern Mongolian class of intellectuals and a growing nationalistic consciousness, plus a decline in Buddhism with modern trends of secularization; the occupation of Inner Mongolia by the Japanese from 1931 to l945; the Chinese civil war to 1950 and the Communist takeover after World War Il. This account of the Kanjurwa has observations on all of these various developments.

A chronology of the life of the Kanjurwa khutughtu has been attached including additional related dates of important events. His predecessors extend back, to the 1600s, contemporary with the K’ang—hsi Emperor (r.1662—1721). He was born in a Tibetan ethnic area in the Amdo region of Kokonor, on the China frontier of Inner Asia in 1914. He was educated there as a young boy in the Serku Monastery and traveled to Inner Mongolia in 1924 at the age of ten where he was installed as the leading reincarnation, the head of Badghar Monastery located on the border between the Ulanchab League and Timed Banner, not far from Hohhot (koke—khota). The narrative presents observations regarding his life in a Mongolian "monastery and his many travels through various parts of Inner Mongolia. Part of the Kanjurwa’s life and story focuses on the monastic educational process, his experience through a series of initiations and studies, and his contact with important persons.

Certain strategic considerations are of concern in the account presented here. Inner Asia is still one of the most obscure areas of study in the world. It is large, little—known, and includes the strategic regions from Manchuria through Mongolia, Turkistan [Sinkiang), Afghanistan and Tibet. Mongolia particularly is a focal point of Russian-China confrontation. In centuries past it was the pivot of Asia—now it is a pawn in great power rivalry. The roots of contemporary problems are to be found in earlier historical experience and in the traditional culture. One important aspect of the area that requires attention is the biography of key leaders like the Kanjurwa.

Mongolia, like the other areas noted above, was long characterized as a "sacred" society, in that secularization here has been a late trend and religion traditionally permeated all phases of society and culture. From time to time Buddhist and Islamic societies experience a resurgence or revitalization of religious forces. Thus some attention should be concentrated on the nature of traditional religious institutions to more readily understand contemporary trends. For Mongolia this means a study of Lamaist Buddhism and the key institution of the khubilghan, the reincarnate lama. The Kanjurwa khutughtu of Inner Mongolia is useful as a model for understanding other such figures who had a similar role.

The fate of Mongolian Buddhism that forms the background of this biography is of concern to any person interested in the conflict between humanist as opposed to totalitarian systems. This religion has shown high qualities in the realm of ideas and the spirit. The Kanjurwa’s biography sheds some light on the humanistic and cultural life of a resilient people, the Mongols, who deserve worldwide respect and admiration.

The Kanjurwa’s career is a type, a pattern, or case study typical in many ways for Khalkha (Outer Mongolia] and Buriad Mongolia and to some degree for Tibet. In view of the complex pantheon of reincarnations or transformations (khubilghons) in the world of Lamaist Buddhism, it may be useful here to place the Kanjurwa in a general context. The cradle of this unique form of Buddhism, and its unrivaled focal point, was of course Tibet and more especially Lhasa. There were uppermost the famous Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama of Tibet; then, in the more limited sphere of Mongolian Lamaist Buddhism, there was the Jebtsundamba khutughtu of Urga (now Ulan Bator] in Outer Mongolia. Below him were many reincarnations, only a few of which can be mentioned. There was the high—ranking Dilowa khutughtu who left Outer Mongolia as a refugee to Inner Mongolia in the 1930s and who became an acquaintance of the Kanjurwa. There was also the Jangjia khutughtu, resident alternately in Peking, Wu—t’ai shan and Dolonor, and a well—known rival of the Kanjurwa. These three were more prominent than the Kanjurwa khutughtu. How- ever, during the crucial periods of this narrative all of these important ecclesiastical figures were actually absent from Inner Mongolia, leaving only the Kanjurwa-the Jebtsundamba departed this world in 1924, apparently without a successor; the Dilowa left for Tibet in 1939; and the Jangjia went to south central China with the Chinese nationalists for the duration of the war. Thus, the Kanjurwa was the highest—ranking grand lama of khutughtu rank in Mongolia during much of the period of this narrative.

The high rank and official title of khutughtu was conferred on the Kanjurwa gegen (enlightened lama master] by Peking only after the establishment of the Republic of China (1912). The Kanjurwa was not one of the eight high lamas in Peking but was one of the thirteen preeminent reincarnations at the monastic center of Dolonor where he spent much time. He attracted great veneration in the Chakhar region of western Inner Mongolia and particularly in the Hulun-buir region of northeastern Inner Mongolia. His home monastery of Badghar, better known to the Chinese as Wu-tan-chao, was one of the most important monasteries in all of Inner Mongolia. It was a great academic monastery that attracted many lama-monks in recognition of its scholarly distinction.

The unique biographical account related here was quite lengthy in the writing process, and the authors should note a few items of interest the reader may wish to keep in mind. As translators, interpreters, and editors, we have avoided personal judgments of the Kanjurwa’s biographical account and we have avoided making a critique or analytical study of the information presented here. Instead of making laudatory or critical comments we have tried to set forth sympathetically a neutral record conveying the personal experiences and views of the Kangurwa gegen himself.

A note about the process of preparing the manuscript should be added. The main Mongolian language interviews with the Kanjurwa gegen were taped at his monastic residence near Taipei in 1971-1972. The interviews were then translated into English at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, including such explanatory insertions as seemed necessary to make the story understandable or to place the Kanjurwa’s career in context. The rambling, unstructured interviews were reorganized and edited to prepare the final manuscript, maintaining the first person style, though often writing in the past tense due to what has happened to the religion since the occupation of Inner Mongolia by the Chinese Communists and the revolution of Mao Tse—tung and his "Red Guards." The authors realize that in the editing process, annotated translation becomes interpretation and have tried to avoid distortion or bias that may stem from personal viewpoints. With great regret we note that the passing of the Kanjurwa in 1978 cut short follow—up interviews that could have greatly supplemented the information noted here. We hope his views have not been too greatly distorted but, given the problems of language and the elusive nature of certain sensitive issues involved, obviously ideal results are not possible. Some persons may have preferred a different presentation of the material included in this work, but it is impossible to please in one approach the general reader, the comparative religion specialist, and the social science behaviorist.

Regarding the monastic life discussed in the book, the reader should again bear in mind that this work is not intended as a technical, precise presentation of the complex pantheon of Buddhist deities, the intriguing art and symbolism, the important ceremonial and ritualistic aspects of the religion, or the Buddhological philosophy involved. On these matters the specialists, and even the general reader, must be patient. Persons who have especial interest in religion and wish to use this work as a reference on technical matters regarding Lamaist Buddhism should remember that the translator-editors make no claim to be authorities on all aspects concerned, and while considerable care has been taken in the work, it is not intended for specialists looking for a detailed analysis or presentation of the subject.

Another problem is posed by the technical terms of Lamaist Buddhism and such institutions as the monastery, temple, or hermitage. A general consensus dictates the use of the term monastery rather than temple as the primary religious institution concerned. In English this obscures or confuses such corresponding Mongolian terms as sume, kuriye, keid, and juu, but even in Mongolian society these are not carefully differentiated as to size or function, and are often used interchangeably. This may create a little confusion for some, and the same is the case for such Chinese terms as miao, ssu, and choo, commonly used as counterparts for the above Mongolian terms in Inner Mongolia where Chinese influence has been so great.

In the narrative such terms as Lamaism are used instead of consistently using Buddhism, and perhaps this usage would not please the Kanjurwa, but it is a long—standing, common practice in discussing the unique form of Buddhism found in Tibet and Mongolia.

The romanized transcription of Mongolian terms from the old Mongolian orthography presents certain problems and has been modified by some phonetic considerations. As there is really no standardized form, sometimes the romanized version of a term used here favors the classical written Mongolian, sometimes the modern spoken language. Most of the liturgical language of Mongolian Buddhism is naturally borrowed from Tibet, but the terms are given here in the transcription or usage found in Mongolia.

Adjustments have been made in noting the age of the Kanjurwa at various points in his career, so the traditional Mongolian custom of considering the subject as being one year old at birth has not been followed; dates have been adjusted to correspond to Western conventions or usage. Care has been taken in the dates and chronology noted, but at times it has been necessary to interpolate from key dates in the Kanjurwa’s career and to correlate or check these against contemporary events. Sechin Jagchid, co-author of the present work, has served as an important check on various aspects of the Kanjurwa’s account. His father, Lobsanchoijur, was a lama until the age of forty-two, but left the monastery as an only son to carry on the family line. He served as an agent in Peking for the Thirteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet. Also, Jagchid’s own career as an official in the Mongolian Government (Kalgan) was concurrent with the period concerned with the key time span of the Kanjurwa’s own career. The authors solicit the assistance of knowledgeable readers in making corrections of fact or interpretation.

We wish to express appreciation to those who have been especially helpful in preparing the manuscript: Kerril Sue Rollins, departmental assistant; Marilyn Webb and Alison Rojas of the Brigham Young University faculty support center; the Social Science Research Council and American Council of Learned Societies for assistance to pursue research in Taiwan, China.




Preface vii
Selected Chronology of the Career of the Kanjurwa khutughtu and of Inner Mongolia xii
Part One: My Origin As an Incarnation
Birth and selection as an Incarnation 3
Childhood Education and Training in Kokonor 7
Mongolian Buddhism - Background 13
Former Incarnations of the Kanjurwa khutughtu 19
Part Two: Beginning a New Life in Mongolia
Journey to Inner Mongolia and Peking 39
Visit and Training at Dolonor 54
Journey West to Badghar Monastery 60
Life and Training at Badghar Monastery 64
Part Three: Life in a Monastery
The Organization of Monastic Temples 79
Religious Ceremonies and Festivals 88
Pilgrimages, Visits and Common Customs 99
Recreation and Special Occasions 107
Lamaist Vocations: Medicine and Other Fields 112
Part Four: Politics and Religion in Inner Mongolia
Visits to Peking and Mongolian Regions 123
Religion and Politics in Change 137
The Japanese and Mongolian Buddhism 150
Lamas, Princes and Politics 155
The Kalgan Government and the Lamas 165
The Rise of Communism and My Escape to Taiwan 188
Index 195

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