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Tibet under the Tartar Emperors of China in the 13th Century A.D.(BY Rai SARAT CHANDRA DAS, Bahadur, .C.I.E.)


Legendary account.—Once on a time there descended on the pure and lofty tableland of Ngah-ri in Upper Tibet three brothers called Nam lha or heavenly gods. The eldest of them was Namlha Chyiring, the second Namlha Yuring, and the youngest Namlha Waseh..

These three brothers were entreated by the people of Ngah-ri to take up the sovereignty of their country. The youngest brother, choosing to dwell upon earth, became king and married the reigning chief's daughter.

To him were born four sons, who became known as the four Sijili brothers. They became involved in disputes with the tribe of Dong and the eighteen ancient tribes of Tibet. With the assistance of

Namlha Yu-ring the princes compelled the eighteen tribes to submit to their authority. Namlha Yu-ring also choosing to reside on this earth, married Musa Dembu of the family of Mu, by whom he had seven sons. These were well-known as the Musang brothers. The first six of them, together with their father, are said to have been lifted up to heaven by means of a noose called Muthag or Kyang-thag which had been stretched down by the gods for their delivery.

The youngest son married Thog-Cham Oorma, the daughter of Hoichen, the god of thunder and light. His son Thog-tsha Paotag married a princess of the Naga named Tama, who presented him with a son who was brave and handsome. He married Monzah, a princess of the royal family of Mon (Sub-Himalaya). They lived at the limit of vegetation on the slope of a snowy peak of that great mountain and named their son Ya-pang-kye or one born in the higher grass-land. He killed the Srin-mo (demon) named Kya-ring Thagmeh and carried away his beautiful wife YabumSilema to his mountain house. By her he had a son who, being born of a woman captured by fight or Khon, was named Khon Barkyeh, born in the mid-region. Hence originated the great family of Khon which played an important part in the medieval history of Tibet. Khon Barkyeh married a Himalayan princess named Tsan-cham Mon. Their son was Kon-jeh, the accomplished one. Being a man of rare intelligence, valour and promise to achieve extraordinary feats, he wanted to rule over a country. His father sent him to Gang-zang-lha. There observing the eight signs of a good country he made his

residence on the slopes of the lofty Ngan-tse thang mountain. At this time1 there reigned in Tibet the mighty king Thi-srong-deu tsan.

Early History.-In later times the family of Khon multiplied in the valley of Shab-chu in Tsang. One of its principal members named Khon Konchog Gyalpo, having received religious instructions and precepts from some learned Lamas, became famous for his learning in Western Tibet. On the occasion of a religious festival which took place at Doh he witnessed a Lama dance. In it, many Lamas who pretended to be very holy, took part. Some of them wore the frightful masks of the twenty-eight goddesses called Wang-chug-ma, and with different weapons in their hands, danced before the assembled people in a fantastic manner. Some Tantrik Lamas, who wore the flowing and clotted locks of the Matrika or Mamo nymphs, also danced to the music of drums and cymbals. Konchog Gyalpo returning home, described what he had seen to his brother, who observed: "Now the time of the degeneration of the Nying-ma mysticism has arrived. Henceforth, in Tibet, none among the Nying-ma Lamas will attain to sainthood. We must now sever our connexion with them. Let us, therefore, take care of our paternal possessions, our religious books and symbols. In Mankhar there is a Buddhist sage named Dogmi Lochava. You should go to take religious instructions from him." He then concealed all his sacred books securely underneath some rocks in a cavern.

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Konchog Gyalpo could not find Dogmi at Mankhar, but he met Khyin Lotsava in a cemetery at Yahlûng. With him he studied Buddhist metaphysics. Before he could finish his studies the Lotsāva 2 died, in consequence of which he had to search out Dogmi Lotsāva. He presented his teacher with seventeen pony-loads of valuable things including some beads of precious stones, gold and silver. Having acquired great proficiency in Buddhist metaphysics and in some of the new theories found in the reformed works of Dogmi called Sarma Choi" (new tenets) he became known as a religious professor. He removed his residence to Yahlung. Erecting a small monastery at Taolûng, he also spent a few years there. One day, accompanied by one of his disciples, while he was walking on the top of the hill of Taolûng, he saw a fine site for a monastery in front of Ponpoiri hill-a plot of white land with a river flowing by its right. Noticing that it possessed many auspicious signs, he thought that if he built a monastery upon it, it would contribute much to human happiness and welfare. He asked the advice of his friend Jovo

1 This was the first part of the 8th Century A.D.

& A Tibetan Sanskritist was called Lochava or Lotsă va from locha to speak,

Dong-nag, who approved of the proposal. He purchased the land by making present of a white mare, one coat of mail, a string of beads of precious stones and a buckler to the owner. In the 40th year of his age, Lama Konchog Gyalpo founded a monastery on the plain of Sakya 1 (A.D. 1073), which in the 13th century became the capital of Tibet and also the chief seat of the Sakyapa hierarchs.


The Tartar Chinghis (Jenghis Khan) made the conquest of the whole of Tibet in the year 1203, about which time Behar and Bengal were seized by the Mahomedans under Baktyar Khiliji. After firmly establishing his authority first in China and then in Tibet, he ordered a general census to be taken of the latter country, but before the work could be taken up by his generals in Tibet, he died. His grandson E-chan Gotan, to whose share fell both Tibet and China, hearing the fame of the Pandit hierarch of Sakya named Kungah Gyal-tshan, invited him to China and received him in audience at his palace of Tulpai De. Thus the learned Buddhist Hierarch of Tibet gained the opportunity to implant in the mind of the dreaded monarch the doctrine of Buddha-to have compassion over all living beings and to effect one's own salvation by loving others. The humanizing influence of Buddhism touched the minds of the cruel and bloodthirsty Mongols. They now perceived that brute force did not make them superier to the Lamas who believed in the existence of a thing like love which conquered all. So the hierarch, in turn, quietly effected the spiritual conquest of the heartless Tartars. After his return to Tibet Kungah Gyal-tshan appointed Çakya Zangpo as Pon-chen (chief governor) of Tibet proper. Kungah Gyal-tsan, better known as Sakya Panchen (Pan, Pandit and chen, great), was so well impressed with the honesty and righteousness of his governor that he ordered all the Lamas with the exception of Huyupa and Sharpa Yeçé Chûng to make salulation to him.

On the death of E-chan Gotan Khan, Khublai Khan (the miraculous king) became Emperor of China. He removed his residence to Peking and built the Tartar city called Khanbalik, i.e., the city of the great Khan. Shortly, after this, he ordered one of his generals named Tāmen to proceed to Tibet to arrange for its better government. When Tamen came to take leave of him the Emperor addressed him in the following terms:-"The Tibetans are a powerful nation. In ancient times, when there was a monarchial form of government in that country, the Tibetan armies had invaded

1 Sakya (from Sa, land aud kya, white) signifies white plain.


China several times. During the reign of Emperor Thaijung (Tai tsūng) of the T'ang dynasty, the Tibetans advanced as far as Utai Shan in Shenzi, and at the command of their general Pa-utan hu, all as one man carried out his orders. Since Chinghis Khan's conquest of it there has been no king in Tibet. The grand Lamas of Sakya are appointed by us. They are our spiritual instructors. Go, therefore, at once to Sakya and by the exercise of your diplomatic tact bring all Tibet fully under our rule.” To this gracious command Tamen with profound veneration replied:-"Your. Majesty, in obedience to the wish of the son of heaven this servant will proceed to Tibet. The people of the country called Sifan (Western country, i.e., Tibet) being brave and wild are not amenable either to their own laws or to the laws of China. Our frontier guards fail to restrain them from their predatory habits. How will your Majesty's servant proceed to Tibet to subdue them, and what arrangements about theexpenses of his mission will be permitted?" The Emperor com manded that he should proceed on his mission and take the necessary funds and articles for presents from the the imperial treasury. Arrived at Sakya, he should make division of the country into large and smaller Jam (district) for administrative purposes, apportioning lands to each Jam with due regard to their extent and nature, i.e., according to the sparseness or density of the population in them.

Furnished with credentials from the Emperor and carrying with him suitable presents for the clergy and the laity, Tamen proceeded to Tibet with a large armed escort and a number of survey officers Arrived at Sakya he read the edict of the Emperor before a large number of people assembled for the purpose. He sent the survey officers to the different provinces of the country for reconnoitering. On their report he divided the country lying between Sakya and the Chinese frontier into 27 districts or Jam. Doh-meh or lower Doh, where the land was fertile was divided into seven Jam; Doh-toi (upper Doh) into nine Jam; and Û and Tsang into eleven Jam, of which seven, viz., Sakya, Sog, Tsi-mar, Shag, Sha-pho, Kong and Gonsar, were apportioned to Tsang, and four, viz., Tog, Tshong-dui, Darling and Thom Darang, to Û. A Jampon or district officer was appointed over each Jam.

He apportioned these jam to the thirteen provinces or Thikor into which Tibet was then divided, appointing a Thipon or provincial governor over every one of them. He proclaimed all over Tibet the suzerainty of the great Khan or Emperor of China. After making himself fully acquainted with the customs, manners, laws and requirements of Tibet, Tāmen returned to China. The Emperor loaded him with honours and rewards, and in recognition of his merits appointed him

J. I 13

President of the grand Yamen of " Son-ching Wen." In order to supervise the administration of the country now parcelled out into 27 jam, and to preserve the imperial supremacy of the country, the Emperor appointed one of his Tartar nobles, named Ijilig, as Resident of Tibet, and conferred on him the Tartar distinction of Thon-ji. He was the first minister who was sent by a Chinese Emperor to watch the state affairs of Tibet under the grand hierarchy of SAKYA. Henceforth the connection between the two countries (Tibet and China) becoming closer; free and easy intercourse, both commercial and political, made the Tibetan people happy and prosperous.

After starting Thon-ji Ijilig on his mission to Tibet, the Emperor himself led a large army to Jang-yul. No resistance was offered by the people of that country to his victorious army. He annexed two provinces of Amdoh to China, and made over two provinces of Upper Doh (modern Kham) to Tibet.

In the tenth year of Emperor Khublai's reign Lama Phagpa the hierarch of Sakya was appointed spiritual instructor of the Imperial family. As a reward for this service the Emperor made a grant of the following districts to Lama Phagpa: Gacha Rab-kha, Nangso Latog-pa, Gangaitsa Lama Khar, and Dan Khang. The jam of Gong, which remained apart from Û and Tsang was also assigned to him. These are said to have contained very fertile soil, a kang (Tibetan acre) of which was able to grown 5,000 tar da a of barley.


Lama Phagpa paid three visits to China, and was every time received with the highest reverence by the Emperor at his grand palace of Taitu. The Emperor, Empress and the princes received religious blessings according to the cult of the Sakyapa school of Buddhism. On the second occasion the thirteen Thikor 3 of Tibet were presented to the hierarch by the Emperor for the service of the Lamaic Church. On the third occasion, it is stated, that all Tibet, which was anciently divided into three cholkha,5 was presented to the

1 This included the Kokonur country and Amdoh:

2 About 10 lbs.

3 After the survey, Dsongkha Jong, inclusive of Ngah-ri, Lo Jong and Dol Jong, was constituted into one Thikor. Northern and Southern Latoi-cha and Shalu comprised four Thikor; Da, Ber, and Khyung formed one Thikor; Yamdok and Tshalpa formed one Thikor, Gya, Di-khung, Yah, and Phagmodu comprised four Thikor; lastly, Jah-yul with 1,000 hordu, Duka-pa with 900 hordu, formed one Thikor. These were the thirteen Thikhor of Tibet in the 13th Century.

4 Very probably one-sixth of the revenue of the thirteen Thikor (which was the king's due) was granted to Lama Phagpa for the service of Church and the support of the monasteries.

5 Formerly, Tibet Proper and Greater Tibet, which is now called Ulterior Tibet,

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