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This theocracy extends as fully to temporal as to spiritual concerns.
Though in the grand sovereignty of the Lamas, the temporal power has been occasionally separated from the spiritual by slight revolutions, they have always been united again after a time ; so that in Thibet the whole constitution rests on the imperial pontificate in a manner elsewhere unknown. For as the Thibetians suppose the Grand Lama is animated by the god Shaka, or Fo, who at the decease of one Lama transmi: grates into the next, and consecrates him an image of the divinity, the descending chain of Lomas is continued down from him in fixed degrees of sanctity : so that a more firmly established sacerdotal government, in doctrine, customs, and institutions, than actually reigns over this country, cannot be conceived. The supreme manager of temporal affairs is no more than the viceroy of the sovereign priest, who, conformable to the dictates of his religion, dwells in divine tranquillity in a building that is both temple and palace. If some of his votaries in modern times bave dispensed with the adoration of his person, still certain real modifications of the Shaka religion is the only faith they profess, the only religion they follow. The state of sanctity which that religion inculcates, consists in monastic confidence, absence of thought, and the perfect repose of nonentity.
To give as clear an account as possible of this religion, little more is required than to extract the ample account given of it in a description of Thibet, published in Green's Collection of Voyages, and re-published in Pinkerton.
Friar Horace says, that in the main the religion of Thibet is the counterpart of the Romish. They believe in one God, and a trinity, but full of errors; a paradise, hell, and purgatory, but full of errors also. They make suffrages, alms, prayers, and sacrifices for the dead; have a vast number of convents. filled with monks and friars, amounting to thirty thousand ; who, besides the three vows of poverty, obedi. ence, and chastity, make several others. They have their confessors, who are chosen by their superiors, and receive their license from their Lama, as a bishop, without which they cannot hear confessions, or impose penances. They have the same form of hierarchy as in the Romish Church, for they have their inferior Lamas, chosen by the Grand Lama, who act as bishops in their respective dioceses, having under them simple Lamas, who are the religious. To these may be added, the use of holy water, crosses, beads, and oth: er matters.
The chief object of worship in this country, is the same which in China is called Fo, but by the Lamas in Thibet, La. This prince, who was born one thousand and twenty-six years before Christ, and reigned in part of India, called Chantyencho, or, as others say, Si-tyen, gave himself out to be God, assuming human flesh; and when he died, it was pretended, that he only withdrew for a while, and would appear again in a determinate time ; as he actually did, if the testimony of his devout disciples, the writings of the primitive fathers amongst them, and, in short, the tradition and authority of the whole church, from age to age, down to the present, are at all to be regarded in proof. And this imposture has been practised since as often as there has been occasion for it: so that the god La still lives, and is corporally present in the person of the Dalay Lama. in which respect, the church of Thibet has infinitely the advantage of the Romish, in as much as the visible head of it is considered to be God himself, not his vicar, or deputy ; and the incarnate deity, who is the object of divine worship, appears alive in human shape to receive the people's adorations : not in the form of a senseless bit of bread, or playing at bo-peep in a diminutive wafer, which would be too gross a cheat to impose on the understandings of the Thibetians, however ignorant and superstitious the missionaries to their own shame represent them.
The Great Lama, who as we said before, is La, or Fo incarnate, is, according to Grueber, called in the country, Lama, Konju, or the Eternal Father. He is also styled Dalay Lama, The same author says, in another letter, that Great Lama signifies the Great High Priest, and Lama of Lamas ; as he is also styled the High Priest of High Priests. These last titles regard only his office, or degree, in his ecclesiastical or religious capacity ; but with respect to his divine nature, or quality, which entitles him to be adored as God, they term him likewise the heavenly Father, ascribing to him all the attributes of the true deity; as, that he is omniscient, and that all things are open to his view, even the secrets of the heart. If, at any time, he asks questions, it is not, say they, for sake of information, but to remove the scruples of the incredulous and disaffected. They believe that Fo (or La) lives in him : hence those of his religion in China call him Ho-fo, or the living Fo. lo consequence of this persuasion, he is held to be immortal, and that when in appearance he dies, he only changes his abode ; that he is born again in an entire body, and the happy place of his residence is revealed by certain pretended tokens, which the Tartarian princes themselves are
obliged to learn of the other Lamas ; who only know the child appointed by the preceding Grand Lamna to succeed him.
To keep up this opinion of his immortality, the Lamas after his death, seek, throughout the whole kingdom, for another person, as like unto him, in all respects, as may be, to supply his place; and thus he has undergone a new resurrection, or incarnation, seven times since his first appearance. Bernier relates the matter thus, as he had it from a Lama physician. When the Great Lama is old, and ready to die, he assembles his council, and declares to them, that now he was passing into the body of a little child, lately born ; that when this child, who was bred up with great care, was six or seven years of age, they (by way of trial) laid before him a parcel of household goods mixed with his own, which yet he could distinguish from the rest ; and this he said, was a manifest proof of the transmigration.
Grueber says, that this belief is propagated by the policy of their kings, and those who are in the secret of this cheat, in conjunction with the Lama Konju. The Romish missionaries rail heavily at this imposture calling it wicked and diabolical, as it, besides transubstantiation, which is worse, they had no other impostures in their own religion. But it is done, doubtless, out of envy ; because they have none which redounds so much to the honour and wealth of themselves.
Grueber says, the Great Lama sitteth in a remote apartment of his palace, adorned with gold and silver and illumi. nated with lamps, in a lofty place like a couch, covered with costly tapestry. In approaching him, his votaries fall prostrate with their heads to the ground, and kiss him with incre. dible veneration. Thus, adds the Jesuit, bath the devil, through his innate malignity, transferred to the worship of this people that veneration which is due only to the pope of Rome, Christ's vicar, in the same manner as he hath done all the other mysteries of the Christian religion.
The same author farther observes, that he always appears with his face covered ; letting none see it but those who are in the secret : that he acts his part extremely well, while the Lamas, or priests, who are perpetually about him, attend him with great assiduity, and expound the oracles that are taken from his mouth. Here it must be noted, that Grueber learns all he writes concerning the Great Lama from the citizens of Barantola ; for the missionaries could not see him, no Chris. tian being admitted into his presence, nor, indeed, any body of a different religion, without adoring the pretended deity ; however, they took an exact copy of his picture, as it was
exposed to view in the entrance of the palace ; to which they paid the same veneration as to himself in person.
Bentinck tells us, that at the foot of the bigh mountain near Putala, whereon the Dalay Lama resides, about twenty thousand Lamas dwell in several circles round it, according as the rank and dignities which they possess, render them more worthy to approach the person of their sovereign pontiff.
According to the account transmitted by Regis, the Grand Lama sits cross-legged on a kind of altar, with a large and magnificent cushion under him ; where he receives the compliments, or rather adorations, not only of his own subjects, but of prodigious multitudes of strangers ; who make long journies to offer him their homage, and obtain his blessing. Some even travel there from India, who never fail to enlarge before him upon their own merit, and magnify the sufferings they have undergone in their painful pilgrimage. But next to the people of Thibet, the Tartars are most devoted to the Grand Lama, some of whom resort to Lasa from the most distant corners. When the Eluths-Dsongari invaded Thibet, the sister of Ayuki, Khan of the Eluths-Torgauti, with her son, was at Lassa upon the like errand.
Princes are no more excused from this servile adoration than the meanest of their subjects ; nor do they meet with more respect from the Grand Lama, who never moves from his cushion, nor any other way returns the salute. He only lays his band upon the head of the worshippers, who then think all their sins pardoned. The Lamas who drew the map observed, that in receiving the Emperor's ambassador, he did not kneel like the Tartar princes ; but when he inquired after Kang-ki's health, resting upon one hand, he only made a small motion, as if he intended to rise from his seat. He was at that same time dressed in a red habit of woollen frize, such as the common Lamas wear, with a yellow hat, gilt..
Grueber assures us that the grandees of the kingdon are very eager to procure the excrements of this divinity, which they usually wear about their necks as relics. In another place, he says that the Lamas make a great advantage by the large presents they receive for helping the grandees to some of his excrements, or urine ; for by wearing the first about their necks, and mixing the latter with their victuals, they imagine themselves to be secure against all bodily infirmities. In confirmation of this, Gerbillon informs us, that the Mongols wear his excrements pulverized in little bags about their necks, as precious reliques, capable of preserving them from all misfortunes, and curing them of all sorts of distempers. When this Jesuit was on his second journey into Westero Tartary, a deputy from one of the principal Lamas, offered the Emperor's uncle a certain powder, contained in a little packet of very white paper, neatly wrapped up in a scarf of very white taffety ; but that prince told him, that as it was not the custom of the Manchews to make use of such tbipgs. he durst not receive it. The author took this powder to be either some of the Great Lama's excrements, or the ashes of something that had been used by him.
Trophies are erected on the tops of the mountains in honour of the Great Lama, for the preservation of men and cattle. All the Kings, who profess the religion of the Great Lama, before they are inaugurated, send ambassadors with very rich presents, to crave his benediction, as a means to render their reigns happy.
Formerly, the Dalay Lama, was merely a spiritual prince; but he is now become a temporal one also, with a large patrimony; the Chian of the Eluths, who conquered it in the 17th century, having made him a present of it, which is a much larger patrimony than that called St. Peter's, usurped by the Popes. Yet for all this, Bentink informs us, that he does not meddle, in any sort; with the temporality of his dominions, or suffer any of his Lamas to meddle with it ; but puts all secular matters under the government of two Khans of the Kalmucks, who are to furnish him with all things necessary for the maintenance of his family. When he has any political affairs to transact, it is the Deva (or Tipa, a sort of plenipotentiary,) who acts under his orders.
The religion of the Great Lama seems to be more extended than any other in the world ; for besides Thibet, which is its native seat, it has spread itself over all the Indies, China, and Western Tartary, from one end to the other. It is true, the provinces of the Indies and China, bave many ages ago thrown off his jurisdiction, and set up chief priests of their own, who have modelled the religion of their respective countries, according to their different fancies, or interest. But Thibet, and the greater part of Tartary, are still subject to him in spirituals. The better to govern this vast dominion he constitutes deputies, or vicars, to officiate in his stead. These are called Hutuktus, or Khutuktus; which, according to Regis, are chosen from among the disciples of the Great Labia. It is esteemed a real happiness to be admitted into the number of these last, which never exceeds two hundred ; and, they on whom the honour of Hutuktu is conferred, are considered as so many lesser Fos; they are neither confined