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The Three Pillars Concept of Mongolian Shamanism

Co-Existence of Many Religions in Mongolian Territory

The Shaman Religion

During the rule of the states that succeeded in the  Hunnu Dynasty, Shamanism became the main religion of the Haan states. Great sacrifices, similar to those of the Hunnu period, was carried out by Tanishihuay Haan of the Sumbe nation |131 to 181| on the Jaole-gol and by the Turegs in the fifth month of every year on the river of Tamir-gol. All of these invoked and worshipped the divine Haan.

     According to Surbadrah’s quotation from the Tureg scripture of the Jeu Dynasty, it is clear that religious activities distance of about 5000 gazar to the west of Otgontengger. As a result of detailed study, this mountain is most likely Baatar Hairhan, which is a branch of the Altai Ridge. 

     The tradition of worshipping the Great Haans or emperors was maintained during the era of the post-Hunnu states. For example, Engudey Haan of Great Nirun |429-444| was given the sacred title of “Heaven’s” and Amgay Haan |523-552| was titled “Heavenly Greeted”. The Shamans could bestow these sacred titles, such as of Tiv-Tengger shaman. This tradition maintained during the period of the Tureg state. For example, on the Monument of Tureg’s Bilggee Haan in Mongolia was written:

So says the divinely favored Tureg Haan Bileggee: The Human Beings were created in the space beneath the Blue sky and on the Black Earth. My grandfather Buman |well-known as Estimi| Haan ruled these children, established his nation and strengthened his state…

     As mentioned above, the words Heaven appears about ten times in scripts of this period. The three-man terms of the Shaman conception of the world are the “Blue Sky” above, the “Green Earth” or “Black Soil” below and “Humans” who live between the two. Moreover, the main beliefs of Mongolian Shamanism concerning the origin of the world are revealed. It explains that in the beginning, the Earth was just solid; after its destruction, a part of it rose up becoming Sky, and another part remained at the same place as Earth. Between them originated “Fire” and around it “Humans”.

According to the History of many states, Ch. Dalay noted that, like the Hunnu, in wartime, the Hiatans held Fortune-telling ceremonies carried out by Shamans. As they had since ancient times, Shamans carried out activities in wartime to encourage soldiers, to ensure their loyalty and make them believe in the certainty of victory. The military power of Chinggis Haan was also related to these activities.

     During the war with the Chinese “Black soldiers” in 1913, a “Choijin” |Yellow Shaman| ritual was arranged for the Mongolian soldiers by their commander., Hatanbaatar Magsarjav, to encourage them by calling out the divine spirit of Bogd Haan’s State. “As a result, we gained encouragement to defeat a more powerful enemy and won many victories”, said a veteran of that war and partisan of the 1921 Popular Revolution.

     The “Tripod” theory of Mongolian Shamanism provided the rationale for the division of the ancient state into administrative units. The Hunnu Dynasty’s territory was divided into Western, Eastern, and Central districts. Sumbe’s Tianshihuay Haan also divided his territory into three parts, including more than twenty Hooshuus in the Western and Eastern provinces, and about ten in the central provinces. This system of administrative division prevailed during the Nirun, Tureg, and Uighur dynasties.

     In the thirteenth century, Mongolian territory was divided into three tumens |30,000 households| the Western, Eastern, and Central tumens. However, after the destruction of the Great Yuan Empire, the Manchurian Government added the fourth province of Sain Noyon Han to Halha’s traditional three Hans.

     During the 1200s, the Shamans exercised great influence over the policy and activity of Mongolian governments. Chinggis Haan and other leaders of his tribe followed the counsel of Besud aimag’s Shamans in carrying the business of the state. In this regard, there is a legend among the Mongolian Shamans of the Sharnuud tribe that all of Chinggis Haan’s queens, sons, and daughters were shaman believers. Among them, the second son, Tsagaaday, and his own queen Tsanhulan were said to be Shamans. AS a result, some Shaman invocations mention, “The fire started by shaman Tsagaaday with his “Het” or flint-lighter, the family fire-place developed by Tsanhulan udgan’s blowing…” Moreover, according to Rashid-ad-Din, the youngest son of Chinggis Haan |Toluy| was a fortune-teller from his childhood.

     Gilliom de Roubruc |also known as William of Rubruck|, a messenger of Louis IX, king of France, recorded that:

There are a miltitude of Shamans, among whom a “Zayran” is the leader. He lives on the eastern side of the Great Haan’s main palace at a distance of a stone’s throw. The other Shamans are located in a special place to the North of the palace. The Shaman believers flock to the shamans from every side. Some of these Shamans, especially the top Zayran, have a general grasp of Astrology, and hey are able to foretell such phenomena as solar on lunar eclipses.During an eclipse they will not leave home, but make as much noise as possible by beating their drums and playing instruments. However after the eclipse, they become happier and celebrate. In general the Shamans predefine auspicious and inauspicious days for carrying out any business. In this way, the Tatars never muster soldiers or go to war unless the Shamans gove them permisso. So, while they wished to return to Magyar |Hungary|, their Shamans forbade them, so they were delayed. Moreover, everything brought into a palace or ger |yurt| should be passed through between two fires and every one present has to talk their share.

     In the thirteenth century, Shamanism was the dominant religion in Mongolia, and its main ideology is revealed in the Secret History of Mongolia, which was completed in about 1240. In addition to D.Mansan’s suggestion, it says, “the historical scripture of the Secret History is important work and a valuable source for the study of Mongolian Shamanism.” It must be stressed that it is the only substantial holy scripture of this religion. It is, therefore, the most important source of its history and philosophy.

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