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The Conception of “Sansara” of Cosmos Space

The invocation of Baamyn Dulam, a shamaness of Chonos origin, who was born in 1909 in Javzandamba Hutagt’s Darhad Shavi |Disciples|, said:

Your Majesty, by spreading incense to the Cosmos summit, 

By sprinkling pure milk-wine as a banquet for you,

By making smoke of Hangay taiga’s juniper to Blue Sky Space,

By raising up Higher Altai’s incenses to the Asar Heaven,

We are reaching Lofty Heaven,

Distributing all these to Golden Lus too…

     In 1969, when Ms.Dulam told me this invocation of hers in Ulaanbaatar and explained herself, “Sansar” or Cosmos is not the mountain of the same name in Sumber soum of Dornod aimag, but the immeasurable space, where Yuri Gagarin of Soviet Union went on his World first flight to the cosmos”.

     It is clear from this invocation that Shamans at the beginning of the twentieth century believed that the Dark world was a part of the cosmos, perhaps the upper and lower levels of the sky respectively. When I asked a shamaness in 1995 where Ongons come from, she answered me without any hesitation, “From Sansar |Cosmos|”.

     The shamans had acquired this belief from their own oral tradition and their instincts, but not from teachers or books. Unfortunately, seventy years of totalitarian rule, and its accompanying atheism, has destroyed the traditional powers of gifted and capable shamans. The customary knowledge of “The Darkness” and “Space” reaches Mongolian Shamans back to ancient times and was perpetuated by their stories and legends. In 1995, Shamaness Banzragchiin Bayar a White Hullar from Tsagaan Nuur, Hovsgol told me the following folk-tale that I now provide below. 

     Once upon a time, was Gandan lived with his brother, who was a good archer, and his beautiful elder sister Dersen Gualii in a ger somewhere on the upper part banks of the Tuul River. They had a herd of horses and cattle including a black stallion camel that foresaw any evil deed three years in advance, and two dogs Hasar and Basar. Gandan was responsible for herding five thousand horses with his twelve-ald-long |-19m| lasso and his great white spotted stallion. The brothers hunted, played and they all lived happily for several years. However, the sister was not married and the brothers did not agree with their sister’s talk of marriage. Therefore, once, when her two younger brothers went away in hunting for three years, she wrote a letter saying that she was a young woman with a lot of livestock who wished to be married. Then she threw the letter into the river.

     A servant of a greedy khan with several queens found her letter and handed it to his master. The khan wished to marry her for her wealth, so he sent his soldiers to kill her brothers and fetch the women with her cattle. The Khan’s soldiers found the woman and they agreed when her brothers would be killed and the marriage takes place.  Thus, she wrote a letter to her brothers telling them to return at once, because she was missing them, and sent it by a  lark-mail. Her brothers received the letter and returned within a week. Their sister said that she had missed them, and invited them into the ger. At the feast that she had prepared, Gandan’s elder brother collapsed in a drunken stupor. 

     Meanwhile, the Black stallion camel the two dogs warned of the khan’s plan by bellowing and barking outside the ger. Soon afterward, soldiers attacked the camp, killed the elder brother and threw his body into a hole of eighty alds deep. The younger brother, having moved the spirit of his brother into a stone, succeeded in escaping to the taiga. However, his sister told the soldiers what had happened, and they, therefore, took every stone in the area, including whetstones of the Biluut and red ochre of the Zost passes with them. In this way, the soul of his brother was taken from its home, yet the magic camel and the Asar Basar dogs remained.   

     The khan made Dersen Guanlii his chief queen and expelled the previous favorite and her retainers from the palace. However, these two women took with them a bag of salt-marsh and a bag of animal bones, the leftovers from meals, and went away to the mouth of Tuul River, where Dersen Gualii’s two dogs and the stallion camel remained. On arrival, they brought the younger brother back to life by giving him magical medicine and restored to health the camel and dogs by feeding them with the salt-marsh and bones respectively. All five of them began to live together. later, the archer went to the top of Astrat Sumber |the highest with junipers|, where his younger brother had sought refuge. 

     However, his brother was not alone there, for he had found five friends, each of whom had particular magical talents. There was an excellent thief |”Hulgaich” in Mongolian|, who could steal a bird’s feather without it noticing. Likewise, another has amazing hearing |Chagnaagch|. the third could swallow the waters of an entire ocean |Balgaagch| and the fourth was the fastest runner |Guigeegch|. And the last and most powerful was a strong man |Orgooch|, who could luft entire mountains. The six lived together in harmony on Artsat Sumber.

     The archer boy found his own younger, wiser brother with his five friends and they hatched together a plan to regain their possessions, which their sister’s betrayal and the Khan’s greed had taken from them. Thereupon, they went to the khan’s camp and through their combined efforts succeeded in defeating the Khan’s soldiers. in this way, they killed the khan and their traitorous sister and took back their property. 

     Much later, the two brothers and their five friends were raised up to Heaven and became the seven stars of the “Seven Burhans/Gods” |The Great Bear or Plough|. The greedy Khan’s former queen and her maid, together with the two dogs and black camel stallion became also the stars of the “Five men” |Cassiopeia| and the white stallion the “Herdsman’s Star” which is located close to the “Seven Bruhans”.

     This is only an example of a number of Mongolian folktales and legends, which say that the spirits of the honored, sincere, and faithful people are set up in Heaven as stars or celestial bodies. For example, the Moon is very fond of catching women who leave their gers/ home at night, i.e. to fetch water. There is even a legend that in the very center of the Moon is the image of a girl with her two water pots; it said that she went out to a river to take water in the dark and was caught by the Moon. Shamaness B.Bayar says, “Natural electrical currents such as Spirits or Ongons are strongest in the dark of the night. Thus, in that time, when the first evening stars appear in the Heavens, the Ongons begin to come out and the shamans fall into a trance”.

     In this regard, there are several Shaman invocations, including one from G.Tseveg |1877-1950|, a relative of the above-mentioned shamaness B.Bayar. For example, Jaltsavyn Chimed of Manjrag origin informed me of the following calling invoked by Tsedentseveenii Bat-Ochir Zayran |1881-1938|: 

…My own origin of a Large Ambler,

My abundant water of Rich Sharga,

My higher passes of Urtrag and Jar Mountains, 

My red ancient Horoo Steppe,

My Seven Stars of Great Bear in the Space, 

My Polar Star on the top, 

My Great Pass of Oliin Halzan Davaa,

My oldest Shaman Tree, 

My Five Men-Stars of Cassiopeia,

My famous Ambler-Fawn Horse…

     As another example, when a small baby of Mr.Lutgaa of Sharnuud origin fell ill in 1966, and he visited a local baby’s future and decided to protect his life. Thus, she gave Lutgaa her mouth-organ with some junipers saying, “When the first star appears in the sky tonight, turn this mouth-organ three times on the juniper incense smoke and put it into your baby’s cradle”. He did so and a day later the shamaness visited them, prayed for the baby, protected him with her own amulet and he made a full recovery. Shamaness Dariimaa was able to cure cattle diseases, such as staggers, in the evening by killing a sick animal and giving its flesh to the dogs. Thus, shaman believers conducted all their rituals and shamanizing in accordance with the movements of the celestial bodies. According to Javyn Gombohuu Zayran, who was seventy-eight years old in 1991 and Gombyn Shamjiin Zayran, fifty-seven years old in 1996, the door of a Zoot family’s ger has to be directed towards the stars of the  “Three Hinds”. Suchlike, the Mongolian shamans have revered space, darkness, and the stars since ancient times. 

     Therefore, modern researchers need to consider the relationship between Shamanism and the whole universe. 

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