Yellow Shaman Conception of Dark and Intermediate world
The Shaman belief in the “dark” or “Intermediate” world has been long held by the Mongols. It is their answer to the question of where the spirit goes after death. Doctor G.Suhbaatar concluded that, since the Hunnu period, nobles were buried in double-walled tombs and that this custom was still practiced by Mongolian aristocrats in the thirteenth century. It was their custom to bury aristocrats in graves.
The Secret History describes Genghis Khan‘s death: “He died 1227, the year of Pig, after conquering the Tanguds… The Khan of all of us, the Lord of the whole state has departed his life as a hawk’s wing”. Therefore, the Mongols believed that the spirit of a dead man flies away like a bird.
Thus, they burned the clothes and treasured possessions of the deceased. This custom seems to be based on the principle that the possessions will be returned to their master, sent forth with the smoke from the fire.
Some modern Shamans of Central Asian nations such as Mongolia, Tuva, and Buriad still practice such burial customs. Confirmation of this was the burial ceremony carried out by Buriad Shamans in the Ulan-Ude on the edge of Lake Baikal in June 1996, during an international symposium on “Shamanism of Central Asia: Philosophy, History, and study of the Religion”. Besides, even today many Mongols will say of one who is recently deceased, “He died and soared up to Heaven“, which also indicates that the resting place of the spirits is considered to be Heaven.
However, in regard to Yellow shamans, there is not even a word in their invocations concerning the dark or intermediate world. Perhaps this means that under the influence of Buddhism, the significance of the resting place of spirits declined or became confused. Nevertheless, some studies suggest that its philosophy had exactly fitted in with this kind of conception. In this regard Ch.Dalai wrote, “There exists an unknown world between the Middle and Lower ones”. Similarly, H.Buyanbat considered, “This unknown space between Middle and Lower ones is the intermediate realm. A spirit of the dead, which does not yet have a human form for reincarnation realm is the place of the wandering spirits”.
However, Mr.Yonsog explained that “From the Shaman standpoint, the Spirit of a dead man goes away to the Underworld of the Upper, Middle and Lower worlds as a whole. So this Lower or Underworld is the Darkness”.
According to the works of these three researchers, Yellow Shamans believed that spirits of the departed ones went to an unknown place between the middle and lower spaces or the “Intermediate” realm or even to the ‘Underworld”.
It was intertwined with the Yellow Buddhist conception of “Hell”, which in its turn was a clear reflection of the considerable changes, which Mongolian Shamanism underwent as it divided into the Black and yellow sects.