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The Struggle Against Lamaism

the effort of Haans, kings, and priests to spread Lamaism in Outer Mongolia met fierce resistance from Shamanism. The Shamans of Outer Mongolia countered the spread of Lamaism in many ways, of which the following are but a selection: 

     Firstly,  they used their own natural gifts and miraculous talents against the Lamas, about which there are many tales and legends. In general, these stories end with the lama’s gaining victory in areas where Lamaism was entrenched, like one concerning a Shaman of Horchin tribe, or in outright victory for the shamans in areas Shamanism remained dominant. A dine example of this is the legend of Java Zayran, known as the “The Father of Buural Gol |river|” in Ulaan-Uul soum, Hovsgol aimag. He prevailed against Yagaan Tsorje Lama of Zoodon monasteries |now, the center of Renchinlhumbe soum|. 

     Secondly, the shamans openly cursed and damned Lamaist philosophies such as the Lama Gurvan Erdene. according to S.Badamhatan and H.Buyanbat’s research result, an example of this is the tale of Sunchig Udgan or the “Mother of Tsahir” |1831-1861|, and her ritual poetry, which was composed in 1864 during the Ongons installment in Tsahir. Many shamans used this invocation for several generations in the area around Lake Hovsgol. Gunsenggiin Surenjav Udgan |1908-1954| and her maternal uncle Tserengiin Baljin Zayran |1891-1968| were the last shamans to use it. 

     Thirdly, the lamas were manipulated by the shamans into committing the ten Lamaist black sins, such as slaughtering an animal, stealing or engaging in sexual intercourse. falling that, they damaged reputations by spreading rumors that the Lamas had committed these transgressions. In about 1870, Bud Udgan of Western Otog, Javzandamba Hutagt’s Darhad Shavi founded a special organization for young people, particularly women, to conduct the struggle against lamas of the Gandannamjiliin monastery, which had been established there in 1750. Common tactics employed sending women to the homes of Lamas to tempt them into sexual intercourse, to prevent lamas from attending their daily services, oblige the Lamas to kill an animal and to spread gossip about them. As a result of such subterfuges, the monastery was forced to change location five times and its development was stunted. 

     Fourthly, the Shamans conspired to reduce the number of Lamas in a monastery by spreading the teaching of “free will”, leading them to get married, become an involved business, go hunting and so on. Therefore, some of these became “sagad” or “harlag” |Laymen|. By 1900, there were hundreds of sagad or harlags in Outer Mongolia. For example, in Dorvod’s Togs Huleg dalay Han Aimag was harlag named Ayurzana Beis, who later became a well-known campaigner for the Mongolian state. There were also a number of sagads around Lake Hovsgol surrounding areas such as Jamba and Lodoy. 

     Fifthly, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the entrenchment of Lamaism, the Mongols gained the concept that storing its Holy Scriptures or paraphernalia in a “bad” or “dirty” place with inferior objects such as trousers, shoes, and socks seriously dishonored them. During the assembly of Halha became a disciple of Ongon Geggeen |Lofty Noble Rimpoch| Zanabazar and, according to his advice, invited seven Lamas twenty local officials, and founded a monastery in the Behiin Suga |ravine| or Mount Tsatsat. However, because of the Mongolian political situation and Shamans’ opposition, the aforementioned monastery was closed and for its restoration in 1750 Ondor Genggen gave Nogoon Dari Eh |Gegeen Tara|’s idol and Yum Sudar to king Geleg. Unfortunately, these gifts could not be found during the ceremony but were located seventy years late in a Shaman’s trunk with some shabby trousers and old boots. Furthermore, the Shamans insulted the Lamas’ “clean” and “sacred” things, by storing them with items of clothing worn below the belt, which are therefore considered unclean. 

     Sixthly, the shamans insulted the lamas by calling them “hairless”, “brainless”, “quarrel starters”, “mindless servants”, dirty and many other similar slurs. Finally, it should be noted that these activities were part of a general struggle by the Mongols against the imposition of Lamaism from above.

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