Imágenes de página
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Siberian Priest invoking his Deities.

p. 1606

his religious capacity ; and he actually entertains, at a great expense in the palace of Pekin, an inferior Lama, deputed as his nuncio from Thibet. The Grand Lama, it has been said, is never to be seen but in a secret place of his palace, amidst a great number of lamps, sitting cross-legged on a cushion, and decked in every part with gold and precious stones ; where at a distance the people prostrate themselves before him, it. not being lawful for any so much as to kiss his feet. He returns not the least sign of respect, nor ever speaks, even to the greatest princes ; but only lays his hand upon their heads, and they are fully persuaded they receive from thence a full forgiveness of all their sins.

The Sunniasses, or Indian pilgrims, often visit Thibet as a holy place; and the Lama always entertains a body of two or three hundred in his pay. Besides his religious influence and authority, the Grand Lama is possessed of unlimited power throughout his dominions, which are very extensive. The inferior Lamas, who form the most numerous, as well as the most powerful body in the state, have the priesthood entirely in their hands ; and, besides, fill many monastic orders, which are beld in great veneration among them. The whole country, like Italy, abounds with priests; and they entirely subsist on the great number of rich presents which are sent them from the utmost extent of Tartary, from the empire of the Great Mogul, and from almost all parts of the Indies.

The opinion of those who are reputed the most orthodox among the Thibetians is, that when the Grand Lama seems to die, either of age or infirmity, his soul, in fact, only quits a crazy habitation, to look for another, younger or better; and it is discovered in the body of some child by certain tokens, known only to the Lamas or Priests, in which order he always appears.

According to the doctrine of this metemsychosis, the soul is always in action, and never at rest : for no sooner does she leave her old habitation, than she enters a new one. The Dalay being a divine person, can find no better lodging than the body of his successor; or the Fo, residing in the Dalay Lama, which passes to his successor ; and this being a god, to whom all things are known, the Dalay Lama is therefore acquainted with every thing which happened during his residence in his former body.

This religion is said to bave been of three thousand years standing; and neither time, nor the influence of men, bas had the power of shaking the authority of the Grand Lama..


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. Foras 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 Lamas 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, obedience, 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. In 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

« AnteriorContinuar »