Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mongolia | Arkhangai | Zaya Pandita | Clear Mirror

Just finished the final pre-press work on yet another book: this one the famous Clear Mirror by the Khalkh Zaya Pandita (1642–1715). Once again G. Nyam-Ochir was the instigator of this project. The transliteration of the Clear Mirror, which has never appeared before in Cyrillic Mongolian, was done by his colleague P. Nyam-Ochir (no relation). This is quite a sizable work. This book, which contains only the first five parts of the eleven-part Clear Mirror, runs to over 600 pages. 
G. Nyam-Ochir
Here is the cover:
For those of you who read Mongolian here is the First 100 Pages Of The Clear Mirror.

Nyam-Ochir asked me to write a short Foreword to the Clear Mirror (in English). I had already written about Zayain Khüree, the home monastery of the Zaya Pandita, for Guide To Locales Connected with the Life of Zanabazar, The First Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia, so I had some information. Just as I was about to prepare the Foreword, however, I happened to met up with Dr. Krizstina Teleki of the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. She and her colleague Zsuzsa Majer (Ph.D.) are preparing a book about Zayain Khüree and they were able to provide  a lot more information about the monastery and the Zaya Pandita. So they deserve a lot of credit for the Foreword. 

Here is the Foreword:

I first visited Zayain Khüree in 1999 when I was doing research for my book Guidebook to Locales Connected with the Life of Zanabazar, First Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia.” The monastery, located in Arkhangai Aimag, on the northern edge of the town of Tsetserleg, 257 miles west of Ulaanbaatar, at one point had about twenty-five temples. All but five had been destroyed and three of the remaining buildings had been turned into a museum. I knew that Luvsanperenlei (1642-1715), the Zaya Pandita, was a disciple of Zanabazar’s but other than that I knew ver y little about him. (Do not confuse the Khalkh Zaya Pandita, Luvsanperenlei, with another well-known figure, the Oirat Zaya Pandita Namkhaijamtso [1599–1662].) By this time at least one of the monaster y’s temples had been reactivated, and there were some thirty-five monks in attendance. From them I was able to get a rough outline of the histor y of Zayain Khüree and the life of the Khalkh Zaya Pandita, author of the Clear Mirror. Since then researchers have unearthed a mass of valuable historical material relating to these topics. Still, much of the information about Zayain Khüree and the Zaya Pandita is contradictory, confusing, and riddled with lacunae. The following synopsis of the available information is mine alone and should be viewed with caution.

Zayain Khüree lies directly to the south of a huge granite massif known as Erdene (Precious) Bulgan Uul, which rises to a height of 7903 feet, over 2200 feet higher than the valley of the nearby Tamir River. According to local tradition the massif has nine different parts, or peaks, each named after one of the Nine Precious Stones and Metals; gold, silver, bronze, pearl, coral, turquoise, brass, copper, and lapis lazuli. The southernmost part of the massif is known as Altan (gold) Bulgan Uul.

According to local legend, rich local herdsman named Dugar constructed a temple for a lama named Sandui at the base of Altan Bulgan Uul in 1631, four years before the birth of Zanabazar. Sandui had studied in the monasteries of Tibet and was renowned for his intelligence and master y of various magical practices. Some written sources indicate, however, that the temple was founded by Danzan Toin, the second son of a local nobleman, Tümenkhen Sain Noyon, and named Sandui Dugan. The dugan, or temple, may have been named after a lama named Sandui, but the written record is unclear on this point. In either case, this temple was the foundation of what would eventually become Zayain Khüree, the home monaster y of Luvsanperenlei, the Zaya Pandita.

Luvsanperenlei was born in 1642, the Water Male Horse Year of the 11th Rabjung according to the Tibetan Calendar, at a place called Mukhar Khujirt in what is now Arkhangai Aimag. According to local legend, he was the son of an extremely poor herdsman. Some written accounts give the name of his parents as Suntar (or Suntor) and Orkhidai and note that he was the second of five children. Other historical accounts, however, maintain that he was the son of Tsesjav Khöndlön, himself the son of the nobleman Tümenkhen Sain Noyon mentioned above. If this is the case he would have been, according to the written sources, a member of the so-called Altan Urag (Golden Clan) of Chinggis Khan himself. 

Whatever his origins, it was soon apparent that he was an extremely gifted child. According to legend, local lamas recognised him at the age of three as a khuvilgaan, or reincarnation, although it would be many years before he would be recognized as the Zaya Pandita. According to written sources, at the age of three he also received his preliminar y ordinations from a lama known as Lodoijamts Khutagt who had studied in Tibet. By the age of five Luvsanperenlei was learning to read and write Tibetan and Mongolian and was also tr ying his hand at poetr y, painting, and sculpture.

Local informants claim that Luvsanperenlei initially went to Tibet with Zanabazar on the latter’s first trip there in 1649. If so, he would have been only seven or eight at the time. This trip seems unlikely, and may have been later accreted to his legend by followers who wanted to burnish his reputation. Historical sources indicate that he first met Zanabazar in 1653 at Erdene Zuu Monastery, where the Bogd Gegeen was hosting a convocation of Mongolian nobility. At this time Zanabazar accepted the eleven-year old boy as his student.

In 1660, when he was eighteen years old, Luvsanperenlei finally did go to Tibet, where he would stay for the next nineteen years. He received his getsel (novice) ordination from the 5th Dalai Lama in Lhasa and later traveled to Tashilhunpo Monaster y in Shigatse where he met with the 4th Panchen Lama. In 1778 the Dalai Lama recognized him as an incarnation of the Zaya Pandita and instructed him to return to Mongolia and spread Buddhism in the North. He returned home in 1779.

According to tradition, the first Zaya Pandita (Sanskrit jaya = “victory”; pandita = “great scholar”) was a disciple of the Sakyamuni Buddha (c. 560-480 b.c.). Four more incarnations appeared in India and then three in Tibet. Some historical sources state that the first Zaya Pandita to appear in Mongolia was Sain Noyon Khöndlön Tsökhür (1558-1640). He was the son of Onokh Üizen Noyon, who claimed to be a 29th generation descendant of Chinggis Khan. Onokh Üizen Noyon was an important personage who oversaw religious affairs in the seven Khalkh banners. He made a pilgrimage to Tibet and met with both the Third Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. His son would have been well-placed to assume the role of Zaya Pandita in Mongolia. However, Sain Noyon Khöndlön Tsökhür is not accepted as the First Zaya Pandita by ever yone. Perhaps the fact that he was not a monk disqualified him in the eyes of some. Other accounts of the lineage leave him out altogether and name Luvsanperenlei as the ninth Zaya Pandita in the lineage and the first Zaya Pandita in Mongolia.

Upon his return to Mongolia Luvsanperenlei, now the Zaya Pandita, was enthroned as the head of Zayain Khüree, which by that time had five temples and 200 monks in attendance. He oversaw the construction of more temples and introduced many of the practices he had learned at Tashilhunpo Monaster y in Tibet. Then in 1688 the Oirat chieftain Galdan Bolshigt invaded Khalkh Mongolia. The First Bogd Gegeen Zanabazar, other important lamas, and much of the Khalkh nobility along with many of their followers were forced to flee to Inner Mongolia. The record is unclear, but apparently the Zaya Pandita left his monaster y and accompanied this mass migration. We do know that the Zaya Pandita was with Zanabazar at Doloonnuur in Inner Mongolia in 1691, when the Bogd Gegeen met with the Qing emperor Kangxi, and that he took part in the discussions which led to the Khalkh Mongols accepting the suzerainty of the Qing Dynasty. Zanabazar eventually moved to Beijing, where he waited on the Qing Emperor Kangxi. The Zaya Pandita’s movements at this time are uncertain, but apparently he stayed at monasteries in Doloonnuur for the next several years.

After the defeat of the Oirat Mongols in 1696 the Khalkh Mongols who had fled to Inner Mongolia returned to their native land. According to one account the Zaya Pandita was back at Zayain Khüree by 1696. Soon after his arrival he started construction of the Güden Süm, which would become his personal residence. (Local monks insist that the Güden Süm was built in the early 1680s. If this is the case, the temple may be just been enlarged or remodeled in 1696). In 1699 the Zaya Pandita traveled to Khökhkhot (Hohhot) in Inner Mongolia and founded a temple known as Buyaniig Iltgegch. He soon returned and resumed his role as leader of Zayain Khüree, a position he held until his death in 1715. His mummified remains, sitting in the Lotus position, were entombed in a stupa which can still be seen in the Güden Süm.

Zaya Pandita was a prolific writer. At the age of seventeen he composed a book called Bogdiin Zalbiral (Prayer of the Bogd) and he wrote another book while in Tibet. He went on to write numerous other works, including incense- offering texts and prayers to the local deities of several prominent mountains, including Otgontenger in present day Zavkhan Aimag. Perhaps his most famous work was the Clear Mirror. He reportedly began the Clear Mirror in 1682 while living at Zayain Khüree. He continued to work on it during his exile in Doloonnuur and didn’t finish it until 1702, after he had returned to Zayain Khüree. He originally wrote it in Tibetan, but during his lifetime his student Vro Rabjamba Gungaajamts, translated it into Mongolian and transcribed it using Mongolian vertical script. (See Sample Pages of the Original Manuscript) The current version of the Clear Mirror presented here in Cyrillic is a transliteration of the Mongolian vertical script version. The transliterator, P. Nyam-Ochir, has also examined the Tibetan language version. He notes that the Zaya Pandita worked with Vro Rabjamba Gungaajamts on the translation and that the Mongolian text contains addenda and elaborations to the Tibetan version which he believes were added by the Zaya Pandita himself. The Mongolian version is in eleven parts. The first five parts appear here. Hopefully the latter six parts will appear in due course. 

I first heard about Zaya Pandita’s Clear Mirror when I visited Zayain Khüree in 1999. One monk there said it was the Zaya Pandita’s greatest written work and one of the great works of Mongolian Buddhism. I asked if it had been translated into English. The monk laughed and said that not even a Cyrillic Mongolian version existed, making it difficult if not impossible for most Mongolians to read Zaya Pandita’s magnum opus. When G. Nyam-Ochir, a colleague of P. Nyam-Ochir’s, approached me about publishing the first five parts of the Clear Mirror in modern Mongolian I was only too happy to rectify this situation. I must thank G. Nyam-Ochir and P. Nyam-Ochir for giving me this opportunity to honor the memory of the First (or second) Khalkh Zaya Pandita by publishing his Clear Mirror
The front of the Monastery with Altan Bulgan Uul behind 
The front of the Monastery with Altan Bulgan Uul behind 
Güden Süm 
Another view of Güden Süm 
Another view of Güden Süm
Another view of Güden Süm with Altan Bulgan Uul behind
Winter Semchin Temple, directly in front of the Güden Süm
A portrait of the first Zaya Pandita painted in 1995 but said to be based on an original done in 1680
Clothes of the first Zaya Pandita
The stupa containing the sharil, or mummified body, of the first Zaya Pandita
Musical instruments from the time of the first Zaya Pandita
Togs Bayasgalant Buyaniig Delgeruulekh Khid, one of the temples now active
Unrestored ruins of temple
New stupa just to the west of the main part of the monastery
Galdan Zuu Temple of the hill behind the monastery
Wall painting in the Galdan Zuu Temple
Dalai Lama Spring
Just under half a mile to the northeast of the main museum and temple complex, along the bank of a small stream, is the so-called Dalai Lama Spring. Local monks insist rather adamantly that the Fourth Dalai Lama visited this small spring and lived for awhile in a ger set up next to it. The Fourth Dalai Lama, great-grandson of Altan Khan, was the only Mongolian Dalai Lama, but he was born and spent his early childhood in what is probably now Qinghai Province of China. After he was recognized as the Dalai Lama he went to Lhasa to study and apparently he spent the rest of his life in Tibet. He died in 1617, at the age of twenty-eight. There is no record of him coming to Mongolia, and since no temples existed at Tsetserleg before 1631 there would have been little reason for him to come to this area. The informants may have somehow confused the Fourth Dalai Lama with the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who did in fact spend some time in the Zayain Khüree area while in exile from Tibet following the 1904 Younghusband Invasion. In any case, this spring does seem to be connected with the Dalai Lamas, since the 14th and current Dalai Lama, when he visited Mongolia in 1995, came to Tsetserleg and made a point of visiting this spring, or so claim the local monks.
The sixth Zaya Pandita and wife
Arkhangai Aimag, and particularly its monasteries, were reportedly a hotbed of anti-revolutionary fervor, and Zayain Khüree soon attracted the attention of the communist government. The Sixth Zaya Pandita was murdered by the communists in 1932 and eventually most of monastery, with the exception of the Guden Temple, the Semchin Temples, and some other small temples were leveled. The Guden Temple at one point served as a fire station but it was later converted into a small museum.

The seventh Zaya Pandita currently lives in Ulaanbaatar.

4 comments:

  1. What is the level of familiarity with Mongolian vertical script? Do all classics have to be transliterated into Cyrillic to be understood by the general populace? Is Mongolian script something only specialists are familiar with? Do any general interest publications ever appear in it?

    I recall traveling in Inner Mongolia in 2005, that most signs appeared in vertical script too, from banks to KFC. I assumed Mongolian speakers in China could read them.

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  2. I do not have any actual figures but I would guess that the majority of people in Mongolia cannot read the old vertical script. Oddly enough, the ones that do tend to be younger, since there was a drive to teach the old vertical script in public schools back in the 1990s. I do not know the current status of this program. For example, my business partner, who is twenty-eight years old, reads old vertical script quite easily and can write it well. A few books are published in Mongolia using vertical script. I know a monk who wrote a lengthy biography of Tsongkhapa in old vertical script. As I understand it, the vertical script is still used in Inner Mongolia, which is part of China. It is displayed on Chinese money, along with other “minority” languages.

    See Sample Pages of the Original Clear MIrror Manuscript.

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  3. Hi there. i came across this page and was extremely intrigued. I am doing a Mst in Oxford at the moment and am working on a section of the clear mirror in tibetan and am planning on continuing to do extensive research on the rest of the 4 volumes and the collected works for a Dphil. I also have copies of the mongolian hand written translation which is not the same one as the ones in the ones shown in the photographs shown in the sample pages. Just out of interest, where are these copies kept? and do they claim to be the original translations or a copy? I hope to hear back from you soon. Best. Sangseraima

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  4. Hello! I suggest you contact G. Nyam-Ochir, who arranged the publication of the Clear Mirror. His email is gonchog@gmail.com. He should be able to supply details about the Mongolian version. He speaks English.

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