Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/351

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281
URGA, THE SACRED CITY

and probably the tie is as enduring as the "black man's" marriage. In Southwest Mongolia I was told a lama marries just like other people, while in some northern districts he has no right to his wife, and if a "black man" takes her away he has no redress. The Mongol who attended me on the first stages from Kalgan was a lama with wife, children, and home, faithful and hard-working, at least for a Mongol, and a useful member of society.

The question one naturally asks is, Why do these men become lamas; do they do it willingly or under compulsion? Apparently the matter is decided for them by their parents, who send them when boys to some lamassery where they are duly and meagrely trained; but they do not seem to chafe at their condition when they grow up, for the advantages are very real. The parents save in not having to buy wives for their sons, while the lama himself is always sure of support if he goes back to his lamassery, and he is free from all demands by the Government for military service.

It is said that the Chinese Government has encouraged Lamaism with the idea of keeping down the population; in this way it would avert the danger of Mongol invasion. But Lamaism has already done that in another way, by killing the vigour and warlike temper of the people. The memory of Genghis Khan still lives in the land where he was born; tra-