Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/546

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532
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

custom does not lead to so many difficulties as it might be supposed it would, and the chief troubles arising out of it concern the fatherhood of the children. The housewife occupies rather a commanding than a subordinate position.

Three ways of burying the dead prevail. The poor sink their dead in one of the mountain-streams; those of a better class hang the bodies upon a tree, where they are consumed by birds, and the bones are afterward thrown into the river; the rich cut the bodies up into small pieces, pound the bones and mix them with jamba, and then carry the remains to the mountains, where they are left for the birds. These are old customs, and have no connection with religion.

Buddhism was introduced in the seventh century, and soon became the national religion. The present line of Dalai Lamas is in succession to the reformer Tsong-Kaba, who flourished in the fourteenth century, and denounced the corruptions into which the religion had fallen. The branch of the church which it represents is called the yellow sect, in distinction from the red sect of followers of the old dynasty, which prevails in the principalities of the southern Himalaya range. A dynasty of lamas, the Teshu lamas, founded by another reformer in the fifteenth century, resides at Teshulumbo, near Shigatze, and is on the best of terms with the Dalai Lamas. The lamas are believed only to change form when they die, their identity passing to some child. So, on the demise of the Dalai Lama, the new lama is sought out in ways that are known to the priests, and is always found in some obscure family, thus leaving people of any influence always free from governmental care and influence. He is carefully brought up, so as to be always as a child, and under the entire control of the priests, who receive their reward in the power they exercise, and in the rich gifts that are brought by the pilgrims who come from all Buddhist countries to seek the Dalai Lama's blessing. Besides the two orthodox chiefs, there exist in Thibet and Mongolia one hundred and three Kutuktus, or heads of cloisters, to whom an immortality similar to that of the Grand Lamas is ascribed.

The priests, by virtue of their ownership of all the land in the country, exercise a despotic power over the people, who can hold only as their tenants, and keep them under complete spiritual control. They are thus enabled to keep the country isolated, and to defy the Chinese Government, while they are willing and even anxious to enjoy its protection.