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Celebrate Serfs Day with E. Candler [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2009-3-28 19:46:16 |Display all floors
Edmund Candler was a Daily Mail Journalist who accompanied Colonel Younghusband in his conquest of Tibet in 1903-5.

He wrote a daily account of the events as they unfolded as they proceeded on to Lhasa.  His accounts I believe can be regarded as about as true as any with the advantage of being recorded as it unfolded.   These records ended up in a book-form in 1905, 'The Unveiling of Lhasa'.

With regard to his political beliefs, he was regarded as a liberal person.

Wiki:
In comparison with most of the British population in India at the time Candler held some startlingly liberal and sympathetic views of Indian nationalism. Although he does regard the political resistance of his Bengali students with a very serious eye, he concedes in his autobiography that put in their position he too would seek a means of overthrowing imperial rule. However the lack of trust in those whom he wished to educate ultimately led him to despair of ever enjoying intimate friendship with Indians and to abandon hope in the British Empire as a civilizing project.

I thought I would post a couple of excerpts from his book to mark Serf Day in Tbet.

So, when we reached Lhasa the other day, and heard that the thirteenth incarnation had fled, no one was surprised. Yet the wonder remains. A great Prince, a god to thousands of men, has been removed from his palace and capital, no one knows whither or when.

A ruler has disappeared who travels with every appendage of state, inspiring awe in his prostrate servants, whose movements, one would think, were watched and talked about more than any Sovereign's on earth. Yet fear, or loyalty, or ignorance keeps every subject tongue-tied. We have spies and informers everywhere, and there are men in Lhasa who would do much to please the new conquerors of Tibet. There are also witless men, who have eyes and ears, but, it seems, no tongues.

But so far neither avarice nor witlessness has betrayed anything. For all we know, the Dalai Lama may be' still in his palace in some hidden chamber in the rock, or maybe he has never left his customary apartments, and still performs his daily offices in the Potala, confident that there at least his sanctity is inviolable by unbelievers.

The British Tommy in the meanwhile parades the streets as indifferently as if they were the New Cut or Lambeth Palace Road. He looks up at the Potala, and says : ' The old bloke's done a bunk. Wish we'd got 'im ; we might get 'ome then.'

We had been in Lhasa nearly three weeks before we could discover where the Dalai Lama had fled.



My comment:

It would seem that this was standard practice for DLs of the past and the future.

:)

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Post time 2009-3-28 20:52:43 |Display all floors

Excerpt Two

The Unveiling of Lhasa

When we paraded the city yesterday, we made a complete circuit of the Potala. There was no one, not even the humblest follower, so unimaginative that he did not look up from time to time at the frowning cliff and thousand sightless windows that concealed the unknown. Those hidden corridors and passages have been for centuries, and are, perhaps, at this very moment, the scenes of unnatural piety and crime.

Within the precincts of Lhasa the taking of life in any form is sacrilege. Buddha's first law was, ' Thou shalt not kill ' ; and life is held so sacred by his devout followers that they are careful not to kill the smallest insect. Yet this palace, where dwells the divine incarnation of the Bodhisat, the head of the Buddhist Church, must have witnessed more murders and instigations to crime than the most blood-stained castle of medieval Europe.

Since the assumption of temporal power by the fifth Grand Lama in the middle of the seventeenth century, the whole history of the Tibetan hierarchy has been a record of bloodshed and intrigue. The fifth Grand Lama, the first to receive the title of Dalai, was a most unscrupulous ruler, who secured the temporal power by inciting the Mongols to invade Tibet, and received as his reward the kingship. He then established his claim to the godhead by tampering with Buddhist history and writ. The sixth incarnation was executed by the Chinese on account of his profligacy. The seventh was deposed by the Chinese as privy to the murder of the regent. After the death of the eighth, of whom I can learn nothing, it would seem that the tables were turned : the regents systematically murdered their charge, and the crime of the seventh Dalai Lama was visited upon four successive incarnations. The ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth all died prematurely, assassinated, it is believed, by their regents.

There are no legends of malmsey-butts, secret smotherings, and hired assassins. The children disappeared ; they were absorbed into the Universal Essence ; they were literally too good to live. Their regents and protectors, monks only less sacred than themselves, provided that the spirit in its yearning for the next state should not be long detained in its mortal husk. No questions were asked. How could the devout trace the comings and goings of the divine Avalokita, the Lord of Mercy and Judgment, who ordains into what heaven or hell, demon, god, hero, mollusc, or ape, their spirits must enter, according

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No Post?

The third excerpt has not made it.

CD is the post modded?

Please inform.

It only speaks of the opulence of the Potala in comparison to the filth outside?

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Post time 2009-3-29 13:50:31 |Display all floors

What is the defination of serf?

Is that an equivalance of slaves living in north Amerca 200 years ago? What is the percentage of serfs among the local population? What was their living conditions and social statue in mid-20th century? Where were these former serf owners now? Is this serf phenomenon covered by main stream western media?

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Post time 2009-3-29 14:03:00 |Display all floors

nonhanchnese

If the country you are enquiring about is Tbet.

Try this:

http://chinatibet.people.com.cn/96056/6578327.html

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Post time 2009-3-29 14:05:34 |Display all floors

Re-Post

I will post Excerpt Three again.

If it does not appear then I will have to drop the thread.

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Excerpt Three

The Unveiling of Lhasa

The only building in Lhasa that is at all imposing is the Potala. It would be misleading to say that the palace dominated the city, as a comparison would be implied — a picture conveyed of one building standing out signally among others. This is not the case. The Potala is superbly detached. It is not a palace on a hill, but a hill that is also a palace. Its massive walls, its terraces and bastions stretch upwards from the plain to the crest, as if the great bluff rock were merely a foundation-stone planted there at the divinity's nod. The divinity dwells in the palace, and underneath, at the distance of a furlong or two, humanity is huddled abjectly in squalid smut-begrimed houses. The proportion is that which exists between God and man. If one approached within a league of Lhasa, saw the glittering domes of the Potala, and turned back without entering the precincts, one might still imagine it an enchanted city, shining with turquoise and gold. But having entered, the illusion is lost. One might think devout Buddhists had excluded strangers in order to preserve the myth of the city's beauty and mystery and wealth, or that the place was consciously neglected and de- faced so as to offer no allurements to heretics, just as the repulsive women one meets in the streets smear themselves over with grease and cutch to make themselves even more hideous than Nature ordained.

The place has not changed since Manning visited it ninety years ago, and wrote : — ' There is nothing striking, nothing pleasing, in its appearance. The habitations are begrimed with smut and dirt. The avenues are full of dogs, some growling and gnawing bits of hide that lie about in profusion, and emit a charnel - house smell others jumping and looking livid ; others ulcerated ; others starved and dying, and pecked at by ravens ; some dead and preyed upon. In short, everything seems mean and gloomy, and excites the idea of something unreal.' That is the Lhasa of to-day. Probably it was the same centuries ago.

Above all this squalor the Potala towers superbly. Its golden roofs, shining in the sun like tongues
of fire, are a landmark for miles, and must inspire awe and veneration in the hearts of pilgrims coming from the desert parts of Tibet, Kashmir, and Mongolia to visit the sacred city that Buddha has blessed.

The secret of romance is remoteness, whether in time or space. If we could be thrown back to the days of Agincourt we should be enchanted at first, but after a week should vote everything common- place and dull. Falstaff, the beery lout, would be an impossible companion, and Prince Hal a tire- some young cub who wanted a good dressing-down. In travel, too, as one approaches the goal, and the country becomes gradually familiar, the husk of romance falls off. Childe Roland must have been sadly disappointed in the Dark Tower ; filth and familiarity very soon destroyed the romance of Lhasa.

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