The following chapters constitute the concluding Part V of Ferdinand Ossendowski’s Beasts, Men, and Gods.
THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM
“Stop!” whispered my old Mongol guide, as we were one day crossing the plain near Tzagan Luk. “Stop!”
He slipped from his camel which lay down without his bidding. The Mongol raised his hands in prayer before his face and began to repeat the sacred phrase: “Om! Mani padme Hung!” The other Mongols immediately stopped their camels and began to pray.
“What has happened?” I thought, as I gazed round over the tender green grass, up to the cloudless sky and out toward the dreamy soft rays of the evening sun.
The Mongols prayed for some time, whispered among themselves and, after tightening up the packs on the camels, moved on.
“Did you see,” asked the Mongol, “how our camels moved their ears in fear? How the herd of horses on the plain stood fixed in attention and how the herds of sheep and cattle lay crouched close to the ground? Did you notice that the birds did not fly, the marmots did not run and the dogs did not bark? The air trembled softly and bore from afar the music of a song which penetrated to the hearts of men, animals and birds alike. Earth and sky ceased breathing. The wind did not blow and the sun did not move. At such a moment the wolf that is stealing up on the sheep arrests his stealthy crawl; the frightened herd of antelopes suddenly checks its wild course; the knife of the shepherd cutting the sheep’s throat falls from his hand; the rapacious ermine ceases to stalk the unsuspecting salga. All living beings in fear are involuntarily thrown into prayer and waiting for their fate. So it was just now. Thus it has always been whenever the King of the World in his subterranean palace prays and searches out the destiny of all peoples on the earth.”
In this wise the old Mongol, a simple, coarse shepherd and hunter, spoke to me.
Mongolia with her nude and terrible mountains, her limitless plains, covered with the widely strewn bones of the forefathers, gave birth to Mystery. Her people, frightened by the stormy passions of Nature or lulled by her deathlike peace, feel her mystery. Her “Red” and “Yellow Lamas” preserve and poetize her mystery. The Pontiffs of Lhasa and Urga know and possess her mystery.
On my journey into Central Asia I came to know for the first time about “the Mystery of Mysteries,” which I can call by no other name. At the outset I did not pay much attention to it and did not attach to it such importance as I afterwards realized belonged to it, when I had analyzed and connoted many sporadic, hazy and often controversial bits of evidence.
The old people on the shore of the River Amyl related to me an ancient legend to the effect that a certain Mongolian tribe in their escape from the demands of Jenghiz Khan hid themselves in a subterranean country. Afterwards a Soyot from near the Lake of Nogan Kul showed me the smoking gate that serves as the entrance to the “Kingdom of Agharti.” Through this gate a hunter formerly entered into the Kingdom and, after his return, began to relate what he had seen there. The Lamas cut out his tongue in order to prevent him from telling about the Mystery of Mysteries. When he arrived at old age, he came back to the entrance of this cave and disappeared into the subterranean kingdom, the memory of which had ornamented and lightened his nomad heart.
I received more realistic information about this from Hutuktu Jelyb Djamsrap in Narabanchi Kure. He told me the story of the semi-realistic arrival of the powerful King of the World from the subterranean kingdom, of his appearance, of his miracles and of his prophecies; and only then did I begin to understand that in that legend, hypnosis or mass vision, whichever it may be, is hidden not only mystery but a realistic and powerful force capable of influencing the course of the political life of Asia. From that moment I began making some investigations.
The favorite Gelong Lama of Prince Chultun Beyli and the Prince himself gave me an account of the subterranean kingdom.
“Everything in the world,” said the Gelong, “is constantly in a state of change and transition—peoples science, religions, laws and customs. How many great empires and brilliant cultures have perished! And that alone which remains unchanged is Evil, the tool of Bad Spirits. More than sixty thousand years ago a Holyman disappeared with a whole tribe of people under the ground and never appeared again on the surface of the earth. Many people, however, have since visited this kingdom, Sakkia Mouni, Undur Gheghen, Paspa, Khan Baber and others. No one knows where this place is. One says Afghanistan, others India. All the people there are protected against Evil and crimes do not exist within its bournes. Science has there developed calmly and nothing is threatened with destruction. The subterranean people have reached the highest knowledge. Now it is a large kingdom, millions of men with the King of the World as their ruler. He knows all the forces of the world and reads all the souls of humankind and the great book of their destiny. Invisibly he rules eight hundred million men on the surface of the earth and they will accomplish his every order.”
Prince Chultun Beyli added: “This kingdom is Agharti. It extends throughout all the subterranean passages of the whole world. I heard a learned Lama of China relating to Bogdo Khan that all the subterranean caves of America are inhabited by the ancient people who have disappeared underground. Traces of them are still found on the surface of the land. These subterranean peoples and spaces are governed by rulers owing allegiance to the King of the World. In it there is not much of the wonderful. You know that in the two greatest oceans of the east and the west there were formerly two continents. They disappeared under the water but their people went into the subterranean kingdom. In underground caves there exists a peculiar light which affords growth to the grains and vegetables and long life without disease to the people. There are many different peoples and many different tribes. An old Buddhist Brahman in Nepal was carrying out the will of the Gods in making a visit to the ancient kingdom of Jenghiz,—Siam,—where he met a fisherman who ordered him to take a place in his boat and sail with him upon the sea. On the third day they reached an island where he met a people having two tongues which could speak separately in different languages. They showed to him peculiar, unfamiliar animals, tortoises with sixteen feet and one eye, huge snakes with a very tasty flesh and birds with teeth which caught fish for their masters in the sea. These people told him that they had come up out of the subterranean kingdom and described to him certain parts of the underground country.”
The Lama Turgut traveling with me from Urga to Peking gave me further details.
“The capital of Agharti is surrounded with towns of high priests and scientists. It reminds one of Lhasa where the palace of the Dalai Lama, the Potala, is the top of a mountain covered with monasteries and temples. The throne of the King of the World is surrounded by millions of incarnated Gods. They are the Holy Panditas. The palace itself is encircled by the palaces of the Goro, who possess all the visible and invisible forces of the earth, of inferno and of the sky and who can do everything for the life and death of man. If our mad humankind should begin a war against them, they would be able to explode the whole surface of our planet and transform it into deserts. They can dry up the seas, transform lands into oceans and scatter the mountains into the sands of the deserts. By his order trees, grasses and bushes can be made to grow; old and feeble men can become young and stalwart; and the dead can be resurrected. In cars strange and unknown to us they rush through the narrow cleavages inside our planet. Some Indian Brahmans and Tibetan Dalai Lamas during their laborious struggles to the peaks of mountains which no other human feet had trod have found there inscriptions carved on the rocks, footprints in the snow and the tracks of wheels. The blissful Sakkia Mouni found on one mountain top tablets of stone carrying words which he only understood in his old age and afterwards penetrated into the Kingdom of Agharti, from which he brought back crumbs of the sacred learning preserved in his memory. There in palaces of wonderful crystal live the invisible rulers of all pious people, the King of the World or Brahytma, who can speak with God as I speak with you, and his two assistants, Mahytma, knowing the purposes of future events, and Mahynga, ruling the causes of these events.”
“The Holy Panditas study the world and all its forces. Sometimes the most learned among them collect together and send envoys to that place where the human eyes have never penetrated. This is described by the Tashi Lama living eight hundred and fifty years ago. The highest Panditas place their hands on their eyes and at the base of the brain of younger ones and force them into a deep sleep, wash their bodies with an infusion of grass and make them immune to pain and harder than stones, wrap them in magic cloths, bind them and then pray to the Great God. The petrified youths lie with eyes and ears open and alert, seeing, hearing and remembering everything. Afterwards a Goro approaches and fastens a long, steady gaze upon them. Very slowly the bodies lift themselves from the earth and disappear. The Goro sits and stares with fixed eyes to the place whither he has sent them. Invisible threads join them to his will. Some of them course among the stars, observe their events, their unknown peoples, their life and their laws. They listen to their talk, read their books, understand their fortunes and woes, their holiness and sins, their piety and evil. Some are mingled with flame and see the creature of fire, quick and ferocious, eternally fighting, melting and hammering metals in the depths of planets, boiling the water for geysers and springs, melting the rocks and pushing out molten streams over the surface of the earth through the holes in the mountains. Others rush together with the ever elusive, infinitesimally small, transparent creatures of the air and penetrate into the mysteries of their existence and into the purposes of their life. Others slip into the depths of the seas and observe the kingdom of the wise creatures of the water, who transport and spread genial warmth all over the earth, ruling the winds, waves and storms. . . . In Erdeni Dzu formerly lived Pandita Hutuktu, who had come from Agharti. As he was dying, he told about the time when he lived according to the will of the Goro on a red star in the east, floated in the ice-covered ocean and flew among the stormy fires in the depths of the earth.”
These are the tales which I heard in the Mongolian yurtas of Princes and in the Lamaite monasteries. These stories were all related in a solemn tone which forbade challenge and doubt.
Mystery. . . .
THE KING OF THE WORLD BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD
During my stay in Urga I tried to find an explanation of this legend about the King of the World. Of course, the Living Buddha could tell me most of all and so I endeavored to get the story from him. In a conversation with him I mentioned the name of the King of the World. The old Pontiff sharply turned his head toward me and fixed upon me his immobile, blind eyes. Unwillingly I became silent. Our silence was a long one and after it the Pontiff continued the conversation in such a way that I understood he did not wish to accept the suggestion of my reference. On the faces of the others present I noticed expressions of astonishment and fear produced by my words, and especially was this true of the custodian of the library of the Bogdo Khan. One can readily understand that all this only made me the more anxious to press the pursuit.
As I was leaving the study of the Bogdo Hutuktu, I met the librarian who had stepped out ahead of me and asked him if he would show me the library of the Living Buddha and used a very simple, sly trick with him.
“Do you know, my dear Lama,” I said, “once I rode in the plain at the hour when the King of the World spoke with God and I felt the impressive majesty of this moment.”
To my astonishment the old Lama very quietly answered me: “It is not right that the Buddhist and our Yellow Faith should conceal it. The acknowledgment of the existence of the most holy and most powerful man, of the blissful kingdom, of the great temple of sacred science is such a consolation to our sinful hearts and our corrupt lives that to conceal it from humankind is a sin. . . . Well, listen,” he continued, “throughout the whole year the King of the World guides the work of the Panditas and Goros of Agharti. Only at times he goes to the temple cave where the embalmed body of his predecessor lies in a black stone coffin. This cave is always dark, but when the King of the World enters it the walls are striped with fire and from the lid of the coffin appear tongues of flame. The eldest Goro stands before him with covered head and face and with hands folded across his chest. This Goro never removes the covering from his face, for his head is a nude skull with living eyes and a tongue that speaks. He is in communion with the souls of all who have gone before.
“The King of the World prays for a long time and afterwards approaches the coffin and stretches out his hand. The flames thereon burn brighter; the stripes of fire on the walls disappear and revive, interlace and form mysterious signs from the alphabet vatannan. From the coffin transparent bands of scarcely noticeable light begin to flow forth. These are the thoughts of his predecessor. Soon the King of the World stands surrounded by an auriole of this light and fiery letters write and write upon the walls the wishes and orders of God. At this moment the King of the World is in contact with the thoughts of all the men who influence the lot and life of all humankind: with Kings, Czars, Khans, warlike leaders, High Priests, scientists and other strong men. He realizes all their thoughts and plans. If these be pleasing before God, the King of the World will invisibly help them; if they are unpleasant in the sight of God, the King will bring them to destruction. This power is given to Agharti by the mysterious science of ‘Om,’ with which we begin all our prayers. ‘Om’ is the name of an ancient Holyman, the first Goro, who lived three hundred thirty thousand years ago. He was the first man to know God and who taught humankind to believe, hope and struggle with Evil. Then God gave him power over all forces ruling the visible world.
“After his conversation with his predecessor the King of the World assembles the ‘Great Council of God,’ judges the actions and thoughts of great men, helps them or destroys them. Mahytma and Mahynga find the place for these actions and thoughts in the causes ruling the world. Afterwards the King of the World enters the great temple and prays in solitude. Fire appears on the altar, gradually spreading to all the altars near, and through the burning flame gradually appears the face of God. The King of the World reverently announces to God the decisions and awards of the ‘Council of God’ and receives in turn the Divine orders of the Almighty. As he comes forth from the temple, the King of the World radiates with Divine Light.”
REALITY OR RELIGIOUS FANTASY?
“Has anybody seen the King of the World?” I asked.
“Oh, yes!” answered the Lama. “During the solemn holidays of the ancient Buddhism in Siam and India the King of the World appeared five times. He rode in a splendid car drawn by white elephants and ornamented with gold, precious stones and finest fabrics; he was robed in a white mantle and red tiara with strings of diamonds masking his face. He blessed the people with a golden apple with the figure of a Lamb above it. The blind received their sight, the dumb spoke, the deaf heard, the crippled freely moved and the dead arose, wherever the eyes of the King of the World rested. He also appeared five hundred and forty years ago in Erdeni Dzu, he was in the ancient Sakkai Monastery and in the Narabanchi Kure.
“One of our Living Buddhas and one of the Tashi Lamas received a message from him, written with unknown signs on golden tablets. No one could read these signs. The Tashi Lama entered the temple, placed the golden tablet on his head and began to pray. With this the thoughts of the King of the World penetrated his brain and, without having read the enigmatical signs, he understood and accomplished the message of the King.”
“How many persons have ever been to Agharti?” I questioned him.
“Very many,” answered the Lama, “but all these people have kept secret that which they saw there. When the Olets destroyed Lhasa, one of their detachments in the southwestern mountains penetrated to the outskirts of Agharti. Here they learned some of the lesser mysterious sciences and brought them to the surface of our earth. This is why the Olets and Kalmucks are artful sorcerers and prophets. Also from the eastern country some tribes of black people penetrated to Agharti and lived there many centuries. Afterwards they were thrust out from the kingdom and returned to the earth, bringing with them the mystery of predictions according to cards, grasses and the lines of the palm. They are the Gypsies. . . . Somewhere in the north of Asia a tribe exists which is now dying and which came from the cave of Agharti, skilled in calling back the spirits of the dead as they float through the air.”
The Lama was silent and afterwards, as though answering my thoughts, continued.
“In Agharti the learned Panditas write on tablets of stone all the science of our planet and of the other worlds. The Chinese learned Buddhists know this. Their science is the highest and purest. Every century one hundred sages of China collect in a secret place on the shores of the sea, where from its depths come out one hundred eternally-living tortoises. On their shells the Chinese write all the developments of the divine science of the century.”
As I write I am involuntarily reminded of a tale of an old Chinese bonze in the Temple of Heaven at Peking. He told me that tortoises live more than three thousand years without food and air and that this is the reason why all the columns of the blue Temple of Heaven were set on live tortoises to preserve the wood from decay.
“Several times the Pontiffs of Lhasa and Urga have sent envoys to the King of the World,” said the Lama librarian, “but they could not find him. Only a certain Tibetan leader after a battle with the Olets found the cave with the inscription: ‘This is the gate to Agharti.’ From the cave a fine appearing man came forth, presented him with a gold tablet bearing the mysterious signs and said:
“‘The King of the World will appear before all people when the time shall have arrived for him to lead all the good people of the world against all the bad; but this time has not yet come. The most evil among mankind have not yet been born.
“Chiang Chun Baron Ungern sent the young Prince Pounzig to seek out the King of the World but he returned with a letter from the Dalai Lama from Lhasa. When the Baron sent him a second time, he did not come back.”
THE PROPHECY OF THE KING OF THE WORLD IN 1890
The Hutuktu of Narabanchi related the following to me, when I visited him in his monastery in the beginning of 1921:
“When the King of the World appeared before the Lamas, favored of God, in this monastery thirty years ago he made a prophecy for the coming half century. It was as follows:
“‘More and more the people will forget their souls and care about their bodies. The greatest sin and corruption will reign on the earth. People will become as ferocious animals, thirsting for the blood and death of their brothers. The ‘Crescent’ will grow dim and its followers will descend into beggary and ceaseless war. Its conquerors will be stricken by the sun but will not progress upward and twice they will be visited with the heaviest misfortune, which will end in insult before the eye of the other peoples. The crowns of kings, great and small, will fall . . . one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. . . . There will be a terrible battle among all the peoples. The seas will become red . . . the earth and the bottom of the seas will be strewn with bones . . . kingdoms will be scattered . . . whole peoples will die . . . hunger, disease, crimes unknown to the law, never before seen in the world. The enemies of God and of the Divine Spirit in man will come. Those who take the hand of another shall also perish. The forgotten and pursued shall rise and hold the attention of the whole world. There will be fogs and storms. Bare mountains shall suddenly be covered with forests. Earthquakes will come. . . . Millions will change the fetters of slavery and humiliation for hunger, disease and death. The ancient roads will be covered with crowds wandering from one place to another. The greatest and most beautiful cities shall perish in fire . . . one, two, three. . . . Father shall rise against son, brother against brother and mother against daughter. . . . Vice, crime and the destruction of body and soul shall follow. . . . Families shall be scattered. . . . Truth and love shall disappear. . . . From ten thousand men one shall remain; he shall be nude and mad and without force and the knowledge to build him a house and find his food. . . . He will howl as the raging wolf, devour dead bodies, bite his own flesh and challenge God to fight. . . . All the earth will be emptied. God will turn away from it and over it there will be only night and death. Then I shall send a people, now unknown, which shall tear out the weeds of madness and vice with a strong hand and will lead those who still remain faithful to the spirit of man in the fight against Evil. They will found a new life on the earth purified by the death of nations. In the fiftieth year only three great kingdoms will appear, which will exist happily seventy-one years. Afterwards there will be eighteen years of war and destruction. Then the peoples of Agharti will come up from their subterranean caverns to the surface of the earth.'”
* * *
Afterwards, as I traveled farther through Eastern Mongolia and to Peking, I often thought:
“And what if . . . ? What if whole peoples of different colors, faiths and tribes should begin their migration toward the West?”
And now, as I write these final lines, my eyes involuntarily turn to this limitless Heart of Asia over which the trails of my wanderings twine. Through whirling snow and driving clouds of sand of the Gobi they travel back to the face of the Narabanchi Hutuktu as, with quiet voice and a slender hand pointing to the horizon, he opened to me the doors of his innermost thoughts:
“Near Karakorum and on the shores of Ubsa Nor I see the huge, multi-colored camps, the herds of horses and cattle and the blue yurtas of the leaders. Above them I see the old banners of Jenghiz Khan, of the Kings of Tibet, Siam, Afghanistan and of Indian Princes; the sacred signs of all the Lamaite Pontiffs; the coats of arms of the Khans of the Olets; and the simple signs of the north Mongolian tribes. I do not hear the noise of the animated crowd. The singers do not sing the mournful songs of mountain, plain and desert. The young riders are not delighting themselves with the races on their fleet steeds. . . . There are innumerable crowds of old men, women and children and beyond in the north and west, as far as the eye can reach, the sky is red as a flame, there is the roar and crackling of fire and the ferocious sound of battle. Who is leading these warriors who there beneath the reddened sky are shedding their own and others’ blood? Who is leading these crowds of unarmed old men and women? I see severe order, deep religious understanding of purposes, patience and tenacity . . . a new great migration of peoples, the last march of the Mongols. . . .”
Karma may have opened a new page of history!
And what if the King of the World be with them?
But this greatest Mystery of Mysteries keeps its own deep silence.