Buddha, the most placid of the prophets, would himself have been perturbed by a letter which was received last week at the Buddhist Center, of Manhattan. The letter was signed by Professor Nicholas Roerich; it had been despatched from the terrain that lies north of the Himalayas, where the Roerich American Expedition (TIME, June 4) is now located. It detailed, in approximately 5,000 words, the degradation which Nicholas Roerich had discovered in Tibet during his four-year sojourn thereabouts. In condensed form, the letter said: Buddhism in Tibet, its ancient stronghold, has become a depraved Shamanistic religion. The celebrated Tashi Lumpo monastery, residence of the abdicated Tashi Lama, has been deserted and desecrated. Lamas, teachers of the people, tell fortunes for alms, by the haunches of mutton, or dice; they beg and cheat; to mystify the ignorant, they mutter squeaky conjurations or play with human bones. The forest-dwelling Buddhists revere arrows and absurd amulets. Conscious reverence for Buddha is held by very few.
The business of Tibet has fallen into ruin. A pitiful hut is described, in official documents as "a snowy palace." . . . In the big villages there is not a single store. . . . "In twilight people come to you begging you to sell them something but they do not dare to trade openly. . . . It is dreadful to think that the name of Buddha is intermingled with all this dirt, physical and spiritual."
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