China & Inner Asia: Table of Contents
Organizer: Christopher Atwood, Indiana University/The Mongolia Society
Chair: Paul V. Hyer, Brigham Young University
Discussant: György Kara, Indiana University/Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest
One of the most distinctive features of the early modern regime in Mongolia ("early modern" here meaning from 1580 to 1900) was the separation and mutual support of a householding realm headed by the emperor, and a Buddhist realm based in the monasteries. Initiated by the Buddhist khans of the sixteenth century, the Manchu dynasty continued this tradition of two mutually supporting realms. Early discussions focused on the exploitation of Buddhism as a mere instrument of secular rule, enfeebling the Mongols and buttressing the ruling class. The recent growth in research based on primary source materials, in Beijing, Inner Mongolia, and Mongolia proper, has, however, undermined any crudely instrumentalist understanding of Buddhisms role in early modern Mongolia and forced a reexamination of indigenous ideas of sacrality and power. The papers in this panel debate from differing sources and differing perspectives the relations between religion and rule in Buddhist Mongolia.
China Ning, examining the Qing courts relations with the Mongolian elite, finds that purely imperial organs of rule defined a sphere separate from the courts support of Buddhism, a sphere usefully considered secular. Johan Elverskog reevaluates the idea of the "two realms" of Religion and State at the court of the sixteenth century Altan Khan and argues that both must be considered as sacred, although in different ways. Finally Christopher Atwood describes a distinctive language of loyalty among the Mongolian elite in the Qing, one which sacralized the person of the emperor independently of his role as patron of Buddhism.
Chia Ning, Central College
In research on the 17th and 18th century Qing empire, the nature of Manchu rule over Mongolia, seen in terms of a secular-sacred dichotomy, needs further development. While studies have shown a unique spiritual connection between the Manchu imperial court and the Mongolian population through Tibetan Buddhism to be a critical base for the Manchu-Mongol relationship, new discoveries of primary source materials enriched our understanding of other facets of this relationship, thus enhancing the secular side of Manchu rule in Mongolia. These secular instruments of rule included Manchu-Mongol intermarriage, a primary foundation for the political and military alliance of the two powers; the banner organization, based on a Manchu-created military and civil administration; the Mongol ritual obligations at the imperial court, generally separate from the Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies; and Qing legislation in Mongolia, not fully conformed to religious doctrines. Even Qing governance over the Tibetan Buddhist clergy in Mongolia developed analogously to the Chinese bureaucratic system. While the secular administration of the Qing rule did not, miraculously, disturb the positive religious image held by the Mongols toward the Qing court, it does demonstrate the large role that secular means played in Qing rule over Mongolia. Thus the overall Qing rule over Mongolia was marked by a religious and secular dichotomy.
Johan Elverskog, University of California, Santa Barbara
Ever since the historic meeting of Khubilai Khan and Phagpa Lama, the most prominent element in the semantic and scholastic formation of Yuan and post-Yuan legitimacy has been the principle of Qoyar Yosu, the unification of "the two realms" of Religion and State. The most eloquent statement for this religio-political theory is the Arban buyan-tu nom-un chagan teuke (The White History of the Ten Meritorious Laws), attributed to Khubilai Khan, wherein the proper means of unifying the two orders is described. On the basis of this document, and its reiteration in later Mongolian chronicles and Tibetan historical works, scholars have developed the idea that this religio-political construction replicated a form of "Lamaist caesaropapism," wherein the two syncretic realms are mutually dichotomous, one being secular and the other religious, though each one providing legitimation to the other through a specific discourse.
However, from an analysis of the Erdeni tunumal sudur (The Jewel Translucent Sutra), a recently discovered early 17th century history of Altan Khan, and other Mongolian sources, it becomes apparent that the realm of State was not purely secular as maintained in the caesaropapist interpretation. Instead, the functioning of the State did not solely involve secular rule that allowed for peace and stability, but was a realm equally as sacred as that of the Religion. This paper will explore the sacred character of the realm of State, and how it was ritualized through the cult of Chinggis Khan at the Eight White Yurts (Naiman chagan ger) in Ordos.
Christopher Atwood, Indiana University/The Mongolia Society
Many studies of the Qing imperial image have emphasized how the emperors projected images to different constituencies. To the Mongols, the Qing dynasts declared themselves to be supreme patrons of Buddhism and incarnations of Manjushri. This explicitly Buddhist image contrasted strongly with other images, such as that of Confucian scholar, or virile hunter. Emphasis on varying presentations of the person of the emperor has led to a similar emphasis on the difference in nature of Qing rule over the Mongols, the Han Chinese, and the garrison banners. At the same time it has tended to define the sacredness of the emperor purely in terms of Buddhism, implying that the non-Buddhist images had little sacred aura. Mongolian sources, however, both official and literary, pervasively articulate a language of sentiments toward the emperor that effaces these boundaries of Mongolian and Chinese, sacred and secular. Found in memorials and rescripts to and from the emperor, this language returned continually to the unmerited favor or grace (kheshig) that the Sacred Lord (Bogd Ezen) continually bestowed on his officials, and consequent response of joy, unworthiness, and undying effort. Mongolian versions of Chinese novels and Buddhist didactic poetry popularized these sentiments. This distinctive language of grace, guilt, and striving shows the Mongolian elites structured affections of loyalty to the emperor to be essentially identical with that of the Qing Chinese. At the same time this highly charged language of devotion to the sacred emperor subverts the assumption that to speak of the sacred in Mongolia must necessarily refer to Buddhism.