The priests brought two bowls with many dice therein and rolled them out on their low table. The Baron looked and reckoned with them the sum before he spoke:
"One hundred thirty! Again one hundred thirty!"
Approaching the altar carrying an ancient stone statue of Buddha brought all the way from India, he again prayed. As day dawned, we wandered out through the monastery, visited all the temples and shrines, the museum of the medical school, the astrological tower and then the court where the Bandi and young Lamas have their daily morning wrestling exercises. In other places the Lamas were practising with the bow and arrow. Some of the higher Lamas feasted us with hot mutton, tea and wild onions. After we returned to the yurta I tried to sleep but in vain. Too many different questions were troubling me. "Where am I? In what epoch am I living?" I knew not but I dimly felt the unseen touch of some great idea, some enormous plan, some indescribable human woe.
After our noon meal the General said he wanted to introduce me to the Living Buddha. It is so difficult to secure audience with the Living Buddha that I was very glad to have this opportunity offered me. Our auto soon drew up at the gate of the red and white striped wall surrounding the palace of the god. Two hundred Lamas in yellow and red robes rushed to greet the arriving "Chiang Chun," General, with the low-toned, respectful whisper "Khan! God of War!" As a regiment of formal ushers they led us to a spacious great hall softened by its semi-darkness. Heavy carved doors opened to the interior parts of the palace. In the depths of the hall stood a dais with the throne covered with yellow silk cushions. The back of the throne was red inside a gold framing; at either side stood yellow silk screens set in highly ornamented frames of black Chinese wood; while against the walls at either side of the throne stood glass cases filled with varied objects from China, Japan, India and Russia. I noticed also among them a pair of exquisite Marquis and Marquises in the fine porcelain of Sevres. Before the throne stood a long, low table at which eight noble Mongols were seated, their chairman, a highly esteemed old man with a clever, energetic face and with large penetrating eyes. His appearance reminded me of the authentic wooden images of the Buddhist holymen with eyes of precious stones which I saw at the Tokyo Imperial Museum in the department devoted to Buddhism, where the Japanese show the ancient statues of Amida, Daunichi-Buddha, the Goddess Kwannon and the jolly old Hotei.
This man was the Hutuktu Jahantsi, Chairman of the Mongolian Council of Ministers, and honored and revered far beyond the bournes of Mongolia. The others were the Ministers--Khans and the Highest Princes of Khalkha. Jahantsi Hutuktu invited Baron Ungern to the place at his side, while they brought in a European chair for me. Baron Ungern announced to the Council of Ministers through an interpreter that he would leave Mongolia in a few days and urged them to protect the freedom won for the lands inhabited by the successors of Jenghiz Khan, whose soul still lives and calls upon the Mongols to become anew a powerful people and reunite again into one great Mid-Asiatic State all the Asian kingdoms he had ruled.
The General rose and all the others followed him. He took leave of each one separately and sternly. Only before Jahantsi Lama he bent low while the Hutuktu placed his hands on the Baron's head and blessed him. From the Council Chamber we passed at once to the Russian style house which is the personal dwelling of the Living Buddha. The house was wholly surrounded by a crowd of red and yellow Lamas; servants, councilors of Bogdo, officials, fortune tellers, doctors and favorites. From the front entrance stretched a long red rope whose outer end was thrown over the wall beside the gate. Crowds of pilgrims crawling up on their knees touch this end of the rope outside the gate and hand the monk a silken hatyk or a bit of silver. This touching of the rope whose inner end is in the hand of the Bogdo establishes direct communication with the holy, incarnated Living God. A current of blessing is supposed to flow through this cable of camel's wool and horse hair. Any Mongol who has touched the mystic rope receives and wears about his neck a red band as the sign of his accomplished pilgrimage.
I had heard very much about the Bogdo Khan before this opportunity to see him. I had heard of his love of alcohol, which had brought on blindness, about his leaning toward exterior western culture and about his wife drinking deep with him and receiving in his name numerous delegations and envoys.
In the room which the Bogdo used as his private study, where two Lama secretaries watched day and night over the chest that contained his great seals, there was the severest simplicity. On a low, plain, Chinese lacquered table lay his writing implements, a case of seals given by the Chinese Government and by the Dalai Lama and wrapped in a cloth of yellow silk. Nearby was a low easy chair, a bronze brazier with an iron stovepipe leading up from it; on the walls were the signs of the swastika, Tibetan and Mongolian inscriptions; behind the easy chair a small altar with a golden statue of Buddha before which two tallow lamps were burning; the floor was covered with a thick yellow carpet.