True shamans or charlatans?

Lately, Shamanism, original spiritual practice of Mongolia is reviving. Majority of Mongolian tribes during Chinggis Khaan’s time were following shamanism. However, Khubilai khaan, founder of Yuan Dynasty were inclined towards Tibetan Buddhism. It was spread only among ruling elite Mongolians as nihilism and pacifism of Tibetan Buddhism was too difficult for war-like Mongolian tribes to understand and practice.

By 17 century, Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism penetrated deep in Mongolia as some Mongolian tribal leaders attempted to unify various Mongolian tribes and clans under Lamaist banner. Shamanistic practices like animal and human sacrifices were banned and many shamans were forced to convert or be killed. Later, Mongolia fell under Manchu rule and rulers of Manchu state of Ching Dynasty actively supported spread of Lamaism throughout Mongolia as it justified political goal of Manchus to turn Mongolians into docile and pacific people. Only few shamanistic spots were left untouched in northern Mongolian taiga and deep forests and high mountains. During its spread, Lamaism absorbed elements of Shamanistic practices and nature worship.

When Mongolia opened up in 1990, previously forbidden religious practices started to revive as democratic Mongolian state guaranteed religious freedom. Not only Lamaism but Shamanism started to revive. Many incarnate lamas and shamans appeared. All have grand titles and overly ambitious missions.

In Shamanism, there is no centralized organization to supervise and oversee appearances of various shamans.In another word, there is no shamanistic accreditation service. Therefore, it is hard to differentiate between true and false shamans.

A certain woman who has chronic disease and could not get treatment from hospitals turned to a shamaness named Norjmaa in Chingeltei district of Ulaanbaatar for help.The shamaness told her “unless you offer certain amount of money for shamanistic performances-you will die”. After one month of the shamanistic performance, the woman still felt sick.This time the shamaness told her “ it was revealed to me that you are destined to become a shamaness. You are getting sick because you escaping from your destiny. Now you have to accept your destiny.” The woman decided to accept her destiny as revealed by the shamaness and offered another millions of Tugrig for shamaness outfit and accessories. Shamanistic initiation performance for the woman were done in remote place and the woman accepted her “ shamaness spirit”.

However, even after that, the woman still continued to be sick.This whole affair continued over a year. Then. her relatives found out that the shamaness which charged the family millions of Tugrig had a criminal record and in the past served time in jail for cheating. In total, the woman’s family offered 22 million Tugrig to the shamaness-former con woman. The case is now being investigated by police department of Chingeltei district.

By Ganbat, reporter of MonInfo news service



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