I spent the next night at the same temple, and on thefollowing morning made my way to the range of mountainsthat stands like a great wall to the north-west of the Lake.A zigzag climb of ten miles or so brought me within view ofLake Lakgal-tso, in Tibetan, or, as it is more commonlycalled, Rakas-tal. It is in shape something like a longcalabash, and in area smaller than Mānasarovara. Anotherseven and a half miles brought me to a spot whence Icould see the whole of its surface, and here I made a furtherdiscovery. A mountain, some two and a half miles roundat the base, stands like a wall of partition between thetwo lakes, and where this mountain slopes into a ravineit looks, for all the world, as though there were a channelof communication for the water from one lake to theother. I found, however, that there was actually nosuch channel, but I discovered that the level of LakeLakgal is higher than that of Mānasarovara, and I wassubsequently told that, on rare occasions, every ten orfifteen years, after phenomenally heavy rains, the watersof the two lakes do actually become connected, and that atsuch times Lake Lakgal flows into Mānasarovara. Hencearises the Tibetan legend that every fifteen years or soLakgal, the bridegroom, goes to visit Mānasarovara, thebride. This will account for the statements of the guide-booksto Kang Tise and Mount Kailāsa that the relationsbetween the two lakes are those of husband and wife.
To show how excitedly the catechism is carried on, itis said that a countryman once came to see the scene. Thequestion happened to be about physiognomy (kan-sa), whichin Tibetan is synonymous with a tobacco-pipe. The countrymanthought that they were disputing over a tobacco-pipe,and was very much surprised that a pipe should bethe matter of the quarrel, for the priests were seeminglyvery much provoked and railed at each other and exchangedblows! Three years later, the same countrymancame to worship at the temple of Sera, and again happenedto see the priests disputing hotly about what he thoughtto be a pipe. He saw them strike each other atthe end of the dispute, and felt very sorry for them.So he thought he would settle the dispute by arbitration.He then walked among the priests, holding out his pipe,which he meant to give them. Though it was none of hisbusiness to come among the priests, he offered the pipeand begged them to settle the dispute, thereby causinggreat laughter among them. It is with such excitementand with hardly any formality that the questions areasked and answered. Still it must not be supposed thatone could answer these questions without a knowledge ofBuḍḍhism. One has to read many texts and referencebooks before one can go through these questions. It takesthe natives twenty years of hard and unceasing study,with examinations every year, to obtain the degree of adoctor.
Now it happened that I found a very good tutor. TheEx-Minister had a natural half-brother, Ti Rinpoche (thepresent ruler of Tibet) by title, whose father was a Chinaman.He was of Sera extraction, and had been made apriest when seven years old, and was then sixty-seven yearsof age. The previous year he was created the highestpriest in all Tibet. The title of his priestly rank is TiRinpoche of Ganden. There is, in the temple of Ganden,a priestly seat on which Je Tsong-kha-pa, the Founder ofthe New Sect, had sat, and on which none may sit but theDalai Lama and this highest priest. The former, however,cannot always seat himself on it, while the latter, living atGanden, can sit on it any time. The Grand Lama had theright to sit on it by birth, while Ti Rinpoche had had tohave a secret training of thirty long years after he hadreceived the degree of doctor in Buḍḍhism, before he wasgiven the privilege. When this training of long years hadmade him a priest perfectly learned and virtuous, he waselected the highest priest in Tibet and given the privilegeto sit on the seat. Any person or priest who has attainedmoral and intellectual perfection after a study and trainingof some fifty or sixty years may use this seat, except sonsof butchers, blacksmiths, hunters, and men of the lowestcaste. 2b1af7f3a8