A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
My first thought is of icy Mount Kailas, on the Tibetan side.
It is the most sacred spot in all Asia to both the Hindus and the
Buddhists of that continent. What Rome is to the Catholic Christians,
what Mecca is to the Muhammedans, and what Jerusalem is to the
Jews, Kailas is to them. It is their mountain of salvation, the home
of their gods and the habitation of their angels. Nirvana is enthroned
upon its icicles. I know that this is no mere superstition on their
part, for there are profound esoteric reasons in its support. Has our
fancy grown so poor and narrow that it can give no place in life and
no space in the world for the old gods? Is Mount Olympus but a
barren deserted spot to us, which was so well peopled to ancient
men? The gods change their names with peoples, but not themselves.
Moreover, it has been recommended by the Buddha himself to
his disciples as a spot worthy of being chosen by those who want to
meditate and attain Nirvana. Just as the cloud-capped top of
Olympus hid the Hellenic gods from profane eyes, so the ice-strewn
top of Kailas is believed to hide the spirits of departed Buddhas.
The Tibetans name it Kang-Rinpoche, "the Ice-Jewel". Their
famous mediaeval Yogi, Milarepa, practised his meditations in a
grotto on this mountain.
There is a pilgrim route to Kailas through Almora, but I choose
a longer and harder route because it is less frequented and more
variegated. To travel through its calm solitudes, so far removed
from the tensions of peopled places, will be to travel into sanity and
serenity out of an insane and uneasy world.
It is true that there will be certain dangers upon the journey
amidst the wildness of Trans-Himalaya, but they trouble me for no
more than a moment I have learnt in the school of first-hand
experience that the protective aegis of Providence accompanies the
man who sets out upon an enterprise at a bidding higher than his
Kailas becomes my Canaan, my land of promise. But in New
Delhi, where the red tapes of the Central Government meet and are
tied into an orderly unity, I discover that I shall not be permitted to
cross the Tibetan frontier. Mount Kailas is far too sacred to the
Tibetans to allow infidel Europeans to visit it, and under some
article of the Treaty of 1908, the British'have guaranteed that they
will withhold the grant of stich permission from Europeans desirous
of violating its sanctity by their presence.
Time is precious. I appeal to the Viceroy.
His Excelfency has read my book A Search in Secrtt India and, as a