A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
direct consequence, paid a visit of inspection to Dayalbagh, the
co-operative town on a spiritual basis about which I have there
written a chapter. Moreover, His Excellency was so pleased with
what he saw that the creator of the town, Sahabji Maharaj, was
duly knighted when the next New Year Honours List was published.
But the reply to my request for a special permit is a courteous
expression of regret because the Tibetans are so strongly opposed to
any European visiting their most sacred spot.
I telegraph to the Secretary of State for India, in London.
I have talked to him about my researches; he has expressed his
sympathy and he knows of my tact, understanding and discretion
in dealing with the religious feelings of Orientals.
The reply is frank and sincere. It will be embarrassing to the
Government to make a request to the Tibetan Authorities which
will certainly be refused. Moreover, even the making of such a
request to them will do nothing to assist me in performing the
The Government will be prepared, however, to obtain a permit
for me from the Tibetans to cross the frontier and make an expedition
from Kalimpong, near DarjeeKng, along the trade route to Lhasa,
but only as far as Gyantse, and no farther.
I am disappointed. That the mere colour of one's skin should
debar one from making a pilgrimage (for that is what it really
amounts to) to Asia's most sacred spot seems to be a fit Nemesis for
the colour-prejudice sins of the white race itself. I know more
about Buddhism than most Tibetans themselves, for I have studied
it long and deeply under one of the most learned and spiritually
advanced Buddhist priests, yet I am to be classed as an infidel
because my skin happens to be white and theirs yellow!
The permit to travel as far as Gyantse is useless to me. Gyantse
lies well inside Tibet and is an important town for the Tibetan
traders who come down from Lhasa to India. It is in east central
Tibet, whereas Mount Kailas is in the western part of the country.
But I am neither trader nor geographer. I do not want to go to
Tibet merely to see a few sheepskin-clad traders and a few sleepy
beflagged monasteries. I have a higher purpose than that, and
Kailas lies at its very core. My time, which is part of my life, must
now be utilized for the sake of that purpose, and no other.
I telegraph my news to a Yogi friend who has already been to
Mount Kailas. He replies that there is still one way whereby I may
make the journey with perfect certainty.
His suggestion is that if I disguise myself as a saffron-robed
Yogi, stain my face and hands an appropriate colour, and wear the
yellow robe he will himself arrange the rest and accompany me