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A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
throughout the journey. He guarantees to get me safely across the
frontier into Tibet and as far as Mount Kailas, as he has friends
along the route.
I refuse his offer. I feel it will not be "playing the game" with
Government friends who trust me. The pilgrimage must be made
honourably or not at all Besides, it might lead to awkward political
There exists one last hope, one final card which I have kept up
A Tibetan friend, who is sympathetic to my work and researches,
possesses a certain amount of influence in the councils of the Govern-
ment of Tibet. He has, indeed, already provided me with letters
written and sealed in the Tibetan language, introducing me to the
Head Lamas of all the monasteries on my route and requesting all
local officers to assist me in obtaining the necessary fuel and food,
so confident is he that I will be able to make the journey. I have
hoped to stay for some time in a monastery situated at the foot of
Mount Kailas, and there pursue my meditations in peace.
I send him an urgent message explaining what has occurred.
The suspense of waiting is eventually brought to an end by a
pink telegraphic slip. It reads:
Much regret. Consulted Government. Unable influence Lhasa present
juncture due internal trouble there.
I accept the words as the fixed fiat of destiny.
"Mount Kailas is within you," my Master has said cryptically
a day or two before my departure. Does he know* that I shall not
reach it? Thenceforward the white cone of Mount Kailas recedes
from my objective and I turn my head in another direction.
My acceptance is a sensible if helpless one. For destiny has
truly prepareda special place for my meditations and when I search
the long rugged line of the Himalayas on the map and let my
finger rest on the kingdom of Tehri-Garhwal, where India's sacred
river, the Ganges, takes its rise, I feel, as by inspiration, that here
must be my substitute for Mount Kailas.
Between the hot plains of British India and the frozen plateau
of Tibet He a chain of States all almost entirely enclosed within
the natural boundaries of the great Himalayas. These include
Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and Tehn-Garhwal. Few white men visit
them, for, apart from the lonely,.wild and extremely mountainous
character of these countries, there are barriers which tend to keep
Europeans away. Nepal is almost an entirely independent kingdom,
Bhutan the same, while Sikkim is a British protected State. Tehri-