Elista Boskhomdzhieva, about Maral bagshi
Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge
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Terbish, B. (2019). Elista Boskhomdzhieva, about Maral bagshi [Video file]. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.44700
Elista reminisces about Maral bagshi, her paternal uncle, who adopted her: I am from the Kelket clan of the Baga-Chonos aimak. My father is Avliev Manka. After marriage I become a member of the Budzhikhin clan through my husband. The lama Maral baghshi was my father’s older brother. He was born in 1856. He adopted me. He used to tell me many interesting stories. Unfortunately, I have forgotten most of them now. He also taught us Tibetan. Maral baghshi was the third person in his family to become a monk. The first was his paternal uncle who went to study in Tibet where he stayed. Later he called his cousin, Badma Bovave, to join him. After his studies in Tibet, Badma returned to Kalmykia and was murdered in Leningrad at the age of 37. Around that time Maral bagshi was arrested and spent 10 years in prison in Novosibirsk. After his release, he searched for his uncle and his young brother i.e. my father. In 1957 we all returned to Kalmykia from exile and settled in the village of Voznesenovka. In a few years time we moved to Baga-Chonos. Maral bagshi died on 9 January 1976. I was 17 then. There was a blizzard on that day. A monk called Zodva came to perform a funerary rite. When he began to read prayers the sky turned dark and a big dragon appeared from beneath the ground. As it waved its wings, thunder stroke. When the dragon disappeared in the sky, Zodva said: ‘Well, Maral has reached where he needs to be’. In life, Maral bagshi recited prayers and performed rituals. One of his rituals was to tear a napkin into small pieces, write mantras on these pieces, and give them to his patients to eat. There was a large family of 9 sons and 2 daughters that lived next door. Maral bagshi loved a particular boy from that family called Zula. One day he said that Zula would go to war and return. Later Zula fought in Afghanistan and returned home. He was the only survivor in his unit. One day a taxi stopped at the front of our door and a very sickly looking man got out. Maral bagshi advised him to abstain from the surgery that he was going to have, and told him to get rid of a deer’s horn that he kept at home. Later that man returned looking healthy. After he got rid of the horn in his house, he was cured. Old women sometimes gathered in our house to read prayers. Before entering, they walked around the house clock-wise. I used to make tea for them and give them water to rinse their mouth. Before World War II Maral bagshi told everyone that there would be a war. He gave away amulets to 12 men from our clan. All them returned from the war alive. Maral bagshi always told us to keep burning candles in the house and read prayers. He also told us not to do certain things, such as to stare at people, to drink from a cup with a crack, to pour water in front of a person. During Zul after we have lit the candles, no strangers, especially those wearing a robe, were allowed into our house. His explanation for this ban was that on that day evil spirits become active and they try to get into people’s houses by clinging to somebody’s robe. Within 7 days after Zul it is forbidden to take out rubbish from the house. He also forbade us to stick a shovel to the ground, because of its association with grave digging. He forbad us from killing a snake that crawls into the house. The way to get rid of such a snake is to give it milk. After drinking, it leaves the house by itself. Maral bagshi used a snake’s horn to cure people. Other implements that he used in his healing rituals were an eagle’s claw and a copper rod. People used to come to see Maral bagshi on various occasions: before taking an exam, before going to the army, etc. After his death, many people brought food to his grave.
Maral bagshi, monk, healer
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.44700