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 [Come Beggar!]


The year is 1280 or so, and this is the state of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as told by Marco Polo:

The History of Sogomon Barchan
The Beginning of Idolatry

In this island of Zeilan there is a very high mountain, so rocky and precipitous that the ascent to the top is impracticable, as it is said, excepting by the assistnce of iron chains employed for that purpose. By means of these some persons attain the summit, where the tomb of Adam, our first parent, is reported to be found. Such is the account given by the Saracens. But the idolaters assert that it contains the body of Sogomon Barchan, the founder of their religious system, and whom they revere as a great saint.

He was the son of a king of the island, who devoted himself to an holy life, refusing to accept of kingdoms or any other worldly possessions, although his father endeavoured, by the allurements of women, and every other imaginable gratification, to divert him from the resolution he had adopted. Every attempt to dissuade him was in vain, and the young man fled privately to this lofty mountain, where, in the observance of celibacy and strict abstinence, he at length terminated his mortal career.

By the idolaters he is regarded as a saint. The father, distracted with the most poignant grief, caused an image to be formed of gold and precious stones, bearing the resemblance of his son, and required that all the inhabitants of the island should honour and worship it as a diety. Such was the origin of the worship of idols in that country; but Sogomon Barchan is still regarded as superior to every other.

In this belief, people flock from various distant parts in pilgrimage to the mountain on which he was buried. Some of his hair, his teeth, and the basin he made use of, are still preserved, and shown with much ceremony. The Saracens, on the other hand, maintain that these belonged to the prophet Adam, and are in like manner led by devotion to visit the mountain.

It happened that in the year 1284, the Great Khan heard from certain Saracens who had been upon the spot, the fame of these relics belonging to our first parent, and felt so strong a desire to possess them, that he was induced to send an embassy to demand them of the king of Zeilan. After a long and tedious journey, his ambassadors at length reached the place of their destination, and obtained from the king two large back-teeth, together with some of the hair, and a handsome vessel of green stone. When the Great Khan received intelligence of the approach of the messengers, on their return with such valuable curiosities, he ordered all the people of Kanbalu to march out of the city to meet them, and they were conducted to his presence with great pomp and solemnity.



Zeilan = Ceylon
idolaters = Buddhists
Sogomon Barchan = Siddhatha Gotama Sakkyamuni; aka: Sommona-Codom, The Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Idolatrous Nations, Vol. 4. Part II, p.53
Kanbalu = Peiking



Throughout the description of Marco Polo's journies the greater number of the populous appears to have been of these 'idolaters' and mention is specifically made of these idols as being of a god pictured in a supine position. The Great Khan is Kublai Khan who was tolerant of all religions but favoured these idolaters and had numerous magicians of Thebethan origin in his court. This Great Khan came very close to being a Wheel-Rolling King and ruled, although not without rod and sword, in a very just way according to Marco Polo and his descriptions of how that ruler governed...and Marco Polo was in a position to know as he served the Great Khan for many years in high position and had intimate contact with him. And apparently, whether in Xanadu or not, this Kublai had spelended pleasure domes not only decreed, but created. Truly unbelievable works of opulance.

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