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Lama of the Gobi: How Mongolia's Mystic Monk Spread Tibetan Buddhism in the World's Harshest Desert [Paperback]

Michael Kohn
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Nov. 16 2010
Danzan Ravjaa is perhaps Mongolia's most beloved saint. As a boy, he was only saved from Manchu execution by the intervention of the young Ninth Dalai Lama. He went on to become one of the greatest mystics and creative geniuses of his time. This book takes the reader on a journey through Mongolian history, Tibetan Buddhism and the traditions of nomadic culture to investigate the man and the many legends that surround him.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another place and time Dec 19 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is a delightful story centered around Danzan Ravjaa, a Mystic Monk. In the process it tells us a lot about Mongolia's people and its Buddhist heritage. The entire book suggests a time and place far removed from our civilization, out in the desert, where folks do plays to entertain each other. The book has some Danzan's poetry and some sayings of Ravjaa, but the main thrust of the book is not his religious nor philosophical thinking but just the story of his life and legacy he left for Mongolia and how it survived against the odds. Danzan is portrayed as being a heavy drinker, a lover of women, a gifted poet, a spiritual/magical legend, and much more. One little tidbit I found interesting, was his innovation in allowing Buddhist Monks and Nuns to live together, and it appears in allowing women to participate in the Buddhist tradition. The book unfolds, as Mongolia people been for last hundred years or so, under foreign rule, how Buddhism was targeted, and the memory of Danzan Ravjaa was almost destroyed. In a small way, one gets to partake in the rediscovery of this lost genius, Danzan Ravjaa, with all his imperfections, and brilliancy. I would have liked to have seen more pictures of the land, photos of the relics, maps of the locations, and so on. Maybe even some historical and social background, like population at the times, major center populations, and so on.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book about an important historical figure Oct. 8 2009
By Mikee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The life and the work of Danzan Ravjaa is widely known among the nomads of the Gobi desert in Mongolia, but virtually unknown anywhere else. There are so many sides from which you can look at this historical figure: He was a Living Buddha, a social reformer (if not revolutionary), a healer, a poet, a politician and much more. He built schools for the nomads' children, fought for womens' rights, wrote socially critical theater plays and an epic opera and even built his own opera house in the middle of the desert. He was not only critical towards the then ruling Manchu government, but also fought corruption among the Buddhist establishment. This is a man the world should know about and Michael Kohn gives a western audience a very fine introduction into this story for the very first time. Kohn writes from the viewpoint of a professional journalist and did a lot of research for this book; But at the same time he also transmits the story behind the stories, which is maybe even more important to understand that Danzan Ravjaa also has a message for today's people living in the west, not only for the Gobi's herders of the 19th century. Five stars for an important book and let's hope that there is more to come!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mongolia's Devine Madman Jan. 30 2011
By Alex Sherab Gyatso - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A very good attempt to write a colorful book by someone with the very best motivation.
Danzan Ravjaa was something of a bigger then life figure, a Mongolian Gendun Chophel "devine madman" and highly revered Tulku. Book is very small and an easy read.
Found it it by sitting down on a floor of B&N and landing right in front of it, very happy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling like fiction!!! Nov. 24 2009
By Guntmar Lasnig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Can History be as thrilling as fiction?
It can.
Michael Cohens Lama of the Gobi" covers a time span of more than 200 years of Mongolian history - and although touching rather complicated political and religious inflictions the author manages to stay exceedingly entertaining, yet always precise and within journalistic investigation.
Even when it comes to the real complicated field of tantric Yogi practise the book keeps its pragmatic style with tastefull irony.
The Legacy of Danzaan Ravjaa is anything else but dead history!!! Some crates of Danzaan Ravjaas treasure were unearthed August 1st 2009 thanks to Michael Cohens book.
[...]
And this is most likely not the end of the story...

Thank you so much Michael!!!
Your book was more than the most needed base of information for the Treasure Hunt.
It was highly inspiring - and definitely changed my life.

Guntmar Lasnig
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mongolian Buddhism Nov. 23 2009
By Jack Weatherford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mongolia has produced two great religious figures, Zanabazar and Danzan Ravjaa. Zanabazar is probably the most respected and honored, while Danzan Ravjaa is the most loved and closest to the hearts of the common people. His songs such as "Ulemjin Chanar" are among the most popular in Mongolia and are still recorded today by pop artists as well as by classical singers.
Readers wishing to learn about the distinctive nature of Mongolian Buddhism find few resources in English. With the publication of this book on Danzan Ravjaa, we have an opportunity to view the life of the most radical and one of the most mystical figures in Mongolian religion. He repeatedly challenged the political and religious hierarchy of the time and emphasized the uniqueness of Mongolian Buddhism. Despite the great efforts of the established powers to erase him from history, Danzan Ravjaa's spirit still lives in Mongolia, and Michael Kohn's book can help introduce him to the wider world.
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