Origins of the Russians: A Mongolian Legend


theodosius anthony

In former times there lived in a cave, far away from all people, a good hermit lama, or priest, who passed his life in prayer. A pair of nomads, consisting of an aged mother and her daughter, happened to go that way and the daughter, while tending cattle, came upon the cave of the holy lama, who was at that time ill. The compassionate maiden offered him sour milk, but he did not like to taste it. At last he gave way to her entreaties and took the sour milk every day until he got well. Eventually, out of gratitude for the cure, the lama married the maiden.

As soon as the Czar of that country heard of this he sent his troops to kill the priest who had so flagrantly broken his vows and committed the sin of marriage. When the troops approached the lama gathered a bunch of reeds and stuck them in the ground round his tent, and then, by force of prayer, caused them all to be turned into soldiers, who defeated the troops of the Czar. The latter sent a second and a third army, but were beaten, [sic] as the lama continued to pray, and turn into more fighting men the reeds broken off by his first-created defenders, so the holy lama soon had a great number of troop [sic]. After the defeat of his third army the Czar left the lama alone in peace, but the latter did not wish to live any longer on the earth. The lama left his wife to rule the people created from the reeds, and from those arose the Russians. They have white bodies, and their hair is often fair, because the stems of the reeds were of a yellowish colour and the tops somewhat darker.”

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