The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

The Bloody Baron, A Gelug Buddhist Saint?

Posted by invizweb on July 5, 2008

For New Dawn Magazine, Dr. Richard Spence wrote:

My name is surrounded with such hate and fear that no one can judge what is true and what is false, what is history, and what is myth.1
– Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg, 1921

In Mongolia, there was a legend of the warrior prince, Beltis-Van. Noted for his ferocity and cruelty, he spilled “floods of human blood before he found his death in the mountains of Uliasutay.”2 His slayers interred the corpses of the Prince and his followers deep in earth, covered the graves with heavy stones, and added “incantations and exorcism lest their spirits again break out, carrying death and destruction.” These measures, it was prophesied, would bind the terrible spirits until human blood once more fell upon the site.

In early 1921, so the story goes, “Russians came and committed murders nearby the dreadful tombs, staining them with blood.”3 To some, this explained what followed.

At almost the same instant, a new warlord appeared on the scene, and for the next six months he spread death and terror across the steppes and mountains of Mongolia and even into adjoining regions of Siberia. Among the Mongols he became known as the Tsagan Burkhan, the incarnate “God of War.”4 Later, the Dalai Lama XIII proclaimed him a manifestation of the “wrathful deity” Mahakala, defender of the Buddhist faith.5 Historically, the same individual is best known as the “Mad Baron” or the “Bloody Baron.” His detractors are not shy about calling him a murderous bandit or an outright psychopath.

The man in question is the Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg. His exploits can be only briefly sketched here. In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Baron Ungern found himself in eastern Siberia where he aligned himself with the anti-Bolshevik “White” movement. However, his extreme monarchist sentiments and independent ways made him a loose cannon in that camp.

In 1920, he led his “Asiatic Mounted Division,” a rag-tag collection of Russian, Mongol, Tatar and other troops, into the wilds of Mongolia, a land seething with unrest against Chinese occupation. Rallying Mongols to his banner, in early February 1921 Ungern scored a seemingly miraculous victory by wresting control of the Mongol capital, Urga (today Ulan Bator), from a large Chinese garrison. He then restored the Mongols’ spiritual and temporal leader, the “Living Buddha” Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu Bogdo Gegen, or, more simply, Bodgo Khan and established himself as warlord over Outer Mongolia and the scattered White Russian detachments that had taken refuge there.
Surrounding himself with an inner circle of murderous sycophants and fortune-tellers, he instituted a reign of terror that claimed as victims Jews, real or suspected Reds, and hundreds of others who somehow aroused the Baron’s wrath or suspicion.6 In June of the same year, he launched an ill-fated invasion of Soviet Siberia which ended with his capture by the Red Army and his subsequent trial and execution on 17 September.

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