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THE SACRED BASISES OF KHAKAS ETHNIC CULTURE

Larissa Anzhiganova*

TİMUR DAVLETOV

03  Qurgen 2003

In second half of XX century there are a situation when development of society by consuming natural component of life s environment leads to real danger of self-destruction. Within these conditions only the culture (including ethical one) becomes a factor of the human, society and nature`s self-protection. The non-foreseeable future of humanity and it`s some nations have forced to apply to an experience of the past in which it looks for prescriptions of solution to problem. Furthermore, necessity to find out one`s self in eternity leads to intention to unite the time (past, present and future) in a whole space. In this context anthropologists have marked a growing interest to Shamanism dated many thousands years as the most ancient form of humanity`s adaptation in world.  

The feature of world`s present-day shamanism contains a lot of moments.

1. Shamanism has developed as philosophical-religious system (but not exclusively as cultural-ritual practice) which is a completed transcendental world`s view, goal and main sense of which are not only to honor and to protect the life but also to rouse to it.

2. Shamanism has aspired to find out its own niche, to determine the community with world`s religious systems by stressing on particular (e.g., Turk-Mongolian, Siberian Shamanism) and singular (e.g., Khakas, Tuvan, Yakutian, and other) ones.

The first what has tied Shamanism to world`s religious systems is common humanity`s ethical norms. At the same time it`s well-known that some particularities of ritual practice (incense, sprinkling, movement around, and many others) have precisely been “presented as gifts” by Shamanism. The relationship with Buddhism and Zen-Buddhism is provided by theory of reincarnation and meditation. According to Shamanism as well to Daoism the essential basis of world [Earth] is the Law (the way of world, Dao). Confuscianism and Shamanism have similarity in cults of the Heaven [Sky], ancestors, and strong system of society`s construction. Together with that the uniqueness of Shamanism is that there is no other sacred tradition which oriented to the Nature as far as Shamanism. 

3. New forms of Shamanism have appeared. Thus famous researcher of world`s Shamanism M. Hoppal has distinguished `the urban Shamanism` which accoring to him has its own specifics in rituals.

In present-day environment there is a question regarding authenticity of shamanic rituals over which should be paid closer attention. Under detailed researching you may discover that every shamanic act and word bear the strict determined sense. But at the other hand modern audience who has been snapped away from traditional world`s view and life style, often don`t understand and percept many things. For a modern man who has education and training based on European rasionalism it`s very difficult to percept many things through belief [i.e., beyond rationality]. In this context the factor which complicates this process is fact that each shaman in spite of common basis of world`s view, was and is having his own individual specifics as a sphere of acting, selection of allies, power, song, destiny, and so on. At the other side the most important condition of shaman`s ritual action`s effectiveness is the confidence of audience toward the shaman`s power. Modern man is radically different from traditional one and the ability of shaman to convince a patient in his own power is depended to shaman`s ability to be psychologist when there is necessity to use the scientifical terminology. 

In shamanic tradition dated many thousands years there is the idea about `places of power` which may be unimportant as well as important in the world`s scale. And the fates of world`s existence are indexed to state of these territories. The ancient Khakas land is belonged to such sacred regions.    

In modern-day Khakasia`s territory Shamanism has been appeared in ancient times. Shamanic (trisylabbic) model of world has in most developed form been presented even on petroglyths of Okuneff archaeological culture (IIIrd millennium B.C.) which puts forward a necessity of appearence a special type of humans known as shamans who are able to travel (in different state of consciousness) to all three worlds where gosts and ghosts have resided.

The complex history of Khakas nation has showed and proved not only the amazed ability of Shamanism to live and to survive but also its assimilationist effect over Buddhism, Maniheism and Christianity which have once been tried to spread. Khakas ethnographer K.M. Patahcakov has presented following figures: “in 1924-1925 in 26 aals [villages] of Khakas county there were 71 shamans 54 of whom were males, 17 were females; 39 shamans had shaman drums and clothes; a number of genuine shamans who have been descendants of shaman by blood was 15 ...”

Since 20 century there has been marked a need of Khakas nation to reconstruct of sacred (religious) basises of its own ethical culture and:

- to reconstruct of a whole world`s view and cultic side of Shamanism, a traditional religion of the Khakas;

- to worship and respect toward ancient sacred places which are more than 300 throughout the present-day Khakas land (according to Khakas scientist and ethnographer Prof. Dr. Victor Butanaev);

- to use Shamanism as a mean to invigorate physical and psychological health of Khakas ethnos;

- to assist to young shamans in learning and shamanic acceptance;

- to percept Shamanism from position of world`s religious, philosophical and scientific experiences.

With this goal the Assosiation of Khakas Traditional Religion of Shamanism was been registered by Justice Ministry of Khakas Republic on July 29, 1994.

Socilogical research of opinion of the Khakas implemented in 1996 (by the author) was showed that 26% of interviewed peoples have introduced themselves as Shamanists and together with that a lion`s proportion of respondents (in some cases up to 70-80%) in their answers to questions regarding world`s view (about the Goodness [Good] and Badness [Evil], world`s destinies, life and death, sin and punishment, and so on) may be classified as shamanistic ones.

The incorporated analysis of specifics of existence of modern Khakases` shamanic world`s view give us an opportunity to distinguish three essential tendencies:

1) the group of shamanists who believe in existence of sacred reality and who compare and determine their own world`s view and activity with powers of other worlds; in this group there stratum of traditional Shamanism will dominate in inevitable form; this would play an positive role in respect to realization by Khakas ethnos  his strategy of revival, but not of development; and the extremal attitude in this situation would be orthodox conservatism;

2) the modernizational tendency which followers believe surely that an object of shamanic activity is the human consciousness which is the only sacrable reality; and in this context Shamanism has common points of contact with science and psycho-therapeutical practice; in en extremal form under such approach Shamanism would be threaten by possibility to melt among psychology and to lose its world`s view specifics;

3) and finally, as the most complicated but at the same time the most productive tendency we may accept the attempt to combine these above-mentioned two groups which contains the right to existence of sacred reality, polydimensionality, comlication of Universe, and life`s forms in it, its reasonal dependence, synchronizedness of existence [being], reflexible interaction with depths of human consiousness; such type of view point allows to combine harmonicly modernity and traditionality, to find out contactness of scienc and religion as two forms of perception of world and human being.

All these searchings which sometimes have reached the level of intensive and tensive discussions related to world`s view are paricular for the Association of Traditional Khakas Religion.

There we would like to emphasize on the basises of Khakas Shamanism as the world`s view of communality in which all the most important problems of people have estimated from positions of interaction between the Nature and the Human. Philosophical analysis of traditional world`s view of people allows us to distinguish the following basic ideas which have been the nucleus of ethnical culture since very ancient times:

1. World is united and alive and within it all is tied with everything, and all is interdependent.

2. The absolute and eternal Life is the highest value, and human in this there is not a `trembled creature [or animal]`, and human has synchronously appeared with world and so human has beared individual responsibility for welfare [well being] of the Universe, Nature, society, tribe, family, own eternal life here, in this `sunny world`.

3. The World is in permanent movement and development, and it has the natural rhythmics at every moment of its existence (alteration [circulation] of year`s seasons, states of society as harmony and chaos).

4. The Universe has been directed by objective, eternal law of justice so a human can not  escape from punishment caused by non-clearness of thought, feeling, and behaviour no by compensative sacrifice (furthermore if it is not his own acts) nor in case of indulgence.

5. The most important values of traditional world`s view of the Khakas are children, family, society, tribe, ethnos, and motherland.

6. The traditional world`s view gives the birth to positive perception (because of life and death are eternal and inevitable stages within the process of transformation) which in an inescapable form encourages the positive activity oriented on creativity.

7. The human of traditional society has an evident integrity (e.g., unity of body, consciousness, and soul).

8. Occurences of existencial vacuum in traditional society are unusual and that state is caused by strong social orderliness together with psycho-therapeutical activity of shamans.

9. The people`s pedagogy is a sense constructive or creativable factor and forms human`s sense of self-sufficiency, individual and ethnical pride.

Someone who knows the philosophical and scientific searchings of XX century may seize the amazed modernity of these ideas.

The traditional world`s picture of Khakas Shamanism is as follow.

The Upper World (Khan-Tigir) is a source of all existed things, and a place of the divine Light, together with that it determines the fates of world and all indivuals separately. Therefore the Khakas Shamanism has often been called as Tengrianism. The strongest shamans (who are `accepted` and `approved` and who have more 9 shamanic drums) have gotten upper to the Heaven [Sky] in order to be defenders [protectors] of human.

The Middle World is belonged to human where human realizes himself feeling happiness and existence`s satisfaction. The most important sense creativable goal of an every Khakas was not to violate the completeness and harmony this world, and individual responsibility for continuation of Life in its all forms. The Khakases have in evident form possessed the cult of ancestors who represent the power of tribal protectors and defenders (historical heoes, great shamans). The ancestors are eternal, strict and judicious. The main condition of life and power of ancestors is protection and development of ethnos with all of its attributes (like native land, ethnical culture, particularly language, and tribal relations as preconditions of integrity of people and its genetic health and so on).

The clearness of thought, sense and act are  the basis of long and welfared life; violation of these requirements (according to common law of justice) inevitably leads to punishment during of which the most horrible penalty was punishment in form to absent children [or childlessness], to put end on tribe`s continuity.

In result of careless contacts with powers of the Lower World and due to violation prohibitions and norms of morality human may be seriously suffered. And in this situation a defender is shaman who attend to deathly-dangerous struggle for life and soul of human.

The most widespread methods of treatment were consist of programming and self-programming of patient on a mode of recovery, rhythmo-therapy (by use sounds of shaman`s drums, other musical instruments, individual songs of shaman, movements of dance and so on), aroma-therapy (Irben [Thymus Vulgaris], Artysh [], and other plants),vegetable treatment, manual therapy, psycho-correction, hypno-therapy, visualization, placebo-therapy, and others.

Inter alia, in Shamanism as well as in other religious systems there we may distinguish internal (esoteric) and external (for people) sides. Regarding the latter there has been told above. What about the former there we may emphasize the following. During thousands years from teacher to pupil there have been transferred the philosophical basis and ritual practice of Shamanism. This has been caused by that the at high extent complicated shamanic reality (due to its own eternal [endless] polyplannedness [polyorderliness]) has not been suitable to rational perception and verbal explanation. The knowledge has been hidden because of shaman`s trips were always dangerous and non-foreseeable; together with that they have requested strong spiritual power, physical health and moral clearness.

The analysis of Russia`s and world`s scientific thought and my own researching of this event [occurrence] within its historical and present-day`s contexts allow us to do some prognoses related to perspectives of development of Shamanism.

1. Shamanism attracts evident interest in the world (both traditional and industrialized) not only by scientists of different specializations (anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, physicians, physiologists, psychologs of different schools, linguists, musicologs and others) but also by wide audiency of public.

The global ecological crisis has been tied by some scientists and practicians, inter alia, to loss of biophylic consciousness of humanity who once dominated in shamanic world`s perception.

Ethnically reviving nations are seeking for the deepest factors of ethnical identification including religious ones. Part of these factors peoples find out in Shamanism.        

2. Shamans (as well as servants of other religious systems) were psychotherapists till XX century, and among many peoples they still perform this function. Modern researchers of Tuvan Shamanism S.I. Vainstein and N.P.Moskalenko have marked that “a positive effect [result] is gained not only in case of patients with psychical illnesses, and neural indispositions, but also in case of some sicknesses caused by other factors <..> 49 men from 57 interviewed former patients of shamans have in result of kamlama [shamanic style of worship] recovered and their condition has gotten better”.

3. Shamans have gotten their gift [talent of capability], as a rule, by hereditary from ancestors, and it means that shamans were in the past, shamans are alive today, and they will be in the future. There were attempts to conduct struggle agaisn them (by use fires of Inquisition [in the Middle Ages Europe], camps of GULAG [in former USSR]) but they have not successed. And now there have been born young shamans who have strong shamanic lineages. In addition to that, we also have to remember, that there are shamans who have become shaman in result of serious illnesses, traumas, clynical deaths, and others. And finally, men have become shamans through training in many centers like the Foundation for Shamanic Studies of M.Harner (California, USA) where thousands of men have been trained and dealed. President of this Foundation Ph.D. Michael Harner thinks that 9 from 10 men are capable to take shamanic journeys during of which they may `to turn on` their own “internal doctor`s” function.

In recent years we have witnessed to new event in Shamanism like an intention of shamans to unite under associations of national, regional and even global levels. Themselves of shamans have predicted that “we have to expect a rebellion of ghosts resided in various places of the Earth”. And shamans of quite different peoples and continents have often emphasized that thanks to their activity related to preservation of the Universe`s balance, humanity is still protected from total death caused by technogenic catastrophes,global wars and existencial vacuum.

(*Larissa Anzhiganova Doctor in Philosophical Sciences, Professor at Culturology Department of Khakas State University named after Nikolai Katanov)

[Tilbesteen: Timur B. Davletov, 03 Qurgen 2003]

[http://www.gov.khakassia.ru/hist/index9.htm]