The Devil's Guard
by Talbot Mundy
Originally published in 1926 as Ramsden
(Page numbers come from the first Avon paperback
printing, April 1968)
In the 1920s, adventurers Jimgrim and
Ramsden begin a quest to rescue an old acquaintance from the
clutches of the dupgas of the Black Lodge in Tibet.
full novel at Freeread.com
Notes from the Twin Peaks chronology
Should this novel be considered part of the Twin Peaks
universe? If so, it takes place in the 1920s, many decades
before the events of the Twin Peaks TV series. The TV
series seems to be borrow many elements from this book, so the
book might be considered a prelude to events in the series. For
the moment, I'm keeping it as a sidebar study, but I keep
flip-flopping in my mind whether it should be considered part of
timeline. It would be fun to have one of the characters from
this novel be mentioned as an historical figure in the new
Twin Peaks series coming from Showtime in 2016
This novel was one of the sources of inspiration for the White and Black
Lodges and dugpas of
Twin Peaks (along with the 1935 occult book Psychic
Self-Defense by Dion Fortune). Quite probably, other elements of the show came
from this novel as well, such as:
a BOB-like character
references to the Dalai Lama
the mysticism of Tibet
honest protagonists (Jimgrim and
Ramsden) facing off against a former partner who searches for
the Black Lodge
board games that
involve manipulating real people
the quotes by Tsiang Samdup at the beginning of each chapter are
loosely related to the themes of that chapter, similar
to the Log Lady Intros written by David Lynch for syndicated
airings of Twin Peaks
A great article about the
connections between The Devil's Guard
and Twin Peaks can be found in the fanzine Wrapped
in Plastic #3 (1993), "The Secret History of the Black and
Each chapter of the novel begins with a quote from The Book
Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup. This is a fictitious tome
of sayings of a fictitious lama. Mundy also uses quotes from
this "source" in his 1924 novel Om-The Secret of Abhor
The novel is written in the form of journal entries by Jeff
Characters appearing or mentioned in this novel
Tsiang Samdup (quoted only)
Jimgrim (James Schuyler Grim)
Elmer Rait (also goes by Lung-tok)
Reverend Will Hancock
Rabindra Das (mentioned only)
Mordecai (also goes by Lung-tok and Shatra)
Lung-tok (an alias used by Mordecai and stolen by Rait)
Sidiki ben Mohammed
Rao Singh Bahadur
Page 9 states that Jimgrim is known from Dera Ismail Khan to
Sikkim. Dera Ismail Khan is a city in Pakistan and Sikkim a
state in northeastern India, bordered by Tibet.
On page 10, Ramsden writes that Jimgrim looks as if he is
half-Cherokee, but has only a trace of red man in his
ancestry. The Cherokee are a Native American tribe of the
southeast United States.
The book opens with Jimgrim and Ramsden in Darjeeling,
sitting on the porch of their hotel room, gazing at the
looming Himalayas and the peak of Kanchenjunga with the roar
of the Runjeet River in their ears. Darjeeling is a city in
India in the Lesser Himalaya mountain range. Kanchenjunga is
the third highest mountain in the world. The "Runjeet River"
probably refers to the Rangeet River which originates in the
Himalayas (there are numerous different English
pronunciations and spellings of locations in India).
On page 11, Ramsden writes that Jimgrim had been part of
Younghusband's expedition into Tibet. This is probably a
reference to British Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Edward
Younghusband's (b. 1863, d. 1942) expedition to Tibet in 1904.
Younghusband was an interesting character himself, with personality
traits that would fit him at home in Twin Peaks: during his
Tibetan expedition, he is said to have had a transforming
mystical experience that left him with love for the world
and the feeling that humans are, at heart, divine; he is
also said to have had telepathic experiences that had led
him to believe that a race of translucent extraterrestrials
lived on the planet Altair.
Elmer Rait is said to be from
On page 12, Ramsden writes that he and Jimgrim had been in
Darjeeling for several days since their return from Assam (a
state in northeast India).
Ramsden and Jimgrim use the term "babu" in reference to
Chullunder Ghose. "Babu" (and it's more familiaresque
"babuji") is a term of respect in India used towards men
(though sometimes in a vaguely pejorative manner by British
occupants of the country in late 19th and early 20th
Centuries). The word is generally associated with such
English words as "sir" or "gentleman". Chullunder Ghose
refers to the two Americans as "sahib";
"sahib" is an Arabic word, essentially
meaning "friend" in modern parlance, which has passed into
numerous other languages.
Reverend Hancock is a scholarly sort who has written
eccentrically on the subjects of the Pali manuscripts; that
the Garden of Eden was in Ceylon; that the Afghans and
Afridis are the ten lost tribes of Israel; that Alexander
never crossed the Indus; and that Moses wrote the
Pentateuch. Hancock is also known to believe in "Shakespeare under
the banner of Francis Bacon, sometime Earl of Verulam."
Pali is a language used in many of the
earliest Buddhist literature.
The Garden of Eden, of course, is the land of
paradise created by God for Adam and Eve at the beginning of
mankind as described in the holy texts of the Abrahamic
religions. Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) is an island nation off the
southeast coast of India; it is not a location most scholars
would suggest as a potential site of the original Garden of
The ten lost tribes of Israel are those that
were allegedly deported from the kingdom of Israel after it was
conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C. Many groups of
people since then have claimed heritage to one of the lost
tribes, including the Pashtuns of Afghanistan. The Afridi are
one of the tribes of Pashtuns.
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was a
Macedonian king who ruled one of the largest empires of the
ancient world and was never defeated in battle. He is said to
have crossed the Indus River with his armies in 326 BC as the
beginning of his attempt to conquer India, but had to turn back
due to his own army becoming war-weary and mutinous after several
years of marching and fighting their way through the East and
longing to return home to their families.
Moses, of course, is one of the major figures
of the Abrahamic religions. "Pentateuch" is another
name for the Torah (or Old Testament), and it
is considered to have been authored by Moses from the word of
God in most Abrahamic faiths. Modern scholars generally contend
the book has multiple authors, written of over a course of
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), of course,
is widely considered the greatest writer in the English
language. A minority of scholars have questioned the authorship
of Shakespeare's works, many attributing it to Francis Bacon
(1561-1626), a renowned philosopher and author in his own right, who
was also made Baron Verulam (Earl of Verulam) in 1618, less than
ten years before his death.
The reference to "Adam's curse" on page 14 is presumably a
reference to the 1904 poem of that name by William Butler
Yeats, about the difficulty of creating beauty.
On page 14, the children at Hancock's mission sing the Ten
Commandments and Jimgrim plays "Nobody Knows How Dry I Am"
and "Alexander's Ragtime Band" on the chapel organ. The Ten
Commandments, of course, are the commandments given by God
to Moses at Mt. Sinai in the Torah. "Nobody Knows
How Dry I Am" is a line from the 1919 song "The Near Future"
by Irving Berlin, which has become more famous for that line
than for the song as a whole. "Alexander's Ragtime Band" is
another song by Irving Berlin, published in 1911. Hancock
here mistakenly thinks the songs are from Handel; George Frideric
Handel (1685-1759) was a German composer known for his organ
A reference to Mosaic miracles is made on page 14. This
refers to miracles performed by (or related to) the Biblical
On page 15, Chullunder Ghose makes reference to the Latin
phrase tempus fugit. It essentially means "time
flies" translated into English.
On page 16, Chullunder Ghose makes reference to drawing
blank in the Calcutta Sweep. The Calcutta Sweep is a betting
pool on a particular horse race, organized by the Calcutta
Turf Club, a sporting club based in Calcutta, India.
On page 17, Chullunder Ghose makes reference to "Ruth and
Boaz, in English History". This refers to a Biblical story
in the Book of Ruth.
Chullunder Ghose states he is a failed B.A. from
University. B.A. is short for Bachelor of Arts, a
collegiate degree of study in the liberal arts or sciences.
Chullunder Ghose mentions having worked with Ramsden in the
Chandni Chowk in Delhi. Chandni Chowk is large wholesale
market in the city of
established in the 17th Century. As Ramsden later remarks on
page 32, it includes the old Street of the Silversmiths.
In his letter, Rait asks Ramsden to meet him in
This is the capital of Tibet.
Rait also praises Ramsden as being able to "hit like
Billy-o" when pointed in the right direction. The phrase
"Billy-o" essentially means "very hard".
The search for the legendary land of peace called
Sham-bha-la in Tibet is based on a land referred to as
Xembala (a Sanskrit term indicating
"peace/tranquility/happiness") in Tibetan Buddhism. Some
scholars believe it is actually China (Cathay) referred to
by another name. Sham-bha-la is also the basis of the
fictional Shangri-La in James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost
Rait mentions having worked with Ramsden in Benares. Benares
(now known more commonly as Varanasi) is a city in northern
Rait calls his letter to Ramsden an SOS. SOS is the
international Morse code distress signal; it is not an
actual abbreviation for anything.
Rait believes that Sham-bha-la has a library of ancient
texts written in a language older than Sanskrit. Sanskrit is
an Indian language at least as old as the second millennium
Rait claims that the Dali Lama and Tashi Lama are secretly
advised by the people of Sham-bha-la and that Pythagoras and
Lao-tse are said to have visited the people there. The
Dalai Lama is the head monk of the Gelug school of Tibetan
Buddhism, and nominally the leader of Tibet. The Tashi Lama
is the second-highest ranking lama after the Dali Lama.
Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher in the 5th Century BC and
Lao-tse was a Chinese poet and philosopher of about the same
Rait says he slipped into the closed country of Tibet
through Gyang-tse. Gyang-tse is a city in Tibet near the
border of Nepal.
Rait warns Ramsden to beware of women in Tibet, who
sometimes favor polyandry. Polyandry is the practice of one
woman having multiple husbands at the same time. This
practice does occur historically in some regions of Tibet.
On page 24, Rait remarks on Sven Hedin's journey up the
Valley of the Indus. Sven Hedin (1865-1952) was a Swedish
explorer who located the source of the Indus River on an
expedition from 1905-08. Rait claims the Maharajah of
Kashmir looked the other way in order for Hedin to enter
region; Kashmir is a region of South Asia, not a nation in
itself, and has been ruled by different nations or groups of
Rait reminds Ramsden of an old story in Freemasonry about a
woman who overhears the secrets of Freemasonry and so the
members are forced to admit her into the Order so she won't
reveal their secrets to outsiders. Freemasonry is a (some
say ancient) fraternal order originally meant to regulate
the qualifications of stonemasons. Modern Freemasonry is
more of a social club. Women have traditionally not been
allowed to be regular "official" members of the lodge.
Rait claims he's heard that Sham-bha-la even has a
manuscript in the handwriting of Jesus.
Chullunder Ghose calls Narayan Singh the Sikh who slew the
Dead Sea. Chullunder Ghose seems to be using metaphoric
exaggeration here to point out the level of bad luck that
occurs to those around Singh. The Dead
Sea is a salt lake along the borders of the nations of
Israel and Jordan with such high salinity levels that
animals and plants cannot live in it (though some microbes
do). Presumably, Singh is a Sikh, a member of the
Chullunder Ghose says he is a G.B. Shavian opinionist and
that he would rather be wrong than live in a barrel like
Diogenes. This is a reference to George Bernard Shaw
(1856-1950) an Irish playwright and critic known for his
passionate opinions. Diogenes was another opinionated
bastard, known as Diogenes the Cynic, who is said to have
lived in deliberate poverty and often slept in a large
ceramic jar (the barrel) in the marketplace of whatever city
he was currently in and criticizing.
Hancock tells Ramsden and Jimgrim that Tibet has a cult of
disobedience to God, practicing sorcery and black magic,
"the same evil that the witch of Endor practiced and that
brought Sodom and Gomorrah to their ruin—that alliance with
the powers of evil that the Apostle Paul denounced." The
Witch of Endor appears in the First Book of Samuel, as a
medium in the Canaanite city of Endor who summons the spirit
of the prophet Samuel to advise King Saul of Israel on his
upcoming battle against the Philistine forces; Saul is
berated by the spirit for awakening him and for disobeying
God, predicting the defeat of Saul's army the next day,
which does happen, and Saul commits suicide. Hancock goes on
to say it is the same evil that brought down Sodom and
Gomorrah, denounced by the Apostle Paul. In the Bible's
Book of Romans, Paul says, "And as Isaiah
predicted, 'If the LORD of hosts had not left us children,
we would have fared like Sodom and been made like
Gomor'rah.'" The two cities of Sodom
and Gomorrah are mentioned in both the Bible and
Torah as being cities of sin that were judged and
consumed by fire and brimstone sent by God as punishment.
Again according to the Bible, the two cities were
located near the modern day Dead Sea, which borders the
modern nations of Israel and Jordan.
To hide the fact that they are planning to enter Tibet, Ramsden's
group pretends they are heading for Bombay. Bombay is now
Mumbai (since 1995) and is the capital of the Indian
state of Maharashtra.
The train Ramsden's group takes from Darjeeling runs through
Ramsden comments in his journal on the different varieties
of people riding the train, including Lepchas. The Lepcha
are an indigenous people of Sikkim.
Ramsden remarks that Benjamin's shop in the Chandni Chowk
holds odds and ends from around the world, from
Pekin (more commonly known as Peking or Beijing).
On page 32, Ramsden counts out Bank of England notes for
Bank of England has been the chief issuer of paper
currency for the UK since 1694.
Jimgrim comments on how he and Benjamin both helped Rabindra
Das escape into Persia after the Amritsar affair.
Amritsar is a city in India. Persia is the country now
known as Iran.
When he enters Benjamin's store, Chullunder Ghose
uses the greeting, "Salaam," on page 33. This is an Arabic
greeting meaning "peace".
On page 33, Chullunder Ghose makes mention of the Son of the
great Joshua who made the sun stand still, the chariot of
Elijah, and the submarine of Jonah. In the Torah, Joshua is
said to have asked God to stop the sun and the moon in the
sky so he and his army could finish the Battle of Gibeon in
the daylight; the term "son of Joshua" is probably meant to
refer to a Jewish man (in this case, the store owner,
Benjamin) since Joshua is said to have become the leader of
the Israelites after the death of Moses. Elijah is said to
have been picked up in a chariot of fire in the Torah's
Book of Kings. The "submarine of Jonah" is probably
a reference to the whale or fish that swallowed Jonah in the
Book of Jonah.
On page 36, Ramsden states that he and Jimgrim last saw
Mordecai in Damascus, bringing goods of the Bokhara Jews
while the war was waging.
Damascus is the capital of Syria.
is capital of Uzbekistan. I'm not sure exactly which war is
referred to, as the Middle East region has long been
troubled. Ramsden goes on to describe Mordecai as a Marco
Polo among bargain-hunters, looking for merchandise where
most thought none existed and selling it all over the world.
Marco Polo (1254-1324) was an Italian merchant who travelled
the world, buying and selling.
Benjamin tells the group that Mordecai met Rait in Simla.
is the capital city of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
Benjamin refers to Tibet as the Roof of the World. This is
one of the region's nicknames, due to the Himalayan mountain
range hosting the tallest peaks in the world.
Benjamin says there are older and holier books than the
Quabalah in Tibet which men would kill in the name of.
Kabbalah is an ancient esoteric school of mysticism in
On page 37, Benjamin claims it was the Jews who traveled
with Christopher Columbus, for you can not tie up a Jew in a
stable. He goes on to say, "The sun stood still on Gideon
and the moon in the valley of Avalon, but not the Jews..."
Christopher Columbus (~1450-1506) was an Italian explorer
who is credited with opening up, if not exactly
"discovering", the New World for Spain in 1492. I am unsure
of the references to Gideon and Avalon with the sun and
moon, though it's probably a Biblical or Torahnic reference.
Ramsden remarks on having been half-boiled in natural
hot-springs and half-frozen in the Tsang-po River. I'm not
sure which river he means by this since there are five
rivers in Tibet using the "Tsang-po" suffix to indicate they
flow through the Tsang province of Tibet.
Benjamin warns Ramsden's group not to smoke in Tibet, for it
is a crime, nor pass a religious shrine or person of respect
on their left-hand side or be seen eating chicken or
drinking milk. I've been unable to confirm if these were
true transgressions in Tibet at the time.
Benjamin makes reference to a medical college on the Chakpo
Hill outside Lhassa. This is the
Men-Tsee-Khang Medical, Astronomy, and Astrology Institute.
On page 42, Benjamin tells Ramsden not to speak himself in
Tibet due to his accent, adding "...niemals!"
Niemals is German for "never".
Ramsden remarks that Kashmir is a tourist Mecca, with a
system for fleecing Americans even better than Deauville or
the Riviera. Mecca is considered the holiest city of Islam
and Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage there at least
once in their lifetime (hence the word "mecca" has been used
to apply to any location that attracts large numbers of
people for a specific purpose). Deauville and the Riviera
are both beach resorts in France that are extremely popular
Ramsden's group travels by train from Delhi to Rawalpindi.
Rawalpindi is a city in Pakistan.
To help make Ramsden's group look more legit, Benjamin
entrusts them with two tons of merchandise for consignment
to his agents in Srinigar.
Srinigar is a city in the Kashmir Valley.
Benjamin becomes worried that one of his assistants may have
told a suspicious Mahommedan something about Ramsden's group
and their plans, calling the assistant a Klapperstorch.
Klapperstorch is German for "stork", but I'm not sure
what that has to do with an incautious assistant at the
store (maybe it has to do with the idiom of a "singing
On page 43, Jimgrim takes a messenger to a bar and makes sure
he drinks plenty of arrack so he won't be liable to remember
what the delivered message was about. Arrack is an
Indonesian alcoholic drink.
Ramsden's group passes through Murree, an exurb of
Ramsden's group wants to get through the Zogi-la Pass
between Kashmir and
before winter storms begin. Zogi-la is an actual mountain
pass in India.
Ramsden mentions the River Jhelum running through the
Kashmir Valley. This is a real river.
On page 45, Ramsden is examined by a Parsee doctor. The
Parsee are a Zoroastrian community in India.
Also on page 45, Ramsden is referred to as a Hercules by a
passing English doctor. Hercules was
the Roman name for the Greek hero/demigod Heracles, who had
Tsang-yang comes from the Province of Kam in Tibet. This now
former Province was part of what is now the Sichuan Province
of China and the Tibet Autonomous Region.
On page 51, Ramsden mentions the Karakorum Mountains. This
is a mountain range that runs along the borders of Pakistan,
India, and China.
Ramsden's group steals along through the Sind Valley with
the unconscious Tsang-yang. The Sind Valley is a sub-valley
of the Valley of Kashmir and was a strategically important
part of the old Silk Road.
On page 54, Chullunder Ghose asks Tsang-yang if he likes his
chupatties burned on both sides or just one. Chupati is a
type of flatbread used as a staple in south and central
During the journey through the Sind Valley, Ramsden takes on
the identity of Painless Parker, "a great physician gifted
with powers of divination and possessed of infallible
remedies for curing barrenness of acres, camels, cows and
wives." In the real world, Painless Parker was Edgar R.R.
Parker (1872-1952), a famous and flamboyant street dentist
in the United States.
On page 55, Chullunder Ghose tells a nonsense tale of all of
"Painless Parker's" achievements, such as curing the King of
the United States of leprosy; that the Crown Prince of
Switzerland conferred on him the Order of the Garter for
healing him of so-called Republican Tendencies; and the
Emperor of France offered him his only daughter in marriage,
on condition he should live in the Louvre, which honor he
refused, on account of insufficiency of palace furnishings.
The United States is led, of course, by an elected
president, not a king; likewise, Switzerland is lead by a
president, as a republic, not royalty and the Order of the
Garter is an honor bestowed on certain individuals in the
United Kingdom, not Switzerland; France was not led by an
emperor during Ramsden's lifetime, and the
Louvre is a museum in France, not a royal palace.
Also on page 55, Ramsden remarks that he gave the
superstitious locals Worsteshire sauce for their imagined
ailments, which they took for Tantric drugs. Tantrism is
part of Hindu spiritualism and meditation, sometimes
augmented with the use of mind-altering substances.
On page 56, Ramsden remarks that Asian health department
officials are known to be extremely jealous of genuine
thaumaturgists. A thaumaturgist is a person who is allegedly
able to work miracles or magic to affect cures or make other
observable changes in the physical world.
On page 57, Ramsden remarks that Chullunder Ghose told tales
about him that would have made Münchhausen blush. This is a
reference to either the real life Baron Hieronymus Karl
Friedrich von Münchhausen (1720-1797), known for the tall
tales of his exploits and adventures in the Russo-Turkish
War, or the fictional Baron Münchhausen written about in a
series of stories by Rudolf Erich Raspe circa 1785, inspired
by the original Münchhausen.
Also on page 57, Tsang-yang is presented as Ramsden's
chela. This is a Hindi word for "disciple".
On page 59, Tsang-yang mentions Krishna. Krishna is one of
the most revered of the Hindu deities.
On page 60, Tsang-yang mentions Leh.
a city in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas of India.
Also on page 60, U is described as a province of Tibet. This
is correct, it is one of the three regions of Tibet, with
Kam and Amdo.
The term chiling is used in Tibet for a foreigner.
More specifically, it is used for a Caucasian foreigner in
the real world.
On page 61, in the asking of questions, Chullunder Ghose
implores Tsang-Mondrong, "...why in the name of Chenresi..."
Chenresi is the thousand-armed embodiment of God in Tibet,
reaching out to the suffering beings in the worlds.
Tsang-Mondrong refers to Rait as a ragyaba.
Ragyaba is a term used in Tibet for the lowest class of
person, beggars who live in filth on the outskirts of towns.
Tsang-yang spent some time at the Dre-pung monastery. This
is a real monastery in India.
Ramsden makes a remark about it being bad generalship to
postpone crossing the Rubicon. This is a reference to the
crossing of the Rubicon River in Italy by the armies of
Julius Caesar in 49 BC.
Ramsden describes Mordecai's face as being like Lenin's, but
better-humored. This refers to Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924),
the communist founder of the Soviet Union in 1922 after the
dissolution of the Russian Empire in 1917.
Kűn-Dűn is an actual title by which the Dalai Lama is
referred. The term is Tibetan for "presence", which Mordecai
says the monks also refer to him as (the Presence).
Mordecai remarks on gold brought from Thok Jalung. Thok
Jalung was an actual gold mine in India in this period of
Mordecai states that Rait had the monks of the monastery he
was staying at believing he'd been taught in China by some
kind of living Buddha. Buddha was the
Indian spiritual teacher Siddhārtha Gautama whose teachings
began the Buddhist religion.
Mordecai says there are white Mahatmas and black Mahatmas
and a war going on between them behind the scenes. This
sounds similar to members or adherents of the White and
Black Lodges in Twin Peaks; in fact, both White and
Black Lodges are mentioned specifically later in the novel.
"Mahatma" is Sanskrit for "great soul", similar to "saint"
in Christian terms.
Mordecai refers to the black Mahatmas as Red Hats. In
Buddhist tradition, Red Hat are three distinct sects of
Buddhism, Sakya, Kagyu, and the oldest Buddhist sect,
Nyingma. Are these what Mordecai is referring to? A fourth
Buddhist sect is known as Yellow Hat or Gelug, of which the
Dalai Lama is a member. Yet, later in the novel, a figure
referred to as the Yellow Lama is depicted as essentially
evil. In the real world both Red and Yellow sects of
Buddhism are generally considered peaceful, fair, and
tolerant...in other words, good.
Mordecai tells the assembled group that he had rode all over
the Dras plateau. Dras is a town in India often considered
the Gateway to Ladakh.
On page 76, Mordecai exclaims, "Ach Ihr lieben
Gottesmenschen!" This is German for "Oh ye dear people
Mordecai reports that a monk told him that Sham-bha-la is
not a place, but a kind of state of consciousness.
Mordecai says he shared a drink of chang with the monk who
provided him the information about Sham-bha-la. As he says,
chang is a type of beer, brewed in Nepal and Tibet.
Mordecai speculates that Rait may think he can gain a clue
to Sham-bha-la through the Tantric mysteries.
Mordecai remarks on having been into the
secret caves of
Lebanon. Lebanon is a country in the Middle East, but I'm
unaware of what secret caves he refers to.
On page 79, Mordecai remarks on his experience inside a dark
cavern (the Black Lodge?) where monks in masks seemed to be
judging him and strange music is played. He goes on to say
that it feels as if your senses all worked backward instead
of forward, like being the reflection in a looking-glass,
like a place where animals exist before they are born. He
says he felt the way he guesses a cow feels in the shambles
On page 81 and 82, Mordecai uses nemo for
"landlady" and kale pe a for "go slowly". These are
the respective Tibetan words for these terms.
Mordecai tells the group there is a Morovian mission in
Ladakh. I've not been able to find a reliable reference to
"Morovian". Possibly, it's a misprint of Moravian, relating
to the region of Moravia in the Czech Republic.
Mordecai relates that the evil ones tried to poison him with
aconite in his soup. Aconite is a toxin derived from the
Aconitum genus of plants.
On page 86, the author uses the word buss, stating
it means "that is all". I've been unable to confirm the
meaning of the word.
On page 89, as Ramsden's party is watched by two snow
leopards through the winter's night, Tsang-Mondrong tells
them of the superstitions of his people, "They are
incarnations of the souls of lamas who forsook the true
religion and pursued black arts. And as they robbed and
misled men's souls, so now they seek our bodies. If they
catch us, we will be as they are--leopards in the next life!
If a man should die of a sickness, or be slain by a man,
then it is safe to throw his body to the dogs and vultures,
who will merely eat it and the soul goes free; but if he is
slain by an animal he becomes an animal. And all creatures
crave company, which is why those leopards seek to slay us
men, hoping to add to the number of leopards."
Also on page 89, Ramsden mentions Baltistan. This is a
region in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan.
The home of
Sidiki ben Mohammed is said to lie "near the northern outskirts of
Leh, in a hollow between two spurs of a rock-littered
mountain." Between twin peaks?
Ramsden's party is brought to a meeting room in Sidiki's
house and Ramsden describes two chromographs hanging on the
wall of Queen Victoria and Field-Marshal Lord Roberts of
Kandahar. Queen Victoria (1819-1901)
was the ruler of the United Kingdom from 1837-1901.
Field-Marshal Lord Roberts (1832-1914) was an extremely
successful British Army commander in the 19th Century,
including time spent in the Kandahar field forces. Kandahar
is the second largest city in Afghanistan.
Several of the characters seemingly associated with the White
Lodge wear a gold ring on the middle finger. Is there any
significance to this? Is there any connection to the Owl
Cave symbol ring in Fire
Walk With Me?
The White Lodge chela called Lhaten is said to
speak English "with a pause between each word, as if he had
lost a former fluency, but there was not much accent." Could
this be considered similar to the "reverse-speech" of the
beings seen in the Waiting Room in Twin Peaks?
The passage from The Book
Of The Sayings Of Tsiang Samdup at the beginning of Chapter
10 includes, "he who has true courage welcomes trial..."
This might be compared to Hawk's warning to Agent Cooper
about his people's legends of the Black Lodge, "if you
confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will
utterly annihilate your soul," in
18: "Masked Ball".
The passage goes on, "...neither because of bravado nor from
any other form of vanity, but because he is strong and the
strength asserts itself as sap in springtime." The strength
of sap in springtime is an obvious allusion to trees, a
prominent symbol throughout Twin Peaks, possibly
representing human souls as suggested by the Log Lady's log
and Josie's "presence" in the wood of the Great Northern
On page 104, Narayan Singh worries that Tsang-Mondrong and
Tsang-yang have run off to betray the party, bringing
policemen and a burra sahib. An author's footnote describes
a "burra sahib" as "an important official". This seems to be
a roughly accurate definition of the term.
An unnamed man who visits Ramsden's party at Sidiki's house
and who seems to be associated with the dugpas is described
on pages 104-105 thusly: "In the darkest corner, with
his back toward a bookcase filled with bound volumes of
ancient English illustrated magazines, there sat a coppery
skinned man in a drab-colored turban, whose black hair fell
in waves over his shoulders. He had more hair than a woman,
but his face was almost tigerishly masculine..." This
could almost be a description of BOB!
On page 117, Sidiki declares he would treat his young
child-wife as "Abdurrahman of Kabul used to treat faithless
women (not particularly mercifully, that is, if accounts are
true)." I've been unable to confirm any historical or
legendary account of a man by this name and his treatment of
Jimgrim describes the dugpas in a manner almost identical to
the words of Windom Earle in
"The Path to the Black Lodge":
Jimgrim: "Dugpas is the name for sorcerers who cultivate
evil for the sake of evil."
Earle: "...these evil sorcerers, Dugpas they’re called, they
cultivate evil for...for the sake of evil, nothing else."
In the real world, Dugpas, or the Drukpa
Lineage as they are sometimes called, are a branch of the
Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, no kind of evil fraternity
at all, though some 19th and early 20th Century writers used
them as sorcerer-practioners of the "left-hand path" (LHP),
allegedly malicious black magic, as opposed to practitioners
of the "right-hand path" (RHP) of benevolent white magic.
Definitions of LHP and RHP that go back to the origins of
the terms in Indian Tantra suggest a more middle-of-the-road
approach for each, RHP being based on ethical codes and
social convention and LHP being based on the breaking of
taboos and desire for individual freedom.
Jimgrim and Earle both also compare the dugpas to the
Kali-worshipers of India. Kali is the Hindu goddess of
empowerment, but popular western fiction has tended to
portray her as an evil goddess of destruction (such as with
the Kali-worshipping Thuggee cult depicted in the 1984 film
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).
Jimgrim states that the White Lodge is made up of those who
are "the students of Life, so to speak—much in the same way
that Luther Burbank studies botany, for the love of it."
Luther Burbank (1849-1926) was a horticulturalist who
developed numerous strains and varieties of plants in the
name of agricultural science.
Jimgrim states that the Dalai Lama and Tashi Lama of
Shigatse are the trusted outer representatives of the inner
secret White Lodge, whose headquarters is said to be
Sham-bha-la. Historically, the Tashi Lama (usually referred
to as the Panchen Lama by Buddhists) has traditionally lived
in Tashilhunpo Monastery in the city of Shigatse, Tibet.
Jimgrim also states their Jewish shopkeeper friend Benjamin
"takes orders from the White Lodge, although he isn't a
White and doesn't know much more about them than we do."
According to Jimgrim, the dugpas are master hypnotists,
incredibly expert psychologists.
Jimgrim states that the dugpas want to gain control of the
entire world, just like the Bolshevists. The Bolshevists
were a faction founded by Vladimir Lenin and Alexander
Bogdanov of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which
split from it and formed the Communist Party of the Soviet
Lhaten makes reference to Thales, Gilbert, Faraday, Edison,
and Tesla in regards to the discovery and knowledge of
electricity. Thales (c. 624–c. 546 BC) was a Greek
philosopher and mathematician who noted some of the first
discovered properties of electrical attraction. Gilbert is
William Gilbert (1544-1603), an English physician and
physicist who is credited by some as the father of
electrical engineering. Faraday is Michael Faraday
(1791-1867), an English scientist who contributed greatly to
the study of electricity. Thomas Edison (1847-1931) was an
inventor and businessman, producing many electric products,
including the light bulb. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a
Serbian-American electrical engineer and physicist who was
something of a competitor against Edison.
On page 126, Lhaten mentions Galileo.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is often considered the father
of the Scientific Revolution and contributed to astronomy,
physics, mathematics, and philosophy.
Lhaten mentions Kabir becoming a poet. Kabir was a 15th
Century Indian poet and philosopher who influenced and
criticized both Hinduism and Islam.
On page 129, Lhaten mentions Newton, Beethoven, and Lao Tse.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is often
considered the father of modern science. Ludwig van
Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer, known for many
great works of classical music. Lao Tse was a poet and
philosopher of ancient China.
On page 130, Lhaten mentions Einstein.
Einstein, of course, is a reference to Albert Einstein, the
renowned German theoretical physicist.
On page 130, Lhaten is described as seeming to hesitate in
his speech, as if listening to the wind. Then, on page 131,
he goes on to say, "What becomes of the fire that has eaten
the wood! Fire is a bad master. Better to grow trees, though
fire come and consume them. The very worst that fire can do
is to release the elements of what it burns. Does any of you
wish your very spirit to revert into its elements? Serve
evil if you do. Become a dugpa. It is first a little
comfortable fire that warms the intellect; and some, by
growing used to heat, endure it for a long time. Even rocks
burn when the heat grows great enough. Better to grow trees
and guard against the fire." In close succession, we get
almost spiritual mentions of wind, fire, and trees, similar
to the spiritual suggestions of such in Twin Peaks.
Ramsden describes the abbot of the monastery as enduring the
outrageous banter of Chullunder Ghose with emotions that
suggested an old maid being flattered by Don Juan. Don Juan
is a fictitious character of 17th Century Spain known as a
On page 139, Jimgrim exclaims, "Take a dekko at him."
"Dekko" is a British slang term meaning "look" or "glance".
The abbot of the monastery proclaims, "Can a tree not cast a
shadow on a wall? Can even you not see your image in a pool?
Shall not an arch dugpa then use this poor weakling to
reflect his image?" An author's footnote about "reflecting
an image" reads, "According to some authorities this
process accounts for a large percentage of the idiots
immured in lunatic asylums. It is said that, through vicious
habits and in various other ways, they render themselves
unable to resist the imposition of other wills on theirs —
even of a number of other wills at one time. If true, this
would account for the sudden criminal outbursts of otherwise
apparently sane people. Whether true or not, there are
millions of people who believe—and there is plenty of
circumstantial evidence—that experts in malignant hypnotism
and thought transmission can project their own personal
appearance as well as superimpose their will on another.
Compare the Bible, H.P. Blavatsky, Eliphas Levy,
and scores of other writers on the subject." Again we
have the mention of trees, an image in a pool (the oily
pool with the reflection of red drapes in the center of
Glastonbury Grove?), and a description of an imposition of
one's will upon another's psyche (like BOB and Mike
possessing human hosts?). H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) and
Eliphas Levy (1810-1875) were both self-professed magicians
and spiritualists of the late 19th Century.
On page 147, Ramsden hears a voice in his near-death dream
speaking Pushtu. Pushtu is the language of the Pashtun
people of South-Central Asia.
On page 148, Ramsden describes Rao Singh as looking more
like a Rajput than a Tibetan. Rajput is a clan of people
existing in India and Pakistan.
Chullunder Ghose quotes, "Blow, blow, thou winter wind. Thou
art not so unkind as man's ingratitude!" He is quoting from
Shakespeare's 1599 play As You Like It. In both
cases, the quote represents one who has been disgraced by a
On page 150, Chullunder Ghose addresses Rao Singh by the
title of Sri. Sri is a Sanskrit word used
in place of "Mr." or "Ms." in English or even meaning "holy"
in the original Sanskrit.
Ramsden describes a circle of monks sitting around a fire as
being as dignified as owls.
Ramsden mentions the
On page 164, the head monk speaks of Gautama. This is a
reference to Buddha.
An author's footnote on page 165 describes the term
sanyassin as "a wandering religious beggar". This is
roughly true, as a sanyassin is a follower of Hindu
philosophy who is in a stage of renunciation of material
The quote by Tsiang Samdup at the beginning of this chapter
is about dreams. It is reprinted below:
"Consider this, my son: this earth-life is a little
time, of which a third is spent asleep.
What went before it, and what cometh after, are a long
time—verily a time too long for measurement.
Shall we be of the herd who say that dreams are a
delusion because waking we cannot interpret them in terms of
Or shall we, rather than pretend to have more knowledge
than the gods, admit that possibly some dreams may link us
with that universe
from which we came into a temporary world, and into
which we must inevitably yield ourselves again?
Some dreams are memories, it may be, of experience
gained in the infinity of time before the world was.
And the wisest—aye, the very wisest of us—is he
altogether sure that all earth-life is not a dream?"
The final question asked by Samdup here is reminiscent of
Phillip Jefferies' statement in Fire
Walk With Me (or, rather, Jefferies' quote is
reminiscent of Samdup's): "We live inside a dream."
On page 170, Ramsden describes Chullunder Ghose as arguing
like a bunnia. Bunnia is a Hindi term for
"merchant" or "money-lender".
In Ramsden's dream, Rait moves pieces around on a board that
looks similar to checkers. As he makes his moves, it seems to
cause things to happen to other men around him. This scene
may have been a partial inspiration for the chess game
played between Earle and Cooper in Twin Peaks.
On page 180, a dugpa describes the difference between the
White and Black Lodges:
"Why should the White Lodge be
willing to receive you, and the Black Lodge not?" the man
went on. "Which would you rather have—knowledge now, or
knowledge at the end of twenty or thirty lifetimes, which is
all the White Lodge offers you and at the cost of endless
self-discipline. And they don't even offer it. They make you
struggle for it. They withhold it. Whereas the Black Lodge
makes things easy. They will teach you and send you back to
the United States, where you will enjoy prosperity and
influence. I hate this barren land, into which I was born
and in which my die is cast."
"Listen: by being nobody and living like a louse
a man may go through life and never even know there is such
knowledge as I offer you—such opportunity. But you are not a
louse. You must ally yourself with one force or the other or
you will simply be torn apart as countries often are that
try to keep neutral in wartime. The White Lodge is extremely
difficult to enter, and if you should succeed in finding the
place you seek, the odds are ten thousand to one you would
not be admitted. If admitted,—well, imagine for yourself, if
you can, what it means to be taught prodigious secrets,
which you are not allowed to use! I assure you, virtue grows
monotonous. And if your virtue grows weak, you are out like
a sorefooted soldier—like me!"
"But if you choose the Black Lodge," the man
went on, "you will be allowed to use the forces whose nature
will be revealed to you. The Black Lodge, too, is difficult
to enter, because none but he who has strength of character
is useful to them. But, once in, you are in the ranks' of
the magicians. You become a power. You are given work to do
from which you see immediate results. You are on the side of
the erosive forces, like the wind and flood, that are just
as much agents of evolution as are those other forces that
assemble the detritus and so slowly build up structures that
shall only be destroyed again. So now choose."
Ramsden asks Lhaten where he learned English and Lhaten
tells him, "Cambridge
University. German at
Heidelberg. French at the Sorbonne." These are real
world educational institutions, the Sorbonne currently
divided into three university groups in Paris.
At the base of a mountain trail, Ramsden sees a chorten.
A chorten, also called a stupa, is a
vase-shaped stone monument in Buddhist tradition.
The lama refers to the Wheel of Life. This is a Buddhist
symbol of the cyclic existence, birth, death, and
reincarnation over and over until a soul finally achieves
The yellow lama seems to indicate that the Black Lodge
exists in a place called Jalung-dzong. This appears to be a
The lowest order of monks in a monastery is said to be the
dok-dokpas. These are guardians of the monastery, fighting
to protect it and their betters so the others don't have to
break vows of non-violence.
An ugly woman who attempts to seduce Ramsden and Chullunder
Ghose at the yellow monastery is compared by Ramsden to
Lilith, the she-monster who seduced Adam before Eve turned
up. In Jewish mythology, Lilith was a female demon who
became Adam's first wife, but left him when he demanded she
become subservient to him.
Ramsden describes Chullunder Ghose as a Lothario. Lothario
is a character accomplished at seducing women in "The
Impertinently Curious Man", a story-within-a-story in the
17th Century novel Don Quixote by Miguel de
Cervantes. The character's name has since been used to
describe a man who enjoys seducing women.
The ugly woman is named Kyim-shang, which Ramsden comments
was the name of a famous queen of Tibet who was the daughter
of an emperor of China. There are real legends of this, but
I've been unable to confirm whether it is considered
historically accurate; Kyim-shang is said to have been the
daughter of a Chinese emperor named Juy-tsung and is alleged
to have become a queen of Tibet (or even the
Queen of Existence).
Ramsden describes bell-ringing and the blare of a radong. A
radong is a long, trumpet-like instrument with a bell-shaped
The head of the dugpas who capture Ramsden and Chullunder
Ghose says that Nature is red in tooth and claw.
"Nature, red in tooth and claw" is a
line from the poem "In Memoriam A.H.H." by Alfred, Lord
The dugpa leader forces Ramsden to drink some soma. Soma is
a ritual drink in Hindu tradition. Western fiction tends to
portray it as an intoxicant with mind-altering properties.
Chullunder Ghose is described by a couple of outsiders in the
novel as if he is a Bengali, but it is never confirmed
outright. Bengal is a region of India at the apex of the Bay
As he makes his attack against Rait, Naryan Singh shouts,
"Rung ho!" As far as I can tell, this is a phrase made up by
the author. Even the similar American term "gung-ho"
originated during WWII, some time after this book was
Ramsden remarks that Lhaten reminds him of a doctor he once
met in Baroda. Baroda is a city in India, now known as
The quote from Tsiang Samdup at the beginning of this
chapter includes, "Be moderate in all things..." This is a
major part of the philosophy of the Middle Way, described by
Buddha as the path to liberation.
Ramsden's group passes through a couloir in the
mountains on the way to Sham-bha-la. Couloir is a
French word for passage, in this case a narrow gully in
Ramsden states that a marble carving of an Asiatic man with
the Athenian build of the time of Pericles that resembles
Rodin's Thinker lies at the cave where he and Chullunder
Ghose recuperate at the end of the novel. The Thinker
is a bronze sculpture by French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
Pericles (495-429 BC) was a statesman and general of the
Greek city of Athens during the height of its glory.
Ramsden states that he hasn't cried for thirty years, but
can perform fake sobs behind his hands like a Worthington
pump with an overload and valves that need repacking.
Worthington Pump and Machinery Corporation made steam pumps
sold around the world at the time this novel was written.
Jimgrim sends back a representative of the White Lodge to
fetch Ramsden and Chullunder Ghose. Ramsden describes the
man as looking like Michelangelo or John Singer Sargent's
painting of Moses. Michelangelo (1475-1564) was an Italian
artist and engineer. John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was an
American artist; he never did a painting of Moses as far as
I have been able to find, but did do a frieze of him and
some sketches as he planned the frieze.
Deciding that he cannot go to meet Jimgrim at Sham-bha-la
with Ramsden, Chullunder Ghose exclaims, "Pranam!" before
explaining. Pranam is a Hindi term used for the
greeting of respect one gives to another by putting their
palms together and bowing (or sometimes touching the feet of
the person greeted).
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