By PHILLIP STAHLE
Tuesday was an exciting day for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon studies, thanks to a generous donation of three Mongolian Sutras from Malan Jackson.
The largest donated Mongolian Sutra was preserved from a Buddhist Monastery around the 1930’s. At that time the Russians, who had taken control of the government, began invading these Monasteries and destroying the religious icons. Over 35,000 people were systematically slaughtered while the temples were destroyed.
This particular Sutra is the type of scripture the monks of the monastery would use on a daily basis while burning incense.
“If you smell the cloth on the outside of the scrolls, you can still smell the centuries of incense,” Jackson said.
These scriptures are usually not removed from the safety of the Monastery.
Jackson bought the largest of the three Sutras from an individual in Mongolia who has been hiding the scriptures from the authorities for close to 70 years.
“I bought it with the idea of giving it to somebody,” Jackson said. “I feel that FARMS will be able to benefit greatly from the Sutra.”
The Sutras themselves are tightly wrapped in cloths of differing colors. One of the smaller “pocket-sized” Sutras was printed from ink placed on a wooden block, Jackson said to the group of FARMS directors. One of the smaller Sutras was called the “Book of the thousand prostrations.” The contents of the Sutra told of the ways of repentance, merit and doctrine within the religion.
The largest Sutra from the monastery is over 300 years old, while the smaller “private” Sutras are about 150 years old. Inside the pages of the Sutras, the Tibetans characters are written in gold and other nature-based materials. These characters are written on “black paper,” which is exceptionally rare, Jackson said.
“The scrolls have been well-preserved, because there isn’t any acid in the pages,” said John Gee, an assistant research professor at FARMS.
Jackson is the director for the Center of International studies at UVSC. He has worked with educational, religious and business interests in China for close to 43 years. He speaks Japanese, Russian, Mongolian and Mandarin Chinese. Jackson has also served as a mission president for the LDS Church in Taiwan.
FARMS is a non-profit foundation, established in 1979 and now affiliated with Brigham Young University. FARMS searches for useful information to questions about the ancient backgrounds, origins, composition and meanings of scripture.