Ba Erdeni Lama

According to an early nineteenth century work by an anonymous Mongol author entitled How It Came About That the Mongol Royal Family Descended from the Indian Kings, the Ba Erdeni Lama was invited in 1623 by Boshughtu Khan (also known as Nurghaci or the first Qing emperor, Taizu), said to be the first “Manchu Khan,” to Niu Ching on the Mukden river, said to be the site of Manchu origin. The Ba Erdeni Lama requested from the Dalai Lama a title for the Khan, and he was known thereafter as “Manjushri Khan.” According to this text, the designation “Manchu” derives from the sound of this title. The Ba Erdeni Lama also was said to have created the Manchu script from the Mongol and Tangut scripts.

Elverskog argues that this story reveals a late-Qing worldview of “the Mongols” as one subjugate component of the (Manchu) Qing state, as opposed to earlier notions of the Manchu (or Jurchen) and other Mongol tribes as various ulus or communities that could make up a toro or state without one ulus necessarily predominating. The story also reveals an attempt to legitimize this late Qing state through claiming Tibetan Buddhist connections at its very origin.

  • Johan Elverskog. 2006. Our Great Qing: The Mongols, Buddhists and the State in Late Imperial China. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Entry by Stacey Van Vleet, 3/6/07