The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chinggis Khan

The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chinggis Khan

The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chinggis Khan

The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chinggis Khan

Synopsis

There has long been a need for a scholarly English edition of the great 13th century historical epic, The Secret History of the Mongols, the only surviving Mongol source about the empire. The book is mainly about the life and the career of Chinggis Khan, his ancestors and his rise to power. Chinggis Khan was not only a military genius, but also a great statesman and diplomat. Through a combination of armed force and diplomacy, he managed to merge the complex system of alliances which existed between diverse tribes into a powerful confederacy that swept across most of Eurasia, starting in 1219. Urgunge Onon's fresh translation brings out the excitement of this epic with its wide-ranging commentaries on military and social conditions, religion and philosophy, while remaining faithful to the original text. This fully annotated edition is prefaced by a 36 page introduction setting the work in its cultural and historical context.

Excerpt

The East has known only three great men. Sakyamuni was born a prince around 500 BC in what is now Nepal. Distressed by human suffering, he left his family, achieved enlightenment through meditation, and became the Buddha. According to his teachings, life is painful, the origin of pain is desire, the end of pain can be achieved by ending desire, and the way to this is through right living. This philosophy of 'cause and effect' spread northwards into Tibet, where it absorbed the popular Bon religion and changed greatly in nature. The resulting synthesis, known as Lamaism, can be criticised as passive and fatalistic. Lamaism became popular among the Mongols during the reign of Qubilai Qahan (1215-1294).

Confucius was born at around the same time as the Buddha, into China's lower aristocracy. Confucius wanted to

1 The word 'Mongol' was used as a tribal name until 1206, when Temüjin (Chinggis Qahan) was elevated to Great Qahan. The name then became synonymous with the state until 1271, when the Great Qahan Qubilai introduced the name Yuan Dynasty. Since then, 'Mongol' has been used as a general name for the Mongol people.

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