The Mongolians were converted to Buddhism in the sixteenth century when the powerful Alta Khan conferred the title Dalai Lama, meaning Ocean of Wisdom, on the head of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect in Tibet.|
After the Manchus had established their rule over China in 1644, they actively sponsored the spread of Tibetan Buddhism as a way of pacifying the Mongolian Tribes and channelling their warlike tendencies into religion.
As Abbe Huc* , a French missionary observed in 1845:
'It is certain that the government of Peking, while it leaves to poverty and want the Chinese bonzes, honors and favors lamaism in a special degree. The secret intention of the government in augmenting the numer of lamas, who are bound to celibacy, is to arrest by this means the progress of the population in Tartary.
The recollection of the former power of the Mongols ever fills the mind; it knows they were formerly masters of the empire, and in fear of a new invasion it seeks to enfeeble them by all means in its power.'
The policy was so successful that like Tibetans, every Mongolian family sent one son to be educated in a monastery.
Later, the Reverend James Gilmour* was openly astonished and envious of the lama's success.
'It would be difficult to find another instance in which any religion has grasped a country so universally and so completely as Buddhism has Mongolia. Not only does his religion insist on moulding his soul and coloring his whole spritual existence, but it determins for him the color and cut of his coat.' In fifteen years he managed to make only one convert, but his book became a best seller which the Spectator compared to Robinson Crusoe.
* Missionary who traveled for two years in Central Asia dressed as a Tibetan Lama. Souvenirs d'un voyage dans la Tarterie, le Thibet, et la Chine pendant les annees 1844-6
**Scottish missionary in his book Among the Mongols