Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

When I asked him why he had been away so long, Bogga-Eddin answered as follows: ‘I was away all this time because in one of the towns of Upper Bukhara I chanced to meet an extremely interesting man, and in order to see him more often and converse with him as much as possible about questions which profoundly disturbed me, I arranged to serve as his guide for a journey through Upper Bukhara and along the banks of the Amu Darya, and it is with him that I have come here now.’

‘This old man,’ continued Bogga-Eddin, ‘is a member of a brotherhood, known among the dervishes by the name of Sarmoung, of which the chief monastery is somewhere in the heart of Asia.’

Bogga-Eddin further told me: ‘During one of my conversations with this extraordinary being, it turned out that he somehow knew a great deal about you. I therefore asked him whether he would have anything against it if you should wish to see him.
‘To this question he answered that he would be glad to see you, a man who—though by origin a kaphir—has succeeded, thanks to his impartial attitude towards all people, in acquiring a soul similar to ours.’

Kaphir is the name given to all foreigners of other faiths—and this includes all Europeans in general—who, according to the notions there, live like animals, without principles and without anything holy in them.

Everything that Bogga-Eddin told me about this man set my brain in a whirl, and I begged him to arrange a meeting for me as soon as possible. He readily agreed to do so, as at that moment the old man was not far away, staying with some acquaintances in Kishlak, near New Bukhara. We arranged to go there the next day.

I had several very long conversations with this old man. In the last one he advised me to go to his monastery and stay there for a time.

‘Perhaps,’ he explained, ‘you will succeed in talking with someone or other there about the questions which interest you, and maybe in this way you will make clear to yourself what it is you seek.’ He added that if I wished to go there, he would be willing to help me, and would find the necessary guides, on condition that I would take a solemn oath never to tell anyone where the monastery was situated.