This text was published in the book‘Sacred Sites of Yssk-Kol: Spiritual Power, Pilgrimage and Art’. by Aigine Bishkek:, 2009. Translated from kyrgyz.
Kadyrbek was born in 1961 in Darhan village of Jeti-Ögüz raiyon, Ysyk-Köl raiyon. He used to work as a driver. In 1990 he completed a six-month course of bio-energetics in Frunze. Since 2001 he has been the guardian at the Manjyly-Ata sacred site complex.
I have had kyrgyzchylyk since 1986. In 1990 I passed an exam at Norbekov156 school of traditional medicine and then I worked in the “Beiyish” traditional medical center in Bishkek for 8 months. After that I studied at the Scientific Research Institute for 6 months and received their diploma in “Unconnected Energies”, the certificate is numbered either 152 or 154. Then I started to heal people.
At that time nobody was interested in religion and traditional healing methods. But with the encouragement of some people who were, I worked at the regional hospital in Pokrovka from 1992 to 1996. From 1996 to 1998 I established the traditional medicine department at “Ilbirs” factory where I could see my own patients. People with different illnesses would come to me. I could not cure them all but I helped many people with eczema, head aches, nervous problems and stress, stomach aches, liver problems, arthritis, puss coming out of ears and eyes and those who were bewitched. Most people do not understand that there are things like curses, words and spells that bring bad luck and sickness. These curses are also mentioned in scientific works and in the Qur’an. People should protect themselves from such things.
There are schools in Moscow and Almaty called “School of Development of Distant Energo-Information”157. The professors come from Saint-Petersburg, and other big cities. I studied there but did not get a diploma. The school teaches important things, how to open the seven chakras, how to correct a persons aura and how to protect oneself from evil energies.
We have a saying “If you ask for a child, go to Manjyly”. When our Kyrgyz people were living in the Altai, the Ala-Too mountains were occupied by Kara Kalmyks. When our Khan Jakyp prayed to God to give him a son, he was given a vision. In his vision he was standing in a place where on one side there was the lake and on the other a mountain, there he was given a tiger by the people. In the morning when Jakyp asked a healer about his vision, the healer said: “Jakyp, God is going to give you a child. There is a place called Manjyly in Ala-Too. You should go there and pray”. So Jakyp Khan sent his wife Chyiyrdy and advisor Bakaiy from Altai to Manjyly-Ata to pray. This is told in one of the versions of “Manas”, recited by the manaschy Mambet Chokmorov. Sayakbaiy and Mambet Chokmorov’s versions of “Manas” are different, but there are some similarities too. Both versions tell of Jakyp’s vision.
When he was eight years old Mambet Chokmorov was pasturing sheep at a place called Tashtar-Ata, which is situated close to Manjyly-Ata and fell asleep. Manas came to his dream and said: “At the age of 21 you will recite Manas”. He said that and branded Mambet, when this vision happened Mambet was lost for three or four days and then somebody found him. This would repeat itself often, and after a while people realised it was connected with the spirits, they would ask him to tell them a story of “Manas”. When Mambet turned 20 his relatives slaughtered a sheep and conducted a sacrifice in his honour. Since then he has been reciting “Manas” and “Semeteiy”. When he gained fame with his reciting, he was brought to Frunze [current Bishkek – ed.]. There Sayakbaiy Karalaev said: “Mambet Chokmorov recites “Manas” better than I do”. But Mambet disliked Frunze for its “dirtiness” and went back to Ysyk-Köl. In the city he could not read namaz five times a day and also he never drinks alcohol. He returned to Tong. He would bring people to Manjyly-Ata mazar to pray at night, without being noticed by the authorities, he would make people read namaz. He died in 1973. So even in those bad times old man Myrzaly and others came to Manjyly, guided the pilgrims to the sacred places and taught them to read Qur’an.
The ancient saying “If you ask for a child, go to Manjyly…” is still used today and for good reason. One old lady came from Jangy-Talap village of Naryn province, she said was not able to have children until she was 27 and only after the visited Manjyly-Ata. Her eldest son is now 45. In the Soviet days people would come all the way from Leiylek and Suzak. Even though they were afraid of the government, they came at night and asked for children. The secretaries of regional committees prohibited visiting mazars, but they would come themselves. This is because this is a powerful place and the spirit of this place is Ak-Taiylak.
The word “Manjyly” consists of 7 letters. There are seven sacred sites and seven springs in Manjyly-Ata. The springs all cure different sicknesses and people visit the different sacred sites according to what they suffer from and recover. The waters in different springs have different tastes. One seems to have more sulphur, another tastes more muddy. When the springs are cleaned, healing mud is taken from them.
The distance between the lake and Manjyly is about half a kilometre. Sometimes one can hear and see a white colt calling, a child crying, and a white hare running. Each sacred site differs from the others in its level of power. The first sacred site, closer to the entrance, is called the Manjyly-Ata sacred site. That spring contains a large amount of sulphur. It is good for skin diseases. Inside the spring sits a big frog, as big as a bucket, with a shiny skin. It is not seen by everybody. It appears in front of people who are good natured and clean.
There are a lot of snakes at Manjyly, and they come into the yard. We spread flour on the ground there. Snakes should be treated well.
There is a saying that there are always two sides to everything. There are both angels and demons on graves. Some people might be under the control of demons. It is said that one should not trample graves much, and one should go there only after ablution. If one spits on the graves it is offending the spirits of the people lying under the ground, they say “I do not have a tongue to speak. If I had a tongue I would not be dead. You, of the perishable world, you are spitting on me”. Their offense is the same as a curse. Boys from the age of 12 and girls from age of 9 and older can visit mazars, but they should be clean. However, smaller children should not go, unless they are sick. Little children can be strongly affected by the experience and it can be too difficult for children, we should keep them from these strong energies.
It is difficult to carry the burden of other people. The duties of a spiritual master are to guide people in their pilgrimage; to tell them to take care of the mazar and not let them trample all over the place and help them understand its power; the capabilities of each spring. Our duty is also to teach people how to read Qur’an and pray; and to explain the right way of pilgrimage.
Manjyly has influenced me positively and has brought me luck. Since I have been here I have become the father of two children. Before visiting Manjyly, I already had three children. I named my son, who was born in 2003, Kutman [q.v. see kut], in honour of this land. In 2006 when my other son was born I called him Islam, as it was only in this year that I really took up the religious path. It was also the year in which the world began to hear of Manjyly-Ata, news of its power spread not only into Kyrgyzstan, but to the whole world. The heads of raiyons mentioned Manjyly whenever they visited the south shore of the Ysyk-Köl and Manjyly received many foreign visitors.
When I came here first in 2001 some people in Tong had heard about Manjyly, but almost nobody had been here and most people did not know where it is. But people seem to be able to find out if they start to have difficulties in their lives. If there is no trouble in life, people even forget about God. Now every year there are more and more pilgrims; a house has been built for them; electricity has been connected; a mosque has been built.
We are all sinners and there are people who come away from this place disappointed, there are also people who envy me. There are many different clairvoyants, mullahs, and ordinary people, there are many different points of view. Not every person can come to a place like this and serve it. In order to serve, a person must be accepted by the patrons of the sacred site. There have been pilgrims who came here and wanted to be my assistants. Those who were strong enough worked for a year, some could not bear it and worked for only half a year. Now, with the growing number of visitors and houses, this place is becoming like a town. So we are recruiting assistants and guardians, improving the facilities of the guest area with the money given by people and we are trying to use if for the good of the people themselves.
I read namaz, Qur’an and hold the Moslem religion but at the same time I also hold kyrgyzchylyk and serve as a healer. There are people who cannot understand this and are deaf to my explanations. There are some mullahs who oppose visiting sacred sites and say that in this way people are worshiping mountains and rocks. But this is not how it is; people aren’t worshiping the water and rocks. They worship only God. When they pray to God they come to mazars because this is a place where they can pray and show respect to the spirits and their ancestors. It is written in Qur’an that passing the graves of the deceased one should show respect, stop, pray and read Qur’an. It is written: “If you notice that there is a spring on any part of the land, earth, nature, you should clean it and open its eye.” Also Qur’an mentions that at such places one should read a Sura, a chapter from the Qur’an, and conduct a sacrifice. If we take all these things into account and reconcile the two sides of our beliefs, then people would understand everything.
The buildings, built at sacred sites, are not mosques, but are places where one reads namaz. A mosque cannot stand near graves. The mullahs of the muftiyat [q.v.] and kazyyat [q.v] know this and so do scientists. We have prepared a suitable setting for people to read namaz and we do not have a mosque, for this reason we are not under the control of the muftiyat and kazyyat. The mazar is under government control as this is government land. The local village imams obey the kazyyat and are counted in the hierarchy.
In 2003 I passed the test and exam of the kazyyat and the muftiyat. On September 10th 2003 I received certificate number 134 in Balykchy. It states that I am the imam of Manjyly-Ata.
The connection between our culture and sacred sites is very strong. The behavior and culture of a person and the Earth should be the same. If we keep ourselves clean, we should keep nature clean too. If we do not waste any drop of water and use it wisely, we will learn not to waste anything and we will reach great success. Kyrgyz people have great traditions, we met visitors with bread and salt and we respected them. That is also why we were a great nation. But now it is not like that. It is important to respect one another and be united. Manas united all the Kyrgyz people. Thanks to him we are living in this wonderful land.
I had heard about the sacredness of Manjyly-Ata since I was a child and I believed in it. I saw this sacred site in my dreams many times. I got very sick when I was four years old, I had epilepsy, I had headaches and I could not bear loud noises. I did not like people and my mother took me to visit healers. My mother also had kyrgyzchylyk power. She would look at women and judge them, she knew things, she would say to a pregnant woman: “you will give a birth to a boy” or “it will be a girl”. She knew what people were like she would say: “there is hope in this woman” or “this woman is not very safe.” My mother was like a man: she was very open, direct, outspoken and strict.
It is good that there are a lot of pilgrims. We should not hide our sacred sites; we should introduce them to the world. And the help of governmental and non-governmental organizations is a great support. It is good if the spiritual masters and guardians of sacred sites explain the correct ways of visiting sacred sites and it is important that people show respect. If any place is treated badly it looses its powers. Our houses are also sacred. We should show respect to both our home and a place where we work. It is a duty of every person to praise their land.
155 Here talk is of Attila the Hun (406-453 C.E.) [ed.].
156 Mirzakarim Norbekov is a psychologist and pedagogue, a Doctor of philosophy and a doctor of medicine. He is the founder and president of the “Institute for self-development” (Институт самовосстановления человека) which offers courses [ed.].
157 [Russian] Shkola Dalneiyshevo Energoinformatsionnogo Razvitiya [ed.].