'It is rare to find a book like this. Most comparative studies books show the author knows a great deal about one subject and not so much about the other. However, not only does Dmitry Ermakov know both intimately well, but he has produced a work that is remarkably free from the usual dry, pseudo-ethno/anthropological academic approach (which keeps the reader at arms length from the topic) and he has also rescued Shamanism from the sloppy New Age brigade who have hijacked the term for their own ends.
This is a really impressive work that gets inside the mind-sets of both types of practitioners of the ancient religions of Bon and Bo Murgel. Normally you have to dig very deep (or know several languages) to find little nuggets of information like those found here and on finishing the book you feel like we have only just begun to explore the real history of religions and even our civilization. The ancient Eurasian roots of mankind make for fascinating reading.
Bon history and practice has been unfairly dismissed by many Tibetan Buddhists and Western scholars who have not fully investigated and appreciated it and Ermakov has provided an extremely valuable service here. Central Asia was an incredibly important and fertile ground in the ancient history of religion and a melting pot for ideas, and much more scholarship needs to be done in this area.
The author corrects a lot of misunderstandings about Bon and about the term "Shamanism", especially in how it is often applied erroneously to Bon practice. The fascinating study of Bo Murgel shows much in common with our own pagan and Western esoteric traditions, and indeed, the common religious heritage of mankind from prehistoric times.
The sheer depth of information, notes, and even excerpts from highly personal diaries, may be detracting for some - and the author is also not afraid to boldly posit theories and speculate - but there is no denying the heartfelt enthusiasm of the author for the subject, which comes alive in the pages. And, actually that is the whole point - as being a practitioner of both Bo and Bon you get a unique insider's view of both religions. It would be impossible to fully understand otherwise.
This is an excellent book that perhaps may only prove its true value in the future as new research pushes back the boundaries and prejudices of our understanding of our prehistorical religious heritage.'
'This book is a serious documented study of academic value but at the same time not dull and can even be read by a public who is not specialized in the topic. Dmitry Ermakov himself admits that he chose to write from an "internal" point of view, that is the point of view of a scholar who is not uninvolved in the subject matter but rather participates in it. As an example, concerning the history of the teachings, in particular those of Yungdrung Bon, the author has chosen to follow the dating suggested by traditional Bon texts even though there is no proof that they are exact, basing himself on the principle that there is not even sufficient proof to show that they are wrong. And often, in his study of rituals, his observations are based on first hand observation even when it contradicts work done previously by other scholars of the same subjects.
Chapter XV is particularly interesting in which the author cites the works of the Indian scholar Tilak (1856-1920) and some recent scientific discoveries to support the theory according to which the cradle of Aryan civilization, and possibly of the whole human race, is found in the Arctic. The theory is not new but the way in which Ermakov reconstructs the relation between prehistoric migrations and the development and transformation of religions, philosophies and traditions is interesting.
The book is divided into chapters which deal with different thematic aspects of the two traditions being examined and include history, geographical locations, purification and healing rituals, the cult of the deer, "white" magic and destructive magic, the spread of Bon in Eurasia as well as other topics.
One of the author's aims is to clarify once and for all the widespread misunderstanding according to which Yungdrung Bon is considered to be a type of Tibetan shamanism committed to animal sacrifice and black magic which only later on took on some aspects of Indian Buddhism in an attempt to justify itself in the eye of Buddhists. Comparing the traditions of the Buryatian Bo Murgel and Tibetan Bon from a historical, mythological and ritualistic point of view shows that this is not so.'
Mirror Newspaper of International Dzogchen Community