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The Green Lama Strikes for Justice!

If you caught our story the other day about the Buddhist comic-book hero from the 1940’s, the Green Lama, you might be fascinated to know that it later ran as a radio show on CBS — and we have an episode below for your entertainment!

Om Mani Padme Hum! The Green Lama Strikes for Justice!

Time now for another exciting adventure, taken directly from the files of Jethro Dumont.

Jethro Dumont, the wealthy young American, who after 10 years in Tibet, returns as the Green Lama to amaze the world with his curious and secret powers in his single-handed fight against injustice and crime.

The show is introduced by Tulku, “whose honor and pleasure it is to serve the Green Lama.”

Click on the link below to hear an episode that was broadcast on May 17, 1949. (I think it may have been the first ever.)

The Green Lama, and The Man Who Never Existed

Two other episodes are available from archive.org. These files are in the public domain, and you’re free to download them.

Dumont spent ten years in Tibet studying to be a lama and learning many mystical secrets in the process. He returned to America intending to spread the basic doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism in order to remove ignorance and relieve suffering, but realized that he could accomplish more by fighting crime. He never carried a gun, believing that this would make him no better than those he fought.

Wikipedia has a sizable entry on the Green Lama:

The Green Lama first appeared in a short novel entitled The Green Lama in the April 1940 issue of Double Detective magazine. The novel was written by Kendell Foster Crossen using the pseudonym of “Richard Foster”. Writing in 1976,[1] Crossen recalled that the character was created because the publishers of Double Detective, the Frank Munsey company, wanted a competitor for The Shadow, which was published by their rivals Street & Smith.

The character, partially inspired by explorer Theos “the White Lama” Bernard, was originally conceived as “The Gray Lama” thinking that he could hide in the shadows and sneak around, but tests of the cover art proved to be less than satisfactory so they changed his color to green. The Green Lama proved to be successful (though not as successful as The Shadow), and Crossen continued to produce Green Lama stories for Double Detective regularly up until March 1943, for a total of 14 stories.

And (da-da-da-DAH!) — the Green Lama lives! There’s a series of books of the adventures of this Buddhist superhero available on Amazon. Check ‘em out!

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About Bodhipaksa

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Bodhipaksa is a Buddhist practitioner and teacher, a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, and a published author. He founded Wildmind in 2001. Bodhipaksa has published many guided meditation CDs and guided meditation MP3s.

He teaches at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, New Hampshire. You can follow Bodhipaksa on Twitter, join him on Facebook, or hang out with him on .

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Comments

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Comment from Rich Conti
Time: February 24, 2012, 9:41 am

I’ve been listening to these shows and they are awesome. Very dramatic. The ‘it is written’ quotations peppered throughout the dialogue are priceless. I don’t know if they are real quotes or were just made up by the writers. My guess is that the Green Lama back-story was stolen by the people who wrote Batman Begins (where he goes to Tibet for awhile.) I’m no expert but I don’t think that’s an original part of the Batman myth. It’s really amazing to think this show was on the radio when I was a kid and I was completely unaware of it. It’s even more amazing to realize that the words ‘om mani padme hum’ were uttered on American radio years before the Beats discovered and popularized Buddhism. In fact, maybe it was this show that started the American interest in Buddhism way back in the olden days. It would be interesting to learn whether Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsburg were Green Lama fans.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 25, 2012, 12:40 pm

Interesting connection with Batman and Tibet, although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had already had Sherlock Holmes spend time in Tibet, and both the Green Lama and Batman may owe their Himalayan sojourns to him.

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Comment from Rich Conti
Time: February 26, 2012, 9:02 am

I’d forgotten about Sherlock. You are correct, I think. What fascinates me is why this radio show came along when it did, was so well-written and acted, and apparently so popular. My guess is that it was an attempt to capture the same audiences that made Charlie Chan so popular. I plan to do some research on the writers and see whether there is anything ‘Buddhist’ in their backgrounds. I was researching Lost Horizon which I thought had been very popular when it was written in the early 1930’s and it turns out the book didn’t become a best-seller until the movie came out in the late 1930’s. Anyway, I think this cross-cultural stuff is fascinating. A few days ago I accidentally discovered that the philosopher David Hume came up with exactly the same no-self teachings as the Buddha so I’ve been researching to see whether there might have been some ‘Buddhist’ influence on his thinking and one essay I found says there could have been. He apparently spent some time with Jesuits who were the only Western scholars who had studied Asian religions to any extent in the 1700’s.

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