History of Buddhism in Russia

According to statistics, Buddhists consider themselves to be a little less than 1% of the Russian population - about 900 thousand people. The history of this Eastern teaching in Russian intricately intertwined with the history of the country as a whole.

History of Buddhism in Russia History of Buddhism in Russia

Buddha Shakyamuni. Buddhist Thang.

Buddhist regions

The Russian Buddhism came to XVII-XVIII centuries, when the conquest of Buryatia began, and in Trans-Baikal and the lower Volga settled large groups of Barg-Buryat and Kalmyk (Oirat). Aboriginal Buddhist regions in what is now the Russian Federation considered Buryatia, Kalmykia, Trans-Baikal Territory, the Altai, Tuva, Irkutsk region.

Buryats, who brought the teachings neighboring Mongolian nationality, the most similar to the canonical Gelug school (Gelugpa). They believe that the most worthy spiritual teacher (Tulku) moving, re-born, from one earthly life to another. Altai same kind of Buddhism that emerged under the influence of shamanism and Orthodoxy, in fact is not even a dual faith and troeverie. With shamanic beliefs intertwining of Buddhism and religious beliefs of the Kalmyks and Tuvan.

In 1741 in St. Petersburg drew attention to the Buddhists of the Russian Empire. an order has been issued, that regulated number datsans and llamas in Buriatia 11 temples and 150 at regular clerics them.

History of Buddhism in Russia

Antropov AP "Portrait of Catherine II".

Special thanks to the Buddhists, and still feel for Catherine II. In 1764, it established the post of the head of Buddhists in Eastern Siberia and Baikal - Pandita Hambo-Lama, than actually recognized one of Buddhism the official religion of the empire. Two years later, Catherine Lama announced the earthly incarnation of one of the major bodhisattvas - White Tara.

History of Buddhism in Russia

White Tara. Buddhist Thang.

The interest in Buddhism in the late XIX - early XX century

Buddhism popular in St. Petersburg, Moscow and other major cities was something much more than just fashion. In the second half of the XIX century, the ancient eastern teachings seemed fascinated the creative people and the ministers of science.

History of Buddhism in Russia

Kalmyk monks. The beginning of XX century.

Expeditions to Buddhist regions of the empire, and Asia. It originated in the first place thanks to Professor F. Shcherbatskoi, brilliant Russian national school of Buddhist studies. Sanskrit and Tibetan began to study not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also in Kazan and Kharkov universities.

Educated layers of the European part of Russia and even West Europeans actively acquainted with Buddhism Lama Lobsang Aghvan Dorzhiev. Under the influence of priesthood held them in the French capital, Innocent Ann wrote the poem "The Buddhist Mass in Paris."

History of Buddhism in Russia

Datsan Gunzechoyney in St. Petersburg.

Swayed by the initiative in 1915 opened a Buddhist temple in St. Petersburg. Datsan Gunzechoyney, which in Tibetan means "the source of holy teachings of the Buddha, compassionate to all," was the first in the European part of Russia Buddhist temple. Until recently, while in 2014 no datsan was opened in Yakutsk, he also was the northern Buddhist temple in the world.

Datsan erected under the project of one of the main architects of the St. Petersburg Art Nouveau, GV Baranovsky, who in this follow its canons Tibetan temple architecture. Temple stained glass made from the drawings of NK Roerich.

History of Buddhism in Russia

The interior of the St. Petersburg datsan.

After the October Revolution: Renovationists

In the early XX century, there was a split among the Buryat Buddhists. He was called to attempt a few llamas and educators, including Aghvan Dorzhieva, to reform, to "update" the Buddhist community, to return to "the old ideals of moral purity and selflessness." The October Revolution has exacerbated the conflict. Now Renovationists headed Dorjiev argued that Communism and Buddhism ideologically similar, because both doctrines proclaim the equality of people and call for altruism and selflessness. However, they were also quite practical, even vital task - Dorzhieva supporters sought to reorganize the structure of the clergy so that Buddhism itself, and those who profess it, managed to survive under the new government.

First All-Union USSR Cathedral of Buddhists, held in January 1927, marked an almost complete triumph of renovators. However, the traditionalists could offer opponents fail to establish control of the USSR All-Union spiritual Buddhists. Instead, it was created a temporary representation of the Buddhist clergy, with residence in Leningrad datsan.

History of Buddhism in Russia

Participants of the First All-Union Council. In the second row from the bottom, in the center - Aghvan Dorje left - shadzhin Lama of Kalmykia L.Sh. Tepkin. Photos from the archives of A. Terentyev. "Repressed Buddhism" of the exhibition materials.

After a year and a half after the Council, in August 1928, in Verkhneudinsk as in Soviet times it was called Ulan-Ude, was convened the Third Congress of the Buryat Buddhists. His decree contained true allegiance words: "... the support of the Soviet power and the fulfillment of its activities are the sacred duty of all Buddhists and monks."

But neither reform nor assurances of devotion did not protect Buddhists from collapsed on them in the near future troubles.

The persecution of Buddhists

Mass repression on the Buddhists began around 1929. Datsans and mortars were subjected to capture and destruction. By 1936, of the nearly two hundred temples acted hardly a few dozen. In Tuva and Kalmykia burned all datsans. The fire could not only destroy the stone Hosheutovsky khurul princes Tyumen in Kalmykia and some fragments of masonry Chadan hure in Tuva.

History of Buddhism in Russia

Pogrom Huzhirtaevskogo datsan. Photos from the archives of A. Terentyev. "Repressed Buddhism" of the exhibition materials.

Datsans but still there was no one to serve because lamas were arrested, exiled, shot, declaring enemies of the people and spies. Total repression suffered about 25 thousand representatives of the Buddhist clergy. 85-year-old Aghvan Dorzhiev not escape the common fate. In January 1938, a few months after his arrest, he died in the prison hospital Verkhneudinsk.

The Buddhists in the postwar USSR

After World War II persecution, at least on a large scale, have stopped. In 1946 it was created the Central Spiritual Administration of the Buddhists of the USSR. Near the capital of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude built and consecrated Ivilginski temple, and in the village Amithasha reopened the largest Buddhist temple Transbaikalia - Agin datsan. For many years, these two temples were the only official Buddhist centers throughout the USSR.

History of Buddhism in Russia

Ivilginski temple.

However, the surviving llamas freed from Stalin's camps, secretly began to practice teaching, to carry out the ceremony, treat people the methods of Tibetan medicine. Around these lamas evolved if not the community, it is quite numerous by Soviet standards mugs.

In the 70's interest in Buddhism has spread among young people thinking of Leningrad, Moscow, the Baltic cities. Young people drink in any information about the Tibetan Buddhist schools of Indian Mahayana and its Chinese version of Zen. They gathered from all over the USSR in Leningrad, to listen to lectures Bidia Dandaron semi-underground.

History of Buddhism in Russia


Dandaron he born in Buryatia and received his higher education in Leningrad. Historian and philosopher who tried to synthesize the ideas of Buddhism with the concepts of European minds, the compiler of the Tibetan-Russian dictionary and grammar dictionary of philosophical terms in total spent in prisons and camps for about 16 years. It Dandaron once was not afraid to write a letter to Stalin, which also imposed a "Great Leader," the idea to resolve the legal existence of Buddhism, though limited and controlled by. Bidia same in 1972 itself was already under Brezhnev, was once again arrested for "organizing Buddhist sect." Several people, among them prominent scientists, fired from his job, a few Dandaron students were in psychiatric hospitals, but condemned in the end was the only one. Bidia Dandaron died in 1974 in the camp. According to his cellmates, he of his own accord stopped breathing, entering into a state of samadhi.

History of Buddhism in Russia

Cover of the book "" Vajra Guru Bidia Dandaron ", published in 2016 in Ulan-Ude.

During the post-war decades Buddhism illegally practiced in Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva. "Legal" as Buddhism power is widely used to demonstrate the breadth of his views to foreigners. Ivolginsky and Agin datsans attended by guests from abroad. It was formed "Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace", which included the friendly Soviet Union countries. Spiritual institution in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator train personnel for the two officially sanctioned Buddhist temples. Among other disciplines, future Lama learned the basics of Marxism.

The revival of Buddhism in the Russian Federation

Buddhism, like other religions, began to revive the so-called era of perestroika in the mid-80s, even if the formal existence of the Soviet regime. In 1988, the Buddhist communities were registered in Tuva and Kalmykia.

They should declare their rights Leningrad Buddhists. Soon they returned datsan, which during World War II and until the late 60's was used as a military radio, and then - as the Zoological Museum. Revered by all Buddhists of Tibetan schools, to sanctify it from India arrived Lama Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. There were Buddhist communities in Moscow and Samara. In 1991, the Buddhist regions visited the Dalai Lama XIV. In the Kalmyk capital of Elista, he held a prayer service at the racetrack. Dear teachers are covered with five hundred rugs, over which scattered gladiolus, chrysanthemums and asters.

History of Buddhism in Russia

The Dalai Lama XIV.

At Ivolga Datsan in Buryatia was established Buddhist Institute, later to become the University. In 1993 he opened the Aga Buddhist Academy. Both schools are preparing not only theologians but also experts on Buddhist medicine and traditional painting.

In the "Buddhist republics" - Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva - religion continues to be an integral part of national identity. Republic of Kalmykia even announced along with Orthodoxy, Buddhism the state religion, although it does not meet the Constitution, according to which the separation of church and state.