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Religions

Source:  Tourist Buryatia. - 2009. - . 16-43.

RELIGIONS

As well as in the whole world, in Russia and in Buryatia religion has been an integral part of the spiritual life of all the peoples of the region, and of all the ethnic groups.

Religion influenced all the sides of life of the society, its traditions, its customs and rites of the peoples.

During the time of the social cataclysms religion remained to be the hope and support of the people.

By the XXth century in Buryatia there had been two world religions — Buddhism and Christianity (Orthodox Christianity).

Within the Orthodox Christian church there were the communities of the Old Believers, who did not accept the Nikon's reforms. The major part of the Buryat population was the Buddhists. At the same time, a cosiderable part of the Buryats and the major part of the Evenks were baptized and converted to Christianity. During the years of the first revolution greater part of the baptized Buryats separated from Christianity and returned to the traditional religion — Shamanism.

The Evenks, officially cosidered to be Christians, in fact continued living in accordance with the Shamanist traditions and customs.

The Soviet rule, set in October 1917, proclaimed the freedom of conscience and religion. It led the policy against religion and church, diminishing religious views of people. By the end of the 1930— ies the Buddhist datsans and a lot of Orthodox churches in Buryatia had been closed, and other religious communities stopped functioning.

 TEMPLES

"The Odigitry Cathedral"

It was founded at the beginning of 1700-ies and was named after the icon of Odigitry's God Mother. The gilded carved iconostases were the main decorative elements of the cathedral's interior. In the upper temple the iconostasis contained four tiers with eight rows of icons.The Cathedral was built with the help of famous philanthropist P.A. Frolov. In 1929 the cathedral was closed, there was the anti— religious museum, later, there were stocks of the historical museum. In 1995 the Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was renovated, at the bell tower there were six bells fixed. In the cathedral now there is center of the Buryat district.

"Saint - Troitsky temple"

The building of the remplwe was held from 1798 to 1809. Merchant Vasily Pakholkov started building it, and it was finished by Afanasy Naletov. In 1988 the temple was given to the Russian Orthodox Church, it was renovated and it functions till present. It is located on the hill, in the city park of Ulan-Ude.                                   

"Posolsky Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery"

It was founded in 1681. It is the first Orthodox Church in Baikal area. The architecture of the monastery is the outstanding monument of the architecture of "Siberian barocco". On the territory of the monastery there is buring of the"embassy"of Erifei Zabolotsky, which was sent there with the mission to sign up the paper of receiving the eastern territories under the rule of Russian tzar Aleksei Mikhailovich. Nowadays the monastery is being reconstructed with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

Sretenskaya church

Built in 1815, now it is the monument of architecture, and is located in village Baturino, along the Barguzin road. It is a functioning monastery for women.

Selenginsky Troitsky monastery

The historical architectural ensemble of Selenginsky Troitsky monastery is unique in its way on the territory of Buryatia. It is considered to be a monument of culture of the state importance. Today Troitsky cathedral consecrated in 1785 with its two side-altars and a bell tower is the most ancient stone building of the monastery and one of the most ancient buildings in Buryatia. The stone railing with four angular towers and gates was constructed in 1831-1876 instead of the decayed wooden one. The construction of the main «saint gates» with nadvratnoy (above gates) church in memory of St. Arkhistratig Michael was carried out in 1839-1840. In different centuries and years many other wooden and stone buildings of the monastery were built. Together with the temples and the fence they made a united architectural, art and economic complex of the buildings and constructions of the monastery — one of the main spiritual centres of Transbaikalie.                                                        

Since its foundation the monastery was ruled by 40 superiors including famous archimandrite Misail (Trusov) who lived more than 100 years. Also it was J ruled by a scientific participant of spiritual mission '. in China, a sinologist (specialist in China) ; archimandrite Daniel (Savillov).                            

A specially significant and memorable event in the ' history of the ancient monastery is that St. , Innokentii Irkutskii stayed here or in the town of Selenginsk from March, 1722 till March, 1725 and from April, 1726 till March, 1727. Owing to the geographical position of the monastery (it is situated  on the ancient pedestrian road and a waterway) it  was visited by famous figures at various times. Its Imperial Highness grand duke Alexei I Aleksandrovich in 1873 and the Sovereign Emperor  Nikolai II in 1891 were among the most memorable ' persons staying in the saint monastery.

Created by Feodosii and its brotherhood at the end of XVII century the monastery saw many falsities in the more than 300-year story. Today it outlives hard time, being restored after many decades of desolation and destructions. In December, 2006 the Russian Orthodox Church took the monastery under its trusteeship, and its rebirth has begun.

By the end of the World War I11941-1945, the treatment of the state and its attitude towards the church changed.

The Buddhist religion in Buryatia had an opportunity to act and the Ivolginsky Datsan was opened.

Some Orthodox churches started working as well. During the last decade the status of the church changed. Now16datsans, 12Buddhistcommunities, 17 0rthodox churches, and a Catholic "kostel" (Roman-Catholic Church) are functioning.

Shamanism

Shamanism isatraditional religion of the Buryats and the Evenks, the name of which is derived from the word - "shaman" - the mediator between the world of people and the world of spirits. The most important and also the characteristic thing about this religion is that it is the deinfiction of nature and the passed away ancestors. The followers of the religion strongly believe that: in the world there are a lot of Gods and Sprits, and with the help of Shamans we can influence them to get happiness, well-being, health, and also we can avert misfortune.

Unlike the Shamanism professed by many people in Central Asia and Siberia, the Buryat Shamanism is distinguished by highly-developed polytheism and also more complex ritual system.

The Zabaikalsk Shamanists defined God and Spirit in different ways: Burkhan, Tengeri, Khan (Khat), noyon, ezhin, zayan, ongon. "The Eternal Blue Heaven"- Khukhe Munkhe Tengeri is considered to be the Hieghest deity. The heaven gives us life and all the good. Tengeri is not only the creator of people, but also the founder of the deits - tengeris. There are western Tengeris - they are kind and eastern - hostile. There are more the kind ones. The Shamanists (the followers of the Shamans) do not have special temples, they hold their services in the open air, at the foot of the mountain, on the bank of the river, at the hitching post, unusual rock or tree.

The family rite can be held outside or inside the house, in yurta (national house of the Buryats and Evenks), and in the backyard. Among the Shamanist rites, the most important ones are the collective rites, they are called "tailgan". Their major purpose is to ask the Gods to have a good year, a good harvest, grass, to get more cattle, happiness in the family, to avoid misfortunes.

The tailgans were usually held from May to October. The Buryat and the Evenk Shamans perform not only religious functions. The more traditional occupation for them is healing.

Orthodox Christianity

In the republic there is a considerable number of the Orthodox perishes. On the territory of the republic there is district under the rule of archpriest, which is a part of Chita and Zabaikalsk eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Unlike the Biddhist communities the archpriest of the Buryat district is not to be elected, he is appointed by the bishop. As soon as the district under the rule of the archpriest of Buryatia is a territory structure of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is ruled from the center, the Orthodox Church on the territory of Buryatia successfully managed to avoid the difficulties of the 90-ies of the past century. From 1994 to 2008 there were only 3 heads of the district.

Old Believers and Old Orthodox faith

The Semeislie (OLd Believers) of Buryatia are the descendants of the Old Believers, brought from Poland, Belorussia and Ukrain in XVIII, they kept not only their culture, but also the religion. On the territory of Buryatia even in pre - revolution time the semeiskie had two branches in the religion: priest belie(trusted the priest / the so - called pop) and priest - disbelief. The first ones accepted the priesthood, they had temples and chapels, their own priests, who led the services according to the old books and rites. At present in the republic there are 7 perishes of the Old Believers and of the Old Orthodox Faith, of various views, but they both follow the Old Orthodox faith, old faith and rites.

Buddhism

The history developed in such a way that the majority of Buddhism followers accepted the trend "gelukpa" ("tradition of virtues"), which founder was a great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism  - Tszonkhava (1357-1419). Buddhism came to the territory of present-day Russia from Tibet and Mongolia at the end of 16th — the beginning of 17th centuries. The first Buddhist monastery in Buryatia was Tsongolsky (Khilgantuisky) datsan, which was founded in 1730s.

After the decree signed by the Russian Empress Yelizaveta Petrovna in 1741 Buddhism in Buryatia was officially recognized as the state religion of Russia. In 1764 the abbot - shireete lama of Tsongolsky datsan - Damba-Darzha Zayaev was appointed in the rank of Pandito-khambo-lama, i.e. the spiritual leader of all dat-sans in the Eastern Siberia and Transbaikalia.

In 1809 Tamchinsky datsan became the main residence of Pandito-khambo-lama, it was located on the shores of Gusinoe lake till 1937. To the end of 19th century Buddhism in Buryatia was a well-developed system. There were more than 40 datsans which had over 10000 monks-lamas. Buddhist datsans were a kind of universities, which gave knowledge in Tibetan, Mongolian languages, Sanskrit, Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan-Mongolian medicine, astrology, also lamas developed book-printing, icon-painting and Buddhist architecture.

In 1811 Aginsky datsan was founded, there they established philosophy department (Tsannid-datsan) in 1850-1860. In 1880 department of Tantra (Zhoud-dat-san) was established, in 1884-department of medicine (Manba-datsan). The order of carrying out religious services (khurals) and the system of education of all disciplines in Aginsky datsan corresponded to traditions of Tibetan monastery Lavran in Amdo. The number of monks was more than 1000. Monasterial book-printing of Aginsky datsan soon became the recognized center of publishing trade in Transbaikalia and Mongolia. During the time of its existence almost all necessary canonical literature for education in datsanswas published: literature on philosophy, logics, astrology, tantrism, monasterial discipline, medicine. Also Tibetan and Mongolian ABC-books, text-books on grammar and dictionaries were published there.

At that time Tsugolsky datsan (founded in 1831) competed with Aginsky datsan. Tsugolsky datsan had a very good reputation among Buryat datsans because of the largest number of lamas-scientists. Lamas, who took the course of philosophy in Tsannid-datsan of Tsugolsky monastery, later founded schools of Philosophy and Logic in other datsans.

The Medical department of Tsugolsk datsan has received great popularity. The famous "Tibetan Medicine Atlas" was brought from Tibet by the lamas of Tsugolsk datsan at the end of XIX century and was used as a textbook at the Medical Department. It is known about the existence of only one more complete set of the Atlas, and as for Tsugolsk variant, at the present moment it is kept in the reserves of the Museum of the History of Buryatia in Ulan-Ude. Egituy datsan was founded in Khorinsk district in 1826. There is a Buddhist sacred object in the monastery — a sandal wood statue of Buddha called "Zandan-Dzhu". It was secretly brought from Beijing in the time of the boxers' rebellion. The legend says that the statue was made 2500 years ago. It is the object of worship for all the Buddhists.

In 1938 all Buddhist schools and monasteries were closed. By that time Buryatia had 47 datsans, where 10000 lamas and novices were living.

Only at the end of the Great Patriotic War, due to many requests of USSR believers, churches started to open again. In 1946 it was allowed to open a datsan in Buryatia in the region of Ivolga, not far from Ulan-Ude, and to recommence the activity of Aginsk datsan in Chita region.

From 1946 Ivolginsk datsan became the residence of Hambo-Lama, the Head of the Central Theological Board of the Buddhists of the USSR. In 1956 the delegation of CTBB consisting of Pandito Hambo-Lama E. Sharapov, did-Hambo-Lama Zh. D. Gomboev and S. Dylykov took part in the celebration of 2500th Buddha's birthday in Nepal and India, and they met the northern supreme hierarchs of Buddhism — Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. Dzh.Neru and other off icialsof India met the delegation.

In 1995 DambaAyusheevwas elected the new Hambo-Lama of CTBB of RF. In 1996 a new Charter was passed at the Sugundy (congress) of Buddhists, which renamed CTBB of RF into Buddhist Traditional Sangkha of Russia. In June 1998 the Sangkha of Russia was registered in the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation under the same number. The new Charter confirms the succession of the Sangkha of Russia from CTBB of RF.

Aginsk Buddhist Institute and Buddhist Institute "Dashi-Choinkhorlin", the two religious educational institutions, have a governmental license for educational activity.

In September 1998 at the general conference of Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace in Ulaan-Baatar (Mongolia) the Sangkha of Russia confirmed their wish to restore the activity of the international Buddhist organization. Aginsk datsan was accepted as the second national center of ABCP in Russia. Nowadays the Sangkha of Russia includes 26 datsans of ethnic Buryatia and some Buddhist communities.

BUDDHIST RITUALS

Gurums and abarals

A Lamaist consults a lama-zurkhachin about practically every event in his life.

'Zurkhachin' can be translated into English as 'astrologer'. The latter provides counsel on which rituals should be performed in every particular case. An important part of it is the Indian traditional calendar adopted in Buddhism. Every year in this calendar is named after one of the signs of the zodiac. These names are combined with the five 'elements': wood, fire, earth, iron or water. Thus, all the chronological system consists of sixty-years' cycles, the first one starting in year 1027 A.D. Having analyzed all the 'data', a lama makes upa horoscope for a new-born child, foretelling what and when the new-born should fear, which spells should be used, whom he should marry. The predictions are based on the characteristics of the birth year, manifested in its name, e.g. "year of fire dragon", "year of water hen", etc.

Buryal rites

According to the Lamaist teaching, when a man is dying, a Lama should be invited to the house to conduct the farewell rite - zurdain-sudur. The Lama instructs the dying man on what will happen to the spirit when it leaves the body. After death, one of the relatives consults a zurkhachin to ask who may prepare the dead person for the funeral, which prayers should be read, when the person should be buried, when and in what direction the body should be carried out, how the person should be buried. If the recommendations are not observed, another member of the family may die. A buyanchi -'the undertaker'— puts the dead body into a proper position, washes and dresses it, sews up the eyelids etc. According to the rules, the body should be commited to one of the five 'elements' earth, water, fire, air or wood. After the funeral a 'cleansing' ceremony is conducted to protect the living from evil and misfortune. For seven weeks after the death rites are performed to ensure the dead one can be reborn successfully.

Dzul-hural

Dzul-hural — the so-called "sacrificial rite" is performed late in autumn. The believers stand in front of Buddha statues to confess to bad treatment of the domestic animals. According to Lamaist doctrine, any domestic animal can be a reincarnation of a deceased relative of the believer. The confession is considered to help the believer to expiate the guilt to the dead.

Naidani-hural

This rite, devoted to naidani — the hermits, which have become deities, is performed in autumn. Pictures of naidani are put out, in which the latter are painted as old, decrepit people indifferent to the world. Lamas tell believers how naidani, who were once ordinary people, left the world for hermitage to gain merit and salvation. The image of naidani stresses the harm of attachment to the mundane life, which can lead to lower reincarnations.

Obo

Obo is a pile of stones, which can be arranged on the top of a hill, on a mountain slope, at a mountain range pass, by a steppe road, by a river or a spring. Lamas and believers attend these places to ask the local deities for help. Offerings of food, coins or silk scarves are left on the stones. The prayers are particularly intensive during draughts, because according to Lamaism, rain is a responsibility of the local gods and spirits. Sometimes cattle are slaughtered during such ceremonies.

Pilgrimage. Believers go on pilgrimage to the places declared sacred by lamas. Springs and unusually shaped stones and rocks are generally believed to possess the magic ability to give help and cure the sick.

Amulets. Practically every lamaist wears an amulet, which may be a piece of paper or cloth with a prayer or a spell written on it. These may be prayers for longevity, for health, for defense against violent death. The text is folded and placed into a tiny leather bag, which is worn on the neck. A more powerful amulet is a small Buddha statue or a piece of the clothes of a 'living Buddha', also worn on the neck in a small wooden or silver case decorated with engravings.

DATSANS OF BURYATIA

Ivolginsk Datsan

Ivolginsk datsan is a spiritual capital of Buddhist Traditional Sangkha of Russia and a center of spiritual Buddhist culture of Buryatia and Russia. It is located 38 kilometers from Ulan-Ude. The complete name of the datsan is "Tuges Bayasgalantai Ulsy nomoi Khurdyn Khiid". It is translated into Russian as "Monastery— the wheel of teaching, giving happiness and full of joy". This monastery complex occupies the area of three hectares and includes Tsogchen-dugan, Sakhyuusan-sume, Maidarin-sume, Devazhin-sume, Choira-dugan, a museum, a hotel, dwelling houses of the priests, suburgans and a lot of khurde (prayer drums). The datsan is the residence of the Head of Buddhists of Russia, Pandito Hambo-lama, and his house is also included into the complex. While staying in Russia in the year of 1982 Dalai Lama admitted that Ivolginsk datsan is one of the greatest places of interest he had seen in the USSR.

Ivolginsk datsan was founded in 1946 by the decree of Sovnarcom of the USSR by authority of Stalin. A year earlier a group of Buryat monks, having gathered the signatures of 16 old lamas who were former exiles, went to Moscow to meet the country leader and got his agreement to the building of the datsan. The chapel called "Khambinsk sume" was built in the Buryat village of Middle Ivolga, on the territory of Stalin kolkhoz that was located 38 kilometers from Ulan-Ude. On December 1945 the first khural (a religious service) was held. On May 23, 1946 the new Buddhist center — Ivolginsk datsan, the residence of the Head of Buddhists of Russia, Pandito Hambo-lama, the former Head of the Central Theological Board of the Buddhists of the USSR (now the Head of the Buddhist Traditional Sangkha of Russia) was officially recognized.

In 1991 on the basis of the datsan the Buddhist Institute "Tandan Dashi Choinkhorling" is created. From 1999 it has had the status of the higher educational institution. The Institute graduates Buddhist clergymen, Buddhist scholars, and specialists in Tibetan and Old Mongolian languages. At the present moment about 100 khuvaraks (disciples) from different regions of Russia, from CIS countries and from abroad are studying here. The main temple of the datsan -Tsogchen-dugan — is built according to the principle of "mandala", an ancient religious symbolic idea coming from India. 12 stone lions guard the building. There is a pantheon of a thousand of Buddhas including an immense sculpture of Buddha Shakjamuni in the altar. Apart from this, you can see the sculpture of the goddess Lkhamo who is the "protector" of the datsan.

Datsan Khabyn Khure

The Datsan Khambyn Khure is the residence of Pandito Khambo Lama. It is situated in the Verkhnaya Beryo-zovka (the name of a place 6 km from Soviet Square) in Ulan-Ude. It was founded by Pandito Khambo Lama DambaAyusheyevin 1994. It is a complex of some temples, suburgans (holy Buddhist constructions), outbuildings, and other additional lodgments. The first temple, devoted to Kalachakra — the Buddhist veity, Idam of the supreme level, was built in 1998. Kalachkara( "The wheel of time" in Sanskrit; in Tibetan; in Buryat) is a secret learning, inherited by Buddha Shakyamuny himself. There is the faculty Duynkhor attached to the temple of Kalachkara, where students are taught by the curriculum of Namgyal datsan.

      SUBURGANY       

No matter how much you travel around Sunny Bury-atia, every time you are amazed by its unprecedented beauty of nature, cultural identity, a great number of historical and religious places...

Among the most interesting places are suburgany, or religious Buddhist stupas which are built in the places where Buddhism is widespread. There is a great amount of them on the territory of Buryatia.

Stupa from Sanskrit means"the top". In the Kalmyk language it is suburgan. These religious stupas are built for the wholesome energy accumulation, whish is supposed to protect living beings. The building of suburgan is considered to be a good intention, because stupas represent the receptacle of Buddha in the past, at present times and in the future. All earthly and nonearthly creatures worship suburgany.

Suburgany are erected according to the strict Buddhist canons, but to attach the originality of the place where they are built is the task of builders. The building of these constructions has come from India. In the early Buddhism suburgany were used as the depository of sacred objects, for example, Buddha relics. In the latest Buddhism, in Buryatia particularly, stupas played the role of the memorials in honor of significant events and to famous respected lamas (Buddhist monks).

In India suburgany are also called chotten (chott means gift, ten means support) — the memorial to Buddha's thoughts.

There are 8 types of suburgany, they are of different forms:

1. Badbun-chotten — the place of a holy person birth.You can see a lot of images of lotus that grows in flush and muddy places, and it symbolizes the possibility of rebirth.

2. Zhanguub-chotten— it is built in honor of Buddha's awakening.

3. Choikhor-chotten — the place where Buddha stated the 4 truths for the first time.

4. Chamrul-chotten — it is built to honor Buddha's supernatural power.

5. Lkhabab-chotten — Buddha condescended to people at this place.

6. Yundum-chotten — it is built to remove the threat of war. There was some disagreement between the monks, and Buddha asked to build the stupa.

7.   Namzhal-chotten — it is built to prolong the lives of living beings.

8.Nya-andast-chotten — it is built to find Nirvana and to honor great lamas.

Architectural peculiarities of suburgany in every country are determined by local traditions. However, there are some obligatory elements in the plan such as a circle or a square. In the foundation of stupas there were put some certain things: Tibetan prayers — mantras, consecrated white food, reli- gious things of the teacher, the holy pot bumbe.; The stupa has a pentamerous structure the spatial, i model of the Universe the earth, water, fire, air, and the sky.

In the years of Buddhism pursuit there were de- 1 stroyed a lot of suburgans. According to Buddhism, the distraction or damaging of stupa is considered to be one of "immediately rewarded" sins. For example, in the sacred texts there were mentioned some sinners who were reborn in the hell for their damage to stupa or pagoda.                                   

According to the local traditions, you can see at the top of suburgan a triad symbol "soyombo": the sun, moon, and flame tip which symbolize the past and future continuity, eternity and space communication.                                                                      

Among all Buddhist symbols suburgan is viewed ast the symbol of the Universe and systematic comprehension of Buddhism doctrine.                               

The parts of suburgan symbolize the following:

   the foundation — good deeds, the accumulation of 10 noble actions;

   2nd stage — wisdom, accumulated due to those» 10 noble actions;

   3d stage — possibilities not peculiar to people;

   4th stage — 5 possibilities of the will (belief, diligence, memory, intellect end, wisdom);             

    5th stage — 5 spiritual powers;

   the pedestal of bumbe — 5 powers that support bumbe Bodhisattva's thought;                          

   bumbe — Buddha's thoughts;                          

   the base above bumbe — Bodhisattva's way;

   figured base — the deep penetration to thei thoughts of Buddha, to the essence of emptiness;

   the spire (13 rings) — the penetration to space,; the cognition of 10 Buddha's wisdoms;                   

   method and wisdom union — awakening, there , is no any division and duality;

   soyombo — the purity of mind.

In general, the construction embodies upper circles of life and is divided into 3 parts. The low part is mortal life, the middle part, in the form of dome with the image of Buddha Shakyamuni, is the world of demigods; the upper pointed part, which ends with soyombo and symbolizes space communication, is the world of gods. The protecting field is always formed around stupas, which has a beneficiary impact not only on all living beings, but on the place » it is built. Having gone around stupa, people are looking forward to the positive thoughts; the strong positive energy of the Buddhist construction blesses them.                                                                 

Outstanding suburgans of Buryatia          

The suburgan in the place of worship to the Barkhan mountain master is called Baragkhanskoye oboo. It is 10 km from the village of Baragkhan (Kurumkan region) at the foot of Barkhan-Uula mountain, and it is 3 meters High. This construction amuses us by its originally decorated gold-plate ornaments of traditional Buddhist symbols. Four lions-defenders are on the corners of suburgan, 4 columns are decorated by khurde. This suburgan presents good fortune and suppresses everything bad: hard drinking, suicide, accidents, people's karma. It brings fertility and prosperity to the Barguzin valley. There are no the same objects either in Buryatia or Mongolia.

Suburgan Badma Seseg is 15 km from Ulan-Ude in the outskirts of Nurseleniye settlement. In 9-meters high stupa there were bricked up a cedar pole with prayers in the Tibetan language and Tibetan wood-carver books. This suburgan symbolizes children wellbeing. Buddhists come here to ask prosperity and wellbeing for their children. It was built and opened in November, 4 in 1998 on the place of the old one which existed till the revolution in 1917.

You can also see an unusually beautiful suburgans in Buryatia that are not like traditional ones. In Buryatia they are concentrated in Kizhinga region. They are such stupas as "Dzharun Khashor" and "White stupa of Vadzhrasatvy" or the stupa of B.D. Dandarona. There are a lot of other stupas devoted to the teachers and activists of Tantric Buddhism.

White stupa of Vadzhrasatvy (the stupa of B.D.Dandarona) is 6 km to the west from the village of Ust-Orot (Kizhinga region).

This wonderful construction is devoted to a Buddhist 1 philosopher, scientist, expert in Tibet and religious figure — Bidiya Dandarovich Dandaron. To his pen 1 belong the fundamentals of Buddhism philosophy, the translations of competent Tibetan scientists works of the 18th century and Tantric practical texts.  The top view of stupa presents the circle inscribed t into the square. If you have a vertical look it seems that the semicircle stands on 4 stairs. 3 lowest are square ones, and the upper one is round. On the semicircle there's a part with eyes kharmika, there's a spire with svayambkha on it. The construction is 4 meters high. Inside the stupa there are stars dk-harmodai, in the center of which there's the upper part of an"egg"in which the ashes of B.D. Dandaron are kept, and there's also "Red suburgan".

"Dzharun Khashor" suburgan or "Stupa, which makes your dreams come true" amuses you by its beauty. It is situated 1 km from Kizhinga village and is well seen from the road. The stupa is the analogue of stupa Bodkhnatkh in the outskirts of Katmandu in Nepal, but it is of less size. The basis of the construction is the square representing The Universe mandala, then there's a dome. Above the dome there's a relatively small tier which is crowned by ganzhir-spier. There are 13 stages around the sub-urgan's body. They symbolize 13 stages of a man's release from sufferings. This is the way to reach Nirvana, that is to reach the condition when a person cannot be reborn anymore. In the center of stupa there's teachers' temple with 64 windows and portraits in it. In the south at the front door on the right you can see the small temple of bodhisattva Avaloketishvara, on the left — the temple of 21 . On the western side, the red side, there's the temple Dakin. The eyes on the stupa symbolize the all-seeing eye of Buddha.

There's a legend about Bodkhnatkh's stupa origin: the stupa was built by a lonely woman in Nepal, who had lived long before Sakya-Muni. She didn't have any children, and she swore to build stupa, if she had children. She gave birth to 3 sons. All her life she had been working on the tsar for free. When the time of payment came she decided to spend all her money on the building of stupa to which all living beings could pray Her 3 sons, White elephant and Black raven took part in the building of stupa,Vadjrasattva was the director of the project. The woman couldn't see the construction finished and died having become Dakinya (woman's creature personifying knowledge and magic powers). When the stupa was finished Vadjrasattva and the gods carried a ritual of sacrifice to the Teacher (gurupudja in Sanskrit). Everybody, gods and people, had an opportunity to see each other, they all were sitting together at the table and talking. During the ceremony Vadjrasattva made a vow to fulfill the wishes of the3 brothers and all the participants of the building. "Dzharun Khashor" is translated from Nepal as "there's no way back", in Tibet it means "stupa, which makes your dreams come true."

The first brother wished to be born in the northern country as the emperor-patron of the Studies. The second brother also wished to be born in that country and preach. The third brother also wished to be born in the same country and become the defender of  the Studies.

The Raven and White elephant were not rewarded. Then the elephant felt hurt and made a vow to reborn in that northern country as a persecutor of the Studies (tsar Landarma); to born every time whenever and wherever the religion is spread and to put obstaclec and, at last to born where atheism is spread.       

Then the raven made a vow to born in Tibet asal monk (Pelghi Dorzhe) and kill the enemy of the'J Studies (Landarma), to born every time whenever. 1 and wherever the religion is spread and to defend U it; to born at the times of atheism and revive the Studues. Dandaron is considered to be that Black  raven

In 1919 with the help of lamas from Kizhinga temple and due to the donations from people, the fol- «j lowers of Buddhism, stupa"Dzharun Khashor"was built and blessed. In 1937 it was blowed up by those times activists. Later there was made a decision to rebuilt stupa.                                                    

Suburgan — it's the governor of holy things and defender from all misfortunes. Whether you have a request or a prayer, all wishes would be satisfied and I even the highest realization and spiritual strength could be reached. It is a constantly working construction where the positive energy is concentrated, and it brings innumerable benefit to all people and living beings...(India) the art of Mandala creation, which they put into practice during the annual hural "Duynkhor". There are unique Sutras Ganzhur in the temple; they are canonical texts of Buddha and his followers, a stamped gilded sculpture of Buddha Shakyamuny, a carved cedar throne, supported by eightlions and devoted to the XlVth Dalai Lama, precious gifts made of holy ingredients, buddhist icons (tangkas), painted in mineral paints and devoted to the 25 Lords of Shambala. The main temple Tsogchen-dugan was consecrated in 2003. In the temple traditional services are held in accord with buddhist cannons. On the territory of datsan Khambyn Khure, two suburgans are erected. They are devoted to the datsan's foundation and to the divinity Kalachakra.

Buddhist Centre "Rinpoche-bagsha"

It was founded in 2000 by the Right Worthy Eshche-Lodoi Rinpoche associates by the blessing of theXIVth Dalai Lama as the Buryat Republican Public Organisation "The Tibetan Cultural Centre "Rinpoche-bagsha" it was organized by the Right Worthy Eshche-Lodoi Rinpoche. Eshche-Lodoi Rinpoche is a holy renegade (Tib. tulku), i.e. born for some special purpose and dedicating his life to help all the living beings.

In 2002 the organization was renamed the Buddhist Sentre "Rinroche-bagsha". Along with religious activity the Centre teaches everyone who wishes (not only priests, but laymen as well) the fundamentals of Buddhism by the program, specially worked out for Russian citizens.

In the framework of the Centre the Right Worthy Eshche-Lodoi Rinpoche leads consecrations in superior Tantras, transfers the practices of Makhayan sense transformation "The fighting charka", of worshiping the Teacher, and of Cathedral gift to the Teacher; and the commentary to them. He also gives courses on Yaman-taka practice, and delivers the commentary to Yamana-ka Tantra. The services in the Centre are basically held by Tibetan lamas.

In 2004 from China to Buryatia was brought and placed in the Centre the statue of Buddha, coated with gold. The statue is the biggest in Russia; it is 5 m high.

Buddhist Community "Lamrim"

The community was founded in 1996 by the initiative of the lama Choi-Dozhi Budayev with the spiritual support of His Holiness Dalai lama the XlVth to disseminate the idea of non-violence all over the world.

The community was founded with the support of different levels of population and associates, who all the time help it in its everyday activity. "Lamrim" unites 25 lamas-priests, among them there are natives of Tibet, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and almost all the districts of Buryatia.

Every day in the evening and afternoon the services for prosperity of living and for peace for those who passed away are carried out; besides, once a month they also celebrate special services.

Besides, in the community astrologers and a Tibetan doctor give consultations, at the instance of believes constantly public lectures on Buddhist philosophy are read; brochures and leaflets with spiritual sermons of great lamas of the past and with canons are published.

Buddhist Woman Datsan "Zungon Darzhaling"

The history of the Buddhist woman datsan "Zungon Darzhaling" construction is closely connected with the name of His Holiness Dalai lama the XlVth Tenzin Gyatso.

In 1992 during his visit in Buryatia, on his meeting with the activists of religious organizations, Dalai Lama the XlVth advised to inaugurate a Buddhist woman datsan with a view to preserve piece and harmony among the peoples of Buryatia.

The initiative to construct the datsan belongs to the married couple — Darima SambuyevnaTsynguyeva and Dalai Anpilovich Budayev they invested their equity into the construction. The Ambassador of India in Mongolia Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, who D.S. Tsyngueyva made a req uest to, also ag reed that it was necessary. So in 1995 they chose the place for the datsan, worked out the project for it, and started its construction. This very yearthe lamas from the Buddhist communities "Lamrim" and "Dkharma" consecrated the place and lay the holy vessel "Bumba". The Government of the Buryat Republic and some other organizations also provided some Financial Support. In 1998 the first dugan (a cabin for services) was built. The first services therein were held by the representatives of the Mongolian Buddhist Woman Centre Tgs . In 1999 a few women and girls received the vows of genim from the Right Worthy Eshche-Lodoi Rinpoche. The datsan under construction was named "Zurgon Darzhaling", which in Tibetan means "The Noble Prosperous Convent". From this point onward in the dugan they started to conduct daily hurals-services for well-being of all the living and for the prosperity of the home country. They also invite Mongolian astrologists and lamas-emchies.

In 1999 in Moscow Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) Sir U. Kkhin Nyunt offered to fund the construction of a mortar (Suburgan). On the 31st of January 1999 he arrived in Buryatia on the consecration of the Mortar; he brought the family reliquiae as a gift, and they were immured into the Mortar. His Excellency U. Kkhin Nyunt also put holy relics — blood signs, a piece of Buddha's bone, and the statue of Buddha into the Suburgan-mortar, which is located on the territory of the Buddhistic Woman Centre. The official unveiling of the main building of the datsan took place in the Day of Ulan-Ude City on the 1st of July 2000. A bulk of believers, who have taken an active part in the construction, participated in the event.

In 2001 a big statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, delivered in the datsan from St. Petersburg, was consecrated. The history f the statue is closely connected with the name of Agvan Dorzhiyev, who brought it from Tibet in 1913. The statue was restored; and 45, 000 sheets with 27 different Mantras, 65 kg of incense, grain and 9 different erdenis (jewelry) were placed into it. The ceremony of the statue's consecration was conducted by the Right Worthy Eshche-Lodoi Rinpoche.

In the settlement Maximikha in Barguzinsk region the branch of the datsan was built; the Mortar was constructed; a dugan is being built, the services are held for the holy jewel of the planet — Lake Baikal preservation.

The main difference of "Zungor Darzhalgin" from other datsans of Russia is the fact that the receiving is held by women-lamas. At present time the datsan leads the activity for blessing of all the living beings.

The Tamchinsky Datsan

The datsan is situated 150 km from Ulan-Ude near the road to Mongolia. In 1974 it was declared the centre of Buddhism in Russia by Queen Elisaveta. Two out of 17 temples, which are monuments of Buryat religious architecture, have remained so far.              

There are many interesting stories connected with this buddhist temple.

At the end of the 18th century a divine wind blew in the Selenga steppe. It is said that in 1741 the buddhist clergyman Aknaldiyn Zhinbe (Zhamba Akhhaldayev) put up a felt yurta (nomad's tent), which was used as a joss house, at the place which is the centre of the present Lake Gusinoye. That was the beginning of the history of the Tamchinsky (Gusinoozersky) dastan. It was built at the place shown by the first Pandito Khambo-lama Dambo-Darzhaa Zayaev.

The legend says that one day after the joss house had been put up the lamas eyewitnessed a real miracle: all of a sudden near the temple od Buddha there appeared water around the well. It kept on spreading, so the datsan had to be removed twice to a more elevated place.

Since its foundation the Tamchinsky datsan has been under the patronage of deity of fire — Goddess Baldan Lkhamo the main sakhayusan (keeper) of the datsan, whose habitat is the sacred mountain of Boorin-khan. The goddess is traditionally depicted riding a mule or a horse.

The buddhist monastery changed its appearance with the time. In 1750 a wooden temple was built. The influence and prominence of the datsan among bud-dhists living south of Lake Baikal spread with its growth.

The year of 1809 was an important milestone in the history of the datsan. It was then that the Tamchinsky datsan became Khambyn Khureye, i.e. the residence of the Khambo-lama, head of Buryat buddhists. For more than 130 years the datsan was the centre of Buryat Russian buddhism and buddhist thought.

In 1858 a new building of the main temple Tsokchen (Sokshin) was started. And in 1870 the scenery of the Tamchinsky valley was embellished by a magnificent three-storeyed stone house, its roof being decorated with two gilded deer with a wheel between them. The Sokshin-temple became the first model of new type temples in the Buryat religious architecture.

The Tamchinsky datsan reached its golden age at the beginning of the 20th century. It turned into a large settlement at that time. In 1903 there were nearly 300 houses, 22 temples with more than 1000 lamas conducting services there.

The Tamchinsky datsan gave Russian buddhism nine Pandito Khambo-lamas. One of the most noted of them was Gombyn Dampil (Dampil Gomboyev), who held that post from 1878 till 1896.

One of the largest datsans of Buryatia was blessed with a second life only in the nineties of the 20th century. In the summer of 1991 on its 250th anniversary the datsan was visited by the Dalai-lama the 14thTenzinGiatso. Again there blew out a fresh divine wind over the Tamchinsky valley: under the patronage of goddess Lkhamo the Buddhist faith began to strengthen. The early non-assembled temple of Ayusha returned to its previous place, the sacred servine stone of "Altai Serge" (Golden tethering post) which had had a 3300 year history and was considered to be irrevocably lost, was then found.

The Murochinsky Datsan "Baldan Brayboon"

Being thefirstbuddhist temple the datsan is the centre of lamaism in Western Transbaikalia. The Murochinsky datsan (the Tsongolsky datsan formerly) is situated not far from the village of Murochy on the right bank of the river Chikoi.

In 1741 a big felt tent for conducting divine services was put up in 12 versts from the present temple in the locality called Khilgantui. In 1758 the wooden Tsongolsky datsan was built there in accordance with the Khambo-lama's project. It consisted of the main temple of Tsokulie and 6 smaller temples — sumae. Buryat masters of temple painting and Russian woodworkers took part in the erection. The buildings of the datsan were distinguished by their size.

At the beginning of the 19th century four more small temples were built and near the datsan there appeared a monastery settlement.

The datsan's name "Baldan Brayboon" can be translated from Tibetan as "Perfect Reeping of fruits" of the Budda's teachings. Not far from the basic complex the temple "Aryabala" was erected at the sacred rock in the locality of Ranzhur where the prayer inscription "Om Mane Padme Khum" shows up. This inscription was discovered by the first prior of the datsan more than 200 years ago and since then the place has been the aim of pilgrimage of buddhists from Central Asia ans Transbaikalia. This is one of the two unique sacred places of Buddhism n the world where the Buddha has left his sign. The second similar place is situated in Nepal. Every day meditations are practised at the rock. The datsan is open for visitors.

The Egituisky Datsan

The Egituisky datsan is one of the most prominent in the republic. It attracts people due to the location of the famous statue of Buddha, the object of worship well-known all over the world. The datsan is situated 300 km from Ulan-Ude. It was built in 1826. The main treasure of the datsan is the statue of Zandan Zhoo — the Buddha made from sandal wood, which is thought to be the only intravital sculpure of Buddha Shakyamuni.

The Egituisky datsan was one of the most beautiful due to its architecture. The main temple was surrounded by three other temples — medical, philosophical and astrological ones. The datsan had its own printing house. One of the most respested holidays was Tsam.

In April, 22, 2003 the Traditional Sangkha of Russia decreed the statue of Zandan Zhoo to be one of the bud-dhist sacred objects of Russia.

Today the sandal statue of the Buddha emanates the radiant light of inexaustible study in the Egituisky datsan, situated in a picturesque place between two hills on the western bankof the river Marakta in the locality of Khara-Shibir. According to one version Zandan-Zhoo was transported to Yeravna with a lot of effort made by Gombo Dorzho Erdyneyev, the Sorzho-lama of the Egituisky datsan, and many other people who risked their lives then. The statue was bought by the lamas of the Egituisky datsan during the "boxing" riot in China. Before 1935 it was

placed in one of the small temples (sumae) and it was a worship object. In the dark period of repressions Zandan Zhoo was brought to Ulan-Ude and it was kept in the stocks of the Museum of History of Buryatia. In September, 25,1991 the statue was transported to the Egituisky datsan by helicopter. There was much sleet on that day and it is said that heavens were washing and cleaning Zandan Zhoo's way with mineral water of arshan.

The Datsans of the Tunica Valley The Datsan "Tushite", the village of Kyren

The datsan was builtin 1817, itwas destroyed during the years of anti-religious campaign and rebuilt in 1990. Its first name was "Dachin-Darzhaling". The datsan was the main buddhist temple responsible for spreading buddhist study in the Tunka Valley. The unique buddhist treaty "Ganzhur" in a golden binder was kept in the datsan. At present the datsan "Tushite" is the leading temple of the buddhist community of the Tunkinsky district, which arranges activities to support the study and to build new religious objects. Head of the community is lama Danzan Khaibzun Samayev, leader of the international buddhist fund "Akhallar".

The Datsan "Bodkhi Dkharma", Health Resort "Arshan"

The datsan "Bodkhi Dkharma" follows the traditions of the unique Khoimor Khandagataisky datsan, which was built by an outstanding religious figure and enlight-erAgvan Dorzhiyevin 1897 as a prototype of St. Petersburg's buddhist monastery. Agvan Dorzhiyev chose the place for the datsan not far from the sacred place of "Tchengiz-Khan's Throne". He later wrote in his autobiography: "The local spirits prefer this "white side" and they have vividly manifested some good proof of their presence." The Khandagataisky datsan was destroyed in the years of anti-religious campaign and it has not been restored yet.

The datsan "Bodkhi Dkharma" conducts all the services in accordance with the buddhist canon. There one can buy Indian medicine as well as some medicine based on the local raw materials.

The Nilovsky Datsan

This buddhist datsan is located 4 km from the health resort "Nilova Pystyn" up the river in the thick forest on the mountain Kholma-Ula. The legend says that a mythical god Khan Shargai noyon , head of the haats sitting solemnly on the crests of the Sayansky mountains, landed at that place. rn his honour in 1867 people built a small log cabin for praying. Later on two wooden datsans were built there.

On the territory of the datsan there is a tower of a long and smooth log with a round wooden barrel on top. One can never see such a construction in any datsan of Buryatia. Some old residents say that when lamas were converting the local people to Buddhism, they gathered all the shamans at that place and persuaded them into buddhist faith. The shamans' tambourins and ritual clothes were burnt. Sacred relics and silver coins were put into the barrel and it was raised for Buddha to see the gifts. The sand of the landing place of Khan Shargai noyon is considered sacred and they say if a man takes it, he'll get much stronger.

The Datsan of the Barguzin Valley

The Kurumkansky datsan "Gandan Shae Doovlin" is a place where All-Russian retreats are held.

Kurumkan occupies a prominent place in the buddhist world and Bogdo Gegen, Geshe Dzhampa Tinley and other highly ranked clergymen come to this land not incidentally. Pilgrims from all parts of Russia gather there. Not long ago for three days the Barguzin valley became a place of pilgrimage for buddhists from all over the country. Headed by the pandito Khamba-lama Dam-ba Ayusheyev clergymen took part in the opening ceremony of a temple near the village of Yarikta where the deity Yanzhima's image has shown up on a rock. Besides some religious rites directed at sanctifying a three meter statue of the Buddha in the Kurumkan datsan and a suburgan at the Baragkhan archan (mineral spring) were conducted then.

160 years ago an unknown flower grew near Soolosogshyn Soodoi 's house in the locality of Elesyn . At seeing it people guessed what it could mean. In the same year Tseden Sodoyev came into the world. Since his early years he had been demonstrating outstanding abilities for predicting and healing. Much later he became the shiretoi of the Barguzin datsan. According to the legend the great yogin could walk on the water surface and rise to the heaven. He predicted the Second World War, invention of the radio and even flights into space. His predictions come true nowadays as well. More than 5 thousand believers came to celebrate Soodoi-lama's 160th anniversary. There were public prayers on the mountain of Barkhan — one of the sacred objects of the buddhist world. Priors of the datsans of Buryatia, Mongolia, Ust-Ordaana Aga autonomous regions gathered there for the first time in the history of the Barguzin valley.

In the village of Argada a suburgan was built by the village community. The symbols of prosperity such as little sacks of grain, the Baikal water and stones were laid into its socle. The Argada stupa weighs 3 tonnes. Only the cleanest materials had to be used to build it, that's why the sand was extracted high in the mountains where the foot of man had never stepped. Everyone prayed for his family's prosperity at the stone of Yanzhima — goddess of wisdom, arts, patroness of mothers and children.

The statues of the Buddha and the Green were also consecrated in the Kurumkansky datsan. A new temple was opened in the Barguzin region.

 IMPERISHABLE BODY OF HAMBOLAMA ITIGELOV   

The datsan is protected by the government as a piece of cult architecture, and not long time ago it became a place where the most valuable relic is kept — the imperishable body of Pandito Hambo-Lama XII Dasha-Dorzho Itigelov.

Dasha-Dorzho Itigelov was the Head of the Buddhists of East Siberia from 1911 to 1917. He became popular as a philosopher and a doctor. All his life was spent in Buryatia — only once he left Siberia for the celebration of 300th birthday of Romanov family During World War I he organized hospitals and got several government awards. His name, even when he was alive, was connected with legends. One of them says that the monk, as Jesus Christ, could walk on the surface of water. The circumstances of his death and his burial in 1927 are very strange for Buddhism. Surrounded by his disciples, he took the pose of lotus and ordered them to take his body out of the grave after some time. He promised to come back alive. Then he began to say the prayer, which usually accompanied the dead and plunged into deep meditation. When the disciples concluded that all the signs of death are available, the body of the lama in the same pose was put into a cedar sarcophagus and buried at the rural cemetery.

The authority of the teacher was unquestionable. The disciples visited Dasha-Dorzho twice from that time: in 1955 and in 1973. They made sure that his body is imperishable, changed his clothes and put him into the grave again. In September 2002 the body of Itigelov was exhumed according to the legal rules. Forensic medical examination experts drew up a report, which stated that the skin of the body, the nails and the hair were safe, the tissues of Hambo-Lama were soft and flexible, the joints active. It became clear that this is not   mummification,    embalming,    tanning    or preservation of the body due to permafrost but some other, yet unknown to anybody, condition.

Now they build up a separate datsan for the relic; the project is carried out by old Buryat    scetches. 

   RULES OF BEHAVIOUR AND THE GIFT PROCEDURE IN BUDDHISTIC MONASTERIES!

When you have come to a monastery, you should walk around it along the perimeter. On your way you should set in motion khurde, that is big prayerful   drums   inside   of which there are threaded mantri. Try not to speak out loud, don't blow your nose, spit, or smoke. Having entered the temple, take off your headdresses. Having joined the common action, you can come up to the altar quietlly and bow to it. Also here you can present it with khadaks, light icon-lamps to your near and dear for their longevity and to those who are dead for their way to the Nirvana. Also you can put incenses. On the altar you can see different divinities and mandals. In the Mandal (three-stage hoops decorated with precious jewels and metals, bestrewed with grain and seeds; it symbolizes the Buddhist world picture) you can put money as a sign of increase of welfare and richness.

While bowing put your hands ahead yourselves as a sign that in future you will be guided by the method (arga) and wisdom (belig) to achieve Buddha's level. Raise your hands above your head to show your intention to soar into Ganden — the sphere of all perfect buddhas. Touching you forehead, you can pray to clear yourselves from negative deeds and actions committed by the body. Placing your hands opposite the throat you can ask to clear yourselves from all negative deeds committed by speech. Keeping your hands on your chest you can ask to clear yourselves from all deeds committed by mind.

           











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