Buddha returns to Mongolia

Years after Buddhism in Mongolia was quashed by the Soviets, the religion has returned to prominence with over half of the population now identifying as Buddhist, according to official figures

Published: 16th September 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2017 12:49 AM   |  A+A-

Years after Buddhism in Mongolia was quashed by the Soviets, the religion has returned to prominence with over half of the population now identifying as Buddhist, according to official figures

Sacred vodka

Buddhist traditions in Mongolia predate the rule of Genghis Khan, who established close ties with a Tibetan Buddhist school, according to AFP. Even under Tibetan Buddhism’s heavy influence, however, Mongolians gave the religion their own cultural touch: Inspired by shamanistic invocations using vodka, Mongolian Buddhists consider the Russian liquor sacred just as wine is to Christians

Communists demolish monasteries

During the country’s years as a Soviet satellite state, from 1924 to the early 1990s, the Arts Council of Mongolia estimates more than 1,250 monasteries and temples were demolished by the communists

Only one monastery, Ulan Bator’s Gandan monastery, was permitted to stay open during that period to support the Soviets’ claims of religious tolerance. Now 800 monks belong to the monastery, the country’s largest. After the 1990 revolution that overthrew the communists, a Buddhist leader from Ladakh was appointed the Ambassador to Mongolia

India’s spiritual masterstroke

When PM Narendra Modi visited the country in 2015, he said, “It (Buddhism and spirituality) lives through the work of Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, India’s ambassador here from 1990 to 2000. The Pethub Monastery that he established here will be an enduring symbol of our links”

Touchy China a roadblock

The revival of Buddhism has become tougher after Mongolia pledged not to extend any more invitations to the Dalai Lama after his visit last November angered China, its neighbour and biggest trade partner

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