The Spread of Buddhism in Northern Russia by Buda Badmayev
For 270 years Buddhism has spread considerably its influence in Russia from the traditional Buddhist regions Buriatya, Altay, Kalmykia, Tuva to Jakutiya, Novosibirsk, Jekaterinenburg, Arhangelsk, Severodvinsk, Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
This year Saint-Petersburg Dazan Gunzechoiney has celebrated its 95th anniversary.
Saint-Petersburg dazan is part of Buddhist traditional Sangha of Russia, which unites more than 40 dazans in the territory of Russian Federation and has been recognized on the state level as the representative of one of the state religions of Russia.
Buddhist traditional Sangha of Russia is an independent (autocephalous) church, its head is Pandido Khambo lama. His official residence is on territory of Ivolginsky dazan (Ulan-Ude, Republic Buryatia).
Saint Petersburg’s Religious Association of Buddhist of Dazan Gunzeichoiney was established on the 14th of February in 1991. That took place after returning the Buddhist temple to the believers.
Registration of Saint Petersburg religious association of Buddhists and return of the temple helped further spread the Buddhism in Saint Petersburg (as in other cities of Russia, where like in Saint-Petersburg also Buddhist communities had been registered).
The total number of Buddhists in Russia is about 900 000 (most of them consider themselves Buddhist «by birth»), about 500 thousand among them practice Buddhism and take part in social Life of communities.
Nowadays there have been more than 60 Buddhist organizations registered in Russia (]]dazans\\ and communities of ethnic Buryatia, Buddhist communities of Tuva & Altay, Irkutsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Chita, Saint-Petersburg, Moscow and so on) and their number is constantly growing.
Several times a year Buddhist teachers come to dazan; according to leader of the church invitation special group of the lamas put up mandalas several times a year; once a month there are retreats of Avalokitešvara for believers.
The huge number of visitors wanted to see the relics of Buddha Shakyamuni, his disciples, great Buddhist teachers and enlightened Masters, wanted to bow them and to be blessed showing that Buddhism attracts more and more people.
Now the Relic Tour travels all over the world, then part of the exhibition will be taken into the Heart of 152 meter lengh statue of Future Buddha Maitreya, which must be set up on the place where Buddha Shakyamuni achieved Nirvana in Kushinagara (Northern India).
Under the direction of the Head of Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia there was exhibition “The Phenomenon of Khambo lama Itigelov”, expressing the modern Buddhist miracle – “Erdeny Munche Bye” – inexhaustible Body of one of the founders of Buddhism in Russia.
Lamas of Dazan Gunzeichoiney have been invited by other Buddhist communities from different cities to hold retreats and ceremonies. During such trips they have been giving teachings, lectures on Buddhist Philosophy.
For example, during 4 years the Buddhist communities from Archangelsk and Severodvinsk have invited the deputy of the Abbot of Saint Petersburg Dazan Shirab-Gamso Lama (Vyacheslav Namratov) to them or came directly to him to Saint-Petersburg. Buddhists from Careliya, Respublica Comi, Moscow and others also come to our place.
In February and March 2008 this building was blessed by 14th Dalai Lama. The Head of Buryat community in Yakutsk - member of community “Lotos” - E.H. Sotnikova received the golden statue of Buddha in HH Dalai Lama residence.
The completion of the building has been planned for 2011.
There is a tradition among the Buddhists living in Europe to get together annually in one of the European countries to see a New Year. For 3 years Buddhist of Europe have been gathering in Germany, where was a strong Buddhist community.
It is possible to know about the events in Saint-Petersburg dazan on the site www.dazan.spb.ru.