Friday, 15 May 2009

Buddhism in Russia

Buddhism is believed to have first come to Russia during the 3rd century BCE when King Ashoka of India sent monks to spread Buddhism to Siberia.
Buddhism has been in Russia as a living tradition for around 400 years as the religion of Buryatas, Kalmyks and Tuvians, all belonging to a common Mongolian spiritual realm and practising the Gelugpa form of Tibetan Buddhism. They are said to number around 700.000 with the Buryats and Tuvian being Federal Subjects (Republics) east of Lake Baikal in Siberia, and the Kalmyks likewise in southern European Russia.
Buddhism is recognised as one of four 'offical' religions in the Russian Federation, as well as Orthodox Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Buddhism is considered native to Russia.
Also, Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants give Mahayana Buddhism a presence in the Russian Federation.
Buddhism has been a subject for Scientific research in Russia from the middle of the 19th century and St Petersburg has its own Buddhist temple built at the beginning of the 20th century under the inspiration and vision of ethnic Buryat lama Aghan Dorjiev. The stain glass windows were based on designs of Nicolas Roerich.
In recent times other Buddhist Centres have emerged, mainly in St Petersburg and Moscow that are for the most part Centres of Tibetan Buddhism.

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