Beliaeva-Sachuk V. In the Blessed Land of Little Tibet — Traditions of Buddhism of Oka Buryats and Soyots

Veronika Beliaeva-Sachuk
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0003-4180-5027


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ABSTRACT. The article is devoted to the peculiarities and current state of Buddhism, its development path in Okinsky District of the Republic of Buryatia. The article considers the local specificity of Buddhism associated with the influence of shamanistic beliefs of Buryats and Soyots. The history of Oka Buddhism is closely connected with the Zhelgen Datsan, the highest mountain temple in Russia. The article presents the history of its construction, destruction in the 1930s, and restoration in the 1990s. We will also pay attention to Buddhist sacred sites, which are especially venerated by local residents. First of all, these are places of worship of White Tara and Green Tara. In recent years, they have become an object of pilgrimage and are important sights of the district, domestic and foreign tourists visit them often. For the latter, Buddhism becomes a marker of ethnicity and attracts fans of ethnotourism. Pilgrimage tourism is emerging in the Okinsky District, which is also associated with the fact that the Datsan “Puntsognamdolling” (the successor of the Zhelgen Datsan) has been cooperating in recent years with Buddhist teachers, the Ripa lineage holders. Buddhist teachings and retreats are held, which attract not only the local inhabitants, but Buddhist believers from all over Russia. At present one can observe a fusion of several Buddhist traditions — local Oka Buddhism, which was influenced by shamanistic beliefs, modern pan-Buryat Buddhism associated with the Traditional Buddhist Sangha of Russia and Buddhist traditions from Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, which began to develop in Russia after the 1990s.


KEYWORDS: Zhelgen Datsan, Green Tara, White Tara, Oka Buryats and Soyots, traditional Buryat Buddhism 


DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2022-4(18)-47-57



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