Schools of Buddhism

Many Kalmyks regard the Dalai Lama's visits to Kalmykia as one of the most important and auspicious events in the spiritual and social life of Kalmykia. Believers also feel blessed by the visits of other prominent Buddhist scholars and leaders to the steppe republic, including the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje (head of the Karma Kagyu lineage), Ole Nydahl (the founder of the Diamond Way Buddhism of Karma Kagyu), the 41st Sakya Trizin (head of the Sakya tradition), the 8th Arjia Rinpoche (reincarnation of Lumbum Gye, father of Tsong Khapa, the founder of Gelug), and others. Gelug now being the dominant school, all other traditional schools of Buddhism are currently represented in Kalmykia.

Among them the followers of Kagyu have been especially active. Apart from inviting teachers and organising popular seminars, the school has built a stupa, which houses a meditation venue, and a temple in Elista. The Nyingma and Sakya schools also each have a temple. In this collection, you can see not only interviews with teachers and lamas of various schools of Buddhism but also stories by lay people about their experiences and understanding of Buddhism.

Agvan Eshey, About Buddhism in Kalmykia

Lama Agvan Eshey talks about Buddhism in the early 1990s, the Buddhist schools that currently operate, and the Buddhist texts that he uses when reciting prayers.

He says that at the beginning of the 1990s there were no lamas to be seen on the streets in Kalmykia. Those religious specialists who performed Buddhist rituals at home, did not wear Buddhist robes. When the Kalmyks returned to their homeland from exile, (former, disrobed) lamas continued to see people, including Party apparatchiks, and perform rituals for them.

Today there are several officially registered schools of Buddhism in Kalmykia, including Gelug, Karma Kagyu, Dzogchen, Nyingma and Sakya.

Agvan Eshey says that he recites prayers by using the following sources: the texts compiled by the Kalmyk lama Ulankin Sandzhi, Mongolian texts, and the texts that were chanted during his initiation ritual into Buddhist priesthood. Apart from receiving clients in his office, he works with the Buddhist community of the Khosheutovskiy Temple in Astrakhan oblast where he reads prayers in Kalmyk. Agvan Eshey also says that he receives Buddhist thangkas from people as a gift.


Anna Sangadzhi-Goryaeva, Kalmyk Lamas of the Past and the Present


Lidzhi Amikov, Buddhism as a Philosophy and Practice


Lidzhi Amikov, Building Stupas


Oleg Mandzhiev, Religion and Religious Dissidence in the Soviet Period


Sanal Mukubenov, Buddhism: History, Monasteries, Sacred Places and Monastic Dress


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Lamas and Temples in the USA


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Local Spirits in Kalmykia


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, Buddhism as a Philosophy and Science


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, Buddhism as a Religion and Culture