Шедруб Линг
Buddhism in the Urals

Buddhism in the Urals

Though it might seem that the Buddhism is a new phenomenon in Urals, this is not the case. In fact, Buddha's Doctrine in the Ural region has appeared for the first time no later than in 16th century, i.e. four centuries ago, it happened just at the same time when Russians begun reclaiming of Urals. Thus, the Buddhism and the Orthodoxy have appeared in Urals and in Western Siberia nearly at the same time.

Buddhism came to Urals thanks to Kalmyks who at the end of the 16th century had began to move from Dzungaria to Lower Volga through the south of present-day Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions and Northern Kazakhstan. By that time the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, first of all the Gelug school, had already spread among Kalmyks. In the 17th century, the Kalmyk tribes of Torgout and Khosheut took Russian citizenship. After the end of Kalmyks’ migration and their settling in the steppes of Lower Volga, Buddhism has temporarily disappeared from the South Urals. However, it has soon returned thanks to the Kalmyk Cossacks who have joined the Orenburg and Ural Cossack troops protecting the southern boundaries of the Russian Empire.

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 At the end of the 19th century the number of Kalmyks in the Southern Urals accounted for about several thousands. While the Orenburg Kalmyks were forced to profess the Buddhism secretly, Ural Kalmyks had no such restrictions, therefore in their villages of the Ural region they had houses of worship as well as one temple (Khurul), and Buddhist priests gelyungs. The Decree of 1905 concerning the strengthening of religious toleration considerably enhanced Buddhist life in Southern Urals. However it was brought to naught by the Civil war and later by the expulsion of all Ural Kalmyks to the newly-formed Kalmyk Autonomous Region. Yet, at the time of the Russian Empire Kalmyks were not the only Buddhists in Urals: several dozens of Buddhists, mostly the natives from the Far East, professing local Buddhist schools doctrines, lived in the different cities and villages of the Perm and Orenburg Provinces at the end of 19th century.

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 In the early 1990-s the Buddhism has returned to the Urals for the second time, and over the last 30 years it gradually strengthens its presence in the Ural region. The most ancient of existing Buddhist communities of Sverdlovsk region are the Ekaterinburg communities of Karma Kagyu and Dzogchen Schools. In 1995 Shedrub Ling has been established on the Mount Kachkanar. At the turn of the century groups of disciples of the Tibetan Teachers who live in Russia – Yeshe Lodoy Rinpoche and Jampa Tinley - created in Ekaterinburg communities. In the middle of 2010-s two study groups were formed in association with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), they were guided by Sopa Rinpoche. There are other Buddhist groups in Sverdlovsk region, both of Tibetan and Theravada and Zen traditions. However, Tibetan Buddhism of Vajrayana still prevails in Urals, as well as one hundred and three hundred years ago.

Buddhist communities in Urals nowadays >