Lunchtime Seminar – 22 February – Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the Shajin (Supreme) Lama of Kalmykia

February 13th, 2017 by

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Wednesday 22 February 2017, 12.30–1.30

All welcome

Telo Tulku Rinpoche

The Shajin (Supreme) Lama of Kalmykia

The Revival of Buddhism in Russia

Telo Tulku Rinpoche (secular name Erdne Ombadykow) is the Buddhist spiritual leader of the Kalmyks. Born in 1972 in Philadelphia, US, into a Kalmyk immigrant family, at the age of seven he was sent to study Buddhism at the Drepung Gomang monastery in South India. In 1992 he was invited to the Republic of Kalmykia, south-west Russia, to become the Shajin (Supreme) Lama of the Kalmyk people, a position he occupies to this day.

Known as ‘the only Buddhist nation in Europe’, the Kalmyks are a people of Oirat-Mongol origin who settled in the territory of today’s Kalmykia in the Lower Volga region at the beginning of the 17th century after a long migration from Dzungaria (today corresponding to the northern half of China’s Xinjiang region, the western part of Mongolia, and eastern Kazakhstan). In 1771 with the increasing oppression of the tsarist government more than half of the Kalmyk population returned to their homeland in Dzungaria, an event which constitutes the last long-distance nomadic migration in world history. Those who remained in the Volga region were drafted by the Russian government to fight various wars of conquest, and were exiled to Siberia and Central Asia in toto from 1943 to 1957 charged with the crime of betraying the Soviet motherland. With Buddhism banned and Kalmyk culture devalued during the Soviet period, Kalmyks forgot many aspects of their culture and language. One aspect of Kalmyk culture that has revived since the end of the Soviet Union is Buddhism, in which the role of the Shajin Lama is of paramount importance.

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