Thursday, August 19, 2010

Newest Buddhist Temple In Russia

A new Buddhist datsan has been opened and consecrated in Chita, South-Eastern Siberia. The temple is situated on the site of an old datsan that was built in 1899 and burnt down 15 years later. Out of all Russian cities, Chita is already the second in the past hundred years to build a Buddhist temple.

A three-level stone temple decorated with chasing, painting and wood-carving, with a brass statue of Buddha nearly two metres high surrounded by gilded dragon heads and a gilded wheel of learning – one of the Buddhist symbols – this is what the datsan in Chita looks like 16 years after the first stone was laid down.

A new datsan in a Russian city which is far from the traditional Buddhist regions is a good omen, says the head of the Moscow Buddhist Centre Dmitry Nikiforov: “Datsans can be found in Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tuva where Buddhism historically has been the main religion. As for other Russian regions, until recently there was only one Buddhist temple in St. Petersburg which was built before the October revolution of 1917.

This can be explained by the fact that on the territories far from the roots of Buddhism there are not so many followers of Buddha and they cannot afford building a temple.”We very much hope that the new datsan in Chita will set a precedent and soon many large Russian cities will have Buddhist temples.

For the last decade the number of people, who feel that Buddhism is very close to them, has grown considerably. People are attracted by the simplicity and profundity of the theory, its philosophical content which is familiar to any thinking personality, says Buddhist Dmitry Nikiforov.

There is serious interest in Buddhism in Russia now, on the part of people of different nationalities, ages and walks of life. Buddhism is not so much a belief as experience and learning. It sets much store by the logical proof of statements and dogmas. As a result, this religion is based not on believing in the unknown but on logic and its practical proof.

Modern Buddhism consists of several branches that do not contradict each other in the main concept, which is the idea of understanding and accepting the world as it is. This simplicity in all its variety can be the reason why Buddhism has lately become so dear to Russians exhausted by numerous personal and social problems, Dmitry Nikiforov says.

A true Buddhist can certainly perform religious rites in special Buddhist centres which, unlike temples, abound all over the territory of Russia. There are at least twenty such centres in Moscow alone. Nevertheless, a datsan of their own gives Buddhists confidence that their religion has really been recognized on the state level.

Moscow has been debating construction of a Buddhist temple on Poklonnaya Hill for several years now. That district already has a Russian Orthodox church, a mosque and a synagogue. Three out of four official Russian confessions are represented there. Buddhists hope for a datsan to be built there too.