Buddhism Post-Soviet Union
DateWed Feb-27-2013, 6:00pm
Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center
Program / Series
Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies
Silk Road Foundation
Stanford Humanities Center
Venerable Telo Tulku Rinpoche
Buddhism has been part of Russian civilization for at least the last 400 years, even though many people may not be aware that Buddhism was ever part of life in Russia. Then came the Bolshevik Revolution, and the rule of communism was enforced. We can scarcely imagine what happened then, when all religious traditions in Soviet Union were destroyed by the iron fist of Joseph Stalin. But what happened after the sudden fall of the iron curtain? Telo Tulku Rinpoche will give a detailed account of how Buddhism was reintroduced, revived and restored in the post–Soviet-Union period.
Telo Tulku Rinpoche was born in Kalmyk family in the United States. As a 4-year-old boy, he expressed his wish to be a Buddhist monk. And at the age of 6, in 1979, he got a chance to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in NY who recommended sending him to Drepung Gomang Monastery in India to get a proper training as a Buddhist monk. He spent 13 years in Drepung Gomang studying Buddhist philosophy under the guidance of illustrious Tibetan masters. In late 1980s, while studying in the monastery, he was recognized as a new reincarnation of great Indian saint Tilopa.
In 1991, Telo Tulku Rinpoche paid his first visit to Kalmykia with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Shortly afterwards, in 1992, he was elected as "Shadjin Lama" (Head Lama) of Kalmykia by the Kalmyk people and was entrusted to lead the process of spiritual restoration of one of the three Buddhist regions in Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, he has supervised and managed to rebuilt over 27 Buddhist temples that had been destroyed during communist era, as well as the main temple in the capital city, The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni, which is the biggest Buddhist temple in Russia and Europe.