Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I am awake - Buddhism in Mongolia

The dominant religion in Mongolia is Buddhism. The oldest may be Shamanism but since the 16th century, and the intervention of Altan Khan, Buddhism has dominated. In 1578 Altan invited the leading Tibetan monk to Mongolia. He formed an alliance with the monk that sanctioned Altan's might (Altan had serious military intentions) in return Altan named the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, a name that continues today.

Tibetan Buddhism, which is still practiced extensively today in Mongolia, become the driving religious force. It was backed by the ambitious Altan and his wealthy family. It succeeded in forcibly driving Shamanism to the fringes of society and the monks took over the traditional Shaman roles as healers and diviners. Buddhism has not always been as peaceful as one might imagine. This tale certainly has overtures of current select Catholic or Islamic doctrine.

There are many Buddhist temples throughout Mongolia but few as large, presitgious or impressive as Gandan Khiid Monastery in Ulaanbaatar (see earlier post on Richard Gere).

It is a truly magnificent and tranquil spot where the hubub and din of the surrounding city are completely forgotten. The monks are quite a spectacle. People come here from all over simply to sit, relax and appreciate life. There should be locations like this in every city. It is the perfect place to contemplate enlightenment, even if you don't find it this time...

Mongolian of the day:- peace :: enx tajva