The Early 20th Century Resurgence of the Tibetan Buddhist World
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Published By Amsterdam University Press

9789048553068, 9789463728645

Sergius L. Kuzmin

Sergey Kuzmin’s paper draws on Russian and Mongolian archives to discuss the relationship between the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the Jebtsundamba Khutagtu in the context of their joint hopes for future independence. This was promoted by the prevalence of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia, the leadership of the Tibetan-born Jetsun Dampa Khutuktu, the influential Tibetan colony in the Mongolian capital of Niislel Khuree, and permanent contacts between Mongols and Tibetans. It demonstrates how the two states co-ordinated their independence struggle during the first half of the twentieth century. This association continued after the two states had broken away from China and continued into the 1930s, with individual Tibetan hierarchs becoming involved in local resistance to the Socialist suppression of Buddhism in Mongolia.

Nikolay Tsyrempilov

Based on Russian archival documents and hitherto poorly known primary sources, Nikolay Tsyrempilov’s paper is a study of the Buryat Buddhist perception and interpretation of the Russian emperors’ enthronement ceremonies. Buryat Buddhist hierarchs were among the many Central Asian elites invited to the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896. The paper argues that the Buddhists did not simply share their Orthodox counterparts’ understanding of the ceremony, but also gave new meaning to it within the frames of their own religious worldview and Buddhist conceptions of kingship. In this understanding, Moscow and St. Petersburg became Pure Lands made holy thanks to the presence of an enlightened deity, the Tsar.

Ishihama Yumiko ◽  
Inoue Takehiko

This article discusses three Tibetan letters held by the St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences and originally collected by the Russian Orientalist Fyodor Shcherbatskoy. The three letters are attributed to the well-known figure of Agvaan Dorzhiev, the Buryat who became an aide of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, but the authors determine that only the third letter is actually by Dorzhiev, while the other two were composed by a Kalmyk leader. The article discusses the historical significance of each of the letters and provides an annotated translation of them.

Wada Daichi

Daichi Wada draws on Russian, Chinese, and Japanese sources to analyse the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s diplomatic activities during his sojourn in Khalkha, Qinghai, and Mount Wutai (1904–1909). Daichi demonstrates how the Dalai Lama’s diplomatic efforts manifested both traditional and modern aspects that were deployed as appropriate, and how his worldview was enhanced by his travels. The author particularly focuses on the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s relationship with the Buryat Buddhist community, which in some aspects represented Russian interests but also held traditional ties with the Tibetan Buddhist centre. The support he gained among the Buryats helped him survive in a dangerous situation as not only a ruler of Tibet but also as the highest authority over Tibetan Buddhists.

Inoue Takehiko

Inoue Takehiko’s paper analyses how the close and long-lasting relationship between Kalmyk Buddhists and Don Cossacks (in the Don Cossack province) developed during the nineteenth century. This relationship was mediated both by Kalmyk Buddhist monks and the requirements of military and religious services to the Tsar, leading to transformations in the identity of this Kalmyk group. He uses the example of the ceremony surrounding the opening of a Kalmyk Parish school in 1839 to demonstrate how both parties sought to combine their socio-religious cultures in furtherance of the alliance of their interests.

Baatr Kitinov

Baatr Kitinov’s paper uses Russian archival documents to examine the late nineteenth century revitalisation of Buddhism among the Russian Kalmyk population. He identifies three stages in this process: 1. 1860–1880, when Mongols wanted to “find” an incarnation of the Seventh Jebtsundamba Khutughtu among the Kalmyks (“Turgut”) in Russia or Olüts in Chinese Xinjiang; 2. 1880–1904, when the Dalai Lama was in Mongolia and Kalmyks traveled to Tibet; and 3. from 1904 to the first years of Soviet power, during which they maintained close contacts with the Dalai Lama. He also identifies three internal factors for the revitalization of Buddhism amongst the Kalmyks: 1. the revival of Tantrism in khurul practices; 2. the presence of Buddhists from other lands among Kalmyks; 3. and the Russian authorities permitting Kalmyks to visit the Dalai Lama in Urga.

Tachibana Makoto

This paper is particularly concerned with the economic aspects of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s Mongolian exile. His presence there eclipsed the authority of Mongolia’s highest incarnation, the Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, and offerings formerly given to the Mongolian leader were gifted to the Tibetan leader. Tibetans accompanying their leader also became an important economic presence in Mongolia, and in the final part of the paper the author discusses the implications of this Tibetan presence after 1913, when Mongolia and Tibet afforded each other mutual diplomatic recognition amidst claims to independence. The revitalization of the interchange between Tibet and Mongolia resulted not only in friendship, but also in antagonism.


Hamugetu’s paper discusses the relationships between tradition and modernity through an examination of the Seventh lCang-skya’s activities in China and Inner Mongolia in the late Qing period. Articulating a modern ideology of the separation of church and state, he sought to protect the interests of Tibetan Buddhist society from both the Chinese government and Inner Mongolian nationalists through accommodating both forces, while simultaneously seeking to reform Tibetan Buddhism in Inner Mongolia along modernist lines. Striving to protect the interests of the Buddhist community, the struggle of the Seventh lCang-skya between the system of jasak lamas and the separation of religion and state is typical of the issues facing the Tibetan Buddhist world in the early 20th century.

Ishihama Yumiko

In 1904, when British-Indian forces invaded Tibet, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama travelled to Mongolia and subsequently to Beijing. As Ishihama Yumiko’s paper demonstrates, his sojourn in Mongolia connected the politically divided Tibetan, Mongol, and Buryat Tibetan Buddhist communities, activated their intercommunication, and contributed to the evoking of a national consciousness among them. While this consciousness failed to amalgamate Tibetan Buddhist communities into one entity, it did establish a nationalist movement that sought to resist Russian and Chinese control. Ishihama gives particular attention to the Dalai Lama’s relationship with three Mongol hierarchs from the Khalka, Kokonor, and Buryat Buddhist communities. His impact on identity formation among these groups resulted in them devoting themselves to forging unity among their people.

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