The enthronement of the deputy to the Khambo Lama of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia took place in the village of Alar in Irkutsk Oblast* on 28 January. The position, formally titled Did Khambo Lama, was given to Shirab Lama Dolgorzhapov (Aldar Dolgorzhapov), former abbot of Alarsky Datsan, the oldest datsan (monastery) in the region. This is the first time in the post-Soviet history of the Irkutsk region that a representative of a local datsan has been appointed to such a senior position.
The 24th Pandito Khambo Lama Damba Badmayevich Ayusheev, the head lama of the Republic of Buryat and of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia, has several deputies or did khambo lamas, responsible for Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the Irkutsk Region.
Damba Ayusheev appointed Shirab Lama as did khambo lama for the Irkutsk Region on 24 September 2020, in accordance with the decision of the shireete lamas (senior lamas) of Buddhist organizations in the Siberan region. However, the enthronement ceremony was delayed as a result of the complicated pandemic situation in Russia. Due to the risk of COVID-19 infection, a limited number of guests attended the ceremony. Among them were Dagba Lama Ochirov, did khambo lama of Buryatia and chairman of the Spiritual Administration of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia, shireete lamas from Buryatia and Irkutsk Region, government officials, guests of honor, and others.
As a deputy head of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia, Shirab Lama will have many important tasks in front of him. Some of them include management of the construction of 10 datsans being built in the Irkutsk Region, as well as continuing his work as abbot of Alarsky Datsan until a new abbot is selected.
Shirab Lama Dolgorzhapov was born on 16 February 1976 in the village of Ulekchin, in Zakamensky District of Buryatia. From early childhood, he was accustomed to hard work, helping his parents with cattle, sheep, and other animals. In 1997, he decided to become a lama and entered Gegetuisky Datsan as a student (Bur: khuvarak). The following year he was sent to the Buddhist University Dashi Choinkhorlin.** In 2003, he became a lama in the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia. Two years later, Shirab Lama went to the Nukutsk District of the Irkutsk Region at the invitation of Bair Lama Budaev and until 2012 served as a lama of the temple Nukutsky Dugan. The same year, he was elected as abbot of Alarsky Datsan, built in 1814.
Buddhism is represented in the Irkutsk Region mainly by Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and, to a lesser extent, by the Kagyu and Dzogchen traditions. The Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia has six communities serving in the region. Several datsans function in the Nukutsk and Alarsk regions, as well as in Irkutsk, Shelekhov, and the village of Ust-Orda.
* Irkutsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia, located in southeastern Siberia and sharing borders with the Buddhist republics Buryatia and Tuva in the south and southwest. The administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast is the city of Irkutsk.
** Land of the Auspicious Dharma Wheel: The First Buddhist University in Russia (Buddhistdoor Global)