An official delegation from India has undertaken a visit to Russia, aiming to establish collaboration with Buddhist organizations, and educational and cultural institutions. The delegation includes members from the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, the International Center for Cultural Studies, the International Buddhist Confederation, and the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace.
The delegates began their program in Moscow and St. Petersburg and will also be visiting Chita, Buryatia, Kalmykia, and Tuva.
Honorary representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia, Mongolia, and the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and shadjin lama (head lama) of the Kalmyk people, Telo Tulku Rinpoche, hosted the delegation and gave a briefing on the Buddhist regions of the Russian Federation.
The delegation participated in a reception at the Indian embassy in Moscow on 15 September, hosted by the Indian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Shri D.B. Venkatesh Varma. The reception also launched a new biography of the 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche (1917–2003), one of the most renowned lamas of Ladakh, who served as India’s ambassador to Mongolia from 1990–2000 and helped with the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia and Russia by linking them with the community of Tibetan exiles in India. The biography, The Architect of Modern Ladakh, commissioned by the embassy, was written by Sonam Wangchuk Shakspo and translated into Russian.
Sonam Shakspo, who was Kushok Bakula Rinpoche’s secretary for more than 35 years, participated in the official ceremony as a member of the Indian delegation, expressing gratitude to the ambassador, who took the initiative to publish the book in Russian and presented it during the launch.
Another significant event during the delegation’s visit was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, the Indian Ministry of Culture, and various educational institutions in Russia. Through the agreement, signed on 14 September, the parties are looking at cooperation in educational and cultural areas, and particularly in the field of Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist science, astrology, medicine, and the arts. On behalf of the Indian side, the MoU was signed by Dr. Sachchianand Joshi, member secretary of the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts. Telo Tulku Rinpoche signed on behalf of the Kalmyk Centralized Buddhist Monastery Geden Sheddup Choi Khorling, along with representatives of several Russian institutions.
After Moscow, the official Indian delegation traveled to St. Petersburg, visiting Datsan Gunzechoinei, the first Buddhist temple in northwestern Russia, erected in 1909–15 under the guidance of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama Thupten Gyatso (1876–1933) and the Buryat Lama Agvan Dorzhiev (1853/4–1938).
On 17 September, the delegates met the head of Datsan Gunzechoinei, Buda Balzhievich Badmaev (Lama Jampa Donyed), who is Did Khambo Lama for the Northwestern Federal District, and other representatives of the temple, discussing future collaboration. Dr. Sachchianand Joshi offered Buda Badmaev a copy of the Mongolian Kanjur published by India’s Ministry of Culture. This special edition is the result of a project by the ministry to reprint 108 volumes of the Mongolian Kanjur under the National Mission for Manuscripts.* The volumes of the sacred canon are intended to be distributed to monasteries in Mongolia and Russia as a symbol of cultural dialogue and as a means to strengthen diplomatic relations. Datsan Gunzechoinei received the first copy of the Mongolian version of the canon, issued in India.
Sharing photos from the meeting at Datsan Gunzechoinei on social media, Sonam Wangchuk Shakspo stated that Kushok Bakula Rinpoche was the first high-ranking Buddhist lama to consecrate the temple in St. Petersburg and to give public teachings there.
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