Shedrub Ling, the only Buddhist monastery in Russia’s Ural Federal District, which sits on the border between the European and Asian regions of Russia, was demolished at the end of March to make way for commercial mining interests. The destruction of the monastery in the remote and picturesque area is a major loss for Buddhists in the region.
Shedrub Ling (Tib: Place of Study and Implementation) was a Buddhist monastery on Mount Kachkanar in the Sverdlovsk Region of Ural Federal District. It was founded in 1995 by Lama Tenzin Dokchit (Mikhail Sannikov), who studied in Ivolginsky and Tamchinsky datsans in Buryatia in the early 1990s. Lama Tenzin’s main teacher was the Buryat Lama Darma-Dodi Zhalsaraev, who instructed his disciple to build the monastery. Before its demolition, Shedrub Ling included two stupas of awakening, one nirvana stupa, six additional stupas, a temple building, statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and Milarepa, retreat rooms, a library, and living quarters.
The history of the monastery is full of difficulties. In the 1990s, Buddhists agreed on the construction of Shedrup Ling with the government of Sverdlovsk Region. However, in the 2000s, repeated attempts to legalize ownership of the land on which the monastery stood, were unsuccessful. The reason was soon revealed when the mining company Evraz* announced its intention to develop this territory, despite assurances from members of the Buddhist community at Shedrup Ling that there were no mineral deposits beneath the monastery. The Buddhist community tried repeatedly to legalize its ownership of the sites and buildings, but the Kachkanarsky Ore Mining and Processing Plant, whose quarries are located nearby, and the Ural Federal District Department of Forestry claimed the rights to the land.
Information about the impending demolition of the monastery appeared for the first time in February 2016. During the same year, Evraz asked the Buddhist community to move to Mount Mokhnatka, some three kilometers from Kachkanar, and promised to help with the relocation. Members of the community stated that they did not have the opportunity to transport their stupas. At the end of February 2016, the Sverdlovsk Region authorities decided to postpone the demolition of the monastery and created a working committee to consider the preservation of the monastery.
In 2020, an agreement was signed between Evraz, the government of Sverdlovsk, and the Buddhist community, under which the community would move to the village of Kosya by 1 November 2020, while maintaining access to the stupas according to the schedule agreed with the enterprise. But in November 2020, Lama Tenzin Dokchit was reported to have refused to leave his monastery and the community announced that it was canceling the agreement with Evraz.
The grace period during which the Shedrup Ling community could dismantle their buildings expired on 16 March this year—a term determined by Kachkanarsky City Court on 25 August 2015. The demolition began on 17 March, when Evraz stressed that it did not plan to dismantle the stupas or the Buddha statue, but only the household buildings.
On the same day, the Shedrub Ling Buddhist community stated on their social media pages that information about the demolition had been removed from the media in an attempt to demolish the monastery “quietly.” According to the community, “In connection with the global and national situation in Russia, it is very convenient to do so now.” The community also stated that they were prohibited from entering the region to visit the monastery, which they said contradicted earlier agreements and assurances.
Community representatives reported that they had never interfered with the development of the quarry and that they had filed a claim with Kachkanar City Court. In addition, they asked all supporters to write to the authorities and the companies involved in a bid to halt the demolition and save the only Buddhist monastery in the Ural region.
On 28 March, the Shedrup Ling community posted a new appeal on Facebook, sharing that they were deeply saddened by the loss of their “child.” At the same time, they encouraged all friends and supporters to remember the law of cause and effect and to not insult or injure other people.
Seeing these images of destruction, which unfortunately are so common in our daily life, we remember not only the law of cause and effect but also the impermanent nature of samsara and the fact that, despite the destruction of Buddhist monuments and holy objects, as has all-too-frequently happened in human history, the genuine faith in the Three Jewels of the Buddhist community can never be demolished.
* Evraz is a UK-incorporated, majority Russian-owned, vertically integrated, multinational steelmaker and mining company.
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