Russia Orders Buddhist Leader Shiwalha Rinpoche to be Permanently Deported
The Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s principal security agency and the main successor of the former USSR’s Committee of State Security (KGB), has ordered the deportation of Tibetan lama Shiwalha Rinpoche, who has been practicing in the country for more than 10 years, reportedly deeming the Buddhist leader a threat to national security.
Shiwalha Rinpoche, a lama of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the eighth reincarnation of the 8th century Indian Buddhist monk and scholar Shantideva. He was born in Switzerland and studied at Sera Monastery in southern India.
The FSB’s decision to expel Shiwalha Rinpoche has prompted an outcry in the Tuva Republic, where Rinpoche is based. Part of the Russian Federation, Tuva is a predominantly Buddhist territory that lies on the northwest border of Mongolia. The chairman of the government of Tuva, Sholban Kara-ool, has reportedly appealed to the security agency to rescind the order.
A report on the Russian-language website FlashSiberia quoted the chairman’s office as saying, “Tuva head Sholban Kara-ool shares the sincere worries of the believers and has submitted a request to consider the possibility of a different decision within the framework of current Russian law.” (The Moscow Times) The report noted that the deportation order had not originated from the republic’s government.
In a statement on Shiwalha Rinpoche’s website, supporters of the lama said the Tuva branch of the FSB had deemed Rinpoche’s presence in the country “undesirable,” and that he presented a threat to Russian security. The statement said that under the order Shiwalha Rinpoche would be permanently banned from re-entering Russia, adding that the FSB order also extended to Rinpoche’s aide, Lobsang Tsering.
“How can a man who teaches us love, compassion, and unselfish help to others be dangerous?” the statement said. (The Moscow Times)
FlashSiberia quoted Aneta Oorzhak, the head of the Enerel Foundation, where Shiwalha Rinpoche taught, as saying that supporters in Tuva and other regions had petitioned Russian president Vladimir Putin to revoke the FSB’s order. “The problem was not initiated by local authorities. Esteemed Shiwalha Rinpoche has done a great lot for Tuva. . . . During the 11 years of his work, he made a gift of the philosophy of Buddhism to believers [and] has done a lot for educational work, to help people know their religion,” she said. (The Moscow Times)
The petition to Putin states: “In the 11 years of his activity in the [Russian Federation], the Right Reverend Shiwalha Rinpoche has made his own most enormous contribution to the revival of Buddhism and the religious education of the population specifically of this republic. Under Rinpoche’s leadership, Buddhist stupas were built throughout Tuva territory, a Buddhist temple was built on the shore of lake Chagytai of Tandyn district, Rinpoche’s teachings were published, and video and audio materials were issued. Rinpoche conducted substantial educational work among youth, allowing them to avoid falling into destructive international sects or under the influence of radical organizations and preachers that are not traditional for Russians. The construction of stupas and religious educational activity were also conducted in other regions of Russia.” (Stetson University)
Under the FSB order to cancel his residency permit, Shiwalha Rinpoche was required to leave Russia on 26 September, but the period of his stay was extended to 9 October after his attorney filed a petition in court.
Russian Security Service Orders Deportation of Buddhist Leader (The Moscow Times)
Tibetan lama threatened with deportation from Russia (Stetson University)
ФСБ ВЫСЛАЛА БУДДИЙСКОГО АВТОРИТЕТА (Russian only) (FlashSiberia)
Shiwalha-Rinpoche.ru (Russian only)
Advice from Shantideva: “Please Become a Kind Person” (FPMT)
Shiwa Lha (German only) (Wikipedia)
Venerable Shiwalha Rinpoche, Lamring Teaching, Republic of Tuva, 24–28 September 2013 (YouTube)