A consecration ceremony of the Tubten Shedrub Ling Buddhist monastery was held in Kyzyl, the capital of the Republic of Tuva, on April 28. The 12-storey monastery is intended to serve as the main Buddhist temple in Tuva.
While the Russian news agency RIA Novosti describes the 56-meter-tall Tubten Shedrub Ling as the largest Buddhist monastery in Russia, the center khurul (monastery) of Kalmykia, the golden abode of Buddha Shakyamuni, is 63 meters high. The outer walls of the Tuvan Temple are 1,7 meters thick and built on a slope. The temple complex covers a total area of 9,3 hectares.
The history of the monastery dates back to 1992, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama made his first and only visit to the republic.* This historic event led to a new stage in the spread of Buddhadharma in Tuva: the Tibetan spiritual leader blessed a site specially chosen for the construction of a future Dharma monument, located near the main airport of the republic and at the gates of the capital.
The initiators of the monastery project were Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and former Tuva leader Sholban Kara-ool, who discussed the temple project with the Dalai Lama during a meeting in India in 2012 Construction began in 2014, with donations. from Buddhist followers and sponsorships collected by a specially created non-profit foundation. The temple was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other organizational issues, the groundbreaking was postponed to April 28, 2023.
Initially, Kara-ool named the monastery after His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as an expression of the devotion and gratitude of the Tuvan people for the guidance of the Tibetan spiritual leader. In 2020, the Dali Lama gave the monastery the official name: Tubten Shedrub Ling.
Tubten Shedrub Ling is intended as a place for ordained monks, unlike previous Tuvan temples, which housed non-celibate lamas. Currently, Tubten Shedrub Ling is home to six monks from Drepung Gomang**, a Tibetan monastery in India, and six from Tuva, as well as an abbot. The project also includes a dormitory, a study hall and a medical center for novice monks.
Five statues of Buddhist deities, including the main sculpture of Buddha Shakyamuni, have been installed in the prayer hall. Relics of Shakyamuni Buddha's ashes have been enshrined in the main statue. The relics were brought from Tibet in 1959 and donated to the monastery by the Dalai Lama, along with his monastic robe and scriptures. The monastery plans to hold an exhibition of more than 3 items, including unique Tibetan texts containing the words of the Buddha.
The consecration ceremony on April 28 included a prayer ceremony and a rich cultural program with leading Tuvan artists. The event was led by the ninth Kamby Lama of the Tuvan people, Gelek Natsyk Dorju, and attended by Buddhist representatives from Mongolia and different parts of Russia, including the newly elected Shajin Lama of the Kalmyk people, Geshe Tenzin Choidak ( Mutul Ovyanov), and the Kalmyk lama Anja Gelung. Among the official guests were: Vladislav Khovalyg, Head of the Republic of Tuva; Sholban Kara-ool; Alexei Tsydenov, head of the Republic of Buryatia; Milan Raj Tuladhar, Ambassador to Russia of the Republic of Nepal; and sculptor Dashi Namdakov, who created the statues enshrined in the monastery.
Buddhist leaders from Tuva and Kalmykia explained the significance of the new monastery for Buddhists in Russia: "The opening of Tubten Shedrub Ling is a milestone in the development of Buddhism in our country, as well as an essential increment for the denominational cooperation at the international level. level,” said Kamby Lama Gelek Natsyk Dorju. (Vzgliad)
The Shajin Lama of Kalmykia, Geshe Tenzin Choidak, expressed his joy at this historic event: “We are very happy for our people, who are enjoying such an important event today. We are sure that this Buddhist temple will become another place of religious attraction and give new impetus to the development of Buddhism not only in this region but in the whole country. (Central Khurul Kalmykia)
The monastery was opened to Buddhists in Tuva on April 29, with prayer services held three times a day.
* Construction in Tuva (BDG)
** Drepung Gomang Center: A Gateway to the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition in Russia (BDG)