History of Buddhism in Russia. Russian Buddhists

Buddhism is the traditional religion of the three regions of Russia: Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia. According to the Buddhist Association of Russia, the number of people practicing Buddhism is 1.5-2 million.

Buddhism (Lamaism) came to Russia in the 17th century, when pastoralist tribes Buryats and Kalmyks came to the lower reaches of the Volga and Transbaikalia from Dzhungaria (China). In the second half of the 18th century a part of Kalmyks left back to Dzhungaria; the remaining ones settled along the the Ural, the Terek, and the Kuma. At that time Buryats had at least 17 «lamaist temples» and 150 lamas. The influence of Buddhism was especially noticeable in 1914 following the annexation Tuva with 22 monasteries to Russia. After 1917 Buddhist clergy was under persecution; lamas were denied the right to land; schools and monasteries were closed, churches were looted and their property was handed over to museums. However, when during the Great Patriotic War the Buddhists took patriotic positions, in the 1940s the USSR created «the Central Spiritual Administration of Buddhists»; lamas were released from prisons and camps, the Buddhist communities resumed their activities in Tuva, Kalmykia and Leningrad.

In January 2003 in Russia there were 218 Buddhist organizations. Kalmykia Buddhists Association operates in Kalmykia; in Tuva - Kamba Lama of Tuva Office. In the republic of Buryatia there are two Buddhist monasteries (datsans), which have survived from more than 40 monasteries and 150 churches.