(TibetanReview.net, May04’23) – The dominantly Buddhist religious Tuva Republic of the Russian Federation consecrated on Apr 28 its monastery of Tubten Shedrub Ling, reported the buddhistdoor.net May 3. The 12-floor monastery, named by the Dalai Lama during his only visit to the republic, which took place in Sep 1992, is intended to serve as Tuva’s principal Buddhist temple.
Standing 56 metres high, it is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in Russia and spread over an area of 9.3 hectares.
The Dalai Lama’s visit was a historic event in the revival of Buddhism in Tuva which took place at the end of nearly a century of communist rule. The exile spiritual leader of Tibet blessed the site especially chosen for the construction of the monastery, which is located near the republic’s main airport and the gateway to the capital Kyzyl.
He also blessed and consecrated the yellow-blue-white flag of Tuva, which had been officially adopted three days before, according to The World Encyclopedia of Flags.
The report said the monastery project was initiated by Sergei Shoigu, who is Russia’s current defense minister, and Sholban Kara-ool, the head of Tuva at that time. They were stated to have discussed the proposed temple with the Dalai Lama during a meeting in India in 2012.
Unlike previous Tuvan temples, which housed non-celibate lamas, Tubten Shedrub Ling is intended to be a place for ordained monastics. It currently has six monks from Drepung Gomang, a Tibetan monastery based in India, and six from Tuva, as well as an abbot. The project is also stated to include a dormitory, study hall, and medical center for novice monks.
Apart from statues of Buddhist deities, relics of Shakyamuni Buddha’s ashes have been enshrined within the main statue. These were brought from Tibet in 1959 and donated to the monastery by the Dalai Lama, along with his monastic robe and sacred texts, the report said.
The monastery plans to hold an exhibition of more than 3,000 items, including unique Tibetan texts containing the words of the Buddha.
The consecration ceremony was stated to have been 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.
Official guests at the event were stated to include 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 crafted the five statues enshrined in the monastery.
The monastery was opened to Buddhists in Tuva on Apr 29, with prayer services provided three times a day, the report said.
Tuva Republic is located in the far south of Siberia and shares a 1,305-kilometre border with Mongolia. More than 60% of Tuvans are Buddhists, with shamanism practiced by nearly 12% of the population, while atheists and the irreligious constitute about 10% of the population, according to a 2012 survey.