My journey to the northernmost Buddhist temple in the world - 📸- Datsan Gunzechoinei
May 2018 · 5 min read
Its construction lasted six long years. The Dalai Lama himself participated in its financing, however - like many other believers and supporters of the Buddha's teachings. Now he is more than a hundred years old.
The word "Datsan" came to us from Tibet. It means - the monastery school. "Gunzechoinei" translates as " the Source of the Holy Teaching of all-caring Lord-Hermit". Buddhists appeared in these places in the early 18th century, but they were very few. Buryats and Kalmyks arrived in these regions at the call of Peter the great for the construction of the city. Gradually their number increased and in 1900 the representative of the Dalai Lama XIII received permission to build this temple. By 1910, the number of believers numbered about 200 people.
Now there is a Buddhist temple and a monastery; lamas live here; doctors of Tibetan medicine practice here; astrologers conduct a reception here and you can try real Tibetan cuisine. But that wasn't always the case.
Soon after the first services began, all the monks left this place. After that, the Buddhist temple was looted and rare archival documents were lost forever, the library of the monastery was destroyed. Only after the First World war, the parishioners began to return to datsan, but all the vicissitudes did not end and the history of the monastery keeps a lot of sad events.
The territory of the temple is surrounded by a stone fence. In General, there are three entrances: the main gate and two small gates. The main gate opens only on major holidays .
The first thing we immediately noticed when we entered the courtyard of the monastery is a lot of red drums, which are located around the perimeter. So, those red drums have inscriptions in the Tibetan language. It is necessary to pass on these drums clockwise. In Buddhism, there is a concept - it's like the course of the sun. We have seen how the parishioners twist the drums moving around the perimeter of the yard in a clockwise direction. Thus, it is a kind of purification of karma. The main thing is that it must be done with good light thoughts in my head.
Throughout the yard near the temple you can see hundreds of colored flags. They are tied on trees and on bars. They're everywhere.
Each color has its own meaning. They are usually hung on certain days of the Tibetan calendar. It is also customary to do with a good heart and bright thoughts. These flags are called - "lung-TA".
The building of the temple is striking in its beauty and it is considered the largest Buddhist temple in Europe. It's built of crushed granite. A huge door leads us inside the temple. It is too heavy and not immediately possible to open it. Above the entrance there are signs in Tibetan. Their inscriptions say that before you enter into the inside you should clear your head from bad thoughts and tune in for the benefit.
There are certain rules for visiting the temple. We were very disappointed because it is forbidden to make photos and video inside. It is not necessary to neglect this rule and try to do it secretly. Because if this violation is seen by any of the parishioners, you will deeply offend his feelings with your disrespect. So we turned off our cameras, put on Shoe covers and continued to inspect the premises.
Here come the people of all faiths — the doors of the temple open to all. If you decide to visit the prayer, you can sit on a bench or on the rugs in the Lotus position. You can't stretch or cross your legs. At the entrance, be sure to remove the headdress. Such simple rules, but it is primarily a tribute to this place. Of course, you can not use the phone or talk loudly.
The main hall has a name - Dugan. In it, we immediately saw the majestic Buddha. He peacefully looks at each visitor. Above the Buddha is a huge umbrella that protects it from all sorts of troubles and tribulations. Along the walls of the Dugan there are statues of various deities. In the center of the room sit Lama. Parishioners also start their journey clockwise. You can't turn your back to the Buddha statue. Therefore, from the altar all move back, not turning back to the Buddha. It's custom. This is a tribute and worship.
Here you can always consult about the philosophy of Buddhism, the treatment of any disease or Your personal questions. Two of the lamas living here are engaged in Tibetan medicine and osteopathy and you can sign up for a session with them. We were told that now the Church hosts regular lectures, there are various Buddhist holidays, meditation courses and advice from the lamas of the datsan. It was interesting to see people of different ages and nationalities here. Here you can freely and without any prior appointment to communicate with each of the lamas, but of course they are lined up in queues and you have to be patient. You can also enjoy traditional Buryat cuisine for a nominal fee. This canteen is an integral part of the monastery. It only complements this mysterious and amazing atmosphere of this place. Of course, here you can buy literature on Buddhism and philosophy, Tibetan Souvenirs and incense.
There are several statues at the entrance/exit. There is a place of special offerings to the Buddha. People put candies, cookies here, you can pour drinks.
Lions in Buddhism are considered sacred animals. Here at the stairs of the temple we saw some mythological characters. It's a lion frog " Shih Za."
That's so unusual and colorful was my today's journey. This is how my first acquaintance with the religion of Buddhism took place. Beautiful and sad story of life. I might want to come here again someday.
All photos are my property and made with camera SONY DSC-W350
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