Revival of Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Siberia Led by Soviet Convert

July 13, 2004

Source: Reuters

On July 13, 2004 Reuters reported, "Vladimir Chimitdorzhiyev was once an ardent communist who wanted to lead young people in Siberia to a Soviet paradise. 'That was a long time ago. All that is water under the bridge now,' he said in his dimly lighted retreat near Russia's border with Mongolia, ancient scrolls depicting Buddhist masters hanging over his shaved head. 'I am now a Buddhist monk. I've left irrelevant things behind. I've come here to learn and to teach.' Tibetan teachings Chimitdorzhiyev helped revive in his ancestral homeland 3,600 miles southeast of Moscow are now at the forefront of a revival of interest in Buddhism in post-Soviet Russia. After the Soviet collapse in 1991, Chimitdorzhiyev -- now known as Babu Lama -- returned to the rolling hills of his native Buryatia, brought together a dozen Buddhist lamas (priests) and helped rebuild an old shrine. Closed for decades in Soviet times, the Aginsk Datsan is now Russia's biggest Tibetan Buddhist temple."