Scholar sheds light on Buddhism’s evolution in Russia : The Tribune India

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Scholar sheds light on Buddhism’s evolution in Russia

Prof Kitinov said the spread of Buddhism to USSR could be traced back to the fifth century CE

Scholar sheds light on Buddhism’s evolution in Russia

Prof Baatr Kitinov at the India International Centre in New Delhi. Tribune photo



Tribune News Service

Aksheev Thakur

New Delhi February 23

Buddhism made its way into Russia from China in three distinct waves, according to Prof Baatr Kitinov, a leading research fellow at the Institute of Oriental Studies. During the first wave, Buddhism reached the territory of modern Russia in the seventh to eighth centuries, as Chinese Buddhism extended into the Bohai state in the contemporary Russian Far East.

Speaking at an international conference, “Asia on the Move, Histories of Mobility and the Making of Asia”, held at the India International Centre, Prof Kitinov elaborated that the spread of Buddhism to the former Russian empire or the USSR could be traced back to the fifth century CE. During this period, Buddhist societies emerged in the South Caspian region, and there was a dissemination of Indian Theravada teachings in the area.

Kitinov elaborated on the subsequent waves of Buddha’s teachings, noting that the second wave occurred during the 17th century, triggered by the migration of the nomadic Oirat (Kalmyk) tribes to south Siberia and then to the Volga river region. The third wave emerged at the end of the 16th century, characterised by the spread of Tibetan Buddhism. He further highlighted that Buddhism penetrated the Cis-Baikal region in the 19th century.

Currently, Russia boasts a living Buddhist heritage from various periods of its dissemination.

“It is mostly connected with the history of the nomads (Kalmyks, Buryats, Tuvians and Altai). However, before reaching Russian lands, Buddhism traversed from the West Asia to the Far East through Central Asia, Tibet, China and Mongolia. Notably, there are traces of Indian culture evident in Russian Buddhism, such as the translation of the ‘Ramayana’ from Sanskrit to old Kalmyk language dating back to the 17th century. Russian Buddhism serves as a vibrant example of the richness of Buddhist civilisation, culture and history,” he added.

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