Author Topic: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts  (Read 5638 times)

WisdomBeing

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This is great news about the treasure of texts in Mongolia. Mongolia seems to be a place where the Dharma is flourishing, as well as Dorje Shugden practice... see these articles below.

Other interesting articles about Mongolia:
A Tribute to His Holiness the 4th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/great-masters/tributes/a-tribute-to-his-holiness-the-4th-kalkha-jetsun-dhampa/

Trijang Rinpoche confers Dorje Shugden initiation in Mongolia
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/features/trijang-rinpoche-conferred-dorje-shugden-initiation-in-mongolia-2011/

Dorje Shugden at Mongolian Temple
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=3135.0


Originally published by EurasiaNet.org (http://www.eurasianet.org)
Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
February 13, 2013 - 2:09pm, by Pearly Jacob

Scholars believe it to be the world’s largest treasury of ancient Buddhist texts. The sheer immensity of the collection held in the National Library of Mongolia has prevented a proper tally to date.

The National Library, located in a stout Soviet-era neoclassical building in downtown Ulaanbaatar, is estimated to contain over a million scholarly and religious Buddhist works. Besides original works from Mongolia, the library has rare copies of the early Tibetan Buddhist canon—sacred contemporary records of the Buddha’s oral teachings, called the Kangyur, and commentaries and treatises on the teachings of the Buddha, the Tengyur.

Many original Tibetan texts were lost or destroyed amid the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950. Thanks to centuries of contact with Tibet, however, Mongolia is believed to have some of the few remaining originals. In addition to ancient Tibetan and Mongolian documents, rare Sanskrit manuscripts, including 800 verses by Nagarjuna, a 2nd-century Indian Buddhist philosopher, inscribed on birch bark, have been identified in the collection.

“This collection is not just a national treasure, but a world treasure. It’s not just about Tibetan or Mongolian history, but a slice of human history,” says the library’s director, Chilaajav Khaidav.

How the texts found their way to the library is as much a source of painful recollection about Mongolia’s communist legacy as it is a celebration of the country’s Buddhist heritage, says Buddhist scholar and former monk Nyamochir Gonchog.

Mongolia’s links with Tibetan Buddhism date back to the 4th century AD. It was a Mongolian ruler that conferred the title of Dalai Lama – Mongolian for ‘Ocean Lama,’ (lama means priest) – to Tibetan spiritual leader Sonam Gyatso in 1587. The title has stuck with successive Tibetan Buddhist leaders, as well as being applied retroactively to previous monks in the lineage.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were over 800 Buddhist centers of learning in Mongolia. Over the centuries, hundreds of thousands of scared Tibetan texts had been brought into the country for translation into Mongolian or as gifts to monasteries.

The library itself was started with the personal collection of the last Bogd Khan, Mongolia’s spiritual and secular head of state, who died in 1924, three years after the communists came to power. But the charred edges of many texts are reminders of the 1930s communist purges when over 30,000 monks were executed and around 700 monasteries razed to the ground. As news of the destruction spread, faithful Buddhists across Mongolia hid artifacts and salvaged what they could from destroyed monasteries.

Hidden texts started resurfacing by the 1960s. When the Mongolia Academy of Sciences established the Department for Mongolian and Tibetan Studies in 1985, people started donating hidden family collections once they believed the texts would be preserved, recounts Gonchog, the former monk who is also a member of the Academy.

Many texts are in poor condition and housed in less-than-adequate conditions, admits Khaidav, the library director. Space is a constraint and much the collection is stacked haphazardly in the library’s storeroom. Khaidav says the Mongolian government has funded the study and restoration of many of the ancient Mongolian texts. But until recently little was done with the Tibetan texts.

Foreign assistance arrived in 1999, when the Asian Classic Input Project (ACIP), a New York-based non-profit dedicated to preserving and digitizing ancient Tibetan and Sanskrit texts, began cataloguing the library’s contents. But the project progressed fitfully, until stalling in 2008.

Gonchog believes that perceptions of the collection’s monetary value and suspicions among local officials about the reasons for foreign interest have hindered preservation efforts. “People have thought these texts can fetch a lot of money, but the real value is in the contents,” he told EurasiaNet.org. “This is priceless knowledge that has to be understood and preserved.”

ACIP’s work resumed this month with a temporary grant from Singapore-based Global Institute For Tomorrow (GIFT), a think-tank, which estimates the whole project will cost $1.1 million.

“The work itself is a very slow and methodical process,” said Ngawang Gyatso, a Tibetan from India who oversees the cataloging project for ACIP. Every single page is carefully studied for type of material used, possible origin, as well as the script and printing style and monastery seal stamp that help determine where and, sometimes, when the text was produced. The titles of the texts are transliterated into the Latin alphabet and details are then entered in a database, Gyatso explained.

Within days of recommencing the project, faulty electric wiring at the library caused a small fire, stalling work again for a few days. ACIP recently updated the hardware, and says that with enough funding it could catalogue the entire collection within three years.


The Mongolian National Library in Ulaanbataar has become an invaluable repository for Buddhist manuscripts in a region where many originals were destroyed under communist rule. Among the highlights is a collection of Sanskrit verses by Nagarjuna, a 2nd-century Indian Buddhist philosopher. But the museum has also had trouble maintaining and cataloguing the collection. (Photos: Pearly Jacob)


A collection of Sanskrit verses written on birch bark by the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna is one of the most precious manuscripts at the Museum. (Photo: Pearly Jacob)


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Ensapa

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 04:23:43 AM »
Dorje Shugden has always been strong in Mongolia, as the Jetsun Khalkas, the equivalent of the Dalai Lamas in Mongolia. Also, one of Dorje Shugden's entourage, Namkha Barzin used to be a Mongolian man. I am sure that the texts found in Mongolia will contain many rare teachings that will benefit many. However, recently, the Dalai Lama has tried to exert influence in Mongolia after the 9th Jetsun Khalkha's passing into clear light via the FPMT center there and published a book that demonizes Dorje Shugden with a foreword by Lama Zopa. I dont think this will create any dents for the Mongolians' faith in Dorje Shugden, tho.

Losang_Tenpa

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 04:54:09 AM »
One interesting side-note on the ACIP project. Many of the Dorje Shugden texts by Kyabje Pabongkha Dorje Chang and Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang were input by the project. They are included in the 'Tantra' editions of their releases. I have them all in digital format.



Ensapa

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2013, 01:49:58 AM »
One interesting side-note on the ACIP project. Many of the Dorje Shugden texts by Kyabje Pabongkha Dorje Chang and Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang were input by the project. They are included in the 'Tantra' editions of their releases. I have them all in digital format.

that is exciting news indeed!! You mean there are more texts by Trijang Rinpoche about Dorje Shugden other than Music Delighting the Ocean of Protectors? That would be a very interesting read indeed and it would be very blessed to have it on my computer even to bless the machine that I am using! I am very happy that the ACIP project does not discriminate against Dorje Shugden texts and against Dorje Shugden and they do their work professionally, without allowing the ban to affect their work. I cannot wait to actually look at the translated versions (if it is not tantra) and learn more about my Protector!

Rihanna

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2013, 08:10:10 AM »
Why should they discriminate against Dorje Shugden practitioners? As far as I am aware, although the Mongolians were instrumental in creating the "institution" of a Dalai Lama, they were never under the direct control of the Tibetans. So there's no reason why a ruling within Tibetan Buddhist circles in India should affect them; they have always had their own set of Vajrayana lamas.

Which is a good thing because when Tibet was invaded by the Chinese in the 1950s, Mongolia I believe was spared the same level of destruction of texts. So a lot of the Buddhist traditions, including Dorje Shugden, have been preserved there, out of the influence / control of the Tibetans in exile.

DharmaDefender

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2013, 08:27:32 AM »
Why should they discriminate against Dorje Shugden practitioners? As far as I am aware, although the Mongolians were instrumental in creating the "institution" of a Dalai Lama, they were never under the direct control of the Tibetans. So there's no reason why a ruling within Tibetan Buddhist circles in India should affect them; they have always had their own set of Vajrayana lamas.

Which is a good thing because when Tibet was invaded by the Chinese in the 1950s, Mongolia I believe was spared the same level of destruction of texts. So a lot of the Buddhist traditions, including Dorje Shugden, have been preserved there, out of the influence / control of the Tibetans in exile.

I take your point Rihanna. I daresay Buddhism in Mongolia is closer to Buddhism in Tibet pre-Chinese invasion, than Buddhism in India is at the moment. At the very least, Mongolians dont appear to discriminate against different lineages or marginalise certain practices though I may be wrong. Mongolia is a safe haven for Dorje Shugden practitioners, as demonstrated by how freely and easily Trijang Rinpoche conferred initiation on Mongolian students.

Midakpa

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2013, 11:13:02 AM »
During the Communist repression in 1937-38, many temples in Mongolia were partially destroyed, highly trained and knowledgeable lamas were executed and many rare Buddhist relics, books, sutras, thangkas and statues were looted. I wonder if these items of Mongolian religious and cultural heritage including the precious Buddhist texts could still be traced and brought back to Mongolia where they belong!

Ensapa

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2013, 03:26:05 AM »
I take your point Rihanna. I daresay Buddhism in Mongolia is closer to Buddhism in Tibet pre-Chinese invasion, than Buddhism in India is at the moment. At the very least, Mongolians dont appear to discriminate against different lineages or marginalise certain practices though I may be wrong. Mongolia is a safe haven for Dorje Shugden practitioners, as demonstrated by how freely and easily Trijang Rinpoche conferred initiation on Mongolian students.

There are Nyingma and Kagyu practitioners in Mongolia who also practice Gelug practices, and they accept Dorje Shugden with no discriminations at all. Compare this with Dharamsala and you can see how much more spiritual the practitioners in Mongolia are, free of political nuances and other such samsaric and stupid games that do not bring anyone closer to enlightenment. CTA should learn from the Mongolians who was persecuted badly during the Soviet era, who executed many monks and razed many temples by the Soviet Russians but they never show an iota of hate or bitterness against the Russians. Now that is real Dharma put into practice: the practice of forgiveness, something that CTA/Dharamsala fails to show.

DharmaSpace

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2013, 07:28:25 PM »
May Mongolia develop into another front for Dorje Shugden so spread all over the world. As Mongolia is rich in minerals and many countries is working with Mongolia to tap into their wealth of resources. I wonder if Genghis Khan knew about that would he have gone so far to conquer so many lands.

Anyhow the Mongolians are obviously very devoted to their spirituality to have kept buddhist manuscripts at the height of the communist rule. 

Ensapa

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Re: Mongolia: Preservation Challenges Confront Trove of Buddhist Texts
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 03:42:58 AM »
May Mongolia develop into another front for Dorje Shugden so spread all over the world. As Mongolia is rich in minerals and many countries is working with Mongolia to tap into their wealth of resources. I wonder if Genghis Khan knew about that would he have gone so far to conquer so many lands.

Anyhow the Mongolians are obviously very devoted to their spirituality to have kept buddhist manuscripts at the height of the communist rule.

the mongolians are very spiritual people as they have been practicing Buddhism for many centuries since Khublai Khan converted to the Sakya Branch of Buddhism and since Althan Khan converted to Gelug by virtue of the 3rd Dalai Lama. Also, they have their own spiritual leader, the Bogd Khans or Jetsun Khalkas in Tibetan where he leads the Mongolians spiritually. The line of Jetsun Khalka Tulkus originate from Taranatha, the founder of the Jonang School and one of the main lineage holders for Kalachakra. The Kalachakra teachings that HHDL is giving today is based on Taranatha's texts.