Dandaron’s Affair in the Context of the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Buddhology, 1950-70s

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The paper will discuss how with the new wave of anti-religious campaign in the USSR of the time of ‘Thaw” the Soviet scientific Buddhology and Academy of Sciences of the USSR became the infrastructure that allowed the Buddhists to get access to confiscated Buddhist manuscripts and propagate Buddhist ideas among upper level of Soviet Orientology. The case of Bidya Dandaron, a Buryat lama with the status of reincarnation of an eminent Tibetan Buddhist guru who was purged in 1937, spent 20 years in Stalin’s Gulag, returned back to Buryatia, became Union-wide famous Buddhologist and even established illegal dissident Buddhist community in Buryatia illustrates well the ways Buddhism chose to adapt to existing social reality. His interest in Buddhism and qualification which was rare for that time made him indispensable nexus in the unique system of the Buriat Buddhology. But after he breached the unofficial agreement with the Soviet officialdom by which he and other bearers of the tradition were meant to stay in the shadow and hide their religious views, brought him to the dock. By this the Soviet regime strove to identify the contours of the allowed religious freedom. Penetration of religion into the sphere of science was interpreted as the challenge the Soviet regime couldn't leave unnoticed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


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