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Archive for July, 2013

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Odgerel (Oge) Dashzeveg, Visiting Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University and member of the Waltham Committee presented her talk, “Buddhism and its practice in Mongolia”, at the Waltham Senior Center on Monday, June 25, 2013. Oge’s talk was a part of Religion talk series organized by Waltham Committee with the collaboration of the Waltham Senior Center. Her talk focused on history of Buddhism, its influence on Southeast and East Asian countries, including Mongolia. Legend of Buddha holds that Indian noble-man Siddharta at age 29 left his home to understand mysteries of birth, life, death and rebirth.  After wandering for six long years, at age 35, he found through self-discovery  the stage beyond suffering- rebirth. No longer was he Siddhartha; he was Buddha. His followers, devout monks, were sent to spread Buddha’s teachings. Like other religions, Buddhism influenced traditional cultures of many Asian countries throughout South, East and Central Asia.

In the 16th the Yellow hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Mongolia and the ruling Khan of Mongols awarded the head of Tibetan Buddhism with the title Dalai Lama (Great Lama). By the 17th century Mongolia became a devoted religious nation, led by Buddhist leaders at the head of the state, and it lasted for over two hundred years.  Approximately 40% of the male population were converted into devoted sacred lamas (monks) and settled in the monasteries owning over 50% of the country’s wealth. Early 19th century socialist reform ruled by communist party prohibited any religious activities in Mongolia and this resulted the fall of Buddhist era. During socialist reform that lasted over thirty years, until 1960s, there were killed over 100 000 men as enemies of communist ideology, including 70 000 lamas and religious leaders. In addition, about 800 Buddhist temples and monasteries were destroyed. Since 1990’s, Mongolia became a democratic country tolerant to all religious activities in Mongolia. Buddhism revived once again and today about sixty percent of the population are Buddhists.

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