Documentation of Mongolian Buddhist Temples

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Survey of Active Buddhist Temples in Ulaanbaatar

in 2005 – 2006 with some annotations in 2007

Survey conducted by:

Zsuzsa Majer

Krisztina Teleki

Budapest, Hungary

Ulaanbaatar

2006, 2007


Table of contents

Survey Aim and Methodology.

Remarks on Transcription.

Overview of Results.

Historical background.

Post 1990 Revival.

Life in present day Ulaanbaatar monasteries.

Religious Education and Training.

Ceremonial cycle.

Reading religious texts for individuals.

List of the active monasteries and temples in Ulaanbaatar (in Survey period - September 2005 – April 2006, and 2007 summer)

Description of the Monasteries and Temples.

Gelukpa (Yellow Sect) Temples.

1 Gandan

2 Dashchoilin khiid, Züün khüree

3 Betüw khiid

4 Lamrim datsan

5 Ikh khüree Manba datsan

6 Ikh khüree Zurkhai datsan

7 Dambadarjaa khiid

8 Manba datsan

9 Deed bod’ khiid

10 Gandangejeelin

11 Janchüwish dashlkhündüwlin khiid

12 Choidar odserlin datsan

13 Dashgünpanlin khiid

14 Dashchaglin khiid

15 Gandan Sodnomdarjailin khiid

16 Dechinrawjaalin khiid

17 Agrim datsan

18 Zurkhai datsan

Nyingmapa and Kagyüpa Temples

19 Namdoldechinlen khiid, Jagarmolomiin neremjit ulaan yosnii töw

20 Gowiin Noyon Khutagt Danzan Rawjaagiin neremjit Ürjin Shaddüwlin khiid

21 Ikh Amgalan nomiin khürd khiid, Ulaan yosnii töw Dechinchoinkhorlon khiid

22 Ürjin sanag rolwii choilin

23 Puntsoglin khiid/datsan

24 Ekh ürsiin buyanii töw, Dashchoinkhorlin khiid

25 Jürmeddechenlin khiid

26 Choi dechin dashsümprellin

27 Dechin choilin tawshi sünbrellin datsan

28 Garma Garjid Ürjin Perenlailin khiid

Gelukpa Women’s Communities

29 Dar' Ekh khiid/ Dulmalin khiid/ Getsogdarjaalin

30 Tögs bayasgalant töw, Emegteichuudiin khural

31 Baldankhajidlin khiid

Nyingmapa (Red Sect) Women’s Communities

32 Narkhajid süm

Gelukpa Temple with Mongolian Chanting

33 Mongol unshlagat Buyan arwijikhui khiid

New Temples Surveyed in 2007 (Gelukpa Temples)

34 Mongoliin Ikh Khüree khiid

35 Gandanshaddüblin

36 Gandandarjaalin datsan


Survey of Active Temples in Ulaanbaatar in 2005 – 2006, with some annotations in 2007

Survey Aim and Methodology

The survey on the active monasteries and temples in the Ulaanbaatar area was carried out between September 2005 and April 2006[1] – 15 years after Buddhism officially revived. In 2007 summer some annotations were made, including some changes concerning temples surveyed in 2005/2006 (not all temples were visited again) and the survey of three new temples that were opened after April 2006.

The aim of the survey was to locate all active Buddhist monasteries and temples in Ulaanbaatar in order to collect information about their foundation, the tradition they follow, the identity of the founder and the present head (if different), educational activities, connections with other Mongolian or Tibetan temples and institutions, the number of lamas, the ranks (titleholders) held, vows of lamas and, most pertinently, details of the religious practice i.e. specific rituals and ceremonies, and the principal deities worshipped.

Initially, the aim was to survey only the post 1990 activities in the surviving temples and monasteries that existed at the time of the purges (1937-39) or were, due to political changes, closed down or destroyed before, at the beginning of the 20th century where religious activities had revived, or to follow up a monastic body from this era, which had relocated to a newly built temple at a new site. As the survey progressed, it emerged that the foundations of all post-1990 temples in the city were interconnected through their modern founder to their master and his lineage and father-monasteries. It was then decided to include all the new temples in Ulaanbaatar in the survey (and on the surveyors’s suggestion currently working temples were surveyed, too, in the 2007 survey, Documentation of Mongolian Monasteries executed countrywide). Thus the survey of post-1990 monasteries became a study of the opportunities people in the capital have for visiting religious institutions for worship and, as such, forms the basis of an understanding of Mongolian Buddhist religious life in the capital.

The survey was done by personal visits by the researchers, who gathered data from the lamas of each individual assembly. The respondents were usually lamas with a specific rank in the monastery / temple or lamas who have other duties such as teachers, shrine supervisors etc. in the assembly. Respondents were not necessarily those with the highest rank, as detailed information, especially on the important aspect of ritual life and ceremonies, was more easily available from those participating regularly in them.

The information gathered by the researchers was supplemented by a limited collection of written sources: some of the bigger temples have produced printed leaflets describing their foundation and activities and these were used as sources wherever available; a number of books and articles published about the new temples were invaluable sources of information though most concern only the largest or historically most important that have been revived.

After the democratic change, the authorities decided that all religious institutions and organizations (Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islam etc.) were to be registered with the Ministry of the Interior and Legal Issues/ Ministry of Law and Interior (Khuul’ züi, dotood khergiin yaam). The first permit on the register was given to Gandan, the main monastery although it is not dated with the third being to Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery in 1994 (the second permit is for another religious community). The researchers were able to study a copy of the registry covering all the registered temples up to January 2006. However, it is clear from the registry that not all active Buddhist temples in Ulaanbaatar have registered (not to mention many active countryside temples very few of which have been registered) including, somewhat strangely, some of the biggest and most well known temples that have failed to register. Even among the registered temples, the registration date is some years later than the temples’ actual foundation date.

It is important to mention here that the main monastery, currently known as the Centre of Mongolian Buddhists, Gandan does not have any authority to grant permission for the foundation / operation of Buddhist temples in Mongolia i.e. it does not register temples or give permissions for temples to operate. Despite this, Gandan does attempt to keep a list of active Mongolian Buddhist temples, which is overseen by the daamal lam, Byambajaw, (in office since autumn, 2005), but all they have is the same list of registered temples found in the Justice Ministry.

In addition, the reality is that temples can and do operate without being registered. At present, any man (lama) can establish a monastery and be its head, if he is able to find other lamas (from the Buddhist point of view, four gelen, fully-ordained lama would be necessary to form a Sangha though this is rarely observed in Mongolia) who accept him as head, and if he can find a place for the regular chantings even if this is a yurt. The temples’ survival effectively depends on the donors, to provide financial support for the new temple.

Due to the fact that frequently the date of registry is more recent than the foundation in case of a temple that is already registered, we can draw the conclusion that sooner or later other, now active but still unregistered, temples will register (and we can not tell now which will get registered in years to come and which will not), this seeming to be only a question of time and money.

Given the confused situation surrounding registration, the researchers have confined the information about the registration of individual temples surveyed (registered or not, operational permit number, date of registry) to the excel table of the active temples and have not referred to this in the individual entries.

Remarks on Transcription

A table is attached for the transcription system used for Mongolian written in Cyrillic, Classical Mongolian equivalents are given only in a very few cases. The Wylie system has been used for transcribing Tibetan terms. In case of the Sankskrit equivalent of a term, we have given them without diacritics as a compulsion. Chinese terms are also given without intonation marks.

The deity names and other Buddhist terms (names of monastery types, ranks, monastic wovs etc.) are given in their Mongolian forms, which in many case means a distorted form deriving from the Tibetan and sometimes from the Sanskrit equivalent. In every separate entry at the first occurrence of the given term the Tibetan and Sanskrit equivalents are given in paranthesis for easier understanding. Names of Buddha (sanjaa or burkhan bagsh, Tib. sangs-rgyas), Padmasambhava (lowon or lowon Badamjunai, Tib. slob-dpon pad-ma ’byung-gnas) and Tsongkhapa (Tib. tsong-kha-pa) are used in the text not in their Mongolian forms but in the way widely known from English sources (ie Buddha, Padmasambhava and Tsongkapa).

In references to present-day and old temples, the following abbreviations are used: ‘New Temples’ (and a number) for present-day temples included in the survey, ‘Rinchen (and a number given)’ for temples marked on Rinchen’s map 31[2] and described in the survey of the old temples of the Ulaanbaatar area, and ‘NOT in Rinchen’ for temples included in the Ulaanbaatar area survey but not marked on Rinchen’s map. Thus the reader can consult these referred entries for further details.

Overview of Results

The survey covers 33 monasteries and temples (counting Gandan monastery and its monastic schools as one), plus three temples opened after April, 2006. In the event only three of these are revived old temples on the same site, with some others being revived old temples or institutions on new sites. Some of the latter bear the same name as old monastic schools (datsan, Tib. grwa-tshang) or temples, but seem to have no or little real connection with the old ones. In some other cases such as the manba datsans (medical temples, Tib. sman-pa), zurkhai datsans (astrological temples, Tib. rtsis-pa), and Narkhajid and Baldankhajidlin temples, several new temples have the same name as an old temple and even claim to be the revivals of the old ones, but there is no proven connection between them and the old ones. All the rest are new temples established after the democratic change, often with connections to the pre 1937/9 Ikh khüree or countryside monastic foundations through the traditions of the founding old lamas.

Historical background

The present site of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, was established as the capital of Mongolia in 1778, when it was called Ikh khüree, ’the great monastic city’. Since then it became the centre of religion and state, with a very active monastic life. At the time of the purges in 1937/9, there were 100 temple buildings, monastic institutions and assemblies in the city (counting the individual temples within the Gandan and Züün khüree complexes separately).

In the 1920’s religion became gradually supressed, reaching its nadir with the purges in the 1930’s. The decision, made by the Central Comission of the Revolutionary Party at the Party’s 7th Congress issued on December 27th, resulted in the mass executions of the monastics. In 1937-1938, approximately 17,000 lamas were arrested and executed, and almost every monastery, temple and palace in the Mongolian capital was totally destroyed. In the period between 1932 and 1940 about 900 monasteries in the whole of Mongolia were closed and mostly destroyed, including more than 100 temples and assemblies in the present area of Ulaanbaatar. The few temple buildings that were left standing in Ulaanbaatar were nationalized and used for secular purposes, such as prison, hospital, warehouse, circus or museum. The smaller temples on the outskirts of the city were neglected and, therefore, no traces remained of them.

After the purges in the late 1930s, only Gandantegchenlin Monastery was allowed to reopen (in 1944), but its functions were carried out under the strict supervision of the socialist government. However, in 1970, the authorities allowed the establishment of the Mongolian Buddhist Institute (later to become University) to educate lamas not just from Mongolia but also from the Buddhist Russian autonomous regions to the north, to rejuvenate the increasingly elderly monastic community. For decades, Gandan was the only fully operating temple in Mongolia.

Post 1990 Revival

After the 1990 democratic change, Mongolians were able to practice Buddhism freely, and monasteries, temples and Buddhist Institutes were soon re-opened or newly established. Currently, it is estimated that there are about two hundred such monasteries and temples throughout the country (though the Documentation of Mongolian Monasteries survey in 2007 summer executed in all aimags by six research groups, with the authors of the present survey being sent to Öwörkhagai, Dundgow’ and Töw aimags, proved that about half of these newly founded temples are inactive by now or only has annual or monthly ceremonies). Religion and monastic education is being re-organized in the monasteries that are still active 15-17 years after the revival. In addition lamas, and some female lamas, are being sent to India to study the Buddhist teaching at a high level in Tibetan monastic universities and institutions. The intention is that these highly educated lamas will return to Mongolia to pass on their knowledge to a younger generation of lamas in Mongolia. Most of them are able to spend only a year or so there, but a very few was able to study through different monastic classes for ten years, have returned by now and are teaching  in Mongolia, mostly in the datsans of Gandan.

Notwithstanding this, the springboard of the revival of Mongolian Buddhism is based on the memories and devoted activities of old lamas who are now in their 80’s or 90’s. At the time of the research the number of old lamas, to whom the revival owes so much, had dwindled considerably, and it is estimated that this generation will have passed away within the next decade.

At the time of the survey there were 33 temples operating in Ulaanbaatar, by 2007 three more temples were established. Some are on their original site such as Gandantegchenlin Monastery (Rinchen 912), Dambadarjaa Monastery (Rinchen 939) and Züün khüree Dashchoilin khiid – not recorded by Rinchen in his map, therefore included in the survey as NOT in Rinchen 942 (which operates in two remaining wooden yurt temples). Some old temple buildings have been used for establishing new communities of lamas: such as Zurkhain datsan and Gandan’s Badamyogo datsan, which have been established in some of the remaining buildings in the old Western Geser Temple (Rinchen 914); and the Dar' Ekh khiid/ Dulmalin khiid in the old Tara Temple (Rinchen 931).

However, as almost all the temples in the capital were either totally destroyed or had only partial remains, most new temples have been set up in newly built buildings. The common pattern for new communities is to set up their ‘temple’ activities in a yurt (ger) and erect the temple building later according to their means (i.e. financial support from their supporters). Indeed when the survey was being carried out six temples were operating in yurts, namely Jüd datsan (see the current situation part of entry Rinchen 912), Gandangejeelin khiid (New Temples 10), Agrim datsan (New Temples 17), Choin dechin dashsünbrellin (New Temples 26), Dechin choilin tawshi sünbrellin datsan (New Temples 27), Mongol Unshlagat Buyan arwijikhui khiid (New Temples 33). The community carrying out the daily chantings and readings create a temple not in a permanent building, even in the modern times. This attitude has its roots in the nomadic Mongolian tradition as well as being due to financial factors. In the last few years many small shrines have been erected signaling that the revival and dissemination of religion is still in process. At the time of the survey, most of the suburbs (yurt districts) of the capital have their own shrines, usually housed in a yurt or a small wooden building. In many of these newly established shrines there are only one or two adult lamas who endeavor to teach young novices i.e. to educate the next generation.

Another common occurrence of late is that several monasteries located in the countryside are setting up a small temple in Ulaanbaatar with a number of their lamas residing there. For example, there is a temple with lamas from Zawkhan aimag (Dechinarawjailin khiid, New Temples 16), a temple with lamas from Sükhbaatar aimag (Agrim datsan, New Temples 17) and two temples founded by lamas of Arkhangai aimag (Gandangejeelin khiid, New Temples 10) and Janchüwish dashlkhündüwlin khiid (New Temples 11).

New communities of lamas and temples appear all the time, and this survey will be out of date as soon as it is published. On the other hand, survival is not easy for many of the small communities that have tried to establish themselves, with problems of all kinds arising including financial. Indeed during this survey, one of the temples visited closed down: it was visited in September 2005, when its head was interviewed, but it had ‘disbanded’ with its lamas scattered a month later (Mongol Unshlagat Töw or Mongolian Reading Centre which worked in Bayangol district, on the way up to Gandan, led by P. Sükhbat lama). One assembly was temporarily not working due to it relocating during the time of the survey (Baldankhajilin, New Temples 31), while two others were able to continue their ceremonies while relocating (Mongol Unshlagat Buyan arwijikhui khiid, New Temples 33, and Agrim datsan, New Temples 17). In 2007 summer, when the researchers had only two weeks in Ulaanbaatar, some new temples were found that had opened since the time of the survey, which also proves that new temples are still being found.

However, while monastic life in Buddhist temples is considerably lively in Ulaanbaatar, with many temples and assemblies actively working, in the countryside there were and still are the old monks who kept temples working and ceremonies performed, and now, with their passing away, many countryside revived temples have become completely abandoned, with the young monks having been left without a master disrobing or going away to the capital and never returning. Nowadays this situation in the countryside means that though there were many temples founded after 1990, by now it is rather rare that an actively working temple can be found in a sum (subprovince, administrative unit within the aimag).

As Mongolian Buddhism is the same as (or can be said to be a special form of) Tibetan Buddhism, the Buddhist sects of this latter form are found today as well as being present in Mongolia historically. The mostly widespread of them in Mongolia, after the 17th century, is the Gelukpa or reformed Yellow sect founded by Tsongkhapa (Zonkhow, Tib. tsong-kha-pa, 1357-1419). Other sects, the representatives of which played important role in the early history of Buddhism in Mongolia, were: the Sakyapa sect founded in 1073, with Sakya pandita (Tib. sa-skya bla-ma, 1182-1251) and Phagwa lama (Tib. ‘phags-pa bla-ma, 1235-1280) establishing strong connections with Mongolian khaans in the 13th century; the Kagyüpa sect, among the sub streams of which the Karmapa was widespread; also there were Nyingmapa followers present.

Since the 17th century up to today the Gelukpa sect has been and remains the dominant one, but there are also many Nyingmapa or Red Sect temples in Ulaanbaatar. Nyingmapa is a collective name, which became used for all the so-called ‘old’ sects i.e. the ones that did not follow the teachings of Tsongkhapa. These have their roots in the first conversion (Tib. snga-dar, 7th-8th century) of Tibet with the teachings of Padmasambhava (Lowon Badamjünai) emphasized.

The majority (22, including the ones surveyed in 2007, 25), of the Ulaanbaatar monasteries / temples, belong to the Gelukpa or Yellow Sect (this includes one nunnery and two women’s centres and a Mongolian reading temple). As it was throughout Buddhist history in the country, the ceremonial language in almost all Mongolian monasteries is Tibetan: Tibetan language texts are recited during the ceremonies, and all religious terminology is based on Tibetan. Because of this, devotees not only do not understand the ceremonies but, it is argued, the language barrier makes it less easy for them to improve their knowledge and understanding of their religion. (However, it should be mentioned here that, traditionally, it is not the duty of Buddhist lamas to educate people in religion, especially in the tantric Buddhism, as tantric practices should be kept secret.) Until now there is only one Mongolian reading temple in Ulaanbaatar. Here the daily ceremony, special ceremonies and the readings or remedies requested by the believers are all recited in modern Mongolian. This community feels that this enables the people attending the ceremonies to understand and follow the meaning of the readings.

Eleven temples are Red Sect, mostly Nyingmapa temples, including one women’s centre. However, despite considerable investigation, this categorization is relative. For example: Badamyogo datsan of Gandan, Tögs bayasgalant khiid and Baldankhajidlin were all described by our informants as Gelukpa temples, although they also manifest some Nyingmapa (Red Sect) features and could be called mixed temples. In fact, as both Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhism is the mixture of the sutra and tantra traditions (sudriin yos, tarniin yos), tantric rituals are parts of the ceremonies in all Gelukpa (Yellow Sect) temples, though some are especially characteristic in Nyingmapa (Red Sect) ones.

It would appear that all the Red Sect monasteries in Ulaanbaatar belong to the Nyingmapa sect, worshipping Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. There is currently only one Kagyüpa temple in the capital, Garma garjid Ürjin perenlailin (New Temples 28) monastery, which is presently operating in an office.

There are several temples for Buddhist women, although it could be said that the only authentic nunnery is Dar' Ekh khiid/ Dulmalin khiid (New Temples 29) where female lamas have taken the getselmaa (female novice) vows, wear traditional nuns robes and are permanently resident. Most of the women in the other temples have lay vows and do not wear traditional religious robes though some wear a type of uniform that differentiates them from laywomen. However, they are effectively laywomen and, as such, can and do marry, have children, have long hair and wear make-up.

There are also numerous religious associations or centres mostly led by an individual lama (Mongolian or Tibetan) who gives Buddhist talks, readings and ceremonies with the aim of providing basic religious education for lay people. These have not been included in the survey, not being temples, having no real lama or women assemblies, not having daily chantings but only occasional or weekly gatherings and carrying out rather different tasks.

Life in present day Ulaanbaatar monasteries

There is great variation in the number of lamas in the different temples visited in the Ulaanbaatar area. Gandan monastery (New Temples 1), the modern centre of Mongolian Buddhism, has more than 500 lamas. In Züün khüree Dashchoilin (New Temples 2) monastery there are 160 lamas. All the other bigger temples have about 20 lamas. Some newer and smaller assemblies have only a few lamas, despite the traditional requirement to have at least four fully ordained lamas (gelen, Tib. dge-slong) in any Buddhist Sangha (community). Nevertheless, in the small assemblies there is often only one adult and one or two very young novices, which impacts on all aspects of their monastic life, as this has to be adapted to the small number of lamas.

It is customary to have the same ranks or title-holders in all temples or monasteries. The head of a monastery is called a khamba (abbot, Tib. mkhan-po) or tergüün (head). The general view is that only the abbot of the large monasteries such as Gandan and Züün khüree Dashchoilin (as the second biggest and the inheritor of the old Züün khüree) bears the title khamba, while the heads of other monasteries and temples should be referred to as tergüün.

The 9th jewtsündamba khutagt, Jambal namdol choiji jaltsan (Tib. 'Jam-dpal rnam-grol chos-kyi rgyal-mtshan, 1933-) who currently lives in Dharamsala, is considered, as the reincarnation of the first jewtsündamba khutagt, to be the leader of Mongolian Buddhists. (He has visited Mongolia only once, in 1999. The jewtsündamba khutagt, also called bogd gegeen, Tibetan Buddhism’s third highest incarnation after the Dalai and Panchen lamas, was the highest Buddhist dignitary in Mongolia up to 1924. The 9th incarnation was officially recognized in Mongolia in 1991, though Reting Rinpoche in Tibet originally recognized him in 1932. The abbot of Gandan monastery, the main monastery, is currently referred to as the head abbot of the whole of Mongolia, and of Mongolian monastic establishments.

However, today most temple heads call themselves khamba, or are so-called by their disciples. Thus, in reporting the situation in each temple, we give the titles our informants used. In smaller temples there are almost no other titleholders beyond the khamba or tergüün, possibly an unzad/umzad (chanting master, Tib. dbu-mdzad) and a gesgüi (disciplinary master, Tib. dge-bskyos). In bigger assemblies there are usually two unzad and two gesgüi, along with a lama with the title tsorj (‘lord of religion’, Tib. chos-rje) and one the lowon (master, Tib. slob-dpon). As for the tasks these title-holders carry out, the unzad leads the chanting, being very skilled in the melodies and the method of chanting though, as important, they are well versed in all the texts that are used in all the ceremonies held in their monastery / monastic school datsan (Tib. grwa-tshang); the gesgüi is responsible for keeping order in every aspect of monastic life in the temple, maintaining order during the ceremonies and carrying out punishments if necessary; while the tsorj and the lowon both have important roles in special events or ceremonies, when they perform specific ceremonial tasks or conduct the meditation practices necessary for performing the rituals.

Lamas can take different levels of religious vows. All new lamas or female lamas on entering a temple or monastery (usually young boys at any age from 3-6 and upwards) take the basic genen (Tib. dge-bsnyen) lay vows for males or genenmaa for females (Tib. dge-bsnyen-ma), which are five precepts that any Buddhist believer can take. These five precepts can be ‘strengthened’ for young lamas by taking the barmarawjin/barmarawjün (Tib. bar-ma rab-byung) vows at which time the novice is given a new, religious name. After this, the lama can take the next step by becoming a getsel (Tib. dge-tshul) and a female lama a getselmaa (Tib. dge-tshul-ma), which involves keeping ten precepts. A lama becomes fully ordained when he becomes a gelen (Tib. dge-slong), whereby he agrees to live by 253 precepts. The equivalent of this gelen level of vows for women is the gelenmaa (Tib. dge-slong-ma) vow of the fully ordained female lama with 364 precepts, but the lineage of gelenmaa has never existed in Mongolia nor in Tibet (although some claim it existed before the lineage was lost).

Thus currently there is no full women’s ordination officially in the Tibetan Buddhist lineages so consequently there are no gelenmaa in Mongolia today. However, from the time of Buddha the rules relating to female lamas are much more strict than for lamas. 

The present situation in Ulaanbaatar’s monasteries is that gelen are found in the required number (at least four) only in the monastic schools of Gandan, in Betüw and in Züün khüree Dashchoilin monasteries (New Temples 1, 3 and 2 in order), all of which have close connections with Tibetan monasteries in India where many of their lamas are studying. It is also the case that discipline is stricter in the above monastic schools and Betüw. In other temples there may be often only one or two gelen or none, and most typically in many of the smaller there are neither gelen nor getsel. The latter tend to have only genen or barmarawjin lamas. This seems to be the case especially in the Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples in Mongolia.

It must also be mentioned here that in the current situation, Mongolian lamas who have the getsel vow do not necessarily observe the vow of celibacy as it is prescribed in Vinaya (Tib. ‘dul-ba, monastic discipline) and followed in Tibetan Buddhism. This is kept here only by the gelens. Many Mongolian getsel lamas have a wife or a girlfriend, despite the prescription in the monastic discipline or precepts. The getselmaa vow of female lamas consists of the same ten precepts, but as the interpretation of the precepts, which are the same, is stricter for women even in Mongolia, close connection is forbidden to them with men. The getsel vow, excluding as it does possibility of marriage, is still adhered to in Tibetan monasteries, but it is currently kept in Mongolia only in a very few strict monasteries. In Ulaanbaatar there are no such monasteries, and there the getsel lamas ‘decide’ according to their own consideration. However, married getsel ‘lamas’ are so common that it is often said that there is a different interpretation of the vows in Mongolia to the extent that it is not necessarily considered to be case of breaking the vows to be married. Tibetan and other Buddhist lamas do not accept the Mongolian’s assertion of a different interpretation of the Vinaya. They say the married Mongolian lamas are simply not following the Vinaya purely and, therefore, they should not be called lamas nor should they wear the lama robes. Indeed, if one thinks strictly in terms of breaking or holding the vows, we would have to assert that around 70-80 percent of ‘lamas’ in the Mongolian monasteries are not lamas (either as having only genen (laymen) that are not real monastic vows, or being married despite having monastic (getsel) vows). This question cannot be judged without taking into consideration the fact that, according to the present situation, the vast proportion of lamas in Mongolia do not reside in the monasteries, but live with their family and therefore share in the problems of everyday life with all its temptations. In Ulaanbaatar, even in Gandan only a small number of lamas reside in the monastery. The same applies to Betüw monastery (though it aims to become fully residential). All the other temples have no lamas’ residences and their lamas live in their own accommodation in different districts throughout the city of Ulaanbaatar, often far from their temple. However, there are many factors behind it. From the description of the individual monasteries and temples it will be clear that these are all smaller temples, in most cases only with one temple building.

Historically, lamas existed in great numbers in Mongolia who had taken monastic vows, spent some time in one of the monasteries, but then lived with their families, herded animals, etc., while remaining lamas. However, the majority belonged to and lived in and around the monasteries. It is also a historical fact that there were married lamas who always had their assemblies outside, though in many cases right beside, the big monastic complexes. In most cases, these married lamas belonged to different Red Sect assemblies (the rules of which, though are exactly the same as concerning the Vinaya). It was also possible that a married lama living in the countryside with his family gathered regularly in the monastery he belonged to originally.

It is also a fact that there is a strong interest in monastic life today. For many young men, it is true devotion that leads to the decision to join a monastery or temple, but for others a driving factor may be that, in some temples, lamas receive a modest income, not to mention food that is provided in all temples in addition to the donations from the devotees. In this way, being a lama or female lama is considered today as being tantamount to a job in the eyes of many.

Another factor for the present situation in the monasteries is the political history of Mongolia in the second half of the twentieth century. Following the purges, the few surviving lamas were ‘forced’ to break their vows and marry. Add to this the fact that Mongolian Buddhism was revived after fifty years during which it all but ceased to exist. The main drivers of the revival were the old lamas, who were lamas before the purges, and the majority of whom were by now married, mainly under compulsion. There is also a certain different interpretation still prevalent today in Mongolia (again regarded by many as a misconception) that Red Sect traditions have different regulations. According to this interpretation, these allow for behaviour not permitted in the Gelukpa sect, and, therefore, it is especially in these Red Sect temples that there are almost no lamas living a celibate life.

As for the women’s assemblies, in Ulaanbaatar there is only one residential nunnery for female lamas (all with getselmaa vow). In addition, there are three women’s centres, where the female lamas having only the genenmaa or laywomen vows, effectively live a lay life and can marry. However, in these assemblies this license does not apply to female lamas with getselmaa vow, for whom keeping the vow of celibacy is considered a must.

We have used the terms ‘lama’ and ‘female lama’ in the survey for any member of an assembly (and individual lamas) as we feel it is more suitable in the Mongolian context than using the terms monk and nun. In Mongolian the term lam (Tib. bla-ma), ‘lama’ is used for all members of the monastic assembly be they gelen, getsel (even for married lamas who do not keep the Vinaya rules purely) and genen or barmarawjin (even though it is not monastic, but layman vow). The same applies to the word emegtei lam (‘female lama’), or to the more honorific ane (Tib. a-ne) for female lamas (members of nunneries/women assemblies), though genenmaas are often called khandmaas (Tib. mkha’-‘gro-ma, dakini/yogini or female sky-goer, used for female practitioners). It must also be emphasized that in Mongolia genen also wear the monastic robes, and that for many it is not the first step on the way to becoming fully ordained but a position they will remain in all their monastic life while being still considered full members of the assembly. Thus, as using the terms monk and nun is inappropriate in many of the above cases, the terms lama and female lama were chosen.

Religious Education and Training

As well as being educated in ritual practice by taking part in the daily chanting, lamas receive further training from their tutor lamas. First, they study the Tibetan alphabet and learn short and long eulogies by heart. Then, the literary and deep meaning of Buddhist texts is explained, with Buddhist view and philosophy being taught. Larger monasteries, such as Gandan, Züün khüree Dashchoilin and Betüw monastery have their own schools, colleges or classes, but all the temples provide some kind of religious education.

A traditional form of education is still conducted in the monastic colleges (datsan, Tib. grwa-tshang) in the greater Gandan complex: Dashchoimbel datsan, Güngaachoilin datsan, Idgaachoinzinlin datsan, Dechingalaw datsan, Jüd(iin) datsan, Mamba datsan, and Badamyogo datsan. Lamas in these monastic colleges study hard to master subjects such as philosophy, traditional Buddhist medicine and astrology, and tantra. For example: in Dashchoimbel monastic college in Gandan, the highest philosophical exams, such as gawjiin damjaa (Tib. dka’ bcu, meaning ‘ten hardships’), were re-commenced in 1990 with students now being able to attain the highest philosophical qualification.

In addition to teaching religious education, the larger monasteries, such as Gandan, Züün khüree Dashchoilin and Betüw monastery, include modern education in line with the national curriculum into their monastic schools (for young lamas aged 11-16), and colleges. Notwithstanding their limited resources all the temples try to provide basic religious education.

As well as the education provision made by the large monasteries, from the beginning of the revival many lamas (now numbering in the several hundreds) from these communities are being sent to study all aspects of Buddhism to a very high level in the Tibetan monastic colleges and Institutions in India. The intention is that they will return to Mongolia and hand on their knowledge to a younger generation of Mongolian lamas and female lamas. Furthermore, Tibetan teachers and esteemed lamas, such as Rinpoches, are invited to the biggest monasteries to give teachings further supporting the revival of the Buddhist traditions.

Ceremonial cycle

Another big difference between the monasteries is the specific ceremonies and rituals they hold. In Mongolian Buddhist monasteries, the number of ceremonies held monthly depends on the size of the monastery or shrine, the number of lamas in the community, the main deities worshipped there and the special role or function of the monastery. Therefore each monastery has a determined set of religious texts that are read there for special ceremonies, and, also, on which texts can be read or chanted everyday at the request of an individual.

The ceremonial cycle, which follows the lunar calendar (bilgiin toolol, in contrast with argiin toolol, European time), consists of daily chanting as well as a prescribed set of ceremonies that are repeated once a week, once a month, on the same day of the lunar month (sariin düitsen), once in a season. In addition, there are the main religious feasts or the great annual ceremonies (jiliin düitsen).

In smaller monasteries, the usual practice today seems to be that, beside the daily Tsogchin ceremony (Tib. tshogs chen), only the most common annual and some of the monthly ceremonies are held. In contrast, the ceremonial calendar in the biggest monasteries is very full, consisting of a wide variety of individual ceremonies, with as many as ten different ones in any one month.

Generally, the monthly ceremonies are held on the 8th, 15th and 30th of the lunar month these being called sariin düitsen ödör (‘the great days of the month’). Other distinctive days are the 10th, 25th and 29th of the month.

In individual temples the sequence of ceremonies may well be different from the above. In addition, some bigger temples hold weekly ceremonies at the weekends as well, these usually being Oroin yerööl (Tib. smon-lam) and Lkhogtoi Günreg (Tib. kun-rig-gi lho-sgo). They are special ceremonies performed at the request of individuals or families to gain better rebirth for their deceased loved ones.

However, the ceremonies described above are the most common types that take place across each month. Individual temples can hold different ceremonies on the above dates as well, or have other rituals on different monthly dates, not to mention the chogo (Tib. cho-ga), bigger ceremonies requiring special initiation, held only in bigger temples. For example: the Awidiin chogo (Tib.‘od-dpag-med-kyi cho-ga), a ceremony aimed at clearing away all sins and praying that the deceased take rebirth in the paradise of Awid (Tib. ‘od-dpag-med, Skr. Amitabha) Buddha; and the Tsewegmediin / Tsegmediin chogo (Tib. tshe-dpag-med-kyi cho-ga) ceremony, which is a worship of Tsewegmed / Tsegmed (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus) the Buddha of Boundless life. A special Nyingmapa (Red Sect) ceremony is Lowon chogo (Tib. slob-dpon cho-ga), for Padmasambhava.

In the description of the surveyed temples the ceremonial system has been described as this reveals much about its special features. For people visiting the temples for general interest rather than for religious practice, it is worth visiting a temple on the days it holds its special ceremonies, as more lamas are present on these days and the ceremonies are also more ‘spectacular’ than the everyday chanting.

The following annual Buddhist festivals or ceremonies are held in every monastery and temple: the ceremonies connected to the Lunar New Year, the great days of Buddha, and the anniversary of Tsongkhapa’s death (‘the great day of Zonkhawa/Zonkhow’, Zonkhowiin düitsen, Tib. tsong-kha-pa’i dus-chen or ‘The day he passed away’, Zonkhowiin taalal bolson/tögssön ödör) on the 25th of the first winter month. In some temples the Jambiin chogo (Tib. byams-pa’i cho-ga, ‘ceremony held in honour of byams-pa’) ceremony in honour of Maitreya, the future Buddha (Maidar or Jamba, Tib. byams-pa), is also held annually.

The ceremonial events of the Lunar New Year, Tsagaan sar in Mongolian, are the most important in every temple. At this time, first the Adislaga (Tib. byin-rlabs), consecration, of the new balin or ritual cakes (balin or dorom, Tib. gtor-ma) takes place at the 26th of the last winter month. On each of the 27th, 28th and 29th of the Old Year (meaning the last winter month) a ceremony is held in honour of the three wrathful deities (Sakhius), one being central to the proceedings for each day. These are called ‘the old ceremonies’ (Khuuchin nomiin khural), as they are the final ceremonies of the Old Year. On the eve of Lunar New Year, a special Sakhius ceremony is held in most temples in honour of Baldan lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi, shortly Lkham). It is called the Tsedor Lkham (Tib. tshes-gtor lha-mo) in Tibetan, also known in Mongolian translation as Jiliin dorom meaning the ‘yearly ceremonially cake offering’ ceremony to Baldan lkham. This begins late in the evening continuing until the morning of the first day of New Year with a special thanksgiving offering, called Tsedor danrag (Tib. tshe-gtor gtang-rag) being performed to Baldan lkham at dawn. The ceremony ends with the ceremonial greeting, zolgokh, which is a traditional homage firstly to the highest ranked lamas, then to the remaining ranked lamas and teachers, after which everyone greets everyone, always the younger the older, in the prescribed order (zolgokh is practiced in Mongolia everywhere, on the first some days of Tsagaan sar when people visit and greet their older relatives in a ceremonial way).

The ceremonies conducted in the first fifteen days of the Tsaagan sar (Lunar New Year), referred to as ‘the great festival days of Buddha’s miracle showing’ (Burkhan bagshiin (tersüüdiig nomkhotgon) rid khuwilgaan üzüülsen ikh düitsen ödrüüd, Tib. cho-'phrul chen-po'i dus-chen or Choinpürel jon aa, Tib. chos-‘phrul bco-lnga, ‘Fifteen miracles’), commemorate Buddha’s defeat of the six masters, the holders of heretical doctrines (tersüüd, Tib. log-par lta-ba), by mysterious methods including miracles. During this time most temples hold the ceremonies of Ikh yerööl or Oroin yerööl, the ‘great or evening prayers’ (Tib. smon-lam) or Choinpürel molom yerööl (Tib. chos-‘phrul smon-lam, ‘prayers of miracle showing’), which describe the Buddha’s miracles. The Ikh yerööl is only held in the bigger temples, but even the smaller ones tend to have other, smaller ceremonies for fifteen days.

The other three great Buddha festivals (beside the 15th of the first spring month) are as follows:

·         The 15th or full moon day of the first summer month, which celebrates three events of Buddha’s life (his birth, his enlightenment and his death). (Burkhan bagsh mendelsen khiigeed ilt tuulsan Burkhanii khutgiig olson, nirwaan düüriig üzüülsen ikh düitsen ödör, Tib. mngon-par byang-chub-pa'i dus-chen)

·         The 4th of the last summer month when Buddha first preached the Dharma or ‘first turned the wheel of Dharma’ (nomiin khürd ergüülekh/ (Burkhan bagsh) nomiin khürd ergüülsen düitsen or Choinkhor düitsen, Tib. chos-‘khor dus- chen)

·         The 22nd of the last autumn month when Buddha ‘descended from the god realms’. (lkhawaw(iin) düitshen, Tib. lha-las babs-pa dus-chen also called in Mongolian Burkhan bagsh tengeriin ornoos buuj irsen ödör)

On all the above occasions a special ceremony in honour of the Buddha, called Tüwiin chogo (Tib. thub-pa’i cho-ga, thub-pa being an epithet of Shakyamuni Buddha) or Burkhan bagshiin chogo (Burkhan bagsh ‘Buddha master’ being a Mongolian name of Shakyamuni Buddha), is held in the larger monasteries, while in the smaller ones magtaal, eulogies to Buddha, are recited. In the Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples special readings are held to Padmasambhava as well as the Lüijin ritual (a ceremonial meditation offering the body as a means to sever ego-clinging and concepts of individuality), which these temples tend to perform on any important date.

There are other, more complex, annual ceremonies that have been revived since 1990 in some of the larger monasteries:

In Ulaanbaatar, the Maitreya procession is held only in Gandan and Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery (with Lamrim datsan, New Temples 4, planning to revive it), while the Tsam ceremony is only held to date in Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery (in Gandan it was performed only once in 1999). Sor zalakh is performed in Gandan, Züün khüree Dashchoilin (here twice a year, before the Lunar New Year and also during the Tsam dance) and Dambadarjaa monastery (New Temples 7) and in a few of the smaller temples.

Traditionally the lamas with gelen and getsel vows observe the Khailen (Tib. khas-len, ‘oath-taking’) or Yar khailen (Tib. dbyar khas-len, ‘summer oath-taking’), the special oath-taking retreat period, from the 15th of the last summer month for 45 days, which has its roots in the early Buddhist tradition of summer retreat observed from the time of Buddha. However, this period is only observed in those Mongolian monasteries where there are at least four lamas with gelen vows. In effect this means that at present it is only done in Gandan, Betüw (New Temples 3) and Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery.

Reading religious texts for individuals

In addition to performing the ceremonies, lamas in all the temples perform readings of religious texts at the request of individuals. This tradition of having religious texts read is not new but paying a fixed donation for them to be read (nom unshuulakh/ailtgakh) is a recent innovation in Mongolia. In the times before the purges, when every family had a member who was a lama, he performed all the readings in the family home. Nowadays it is common for families to invite a lama or a group of lamas to recite in their home. Usually a family (or someone in it) has an acquaintance in one of the monasteries, and they like to invite the same lama for all the occasions for which they request readings.

Nevertheless, to satisfy believers demands, who request readings in large numbers on a daily basis, the practice of reading religious books for individuals has been introduced into Mongolian temples in recent years. In almost all the monasteries surveyed there was a list of the most commonly requested sutras with a commensurate list of fixed prices for reciting them. (Note that these lists differ from one temple to another.) The list usually covers the common circumstances or life situations for which reciting of certain texts is recommended.

It is the case that in some temples there are no fixed prices or tariffs for reciting texts and believers donate according to their own circumstances and ability. This gives the least well off a chance to have religious texts recited, which they could not afford in those monasteries with fixed prices. Often they are the ones whose circumstances lead them to request the more ‘efficient or beneficial’ text readings, which happen to be the more expensive ones in the fixed price system.

However, it should be noted that most requests for recitations for a specific situations are made following the advice of a lama, with only a minority of laypeople choosing the texts themselves from the list.

Most of the requested texts belong to the zasliin nom category. These are remedy prayers i.e. texts read to correct bad states or conditions (illnesses, sufferings, misfortune or bad luck) and to secure prosperity, happiness or success. Another common type of reading is called gürem (Tib. sku-rim), which is a kind of healing ceremony or a protective prayer ritual for the sake of long life and prosperity.

The peak period for ordering texts is the beginning of the Lunar New Year, when the courtyards of the monasteries are crowded with people standing in queues to place their orders. (This takes place 2-3 days in to the holiday as before this people are busy visiting older relatives and greeting them with the tradition of zolgokh.) During the first fifteen days of the New Year, families visit the temples and ask the astrologers about the coming year requesting appropriate texts and remedies to be performed.

In addition to the above way of having texts recited for one’s benefit and advantage, there are two other ways of doing this: dagan bayasakh, ‘rejoicing’, (Tib. rjes yi-rang); and itgel ailtgakh, ‘going for refuge’ (Tib. skyabs-’gro). Both make it possible for a supplicant to sponsor the recitation of an actual ceremony. They give their name and the number of people in their family along with donation (according to their means) to the disciplinary master at a specific point in the ceremony i.e. before the tea offering (Tib. ja-mchod), when he reads aloud all the names of the donors. In case of itgel ailtgakh, ‘going for refuge’, they also describe the event or situation for which they are making a donation e.g. to facilitate a relative to recover quickly from an illness. The disciplinary master repeats the request loudly as he turns to the altar, in this way providing the requested blessing to the donor. Another way families of groups can donate is to offer all the food for the lamas for a ceremony (jandag, Tib. sbyin-bdag, ‘donor, patron’). Believers have many other ways of expressing their faith: they can bring and light new butter-lamps on the altar; put money on the altar as an offering; they can also distribute small sums of money or food to the lamas during the ceremony as donations (zed pog, Tib. ‘gyed phogs, donation, alms).

List of the active monasteries and temples in Ulaanbaatar (in Survey period - September 2005 – April 2006, and 2007 summer)

Note:  When giving the English translation of a temple names, we use the word used in the name as given i.e. translating khiid as monastery, datsan as monastic school and süm as temple, without considering the real classification, the size or its layout. Thus the term monastery does not necessarily mean a monastery where lamas live, and may not even mean a monastery consisting of several temples, nor does datsan necessarily mean a monastic school with specialized education.

  1. Gandan monastery (Gandantegchenlin khiid), its temples and monastic schools: Ochirdar', Zuu, Migjid Janraisig, Dashchoimbel datsan, Dechingalaw (Düinkhor) datsan, Güngaachoilin datsan, Idgaachoinzinlin datsan, Jüd datsan, Badamyogo datsan in the building of the old Geser süm, Mamba datsan (outside the walled complex to the north of Gandan)
  2. Dashchoilin khiid/ Züün khüree
  3. Bakula Rinbüüchiin Betüw khiid
  4. Lamrim datsan
  5. Ikh khüree Manba datsan
  6. Ikh khüree Zurkhain datsan
  7. Dambadarjaa khiid
  8. Mamba datsan
  9. Deed bod' khiid
  10. Gandangejeelin khiid
  11. Janchüwish dashlkhündüwlin khiid
  12. Choidar odserlin datsan
  13. Dashgümpanlin khiid
  14. Dashchaglin khiid
  15. Gandan Sodnomdarjailin khiid
  16. Dechinarawjailin khiid
  17. Agrim datsan
  18. Namdoldechinlen khiid/ Jagarmolomiin neremjit ulaan yosnii töw
  19. Zurkhain datsan
  20. Gowiin Noyon Khutagt Danzan Rawjaagiin neremjit Ürjin Shaddüwlin khiid
  21. Ikh Amgalan nomiin khürd khiid/ Ulaan yosnii töw Dechinchoinkhorlin khiid
  22. Ürjin sanag rolwii choilin/ Lowon Badam junain nuuts tarniin nomiin khiid
  23. Puntsoglin khiid
  24. Dashchoinkhorlin/ Ekh ürsiin buyanii töw
  25. Jürmeddechenlin khiid
  26. Choin dechin dashsünbrellin
  27. Dechin choilin tawshi sünbrellin datsan
  28. Garma Garjid Ürjin perenlailin khiid
  29. Dar' Ekh khiid/ Dulmalin khiid
  30. Tögs Bayasgalant töw, Emegteichuudiin khural
  31. Baldankhajidlin
  32. Narkhajid süm
  33. Mongol Unshlagat Buyan arwijikhui khiid
  34. Mongoliin Ikh Khüree khiid
  35. Gandanshaddüblin
  36. Gandandarjaalin datsan

Description of the Monasteries and Temples

Gelukpa (Yellow Sect) Temples

1 Gandan

See Current Situation entry of Rinchen 912 in the Old Temples section for descriptions of present day activity for the main Gandan temple and its monastic schools Dashchoilin, Güngaachoilin, Idgaachoinzinlin, Dechingalaw, Jüd and Manba datsan.

See Current Situation entry in Rinchen 914 in the Old Temples section for descriptions of present day activity for Badamyogo monastic school.

2 Dashchoilin khiid, Züün khüree

See Current Situation entry for NOT in Rinchen 942 in the Old Temples section for descriptions of present day activity for this monastery.

3 Betüw khiid

Betüw danjai choinkhorlin khiid

Bakula rinbüüchiin Betüw khiid

Tibetan name: Dpe-thub bstan-rgyas chos-‘khor gling

Written Mongolian name: Bitüb danjai choyingqorling keyid

English name: Betüw/ Pethub monastery of Bakula Rinpoche, Pethub Stangye Choskhorling monastery

The monastery is in Chingeltei district, on Ikh toiruu, opposite to Geser süm, below the hill to the east, called Dalkhiin denj beyond which is Gandan monastery.

GPS was taken at the eastern gate

Elevation 1298m

N 47°55.248’

E 106°54.073’

Sonam Wangchuk. PO. No. 38/105 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

tel. 976 11 322336, pethubmongolia@magicnet.mn

www.pethubmonastery.com

Informant: Ishtsültem, the disciplinary master of the monastery

This Gelukpa monastery was founded in August, 1999 by Kushok Bakula Rinpoche (1917-2003), the former Indian ambassador to Mongolia. Bakula Rinpoche is considered to have been the incarnation of one of the sixteen arhats, Buddha’s main disciplines. During his years as an ambassador, he contributed immeasurably to the revival of Buddhism and Buddhist institutions in Mongolia. As such, he is well known and respected everywhere in Mongolia.

Presently the monastery has about 30 lamas. About ten of them are studying in Gomang datsan of Drepung monastery in South India. At average, they spend five to ten years there completing the traditional Gelukpa Buddhist studies before coming back to their monastery.

There are three lamas from Bakula Rinpoche’s Monasteries in Ladakh, India in the monastery to teach and train the young lamas. Thub-bstan chos bzang agramba was the abbot at the time of the survey. He received his education at Gyüme monastic school (Jüme, Tib. rgyud smad) of Sera monastery. The other teacher from Ladakh, Thub-bstan blo-gros agramba (who also studied at Jüme datsan), is the present lowon lama of the monastery. The third teacher, Thub-bstan zla-ba was the late Bakula Rinpoche’s assistant. The monastery has a director as well, P. Oyunubaatar who is a qualified traditional doctor. There is another lowon lama with gelen vow, Dambatseween.

There are the following ranks in the monastery: two lowon, one chanting master and one disciplinary master. Unlike any other monastery in Mongolia today, many of the lamas in this monastery have taken getsel vows with others having gelen vows. In addition all the lamas are resident in the monastery and strict monastic rules are applied.

On entering the main temple, the images of the Guardians of the Four Directions can be seen, two on either side. The relics of Bakula Rinpoche, the founder of the monastery are inside a stupa made of silver on the left side of the main altar. The stupa was made by G. Pürewbat lama in 2004, and is 2.5 meters high and contains 110 kilograms of silver. There are also eight smaller stupas, all 70 centimetres high, covered in gold, which also contain Bakula Rinpoche’s holy relics. These 8 stupas are on shelves on the wall on either side of the temple. Renzon Rinpoche of Ladakh performed rituals for the consecration of the stupas.

The sidewalls of the temple are hung with painted scrolls including images of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), Manzshir (Tib. ‘jam-dpal / 'jam-(dpal)- dbyangs, Skr. Manjushri), Buddha, Tsongkhapa and his two disciples and the six-armed Makhgal (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala). The main deity of the monastery is Buddha, the main protector deity is Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red protector. The main sculptures on the altar are of Tsongkhapa, Buddha and Maidar (Tib. byams-pa, Skr. Maitreya). There are two thrones before the altar, one with the picture of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the other with a gold painted sculpture of Bakula Rinpoche.

The volumes of the Indian Sata-Pitaka Series are available in the monastery such as the Tibetan version of Ganjuur (Tib. bka’-‘gyur) printed in Urga and the volumes of the Mongolian Ganjuur

The daily chanting ceremony starts from 9 o’clock. There are various monthly ceremonies: on the 8th of the month to the Medicine Buddha (Manal, Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru); on the 9th to the wrathful deities; on the 15th to the sixteen disciples of Buddha (Naidan chogo, Tib. gnas-brtan-gyi cho-ga). On the 10th and on the 25th of the month Guru Puja is recited with a feast offering (Lamiin chodwiin tsogchid, Tib. bla-ma mchod-pa’i tshogs-mchod, ‘Guru Puja with a feast offering’). On the 30th the Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwa) are read.  On the 22th a special ceremony is held in honour of Lkham (Lkham mamo tugon, Tib. lha-mo ma-mo 'khrugs-skong) and on the 25th a special sacrificial cake (balin, Tib. gtor-ma) is presented to Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, King of the Dharma, epithet of Yama), called Choijoo dügjüü (Tib. chos-rgyal drug bcu).

On the 4th November to mark the anniversary of the death of Bakula Rinpoche (2003), there is a special ceremony held to commemorate and honour him with the reading of eulogies, prayers and the text of Guru Puja (Lamiin chodow).

Lecture for laypeople are held on weekday evenings (7.00pm) and on Saturdays (2.30pm) for those who are interested. They are given by one of the Tibetan teachers, and translated into Mongolian.

The reception room for ordering the reading of religious texts and a small shop selling religious articles and books is on the left side of the main temple. On the right there are the rooms of the Tibetan teachers, and the entrance to the school (downstairs, in the basement).

There is a religious school bearing the name of Bakula Rinpoche in the monastery (Bakula Rinbuuchiin Shashnii Surguul’), with the classrooms and the teachers’ rooms in the basement. The room of the monastery’s fortuneteller is also there. The monastery has a library as well, also in the basement. There is also a small shrine.

The monastic complex is surrounded by a high wall and has two entrance gates: one in the south and one in the east wall. Immediately outside the wall to the west of the temple there is a large stupa built and consecrated in 1999. In the main courtyard below the main temple there are two stupas.

On the west side of the courtyard a residence for the lamas is being built and is due to be occupied in 2006. On the east side there is a two-storey building housing the Naidan ardiin ulamjlalt emneleg (Tib. gnas-brtan sman-khang), a Traditional Medicine Clinic with consulting rooms and a dispensary. The upper floor is currently used as accommodation for the Head of the clinic and one of the two lowon. Tibet Foundation’s Buddhism in Mongolia programme office is on the first floor.

4 Lamrim datsan

Janchub lamrim datsan

Tibetan name: Chos-sde chen-po dga’-ldan chos-‘phel gling, byang-chub lam-rim grwa-tshang

Written Mongolian name: tegüs bayisγulang-tu nom arbidqu yeke kölgen-ü keyid

English name: Lamrim monastic school

On Zanabazar Street, which leads to Gandan.

TEL 364913, FAX 369201, 99196898, lamrimdatsan@yahoo.com

Elevation 1321m

N 47°55.132’

E 106°53.704’

Informant: S. Bayantsagaan, the head of the temple; Lodoidamba, the main disciplinary master of the temple (about 30 years old)

Written source: Mönkhsaikhan, D., Soninbayar, Sh. (ed.), Nomgonii sümiin Dara-ekh Lamtan Agwaantsültemjamtsiin buman zarligiin garchig, Öndör gegeen Zanabazariin Neremjit Mongoliin Burkhanii Shashnii ikh Surguul’, Ulaanbaatar 2005

Before 1938 Lamrim datsan was situated in the Gandan complex on the left side of Güngaachoilin datsan. However, according to the current head, this new temple can not be considered as a revival of the old monastic school, it merely bears the same name and has the same purpose i.e. to spread the teachings of the Lamrim, Tsongkhapa’s great work on the gradual path to enlightenment, and to hold ceremonies in connection with this teaching.

The present temple was built in 1990 on the initiation of the Association of Mongolian Believers (Mongol süsegtnii kholboo) and S. Bayantsagaan, a lama, who is now the head of the monastery. Before 1990 the monastery was operating in a yurt. The lowon (Tib. slob-dpon) lama of the temple, Khishigtiin Gombo is an old lama (born 1914 in the year of tiger), who studied in Baruun khüree (also known as Shankhnii khüree/Tüsheet khanii khüree/Ribogeji Gandanshadublin), Öwörkhangai aimag, Kharkhorin sum and Nomgonii süm or Nomgonii Dar’ Ekh lamiin khiid, also called Puntsagdarjailin, Arkhangai aimag, Khashaat sum (in Elsiin tasarkhai, which is the sand dune area on the way to Kharkhorin).  He was a disciple of Dar’ Ekh lamtan, Agwaantsültimjamts in the 1920-1930’s and became a lama again in 1990. Since that time he has been the lowon lama of Lamrim datsan. The head, Bayantsagaan, is also the head of the Association of Mongolian Believers (Mongol süsegtnii kholboo), which initiated the foundation of about 85 monasteries and temples in Mongolia. Bayantsagaan studied and wrote his dissertation (at the Mongolian National University of Mongolia, MUIS) on the philosophy of Lamrim. As such he had a personal interest to establish a temple where studies of the Lamrim are emphasized.

The entrance of the complex is on the west of Zanabazar Street. Two rows of prayer wheels lead to the gate of the temple. To the south there is a stupa, which was completed in October 2005 and is surrounded by prayer wheels. In the back courtyard there is a two-storey building. The reception for ordering texts by individuals is on the right side of the entrance hall. In this temple there are fixed prices.

At the time of the survey this temple has the highest number of old lamas in Ulaanbaatar, who come from old monasteries in the countryside and the Ikh khüree temples. Many of those old lamas who joined Lamrim datsan after the revival were fortunately still attending the rituals at the time of the survey. The researchers were not able to interview all the old lamas in the monastery, as some of them did not attend the ceremonies during the survey period for a variety of reasons.  However, they were able to meet and interview 9 of them, namely: the lowon lama called Gombo (see above); Nyamdorjiin Dashnyam, main disciplinary master (born 1913, had been a lama of Bogdiin khüree, Idgaachoinzinlin datsan, lived in Düinkhor aimag); Yondon Jambaa (1912-2007, Zeerengiin khiid/khüree, present Öwörkhangai aimag, Sant sum); Tüwdengiin Badamsed (born 1914, Nömrögiin khüree/ Samdanpuntsoglin/ Khatawchiin khüree/ Tsogtoi wangiin khüree, present Zawkhan aimag, Nömrög sum); Ganjuuriin Tsendsüren (born 1927, Baatar khoshuunii khiid, present Khentii aimag, Jargaltiin am); Osoriin Indree (born 1924 in the year of rat, Jadambiin khiid, present Dundgow’ aimag, Deren sum); Ambaagiin Tunaadegd (born 1921, Arwaikheeriin khüree/ Bandid lamiin khiid/ Üizen wangiin khüree/ Delgerekh bulgiin khüree, present Öwörkhangai aimag centre, Taragt sum, Arwaikheer town); Ösökhiin Bat-Ochir (born 1914, Beliin khüree, present Öwörkhangai aimag, Kharkhorin sum); Tsembeliin Günchin (born 1917 in the year of snake, Mengetiin khüree/khural, present Dundgow’ aimag, Luus sum). In 2007 an additional lama was interviewed, Darjaagiin Gonchig (born 1916, Mengetiin khiid/khural, present Dundgow’ aimag, Luus sum). As indicated, prior to the purges these old lamas belonged to different monasteries and assemblies in different territories of Mongolia. The interviews with them concerned the old temples they belonged to and the details of religious life in them. (This material is to be published later as is out of the scope of the present survey.)

Presently, there are about 50 lamas in the temple. There is a lowon, two chanting masters and two disciplinary masters. There are three lamas with gelen vow. Four of the lamas have gewsh (Tib. dge-bshes) rank, an academic degree in philosophical studies requiring around 15 years of study. Four lamas were sent to study in Sera monastery, South India in 2003.

The main deities of the temple are Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala), Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama), Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana or Kuvera) and Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protector.

The daily chanting is held from 9.30am. Various ceremonies are held monthly: on the 8th in honour of the Medicine Buddha (Ikh Manal, Manaliin donchid, Tib. sman-bla’i stong-mchod ceremony), and also the Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwa) is offered; on the 10th and 25th Narkhajid dakini (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini) is worshipped (Khajidiin chogo); on the 29th the wrathful deities of the temple are worshipped (Arwan khangal); and on the 30th the ritual of the main disciples of Buddha, the sixteen arhats (Naidan chogo) is held.

The Lamrim ceremony, during which parts of the main work of Tsongkhapa, The gradual path that leads to the enlightenment, are read, is held in the middle month of every season from the 3rd to the 10th, in the other (first and last) months from the 3rd to the 5th of the month. On the 6th of every month, more detailed form of the Lamrim is read in a longer ceremony (delgerekh ikh lamrim, ‘detailed Lamrim’). During these ceremonies the Lamrim text of Damtshigdorj or Bar’ lam Damtsigdorj (Tib. brag-ri bla-ma dam-tshig-rdo-rje, 1781-1848) is read. He was a great Mongolian lama and scholar, born in Gow’ mergen wangiin khoshuu of Tüsheet khan aimag (present Dundgow’ aimag, Saikhan owoo sum). He studied in Tibet as well as in Dashchoimbel datsan of Ikh khüree. Later he founded a monastery called Bragiriin khiid on the bank of Ong River on the Rocky Mountain (khadat uul, Tib. brag-ri). His work on Lamrim, entitled Pandelamsan (Tib. phan-bde lam-bzang lam-rim, ‘excellent beneficial gradual path of enlightment’) became a very important text in Mongolian monasteries. It is used as a main text in Sera monastery in Tibet.

On the 15th of every month the Günreg (Tib. kun rigs) ceremony is performed to Günreg (shortly for Günreg Nambarnanzad, Tib. kun-rig(s) (rnam-par snang-mdzad), Skr. Sarvavid Vairochana, a form of Vairochana Buddha) for the deceased. In the middle months of the year the initiation part is included, (Wantai günreg, Tib. dbang), while in the first and last months of the year the ceremony (Lkhogtoi günreg, Tib. kun-rig-gi lho-sgo) omits the initiation.

In this temple several special annual ceremonies are held. On the 16th of the first spring month Danrag (Tib. gtang-rag), a thanksgiving offering, is made to the wrathful protector deities. On the 17th of the first spring month the temple plans to revive the Maitreya procession, which, up to now, is only being held in Gandan and Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery in Ulaanbaatar, and in a very few bigger monasteries in the countryside.

On the 8th of the first summer month, which is the great Düitsen month (Tib. dus-chen, ‘great time, festival’), a thousand-fold offering is presented in honour of the Medicine Buddha (Manaliin donchid or Donchidtoi Manal, Tib. sman-bla’i stong-mchod). From the 13th until the 17th day of the month Maaniin büteel (Tib. ma-n.i sgrub) is performed to Janraiseg (Avalokiteshvara) for 5 days non-stop culminating with a water offering (Usan takhil, Tib. chu gtor, ‘libation, water’ (gtor-ma) offering’). On the 8th and 15th of the first summer month, the meditation of Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaisajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha and Janraiseg are practiced with the participation of four to eight lamas. On the 3rd, 4th and 5th of the last summer month the Ganjuur is recited.

The Shambalin chogo (Tib. shambha-la’i cho-ga) ceremony for the deceased is held annually although there is no fixed date for it.

On the 22nd of the last autumn month, one of the Buddha anniversaries, when Buddha descended from the god realms (lkhawaw(iin) düitshen, Tib. lha-las babs-pa dus-chen), a ceremony entitled Jalbasengiin Ariin Donchid tsogchid (Tib. rgyal-ba seng-ge’i nga-ro’i stong-mchod tshogs-mchod), ‘the fest-offering and thousandfold-offering to Jalba senge aro/Jalba sengiin ar(o) ('victorious lion's roar', name of a buddha’) is performed.

Lamrim datsan has a meditation retreat, founded by Bayantsagaan, near the Turtle Rock in Terelj (50 kms from Ulaanbaatar in the Nalaikh district). The temple bears the name of Aryaabal (Tib. thugs-rje chen-po, Skr. Aryapala, Mahakarunika), that is ‘the great compasionate one’, an epithet of Avalokitesvara (Aryapala meditation and initiation center, Ariyaabal Burkhanii Nomlol Büteeliin Töw, Tib. thugs-rje chen-po’i e-wam zung ‘jug bshad-sgrub bstan-rgyas gling, Mongolian name: Aryabala burqan-u arγ-a biliγ qooslal oroqui). It was founded in 1998 and completed in September 2004. According to the disciplinarymaster of Lamrim datsan, about twenty lamas go to the retreat centre from Lamrim datsan to celebrate the great feast days. They burn butter lamps, meditate and do the fourfold meditation practice called Bumshi (Tib. ‘bum bzhi). During the survey visit the two separate smaller shrines, topped with stupas, on either side of the main building, were being furnished with the objects of worship though they were not yet open for use. There is also a small hut high on the rocky hillside, which is for meditation. Bayantsagaan plans to establish an exhibition in the basement of this temple with 200-300 illustrations illustrating the stages of the enlightenment. He is now working on the inscriptions for the illustrations to be written in five languages (Mongolian, English, German, Japanese, Chinese). (By the summer of 2006 this exhibition was already opened).

5 Ikh khüree Manba datsan

Tibetan name: Sman-pa grwa-tshang

English name: Ikh khüree medical monastic school

On the way up to Gandan (Zanabazar street).

Elevation 1341m

N 47°55.171’

E 106°53.702’

Informant: Tüwshin lama

A Manba datsan was situated in the area of Züün khüree before 1938, but this new temple has no connection with it.

This Gelukpa monastery is on Zanabazar Street. It is a red coloured one-storey building on the right side, near Lamrim datsan (New Temples 4) and Ikh khüree Zurkhai datsan (New Temples 6). Despite its seeming connection to Ikh khüree, through its name, there is no traditional connection with the old capital city.

The abbot, Z. Sanjiddorj founded the monastery in 2003. Before this time, the Ikh khüree Zurkhai datsan operated in this building and this has now moved to a building next door. The two monasteries were founded and are lead by the same abbot. The monastery has about twenty lamas some of whom have studied in India. Some lamas have taken the getsel vow while others have the genen vows. There are the following ranks: abbot, lowon, two chanting masters and one disciplinary master.

When you enter the shrine, on the left side there is the cash desk for paying for texts. In this temple there are no fixed prices and people pay according to their means. On the right there is the lowon’s room where laypeople can consult him.

Although this is a Gelukpa monastery it has two lamas who follow the Nyingmapa (Red Sect) teachings as well.  They sit on the right at the back of the temple, and perform the readings of Lüijin and recite the texts of Zangad (Tib. btsan rgod/brtsan rgod). Two painted scrolls behind their seats show two deities beloved by the Nyingmapa, Padmasambhava and Narkhajid dakini (Sarvabuddhadakini).

The main deities of the temple are Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaisajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha, Buddha, Ochirwaan' (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje / phyag-rdor, Skr. Vajrapani) and Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara). The main objects of worship and images on the altar are the three central sculptures: Dar ekh (Tib. sgrol-ma, Skr. Tara), Manal and Ochirwaan'. There are paintings of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus), Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protector, and Biz’yaa or Jügder namjil / Jügdor namjil (Tib. gtsug-tor rnam-rgyal, Skr. Ushnishavijaya) around them. In the centre, there are two hanging painted scrolls: Manal and Dar’ ekh.

Daily chanting is held from 10am. After this, the so-called gürem, healing ceremonies are held. These are protective prayer-rituals for the sake of long life and prosperity with texts being read at the request of individuals (as in every other temple). The monastery has some astrologers. Laypeople ask them what texts should be read for them.

The only monthly ceremony in this temple is on the 15th of the lunar month, when they chant the Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ ekhiin mandal shiwa).

6 Ikh khüree Zurkhai datsan

Tibetan name: rtsis-pa grwa-tshang

English name: Ikh khüree astrologic monastic school

On the way up to Gandan (Zanabazar street).

Elevation 1328m

N 47°55.164’

E 106°53.707’

Informant: Luwsanchültem, lama of the temple (about 30)

A Zurkhai datsan was situated in the area of Züün khüree before 1938, but this temple has no connection with the old one.

This Gelukpa temple is situated between Lamrim datsan (New Temples 4) and Ikh khüree Manba datsan (New Temples 5) at Zanabazar Street leading to Gandan monastery’s main gate. Despite its seeming connection to Ikh khüree, through its name, there is no traditional connection with the old capital city.

The abbot and the founder of the monastery is Z. Sanjiddorj, the same who heads and founded Ikh khüree Manba datsan next door to this temple. Ikh khüree Zurkhai datsan was opened in 1995. In the first years it operated in the building of the present Ikh khüree Mamba datsan and moved to its present building in 2002.

Presently the temple has 40 lamas some of who have studied in India and most of whom have getsel vows. The ranks are the following: abbot, two lowons, two chanting masters and one disciplinary master.

The main deity of the temple is Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara). There are the following objects of worship and images on the altar: sculptures of Tsagaan Dar’ ekh, Tsongkhapa, Buddha, Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana), and painted scrolls of Jigjid (Tib. jigs-byed, Skr. Bhairava, epithet of Yamantaka) and Ochirwaan' (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje / phyag-rdor, Skr. Vajrapani). Above the throne of the disciplinary master pictures of Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi) and Ochirwaan' are hanged. The volumes of the whole Ganjuur are kept in the monastery.

In this temple, on the 8th of the lunar month the ceremony of the Medicine Buddha (Manal, Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru) is held and on the 15th the ritual of Buddha’s main disciplines, the sixteen sthaviras or arhats (Naidan). On the 29th the ritual of Amitabha (Awidiin chogo) is held and on the 30th Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd, Tib. gsang-‘dus-kyi rgyud) is read.

At the left side of the temple, there is a counter selling religious articles and this is also the cash desk where people can request and pay for readings with no fixed prices. The temple gives great emphasis on reading requested texts and giving remedies (zasal) to people so it is usual to see people sitting in front of each lama who is reading them their texts up to 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

In the basement of the temple there is a restaurant that can be entered from inside the temple.

7 Dambadarjaa khiid

On this monastery see the current situation part of entry Rinchen 939 (Dambadarjaagiin khiid).

8 Manba datsan

Other names: Mongol ulamjlalt emneleg surgaltiin töw, Busdad tuslakhui anagaakh ukhaanii “Manba datsan” khiid

Tibetan name: sman-pa grwa-tshang

English name: Medical monastic school

The temple is in Bayanzürkh district, 2nd microdistrict, on Ikh toiruu, near the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.

Tel: 458489, 457489, Fax: 976 – 11-458489

E-mail: lama@magicnet.mn

Web site: www.manbadatsan.mn , www.cultural-tour.mn

Elevation 1332m

N 47° 55.731’

E 106° 56.436’

Informant: D. Natsagdorj, head of the temple

D. Jambadorj, 24 years old, has been a lama of the monastery for 10 years

Written sources: Sereeter, Ö., Mongoliin Ikh khüree Gandan khiidiin tüükhen bütetsiin tobch. 1651-1938. Ulaanbaatar 1999

Bilgiin melmii, 2005 September-October, No. 20/ 62 Ulaanbaatar

Printed leaflet produced by the temple (Mongoliin ulamjlalt emneleg surgaltiin töw manba datsan)

A Manba datsan was situated in the area of Züün khüree before 1938. The head considers his temple to be its continuation and emphasizes this in the leaflet he has produced. However, currently there are two other temples bearing the same name, Manba datsan, in Ulaanbaatar (Ikh khüree manba datsan, and the one belonging to Gandan) and it can not be judged which has the closer connections with the old one

The abbot, D. Natsagdorj, founded this Gelukpa medical monastery in 1990. He is also the director of the traditional Medicine College attached to the monastery. He graduated at Zanabazar University in Gandan and studied Traditional Medicine for several years in Dharamsala. He has the rank of gewsh (Tib. dge-bshes) and maaramba, academic rank in medical studies (Tib. sman-rams-pa). He also heads a traditional teaching hospital in the Sansar district in Ulaanbaatar.

Yo. Amgalan, the Vice abbot (ded khamba) of the temple also holds this position in Gandan monastery. The tsorj, G. Diwaasambuu, is also the tsorj of Gandan and the founder of the new Garma garjid Ürjin perenlailin monastery (New Temples 28). There is also a lowon, two chanting masters, a disciplinary master, four golch or chanters. Furthermore, as in most temples, there is a chombon (offering master who is in charge of the offerings) and duganch, a shrine supervisor. There is also a lama with the title gergen lama, ‘old teaching lama’ (Tib. dge-rgan) called Sosoriin Dagwa who was born in 1910. In the years immediately before the purges, he was a lama in Dashchoimbel datsan, Gandan in Ikh khüree, attached to Toisamlin aimag, and before that, he attended two countryside monasteries, Mönkhiin khiid/Khuwilgaan khiid (Luus sum) and Zawa lam Damdin’s Delgerchoir monastery (Delger tsogt sum), both in the present Dundgow’ aimag. He was also interviewed about the old temples to which he belonged and details of religious life in them. (Again, this material is to be published later as is out of the scope of the present survey.)

Presently there are about 40 lamas belonging to the temple only one of whom is a gelen. Some of the lamas are studying at the adjoining Medical College. Unusually, four lamas are studying in Tibet, one of whom has arrived back after completing his studies there.

On the left side of the courtyard in front of the temple there is a circle of prayer wheels with a big one in the centre. On the right side of the main gate there is a stupa with the sculpture of Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha.

The temple is in a two-storey building, with the consulting rooms of the traditional medical clinic and the classrooms of the Traditional Medical College at the second floor, and a drug factory in the basement.

Inside the temple itself, there are two shops selling religious articles on the right and left side of the entrance. The reception for ordering texts by individuals is on the left side. In this temple there are fixed prices for the recitation of texts. An astrologer is available in a small room is on the left side of the temple. On the right side of the temple there is the pharmacy selling traditional drugs and their component elements.

The main deity of the temple is Manal. The main protector deities are Shanlan (Tib. zhang-blon) and Damjan/Damjin, ’the black coloured smith’, (Tib. dam-can, being a shortened name for Damjin garwanagwuu, Tib. dam-can mgar-ba nag-po), who are traditional protectors of doctors and medical schools. According to Sereeter (p 66.), the old Manba datsan, which was part of Züün khüree had the same protector deities.

Inside the temple there are the following objects of worship: in the middle there is a huge relief of Maidar, the future Buddha, which can also be seen through corridor windows on the second floor. On the altar the three main images are of Manal in the middle, and on his two sides Shanlan and Damjin, the two protector deities of the temple. Shanlan is a blue coloured wrathful deity with flaming hair, wearing red robe and holding a jewel in his right hand and an alms bowl in his left hand. Damjin is a blue coloured wrathful deity wearing a big round hat and riding a billy-goat. There are various thangkas as well: Manal; an assembly tree; three pictures of Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi); and a thangka of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara). A three dimensional mandala or palace of Manal is on the right of the altar.

The daily chanting is held from 9.00am. If another ceremony is taking place at the same time, then the Tsogchin (daily chant) is read by four of the lamas on the right side of the shrine, while the second ceremony takes place in the shrine read by all of the lamas. In this way all of the ceremonies can be held from 9.00am, despite though the monastery having only one shrine. Lamas sitting separately on either side of the temple chant the readings requested by individuals.

People usually came to the temple to pray for and have texts read for their and their family member’s health, and also in pray for their deceased kin to get a better rebirth. There are various monthly ceremonies. The most important, given the temple specializes in traditional medicine and the Medicine Buddha, are the ceremonies for the Medicine Buddha (Manaliin lkhogo, Manaliin donchid, Ikh manal) held on the 8th of each lunar month. On the 10th of the month texts of the protector deities, namely Jigjid (Tib. ‘jigs-byed, Skr. Bhairava, epithet of Yamantaka) Shanlan, Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala), Gongor (Tib. mgon dkar, Skr. Sita Mahakala) and Damjin are recited. On the 14th Ganjuur is read and a ceremony is held for the deceased (Oroin yerööl). The ritual Yum jai beren düisüm (Tib. yum rgyas 'bring bsdus gsum, the collective name for three texts ((Ulaan) Yum, Tib. yum dkar; Nit, Tib. nyi-khri; Jadamba, Tib. brgyad-stong-pa) in 21 volumes) is also read on the 14th. On the 15th Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd) is read, while the 23rd is the day of reciting the Lkhogtoi günreg ceremony (Tib. kun-rig-gi lho-sgo, ‘the south gate of omniscience’), which is performed in order to help the deceased to a better rebirth - to help them enter the realm of Buddha through the south gate of his palace. On the 25th a ceremony is held in honour of Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus), the Bodhisattva of Longevity (Tsegmediin chogo, Tib. tshe-dpag-med-kyi cho-ga). On the 29th a special balin offering is presented to Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama) called Choijoo dügjüü, and texts of the wrathful deities (Arwan khangal) are recited. On the 30th a ceremony is held in honour of Buddha’s main disciplines, the sixteen arhats (Naidan).

A special ceremony is held once a year and is called the Dewaajingiin chogo (Tib. bde-ba-can-gyi cho-ga), the ritual of the Sukhavati Buddhafield, a paradise in the west or the pure land of Awid (Tib. ’od-dpag-med, Skr. Amitabha). This ceremony is aimed at clearing away all sins and praying for the deceased to take rebirth in the paradise of Amitabha Buddha.

Another annual ceremony is one held in honour of the Medicine Buddha (Wantai Manal, Tib. dbang sman-bla), in which a sand mandala to him is prepared (dültsen jinkhor, Tib. rdul-tshon dkyil-’khor). In 2005 it was held on from October 9th to the 11th (i.e. in the last autumn month 6-8.). At the end of the three day ceremony the mandala is taken and offered into (zalakh) the Tuul river, at the place called Khar usan tokhoi at Gachuurt. A fire offering (Jinsreg, Tib. sbyin-sgreg) is also performed during these days. This ceremony was last performed in Mongolia in 1937, and it was revived after 70 years in this temple by G. Diwaasambuu, the tsorj lama of Gandan monastery, who taught the lamas how to perform it.

The Traditional Medical College (Otooch Manramba Deed Surguul’) has operated on the second floor of the temple since 1991. Its director is D. Natsagdorj, the abbot of the temple. The college has around 250 students and 20 teachers. There are three departments: Department of Traditional Medicine, Department of European Medicine, and Department of General knowledge. The college has extensive foreign relations with institutions in England, Switzerland, Japan, USA, Russia, Korea, Germany and Italy. There is a medical library with about 15,000 books. There is also a museum of anatomy and history of medicine on the second floor of the temple building. The College has a small hospital nearby in Sansar district with 25 beds, which is used as a practice centre for the student doctors, and also a centre in the countryside for studying medicinal plants.

According to the leaflet produced by the monastery, they also have a countryside branch, founded in 2004, in Zamiin üüd, Dornogow’ aimag, called Dogdolgünsellin khiid (rtogs grol kun gsal gling).

9 Deed bod’ khiid

Tibetan name: byang-chub mchog gling

Written Mongolian name: Degedü bodi keyid

English name: Deed bod’ monastery

Khaan uul district, 4th microdistrict

On the way leading to the Airport

Elevation 1296 m

N. 47°52.207’

E. 106°49.495’

Informants: Sharawdorj, the disciplinary master of the monastery; Luwsanrawdan, the lowon lama of the monastery (Born in 1960)

This Gelukpa monastery was founded in 2002 by the then Vice Abbot (ded khamba) of Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery, Ch. Tsedendamba. He remains the abbot of Deed bod’ khiid despite currently living in America. At the time of our visit, there were thirteen lamas in the temple and four of them were children (i.e. under 10 years old). Some other lamas were away on their studies. The lowon is the only lama who has taken the gelen vows. Beside the abbot (khamba) there are several other ranked lamas: tsorj, lowon, a chanting master and a disciplinary master.

The main protector of the temple is Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi).

Daily chanting is conducted between 9 and 10.30am. After, the lamas read texts requested by individuals while the abbot or other high-ranking lamas educate the young novices.

Monthly ceremonies in this temple are: on the 8th a ceremony in honour of Dar ekh (Tib. sgrol-ma, Skr. Tara), called The Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwaa); on the 15th the Guhyasamaja tantra ceremony (Sanduin jüd) is held; on the 25th there is a ceremony in honour of the Goddess with the White Parasol (Tsagaan shükhert, Tib. gdugs dkar, Skr. Sitatapatra); on the 29th the ceremony in honour of the wrathful deities (Sakhius) is held. On Saturdays Oroin yerööl ceremony is performed for the deceased. The special offering cake (Choijoo dügjüü) is ceremonially presented twice in a month to Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama). As it is a small temple with relatively few lamas, they are not able to hold the bigger rituals (chogo, lkhogo), not just because of their small number but also because they do not have the initiations needed to conduct them.

On the left of the temple hall there is a counter where religious objects can be purchased and requests with payments can be made for reading texts. In this temple there are fixed prices only for the texts of zasal (remedy) category of readings, other texts can be requested by paying according to the individual’s means.

On the altar there are statues of Tsongkhapa and Buddha, a painting of the assembly tree, a painting of Yamantaka, and the ten wrathful deities. The image of Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi) is hung above the seat of the disciplinary master.

At its inception Deed Bod’ temple was a branch of Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery through its founder, the vice abbot of Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery.  However, there is no connection nowadays.

In the direction of the city centre not far from Deed Bod’ monastery, a temple roof can be seen over above a khashaa (fenced area). At the time of the survey it appeared that only the roof of a temple has been completed. According to a local inhabitant it will be an astrological temple (zurkhai datsan). (N. 47°52.340’, E. 106°49.840’)

10 Gandangejeelin

Khalkhiin Zaya gegeenii güshig datsan

Tibetan name: dga’-ldan dge-rgyas gling

English name: Gandangejeelin monastery, Güshig monastic school of the Khalkh Zaya gegeen

Zanabazar street, on the way up to Gandan monastery

Phone: 91199191, 99192859, 309191

Elevation 1313m

N 47°55.063’

E 106°55.703’

Informant: Bold, daamal lam of the monastery

Written source: Leaflet published by the temple

This yurt shaped Gelukpa temple is the Ulaanbaatar branch of the revived Khalkha Zaya bandid (Zaya pandita) or Zaya gegeen’s great monastic city, Zayaiin khüree, in Tsetserleg, Arkhangai aimag, and was opened in September 2004.

According to their leaflet, Zaya Khutagt offered golden sand to Buddha 2,542 years ago with true deep faith. Later he was reborn five times in India, three times in Tibet, and seven times in Mongolia. His first Mongolian reincarnation was Zaya Pandita Luvsanperenlei (Tib. blo-bzang ‘phrin-las, 1642-1715), one of the most significant individuals in Mongolian Buddhism, who founded the monastic city of Zayaiin khüree in the area of the present day Tsetserleg town, Arkhangai aimag. The city was in two parts with the whole complex containing eight monastic schools and several temples. During the New Year and other festivals Tsam dance were performed with features unique to this monastery. Zaya Pandita made efforts to put an end to the wars between the Oirad Galdan boshigt and Öndör Gegeen, Zanabazar. (Oirad Galdan boshigt was the last of the great Oirad khans who fought against the eastern-mongols (khalkhas). He tried to resist the Manchus to maintain independence for the western Mongols in the 17th century. His army was finally defeated in 1696 by the Manchus. The eastern Mongols having been already Manchu subjects since the congress at Doloon nuur (‘Seven Lake’, a lake in Inner-Mongolia) in 1691.

In the area of the main monastery in Tsetserleg, some of the temples of Zayaiin khüree survived the purges and now function as a museum. The revived community of about 60 lamas now use another small temple building that survived and this has the same name as the old one (Gandangejeelin). The 15th reincarnation of Zaya Pandita, Luwsandanzanpüljinjigmed (Tib. blo bzang bstan-‘dzin phul-‘byung ’jigs-med) is the present abbot of both the mother-temple and the Ulaanbaatar centre. He was born into a nomadic herding family on 18 January 1972. In 1989 His Holiness the Dalai Lama chose him from among 1,600 children from Arkhangai aimag and recognized him as the 15th reincarnation of Zaya Pandita. His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent him to study to the Sera Jey (Ser je/ Sera je, Tib. se-ra byes) datsan of Sera monastery, South India between 1999-2004 where he took gelen vow. He resides now in Ulaanbaatar. From the combined community in Tsetserleg and Ulaanbaatar, 20 lamas are studying in India and 12 in the Zanabazar Buddhist University in Gandan.

At the time of the survey there were 14 lamas in the temple in Ulaanbaatar. Most of them come from the parent-monastery; some of them have gelen and getsel vows.

The main protector of the temple is Baldan lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi). Daily chanting is held between 9.00am and 1.00pm, and after this the lamas read texts requested by individuals until about 4.00pm. There are no fixed prices for requesting texts here so people pay according to their means. The system of ceremonies follows the same schedule as the mother-monastery. Thus, the monthly special ceremonies performed in the temple are: on the 8th of the lunar month the ritual of the Medicine Buddha (Manal, Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru); on the 14th the ritual to honour the 16 disciples of Buddha (Naidan chogo); on the 15th Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd) and Guru puja with a feast-offering (Lamiin chodwiin tsogchid) are recited; on the 23rd ceremony in honour of the protector deities (Sakhius) is performed; and on the 30th the Four Mandalas of Tara are offered (Dar’ ekhiin mandal shiwaa). Every Sunday Oroin yerööl ceremony is held for the deceased. As well as the abbot, there are other titled lamas such as a lowon, L. Dashkhüü, a chanting master, a disciplinary master and a daamal lama. There is a fortune-teller as well.

Around on the wall of the yurt there are painted scrolls of the reincarnations of Zaya Pandita. On the altar there is an image of Buddha, a large photograph of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a portrait of the 14th Zaya Pandita, a photo of the present reincarnation (the 15th) and an image of Baldan Lkham.

Astrologers of the temple minister to individuals, operating either in a separate building or in a yurt alongside the yurt-shaped temple.

The monastic authorities plan to construct a permanent building for the temple and to establish a monastic school in the precinct. At present, local families, who have pitched their yurts here, still occupy the area designated for this.

11 Janchüwish dashlkhündüwlin khiid

Tibetan name: byang-chub ye-shes bkra-shis lhun-grub gling

English name: Janchüwish dashlkhündüwlin monastery

Songino khairkhan district, 20th khoroo

22nd milestone on the road to Kharkhorin from Ulaanbaatar

N. 47°54.021’

E. 106°41.26’

Informants: Ganzorig, the disciplinary master of the temple; Ya. Günaajaw, old lama in this temple (born in 1915)

D. Dorjtseween, from Tsetserleg, capital of Arkhangai aimag, founded this Gelukpa monastery in 2004 inside a big fence on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar on the road to Kharhorin. At present there are nine lamas in the temple all coming from Arkhangai and who include some with getsel vows along with one old lama called Ya. Günaajaw, who was born in 1915 and was 91 years old at the time of the survey. This old lama is still listed as a lama in Dashchoilin monastery, which he joined one month after it reopened in 1990 acting at that time as one of the chanting masters. Before 1937 he was a young lama in Khökhröögin khiid/ Khökhröö goliin khiid in Chandman’ sum in the present Gow’-Altai aimag. Apart from the head, there is a chanting master and a disciplinary master. The main protector of the temple is Baldan lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi). There is no connection with this temple and the Ulaanbaatar branch of the Zaya Pandita temple, Gandangejeelin (New Temples 11) although the lamas in that temple also came from Tsetserleg.

As the temple is some distance from the settled part of the city, most people who come to the temple are on their way to or from Öwörkhangai or Arkhangai provinces. Most have a personal connection with the lamas. Daily chanting starts at 9.00am. In the evening at 8.00pm a smaller ritual for the protector deities (Sakhius) is performed. Special ceremonies are also held monthly: on the 8th of the month the ritual of Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha is performed (Manal); on the 15th and 30th Doodüdwa (Tib. mdo-sdud-pa) is recited; on the 29th there is the ceremony in honour of the wrathful deities.

Inside the temple a painted scroll of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara) hangs on the left of the altar with statues of Tsongkhapa and his two main disciples below them.  Statues of the Buddha and his two main disciples are situated in the centre of the altar and Lkham, the protector goddess with her two attendants, is on the right. Painted scrolls of Lkham and Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana) can be seen on the right. The temple does not as yet own the volumes of Ganjuur.

12 Choidar odserlin datsan

Tibetan name: Chos-dar ‘od-gser gling

English name: Choidar odserlin monastic school

Songino Khairkhan district, 1st khoroo

final bus stop of Orbit

N. 47°54.867’    

E. 106 °45.150’

Informant: Zesbuu, lama of the monastery

This Gelukpa monastery is situated just before the last bus station in the 1st microdistrict, after the satellite dishes, on the right side of the road. There is a big board with a picture of the monastery, its name and details of the opening hours. It can be visited between 9.00am and 5.00pm during the summer and between 10.00am and16.00pm during the winter.

The present abbot, Namsrai (born 1950), established the temple on 26 November, 2004. Namsrai came from Uws aimag and graduated from the Zanabazar Buddhist University in Gandan. His grandfather was a very famous tsorj in Uws aimag and his picture can be seen in the centre of the temple. Presently, ten lamas belong to the temple most of whom have genen vows. There is a chanting master and a disciplinary master. Daily chanting takes place between 10.00am and 3.00pm.

 The main protector deities of the temple are Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi) and Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana) who are worshipped every month, according to a schedule that is on the notice board. In addition, there are the special monthly ceremonies: on the 8th of the lunar month a special ceremony is held in honour of the Medicine Buddha (Manal, Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru); on the 15th Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd) is read; on the 29th the protector deities are worshipped (Sakhius, especially Lkham, the main protector deity); on the 30th Maaniin yerööl ceremony is held. On the 9th, 19th and 29th of the month the Choijoo dügjüü, the balin offering to Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama), is read and on the 6th, 16th and 26th the ritual of the Goddess with the White Parasol (Tsagaan shükhertiin dogjür, Tib. gdugs dkar-gyi bzlog-bsgyur, exorcism rite to ‘the Goddess with the White Parasol’, that turns away evil spirits and negativity) is performed.

The images of the Guardians of the Four Directions are painted on the walls of the entrance-hall of the temple. Inside the temple there are administration offices, a room for astrology in the left and the office of the lowon in the right. The reception for ordering texts is on the left. In this temple, some of the texts have fixed prices, while the remainder can be requested and paid for according to the individuals’ means.

There are numerous new thangkas in the temple such as an assembly tree, Jigjid (Tib. ‘jigs-byed, Skr. Bhairava, epithet of Yamantaka), Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara), Manzshir (Tib. ‘jam-dpal / 'jam-(dpal)- dbyangs, Skr. Manjushri) and Namsrai. An image showing Buddha’s 12 deeds hangs in the centre. Photographs of the 14th Dalai Lama and Bakula Rinpoche are placed on the altar. Painted scrolls of Tsongkhapa, Lkham and Namsrai hang on the left side. The volumes of the Tibetan version Ganjuur are placed the either side of the altar. An image of Lkham hangs above the seat of the disciplinary master.

13 Dashgünpanlin khiid

Tibetan name: bkra-shis kun phan gling

English name: Dashgünpanlin monastery

Songino Khairkhan district, 18th khoroo, Tawan shar

Elevation 1361m

N 47°  54.660’

E 106°  48.644’

Informant: The head (tergüün) of the monastery, Sh. Gantömör

This monastery is situated on the left side of the place called Tawan shar (the five yellow coloured buildings that once dominated this area) in Songino Khairkhan district, 18th khoroo.

The fence of this small Gelukpa monastery is decorated with the eight auspicious Buddhist symbols. In the either side of the entrance gate, there are paintings of visvavajra and horse jewel. The OM MANI PADME HÚM mantra is painted on the wall and, in front of the fence, several small trees and poles are hung with ceremonial silk scarves (khadag). In the open space inside the fence, narrow paths leads to the temples and there are prayer wheels, a pavilion, benches and, on the right, a yurt. Believers can visit the temple from 10.00am to 6.00pm during the summer and from 11.00am to 5.00pm during the winter. People can consult the astrologist of the temple between 8.00am and 7.00pm.

The main temple is a yurt-shaped building made of bricks, with two stone lions and an incense pot (boipor, Tib. spos-phor) in front of it. In its small entrance hall, OM MANI PADME HUM can be seen. Inside the temple there are images of Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi), the 14th Dalai Lama and Chagsh Janraiseg Janraiseg (Tib. phyag-bzhi spyan-ras-gzigs), the four-armed Avalokitesvara in the left. On the altar there is a thangka of Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara), a statue of Buddha and an image of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara). On the right of the altar there are thangkas and images of Ochirwaan' (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje / phyag-rdor, Skr. Vajrapani), Bazarsad or Dorjsembe (Tib. rdo-rje sems-dpa’, Skr. Vajrasattva), Düinkhor (Tib. dus-’khor, Skr. Kalacakra) and Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus). A picture of Jamsran hangs above the seat of the disciplinary master. Thangkas also hang from the wooden frame of the smoke hole in the yurt. The monastery does not as yet own the 108 volumes of the Tibetan Ganjuur.

Behind the main temple there is a small wooden building, which serves as the office of the abbot. There is an information board in the entrance hall to the office informing believers about the daily chanting at the monastery, rules for the lamas, foundation of the temple and listing the texts that can be requested for reading (with their fixed prices).

The leader (tergüün) of the complex is Sh. Gantömör (born 1941) from Arkhangai aimag. The temple opened on 25th August 1992. At present, there are eleven lamas with three of them being old lamas (aged between 65-80) and one young boy. As this is a small monastery there are only two chanting masters and a disciplinary master.

The main protector of the temple is Lkham. Special monthly ceremonies are: on the 8th of the month to the Medicine Buddha (Manal, Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru); on the 15th the text of Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd) is read; on the 29th a ceremony is performed in honour of the trinity of the wrathful deities Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala), Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama) and Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi (Gonchoi lkhaa süm/ Gonchoo lkhaa süm, the collective name of these three, is also the name of the ceremony).

14 Dashchaglin khiid

Mongolian translation of the name: Ölzii khutagiin mörgöliin süm

Tibetan name: Bkra-shis phyag gling

English name: Dashchaglin monastery

Songino Khairkhan district, 7th khoroo, in the suburb area called Tolgoitiin Baruun salaa

Elevation 1378 m

N. 47°58.190’

E. 106°48.491’

Informant: Demberel, 70 years old disciplinary master of the monastery

This small temple is situated on Tolgoit, a mountain to the north-west of Ulaanbaatar, in the area called Tolgoitiin Baruun salaa (‘left branch of the valley of Tolgoit’).

R. Buyanbaatar, a former lama (disciplinary master) from Dashchoilin monastery, founded this small Gelukpa temple in 2004. He is also a fortune-teller. At present the temple has about 8 lamas. Apart from the head, there is a disciplinary master as well.

The ceremonies are held in a yurt-shaped brick temple. On the left of the gate, there is a second brick building. The head of the monastery has plans to build a bigger temple and the foundations for this are already laid in the middle of the yard (11 m wide x 10 m high). There is also a plan to build a stupa outside the monastery wall (at present a pole with khadags marks the planned site). They also want to build a 9m high wall encircling the plot and to build a residence for the lamas in the southern section of the yard.

Daily chanting is held from 10.00am, and afterwards texts requested by individuals and remedies (zasal) are recited by some of the lamas.

The interior of the temple is extraordinarily well decorated. The Eight Auspicious Symbols are painted on the ceiling. The two support poles are decorated with dragons. There are several thangkas above the altar and around the wall: the eight Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana, Kuvera) deities; Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara); Buddha. In the centre there is the thangka of Namsrai and, in front of it, a silver stupa. There are two sculptures, of Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus) and Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara), in the middle of the altar. Other thangkas are of Manzshir (Tib. ‘jam-dpal / 'jam-(dpal)- dbyangs, Skr. Manjushri), Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaisajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha and Tsongkhapa. Despite it being a small temple, there is a set of the whole Tibetan Ganjuur. The throne of the disciplinary lama is on the left of the entrance, with a picture of Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi) above it.

The special monthly ceremonies are: on the 8th of the lunar month a ceremony is held in honour of the Medicine Buddha; on the 15th Guhyasamaja tantra is read; on the 29th the ceremony of the wrathful deities (Arwan khangal) is held; The ritual of the sixteen arhats, disciples of Buddha is held on the 30th of the month, as usual.

The main deities of the temple are Namsrai and the Deities of the nine menge (Tib. sme-ba, ’skin mole, birthmark’, characteristic positive or negative signs that recur invariably and with periodic consistency during astrological time cycles and the nine gods related to them), such as the emanations of Janraiseg (Tib. spyan-ras-gzigs, Skr. Avalokiteshvara), Ochirwaan' (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje / phyag-rdor, Skr. Vajrapani), Bazarsad or Dorjsembe (Tib. rdo-rje sems-dpa’ , Skr. Vajrasattva), Buddha, Manal, Nogoon Dar’ ekh, Manzshir.

15 Gandan Sodnomdarjailin khiid

Tibetan name: dga’-ldan bsod-nams dar-rgyas gling

English name: Gandan Sodnomdarjailin monastery

Khaan uul district, near the final bus stop of Yaarmag, Nükht 420

Elevation 1231 m

N 47°  52.163’

E 106°  48.422’

Informant: S. Awaasüren, the head of the temple

A sign near the last bus stop in the Yaarmag suburb of the city indicates the location of the temple.

The Gelukpa temple is in a small house with a green roof in a yard with another building and a yurt. The abbot of the temple is S. Awaasüren who graduated from Zanabazar Buddhist University in Gandan and built the temple in 2002. During the survey visit he was the only lama in the temple, and was reading texts requested by the believers. According to him, 10 lamas belong to the temple although there was no evidence of them. The main protector of the temple is Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi). There are no special monthly ceremonies, due to the small number of lamas, but daily chanting is held and readings are performed at individuals’ request. There are fixed prices.

The inside of the room used for the temple is decorated with thangkas of Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana, Kuvera), the twenty-one Taras with Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara) in the centre, Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara), the eight Medicine Buddhas and the three goddesses of longevity (Amitayus, Ushnishavijaya and Sitatara). On the altar there is a thangka of Buddha, a photo of an old lama (presumably the teacher of the abbot), two smaller statues of Buddha and Manzshir (Tib. ‘jam-dpal / 'jam-(dpal)- dbyangs, Skr. Manjushri) and a photo of the 14th Dalai Lama. There is one higher seat for the abbot and one row of seats for the lamas (it appeared for no more than a maximum of four lamas).

On the survey visit, the abbot, being alone, was very busy giving readings. He answered only the basic questions. Having no one else around the temple and no other lamas than the abbot himself, it was not possible to get any further information.

16 Dechinrawjaalin khiid

Tibetan name: bde-chen rab-rgyas gling

English name: Dechinrawjaalin monastery

Bayanzürkh district, 14. khoroo, Narnii zam street, on the right side of Narantuul market

Phone: 96660899, 88110599

Elevation 1292 m

N 47°  54, 512’

E 106°  57’644’

Informant: Dawaadorj lama (about 20 years old), M. Khüreltsend, head of the temple (in 2007)

The abbot (tergüün) of this Gelukpa temple is M. Khüreltsend (born in 1978) from Zawkhan aimag who came to Ulaanbaatar in 2000 to study in the Zanabazar Buddhist University in Gandan, and some of his friends of the same age, who studied and graduted together with him. He founded the present temple in 2003, as a branch of his mother-monastery, Gandan dechinarawjai Dashchombelin (Tib. dga’-ldan bde-chen rab-rgyas bkra-shis chos-‘phel gling), in Bayantes sum, Zawkhan aimag. The temple was opened in January, 2006, after the permission for its operation was got in 2004. The two-storey brick building stands inside a big fenced-off yard with yurts around it.

In 2006 the surveyors were informed that fourteen lamas, who mainly came from Zawkhan aimag with the abbot, belong to the community and some of them have getsel vows. According to the head, who was interviewed in 2007, about 25 lamas gather at ceremonies. There is no lama with gelen vow, similarly to other smaller temples in Ulaanbaatar. As for the ranks in the temple, there is a lowon lama, a chanting master (unzad) and one disciplinary master (gesgüi). There is an astrologer. Believers can come to request religious texts. Their mother-monastery was revived in 1992 and a stupa was also erected there. The abbot of that monastery, which presently has 22-23 lamas, is called Ölzii-Ochir.

The main protector deity of the temple is Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala). Other main deities worshipped are Buddha, Tsongkhapa, Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi), Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana, Kuvera), the twenty-one Taras, the trinity of Rigsümbgombo (Tib. rigs gsum mgon-po, ’lords of the three families’, the trinity of the bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani), and the trinity of Tselkhanamsüm (Tib. tshe lha rnam gsum, ’the three deities of longevity’: Amitayus, Sita-Tara, and Vijaya). The temple owns the volumes of Ganjuur.

During the survey in 2006, the interior of the temple was not yet furnished. Because of this, ceremonies were performed in a yurt next to the building although there was at that time no daily chanting. On the survey visit, only one lama was available for questioning and it appeared that the full set of temple activities will only be established when the new temple building is completed. In 2007 summer the temple was visited again, when the new temple building had opened, furnished with all worship objects and ritual implements.

Apart from the everyday chanting, the following ceremonies are held here: on the 8th of the month the ceremony of the Medicine Buddha (Manaliin donchid), on 15th the Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd), on 29th the ceremony in honour of the wrathful deities (Sakhius) and on the 30th the ritual to honour the 16 disciples of Buddha (Naidan chogo). On weekdays they hold Oroin yerööl (Tib. smon-lam, ’prayer’, ceremony for the deceased) and Ganjuur ceremonies. A wide variety of the usual annual ceremonies are kept in the temple, like the 15 days ceremonies during Tsagaan sar and the chogo (Tib. cho-ga) rituals on the great days of Buddha.

            In this temple, texts and various gürem (Tib. sku-rim, healing ceremony) and zasal (‘remedy’) rituals can be requested without fixed prices, according to one’s own possibilities.

17 Agrim datsan

Tibetan name: sngags-rim grwa-tshang

English name: Tantric monastic school

Zanabazar Street, on the way up to Gandan monastery (2006 February); Songino khairkhan district, 20th khoroo

Elevation 1335m

N 47°55.036’

E 106°55.703’

Informant: B. Gankhuyag, the astrologist of the temple

The distinctive yurt shaped temple placed on a wooden cart complete with its wheels appeared in February 2006 on the right side of Zanabazar Street on the way to Gandan just beyond the Shamanic centre.

It is a Gelukpa (Yellow Sect) temple and was founded in 2004 by its head (tergüün), Ch. Erdenebaatar. Its lamas came from the Jambadarjaaalin (Tib. byams-pa dar-rgyas gling) temple situated near the sacred site, Altan owoo, in Dariganga sum in Sükhbaatar aimag, which presently has only three lamas led by a lama called Gombo. Before 1937 it was a big monastery. It was revived in 1990.

The Ulaanbaatar branch temple was founded at first in 2004 in the city’s Songino khairkhan district, 20th khoroo and moved to its present site in February 2006. The lamas say that in summer they will move back to the old site. They have a plan to build a brick temple building, and have just started collecting donations for it.

The main deity of the temple is Ochirdar’ (Tib. rdo-rje 'dzin-pa, Skr. Vajradhara (in the Altan owoo temple they worship Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala)). Every day ceremonies are held in the temple. People can come and request readings, paying according to their means. Being a small temple there are no monthly ceremonies.

During 2007 summer the surveyors noticed that the temple had moved back, probably to its original site in Songino khairkhan district, where it was not visited again. The yurt of the assembly disappeared from the wooden cart on Zanabazar street.

18 Zurkhai datsan

For this temple see entry Rinchen 914, as it is situated in the back or upper court of the old Geser süm complex, at the foot of Dasganii owoo hill.

Nyingmapa and Kagyüpa Temples

19 Namdoldechinlen khiid, Jagarmolomiin neremjit ulaan yosnii töw

Tibetan name: rnam-grol bde-chen gling

English name: Namdoldechinlen monastery, Nyingmapa centre named after Jagarmolom

Songino Khairkhan district, 9th khoroo, near the bus terminus in the Bayankhoshuu district of Ulaanbaatar

Phone: 306114

Elevation 1395 m

N. 47°55.639’

E. 106°50.239’

Informant: the disciplinary master of the monastery, Ts. Erdenetsogt (born around 1980); Kh. Banzar, founder and head of the temple (born in 1912)

Written source: Sükhbaatar, O. (transl.), Majiglawdonmaagiin namtar. Ulaanbaatar, 2004

The abbot (tergüün khamba), Kh. Banzar, founded the monastery in 1989 as the first Nyingmapa complex in the revival period in Ulaanbaatar, following the instructions he had been given by his teacher. He comes from Dundgow’ aimag, where he became a lama at the age of 17. He did not belong to a monastery, but meditated and wandered around the countryside. He became a zoch/ zodoch lama practicing the tantric ritual of Zod (Tib. gcod), cutting ego-clinging.

Nowadays, about 30 lamas belong to this monastery. There are two temples, the main temple and the Jasaanii dugan, which is the temple where texts requested by individuals are read to them. The third building, on the left of the main temple, is the reception for ordering texts (with fixed prices) and the office of the abbot. There are several other buildings in the yard, such as the kitchen. The monastery’s front garden is very attractive with colourful flower-beds. In the back garden there is a stupa and some prayer wheels.

In addition to the abbot, there is a lowon, two chanting masters, one disciplinary master and a zoch/ zodoch lama (a women owning getselmaa vow) helps to organize monastic life. There are no lamas with gelen or getsel vows. The temple follows the system of Jagarmolom jüd or Lawran jüd. (The former being the name of the founder of the lineage and the latter being the name of the lineage he brought into Mongolia from Labrang monastery). According to O. Sükhbaatar (p. 11.), Molom was a poor lama who lived in the 1800s. He was born in Daichin beesiin khoshuu, Tüsheet khan aimag, and later became a lama in Ikh khüree. He went to Tibet and India on foot, where he received initiations. He meditated intensely and obtained siddhi power. After twenty years he returned to Ikh khüree and established the first Zod tantric assembly, following the tantric system he learnt at Labrang in Tibet. This tantric system became widespread in Mongolia and became known as the tantric lineage of Jagarmolom (Jagarmolomiin jüd).

The main deities of the monastery are Padmasambhava and Toinag/Toinog (lkhagaa) (Tib. khros-nag lha-lnga, fierce black goddess, aspect of Vajra yogini, Toinog lkhagaa means the group of the five of the above goddesses). The main protectors are Zangad (Tib. btsan rgod/brtsan rgod), Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protector and Dürteddagwa (Tib. dur-khrod-kyi bdag-po, Skr. Citipati). The main tutelary deity is Khand dina (Tib. mkha’-‘gro sde lnga) that is, the group of the five dakinis. On the 10th of each month Padmasambhava’s birth is celebrated as is customary in the Nyingmapa (Red Sect) tradition (Lowon tseejüü ceremony). On the 15th and 25th the ceremony for the dakinis (Khand tseejüü) is held. On the 25th one of the main protectors, Zangad (Tib. brtsan-rgod) is also worshipped (Zangadiin khangal). As usual, the ceremony of the wrathful deities (Sakhius) is held on the 29th, when especially the three main protectors of the temple are worshipped (Zangad, Jamsran, Dürtedddagwa). Daily chanting starts from 10.00am, then the texts are read for individuals until about 2.00pm.

Some of Banzar’s disciples have established other Nyingmapa temples in Ulaanbaatar and elsewhere: P. Sodnom (Ekh Ürsiin buyanii töw, Dashchoinkhorlin khiid, New Temples 24); L. Battsengel (Ürjin sanag rolwii choilin, Lowon Badam junain nuuts tarniin nomiin khiid, New Temples 22); D. Mendbayar (Narkhajid süm, New Temples 32); as well as one in Öwörkhangai aimag and one in Bayankhongor aimag. Nowadays, there is no formal connection with or between these monasteries, which operate independently of each other.

In the middle of the main altar there is a large statue of Padmasambhava. On the left and right of it, there are various thangkas such as one showing the five dakinis (Khand dina), with Toinog as the main figure on the left of the Padmasambhava image, and that of Majiglawdonma as the main figure on the right of it. There are also pictures of Zangad, Jigjid (Tib. ‘jigs-byed, Skr. Bhairava, epithet of Yamantaka) and Dürtoddagwa. In the middle of the shrine, thangkas hang down from the ceiling, showing Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala), Jamsran, Dürtoddagwa and Zangad. Above the throne of the disciplinary master hangs the picture of Jamsran. The sides walls are decorated with pictures of the eight offering goddesses and five human skulls are painted on the cross-beam. The porch is decorated with the picture of the Guardians of the Four Directions.

The temple of jasaa has a painted scroll of Namsrai (Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana, Kuvera), an image of Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama) and Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi) and a painted scroll of Gombo. There are five smaller altars, in the middle there is a statue of Buddha in his 35th year. There are other sculptures like that of Jigjid and Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus). The temple is decorated with the eight auspicious Buddhist symbols.

20 Gowiin Noyon Khutagt Danzan Rawjaagiin neremjit Ürjin Shaddüwlin khiid

Tibetan name: U-rgyan bshad-sgrub gling

English name: Ürjin Shaddüwlin monastery, named after Noyon Khutagt Danzan Rawjaa

Bayanzürkh district, 16. microdistrict, Ulaankhuaran street

Phone: 91918830, 99115073

urjinshadduvlin@yahoo.com

Elevation 1316m

N 47° 54,995’

E 106° 58.521’

Informant: lowon lama of the monastery, T. Odbayar (32 years old)

Written sources: printed leaflet of the monastery with basic information on its foundation, ceremonies and religious activity

This Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery is situated near the bus stop, Offitserüüdiin Ordon, at the junction of Ulaankhuaran Street and Peace Avenue. It can be reached by narrow lanes between the wooden fences of the khashaas (fenced area) from the west or from the south. The monastery has a nicely decorated gate on the south, and small stupa decorations on the top of the fence. In the middle of the courtyard there is a stone boipor (incense burner), and, as usual, there are two stone lions on either side of the temple entrance. There is a prayer wheel on the right. The temple building is made of brick.

O. Tagarwaa, the current abbot, who is the re-incarnation of the Gowiin Khüükhen khutagt, ‘the young lady saint of the Gobi’, founded the monastery on the 26th of November, 2000 and follows the lineage of Khüükhen khutagt, which is one of the three lineages in Mongolian Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples. The original incarnate lama received his name because of his appearance i.e. female facial features and his long hair. His photo is in the Film Archive (catalogue number 24948, box 96, with the inscription Saj lam Khüükhen khutagt). His monastery was situated in Khentii aimag, Ömnödelger sum.

At present the monastery has about 30 lamas of which about 12 have a degree, some in Buddhist studies from the Zanabazar Buddhist University in Gandan. All the lamas have genen vow. There are no child novices, the youngest lamas being teenagers. There are the following title-holders in the monastery: daa lam, lowon, two chanting masters and one disciplinary master.

In the entrance to the shrine, there are images of the Guardians of the Four Directions. The consulting room of the fortune teller of the monastery is on the left of the temple. The reception for paying for religious texts (with fixed prices) is on the right of the shrine near the entrance. The pillars are decorated with dragon reliefs.

As a Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery, the main figure of worship is Padmasambhava (Lowon Badamjünai). The other main deity is Buddha. The main tutelary deity of the temple is Damdin Yansan (Tib. rta-mgrin yang-gsang), a four-faced and six-armed tutelary deity with wings and a horse-head in his hair that is embracing his consort. He is a main tutelary deity in Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples because Padmasambhava worshipped him. The main protector of the monastery is Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protecor. The sculpture of Yansan is on the altar, hidden behind a red curtain. It can be seen only on the days his ceremony is held.

The daily chanting is held from 9.00am. The daily readings, this being a tantric monastery, include Zod (a tantric ritual the purpose of which is to cut through the four Maras or obstacles to practice/ enlightenment and sever ego-clinging), Lüijin (ceremonial meditation on offering the body as a means of severing ego-clinging and concepts of individuality) and presenting the offering cake (dorom) to Zangad (Tib. btsan rgod/brtsan rgod). Eulogies of Padmasambhava are also read every day. Lamas sitting on the either side of the shrine recite the readings requested by individuals at the same time as the daily chanting, continuing after it finishes until around 4-5.00pm.

The monthly ceremonies are: on the 8th of the month the ritual of the Medicine Buddha (Ikh Manal, Manaliin donchid); on the 10th the ritual of Padmasambhava (Lowon chogo); on the 15th the special ceremony of the temple’s main tutelary deity, Yansan, and the ritual of the wrathful deities Dürteddagwa (Tib. dur-khrod bdag-po, Skr. Citipati), Jamsran and Zangad is performed; on the 25th they worship the dakinis (Khand chogo/Khand tseejüü); on the 29th the ceremony in honour of the wrathful deities (Arwan khangal) is held.

            There are specific annual ceremonies held only in this monastery The yearly feast of Yansan (Ikh Yansan, ‘Great Yansan’ ceremony), the main tutelary deity, is held twice a year with the exact dates being listed in Mongolian calendars for each year: in spring before the thunderbolt; and in autumn after the thunderbolt. According to the lamas in the temple the proper dates for the thunderbolt can be found in Mongolian calendars for a given year (it is not on the same day every year). However, the researchers assume that it is the zurkhaich (astrologer) of the temple who fixes this date, as the date is not marked in Mongolian calendars, contrary to the informant’s account.

21 Ikh Amgalan nomiin khürd khiid, Ulaan yosnii töw Dechinchoinkhorlon khiid

Tibetan name: rnying-ma’i chos-tshul bde-chen chos-‘khor gling

Written Mongolian: Deching Choyingqorling keyid

English name: Dechinchoinkhorlin monastery, Nyingmapa (Red Sect) Centre

Bayangol district, 4th khoroolol

Elevation 1313m

N 47º 55.110’

E 106º 52.356’

Informant: Ts. Lkhagwa, young lama of the monastery

This monastery is on the hillside south of Örgöö cinema and to the north of Damdinbazar street, in Bayangol district, 4th khoroolol.

This is a Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery, which was founded in 1990. In the early years, ceremonies were held in a small yurt-shaped concrete building. There was square shaped building as well, which housed the monastery offices. Both building can still be seen on the west of the present temple. The new temple building was completed in 2002. Its roof is decorated by the Soyombo symbol and flags decorated with blue lotuses. On its corners there are four yak-tail banners.

The abbot (khamba) of the monastery is G. Pürewsüren. He is an astrologer, and graduated from the Zanabazar Buddhist University of Gandan in same class with D. Choijamts, the current head abbot of Gandan monastery, and Ch. Dambajaw, the abbot of Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery.

There are two lowon lamas, two chanting masters and a disciplinary master belonging to the monastery. Presently there are about 30 lamas in the monastery all of whom have genen vows, which is usual for the lamas in Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monasteries. Among them, about 10 are children (i.e. under the age of 10).

The main deity of the temple is Padmasambhava, while the main dakini is the group of the five dakinis, Khand dina (Tib. mkha’-‘gro sde lnga), and the main protector deities are Ranjün/Rinjin Lkham (Tib. rang byung lha-mo, a typical Nyingmapa aspect of Shridevi) and Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala) and Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protector.

In the entrance hall there are the images of the Guardians of the Four Directions. On the altar, there are various deities, such as statues of Narkhajid (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini), Manzshir (Tib. ‘jam-dpal / 'jam-(dpal)- dbyangs, Skr. Manjushri), Bazarsad or Dorjsembe (Tib. rdo-rje sems-dpa’, Skr. Vajrasattva). In the centre of the altar there is a large statue of Padmasambhava. There are also statues of the blue coloured Gündsambo (Tib. kun-tu bzang-po, Skr. Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha of the Nyingmapa Sect) with his consort, Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha, Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara) and the four armed Ranjün/Rinjin Lkham. Around the walls of the temple, on the left there are statues of Amitayus, and on the right, there are 108 small sculptures of Padmasambhava, all financed by individual believers. The names of the donors and the number of their family members are written on them

As in most Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monasteries, on the 10th and 25th of the month a special ceremony is held in honour of Padmasambhava (Lowon chogo). On the 8th the Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwa) is read. On the 29th there is a ceremony in honour of the wrathful deities (Sakhius).

In this temple they follow several lineages (jüd, Tib. rgyud): the lineage of the fifth Dalai Lama; the lineage of Padmasambhava; and also the lineage of the Fifth Noyon Khutagt Danzanrawjaa in the readings of Lüijin.

Daily chanting is held from 9.00am and contains different eulogies and prayers written by Padmasambhava, along with an incense offering and other ritual texts to Padmasambhava. Lüijin is recited every day. According to the disciplinary master, they perform two kinds of Lüijin readings: one is of Majiglawdonmaa (Machik labdrön, Tib. ma-gcig lab-sgron-ma, the female 11-12th century female founder of the lineage of the Zod (Tib. gcod, pronounced as chöd) practice in Tibet (cutting through ego-clinging)), the other is of the Fifth Noyon khutagt Danzanrawjaa (1803-1856). As the fifth reincarnation of a Sakyapa saint, this famous re-incarnated lama was the abbot of Khamriin khiid in the present Dornogow’ aimag.  He was the author of Tibetan-Mongolian bilingual poems, plays, founder of numerous monasteries in the Gobi, a monastic theatre, and a museum.

Believers come to consult the fortune tellers in the monastery. According to their advice, they request different kinds of remedies and amending rituals to be performed. The reception for ordering texts (with fixed prices) is on the left, inside the entrance hall. The consulting rooms of the astrologers are on the left inside the temple.

There are connections with Mindroling monastery (Tib. smin-grol-gling) in India, and also with a Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery (may be Penor Rinpoche’s Namdrolin monastery (Tib. rnam-sgrol-gling) in South-India). According to Sue Byrne, two lamas from this monastery studied in the Sakya Monastery (Tib. Sa-skya) in Dehra Dun, 200 kilometers from Delhi, and have now returned. Presently another two lamas are studying in the Sakya College. There are plans to send five lamas to study in a Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery in Tibet (whether or not this is a Tibetan monastery in Tibet or in India was unclear.)

22 Ürjin sanag rolwii choilin

Lowon Badam junain nuuts tarniin nomiin khiid

Tibetan name: U-rgyan gsang-sngags rol-ba’i chos-gling

English name: Ürjin sanag rolwii choilin monastery, Monastery of the secret tantric teaching of Padmasambhava

Bayanzürkh district, Shar khad bus terminus

Elevation 1352 m

N 47° 55.943’

E 107° 00.613’

Informant: Otgonbayar (born 1980), the lowon lama of the temple

This Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temple is situated in Shar khad in the suburb of Bayanzürkh district in Ulaanbaatar. It is near the bus terminus, just in front of the Mental Hospital (Setgetsiin klinik).

The monastery is inside a fenced yard and consists of one small wooden building as well as some yurts where the lamas and a guard live.

The temple was founded in 2001 by the abbot, L. Battsengel, a disciple of Banzar, the head of the monastery in Bayankhoshuu district (Namdoldechinlen khiid/ Jagarmolomiin neremjit ulaan yosnii töw, New Temples 19). As a consequence, this monastery also follows the lineage (jüd) of Lawran or Jagarmolom.

At present the temple has about twenty lamas, all young ones. Apart from the abbot, there are the following title holders: lowon, two chanting masters and a disciplinary master.

The main deity of the temple is Padmasambhava and the main dakini is Narkhajid (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini). The ceremony of Padmasambhava (Lowon chogo) is held on the 10th of the lunar month. There is a special Lüijin ceremony that day during the night, from 8.00pm till morning, when the text of Lüijin is recited 108 times. This ceremony is called Shönöjin lüijin (all-night Lüijin ceremony) and was introduced into the ceremonial cycle of the temple in 2005. The ceremony in honour of Narkhajid (Khajidiin chogo) is held on the 25th of the month.

Daily chanting is between 9.00am and 2.00pm. People can request texts until 2.00pm (with fixed prices for some texts, with all the others being paid for according to an individual’s means). The reception is on the left on entering the temple. The lamas usually recite Lüijin every day at the request of different laypeople.

The main image in the temple is the statue of Padmasambhava. There are other thangkas and images as well, such as that of Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Shridevi) and Jigjid (Tib. ‘jigs-byed, Skr. Bhairava, epithet of Yamantaka). The monastery does not own the 108 volumes of Tibetan Ganjuur.

23 Puntsoglin khiid/datsan

Written Mongolian name: Punchoγling dachan

Tibetan name: Phun-tshogs gling

English name: Puntsoglin monastery

Bayangol district, 1st khoroo, Magsarjaw street

Elevation 1787 m

N. 47°54.582’

E. 106°52.970’

Informants: B. Ariunbold, head of the monastery; Chimegbaatar, the disciplinary master of the monastery, has been a lama of the monastery since 1993; A. Tserendorj, the lowon lama of the temple (Born 1915); Dashtseren, lama of Dashchoilin monastery (Born 1921)

This Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery is situated near the Railway station on Magsarjaw street 2nd khoroolol, 1st khoroo in the Bayangol district of Ulaanbaatar. It is a very nice looking small monastery (used to be a kindergarten building), situated in a quiet street, with trees and benches in front of the temple in the courtyard. There are two stupas.

The temple, one of the first Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples in Ulaanbaatar, was founded in 1990 on the initiation of the Railway Association of Mongolian Believers (Tömör zamiin süsegtnii kholboo). They follow the lineage of Jagarmolom (Jagarmolomiin jüd). A specialty of Puntsoglin, the only temple in Mongolia where this is done, is the worship of the saint, Tanton or Tantonjalbaa, known in Tibetan as Tangtong Gyalpo (Tib. thang-stong rgyal-po), a Tibetan siddha who lived at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth century (1361-1485). His ceremony has been performed in the monastery since 2004.

Two old teachers for the lamas in this monastery, Luwsandamba (a lama in Dashchoilin monastery who died in 2005) and Dashtseren (born in 1919, also a lama of Dashchoilin monastery), originally belonged to Züün khüree, but often participated in the ceremonies of Dechinchoilintawshisümbrellin (Tib. bde chen chos-dbyings thabs-shes zung-’brel gling grwa-tshang) or Jagarmolomiin khural temple (NOT in Rinchen 950), one of the Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples in Ikh khüree. They transmitted the lineage teachings of Jagarmolom and Tanton to the lamas in the present Puntsoglin monastery. These lamas consider the late Luwsandamba lama as their esteemed teacher and his portrait is placed on the altar. Prior to the purges, Dechinchoilintawshisümbrellin temple, which was not recorded in Rinchen’s map of Monasteries and Temples of Ulaanbaatar published in 1979 (the map, named Khüree khiid Ulaanbaatar khot [Monasteries and temples of Ulaanbaatar], is the 31st map in the collection edited by B. Rinchen and published under the name Mongol ard ulsiin ugsaatnii sudlal, khelnii shinjleliin atlas [Ethnographic and Linguistic Atlas of the Mongolian People’s Republic] Ulaanbaatar 1979), was situated near the present site of the Second Maternity Centre, near the Seoul street, and was in the same khashaa (fenced area) as the Tantonjalbiin temple (Rinchen 919). These two tantric Nyingmapa Zod assemblies existed next to each other. At this time, most Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples were situated in the South-West quarter, called Baruun-Ömnöd khoroo, between Züün Khüree and Gandan to the south. They were excluded from the centre of Ikh khüree, which included Gandan and Züün khüree, due to the fact that they followed different tantric practices and were mainly married lamas. In the centre of Ikh khüree women were forbidden to live or to spend the night and the lamas were celibate.

It is not easy to decide if this or another temple can be considered as a revival of the old Dechinchoilintawshisümbrellin temple.

It appears that the head of the present-day Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temple, Dechin choilintawshisünbrellin temple (on Zanabazar street, New Temples 27) also received the teachings of the Jagamolom tradition from the same master, Luwsandamba (of Dashchoilin monastery). Moreover, he was given instructions to found a temple under the same name as his teacher’s old monastery.

The present head (tergüün) of the monastery is B. Ariunbold, who was born around 1975. At present there are 22 lamas. There are the following title holders in addition to the abbot: lowon, two chanting masters and one disciplinary master. The lowon lama, Ayaagiin Tserendorj, is currently the only old lama in the monastery. He was born in 1915 (in the year of hare), and before 1937 had been a lama in Darawbandid khiid/ Daraw bandid gegeenii khüree, or Rashaantiin khüree, Dashdarjaalin, present day Khöwsgöl aimag, Rashaant sum. (He was interviewed about the old temple he belonged to, and its religious life and this material will be published later as is out of the scope of the present survey.)

All the lamas are genens as is usual in Nyingmapa monasteries in Mongolia. Two lamas are currently studying in Kumbum monastery in Tibet.

The main deity is Padmasambhava with the main protector deity being Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protector. They also worship Narkhajid (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini).

Entering to the temple, the benches (jawdan, Tib. ‘jab-gdan, low bench for lamas in the temples, which are usually painted red with rugs draped over it) for the lamas who read texts for individuals are placed in the left. Thangkas of Gowiin lkha (Tib. ‘go-ba’i lha), the five deities and Jigjid (Tib. ‘jigs-byed, Skr. Bhairava, epithet of Yamantaka) decorate the altar of the left side-aisle. Images of Toinog, Dürteddagwa (Tib. dur-khrod bdag-po, Skr. Citipati), Padmasambhava and Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha hang on the left side of the main altar on which there are statues of Jamsran, Padmasambhava and Narkhajid, and a thangka of the lama, Luwsandamba. The images of Toinog (Tib. khros-nag), Majiglawdonmaa and Zangad (Tib. brtsan-rgod) hang on the right of the altar. On the right side aisle altar images of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), Janraiseg (Tib. spyan-ras-gzigs, Skr. Avalokiteshvara) and Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara) hang. Two benches for prostrations are placed in front of this altar. The image of Jamsran hangs above the throne of the disciplinary master, and a large thangka of the goddess of music and poetry (Tib. dbyangs-can-ma, Skr. Sarasvati) can be seen on the wall. The temple owns all 108 volumes of the Tibetan Ganjuur.

There is a fortune-teller in the temple and his consulting room is on the right in the entrance hall. The cash or reception for ordering texts (with fixed prices) by individuals is next to it.

Daily chanting starts at 9.00am and texts ordered by individuals are read until 3pm. The daily reading contains various eulogies to Padmasambhava, and, as in most Nyingmapa temples, Lüijin is read every day.

The monthly ceremonies are as follows: on the 10th of the month the ceremony of Padmasambhava (Lowon chogo) is held; on the 25th the ritual of Narkhajid dakini (Khand chogo) takes place; the ceremony in honour of the wrathful deities (Sakhius) is held on the 29th of the month; the Medicine Buddha (Ikh Manal) is worshipped on the 8th of the month. There is a ceremony for long life (Tsegmidiin chogo) to Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus) every Thursday. On the 16th and 30th of the lunar months the volumes of Ganjuur are read. On the 14th and 22nd Oroin yerööl ceremony is performed for the deceased.

In the temples following the Jagarmolom lineage it was usual to hold four kinds of ceremonies on the 10th of the lunar month, which is the great day of Padmasambhava: Khand chogo, Lowon chogo, Khajidiin chogo and Tantan chogo (rituals of the dakinis, Padmasambhava, Sarvabuddhadakini and Tangtong Gyalpo). To revive this tradition, Puntsoglin monastery holds a special annual ceremony on the 10th of the month of the monkey (first autumn month). On this day the rituals of the dakinis, Padmasambhava and Narkhajid (Sarvabuddhadakini) are conducted together with the ritual of Tangtong Gyalpo. Four lamas who have received the initiation to Tanton/Tantan and, thus, have the right to conduct the ceremony, carry out this special ceremony.

See also the old monasteries entries Rinchen 919 (Tantonjalbiin khural) and NOT in Rinchen 950 (Jagarmolomiin khural).

24 Ekh ürsiin buyanii töw, Dashchoinkhorlin khiid

Tibetan name: bkra-shis chos-‘khor gling

English name: Dashchoinkhorlin monastery, Center for the merit of offspring

Bayangol district, on the left of Damdinbazar Street

N. 47°55.089’

E. 106°52.858’

Informant: Lkhagwadorj, the main chanting master of the temple

This Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temple, placed behind high fences, is situated on the left of Damdinbazar Street (when coming from Tögsbaysgalant khiid or the White House Hotel) in the Bayangol district of Ulaanbaatar. The entrance is from the west. In the yard there are some prayer-wheels in front of the building and some yurts down the hill where the abbot and other lamas live.

The temple was founded in 2000 by its Abbot, P. Sodnom. As he is one of the students of Kh. Banzar, the abbot of the Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery of Bayankhoshuu district (Namdoldechinlen khiid/ Jagarmolomiin neremjit ulaan yosnii töw, New Temples 19), they also follow the lineage of Lawran (introduced to Mongolia by Jagarmolom). Presently there are sixteen lamas, six of them with getsel vow. There is a lowon, two chanting masters, and one disciplinary master. The temple has a fortune-teller as well. All the lamas are young with two of them presently studying in Drepung monastery, South India.

The main deity of the temple is Padmasambhava (as is case in the other Nyingmapa temples), the main protector deities are Zangad (Tib. brtsan-rgod), Jamsran, the Red Protector, Toinog (Tib. khros-nag, fierce black goddess) and Dürtoddagwa (Tib. dur-khrod bdag-po, Skr. Citipati). There are many types of monthly ceremonies, such as Lowon chogo, a ceremony in honour of Padmasambhava on the 10th of the lunar month, and the ceremony in honour of the wrathful deities (Sakhius) on the 29th of the month. They also worship Narkhajid (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini) on the 25th of the month and Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaisajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha on the 8th. On the 30th of the lunar month another ceremony is held in honour of Buddha’s main disciplines, the sixteen sthaviras or arhats (Naidan). On the 15th Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd ceremony) is read. On the 3rd Oroin yerööl ceremony is held for the deceased and the Ganjuur is also recited.

Daily chanting starts at 10.00am. The daily readings contain some distinctive texts, which reflect the specialties of the temple. These are prayers recited to Padmasambhava and also to Jagarmolom (Tib. rgya-gar smon-lam, a Mongolian monk who studied and practiced in India and Tibet in the 1800's) and Zangad (one of the protector deities of the temple). Lüijin is performed every day. People can ask the fortune-teller of the temple to advise them what texts should be read for their benefit. The texts for individuals are read until 2.00pm. In this temple there are no fixed prices for prayers.

            As for the images and objects of worship in the temple, there is only one big statue of Padmasambhava. There are many thangkas and images of Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus), Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), Toinog, Zangad, Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi), the Goddess with the White Parasol (Tsagaan shükhert, Tib. gdugs-dkar, Skr. Sitatapatra); Majiglawdonmaa (the great female founder of the lineage of the Zod (Tib. gcod) practice in Tibet), and Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala).

25 Jürmeddechenlin khiid,

Khuwiralt ügüi Ikh Amgalant khiid

Tibetan name: ‘gyur-med bde chen gling

English name: Jürmeddechenlin monastery

Songino Khairkhan district, Depot bus station

Elevation 1353 m

N. 47°55.045’

E. 106°48.862’

Informant: A. Gaadan, head of the monastery

This Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery is hidden among the houses close to the Depot bus station on Üildwerchnii ewleliin street, near the area of Tawan shar 21st khoroolol, 19th khoroo in Songino Khairkhan district of Ulaanbaatar.

The head and founder of the monastery is A. Gaadan. The monastery was founded in 2003, according to the notice on the information board, at the request of old people in this microdistrict lead by Düikhorjaw, D. Choijamts, the abbot of Gandan monastery, A. Gaadan and other lamas, such as Luwsanpaljil or G. Terbish.

It is in a fenced off yard. There are two stupas both of which were built in 2003. There are two entrances, one in the south and another in the north-east.

The abbot of this monastery is from Dundgow’ aimag and graduated at Zanabazar Buddhist University of Gandan in 1985, where later he taught. Apart from the head, there is only a chanting master (unzad), and 8 young lamas some of whom are studying (either at Gandan’s Zanabazar University or at the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art (Mongoliin burkhanii shashnii urlakhui ukhaanii deed surguul’) founded by G. Pürewbat). Some of them have getsel vow.

The main protector deities of the temple are Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi), Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala) and Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protector. On the altar there are various images. The only statue is of Buddha, but there are thangkas of Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara), Padmasambhava, Jamsran and Lkham and many other deities. Daily chanting is from 10.00am, and includes prayers to Padmasambhava. Lüijin is read any day on request. On the 8th of the lunar month a ceremony is held in honour of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), while on the 15th eulogies are read in honour of Buddha (Burkhan bagshiin magtaal). The ritual for the main wrathful deities of the temple (Lkham, Gombo and Jamsran) is held on the 29th of the month.

The reception for ordering texts is on the left. There are fixed prices. The texts are read until 5.00pm.

This is another of the monasteries in Mongolia that follow the lineage of Jagarmolom. Information about this lineage, and on many other subjects, such as history of Buddhism and Nyingmapa (Red Sects) in Mongolia, and especially aspects of religious life, which is interesting and useful for the believers, is displayed around the walls of the temple. All have been compiled by Gaadan, the head of the temple, who is very keen on this kind of educative work.

The head of the monastery is also the founder and leader of the Association of Mongolian Vegetarians (Mongol Tsagaan Khooltnii Niigemleg). This Association was founded in 1999 with the aim of spreading the idea of vegetarianism and making its relationship with Buddhist views known to people. There is a large notice board with a great deal of information about the Association’s goals and ideas for laypeople to adopt such as persuading people to hold fasts on the great days (düitsen) of the month i.e. on the 8th, 15th and 30th which are traditionally days of fasting (only vegetarian food served to the lamas) in Buddhist monasteries. Detailed recipes are given to encourage the practice e.g. vegetarian khuushuur (one of the traditional dishes of Mongolian, which is a fried pancake filled usually with mutton) with sour cream.

26 Choi dechin dashsümprellin 

Tibetan name: chos bde chen bkra-shis zung-’brel gling

Bayanzürkh district, 12th khoroo

N 47°54.438’

E 106°59.674’

Informants: Dr O. Pürew; J. Batkhaan (Choi), head of the temple

The temple is situated on the east side of the square near the Cultural Centre named after D. Sükhbaatar (known by locals as Janjnii Club), in Bayanzürkh district, 12th khoroo.

Choi dechin dashsümprellin is operating in a yurt, situated between ruins which are said to be the remains of an old Chinese store (püüs) according to O. Pürew. It is not clear what these buildings were used for after the purges.

However, the head of the temple, J. Batkhaan (his monastic name is Choi) says that these are the remains of the old Geser temple of Amgalan. We could not find any sources to confirm his statement, all sources say that the only temple remains in Amgalan are found at the site of Dar’ Ekh süm (Rinchen 931). In this area known in the past as Maimaachen, the Chinese town for merchants, just a few buildings have survived. One of them (1320 m, N. 47°54.427’, E 106°59.893) is located between Choi dechin dashsümprellin and Dar’ ekhiin süm and is said to have served as a prison in the middle of the 20th century according to the inhabitants of the yurt behind it.

The ruins of the püüs buildings in the fenced-off area of Choi dechin dashsümprellin are good examples of Chinese style architecture. Renovation started in 2005. In the south of the site, the large entrance gate and the brick buildings have been completely demolished and re-built to the same form using modern materials. Note that in Mongolia today there are few people who have the skills needed to protection and restore historical buildings. However, the complex can currently only be reached from the north side.

A building, which stood on the left side of the site until a few years ago, was in a very bad state and has been stripped down to the wooden framework. They plan to ‘restore’ it as well. The building standing at the back, which Batkhaan claims was the Tsogchin temple, is the biggest on the site but in a very bad state of repair. On either side of its entrance two original Chinese style wall paintings are still visible. The painting on the left side can be made out relatively well, the right hand side one is in a very bad condition. Chinese script and ornamentation decorate the façade of this building. According to Batkhaan after the purges in the late 1930s, the complex was used as a hospital, then, as a prison for Japanese prisoners of war. However, it is not clear that he was referring to the two remaining buildings on this site or to what he had read or heard about Geser süm.

At present there are two yurts between the ruined buildings. One acts as the present temple, the other is the residence for the guard. At the north side of the bigger building, there is a new stupa built in 2005.

The new temple was founded in 2002 by its present head, J. Batkhaan (Choi) lama who was a lama at Dashchoilin Monastery before he founded this temple. At present there are only two boy lamas in the temple, who are taught by him. Earlier, there were ten lamas, but most went to other, bigger monasteries to study.

The head has connections with Khamriin khiid (one of Danzanrawjaa’s monasteries in Dornogow’ aimag, near Sainshand) as he follows the jüd tradition of the Noyon khutagt Danzanrawjaa (1803-1856). As the fifth reincarnation of a Sakyapa saint, this famous incarnated lama was the abbot of Khamriin khiid in the present Dornogow’ aimag, the author of Tibetan-Mongolian bilingual poems, plays, founder of numerous monasteries in the Gobi, a monastic theatre, and a museum.

The head also has connections with the Namdoldechenlin Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery in Bayankhoshuu (New Temples 19), and with a temple lead by lama Erdenebat, which is attached to Ulaanbaatar’s only crematorium being situated on the west of Ulaanbaatar (though well outside the city borders). Some lamas from Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery also come and participate in the most important monthly ceremonies, especially at the ceremony of the wrathful deities.

The main deities of the temple are Padmasambhava and Noyon Khutagt Danzanrawjaa. The main tutelary deity is Jigjid (Tib. ‘jigs-byed, Skr. Bhairava, epithet of Yamantaka), while the main protector deity is Amaa (Tib. a-ma) a special form of Lkham (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi). Bayan Namsrai (‘Wealthy Namsrai’ Tib. rnam-(thos)-sras, Skr. Vaishravana, Kuvera) is also worshipped here, to continue the merchant tradition of praying to him in order to get higher income. The head of the temple plans to revive the old tradition of worship of the Chinese Geser and to commission an image of him. The thangka of Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), and a carpet representing Danzanrawjaa hang on the temple yurt wall. Inside a wooden box there is a statue of Damdin Sandüw (Tib. rta-mgrin gsang-sgrub), a special ‘secret’ form of Hevajra. There are images of Zangad (Tib. brtsan-rgod), Padmasambhava, Buddha, Tsongkhapa and a blue coloured deity together with his consort (most probable Yansan, Tib. yang-gsang) who is a special tutelary deity of the temple. The thangka of Lkham hangs on the right of the altar.

Daily chanting is held from 9.00am. Special texts to Padmasambhava are read every day. On the 10th and 25th ceremonies are held to honour of Padmasambhava and Yansan. On the 29th of the month the ceremony to the wrathful deities is, with a special offering to Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama), called Choijoo dügjüü.

27 Dechin choilin tawshi sünbrellin datsan

Tibetan name: bde chen chos-dbyings thabs-shes zung-‘brel gling grwa-tshang (gcod)

English name: Dechin choilin tawshi sünbrellin monastic school

Zanabazar street, on the way up to Gandan

Elevation 1341m

N 47°55.047’

E 106°55.703’

Informant: The Head (tergüün) of the monastery, Ts. Pürewdorj

This small temple, housed in a yurt in a fenced yard, is on Zanabazar street, on the way up to Gandan. It is the first temple on the right hand side, just after the Shamanic centre. (In March 2006 another temple, called Agrim datsan (New Temples 17), has moved in a yurt next to it.) A notice on its fence has its name in Cyrillic script and says that the monastery has an astrologist, and performs special tantric rituals as Zod and Lüijin.

Pürewdorj founded the temple in 2002. According to him, they are about to start to build a permanent temple, the foundations for which the researchers saw on their second visit in March 2006. Until it is completed, the ceremonies are held inside a yurt. A notice on the door of a second yurt announces that individuals can request texts in this place. The temple is open between 10.00am and 3.00pm.

The abbot, Pürewdorj, came from Öwörhangai aimag. He studied with his old teacher, then spent three years by reading Lüijin on deserted areas in the countryside. Later he graduated at Gandan monastery’s Zanabazar Buddhist University. Apart from the abbot, the temple has a lowon, two chanting masters and one disciplinary master. There are thirteen lamas, with genen vows, most of them came from Öwörkhangai aimag, but there is no official connection with any of the monasteries there. Two astrologers belong to the temple.

The specialty of the temple is the so called Zod ritual (Tib. gcod). This is a special tantric ceremony, which literally means 'cutting' through the four Maras (obstacles to practice and enlightenment) and ego-clinging. This system of practices is based on the Prajnaparamita (bilig baramid, Tib. shes-rab-kyi pha-rol-tu phyin-pa). This scripture is the essence of Mahayana Buddhism. It means ’having arrived at the other side of wisdom’, i.e., attainment of perfect spiritual enlightenment and knowledge. Zod was created by the Tibetan 11-12th century female teacher Majiglawdonmaa dakini (Machik labdrön, ma-gcig lab-sgron-ma in Tibetan) and her master who was also her tantric partner, the Indian siddha, called Padamba sanjee (Phadampa Sangye, pha-dam-pa sangs-rgyas in Tibetan). The purpose of Zod tantric ritual is to cut through the four Maras (obstacles for practice and enlightenment) and ego-clinging.

This Nyingmapa monastery also follows the lineage of Jagarmolom, one of the three lineages followed in Mongolian Nyingmapa temples, and is named after the founder lama. The abbot studied with a lama of Dashchoilin monastery, Luwsandamba, who died in 2005. As a young man Luwsandamba was a lama in Züün khüree, which was one of the two main monastic districts in the Mongolian capital, and he often participated in ceremonies of Dechinchoilintawshisümbrellin, or Jagarmolomiin khural (NOT in Rinchen 950), a temple which was located near the present Seoul street, the site of the present Second Maternity Centre (2r törökh gazar), within the same fenced area as Tantonjalbiin temple (Rinchen 919), an other tantric Red Sect zod assembly. In the old times, Nyingmapa (Red Sect) temples were situated in the South West quarter, called Baruun-Ömnöd khoroo on the south between Züün Khüree and Gandan. They were excluded from the centre of Ikh khüree, which included Gandan and Züün Khüree, due to the fact that they followed different Tantra practices and were mainly married lamas. In the centre of Ikh khüree women were forbidden to live or to spend the night and all of the lamas were celibate.

According to Pürewdorj, his teacher instructed him to found a temple under the same name. However, the lamas in Puntsoglin monastery (New Temples 23), another present-day Nyingmapa temple, also learnt the Jagamolom tradition from the same master, and from an other lama (Dashtseren, lama of Züün khüree Dashchoilin monastery) who often participated in the ceremonies of the old Dechinchoilintawshisümbrellin temple, and therefore it’s not a simple matter to determine which one or if either of them, can be considered the revived old Dechinchoilintawshisümbrellin temple.

The main deities of the temple are Padmasambhava and the group of the five dakinis, called Khand dina (Tib. mkha’ ‘gro sde-lnga).

Accordingly, the main image in the temple is a Padmasambhava statue. There is also a statue of Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid (Tib. tshe-dpag-med, Skr. Amitayus) and one of Majiglawdonmaa.

On the tenth of the lunar month they hold a ceremony in honour of Padmasambhava (Lowon chogo), on the 15th in honour of the group of the five dakinis (Khand tseejüü) with Majiglawdonmaa in the center, and there is also a ceremony every month dedicated to the wrathful deities on the 29th. Daily chanting is held from 10.00am then the lamas read the texts requested by individuals. According to the head of the monastery, they read eulogies of Padmasambhava and also recite Lüijin every day.

The temple owns the 108 Tibetan volumes of Ganjuur.

28 Garma Garjid Ürjin Perenlailin khiid

Tibetan name: Kar-ma bka’-(b)rgyud u-rgyan phrin-las gling

English name: Karma Kagyüpa temple named Ürjin Perenlailin

The office of the assembly is in Room 210 on the second floor of the SAN building (behind school No. 5 on the right on Baga toiruu)

Elevation 1297m

N 47° 55.591’

E 106° 54.676’

Informant: D. Taiwansaikhan, head of the monastery; G. Diwaasambuu, tsorj lama of Gandan monastery, founder of the Karmapa temple

Written sources: printed leaflet of the monastery (in Mongolian)

Diwaasambuu, G., Taiwansaikhan, D.: Garmawa yosnii ug garal, Garma Garjid Ürjin Perenlailin khiid, Ulaanbaatar 2005

Diwaasambuu, G., Taiwansaikhan, D.: Mongoliin burkhan shashnii tüükhen toim, Ulaanbaatar 2005

Sereeter, Ö., Mongoliin Ikh khüree. Gandan khiidiin tüükhen bütetsiin towch, Ulaanbaatar 1999

Buddiin shashin, soyoliin tailbar tol’, (Buddiin sudlal tsuwral 2.), Mongol Ulsiin Ikh Surguul’, Ulaanbaatar, 2000

Pürew, O., Mongol töriin golomt, Ulaanbaatar 2004

D. Taiwansaikhan heads up this assembly, founded by himself and his father, Diwaasambuu, the tsorj of Gandan monastery. At the time of the survey, it was operating from an office with even ceremonies being held there but only occasionally. It is the only assembly in Mongolia today that follows the Karma Kagyü tradition (a sub-branch of one of the four Tibetan Buddhist sects, Kagyü), which has, in fact, deep roots in Mongolia.

Historical background

Origin of the Karma Kagyü Tradition in Tibet

The sect of Tibetan Buddhism, which became known as Kagyü(pa) (garjid/gajüd(ba/wa) or ’zarligiin ündeslel’, Tib. bka’-rgyud(-pa) is referred to as the ‘transmission of the teachings’, because the teachings of Vajrapani (Dorjchan, Ochirwaan’, Tib. rdo-rje-can) were transmitted from master to master beginning with Tilopa (Dilo, 988-1069). He transmitted his teachings to Naropa (Naro, 1016-1100), who then transmitted it to Marpa (Marba, 1012-1097/99), then it was transmitted to Milarepa (Milaraiwa/ba, 1042-1123) and to Gampopa (1079-1153).

The Kagyü(pa) tradition has two main streams (Tib. shangs-pa bka'-brgyud founded by mkhas-grub khyung-po rnal-'byor and dwags-po bka’-brgyud founded by Gampopa) and, within dwags-po bka’-brgyud four sub-streams (Tib. ’ba’-rom bka’-brgyud, kar-ma bka’-brgyud, tsal-pa bka’-brgyud, pag-mo gru-bka’-brgyud). One of these is Karma Kagyü(pa) or Karma(pa) (Garma garjid and Garmawa in Mongolian form).

(Garma) Düisümchenba (Tib. dus-gsum mkhyen-pa), a principal disciple of Gampopa, who lived from 1110-1193, founded this particular stream of the Kagyü sect. He established the main Karma (Kagyü) monastery (garma dansa, Tib. kar-ma gdan-sa) in 1147 in Kham (Tib. khams), in the Great Mountain (Tib. ri-bo che) on the Ngul-chu (Tib. rngul-chu) River in Tibet. He also built other monasteries.

The main tutelary and protector deities of the Karma Kagyü Sect are Dorjpagam (Tib. rdo-rje phag-mo, Skr. Vajravarahi), Bernag makhgal (Tib. ber-nag mgon-po, an aspect of Mahakala), and Ranjün/Rinjin Lkham (Tib. rang-byung lha-mo, a typical Nyingmapa aspect of Shridevi).

The present head of the Karmapa’s or Karma Kagyüpa’s (the two terms being synonims) is the 17th Karma-pa U-rgyan phrin-las rdo-rje (Garmawa Ürjinperenleidorj, born in 1985), who lives in Dharamsala. Taiwansaikhan, head of Garma Garjid Ürjin Perenlailin khiid has connection with him.

Karma Kagyü Presence in Mongolia

The tradition of the Karma Kagyü Sect came to Mongolia in the 13th century and, according to Taiwansaikhan, it was the only sub stream of Kagyüpa sect that took root in Mongolia. Mönkh khaan (reigned between 1251-1259), invited Garmawa Choiji lam (Tib. kar-ma-pa chos-kyi bla-ma, 1204-1283) who was the reincarnation of Düisümchenba, to the Mongolian court in 1251. The legend says that Mönkh khaan, and later Khubilai khaan (reigned between 1260-1294), became Buddhist believers after witnessing his miracles and mystic deeds against illnesses and natural disasters. In 1256 Mönkh khaan finished the construction of the 10 meters high five-storey stupa-temple (Lkhadin süm, Tib. lha-steng) in Karakorum (the Mongolian capital from 1220), the building having been started by his predecessor, Öödei khaan (reigned between 1241-1246). Its construction is an indication of the place and importance given to Buddhism in Mönkh khaan’s time. Garmawa Choiji lam was appointed by Mönkh khaan as the State Tutor (töriin bagsh). He was also given the title of Garma bagsh, ‘Karma master’, (Tib. kar-ma pakshi) with a ceremonial black hat with vajra ornament on its top. That is why the followers of the Karma Kagyü Sect were also called ‘black hat’ (Tib. zhwa-nag) lamas. During his lifetime Garmawa Choiji lam established several monasteries in Tibet and Mongolia as well as giving many teaching and writing scores of texts on different aspects of Buddhism.

Later Mönkh khaan’s successor, Khubilai khaan, made both the third incarnation of Karmapa, Garma Ranjün dorj (Tib. rang-byung rdo-rje) who lived from 1284-1339 and Pagwa lama (Tib. ‘phags-pa bla-ma) from the Sakyapa Sect who lived from 1235-1280 State Tutors. The former coming to Mongolia in 1331 to gave the Kalachakra initiation (Düinkhor Wanchin, Tib. dus-‘khor dbang-chen) to Khubilai.

The fourth Karmapa incarnation, Rolbiidorj, who lived from 1340-1383 and was the personal religious teacher of Togontemür khaan and his queen, was also given the title of Mongolian State Tutor. It is also well known that Tsongkhapa (the founder of the Yellow Sect) got his laymen vows (genen, Tib. dge-bsnyen) at the age of three from Rolbiidorj.

The tradition of Karmapa became strong in Mongolia and remained so until the time of khalkh prince Tsogt khün taij’s (1580-1636) wars. When the Manchus came into power in China, they made effort to occupy the territory of the present Inner-Mongolia as well. The Khalkh princes refused to go to the aid of the Inner-Mongols against the Manchus. Only Tsogt taij, a Khalkh prince, who lived in the present Bulgan aimag (his white palace and poem-inscriptions on stone steles are well-known) supported Ligdan khan of the Chakhar Inner-Mongols against the expansion of the Manchus. Tsogt taij’s personal aim was to preserve the rule of the Karmapa, which sect he followed, in the Mongol areas. As the political situation changed, Tsogt taij, being a follower of the Red Sect, had to escape from his residence and went to Kukunor in north-east Tibet. He wanted all the armies of Mongolia to join together to defeat the Manchu army, but he had few supporters. However, the Tsogt prince suddenly died, which prevented his army’s planned union with Ligdan’s army to resist the Manchus, and, very soon after, his army and the Ligdan forces were defeated by the Manchus. After this war ended, the Red Sect Buddhists became persecuted in Mongolia.

At that time the area now known as Inner-Mongolia was divided into bigger and, within them, smaller units, the latter called ‘banners’, administrative units (khoshuu). One of the banners of Shiliin gol area, bordering the present Sükhbaatar aimag of present day Mongolia was Khuuchid khoshuu, which has a key relationship with the history of the Mongolian Karma Kagyü Sect. (There are possibly more such areas or banners with a connection, but it is on this khoshuu that the researchers collected information.) In 1680 the people of Khuuchid khoshuu area moved from the northern Khalkh areas in the Khangai Mountain (the present Outer-Mongolia) to the south-eastern border (i.e. the present border area of Outer and Inner-Mongolia, as at that time the border between the two did not exist). There they divided into two khoshuus (administrational division), Züün and Baruun khuuchid (Eastern and Western khuuchid). The people of Baruun khuuchid (Western khuuchid), who lived in the present areas of Erdene tsagaan süm of the present Sükhbaatar aimag, which is in the neighbouring area of the present Inner-Mongolia, followed the Karmapa tradition.

As the tradition of the Mongolian Karma Kagyü Sect says, when Öndör gegeen Zanabazar came to power, he recognized that the Karmapa lineage remained uninterrupted in the Baruun khuuchid district, invited Güüsh lamkhai a lama from the transported Khuuchid khoshuu community of Shiliin gol in Inner Mongolia, as it was the only place where the Karma Kagyü teachings survived, and established him in the temple at Barga aimag, one of the 30 aimags in the capital, which aimag was founded by Öndör gegeen in his old age. Therefore it is said that Öndör gegeen revived the Karmapa tradition in Mongolia. According to the ‘Short history of Mongolian Buddhism’ (Mongoliin burkhan shashnii tüükhen toim, p. 89.), Öndör gegeen created separate aimags for the other Old Sects:  the Nyingmapa, Sakyapa and Karmapa sects, because these were worshipped in Mongolia in the old times.

After the time of Öndör gegeen, who re-instated the Kagyüpa tradition to Ikh khüree, the Karmapa tradition declined in Mongolia. However, there were still periodic visits by Karma Kagyüpa lamas to Mongolia. For example in the second half of the 17th century the Baruun khuuchid Garam Agwaansanjid (Tib. kar-ma ngag-dbang bzang spyod) lama went to the Tibetan Sera and Lkhadin Ogmin Tsurpu (Tib. ‘og-min mtshur-phu) Kagyüpa monastery to study. After his returning he introduced the cult of Berneg Makhgal or Bernag Makhgal (or Bernag Gombo, Tib. mgon-po ber nag-can), the main protector deity of the Karma Kagyüpa Sect in his homeland and in many monasteries in Mongolia. He came to the Bandidiin aimag of Ikh khüree and became the pupil of the 4th jewtsündamba khutagt.

When the 5th jewtsündamba khutagt came to power he also decided to revive the Karmapa tradition, so he began to search for lamas of this sect. He found one such lama in a very old man in the area of Züün-kharaa, but this attempt to revive the tradition was not successful. Then the ruler learned that the tradition had continued unbroken in Baruun khuuchid khoshuu, so he sent for an accomplished practitioner and lineage holder, Garawkhaidüw (it was usual for lamas of the Karma Sect in Mongolia to have names beginning with Garma/Garam), from the monastery called Khuuchidiin shine süm, Gawaachogserdlin who was also known as the ikh düwchin (Tib. sgrub chen, Skr. mahasadhana, lama practicing the great accomplishment practice). The story is told of his miraculous arrival in Ikh khüree when he crossed the seemingly impassable flooded Tuul River. Mergen lam, an old lama from the area of Sain beis khoshuu (present Dornod aimag) witnessed the ‘miracle’ and reported it to the 5th jewtsündamba khutagt, who told him who the lama was. So Mergen lam became the disciple of Garawkhaidüw.

However, on this topic there is a contradiction in the books written by the two experts on the Karmapa tradition, Diwaasambuu and Taiwansaikhan lamas. The same legend is narrated in the ‘Short history of Mongolian Buddhism’ (Mongoliin burkhan shashnii tüükhen toim, p. 89.) in connection with Güüsh lamkhai, the Karmapa lama installed in Barga aimag by Öndör Gegeen. The same book says (p. 89.) that Güüsh lam Garam khaidüw was invited by Öndör gegeen, though the other book of the same author(s), ‘Origin of the Karmapa tradition’ (Garmawa yosnii ug garal, p. 32.) says Güüsh lam Garam khaidüw is the name of an other Karmapa lama invited later by the 5th Jewtsündamba. The only factual information seems to be that Karmapa lamas used to be invited by the jewtsündambas from time to time and a miraculous way of arriving to the capital is related to one of these visits in the legends.

It is said that following his arrival in Ikh khüree, Garamkhaidüw revived the cult of Bernag Makhgal in the Barga aimag. He also brought the worship of Damjan/Damjin dorlig (Tib. dam-can rdor-legs, Vajrasadhu, Mongoliin burkhanii shashnii tüükhen toim, p. 89.). The main tutelary deities of Barga aimag were Dorjpagam (Tib. rdo-rje phag-mo, Skr. Vajravarahi), and Dorjdagzal toiwonagwa (Tib. rdo-rje drag-rtsal khros-pa nag-po, 'Wrathful Vajra Power', ‘the black wrathful one’, the wrathful form of Padmasambhava, worshipped by the Karma Kagyü Sect). The main protectors were Bernag makhgal (Tib. ber-nag mgon-po, an aspect of Mahakala), and Ranjün/Rinjin Lkham (Tib. rang-byung lha-mo, a typical Nyingmapa aspect of Shridevi). According to Taiwansaikhan lama, the temple of Barga aimag was situated near the present Arslantai güür (The Lion Bridge on Peace Avenue), where the building housing the Education and Science Department of the City Council stands (Niisleliin zasag dargiin dergedekh kheregjüülegch agentlag, Niisleliin bolowsrol, shinjlel ukhaanii gazar). However this information given by Taiwansaikhan seems not to be correct as according to Pürew’s book (Mongol töriin golomt, p. 45.) in that area, which was part of the Züün ömnöd khoroo (South-East quarter of laymen), the palace of a noble (zasag noyon) called Khurts wan Tüden from the Khurts wangiin khoshuu of Setsen khan aimag was situated. Khurts wangiin khoshuu was the area where the barga people lived, and he was a noble of barga ethnic group. Pürew’s book says that the temple of Barga aimag was situated on the present Baga toiruu at the site of Faculty of Design of the National University of Mongolia (Dizain Surguul’).

During the Manchu period (1644-1911) the Gelukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism became dominant, so other sects were pushed to the sidelines. In 1911 the Manchu Empire collapsed and Mongolia became independent. The 8th jewtsündamba khutagt’s view was that the ideas of the Red and Yellow sects are without contradiction. So in 1912 once again a famous lama from the monastery of Khuuchid khoshuu of Shiliin gol, which followed the Karmapa tradition, was invited to Ikh khüree by the Bogd khaan. He also became a lama of the temple in Barga aimag.

This was closed down in 1937, along with all the aimag and other temples and monastic institutions in the capital, and destroyed.

There was no a real border in the modern sense between Mongolia and China during the Manchu reign. The Khuuchid khoshuu, the community who had retained the lineage of the Karmapa tradition, were fearful about the changes taking place in Mongolia after the death of the 8th Jewtsündamba. As they lived in the south of Mongolia (in the territory of Shiliin gol in the present Inner-Mongolia and the present Sükhbaatar aimag (at that time these two areas comprised an area called Khurts zasgiin khoshuu), they decided in 1932 to save their religion by moving to, what is now known as, Inner-Mongolia in China. Thus they were able to continue their practice uninterrupted at the Baruun khuuchid monastery, operating that time in Shiliin gol, Baruun khuuchid khoshuu monastery, Inner-Mongolia. In 1945, the closed border reopened and, due to difficulties faced because of the Russians, the community decided to return to their homeland. They moved their monastery back to the place they had come from (Zotol sum, currently Erdene tsagaan sum of Sükhbaatar aimag). Here, under the leadership of Luwsan lama, they re-instated the full activities of the monastery holding their ceremonies in Khambiin khiid, which was operated in a yurt. However, they once again faced difficulties because of the anti-religious propaganda and other related measures.

In 1960 the Communist authorities decreed that the six countryside assemblies that had moved back into Mongolia’s territory after 1945 and were on the move in yurts, were to be integrated into Gandan monastery. So it was that four Khuuchid lamas (the maximum number permitted by the authorities), from Khambiin khiid arrived in Gandan with trucks full of sutras, images, objects of worships and religious articles. These objects of worships can be seen today in the right side of the altar of Gandanthegchenlin temple together with other Nyingmapa and Sakyapa images. The images from Khambiin khiid include Padmasambhava, Bernag Makhgal and Ranjün/Rinjin Lkham.

Between 1960 and 1970 many of the former lamas of Barga aimag including Jam’yaan unzad, Shaazan waarnii Dagwadorj, Gombo and Batsükh lived in Bayan sum in the present Töw aimag, and throughout this time they performed ceremonies at home in secret. They worshipped the main protector of Barga aimag, Bernag Gombo (the same as Bernag Makhgal), whose image was saved by Shaazan waarnii Dagwadorj, who was one of the former Barga aimag lamas.

Reviving the Karma Kagyü Tradition

Today, the only person who can transmit the Karmapa teachings is said to be the tsorj lama of Gandan monastery, Garjidiin Diwaasambuu. He was born in 1927 in Örgön sum, Baruun Khuuchid khoshuu, as the first son of Dalai Garjid. He started to learn from a lama of (Khuuchid) Khambiin süm having the shawran rank (Tib. zhabs-drung, ‘at the feet of, in the presence of’) when he was 6 years old. He took a genen vow at the age of 8, and went to study in a Medical monastic school (manba datsan) when he was 11. When he was 14 he joined Bandid gegeenii khiid/ Aya zandan Bandid gegeenii khiid in Abaga or (Züün) Beisiin khoshuu also in Shiliin gol, to study Buddhist philosophy (choir, Tib. chos-grwa). In 1945, when he was 17 because of the political situation he moved to Zotool sum of Sükhbaatar aimag (presently Erdenetsagaan sum) together with many inhabitants of his homeland, and about half of the lamas of the Khambiin khiid (it had originally about 300 lamas). After this move he participated in the ceremonies of Öndör Khambiin khiid, which was now operating first in a yurt and, after 1950, in a temple made of mud and wood.

In 1960 he came to Gandan monastery, as these countryside assemblies were affiliated to it, and since then he has had different duties and ranks such as bicheech (‘sribe, clerk’) writing in Tibetan, nyaraw (’bookkeeper/treasurer’), daamal (‘administrator, manager’), and disciplinary master (gesgüi). He became a teacher in the Zanabazar Buddhist University, and also bore the titles (zasag) daa lam, lowon (‘master’). At the time of the survey, he is the tsorj (‘lord of religion’) lama of Gandan. In the 1990’s he took the exams for the highest philosophical degrees of gewshiin dom (Tib. dge-bshes-kyi sdom) and gawjiin damjaa (Tib. dka’ bcu’i dam-bca’) in Dashchoimbel monastic school. He officially founded of the new Karma Kagyüpa assembly in 2005 with his son, Taiwansaikhan who currently leads it.

Taiwansaikhan was born in 1965 in Erdene Tsagaan sum, Sükhbaatar aimag as the 6th son of Diwaasambuu. He studied in Gandan between 1987 and 1992 and obtained the degree of gewsh in 2001. He taught in Idgaachoinzinlin and Güngaachoilin datsans as well teaching in the Buddhist Secondary School housed in the Geser süm complex until 2002. He also worked as a lama advisor for a while for the Hollywood star, Steven Seagal (considered a tertön Rinpoche, T: gter-ston, ‘treasure revealer, discoverer of concealed books or teachings’).

He revived the monastery of Yegüzer khutagt (one of the 13 main Mongolian khutagts also recognized by the Manchu), which was also situated in his homeland (Erdene Tsagaan sum, Sükhbaatar aimag), and the temple of the Sükhbaatar aimag centre. According to Taiwansaikhan, there were always close connections in the past between the two monasteries, Yegüzer and the Khambiin khiid of the Karma Kagyüpa sect. The Yegüzer khutagt even worshipped the special protector deity of Karmapa.

The new Karma Kagyüpa temple was founded in 2005. It is housed in one room in an office building, which is decorated like a temple. There are currently only a few disciples, but when the new temple is built, the founders are confident they can attract more lamas and educate them in the Karma Kagyü teachings.

As yet there is no regular schedule of ceremonies. According to Taiwansaikhan lama the 8th, 10th and 25th of the lunar month are of very important in this sect. There is also a special Karma Kagyü ceremony in honour of the sect’s protector, Bernag makhgal who is a special form of Makhgal (Mahakala). On the only occasion we could participate at their ceremony, there were eight lamas. Besides Diwaasambuu and Taiwansaikhan, there were the chanting master of Gandan monastery, one of its golch (chanting) lamas, and about twenty believers, many of whom had to sit in the corridor to hear the chanting as the office temple has such limited space.

The temple has all the statues, thangkas and objects of worship needed. In the centre of the altar, there is a thangka showing Garmawa Choiji lam, the second Karmapa incarnation. This painting also shows Dorjpagam, Bernag makhgal and Ranjün/Rinjin Lkham, the main tutelary and protector deities of the sect. Dorjpagam is in a standing pose on the begging bowl held in the lama’s hands in front of him, while Ranjün/Rinjin Lkham is in the bottom corner on the right and Bernag makhgal is in the bottom corner on the left. On the right of the altar there is a thangka of Padmasambhava. On the left there is a picture of Janraiseg (Avalokiteshvara), with a statue of the four–faced, six-armed red coloured Damdin Dorlig (Tib. dam-can rdo-rje legs-pa / dam-can rdor-legs, Skr. Vajrasadhu) below it. There are other sculptures as well, such as that of Buddha and Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara).

Taiwansaikhan visited His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently (in 2006), and received many statues and thangkas from him, such as the thangkas representing the founders of the 5 sects of Tibetan Buddhism (Nyingmapa, Kadampa, Sakyapa, Kagyüpa and Gelukpa) with their main disciples. The office temple is also decorated by a vishvavajra, as the main symbol of the temple and many photos showing His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the present leader of the Karmapa sect, the 17th Karmapa U-rgyan phrin-las rdo-rje.

Gelukpa Women’s Communities

29 Dar' Ekh khiid/ Dulmalin khiid/ Getsogdarjaalin

For this nunnery see the Current Situation in entry for Rinchen 931 (Dar-ekhiin süm) in the Old Temples section

30 Tögs bayasgalant töw, Emegteichuudiin khural

English name: Tögs bayasgalant Buddhist Women’s Centre

At the corner of Amarsana street and Damdinbazar street, west of Gandan

Elevation 1317m

N 47º55.082’

E 106º53.426’

Informants: Narangerel, the disciplinary master of the temple; Chantsal, female lama (genenmaa) in the temple

Tögs bayasgalant is one of the three Buddhist Women’s centres in Ulaanbaatar. This temple was founded in October, 1990, on the initiation of Bakula Rinpoche, the former ambassador of India to Mongolia and founder of Betüw monastery in Ulaanbaatar. He gave the vows of genenmaa (the vow of female lay practitioners) and the initiations (wan, Tib. dbang, ‘initiation, empowerment’ and jenan/jonan, Tib. rjes gnang, ’authorization, empowerment, permission blessing’) of Tara and Khajid dakini to the female lamas. The head of the temple is N. Gantömör.

Presently it has 17 female lamas. Most have genenmaa vow with only two of them being getselmaas. The women in this monastery, like those of Narkhajid süm, wear traditional Mongolian women’s dresses during the ceremonies. They are also allowed to wear long hair arranged in various styles, and to use make-ups and wear jewels such as earrings. Since the old times, female lamas or female practitioners (they most probably had genen vows) who grow their hair have been called khandmaa (Tib. mkha’-‘gro-ma, Skr. dakini/yogini or female sky-goer) in Mongolian. All the women in Tögsbayasgalant temple wear a special white khadag worn across the left shoulder, which substitutes for the orkhimj (scarf worn over the left shoulder) of the lama robe. Only the two ordained female lamas (getselmaa) wear nun’s dresses and shave their hair. One of them has studied in India for ten years and is highly educated in Buddhist studies. Apart from the head of the community, the temple has two chanting masters (unzad) and a disciplinary master (gesgüi), there are no other ranks.

The temple has its entrance in the south, but the commonly used entrance to the khashaa is from the east i.e. from Amarsana street. There are various other buildings, such as a carwash, and a medical consulting room in the yard. There is a stupa with a small statue of Buddha’s in its upper part i.e. in the treasure vase (khumkh) of the stupa. There are four images of Tara, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas carved into stone on the front of the stupa. There is a small wooden building near the stupa for light offerings.

Inside the main temple building, there is a shop selling religious articles on the right. People can request texts from the women sitting on the left side of the temple. The fortune-teller of the temple sits there as well. During the daily chanting, a women, sitting at a table on the right side of the shrine, recites texts requested by individuals. Daily chanting is held from 9.30am. Texts for individuals (without fixed prices) are read every day during and after the chanting until 1.00pm.

Thangkas of the twenty-one Taras hang around the sidewalls of the temple. The main deity is Dar ekh (Tib. sgrol-ma, Skr. Tara), the main tutelary deity is Narkhajid (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini), and the main protector deities are Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi) and Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala). On the altar there are images of a white dakini, Majiglawdonmaa (the 11-12th century founder of Zod ritual), Tsongkhapa and his two disciples, the 11 headed Janraiseg (Tib. spyan-ras-gzigs, Skr. Avalokiteshvara) and Maidar (Tib. byams-pa, Skr. Maitreya). On the wall there are thangkas of various Gelukpa and Nyingmapa lamas. There is also a thangka showing the assembly tree of Padmasambhava (chuulganii oron, Tib. tshogs-zhing).

On the 10th and 25th of the month they hold a ceremony in honour of Narkhajid dakini (Khajidiin chogo), and there are ceremonies for the wrathful deities (Sakhius) on the 3rd of the month and one especially to Lkham on the 29th. On the 8th of the month the Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwaa) is performed. On the 15th Guru Puja is performed together with a feast offering (Lamiin chodwiin tsogchid), and on the 30th Maan’ yerööl is recited. Texts to Dar’ ekh, the main goddess, are recited every day. The tantric Lüijin is performed from 4.00pm on Mondays and Fridays, and also on the 10th and 25th of the month.

The temple has a religious College for women (Shashnii Deed Surguul’), the classrooms being housed in the main building. The College, which belongs to Gandan’s Zanabazar Buddhist University, was opened in September 2002. Teachers of Zanabazar University come to hold lessons here. At the time of the survey it had 16 students with four of them from Buddhist women’s centres in Buryatia. This is the first class of students and graduated in spring 2006.

31 Baldankhajidlin khiid

Tibetan name: Dpal-ldan mkha’-spyod gling

English name: Baldankhajidlin monastery

Nairamdal zuslan, which is an area of summer cottages on the north-west of Ulaanbaatar. It can be reached by bus from Orbit.

No GPS data as the temple was moving at the time of the survey

Informant: D. Khajidmaa, the head of the temple

Baldankhajidlin is a Gelukpa women’s centre. The head (tergüün) is D. Khajidmaa, who founded the monastery in 2003, and considers it to be the revived temple of Narkhajid or Narokhajid, which was situated before 1937 on the banks of the Tuul River near the Zaisan tolgoi (see entry Rinchen 923). However, there is no proven connection with the old temple.

At present the temple has about ten female lamas, all with genenmaa vow. Apart from the head, there are the following ranks: lowon, one chanting master and one disciplinary master. The sister of the head, Soyolmaa, is an artist who paints Buddhist thangkas.

The main deity of the temple is Narkhajid (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini), and the main protector deity is Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala). The main image in the temple is of Narkhajid. There is an image of Tsongkhapa as well. The temple does not own the volumes of Ganjuur.

Daily chanting is held between 9.00am and noon. Lüijin is performed every day. Zod can be requested any day and can be read by any of the female lamas. They are all zoch / zodoch (a practitioner who can either be a man or a woman) practicing the tantric ritual (Zod) of cutting the ego-clinging. People can also ask the fortune-teller of the temple.

They hold various monthly ceremonies. For example, Khajidiin chogo the ritual of Narkhajid is held on the 25th of the lunar month. The Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwaa) is read on the 8th, and the Guru Puja (Lamiin chodow) is on the 15th. As usual, the ceremony of the wrathful deities (Sakhius) is held on the 29th of the month.

            The head of the temple has published some interesting books. One is the Mongolian translation of the biography of Milarepa, the famous yogi and poet of the Tibetan Karma Kagyü school (1040-1123), the other is on Majiglawdonmaa, the female founder of the lineage of the Zod (Tib. gcod) practice in Tibet, cutting through ego-clinging.

At the time of the survey, the monastery has only recently moved into its new place near Nairamdal zuslan, so was not working. According to the head, who the researchers were only able to interview by phone (as they had no operating temple at the time of research), the temple will be opened again with its full services in spring, 2006.

Nyingmapa (Red Sect) Women’s Communities

32 Narkhajid süm

Tibetan name: Na-ro mkha’-spyod

English name: Narkhajid temple

On the hillside behind Medical Clinic number 3, Bayangol district, 10th microdistrict

Elevation 1280m

N 47º 55.081’

E 106º 51.579’

Informant: the takhilch lama (offering preparer) of the monastery

The temple, which is up the hillside from the Medical Clinic number 3, is not fenced off, which is unusual for Mongolian monasteries. On the left side of the area there are two stupas built in 2004 with some prayer wheels in front of them.

Narkhajid süm is a Nyingmapa (Red Sect) women’s centre. One of the temples of Ikh khüree, a tantric temple had the same name (Narkhajid or Baldankhajidlin, Rinchen 923) as this temple. However, according to its female lamas, this new temple has no connection with the old one. There is another new temple bearing the name Baldankhajidlin (near Nairamdal zuslan on the north-west of Ulaanbaatar, New Temples 31), the head of which claims they revived the old temple. Nevertheless, both temples worship the same deity, Narkhajid, and consequently hold the same type of ceremonies as those held in the old Narkhajid temple.

The female lamas of this monastery wear a Mongolian lama robe (a modified form of the traditional deel). However, as they have not taken the getselmaa vows they are allowed to wear long hair and to use make-ups. (Shaved-off hair is only compulsory for female lamas with getselmaa vow.)

The monastery was founded in 1990 by Mendbayar, a disciple of Kh. Banzar, the abbot of the Nyingmapa (Red Sect) monastery in Bayankhoshuu (Namdoldechinlen khiid/ Jagarmolomiin neremjit ulaan yosnii töw, New Temples 19). The founder who is a male lama, is also the head (tergüün) of the monastery. Nowadays there is no connection with the Bayankhoshuu monastery, nor with other Nyingmapa temples in Ulaanbaatar.

There are 30 women in the community with six of them having the getselmaa vow (the novice’s vow for women) and the others being genen. They are all zoch/ zodoch i.e. they perform the tantric Zod ‘cutting through the ego-clinging’ rituals. Apart from the head, there are the following ranks in the monastery: daa lam, two chanting masters (unzad) and two disciplinary masters (gesgüi). There are also two golch lamas, that is, chanters.

In the temple they worship special deities, such as the dakini Narkhajid (Tib. na-ro mkha’-spyod, Skr. Sarvabuddhadakini) who is the main deity or the dakini Toinog (Tib. khros-nag, fierce black goddess, aspect of Vajra yogini), with the main protector deity being Jamsran, the Red Protector. In accordance with this, the main objects of worship on the altar are the following: the 170 cm high statue of Narkhajid in the middle (made in 1994 by D. Danzan, an artist lama and the honourable chanting master (darkhan unzad) of Gandan’s Güngaachoilin datsan), surrounded by the statues of Majiglawdonmaa (the female founder of the lineage of the Zod) Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara) and Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara) and a thangka of Jamsran (or Ulaan sakhius, Tib. lcam-sring), the Red Protector. On the porch there are pictures of the Guardians of the Four Directions and also of the Four friendly animals and the White Old man. The temple owns the 108 volumes of Ganjuur.

They have the following special monthly ceremonies: on the 8th and 15th of the lunar month they worship Dar ekh (performing Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwaa); on the 10th Toinog dakini (Tib. khros-nag) with the ceremony Khand Toinogiin khural; and on the 25th Narkhajid (Khajidiin chogo ceremony). On the 29th day the ceremony is in honour of the Red Wrathful Deity, Jamsran (Jamsran sakhius). On the 8th the so-called Nasnii büteel ceremony (Tsedew, Tib. tshe-bsgrub, long life or longevity practice, a ceremony to achieve longevity) is held and the Tara ritual is recited during the night of the same day. They also hold a special yearly ceremony in honour of Narkhajid in the middle winter month. The female lamas of the temple hold a special retreat period for a week in the last autumn month and the first spring month, when they meditate on Toinog dakini and Dar’ ekh. The daily chanting also contains prayers to the main deity, Narkhajid. Lüijin, a special tantric text, is recited every day as well.

             The temple has a library and a religious College has been built, which is called Naropa after the 11th century Indian siddha of the Kagyü Lineage. The first class is due to be admitted in 2006 with a four–year schedule. Young girls, who had finished their 8 or 10 year’s studies in secondary school, can apply. On the right side of the main monastery building, a new building is being added to it to house the rooms for the fortune-teller, the religious shop and the reception for people to request the reading of texts (fixed prices). At present these can be found in the basement on the right side of the temple building.

Gelukpa Temple with Mongolian Chanting

33 Mongol unshlagat Buyan arwijikhui khiid

Written Mongolian name: Mongol ungsh ilgatu buyan arbijiqui keyid

English name: Buyan Awijikhui Mongolian reading monastery

Bayangol district, Damdinbazar Street

N. 47°55.109’

E. 106°52.779’

Informants: D. Ganbaatar, head of the monastery (born 1978); and Pürewbaatar lama, astrologist of the monastery (born 1978)

Written sources: Mönkhsaikhan, D., Töwd-mongol khandmal unshlaga. Bod sog shan spyar kha-‘don, Töbed-mongγol qadamal ungshilaγa. Ulaanbaatar 2002. pp. 1-12.

Pozdneyev, A.M., Religion and Ritual in Society: Lamaist Buddhism in late 19th-century Mongolia. ed.: Krueger, J.R. The Mongolia Society. Bloomington 1978

This relatively small temple is housed in a yurt with a metal roof and wooden covering on the outside. Until November, 2005, it was situated at Ikh toiruu (N. 47 55.688’, E. 106 56.367’) near Manba datsan. A big notice board visible from the road gives the name of the Monastery in Cyrillic script and in classical Mongolian. In November 2005 the temple moved to Damdinbazar Street, near the 25th pharmacy, Bayangol district, 4th khoroolol. The same yurt has been re-erected within a very small khashaa (fenced compound) in front of an estate of big houses.

The specialty of the temple is that all of the texts used in ceremonies are written in Classical Mongolian and chanted in modern Mongolian in order to enable people participating on the ceremonies to understand more and, potentially, follow the meaning. (In all other monasteries in Mongolia today chanting is done in Tibetan, a language only ever known by the monastic community.) Thus in this temple, unlike any other in Mongolia today, the daily chanting, the special ceremonies of the big days of the month, the readings requested by the believers and the remedies (zasal) given are all in modern Mongolian. The texts they use were originally translated from Tibetan into written Mongolian by the third incarnation of Mergen Gegeen (see below).

The head of the temple often visits his teacher at Labrang monastery to consult and work on corrections of the old translations. In 2002 he published a book on the history of Mongolian chanting (D. Ganbaatar: Burkhanii shashnii mongol unshlaga, 2002, Buyan Arwijikhui khiid) sponsored by the Tibet Foundation. The first subject studied by the young lamas in the temple is Written Mongolian (the old Uigur-origin writing system). After this they study Tibetan, and once they are proficient in the two languages, they assist in the correction work on the old translations. Collectively they compare and contrast the Mongolian texts with the Tibetan original texts. They primarily use the translations of Mergen Gegeen but also use Mongolian translations of texts translated by other Mongolian lama scholars. They use the written old Mongolian texts but chant them following the rules of modern Mongolian. As far as can be ascertained, some part of the chanting is understandable by the believers. However, as these texts are chanted in a very elaborated literary language, it is far from the everyday language, and also the devotees should know religious vocabulary in order to understand the specialist Buddhist meaning and comprehend the text in full. For those special tantric texts that can be heard only by those who have received initiations on them, the chanting may be conducted in such a way that prevents listeners from understanding them in full to prevent any harmful consequences.

The monastery was opened in 2001. The abbot is D. Ganbaatar who was a lama in Darkhan city. He graduated from the Department of Religious Studies in the National University of Mongolia. At present, the monastery has 13 lamas, 4 of whom are adults (aged around 30) with all the others being young boys aged around 14 years old. Currently five lamas in this community are studying at Kumbum and Labrang, the famous monastic universities in North-Tibet, near Lake Kukunor, where they learn the holy texts in Tibetan and Mongolian in parallel. Also two lamas are studying in India.

There are four lamas with getsel vow. The monastery has the following ranks: abbot, lowon, chanting master and a disciplinary master. An astrologist (zurkhaich) belongs to the temple, too.

The main protector of the temple is Ochirwaan' (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje / phyag-rdor, Skr. Vajrapani). The sculpture of Buddha is in the middle of the altar. On its left side is the image of Mergen gegeen and on its right side there is an image of Öndör gegeen Zanabazar. On the left side of the altar there is a statue of Buddha placed in a box, and on the right side there is a statue of Ochirwaan', the main protector of the temple. From the wooden frame of the smoke hole of the yurt, an image of the assembly tree hangs down. Thangkas of Buddha, Tsongkhapa, Nogoon Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol ljang, Skr. Shyamatara, the Green Tara), Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara) and Manzshir (Tib. ‘jam-dpal / 'jam-(dpal)- dbyangs, Skr. Manjushri) also hang around the walls in the yurt.

The daily chanting is held from 9.00am to 1.00pm. Every month, on the 8th of the month there is a ceremony in honour of Dar’ ekh, called The Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ ekhiin mandal shiwaa), on the 15th Naidan chogo is performed as a ritual for the 16 disciples of Buddha, on the 25th the volumes of Ganjuur are read, on the 29th a ceremony is performed for the protective deities (Sakhius), and on the 30th Maidariin chogo is chanted to the honour of Maidar (Tib. byams-pa, Skr. Maitreya), the future Buddha.

There are no lists of the texts that can be requested in the temple, nor are there fixed prices for readings. Believers usually ask the zurkhaich what should be read and they pay according to their ability.

In Ulaanbaatar, there was another small temple in Bayangol district, on the way up to Gandan (Zanabazar Street), where chanting was done in Mongolian. It was called Mongol Unshlagat Töw (Mongolian Reading Centre) and was led by P. Sükhbat (Luwsan Darjaa) lama. However, it ceased operating in October 2005. Thus currently the Buyan Awijikhui Mongolian reading monastery is the only one in Ulaanbaatar where the religious ceremonies are conducted in Mongolian.

Background to the use of Mongolian chanting

Translation of Tibetan texts (canonical and extra canonical as well) into Mongolian began in the 14th century with the activity of Choiji odzer (Tib. chos-kyi ‘od-zer) and his disciple Sherab Sengge (Tib. shes-rab seng-ge). During the reign of Altan (1543-1583) and Ligdan khan (1604-1634) more texts from the Tibetan Ganjuur and Danjuur were translated. The translation of the whole Canon was completed and printed in the 18th century on the orders of the Manchu emperor Kien-lung (1735-1796). This was done using 200 translators led by Rolbiidorj (Tib. rol-pa’i rdo-rje, 1717-1786), the 2nd Janjaa khutagt (Tib. lcang-skya), who was the abbot of Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing. Bilingual and multilingual dictionaries were composed in this period to help the work of the translators and to fix the agreed terminology. The Janjaa khutagt himself also compiled a terminological dictionary in 1741-42, Merged γarqu-yin oron (Tib. dag-yig mkhas-pa’i ‘byung-gnas, ‘Dictionary entitled the Source of Wisdom’). Other important terminological dictionaries composed in the 17th-18th centuries were the Mahavyutpatti, Lisi-yin ordu qarsi, Ming-gi rnam-grangs etc. However, the ceremonial language remained Tibetan in Mongolian monasteries, though there were efforts and attempts from time to time in certain monasteries, especially in today’s Inner Mongolia, to conduct the ceremonies in Mongolian.

One of these initiators of using Mongolian, well before this period, was Neyichi toyin (1557-1653), who spread Buddhism in Inner-Mongolia and studied for many years in Tashilhunpo monastery in Tibet. On completion of his studies he returned to Inner-Mongolia in 1638 where he translated books of Buddhist teaching and traditions, visited many parts of the country to preach, established many monasteries and ordained numerous lamas. Neyichi toyin established Bayankhoshuu monastery in Khorchin Tüshee wangiin khoshuu (in Inner-Mongolia), and Baga zuu monastery in Khökhkhot, in the centre of the present Inner-Mongolia. These two monasteries followed and perpetuated the tradition of chanting in Mongolian. Over time the number of monasteries using the Mongolian recitation system increased to around 20 or 30.

One of these monasteries was Mergen khiid in Urad khoshuu (in present Inner-Mongolia), the original monastery of the first Mergen gegeen, who was a disciple of Neyichi toyin. The third incarnation of Mergen gegeen, Luwsandambiijaltsan (Tib. blo-bzang bstan-pa’i rgyal-mtshan, 1717-1766), a lama in Mergen khiid, reformed the system of Mongolian recitation laid by Neyichi toyin. He renewed the system of chanting by balancing the syllables in the lines of the Mongolian translated words, to make the chanting closer to the original Tibetan. By doing this, the Mongolian chanting became more rhythmic and easier to recite. As a translator and poet he composed dozens of books of verses in a very sophisticated style. The Mongolian texts retained the meaning of the Tibetan texts, but some words were added or left out to keep the number of syllables the same. As a special Mongolian feature the lines of the verses were written with head rhymes (this is where the first two or preferably four lines of the verse begin with the same letter – a vowel or consonant).

In 1587, Ayushi Güüshi from Khorchin, an Inner-Mongolian area, created a writing system, called Ali-Kali to make it possible to write Sanskrit, Tibetan and Mongolian characters with the same alphabet. It was necessary as the ceremonial texts contain daranis (special magic spells or phrases in Sanskrit), which must be transliterated correctly for correct pronunciation, otherwise they could cause difficulties when chanting in Mongolian. However, Ali-Kali writing system did not find favour so its use was not widespread, a similar fate to other invented Mongolian writing systems, such as the Soyombo and the horizontal square scripts of Zanabazar.

There seem to have existed other ‘schools’ of Mongolian chanting, of which we have information on two: one which uses texts composed by the third incarnation of Mergen Gegeen who lived from 1717 to1766 and who reformed the original texts of the first Mergen Gegeen; and one which uses the texts printed in 1742 composed by Janjaa khutagt, Rolbiidorj, the abbot of Tibetan Buddhism in Beijing.

According to Pozdneyev (Religion and Ritual in Society p. 401.) at the end of the 19th century ceremonies were performed in Mongolian language in the area of Togtokh türüü khoshuu, Setsen khan aimag, in today’s Mongolia. The lamas in this khoshuu used the Janjaa khutagt’s sümbüm (Tib. gsung-‘bum, collected works). At that time (and also later on) it was very rare for chanting to be in Mongolian and hence the special mention by Pozdneyev.

Another effort to chant the texts in Mongolian was made by a Buryat scholar, Sumatiratna or Nomtiin Rinchen who lived from 1821-1907. He compiled a terminological dictionary (Sumatiratna, Bod-hor-gyi brda-yig ming-tshig don-gsum gsal-bar byed-pa’i mun-sel sgron-me, Ulaanbaatar 1959) to assist the Mongolian reading, but this attempt was as unsuccessful as the previous ones.

There is no other data confirming that Mongolian reading was practiced in any countryside monasteries (apart from isolated cases) in the area of the present Mongolia, and definitely not in Ikh khüree, the old Mongolian monastic capital and its temples.

In 1944 after the re-opening of Gandan monastery on 1st June, Parliament decreed that Buddhist texts should be chanted in Mongolian as one of the conditions they made to allow its partial reopening. Some of the old Gandan lamas still living today attest the after the first text was recited in Mongolian in 1947, from 1951 more than ten texts of the daily chanting were in Mongolian. For example: Itgel (Tib. skyabs-‘gro, ‘taking refuge’), Dashchiiraw (san) (Tib. bkra-shis char-‘bebs (-kyi bsangs), ‘incense offering to cause rainfall of auspiciousness’), Khiimoriin san (or Lündai san, Tib. rlung-rta'i bsangs, ‘incense offering for spiritual strength’), Gandanlkhawjaa/Gandanlkhawjamaa (Tib. dga'-ldan lha brgya-ma, ‘hundred deities of Tushita’), Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol-ma, a text to Tara), Gawsüm/Gawsümba (Tib. skabs gsum, ‘the three times’, the beginning words of an eulogy of Buddha written by Tsongkhapa), Manzshiriin magtaal (Tib. ‘jam-dpal-gyi bstod-pa, eulogy of Manjushri), Janraisigiin magtaal (Tib. spyan-ras-gzigs-kyi bstod-pa, ‘eulogy of Avalokiteshvara’), Ochirwaaniin magtaal (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje’i bstod-pa, ‘eulogy of Vajrapani’), Tüi/Tüisol (Tib. khrus (gsol), ablution, cleansing ritual), Dünshag (Tib. ltung bshags, confession of sins or downfalls), Shiwdagdorma (Tib. gzhi-bdag-gi gtor-ma, ‘sacrificial cake offering to the local spirits’) (Mönkhsaikhan, pp. 9-10.). However, this practice did not become established in the long term and is currently not practiced in Gandan. Similarly, beside the Mongolian reading temple described here, there is no other temple known in the whole area of Mongolia where chanting is done in Mongolian currently.

New Temples Surveyed in 2007 (Gelukpa Temples)

34 Mongoliin Ikh Khüree khiid

English name: Mongolian Ikh khüree monastery

On the way up to Gandan (Zanabazar street), on the right side.

No GPS reading taken.

Informant: Ölziin Bazar, lama of the temple (aged 22)

This monastery was founded by the same Z. Sanjiddorj, who founded Ikh khüree zurkhai datsan in 1995 and Ikh khüree mamba datsan in 2003 and heads now all three of them. Now, with the opening of the bigger Ikh khüree khiid, the building of which was started in 2006, he has three temples situated by each other on the road, Zanabazar street, leading to Gandan monastery. This newest one was opened in September, 2006.

The building itself is a huge pink coloured one, on the north of the two other temples. In the basement of the temple there is a restaurant that can be entered from inside the temple, and on its upper floor an other one. If one enters the building, the assembly rom is on the left, and on the right there is the reception for requesting readings by induviduals.

There are two chanting masters, one disciplinary master, some chanters (golch) and two shrine supervisors (duganch). There are two lowon monks, but it seems that these are common for the three temples, similarly to their common abbot. There are 25 lamas, and the three temples together have a lama community of about 60, most of whom have getsel vows. There are about 4-5 lamas in the temple who perform the readings of Lüijin.

The main deities of the temple are Tsagaan Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol dkar, Skr. Sitatara, the White Tara), Ochirwaan' (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje / phyag-rdor, Skr. Vajrapani) and Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi). The main objects of worship and images on the altar are a sculpture of Buddha, a big photo of the Dalai Lama, and an image of Lkham.

Daily chanting is held from 9am. In this temple people can request readings with no fixed prices. In this temple, on the 8th of the lunar month the ceremony of the Medicine Buddha (Manal, Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru) is held, on the 15th a ceremony in honour of Dar ekh (Tib. sgrol-ma, Skr. Tara), called The Four Mandalas of Tara (Dar’ Ekhiin mandal shiwaa), and on the 29th a ceremony is performed in honour of the trinity of the wrathful deities Gombo (Tib. mgon-po, Skr. Mahakala), Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama) and Lkham (shortly for Baldan lkham, Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo, Skr. Shridevi) (Gonchoi lkhaa süm/ Gonchoo lkhaa süm, the collective name of these three, is also the name of the ceremony).

35 Gandanshaddüblin

Tibetan name: dga’-ldan bshad-sgrub gling

English name: Gandanshaddüblin

On the way up to Gandan (Zanabazar street), on the left side.

No GPS reading taken.

Informant: O. Choijamts lama (born 1925), B. Sodbayar lama (aged 29)

This temple, situated at the left side of Zanabazar street leading up to Gandan monastery, east of the other new temple, Gandandarjaalin, was founded in 2006 (in 2006 spring it was being built).

It is a two storey pink coloured building, with some parts made of brick. On its first floor there is a shop selling religious articles on the left, the guard on the right, and astrologists (zurkhaich) can be consulted in their rooms in the back. The shrine itself is on the second floor.

The temple currently has about 30 lamas. The abbot had been an old lama who died in 2006, and who, similarly to an other old lama, O. Choijamts (born in 1925, in the year of cow) had been a lama in Ganjuur khiid, present Dundgow’ aimag, Saintsagaan sum. O. Choijamts still belongs to the community of this temple since 2006. Both of them came here at the temple’s opening, till then being lamas at the revived Dashgimpellin khiid monastery in Mandaalgow’, the centre of Dundgow’ aimag.

Everyday ceremonies are held in the temple. No information was gained on other ceremonies held in the temple.

36 Gandandarjaalin datsan

Tibetan name: dga’-ldan dar-rgyas gling

English name: Gandandarjaalin monastic school

On the way up to Gandan (Zanabazar street), on the left side.

No GPS reading taken.

Phone: 363823, 99 116859, 99 191551

Informant: Demberel lama of the monastery

This temple, situated at the left side of Zanabazar street leading up to Gandan monastery, south of the other new temple, Gandanshaddüblin, and just opposite to Lamrim datsan, was opened and consecrated on the fifth of December, 2006.

It is situated in a two storey building, with the shrine situated on the second floor and astrologers’ rooms, who perform various gürem (Tib. sku-rim, a kind of healing ceremony or protective prayer ritual) and zasal (remedy) rituals on request, on the first floor. On the first floor there is also an Antique and Fine Arts Shop selling antique and religious objects. The Mandala centre (Burkhan Shashin, Soyoliin ’Mandala’ Töw) lead by Batbayar, works in this building, too.

In the hall on the first floor stands a big sculpture of Tsongkhapa, which belonged originally to one of the old monasteries in the present Zawkhan aimag, and was restored.

The head of the temple, with the title darkhan lowon, is B. Süren (born 1911 in the year of pig, had been a lama of Tsakhiurt khiid and Delgeriin choir khiid monasteries, Delgertsogt sum, Dundgow’ aimag) of Gandan monastery. The temple currently has 12 lamas.

Currently a veranda is being built in front of the temple, with prayer-wheels around it. It has a green roof with the central highest part being painted in gold.

The following ceremonies are held in the temple beside the everyday chanting: on the 2nd Jawsh (Tib. skyabs bzhi (skyabs-'gro bzhi skor), 'The fourfold taking refuge', the name of a kind of protective healing ritual (gürem) text dedicated to Choijoo (Tib. chos-rgyal, Skr. Dharmaraja, epithet of Yama) and Shirnen Düdeg (Tib. sher-snying bdud-bzlog, Heart Sutra exorcist ritual), on the 7th Dar’ Ekhiin chiwel (Tib. sgrol-ma'i 'chi-ba bslu, name of a ceremony to Tara). On the 8th the ceremony of Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru), the Medicine Buddha (Ikh Manal, Manaliin donchid) is held together with the four mandalas of Tara (Dar’ ekhiin mandal shiwaa), on the 15th the Guhyasamaja tantra (Sanduin jüd) is recited, on the 19th a special balin offering is presented to Choijoo (Choijoo dügjüü), and on the 29th a ceremony is performed in honour of the wrathful deities (10 khangal) together with the above balin offering (Choijoo dügjüü), while on the 30th the ritual to honour the 16 disciples of Buddha (Naidan chogo) is held.

The text of readings that can be requested here on fixed prices is displayed on the first floor.

 

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