Thursday, August 27, 2009

Buddhist Military Chaplains for Russian Armed Forces?

Although there are currently no Buddhist chaplains in the Russian military, this may change, according to this article. The Russian area of Buryatia has been traditionally Buddhist for many centuries, and there are possibly many other Buddhist traditions recently established there. Countries that currently have active Buddhist military chaplains are the USA, UK, South Korea, and Thailand. If anyone knows of other nations that do, please let us know!
From Shambhala SunSpace:

Russia’s Medvedev pledges strong support to Buddhists:
Is Russian president Dmitry Medvedev a manifestation of White Tara, the Buddhist goddess?
Depends who you ask. If you ask a Russian Buddhist, the answer might well be yes.
Via the Moscow Times:
Medvedev promised financial support to the Buddhist community and to place Buddhist chaplains in the military during a visit Monday to the monastery in Ivolginsky Datsan, 30 kilometers from Buryatia’s capital, Ulan-Ude.
“Russia is a special state, the only one in Europe where Buddhism is recognized as an official religion,” Medvedev said, adding that 203 Buddhist organizations are registered in the country.
He also said army units where at least 10 percent of servicemen were Buddhists would receive Buddhist clergy.
For this kind of support, Medvedev is considered by many of Russia’s Buddhists to be a manifestation of the goddess White Tara.
At pains to explain this attitude toward the president, Russia’s Buddhist leader, Pandito Khambo Lama Damba Ayusheyev, said, “The leader of this country is a man who bears a very serious responsibility for others. The Buddhists must support him, identifying him as a deity.”

Also from the Buddhist Channel:

Russian President vows to support Russian Buddhists
Zee News, August 24, 2009
Moscow, Russia -- President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday vowed to support the Russian Buddhists in reviving their traditions and spreading the preaching of Lord Buddha among its followers.

Medvedev, who became the second head of state in the country's history to visit the main Buddhist Ivolga Monastery in Siberian republic of Buryatia, was warmly welcomed by the spiritual leader of the Russian Buddhists Pandito Hambo Lama Damba Ayushev and his disciples.

A Christian by birth, Medvedev said, "All the traditional religions of Russia will be supported by the authorities in spite of financial difficulties."

Earlier, Medvedev had visited Moscow's Jama Masjid to meet with the Islamic leaders of the country.

"My visit to you is one more proof that the development of relations between the state and traditional faiths is on the right track," Medvedev said in his televised statement.

He said that his decision to introduce basic religious education in the schools and creation of posts of priests into the armed forces has been backed by all the religious communities.


Unknown said...

For all I know, Russia may well be, as Medvedev boasts, the only country in Europe to have Buddhism as an "official religion." It's telling that he chose to crow about this, however.

Russia uses its official religion-recognition bureaucracy to exert control over religious institutions -- though mercifully not to the extent that did Medvedev's Soviet predecessors -- and to pressure "unapproved" religious groups out of the marketplace of ideas. (See, for instance, the U.S. State Department's analysis at This isn't exactly something to be proud of, and it says much about Putin-era Russia that its president is.

No White Tara points from me ....

Anonymous said...

I thing they are weell.. better than some countrys whom doesn´t allow religion....think of that.

Ven. Rinchen Gyatso said...

I looked at the UK military chaplain website (Royal Army) and it didn't list Buddhism as one of the faiths recognized. Do you know what denomination(s) their Buddhist chaplains are from?

By the way, I just did a short post on my blog about military chaplains.

Jeanette Yuinen Shin said...

Rev. Sunil Kariyakarawana was commissioned as the UK's Buddhist army chaplain back in 2004, I believe. I think he is from Sri Lanka. His blog, UK Dhammasenapaty News, is linked here, but does not seem to have been updated since 2008, so I do not know if he is still active or not.

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