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The Mystery of a Buryat Lama

The documentary film «THE MYSTERY OF A BURYAT LAMA», directed by Elena Demidova, tells a story of one of the most famous lamas, Pandido Khambo Lama Dashi Dorzho Itigelov. His body is recognized as one of the sacred Buddhist objects of Russia and is being kept in the Ivolginsky Datsan. The Buddhist monks approach him as a living person.
Itigelov was born in 1852 and began his religious education at the age of sixteen years. In 1911, he was appointed the twelfth Pandido Khambo Lama as the Head of Russian Buryat Buddhists. Between 1913 and 1917, Itigelov was prominent in the spiritual life of Russian Empire. He took part in the Tercentenary celebrations of the House Romanov and opened first Buddhist temple in St. Petersburg. During First World War Itigelov presided over the society of "Buryat brothers", an organization helping the Russian army. After October Revolution, Itigelov resigned as head of the Buddhists. In 1927, aged seventy-five years, he asked other lamas to begin meditation ceremonies and funeral rites, since he said he was about to die. Itigelov left a testament asking to be buried as he was at the time of his death, sitting in lotus posture. On September 11, 2002, Itigelov's body was eventually exhumed in the presence of the leaders of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia and transferred to Ivolginsky Datsan.


The Mystery of a Buryat Lama - Stills

The first Datsan (Buddhist monastery) in Buryatia (it was build at the beginning of 18 century). 

Datsan is the term used for Buddhist university monasteries in the Tibetan tradition of Gelukpa located throughout Mongolia, Tibet and Siberia. As a rule, in a datsan there are two departments—philosophical and medical. Sometimes to them is added the department of the tantric practices where the monks study only after finishing education in the philosophical department.

In pre-revolutionary Russia, datsans traditionally existed only in the Buryat territories, most of those now included in Buryatia and Transbaikalia (a number of datsans there has been reconstructed or started since the early 1990s). There was a difference with Tibetan administrative idea: in Tibet, several datsans were education-centered parts of larger organizations, as DrepungGanden, and Sera Monastery in Gelugpa tradition. In Russia, datsans were not parts of a larger entity, but rather independent educational and religious centers. In Buryat Buddhism, terms "Buddhist monastery" and "Datsan" are interchangeable, as other monastery organization forms found in Tibetan Buddhism elsewhere, were not present 

Ivolginsky Datsan. Ritual of transmission Dashi Dorzho Itigelov from his Palace to Main Temple. Carrying the lama's dead body at Ivolginsky Datsan

Ivolginsky Datsan. Ritual of transmission Dashi Dorzho Itigelov from his Palace to Main Temple.
XXIV Pandito Khambo Lama Dambe Ayusheev. Principal of the Buddhist Traditional Sangha of Russia. 

Ivolginsky Datsan. The roof of the Palace, where Dashi Dorzho Ititgelov is staying now.

Republic of Buryatia. Landscape near Aninsky Datsan. 
Republic of Buryatia. Landscape.Wild horses near the Dashi Dorzho Itigelovs’ place of birth.

Aninsky Datsan. The place where Dashi Dorzho Itigelov was educated. Main Temple was destroyed in Soviet Union.

Yangazhinsky Datsan Gate  into the steppe. Yangazhin is the place where Dashi Dorzho Itigelov spent last 10 years of his life. 

Wild horses near the Dashi Dorzho Itigelovs’ place of birth.

Tamchinsky Datsan. Interior of the Main Temple. 

Aninsky Datsan. The place where Dashi Dorzho Itigelov was educated. The image of XII Pandito Khambo Lama Dashi Dorzho Itigelov is near of the Entrance to Temple.


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