Jun 3, 2020
The article considers the history of Buddhism in Central Asia and in Russia. It outlines the main periods of development and special features of Buddhism in the region, its influence on the local culture. It explorers the contemporary state of the Buddhist sangha in Russia and Central Asian countries.Central Asia has played an important role in the development of Buddhism as a world religion. In I-III centuries A.D. missionaries from Central Asia carried out the sermon of the Buddhist teachings. The archeological findings illustrate the massive spread of Buddhism on the wide territories of the region which were part of the Kushan Kingdom. The second period of the flourishing of Buddhist teaching falls on the V – first part of the VIII centuries, when the geography on Buddhism in the region expanded, and it peacefully co-existed with other religions.By IX century, when the territories of the contemporary Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tadjikistan stayed under the rule of Umayyad and Abbaside Caliphate, Islam eventually ousted Buddhism from these lands.The third period of rise of Buddhism in the region started with the appearance of Dzungars who aspired to take hold of the lands of Kazahstan. From 1690 to 1760 Central Asian region had become an area of struggle for the hegemony between the Buddhist Dzungarian khanate and China. The Dzungars promoted the spread of Buddhism in the Eastern part of Kazahstan and Northern part of Eastern Turkestan. The entry of Western Turkestan into the Russian Empire put an end to external threats and internal feudal strife. It gave the start to the process of consolidation of the Central Asian nations, which recognized their belonging to Muslim Ummah. In the absence of Dzungar and Chinese factors the influence of Buddhism in the region almost stopped.By the end of the XX century with the renaissance of religiosity on the post-Soviet space the interest to Buddhism slightly raised. However, at the present moment the number of the Buddhists in the region is insignificant. Among the followers of Buddhism the main place is taken by the Korean diaspora, residing in Central Asia since 1937. There also exist some single neo-Buddhist communities in the region.Buddhism made its contribution to the development of the unique socio-cultural identity of Russia as Eurasian by it’s nature. Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva, as well as several parts of Altai, Irkutsk and Chita regions represent historical areas of the spread of Buddhist teaching. At the present moment the Russian Buddhist sangha contains of the major independent centers in Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva, Moscow and St.Petersburg.Buddhism plays and important part in socio-cultural space of Russia, gradually moving far beyond the borders of the regions of its traditional location. Popularity of the Buddhist philosophy derives from the range of grounds, among which are the closeness of some of its principles to contemporary scientific ideas, first of all to cognitive sciences, as well as openness to dialogue with other cultural and religious traditions, humanism, ethics of non-violence and ideas of common responsibility.