Kuntsechoinei Datsan Kalachakra Temple, St. Petersburg

The following article is from the Summer, 1992 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

The Kalachakra Temple in St. Petersburg was built in 1915 to fulfill prophetic visions of the 13th Dalai Lama (1876-1933). In fact it was a Buriat Mongol known as Lama Dorjieff, a tutor to the Dalai Lama and his ambassador to the Tsar, who officially founded what was to be the first Tibetan Buddhist temple on European soil. The 13th Dalai Lama attached the greatest significance to the creation of a Kalachakra Temple in Russia and provided detailed guidance for its design and structure.

Started in 1909, no expense was spared in building this massive six-storied structure, with its solid stone walls nearly two meters thick and its regal ornamentation. The Dalai Lama sent priceless paintings and statues, some of immense size, together with religious implements and other furnishings.

Most of this was destroyed by the communists. However, some items were hidden and ultimately stored

for safe-keeping in the Hermitage and are expected to be returned as the temple is restored to its original purpose.

A small group of monks and novices have gathered from the various Mongol tribes in Russia Buriat, Kalmuck, Tuba, Altai to prepare for the arrival of their future leader, the 18-year-old Tilopa Rinpoche, an incarnation of a famous 11th-century Indian Buddhist saint, who has been recognized by the present Dalai Lama. Ultimately it is hoped that the Dalai Lama will confer the extraordinary Kalachakra Initiation at the Kalachakra Temple in St Petersburg in the not too distant future.

Aid for the Monks of Kalachakra Temple

People returning from visits to the St. Petersburg temple have characterized the conditions there as extremely poverty-stricken. In response to the request of Lama Tenzin Samayev, Abbot of the Kalachakra Temple, funds are being collected to ship a full size (20'x20'x8') container of goods directly from New York to St. Petersburg.

The cost for such a shipment will be approximately $4,500. Several Buddhist community organizations in the NYC area have offered to fill the container with packages of food, clothing, and household items such as cooking utensils, tools and appliances, etc.

Urgently needed supplies

Food: Pre-packaged and canned meats, vegetables, soups and fruits, salt, pepper, spices, rice, barley, oatmeal, cereals, dried fruits, powdered milk. There are 20 monks to feed and only bread and potatoes are available.

Medicine: Anti-diarrhea medicines (very important), aspirin, cold medicines, decongestants, nasal sprays, topical ointments for rash, cuts, and infection (Iodine, Calamine, Neomycin), bandages, bandaids, eye drops, antacids. The temple is of stone and frequently has no heat. Many become sick from the damp and cold.

Personal: Bars of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, long underwear, sweaters, coats, shoes, hats, ear muffs, scarfs, sewing needles, thread, red cloth to make monk's robes.

Religious: Offering bowls, incense (very important), candles, saffron, rice, butter, cotton, Dharma books of any kind.

Office, needed to help write and distribute religious texts: Fax machine, 220 volt with extra supplies; Xerox copy machine, 220 volt, with extra supplies; typewriter, English or German, with extra supplies; computer with printer suitable for desktop publishing (this is very important as it will enable the monks to create religious texts for distribution as well as for income); staplers, paper, pens, carbon paper, artist's colored paints and paintbrushes, envelopes, pads of paper, notebooks, tape.

The Abbot requested household items which can be traded for necessities to support the monks, many of whom are still in their teens. Because of the continued instability in Russia, money cannot be safely wired by bank transfer. In fact, so little currency is in circulation throughout the country the only sure means of support for the temple will be to supply them with goods for bartering.

Please send your contribution to the Artemis Foundation, Box 4508, Greenville, DE 19807. Tel. 215-268-8758, Fax 215-268-8759.

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