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ARC Home > Projects > Asia projects :
Mongolia: Buddhists | Mongolia | Sacred Environmental Texts | Restoring Geser Sum | Mongolia report 2004 | A Brief History of Buddhism in Mongolia | Environmental protection | Key Meetings | Women in Buddhism | Key Mongolian Buddhist Figures | The Lord of Nature | Buddhists and Development | Traditional Mongolian Environmental Laws | Sacred Sites list | Places, creatures and ovoos | How to work with the Sangha | The lost sutras | A new thangka protecting nature

Key Mongolian Buddhist Figures

The following information has been extracted from the Mongolian Buddhists Protecting Nature Handbook which can be downloaded in English and in Mongolian.

Historical figures

Zanabazar – Undur Gegeen Zanabazar (1635-1723) was the first Javzandamba or Bogd Gegeen, the supreme spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia, second only to the Dalai and Panchen lamas. He was famous for his sculpture, painting, poetry, medical skills and as a publisher.

Bogd Gegeen - The lineage of reincarnations that started with Zanabazar. By Manchu rule determined to be Tibetan, to prevent active political participation. The 8th Bogd Gegeen nevertheless became ruler of Mongolia during a short period in the 20th century. The 9th Bogd Gegeen lives in Dharmasala.

Bakula Rinpoche: Born into the royal family of Ladakh in northern India, Bakula Rinpoche was recognised, at the age of five as a reincarnation of one of the Sixteen Arhats, or direct disciples of the historical Buddha. He studied in Tibet from 1927 to 1941 and later became a Government Minister in the Lok Sabha. He retained a keen interest in Mongolia and in 1990 was appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Ulaanbaatar. Among many other achievements during his decade as the country’s most popular foreign diplomats, he established several monasteries including Pethub monastery in Ulaanbaatar, which is one of the key areas for environmental initiatives. He retired in 2000 and died in 2003 at the age of 86.


Present-day Figures

Ikh Khamba Lama Choijamts – the Head of Mongolian Buddhists and Abbot of Gandantegchenling (Gandan) Monastery.

Vice Khamba Lama Amgalan – the second most important monk at Gandan Monastery.

Da Lama Byambajav – the third ranking lama of Gandan Monastery; a liaison person for environmental projects with outside organisations.

Venerable Purevbat – renowned Buddhist artist and activist, director of the Mongolian Institute for Buddhist Art of Gandan Monastery.

Venerable Dambajav, Khamba Lama of Dashichoilin Monastery.

Venerable Natsagdorj, Khamba Lama of Mamba Dratsang.

Guru Deva Rinpoche: Born in the Inner Mongolia, Guru Deva Rinpoche studied Buddhism in Tibet and later fled to India with the Dalai Lama in 1959. In 1991, Guru Deva Rinpoche visited Amarbayasgalant for the first time for many decades, and since then has helped with the restoration of the monastery.

Panchen Otrul Rinpoche: the Panchen Otrul Rinpoche (meaning the Panchen Lama candidate) is an important teacher of the Gelukpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Although based in Ireland, he also leads a religious centre and NGO in Mongolia – see section TWO. His first Dharma teacher was Mongolian; it has always been his wish to repay the kindness of his teacher by helping with the re-establishment of Buddhism in Mongolia.

The Dalai Lama: the title “Dalai Lama” originated in Mongolia, where “dalai” means a vast area of water, and the title is often translated as “Great Ocean Lama”. The current Dalai Lama – the fourteenth – has visited Mongolia seven times since 1979, his two most recent visits being in 2002 and 2006.

Lama Zopa: Born in Nepal, Lama Zopa is the spiritual head of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Buddhism established in the 1970s. Lama Zopa has worked extensively with Westerners and has centers and projects all over the world. His involvement with Mongolia began in 1999.


Pages about Mongolian Environmental Wisdom, taken from the Handbook.

The Mongolian Lord of Nature.

Sacred texts, places and ovoos.

Sacred sites in Mongolia.

Traditional Environmental Law in Mongolia.

The work that the monks, in conjunction with ARC and the World Bank and others, are carrying out to rediscover the sutras about sacred land in Mongolia.

Do you want to support this?

For full contact and address details of Mongolian Buddhist Monasteries, please see page 57 of the Handbook. And for details of local Development, Environmental and Educational NGOs, please visit pages 58-59 of the Handbook.

Other links to Mongolian Buddhism and the Environment

Link here to access the news story about the launch of the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook.

Link here to download the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook in English. (Please note this file is 1.15MB)

Link here to download the Mongolian version of the Handbook.(A 2MB file.)

Link here to download the guide to the Mongolian Buddhists’ Eight Year Plan (this file is 4.13MB).

Link to Mongolian Case Studies.

And here on how to make contact with the Sangha.

To download the A3 poster of a new thangka about Buddhists protecting Nature, link here (5.61MB).

Brief History of Mongolian Buddhism.

Buddhism and the Environment.

Women in Buddhism in Mongolia.

Key Figures in Mongolian Buddhism.

Key Meetings in Mongolia.

Mongolian Buddhists and Development.

Mongolian Buddhists and Ecology.

Mongolian Buddhist Hunting Ban.

The Lost Sutras.


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