Case Study 6: Khamar Khiid
The following information has been extracted from the
Mongolian Buddhists Protecting Nature Handbook which can be downloaded in English and in Mongolian.
Khamar Khiid, in the eastern Gobi province of Dornogov, has been a pioneer in a
number of environmental initiatives - in particular a reforestation project in the Gobi
in partnership with the NGO Tavan Dohio. The first aim of the reforestation project
is to restore a grove of 100 elms cut down by Russian soldiers.
Since 2003, hundreds of seedlings have been planted at the monastery, many with
the involvement of local schoolchildren. A number of problems have limited the
survival rate of these trees: irrigation issues, livestock, inadequate storm protection
and possibly improper species selection and planting techniques. Nevertheless
Mr. Altangerel, environmental project leader and the director of Khamar Khiid’s
museum, is convinced that with the proper planning that comes from experience,
such plantations will flourish and help fight desertification by retaining large volumes
of water within their root systems.
Future plans for the surrounding area include installing protective fencing and walkways
to prevent soil erosion and traffic damage. Mr. Altangerel also advocates the use
of Buddhist rituals as a context for conservation activities, arguing for the adoption
of a tradition of planting trees for the deceased. In addition, a 25,000 euro project
run with international NGO Miseor, is building a kindergarten at Khamar Khiid, an
information centre for the rural population as well as a non-formal education centre
for illiterate adults and children who have dropped out from school.
Background of the Khiid
Khamar Khiid was established in the 1820s by the Mongolian educator and writer
Danzanravjaa, who devoted great efforts to the cause of public education, which
he promoted through the establishment of a school, theatre, museum and library at
Khamar Khiid. At its peak, the monastery consisted of four colleges, a children’s school
(training children as artists, sculptors, singers and dancers as well as giving basic and
vocational training), more than eighty temples, and a resident population of over
500 lamas. Under Danzanravjaa’s influence women were especially encouraged to
participate. To the north of the monastery were a series of caves where monks would
practice yogic exercises and meditate in isolation for 108 days at a time. Khamar
Khiid was an important centre of the Red Hat sect, and was the seat of the Gobiin
Dogshin Noyon Khutagt (“Wrathful Noble Saint of the Gobi”).
After being completely destroyed in 1938, Khamar Khiid was re-built in the 1990s.
At the rear of the new monastery is a well that is believed to have sacred healing
qualities. Danzanravjaa claimed in his “Adistet Yosnii Sudar” (Blessed water sutra) that
this water was helpful in curing aliments to the stomach, intestines, bile and liver - and
he provided special instructions for its drinking and use.
Pages about Mongolian Environmental Wisdom, taken from the Handbook.
The Mongolian Lord of Nature.
Sacred texts, places and ovoos.
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
Other links to Mongolian Buddhism and the Environment
Link here to access the news story about the launch of the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook.
here to download the Mongolian Buddhist Handbook in English. (Please note this file is 1.15MB)
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.
here on how to make contact with the Sangha.
To download the A3 poster of a new thangka about Buddhists protecting Nature, link
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.