Monasteries and temples in Mongolia
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Most Buddhist Monasteries in Mongolia were destroyed
during the communist regime, which lasted until 1990. One of the only
to survive was Gandan Monastery, being used as a showcase for visitors.
It's official name is Gandantegchinleng Khiid, or in Mongolian script:
Ugy;gymtuxnylty Hna; ( to download Mongol
font click here ). This name signifies
something like Great Place of Complete Joy or Great Way to the
Cosmos. Literally it can be translated as:
Which would result in Mahayana Island of Perfect Rejoice, with Island
being a generally used metaphor for monastery.
Gandan is the largest and most important monastery of
Mongolia, with over 400 monks.
The Main Temple or Magjid Janraisig Süm.
Inside is a statue of Magjid Janraisig (the lord who looks in every direction).
It is about 25 meters tall and is covered by a huge number of precious
stones. Notice someone going round the stupa on the right.
Entrance to one of the compounds
The official name Gandantegchinlen Khiid, (Ugy;gymtuxnylty
Hna;) translates into Mahayana Island of Perfect Rejoice, with
Island being a generally used metaphor for monastery.
The first temple of Gandantegchinleng Monastery was established in 1835
by the Fifth Jebtsundamba, the highest reincarnated lama of Mongolia.
In the following years temples for daily service, veneration of Avalokiteshvara
and colleges of Buddhist philosophy, medicine, astrology and tantric ritual
were established. In the beginning of the 20th century Gandantegchinleng
Monastery was the centre of Buddhist learning in Mongolia. Many prominent
Buddhist scholars in Mongolia as well as in Buddhist world were educated
and trained by its various colleges and their works on Buddhist philosophy,
linguistics, medicine, astrology and tantric practice became the most
authoritative and accurate Buddhist texts.
During 30s the socialist government adopted a policy of banning all religious
activities in Mongolia. As a consequence all monasteries were closed and
monks were executed, jailed and disrobed all over Mongolia. In 1938, Gandantegchinleng
Monastery was closed, but reopened in 1944 as the only functioning monastery
during the socialist regime. After the democratic change took place in
1990 Buddhism regained its full right of worship. Gandantegchinleng Monastery
has, as being the Centre of Mongolian Buddhists, been striving to propagate
peaceful teaching of Lord Buddha among family and society. In the whole
country 140 monasteries and temples have been (re)established and many
sacred statues were reconstructed so far.
The Present-day Monastery
Currently Gandantegchinleng Monastery has over 400 monks; a Mongolian
Buddhist University (established in 1970); three colleges of Buddhist
philosophy; a Medical and Astrological College; a Kalachakra temple; a
Jud Tantric College and an Avalokiteshvara (Migjid Janraisig) temple.
The monastery complex consists of Zanabazar Buddhist University, three
temples for Buddhist service and veneration of Avalokiteshvara, three
Buddhist Colleges of Buddhist Philosophy, College of Medicine and Astrology
and two Tantric College. The brief introduction of above mentioned temples
and colleges are given in the below.
The Zanabazar Buddhist University was founded in 1970 and concentrates
on Buddhist Studies and Indo-Tibetan Studies. Not only Mongolian students
from all over Mongolia but also foreign students study in Zanabazar Buddhist
- Gandan temple is the first temple in Gandantegchinleng Monastery and
was established in 1835. Grand services take place in this temple.
- Vajrapani temple was established in 1940 and daily services are performed
- Avalokiteshvara temple was built in 1912 and the icon of this temple
is the Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Migjid Janraisig) with a height
of 26,5 metre that was rebuild in 1996 under the leadership of current
Colleges of Buddhist Philosophy
- Dashchoimphel was established by II Jebtsundamba and follows the tenet
of Gunchen Jamyan Shadba, Tibetan monk scholar of Gelugpa tradition.
- Gungaachoiling was established in 1809 and follows the tenet of Banchen
- Idgaachoinzinling was established in 1910 and follows the tenet of
- College of Medicine and Astrology trains students in Mongolian traditional
medicine and astrology.
- Jud Tantric College and Kalachakra Tantric College prepare students
in Buddhist tantric ritual as well as knowledge of tantric practice.