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Migjid Janraisig datsan

Tibetan name: mig ‘byed spyan-ras-gzigs

English name: Migjid Janraiseg Temple, Temple of Avalokiteshvara

This temple housed the unique 16 metre high statue of Janraiseg and it was not destroyed in 1938. It remained and stands in the north part of Gandan monastery complex. For the history of this temple see the entry for Rinchen 913.

Current Situation: Gandantegchenlin khiid

Partial revival after 1944 After the purge in 1937-1938 the monastery was closed. In 1944 prior to the visit of the American vice president Henry Wallace, who had expressed a wish to see monasteries and temples in his Mongol visit being completely ignorant of the conditions there, a petition signed by N. Erdenepel and other ex-lamas was handed in to the Parliament to request the reopening of Gandantegchenlin monastery. The reopening of Gandan, the only ‘functioning’ monastery was in fact forced upon Choibalsan by Stalin, who was himself forced by the request of the US delegation of President Roosevelt. So the authorities allowed it to re-open as a ‘Temple of Worship’ (Mцrgцliin sьm) in the summer. From this time Gandan monastery was a state-dependent establishment with only a few lamas. On its reopening in 1944, gawj N. Erdenepel (1887-1960) became the new abbot (khamba lam). According to Soninbayar (Gandantegchinlen khiid, Shashnii deed surguuliin khurangui tььkh, pp. 13-14.), Erdenepel lived in Sangain aimag and studied in Dashchoimbel datsan before the purges. He was the director of the State Library between 1927-28 and worked for the Ministry of Religious Affairs from 1929. He edited the Magazine of the Lamas (Lam nariin setgььl) together with Shadьw йs Rinchinkhorloo which was a bulletin in Mongolian language but written in Tibetan letters. In 1928 he became the disciplinary master of Sangain aimag and took gawjiin damjaa in 1933 in Dashchoimbel datsan. He became layman in 1938, then the abbot of Gandan on its reopening in 1944. 70 Others, like gawj T. Gombodoo, R. Garamsed, and O. Dagwajanzan became its first lamas. According to Pьrew’s book (Mongol tцriin golomt, pp. 73-74.), the leader of the communal handicraft co-operative set up for ex-lamas (lam nariin artel’), Erdenepel, became the abbot and its chief accountant, Gombodoo the disciplinary master (gesgьi). R. Garamsed became the lowon lama and angi gewsh G. Bat-Ochir and Luwsansьren lamas the chanting masters (unzad). Gewsh M. Galaaraid, Jinlaw, L. Luwsan, Naidan lamas also joined in the first years after the re-opening. According to Soninbayar (Gandantegchinlen khiid, Shashnii deed surguuliin khurangui tььkh, pp. 14-15.) Gombodoo or Gombodorj (1886-1965), who became the disciplinary master of Gandan, before the purges lived in Dandarlin aimag, participated in the ceremonies of the main assembly hall and studied in Dashchoimbel datsan. He was a clerk (bicheech) in the Ministry of Ecclesial Affairs (Shanzodwiin/Shanzawiin yaam). Later he became one of the disciplinary masters of the main assembly hall. In 1924 he was elected to be the representative of Ikh shaw’ and in 1944 he became the disciplinary master of the reopened Gandan. From 1950 a steady trickle of other lamas joined, such as gawj, agramba, Ts. Luwsangombo who became the main chanting master (ikh unzad), S. Rinchindorj who became the disciplinary master (gesgьi), and gewsh S. Shadьw, angi gewsh Sh. Lkhamaajaw, gawj T. Danigai, gawj G. Osor, gewsh Sh. Ishtawkhai, rawjambaa T. Danzan-Odser, gewsh G. Dontor and the artist D. Danzan. During the socialist period that followed Gandantegchenlin monastery was the only functioning monastery in the whole territory of Mongolia until the democratic change in 1990 (A very few countryside assemblies continued to operate after 1945 in yurts though they were constantly on the move. See details below). After the re-opening of Gandan in 1944, Parliament decreed that Buddhist texts should be recited in Mongolian language, as one of the conditons made for the partial reopening. The first text was recited in Mongolian in 1947. By 1951 and onwards more than ten texts recited in the daily chanting were in Mongolian, Mцnkhsaikhan (pp. 9-10.) lists these texts: Itgel (Tib. skyabs-’gro, ‘taking refuge’), Dashchiiraw (san) (Tib. bkra-shis char-’bebs (-kyi bsangs), ‘incense offering to cause rainfall of auspiciousness’), Khiimoriin san (or Lьndai san, Tib. rlung-rta’i bsangs, ‘incense offering for spiritual strength’), Gandanlkhawjaa/ Gandanlkhawjamaa (Tib. dga’-ldan lha brgya-ma, ‘hundred deities of Tushita’), Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol-ma, a text to Tara), Gawsьm/Gawsьmba (Tib. skabs gsum, ‘the three times’, the beginning words of an eulogy of Buddha written by Tsongkhapa), Manzshiriin magtaal (Tib. ‘jam-dpal-gyi bstod-pa, eulogy of Manjushri), Janraisigiin magtaal (Tib. spyan-ras-gzigs-kyi bstod-pa, ‘eulogy of Avalokiteshvara’), Ochirwaaniin magtaal (Tib. phyag-na rdo-rje’i bstod-pa, ‘eulogy of Vajrapani’), Tьi/Tьisol (Tib. khrus(-gsol), ablution, cleansing ritual), Dьnshag (Tib. ltung bshags, confession of sins or downfalls), Shiwdagdorma (Tib. gzhibdag- gi gtor-ma, ‘sacrificial cake offering to the local spirits’). According to the article in Bilgiin melmii (2005 February, No. 15 /57/, p. 5.), in 1951 the abbot N. Erdenepel, the chanting master Ts. Luwsangombo, Yadamsьren, T. Danzan-Odser and Sh. Ishtawkhai were appointed to carry out this ruling. In 1954, the chanting master G. Bat-Ochir, Khainzen, Sh. Lkhamaajaw and Ayuush lamas were involved in this work as well. Through the efforts of N. Erdenepel and T. Gombodoo along with other lamas and believers, many old statues abandoned in the Choijin lamiin sьm and other places were taken to Gandan monastery to enrich the collection of religious artefacts in the monastery. These included (Bilgiin melmii, 2005 February, No. 15 /57/, p. 3., Northern Buddhist Conference on Ecology and Development, pp. 285-286, Soninbayar, Sh. (ed.), Gandantegchinlen khiid, Shashnii deed surguuliin khurangui tььkh, p. 63.) the seven unique masterpieces (doloon shьteen) made by Цndцr Gegeen namely the sculptures of Ochirdar’ (Tib. rdo-rje 'dzin-pa, Skr. Vajradhara) from the old Vajradhara temple (Ochirdariin sьm), Ikhiin Zuu, Ayuush or 71 Tsewegmed / Tsegmid from Ganjuur Temple (Ganjuuriin Ayuush), the Manal (Tib. sman-bla, Skr. Bhaishajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha from Noyon shьteen Temple (Noyon shьteenii Manla); Dar’ ekh (Tib. sgrol-ma, Skr. Tara) from Dar’ ekh Temple (Dar’ ekhiin Dar’ ekh), Jamsran from Baruun Цrgцц, Braishir (Tib. so-sor ‘brang-ma, Skr. Mahapratisara) from Цrlььdiin aimag (Цrlььdiin Baraishir), and Namsrai from Sangain aimag (Sangain Namsrai, on these temples see entries Rinchen 910 and NOT in Rinchen 942); the sculpture of Maidar (Tib. byams-pa, Skr. Maitreya), the masterpiece of Logshir Janraiseg (Tib. ‘jig-rten dbangphyug, Skr. Lokeshvara, a form of Avalokiteshvara) from Dambadarjaa monastery (see Rinchen 939); Ochirdar’ with his consort from Shaddьwlin monastery (see Rinchen 937); the five protectors of the Ццlцds, namely Gombo, Namsrai, Choijoo, Lkham and Yansan yadam; the large sculpture of Choijoo made by Цndцr gegeen from Dondowlin aimag, called also Zurkhain Choijoo, ‘Choijoo of the astrologers temple’ (see Rinchen 910); the sculpture of Цndцr gegeen made himself at the request of his mother. From the ten appliquйs of wrathful deities, which decorated the old Tsogchin temple, the three remained ones (Shalsh (tib. zhal bzhi, four-faced Mahakala, Gombo, Ochirwaan' ) are also kept in Gandan. In the 1960’s the remnants of the communities from six countryside monasteries reemerged and were affiliated to Gandan monastery. Most had survived by escaping over the national boundary from Inner Mongolia after 1945. The six monasteries they came from are as follows: Mergen Khambiin sьm/Khuuchid Khambiin sьm or Timdьwlin/ Temdьwlin khiid of Sьkhbaatar aimag, Zotol sum (present Erdenetsagaan sum) (till 1945 Baruun khuuchid of Shiliin gol aimag) united into Gandan in 1960 with seven lamas led by Jambalkhaidьw gesgьi and Diwaasambuu unzad; from Gandansampellin/ samdellin khiid of Dornod aimag, Khцlцnbuir sum (at place called Sajin khurakh), who until 1945 had lived in the western and eastern Barga khoshuu in Inner Mongolia, four lamas arrived in Gandan in 1960 lead by Shireet lama, abbot, Luwsangetseg; from the Tьwdenpeljailin khiid of Kherlenbayan/ Sergelen sum, Dornod aimag, which had operated in Shiliin gol (where the eastern Ьzemchin people lived) in Inner Mongolia until 1945, some lamas arrived in Gandan led by the gegeen lama, Dambajantsan; 12 lamas lead by Jagd lowon and gawj Dewaa and Rabjai arrived from Dilowa Ochirdara khutagt’s Gandanshaddьwlin monastery in Ikh khet sum, in Dornogow’ aimag, who until 1945 had been in Baruun sцnцd wangiin khoshuu, Shiliin gol, Inner Mongolia; several lamas arrived in 1963 from Gandandanjailin khiid in Airag sum (also called as Khar airagiin khural), Dornogow’ aimag, who until 1945 had been in Baruun sцnц__________d khoshuu, Inner Mongolia (these two were the assemblies of Dilow khutagt); in 1954 12 lamas lead by Genden came from Dashpandelin/ Dashpeljailin khiid, Bulgan sum, Khowd aimag, who until 1944 had been in Shing-chiang (Xingjian) in Inner Mongolia. All these countryside monastic communities, respresenting all sects, brought their own objects of worship, statues and thangkas with them, which are still in Gandan monastery. In 1960 gawj S. Gombojaw (1901-1980), known as цwgцn khamba (’old abbot’) or nomch mergen khamba lam (’wise abbot’) became the new abbot of Gandan where he remained in this position for twenty years (1960-1980). According to Soninbayar (Soninbayar, Sh. (ed.), Gandantegchinlen khiid, Shashnii deed surguuliin khurangui tььkh, pp. 16-17.), prior to the purges he lived in Цrlььdiin aimag and studied in Idgaachoinzinlin datsan where he became a gawj in 1935. From 1951-1960 he was the director of the Tibetan Collection of the State Library and also taught Tibetan language at the National University of Mongolia. During his time as the Gandan abbot he made many improvements. The Union of the Religion (Nomiin niileg) was started in the 1960’s with the aim of training young lamas and preparing them for exams in philosophical studies. Gawj Damdinsьren, gawj O. Dagwajamtsan, Jigmed-Osor, D. Nawaandorj, gewsh Kh. Baldorj, Z. Pьrewjamts, and Chogjaw participated as teachers, and, later, D. Tsermaa, Ц. Gьndsambuu, Sh. Soninbayar, T. Bulgan and Yo. Amgalan. Furthermore, on the initiation of professor B. Rinchen, scientific 72 activities began with the participation of the Gandan lamas with the aim of publishing Tibetan and Mongolian dictionaries, chronicles and other religious sources (Belgiin melmii, February 2005, 15/ 57). During this time, efforts were made to ensure more lamas had the full vows. Consequently the abbot of the Barga territory, dooromboo Luwsangetsog, and Garamsed lama gave gelen vows to eight lamas and the getsel vows to many other lamas. In 1970 the Gandan abbot along with the Buryat abbot, Gomboyev, initiated establishment of the Mongolian Buddhist University to educate lamas. Boys who had completed secondary school in Mongolia and Buryatia were selected for Buddhist studies. Graduates of the Mongolian Buddhist University have contributed to the reintroduction of Buddhism in Mongolia and Buryatia. However, both the monastery and its University were under the strict supervision of the socialist government, and the University was not able to provide a traditional Buddhist education as the authorities forbade the study of Buddhist philosophy. Also in 1970 the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace (ABCP) (Shashnii Olon Ulsiin Enkhtaiwanii baiguullaga, Buddist Enkhtaiwanii khural) was founded by abbot Gombojaw, Bakula rinpoche of India and doctor Jьgder in cooperation with other Asian Buddhist countries. Gombojaw became its first head. It was through this organization that Gandan was able to establish foreign relations with India, Japan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapure, Thailand and other Asian countries. In 1970 its conference was held in Ulaanbaatar, with 60 representatives from 10 countries. The 14th Dalai Lama first visited Mongolia in 1979, and the revived connections between the Tibetans and Mongolians later allowed young Mongolian lamas to study in Buddhist institutions in Dharamsala, North India, and in other Buddhist universities in India. Kh. Gaadan was chosen as the new abbot of Gandan in 1981 and was in this position until 1990, in which year he and Bakula rinpoche received the delagations attending the ABCP meeting that took place in Ulaanbaatar. Gaadan was succeeded by S. Dagwadorj between 1990-1991 and T. Damdinsьren as abbot between 1991-1993.

The Present Situation

At the time of the survey, D. Choijamts was the abbot of the monastery (tergььn khamba), and of all the Mongolian Buddhists. Other ranks in the monastery were the vice abbot (ded khamba, Yo. Amgalan), tsorj (G. Dewaasambuu), a lowon (B. Erdenekhьь). There are many other administrative ranks and positions performed by lamas. The 9th jewtsьndamba khutagt, Jambal namdol choiji jaltsan (Tib. 'jam-dpal rnam-grol chos-kyi rgyal-mtshan, 1933-) who currently lives in Dharamsala, is considered, as the reincarnation of the first jewtsьndamba khutagt, to be the leader of Mongolian Buddhists, while the abbot of Gandan monastery, the main monastery, is currently referred to as the head abbot of the whole of Mongolia, and of Mongolian monastic establishments. The jewtsьndamba khutagt, also called bogd gegeen, Tibetan Buddhism’s third highest incarnation after the Dalai and Panchen lamas, was the highest Buddhist dignitary in Mongolia up to 1924. The 9th incarnation was officially recognized in Mongolia in 1991, after the democratic change, though he was originally recognized in 1932 by the Reting Rinpoche in Tibet. The 9th jewtsьndamba khutagt has visited Mongolia only once until now, in 1999. Today, Gandan monastery is the centre for Buddhists in Mongolia with its 9 main buildings and around 500 lamas belonging to the different temples and monastic schools in the complex. After the 1990 democratic change, Gandantegchenlin monastery has rebuilt the three Buddhist Philosophical schools, Dashchoimbel datsan, Gьngaachoilin datsan, Idgaachoizinlin datsan, and also revived the old Dechingalaw or Dьinkhor datsan which originally was part of Zььn Khьree (on the old Dechingalaw datsan see entry NOT in 73 Rinchen 942). The huge 16m high statue of Janraisig has been reconstructed in the original temple building and the Badma yogo datsan was re-established in a building in the former Geser sьm complex nearby (see the Current Situation section of the entry for Rinchen 914). Jьd datsan (originally in Zььn Khьree, presently in a yurt next to the Zanabazar Buddhist university) and Manba datsan (originally in Zььn Khьree, presently just outside the walls of the complex) have also been revived within Gandan. (on the old Jьd and Manba datsan see entry NOT in Rinchen 942). The Gandan complex is situated on Dalkh Hill (Dalkhiin denj). Janraiseg temple stands on the north of the complex, and from the main gate on the south the main road leads up to it. The temples Tsogchin temple, Ochirdariin sьm, Zuugiin sьm, Didinpowran, the library and the building serving as reception for requesting texts are situated in the fenced off courtyard, on the east of the road leading to Janraiseg temple. This courtyard can be reached either from the south or from the west. On the west of the main road there is an other courtyard, with small houses as monks’dwellings, a bigger residential building and the building of The Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art inside. The datsan buildings (except from Badma yogo datsan and Manba datsan that are situated outside the complex) are situated on the north part, on the south and east of Janraiseg temple. Gьngaachoinlin datsan is on the south with Dashchoimbel datsan on its east, and Dьinkhor datsan with Idgaachoinjinlin datsan on its east are on the north of the above two datsans. The yellow coloured two-storey administration building of Gandan with Zanabazar Buddhist University is to the left of the Janraiseg temple. The yurt of Jьd datsan is on the west of the university. Apart from the main gate on the south of the complex, it can be reached through the eastern and western gates, too. Since 2006 tourist are to pay an entrance fee if entering Gandan monastery. There is an additional fee for visiting Janraiseg temple.

Tsogchin temple, Gandantegchenlin

Tibetan name: dga’-ldan theg-chen gling The temples as Tsogchin temple, Ochirdariin sьm, Zuugiin sьm, Didinpowran and the library are situated in a courtyard on the east of the road leading to Janraiseg temple.

In 1944, when Gandan monastery re-opened, the chanting was done according to the old tradition, to the degree that the restrictions allowed. At present, about 40 lamas belong to both the main assembly and Ochirdariin sьm. Though the name of this temple is ‘main assembly hall’, which is usually the main temple of a monastery complex where the daily chanting is held, in Gandan this takes place in the Vajradhara temple next door. However, the special monthly and annual ceremonies of Gandan are held in the Tsogchin temple with the participation of not just the lamas belonging to this temple but also of young novices from the monastic schools. The high-ranking lamas of the monastery like the Abbot, Vice Abbot, tsorj, and a lowon gather in the temple only on the most special occasions. There are two chanting masters and two disciplinary masters. There are also lamas with lesser duties, such as the six chanters (golch), shrine keepers (duganch) and offering preparers (takhilch).

Ochirdariin sьm (Vajradhara temple)

After the death of the 5th jewtsьndamba khutagt this building housed his relics until 1838. At present the daily chanting service for Gandan monastery is performed in this temple from 9.00 – 11.00 am every day. Pictures of the four direction guards are on either side of the entrance hall. The main deity worshipped in Gandantegchenlin is Ochirdar’ (Tib. rdo-rje 'dzin-pa, Skr. Vajradhara), a statue of whom sits on the main altar. The statue, made by Zanabazar in 1683, was originally in Ochirdariin sьm in Zььn Khьree before it was destroyed in 1938. However, it was found in Choijin lamiin sьm in 1945 along with other precious 74 artifacts and taken to Gandan by Erdenepel and Gombodoo lamas. There are many other old statues and thangkas in the temple also brought here from various old monasteries destroyed in 1937-1938. For example, Logshir Janraiseg, the primary object of worship in Dambadarjaa monastery (Rinchen 939) was also found in Choijin lamiin sьm. In front of the temple there is an old incense burner.

Zuugiin sьm (Buddha temple)

The Buddha temple stands alongside Ochirdariin sьm and is reached from within it through a corridor. Originially this temple housed the relics of the 7th jewtsьndamba khutagt. The images of Buddha (Tib. jo-bo, ‘Lord’) and his main disciplines, and Ayuush or Tsewegmed / Tsegmid can be seen here. This is the place where the Jasaa is conducted i.e. where the lamas do the readings requested by individuals on a daily basis. Outside this temple, on the left side, there is the large plaster statue of Tsongkhapa surrounded by prayer wheels, and the stupa containing the relics of Gombojaw, the famous abbot of Gandan. There are prayer-wheels surrounding it and the two temple buildings.


(Tib. bde stong pho-brang) The 14th Dalai Lama visits this temple when he comes to Gandan, as the 13th Dalai Lama lived here in 1905 when he had to escape from Tibet from the invading British forces led by Younghusband. At present before starting the daily chanting in Gandantegchenlin or Vajradhara temples, the high ranking lamas wearing their ceremonial hats, read morning prayers here, and then go into the shrine. Today the building serves as a place of astrology and readings for the benefit of believers from 9.00am to 5.00pm.


The relics of the 8th jewtsьndamba khutagt were kept in this building until 1938. Later, after the Gandan reopened in 1944, it became a library. The library has a rich collection of philosophical, historical, and scientific sources and texts. It contains many thousands of sutras written in Tibetan, Mongolian and Sanskrit. The Derge-version (Tib. sde-dge) of the Kanjur is also kept in the library. Furthermore, the works of Indian, Tibetan and Mongolian scholars are in this library such as: Tsongkhapa and his two disciples Khaidьw je (Tib. mkhas-grub rje, 1385-1438) and Jaltsaw je (Tib. rgyal-tshab rje, 1364-1432); the works of the Dalai Lamas; the Panchen Lamas; and famous Mongolian philosophers like Agwaanbaldan (Tib. ngag-dbang dpal-ldan, 1797-1864); Agwaantьwden (Tib. ngag-dbang thub-bstan, known as Wangain agramba, 18-19th century); Damtsigdorj or Bar’ lam/ Bragri lam/ Bragiriin gegeen (Tib. brag-ri bla-ma dam-tshig rdo-rje, 1781-1848); and Zawa lam Damdin (Tib. rtsa-ba blama rta-mgrin, 1867-1937). Some of the rare books have elaborately jewel encrusted front covers and are written in gold, silver or with inks made from the powder of the nine jewels. Moreover, there are many texts written in both Sanskrit and Tibetan. There are also some surgical instruments from the 16th century exhibited here. On the altar there are many old sculptures. There is a newer building in the right corner of the courtyard, which is the reception for individuals requesting text readings (with a fixed price list). A large yurt serving to receive guest is situated inside its own fence on the south-east corner of the courtyard. The platform used for calling lamas to the ceremonies (bьreen shat) stands there, too. On the west of the main road inside the complex (the courtyard with the Tsogchin temple, Ochirdariin sьm, Zuugiin sьm, Didinpowran and the library being situated on the east side of it), there is a fenced-off area, which houses monks’dwellings and the Mongolian 75 Institute of Buddhist Art. On the courtyard of monks dwellings, there is a new three storey building (finished in 2007), which serves as lecture and conference rooms, and there are also rooms for monks dwellings in its left wing. Also an innovation in 2007 summer, that information boards were put up at every temple and building in the Gandan complex, giving essential information on the buildings in Mongolian and English.

Zanabazar BuddhistUniversity

The Mongolian Gandan abbot, S. Gombojaw, and the Buryat abbot, Gomboyev Jambaldorj established the Mongolian Buddhist University in 1970. It is situated today in the yellow two-storey administration building to the left of the Janraiseg sьm. In its first semester there were thirty students, eight of them from Buryatia. It was officially named Цndцr Gegeen Zanabazar Buddhist University by a decree issued by the Mongolian Government in 1995. The university combines the modern education system with traditional Buddhist teaching methods. After four years study a Bachelor’s Degree can be obtained. There are two departments: the Department of Internal Sciences which includes majors in Buddhist philosophy and chanting, and the Department of Common Knowledge which includes Tibetan, Sanskrit and English language majors, traditional medicine and astrologic majors. Several teachers, all Mongolian, have studied abroad and currently almost all the teachers hold a Masters Degree or Ph.D. Mainly lamas study in the university although laymen have been admitted since 2001. (However, during the communist period ten lay students also graduated from it.) Furthermore, from September 2002, the university opened a class for the Buddhist female lamas in the Tцgs Bayasgalant community (see New Temples 29). Foreign lamas from the Russian Republics of Buryat, Kalmuck and Tuva also apply for the university to study Buddhism. After returning to their homeland they make efforts to propagate Buddhism there. From its opening in 1970 thirteen graduation ceremonies have been held, and 400 lamas with Bachelor’s or Master’s degree have graduated from the university, some of whom have founded temples in Ulaanbaatar.

The Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art

G. Pьrewbat lama founded the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art (Mongoliin Burkhanii Shashnii Urlakhuin Ukhaanii Deed Surguul’) in 1993. It is part of Gandan monastery, and provides graduate and post-graduate courses for lamas and lay people all of whom work at a high artistic level. They receive structured instructions in all aspects of Buddhist art according to the traditional methods and texts: how to create Buddhist images; thangka painting; sculpture; appliquйs; carvings; constructing stupas and other objects of worship. See details at (currently there is no Englsih version of the very detailed homepage).

Dashchoimbel datsan

Tibetan name: bkra-shis chos-’phel grwa-tshang Mongolian translation: Цlzii khutgiin nomiig arwijuulagch English name: Dashchoimbel monastic school 1314 m N 47'55.331’ E 106'53.747’

This datsan was revived in 1990 and the temple was rebuilt in 1994 on its original site. The Dalai Lama himself opened the temple building in 1995 when he was in Ulaanbaatar to give the Kalachakra initiation. At the time of the survey, about one hundred lamas and disciples belong to it. Most of the lamas have gelen or getsel vows, but novices start with genen vow and became getsel later. Co-operation with Tibetan institutions now in India has also been revived with around hundred lamas studying for a minimum of 5 years in the Tibetan Gomang monastic school of Drepung monastery. Others study at Sera monastery. From 1992, Tibetan teachers from Gomang monastic school, some of whom held the gewsh (Tib. dge-bshes, ‘virtuous friend’, high academic degree) and lkhaaramba (Tib. lha-rams-pa, the highest philosophical degree that could only be gained in Lhasa, once a year during the Lunar New Year) degrees were invited to teach in Dashchoimbel datsan, where they are improving the standard of the lamas’ knowledge. Presently there are five Mongolian and two Tibetan teachers teaching the lamas. Some of the Mongolian teachers, such as gawj D. Luwsanjamts or gawj S. Gantцmцr, were among those lamas who went to study in Gomang monastic school of Drepung monastery in India and have now returned. The curriculum is the same as in pre-communist times. Of the three philosophical monastic schools in Gandan monastery, it was only in Dashchoimbel datsan that the academic degrees of domiin damjaa and gawjiin damjaa could be obtained. Since 1990 it has been possible for lamas to take domiin damjaa and examiniations have been held five times from this time, the latest being in January 2005 when five lamas took it successfully. The next graduation in this examination will be in five years time. The gawjiin damjaa was revived in 1989 December by gawj B. Osor of the old Baruun Khьree or Skhankh monastery, who was the shunlaiw (Tib. gzhung lugs-pa/ gzhung las-pa, head of the monastic school) that time. The eighth gawjiin damjaa exam was held in 2006 during the Tsagaan sar. Presently, the shunlaiw, S. Gantцmцr gawj leads the school. There are three chanting masters (darkhan unzad, ikh unzad, baga unzad) and two disciplinary masters. About three old lamas belong to the temple, for example the current main disciplinary master, Gonchig (born 1917), who had been a lama in this datsan prior to 1937. The main deities of the temple are Gombo, Sendom, and Nogoon Dar’ ekh. There are two kinds of monthly ceremonies: on the 8th of the lunar month the ritual in honour of Manla or Manal is celebrated. On the 29th of the month a ceremony to the honour of the wrathful deities, especially Gombo is performed. There is a special annual ceremony, called Jamchoi derna (Tib. byams chos sde lnga), when the ‘Five treatises of Maitreya’ are recited. Daily chanting is held from 9.00am. There is a monastic debate every day in which the students hone their knowledge. It is usually in the afternoon.

Gьngaachoilin datsan

Tibetan name: kun-dga’ chos gling grwa-tshang Mongolian translation: Khotol bayasgalant nomiin sьm

English name: Gьngaachoilin monastic school 1314 m N 47'55.332’ E 106'53.729’

The tradition of this datsan was revived in 1990 in a classroom of Zanabazar University, where young lamas began their training. The temple was built in 2001 on its original site. At present, around 75 lamas belong to the datsan, among them about 10 have getsel vows and three young lamas have gelen vows. In the past the Wanchin Sodnomdagwa philosophical manuals (Wanchin igchaa (Tib. pan-chen yig-cha) or Losalin igchaa (Tib. blogsal- gling yig-cha) served as the basis of study in Gьngaachoilin datsan. Although this philosophical system follows the system of the Tibetan Losel ling monastic school of Drepung monastery, it is not possible currently for lamas to study there. However, about 30 lamas are studying in other Tibetan monastic universities in India, such as the Gomang monastic school (goman datsan, Tib. sgo-mang grwa-tshang) of Drepung monastery or in Varanasi University for between 2 and 12 years. The temple authorities feel that after obtaining deep knowledge of another philosophical system it is possible to observe the differences in Wanchin Sodnomdagwa’s manuals, so that, in time, this philosophical view can also be taught once again. At present no-one in this datsan has completed his training in this distinctive interpretation of Buddhist philosophy and there are no special classes in it. The shunlaiw, Ц. Gьndsambuu, has headed the school since 2001. There are two chanting masters and two disciplinary masters. Unfortunately, there are no Tibetan teachers in this school, which is a consequence of the worship of a specific deity. The two protectors of the temple are Lkham and Shьgden. The 14th Dalai Lama had forbidden the worship of Shьgden so he does not support the activities of the present temple. The novices are trained by Tibetan teacher lamas in Dashchoimbel datsan, and by six Mongolian lama teachers. The daily chanting is held between 9.00 and 11.00am. There are special monthly ceremonies, like the worship of Shьgden on the 2nd of the month or a smaller ceremony in honour of Manal, on the 8th of the month. Doodьd (Tib. mdo sdud-pa, a short version of Prajnyaparamita) is read on the 15th of the month, and a special ceremony in honour of Lkham goddess is held on the 30th of the month. On the occasions of bigger monthly and annual ceremonies the novices are sent to the Tsogchin temple to participate. Every year there is a special two-day ceremony performed to Lkham as the main protector of the school. It is held on 1st of the middle autumn month, when a thanksgiving offering (Danrag, Tib. gtang-rag) is also a part of the ritual. According to the lamas a horse is led to the shrine, symbolizing the vehicle of Lkham goddess. The main statues on the altar are the following: a lama in debating posture, Tsongkhapa and his two disciples, Buddha, and some smaller statues. On the left of the altar the sculpture of Lkham is situated behind a curtain. It can be seen only on the 30th of the month when the Sakhius ceremony dedicated to her is held. Next to it, a cupboard contains the volumes of Tibetan Ganjuur. On the right of the altar there is another cupboard with curtains to hide the statue of Shьgden. In front of it, various objects of worship are arranged. Next to the seat of the main disciplinary master there is a thangka covered by curtain, which shows different offerings to wrathful deities (this kind of composition is called ganzai (Tib. bskang-rdzas), ‘articles of sacrificial offering, fulfillment offerings’), and, likewise, can only be seen on the day of the Sakhius ceremonies. From the ceiling hangs a silk banner with Lkham’s mantra written on it. The entrance of Gьngaachoilin datsan was re-designed in 2006 with red pillars, the wheel of the Dharma with the two gazelles and the traditional blue coloured board with the name of the monastery in Tibetan, Mongolian and English written in gold. In front of the datsan, a small building made of glass was put up in 2007, for burning butter lamps.

Idgaachoinzinlin/Yadgaachoinjenlin datsan, (Dьltimjansьren datsan, Tsьltim zansьrendatsan)

78 Tibetan name: Yid-dga’ chos-’dzin gling grwa-tshang, dul-khrims gtsang bsrung yid-dga’ chos-’dzin gling Mongolian translation: Setgeliig bayasgagch nomiig barigch

English name: Idgaachoinzinlin monastic school 1327 m N 47'55.379’ E 106'53.767’

According to the information board in the temple, former lamas from this datsan including Tserendemchig and Naidan wished to restore their home datsan and revived it in 1990. With the leadership of Jambaldorj the monastic school was re-started on the 3rd of the first summer month in 1991. In 1992, with 34 novices in the monastery and donations from more than twenty believers the community was able to restart the education and ceremonies. Jado rinpoche, the abbot of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Namgyal monastic school (Namjira, Tib. rnam-rgyal grwa-tshang), and Tьwdendash gewsh attended the opening ceremony of the datsan. The leader of the monastic school has the shunlaiw rank. Until now Sed jorwan, Ragchaa, Tsereendemchig and Dashtseren held this rank. With the collaboration of the chanting masters, Naidan and Batsьkh, and the disciplinary masters, Daanid zaan, Dorjpalam and Choimbol, the ceremonies began. Zopa Rinpoche gave genen vow to the novices on 31st August 2000 and came again in December 2003 to open the school in the new temple in 2003, which has been built on its former site. Since 1994, with Jado rinpoche’s help, many of Idgaachoinzinlin’s young lamas have been studying in Sera Jey monastic school (Ser je datsan, Tib. se-ra byes grwa-tshang) datsan of Sera monastery in South-India. At the request of the novices studying in Sera Jey monastic school its abbot, Luwsandonoi agramba, gave genen and getsel vows and initiations for the lamas and believers on 18 October 2001. In September 2002 His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the temple, in June 2003 Zopa rinpoche gave initiations, in July Jado rinpoche came to give initiations. In 2004 they held lectures for one month to the lamas and believers. Presently, the shunlaiw of the datsan is J. Dorjijantsan (born 1918, with gelen vow, had been a lama of Luu gьngiin Khьree or Gandanshaddьwlin in Arkhangai aimag Battsengel sum), the main disciplinary master is Altangerel and the head of the classes (jorwan, Tib. skyor-dpon, leader of a monastic class) is Dorjpalam. There are two chanting masters and two disciplinary masters. Currently, most of the 90 lamas belonging to the temple are boys under the age of 12. About 50 lamas have getsel vow. Six classes (khadag, Tib. khadog; shidьw/shidew, Tib. gzhi sgrub, jьmbri/jumbrai/jumbarai, Tib. rgyu-’bras; yul, Tib. yul; yuljii/yuljin, Tib. yul-can) operate in the temple. The aim of the datsan is to revive all the classes and train lamas for the exams of domiin damjaa and gawjiin damjaa. Presently, 32 lamas study in India. The main protectors of the temple are Damjan Choijoo and Namsrai, while the main protector of the monastic school is Damdin yansan. There is a noticeboard with information in Mongolian of the datsan’s historical background and information on the annual ceremonies on the wall. On the altar there are the Tibetan volumes of the Ganjuur, the large statues of Buddha, Tsongkhapa, Maidar and Nogoon Dar’ ekh. The monthly ceremony of the Four Mandalas of Dar’ ekh (Dar’ ekhiin mandal shiwa) 79 is held on the 8th day of the lunar month. There are very special annual ceremonies like Tarawchamba (Tib. thar-pa chen-po) on the 15th of the middle spring month; Seriin sanjid (Tib. se-ra bzang-spyod) on the 15th of the first summer month; Sakhius on the dog day of the middle autumn month; Lyankha dom (‘Lotus feast’) on the 3rd and 4th of the last summer month; Lkhawawiin dom (Tib. lha-las babs-pa’i ston-mo, ‘festival of (Buddha’s) descent from the god realms’) on the 21st and 22nd of the last autumn month; Lkhamchoinzad dom (Tib. bla-ma chos mdzod ston-mo) on the 25th and 26th of the first winter month; Zьjii dom (Tib. ?) on the 13rd and 14th of middle winter month; Baga dom (‘small dom’) on the 20th, 21th and 22th of the middle winter month. According to the disciplinary master in former times gawjiin damjaa could be taken in these special occasions. Nowadays there are no exams taken on these days but they perform the celebrations to maintain the tradition. Another feast day is the 8th of the first autumn month when Maaniin bьteel (Tib. man. i sgrub) is performed in Tцwkhцn monastery. The novices of the school have the possibility to study in Tцwkhцn monastery, Цwцrkhangai aimag, in the magnificent meditation retreat of Цndцr Gegeen. They spend time in the monastery of Rashaan, Arkhangai aimag, too. Furthermore, on 25 July, 2005, Dechinpuntsaglin monastery (Tib. bde-chen phun-tshogs gling) opened in Khoton sum, Arkhangai aimag to receive lamas of Idgaachoinzinlin monastery. The novices are trained by two Tibetan gewsh, Nyamdorje (Tib. nyi-ma rdo-rje) and Danzandarjaa (Tib. bstan-‘dzin dar-rgyas), from Sera Jey monastic school of Sera monastery. One of the most important aims of the schools is to train and prepare lamas in philosophy to obtain gewsh (Tib. dge-bshes) and gawj (Tib. dka’ bcu) academic qualification. There is connection with the Foundation for Preserving the Mahayana Tradition in Mongolia.






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