Mongolia: India restores sacred Buddhist texts of Mongolia and prepares the first official Sanskrit-Mongolian dictionary
Kanjur (Buddhist texts) and sent them to 50 Buddhist monasteries and educational institutions.
Kanjur — Buddhist canonical texts signifying concise orders or
Buddha ke vachan (sayings of Lord Buddha) are an important part of Buddhism in Mongolia, worshiped in monasteries.
They were reposted by the Indira Gandhi National Arts Center and the Ministry of Culture’s National Manuscript Mission in a project that was approved in late 2019. Officials familiar with the matter said the project had been accelerated after Covid-19 to meet the deadline. The effort was led by the culture ministry and aims to showcase India’s might as an authority on Buddhism.
To honor this feat, the governments of both countries recently held a ceremony at the famous Ganden Monastery in Mongolia attended by Indian and Mongolian officials, attended by chief Buddhist guru Nauan Khan Khambo Lama of Tibet and religious guru in leader Ling Rimpoche in Mongolia, representatives of 50 institutions and more than 500 Buddhist monks. Prominent Buddhist guru Nomen Khan of Mongolia said the Mongolian people will remain indebted to India for this “restoration of their heritage”.
A geographically critical country for India, Mongolia sandwiched between China and Russia has often walked a tightrope with China on one side and the spiritual master Dalai Lama on the other.
Pratapanand Jha, dean of the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts and director of the National Mission for Manuscripts, told ET that the Indian government has been trying for some years to strengthen its ties with Mongolia. “Their original manuscripts had been destroyed during the Soviet era. There was an old microfilm copy in China which was brought to India by Acharya Raghuvira, a well-known linguist and chairman of the Jan Sangh. But that was not the complete set His His son Lokesh Chandra, himself a scholar, had published some of these copies in 1970. It was then felt that we should try to restore and reprint the lost treasures of Mongolia.
IGNCA member secretary Sachchidanand Joshi said the move reinforces “love and goodwill” towards Mongolia and shows India’s commitment to Buddhism.
Besides building a convention hall in the country’s largest monastery, India has helped Mongolia with the main Buddha statue by commissioning artist Ram Sutar to design it.
Experts said the Sino-Indian geopolitical rivalry over Buddhist heritage is nothing new, but with China’s growing aggression, East Asia is particularly important for India, experts said. experts, that is why India and China have made progress in this direction. “We made sure that the restoration
Kanjurs reach each of the 21 provinces of Mongolia. We also looked for ways to have official Sanskrit-Mongolian and Mongolian-Sanskrit dictionaries to help them learn more about the origins of Buddhism. Most of the translations are in Tibetan script and it is necessary to have direct access to the manuscripts,” Jha said.
An official said the decision was made as Mongolia rediscovers its roots in an ancient civilizational cultural identity. The country has announced its intention to restore the use of its traditional alphabet by 2025, replacing the Cyrillic script adopted under Soviet rule as it moves away from Russian influence. “The manuscripts we have restored are in the Classical Mongolian script, which will be of great help to them. Many experts believe that the
Kanjur could not be documented at first and remained in oral traditions. Over time, he reached Tibet and then traveled to China and Mongolia through Tibetan students who came to study in Nalanda,” the official added.
The Narendra Modi government has made particular efforts to improve relations with all Buddhist countries. No Indian prime minister had visited Mongolia, between Russia and China, until 2015 when Prime Minister Modi visited the country. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, as Mongolia’s Minister of State for External Affairs, visited the country in November last year, followed by Rajnath Singh’s two-day trip to Mongolia in the first week of September to discuss strategic linkages.
In May, the ministry allowed four pieces of sacred Buddha relics to be exhibited for display in Mongolia, relaxing the condition of the “AA” category of Buddha relics as a special case. Minister Kiren Rijiju then led the delegation to Mongolia. EOM