Opinion: Power struggle within Mongolian Buddhist temples and clergy

Today's press conference by Sanjdorj, head lama of the "New Center of Mongolian Buddhists" demonstrated rift between the Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. Gandantegchenlen is considered to be central monastery of Mongolian Buddhism as it is oldest and only one preserved by then People's Government which demolished about 700 monasteries and temples throughout Mongolia in 1930s. Hamba Lama or Abbot of the Gandantegchenlen is Choijamts, fatherly looking, celibate monk who lives with his elderly mother. Since 90s, he has been in this position.

Sanjdorj is head of another monastery right outside walls of Gandantegchenlen. Being monk or lama in Mongolia is prestigous. Lama receives respect and attention anywhere in Mongolia. Lamas provide spiritual services such as astrological consultation, chanting of scriptures,various blessings and performance of rituals and driving away bad ghosts and spirits etc. All this services paid by believers in form of offerings and donations. Nobody knows exactly how much the temples, lamas make as revenue of temples are tax-exempted.
Some lamas abuse their power and prestige. They prefer rich and influential people who can offer and donate more than ordinary Mongolians who barely affords offerings that must be made to lamas.
If one would assume the whole offering and donation for Buddhist temples and monasteries as market, are the monasteries and temples vying for more influence and prestige among ordinary believers?
There is conflicts between individuals monks of the Buddhist temples and monasteries and not theological differences.
My thought is Mongolian Buddhism needs reform.Arrival of the 9th Bogd from India can not solve the power struggle within the ruling Buddhist clergy. To expect much from physically weak and sick eighty some year old man who has no clue about what is happening behind walls of the Mongolian Buddhist monasteries and temples is wishful thinking. Some factions within the Buddhist community is clearly using the Bogd as toy for power struggle with each other. That is my conclusion after attending the press conference of Sanjdorj, the Abbot.

By Ganbat, Editor of MonInfo News Service


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