Gyudmed monks built the prayer wheel in the Russian Buddhist Republic of Kalmykia

by Julia Jironkina,, September 21, 2005

Moscow, Russia -- Last Saturday when Elista, capital city of Kalmykia, celebrated its 140th anniversary, a huge prayer wheel containing 75 million Buddhist mantras was installed in the city center. The opening ceremony was attended by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (President of Kalmykia), Rady Buruluv, (Mayor of Elista), Baatr Zulaev (Abbot of the main monastery of Kalmykia), Kalmyk and Tibetan monks.

The prayer wheel with golden mantras OM MANI PADME HUM in Sanskrit, Tibetan and Old Kalmyk languages is a gift to Kalmykia from Tibetan monks of Gyudmed Tantric Monastery.

?Over the last few years, the Gyudmed lamas have been visiting our republic,? - said Kalmyk President in his opening words. ?They created sand mandalas, prayed for the well-being and peace in Kalmykia. When they came here last time, in December 2004 ? they decided to make us this gift.?

The monks leader, Ven.Lobsang Tsering, suggested to install a prayer wheel in Kalmykia right after the Buddhist Republic in the South of Russia had been honored by a long-awaited visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Having discussed the idea with the spiritual leader of Tibet and having obtained his support, the Gyudmed monks decided to use the donations - that they had received from believers in Kalmykia ? to construct a big prayer wheel in Elista.

The Kalmyk President decided that the best place for the rare ritual object would be a central square in front of the White House, which, because of its location, is frequented by people of all ages and wa?s of life. The square is currently under reconstruction, so the prayer wheel has been temporarily installed in a garden-house next to the Buddha statue.

?This is a temporary construction,? - said Rady Burulov, Mayor of Elista. ?At the end of the year, when we are celebrating Zul (Kalmyk New Year), the prayer wheel will find its permanent place in the central square.?

According to the Buddhist teaching, the rotation of the prayer wheel with a pure mind is equal to reciting its millions mantras. It gives a chance to accumulate merits, a positive energy which helps sentient beings to grow both spiritually and materially. Buddhist texts claim that the prayer wheel practices can overcome misfortunes and illnesses, even as severe as cancer, and save practitioners from bad rebirths as hell beings, animals and hungry ghosts.

Apart form OM MANI PADME HUM, the prayer wheel in Elista also contains mantras of Lama Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelugpa School which had been widely spread in Kalmykia before the communists destroyed religion in the country. It also has mantras of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, spiritual guru of both Kalmyk and Tibetan Buddhists.

The copper body of the prayer wheel with golden mantras was manufactured in India. It was then assembled and filled up with mantras in the Odn Factory of Elista which for several months served a second home for Ven.Thupten Shakya and Ven.Sonam Topgyal, two monks of Gyudmed, who came to supervise the works. The entire personnel, as well as numerous volunteers assisted them in their high-precise job.

?Tibet is always glad to help Kalmykia to revive the Buddhist traditions,? mentioned Mr. Tashi, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Russia, Mongolia and CIS-countries, in his address to the personnel of Odn Factory. ?This prayer wheel is the result of joint efforts of Kalmykia and Tibet?.

The prayer wheel - built by the Gyudmed monks with the support of Kalmyk president and the head of Kalmyk Buddhists Telo Tulku Rimpoche ? was installed as a birthday gift to His Holiness the Dalai Lama who had celebrated his 70th anniversary in July 2005. In this year, his followers make efforts to accumulate good karma and dedicate merits to the long life of the spiritual leader of Tibet.

The prayer wheel in Elista, constructed jointly by the Tibetan and Kalmyk followers of His Holiness, was also dedicated to this purpose.

?May this prayer wheel bring well-being, health and long-long life to our teacher His Holiness the Dalai Lama,? said Kalmyk President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.