intelligent Asian doctor by the name of Peter Badmajev ought to have been of far greaterconsequence. Like Dorjiev, whom he knew well, he was a Buriat and originally a Buddhist, but he had then converted to Russian Orthodox. His change of faith was never really bought by those around him, who frequented him above all as a mighty shaman that was“supposed to be initiated into all the secrets of Asia” (Golowin, 1977, p. 219).Badmajev was head of the most famous private hospital in St. Petersburg. There thecabinet lists for the respective members of government were put together under hisdirection. R. Fülöp-Miller has vividly described the doctor’s power-political activities: “Inthe course of time medicine and politics, ministerial appointments and 'lotus essences' became more and more mingled, and a fantastic political magic character arose, whichemanated from Badmajev’s sanatorium and determined the fate of all Russia. The miracle- working doctor owed this influence especially to his successful medical-political treatmentof the Tsar. ... Badmajev’s mixtures, potions, and powders brewed from mysterious herbsfrom the steppes served not just to remedy patient’s metabolic disturbances; anyone whotook these medicaments ensured himself an important office in the state at the same time”(Fülöp-Miller, 1927, pp. 112, 148). For this “wise and crafty Asian” too, the guiding idea was the establishment of an Asian empire with the “White Tsar” at its helm.In this overheated pro-Asian climate, Dorjiev believed, probably somewhat rashly, that theTsar had a genuine personal interest in being initiated into the secrets of Buddhism. TheBuriat’s goal was to establish a
relationship between Nicholas II and the god-king from Lhasa, that is, Russian state patronage of Lamaism. Hence a trip to Russia by the Dalai Lama was prepared which, however, never eventuated.
One would think that Dorjiev had a compassionate heart for the tragic fate of the Tsaristfamily. At least, Nicholas II had supported him and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama had evendeclared the Russian heir to the throne to be a Bodhisattva because a number of attemptsto give him a Christian baptism mysteriously failed. At Dorjiev’s behest, pictures of theRomanovs adorned the Buddhist temple in St. Petersburg.Hence, it is extremely surprising that the Buriat greeted the Russian October Revolutionand the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks with great emotion. What stood behind thisabout-face, a change of attitude or understandable opportunism? More likely the former,then at the outset of the twenties Dorjiev, along with many famous Russian orientalists, was convinced that Communism and Buddhism were compatible. He publicly proclaimedthat the teaching of Shakyamuni was an “atheistic religion” and that it would be wrong todescribe it as “unscientific”. Men in his immediate neighborhood even went so far as tocelebrate the historical Buddha as the original founder of Communism and to glorify Leninas an incarnation of the Enlightened One. There are reliable rumors that Dorjiev and Leninhad met.Initially the Bolsheviks appreciated such currying of favor and made use of it to winBuddhist Russians over to their ideas. Already in 1919, the second year of the Revolution,an exhibition of Buddhist art was permitted and encouraged amidst extreme socialturmoil. The teachings of Shakyamuni lived through a golden era, lectures about the Sutras were held, numerous Buddhist books were published, contacts were established withMongolian and Tibetan scholars. Even the ideas of pan-Mongolism were reawakened andpeople began to dream of blood-filled scenes. In the same year, in his famous poem of hate