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Agvan Dorzhiev, his Guru Namnane Lama, and Russo-Tibetan rapprochement A.Andreev A.Terentyev (St.-Petersburg) Agwan Dorjiev (Tib.

: Nawang Lozang Dorje;1853/4-1938) was, and still is, the most famous Buryat Lama. A renowned Buddhist Scholar, political advisor and favourite/confident of the 13th Dalai Lama, he was also instrumental in establishing and maintaining diplomatic relations between Russia and Tibet at the early XXth century. Dorjiev was a proponent of Russo-Tibetan alliance - he dreamed of it, worked for it, and died when finally failed in his endeavours. It is clear that personalities of his caliber do not appear out of thin air Dorjiev is a product of a highly developed Buddhist spiritual culture of Buryats and, particularly, his religious teachers, the most important being his root Guru Namnane Lama Janchub Tsultim. Dorjiev mentions his Buryat Lama in his both autobiographies, Mongolian and Tibetan, and it seems interesting to learn more about this person, who virtually 'made' Agwan Dorjiev: Namnane Lama picked up 19-year old, but already merried Dorjiev from a bazaar crowd, took him away from his young wife, encouraged to become a monk, brought him to Tibet and sponsored his education there. The known life story of Namnane Lama (Buryat: 'son of Namnan') or Janchub Tsultim (Tib.: byang chub tsul khrims, 1825-1897) was up to now based mainly on oral sources1. However there is one extant written source. It is the Buryats biography sketched out by his disciple Jambal Jebi Lodoi (Tib.: jam dpal dgyes pai blo gros) in a manuscript, a photocopy of which I (A. Terentyev) have in my private archive2. This Biography says that at the young age Namnane entered the Tsugolsky monastery (Tib.: bkra shis chos gling) and his first teachers were Buryat monks Wanpel (Tib.: dbang phel), Luvsan Lundup (Tib.: blo bzang lhun grub), Galsan Zhimba (Tib.: bskal bzang sbyin pa) and Luvsan Choisan (Tib.: blo bzang chos bzang). Under their guidance Namnane studied the traditional Buddhist lore as well as Tsonkhapa's Lamrim Chenmo, Kalacakra and Tibetan medicine. In due time he received many Tantric empowerments such as Vajrabhairava, Hayagriva, '16 Drops of Kadampa' and other, and then spent several years in retreats. After that he went to meditate on a remote Alkhana mountain, lost in the Transbaikal taiga wilderness.

The meditation hut of Namnane Lama at Alkhana. (Photo 1978 by A. Terentyev). Being a sincere practitioner, at that time he cured himself from the difficulties in urination just by prayers to Three Refuges. In the oral tradition it is also mentioned that Jangchub Tsultim was not an ordinary person: he never followed rools of the monasteries and in the Alkhana mountains he also behaved in the most un-monkish manner, chasing girls from local villages, etc. According to the same oral tradition, this beautiful place was a sit of powerful shamans who created different obstacles to a rival young Buddhist ascetic. Therefore, to gain more spiritual powers, Namnane decided to travel to China and Tibet. After an ordious and long journey he reached 'the beautiful mountain of Manjughosha'3 and there he received his gelong vows from the Lama Janchub Rinchen preng (byang chub rin chen phreng) and his monastic name 'Janchub Tsultim'. Besides, together with two Chinese monks, he received some profound Nyingma teachings there. He also studied thoroughly the Vinaya texts and adopted a number of Tantric teachings, such as explanations of the stages of generation and perfection of Vajrabhairava both the 13 Deities and Ekavira. These he received from the same Janchub Rinchen preng.
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See A. Terentyev. (The Teacher of Dorjiev) // : . , 150- . ., 2005. . 77-80; D. Tsyrendashiev: (A Great yogachari Shagdar Namnanay) // ' (Buddhism of Russia)', Vol. 41 (2008), pp. 42-50. 2 This photocopy was made from the original manuscript borrowed from someone by my late teacher Jimba-Zhamso Tsybenov in 1979. The Russian translation by A. Kugevicius is in print now. 3 The famous Utaishan in China.

Subsequently Namnane studied many other Buddhist subjects, including the logic and Abhidharma, in particular with Yeshe Lhundup and Lcang skya Rinpoche4. It is also worthy of note here that he heard and studied a number of different manuals instructing in the two stages of Vajrabhairava, composed by Jamyang Shepa, Zhang Thag sag pa Ye shes Byung gnas Yeshey Gyatso, Lobsan Lhundup and "many other scholars" /13a/. This shows that Namnane had a special interest in this particular teaching, which he would later bring to Russia. Again, after all these studies, he performed practices in different retreats, including making "100000 full prostrations before the statue of Sandalwood Buddha5" /13b/. This point is of particular interest for us. From Namnanes written biography we learn that he visited Beijing to see the Sandalwood Image which was kept there at the Yung He Gun monastery, until 1900. Obviously, Namnane had a special fascination for this sacred image, and it was probably this fascination that later incouraged some Buryat lamas (including Agwan Dorjiev) to lay a plot in order to carry that famous statue from Beijing to Buryatia6. Then, after making retreat on Ekavira, he returned to Alkhana and more than a 100 times perfomed the fasting ritual to Avalokiteshvara in favor of his mother mother who allegedly had passed away by that time. Namnane was highly revered within the Buryat monastic community. The extant manuscript reports that he was chosen by his countrymen as a member of the Buryat delegation to the Tsar, and that at the imperial palace he successfully performed a protective ritual with a thread cross against the attack upon the Buddhist creed launched at that time by some chauvinistic elements in the Russian capital. After collecting some substantial funds, in 1877, he made another pilgrimage, in the company of Agwan Dorzhiev, to Central Tibet. There he made lavish donations to all the major monasteries and to the 13th Dalai Lama whom he offered a mandala of 500 silver 'sang'. After receiving more teachings and making Chakrasamvara retreat at the Gonsar monastery, in 1882, he made pilgrimage to Nepal and then returned to Tibet, where he stayed for a period of 5 years. In 1883 Namnane again went to Wutaishan, where he made a strict 3-year long retreat of Vajrabhairava and received some important Sakya doctrines from his tutor Yeshe Lhundup. In 1887 he was back to Alkhana. When he visited the Tsugolsky monastery in the area, he was greeted most reverently by a crowd of 1000 monks who gathered there on this special occasion. He gave them many teachings and initiations. One of Namnanes last meritorious deeds was the donation of 10000 silver sangs, in 1897, for the construction of a giant bronze statue of Maitreya at the Tsugol monastery, which was to become a great attraction for all Buryats. After the Bolshevik revolution, in the 1930s, this statue was pulled down and sent to the Museum of the History of Religions and Atheism in Leningrad. Recently it has been returned to Tsugol and reinstalled there. Jangchub Tsultim passed away on the 9th day of the 6th month of the same year, 1897, accompanied by many auspicious signs. Thousands of clay tsa-tsa containing his ashes were manufactured at the monastery.

Namnane Lama. A fragment from the Vajrabhairava Mandala Painting by Alexander Zheleznov (around 1970. The photograph was kindly donated by V. Montlevich). His deciple, Agwan Dorjiev, emerged on the Russian political scene in 1898 when he arrived at St.-Petersburg for the first time as the 13th Dalai Lamas emissary to the Tsar incognito. The purpose of his visit was to probe the ground to see whether Tsarist Russia could potentially act as Tibets protector, more powerful than its present patron, the declining Manchu China, to safeguard the Land of Snows from
4

We do not know exactly the date of these teachings, but probably it was around 1860. It is not clear from the text whether these teachings took place in Wutai mountains or in Beijing. 5 Most famous Buddha's sculpture which is believed to be made during Buddha's lifetime. 6 See more on that in: A. Terentyev: Udayana Buddha Statue: Its Fate in Russia // Buddhist and Pali Studies in Honour of The Venerable Professor Kakkapalliye Anuruddha. Hong Kong: Centre of Buddhist Studies of the University of Hong Kong. 2009, pp.473-500.

British encroachments. Dorjiev made two more trips to Russia in 1900 and 1901. On the latter occasion he arrived at the head of a three-man Tibetan mission duly accredited by the Dalai Lama for official negotiations with the Russian government. Being a staunch Russophile, Dorzhiev sought to persuade the Russian policymakers to sign a protective treaty with the Tibetans. He also hoped that Russia, given its severe rivalry with the British in Central Asia (Persia and Afghanistan), would agree to give military aid to Tibet, that is would provide arms and instructors to modernize the Tibetan army. Towards that particular end he held secret talks with the Russian war minister General A. Kuropatkin7. Dorzhievs shuttle diplomacy on his three visits to St Petersburg turned out to be fairly successful, bringing about a Russo-Tibetan rapprochement. Evidently, this was largely a product of the Great Game. Precarious and awkward, it collapsed as soon as the Anglo-Russian contest in Asia came to an end. From the very beginning the reaction of St.-Petersburg to the overtures of Lhasa was restrained and wary. The Russian policymakers had no real desire to be actively involved in Tibetan affairs, even less to establish a Russian protectorate over Tibet, as this would inevitably impair their countrys friendly relations with China and, moreover, lead to a major confrontation with the British. All they could offer Lhasa was a moderate diplomatic support and moral encouragement, along with anti-British propaganda8. The peak of Dorzhievs diplomatic endeavours was his 1901 mission to St Petersburg. At an audience with the Tsar Nicholas II he was handed a letter in which the Russian monarch expressed his strong hope that, given the friendly and entirely well-disposed attitude of Russia, no danger will threaten Tibet in her fortunes hereafter9. These words as one may see did not contain any binding obligation on the Russian part, yet both Dorzhiev and the Dalai Lama, perceived them in that particular sense, as the Tsars solid promise to secure the protection and defense of Tibet. This misunderstanding, all too soon, led to most dramatic consequences. Being gravely alarmed by reports of Dorzhievs warm reception at the Russian Emperors Court, the new Viceroy of India Lord Curzon dispatched in 1903 a military expedition to Lhasa to frustrate Russian intrigue in Tibet. The Russian assistance, on which Tibetans sincerely pinned their hopes, however was not forthcoming. St Petersburg failed to give any, particularly at a time when Russia got involved in a most severe military confrontation with Japan. The only outcome of the Russo-Tibetan rapprochement was a Russian consulate established in Kandin (known also as Tachienlu or Darchendo) in Sechuan Province in the latter half of 1903. The purpose of the consulate, or political agency, was primarily to establish direct and regular intercourse between the Imperial Government and the supreme Buddhist authorities of Tibet and it was also to serve as a listening post to monitor British activities in the region. Communications between the consulate and St Petersburg were effected through the Russian diplomatic missions in Urga and Peking. Yet this shady entity functioned only for a short time and was abolished by the Russian foreign ministry a year after10. The Russo-Japanese war over, both Russia and Britain began to look actively for a final settlement of their age-long differences in Central Asia. In 1907 they concluded an Anglo-Russian convention relating to Persia, Afganistan and Tibet which formally put an end to the Great Game as well as to the untimely Russo-Tibetan rapprochement. The accord however did not arrest Dorzhievs activities on behalf of Tibet. In the following years he made some strenuous attempts to revitalize the political dialogue between Lhasa and St.-Petersburg, though without much success. His biggest diplomatic achievement in this period was a Mongol-Tibetan treaty which he, acting as the Tibetan plenipotentiary, concluded in 1913 with the autonomous Mongolian government. The idea behind the agreement was obviously to lure Russian diplomacy to the yet unresolved Tibetan question, since by then Russia had placed Outer Mongolia under its protectorate. Also, in 1909-1913 Dorzhiev succeeded in building a Buddhist temple in St Petersburg. The construction clearly had a political aspect. In the words of the head of the Building Committee Theodor Stcherbatsky, the purpose of the temple was to strengthen the Russian influence in Mongolia and Tibet, where pro-Russian feelings still prevailed11.
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On these in more detail see: A. Andreyev. The Tsars Generals and Tibet. Apropos of some white spots in the history of Russo-Tibetan relations, in Tibet and her Neighbours. A History. Ed. by A. McKay. London, 2003. Pp. 167-173. 8 See: A. Andreyev. Soviet Russia and Tibet: The Debacle of Secret Diplomacy. Leiden: Brill, 2003. P. 37. 9 Ibid. P. 34. 10 Ibid. P. 35. 11 A. Andreyev. The Buddhist Temple in Petersburg and the Russo-Tibetan Rapprochement, in: Tibetan Studies. Proceedings of the 6th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. Fagernes 1992. (Ed. by Per Kvaerne). Vol. 1. Oslo, 1994. P. 3.

One of the reasons for Dorzhievs diplomatic failure was an apparent ambivalence in Russias Tibetan policy. While officially disclaiming any Russian interests in Tibet, the Russian foreign department continued to liaise secretly with the Dalai Lama. On the whole, one may even speak of two distinct Russian policies vis-a-vis Tibet at that time. One was the tsarist governments non-interference in Tibets internal affairs, abiding by the terms of the 1907 Anglo-Russian accord, and the other one was maintenance of amicable relations with the Dalai Lama, as both the Buddhist Pontiff and the political leader of his country, on a strictly confidential basis. (These contacts naturally were effected through the medium of Dorzhiev). The ultimate goal of the latter policy was to secure Tibets pro-Russian orientation for the fu-

ture12. Dorzhiev tried hard to change the course of Russias Eastern policy by reorienting it from the Far East to a seemingly much more promising Central Asian (Mongolia Tibet) axis. Yet he failed altogether, unable to bring to fruition his grand project of Mongolia and Tibet forming a Buddhist political and cultural alliance under Tsarist Russias protectorate. Such a project was out of touch with the harsh realities of Western politics of the day. And Dorzhiev certainly misjudged the nature and the workings of the Great Game, believing that Russia and England, having signed a friendly agreement, would gladly join their hands to protect Tibet against Chinas invasion in 1910-1912. Fortunately, Dorzhiev was able to realize some of his ambitious plans after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Being now a permanent resident of Russia (actually an apatride13) he offered his services to the new masters of the country. At the end of 1922 the Soviet foreign department, Narkomindel, seeking closer links with Buddhist East, recognized Dorzhiev as a plenipotentiary of Tibet in the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic and sanctioned the establishment of two missions on the premises of the Buddhist temple in Petrograd a semi-diplomatic Tibetan and a Mongolian one. Both were run by Dorzhiev. This revived rapprochement between Soviet Russia and Tibet however turned out to be a shortlived one. And it bore little fruit for either the Bolsheviks or the Tibetan leaders, now modernizing their country with British help. Its only practical outcome was the education of a handful of young Tibetans in Verkhneudinsk (todays Ulan-Ude), Leningrad and Moscow in 1922 early 1930s. Still there is one very important aspect of the Moscow Lhasa dialogue which needs to be emphasized here. The very fact that the early Soviet government was dealing with the Tibetan top men (mainly the Dalai Lama and the war minister Tsarong Shape, the chief reformers of Tibet) directly, without the mediation of Peking or any other Chinese authority, suggests that the country was recognized as a de-facto sovereign state by one of the major world powers. When Dorjiev was finally dying in Soviet jail in 1938, in his last words he regretfully confessed his disobeience to his root Guru, who instructed him "not to seat at high places, but to devote all his life to Tantra practice"14. But from the perspective of the XXI century, we perceive his wholehearted service to the Tibet and to the XIII Dalai Lama, as well as his tireless efforts to save Dharma from destruction in the USSR, as, perhaps, one of the most noble way to fulfill his religious commitments. Though he lost the final bat12 13

A. Andreyev. Soviet Russia and Tibet . P. 50. After his arrest in 1937 Dorzhiev claimed that he was not a Soviet citizen and had never held a Soviet passport and that a Tibetan passport that he had once possessed he lost at the time of the tsar. Archive of the Ministry of Security, the Republic of Buryatia. File # 2768. P. 27. 14 This words we know only from the oral tradition. See D. Tsyrendashiev: (A Great yogachari Shagdar Namnanay) // ' (Buddhism of Russia)', Vol. 41 (2008), p.44.

tle, he managed to do a lot for Tibet, and to save many people in Russia. Not only Tibet and Russia have a debt to him his Kalmuk student Geshe Wangyal brought the linage of Namnane Lama also to the Western world, through his wellknown students such as Jeffrey Hopkins and Robert Thurman.