Posted by Selena Travel / 08 22, 2017
In early times, Mongolians were mainly shamanists, and worshipped the nature, eternal blue sky and believed in the harmony between mother earth and human beings. During Genghis Khan`s era, although himself was shamanist, he was tolerant to other religions and people were allowed to worship any gods they choose to believe. Due to this tolerant policy, many different religions were introduced and existed harmoniously in Mongolia, including Buddhism. This was, however, not the first attempt of bringing Buddhism to Mongolians. Few decades later Genghis Khan`s grandson Khublai named Pagva, a buddhist monk, as the spiritual teacher of the country which led Buddhism to be widespread across the country.
Nonetheless, many Mongols were still strong believers in shamanism until 16th century, when new wave of Buddhist teaching spread through the country and from this point on, popularity of Buddhism reached a new height in Mongolia. Hundreds of monasteries were built all over the country and thousands of men become monks, and entered monastic life. Unfortunately, this prosperity did not last long and Buddhism in Mongolia met a disastrous fate in late 1920s; nobody can imagine what Mongolia would be like today if not for the political purge of 1937. Communism and revolution spread through like a wildfire, rampaged the whole country and its biggest victims were the monks, literates, scientists, basically any kind of educated people. An estimated over 20000 monks were wrong accused and killed during this period, and all of the monasteries were destroyed and burned but for few (according to the statistics, 800 monasteries were destroyed).
After the fall of Soviet Union, democratic revolution was started in Mongolia in early 1990s and people were free to worship again. Because religion was forbidden for several generations, so much was lost and many were atheist by then. However, Mongolian people have witnessed lots of efforts to bring back Buddhism back to Mongolia in the last 25 years, and many temples were reconstructed for worshippers and tourists. Today, Buddhism and monasteries are one of main attractions for many while traveling to Mongolia, and average tourists visit at least 2 monasteries when traveling in Mongolia. Most popular monasteries include Erdenezuu Monastery in Karakorum, Amarbayasgalant Monastery in the northern Mongolia, Gandan Monastery in Ulaanbaatar and Tuvkhun Khiid in Orkhon Valley area.
As you most likely will visit handful monasteries while on your Mongolian tour, it is useful to know few things that you should keep in mind while visiting.
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