alldmn - 16th October 2023

Rediscovered Buddhist Heritage at Forefront of Mongolian Cultural Renaissance

ALL is honored to partner with Erdene Zuu Monastery in a historic initiative to preserve the precious literary heritage of Mongolia. Our collaboration safeguards important texts and empowers local communities by granting them access to their rich literary tradition. 

Mongolia is experiencing a fresh wave of optimism as communities reconnect with their spiritual roots, finding solace and guidance in ancient teachings. The nation’s social fabric is mending, and there’s a palpable sense of a cultural renaissance underway. At the heart of this reawakening is Mongolia’s rich Buddhist heritage, epitomized by Erdene Zuu Monastery–a testament to perseverance, faith, and resilience. 

Erdene Zuu, or Hundred Treasures, was founded in 1589. Located in Mongolia’s southern province of Övörkhangai, it is the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. While possession of Buddhist books posed great danger in the twentieth century, as an act of devotion, monks and local people secretly protected the books they could manage to hide. This library collection was consolidated in 1990 after the fall of communism.

In 2023, ALL initiated a partnership with Erdene Zuu Monastery to digitally archive its entire collection and to create a network for preserving local texts. ALL provides training, support, and tools for Erdene Zuu’s team to digitize their collection and safeguard books in remote family homes and small monastic libraries across the country. 

During a recent visit to Mongolia, the ALL team joined dozens of people from across Övörkhangai Province who had gathered to circumambulate the temple with the library’s books cinched to their backs or held against their chests. This act honors the books and their contents, and also brings the community into contact with the holiness of the books as objects. 

Under the leadership of its brilliant director, Abbot Baasansuren Khadsuren Lama (Baasa Lama), Erdene Zuu Monastery has become a pivotal community hub, an ideal center for digital text preservation in Mongolia. 

Through digitizing, cataloging, and archiving key materials, a richer comprehension of Buddhism in Mongolia will unfold, shedding light on texts that have been untouched for centuries. Our efforts help ensure their availability for future generations, fortifying a cultural legacy crucial to the nation’s evolving identity. Such efforts not only protect historical treasures but also impact the unity and material well- being of local communities.

Je Tsongkhapa’s Aspiration for the Stages of the Path:

།དེར་ནི་རིང་དུ་འབད་ལས་ཚོགས་གཉིས་ནི། །མཁའ་ལྟར་ཡངས་པ་གང་ཞིག་བསགས་པ་དེས། །

བློ་མིག་མ་རིག་གིས་ལྡོངས་འགྲོ་བ་ཀུན། ། རྣམ་འདྲེན་རྒྱལ་བའི་དབང་བོར་བདག་གྱུར་ཅིག ། .

Dir ni ring du be le tsoknyi ni. Katar yangpa gangshik dakpa de.

Lomik marikgi dong drowa kun. Namdren drelway wangbor dag gyur chik. T

Through my diligent efforts to gather the two accumulations (merit and wisdom), vast like the sky, may I become a Buddha, a guide for all beings whose minds are obscured by ignorance.

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