A Monastery in TimeThe Making of Mongolian Buddhism

A Monastery in TimeThe Making of Mongolian Buddhism

Caroline Humphrey and Hurelbaatar Ujeed

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226031873

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book describes the life of a Mongolian Buddhist monastery—the Mergen Monastery in Inner Mongolia—from inside its walls. From the Qing occupation of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the Cultural Revolution, the book tells a story of religious formation, suppression, and survival over a history that spans three centuries. Often overlooked in Buddhist studies, Mongolian Buddhism is an impressively self-sustaining tradition whose founding lama, the Third Mergen Gegen, transformed Tibetan Buddhism into an authentic counterpart using the Mongolian language. Drawing on fifteen years of fieldwork, the book shows how lamas have struggled to keep Mergen Gegen's vision alive through tremendous political upheaval, and how such upheaval has inextricably fastened politics to religion for many of today's practicing monks. Exploring the various ways Mongolian Buddhists have attempted to link the past, present, and future, this book offers a study of the interplay between the individual and the state, tradition and history.