This is the only
Buddhist people group in Europe. The 100,000 Kalmyks represent a piece of
the Tibetan World in a Russian republic that straddles Europe and Asia. They
have a turbulent and unique history.
Four hundred years ago
the Mongols forcefully swept across Western China. Some of them settled in
what is now Kalmykia in Russia. These people adopted their own unique form
of Tibetan Buddhism. They formed an alliance with the Russian Czar.
During World War II,
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin grew suspicious of the Kalmyks and exiled them
to Siberia. When the Kalmyks returned home in 1957, their Buddhist temples
were gone. Under harsh life in Siberia, their Buddhist culture was gone as
Now, under the
leadership of a very wealthy elected president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov,
they are experiencing a Buddhist revival complete with the building of many
Tibetan Buddhist temples. Tibetan Buddhism is turning the hearts of their
youths back to their roots. The Kalmyks are also pondering whether to allow
Ilyumzhinov to gain more power, or try to establish a Western style
that the Kalmyk people will hear of the Saviour of the World, Jesus Christ,
and experience the peace He offers.