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Pilgrims and Travellers in Search of the Holy

Edited By René Gothóni

The enigma of Buddhism, and especially Tibetan Buddhism, has enchanted Westerners for centuries. Most of the papers in this volume were delivered at the ‘Pilgrims and Travellers in Search of the Holy’ international symposium convened at the University of Helsinki on 18 October 2008.
The symposium focused on Buddhist and Hindu sites from a comparative perspective, bringing together a team of established international scholars and younger researchers working on their doctoral theses, all with extensive experience of field research. This volume therefore comprises a theoretical part and an empirical part. The former discusses universal aspects of pilgrimage and travel, whereas the latter focuses on Buddhist and some Hindu sites in West Bengal, China, India, Japan, Russia, and Tibet. For decades the unsettled political conditions in Tibet have made it difficult for scholars to enter the holy sites. This book offers new insights into how traditional Tibetan holy sites attract both Tibetan pilgrims and secular Chinese in an intriguing and harmonious way.


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Part Two - Case Studies of Buddhist and Hindu Sites 97


part two Case Studies of Buddhist and Hindu Sites alexandre i. andreyev St Petersburg Datsan: The Northernmost Buddhist Temple in Europe1 Historical background According to historical records, the first Buddhists appeared on the banks of the Neva as early as in 1706, shortly after the foundations of St Peters- burg had been laid. They were Kalmyks from the Lower Volga, subjects of the Kalmyk Khanate, who were working with Russian labourers on the construction of the stone ramparts of the Peter and Paul Fortress from which the new capital of Russia originated.2 It is not known how many they were nor how long they remained in St Petersburg. Later documentary sources make no mention of these Kalmyks or of any other Buddhists among its residents. It was not until the very end of the nineteenth century that a small group of Buddhists re-emerged in the city. According to the 1869 popu- lation census only one Petersburger claimed to be a Buddhist, and that 1 The author’s previous publications about the St Petersburg Datsan include: A.I. Andreyev, Buddiiskaia sviatynia Petrograda (Ulan-Ude: EkoArt, 1992), a bi lingual Russian-English edition; A.I. Andreyev, Khram Buddy v Severnoi Stolitse (St Petersburg: Nartang, 2004); A.I. Andreyev, ‘La Maison du Boud- dha dans le Nord de la Russie. (Histoire du temple bouddhique de Saint- Petersbourg)’, Slavica Occitania 21 (Toulouse: Departement de slavistique de l’Université de Toulouse – Le Mirail, 2005), 153–77; and A.I. Andreyev, Sankt­Peterburgskii Datsan / The Saint­Petersburg Datsan (St Petersburg: ‘Nestor–Istoria’,...

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