Mongolian Monasteries before the 1937 Purges

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In the following series of articles, one can read in detail about Mongolia’s monasteries and monastic and ritual life in them as of the beginning of the 20th century. They were still flourishing at that time before the monasteries and monastic life were destroyed in what are called the “1937-39 Purges,” after which Buddhism and all religious activities were suppressed for decades. Before the purges, there were different types of monasteries of various sizes in the complex Mongolian monastic system, differing also in their aims of foundation, with some being special only to Mongolia. There were strong connections and well-defined subordinated relations among these various monasteries. Monasteries and their architectural features were also very different from the Tibetan ones in their special arrangements and styles. Their various temples, however, dedicated to the practices of different deities or to various special rituals and their specialized monastic colleges specialized in philosophical, medical, astrological, graded path, Kālacakra or tantric studies were basically the same as in Tibet, with some of them being extremely popular in Mongolia. The monastic training in them was also like that in Tibet. Monastic administration, ranks and duties in the assemblies, as well as the ceremonies and rituals held in them, bore some local characteristic features while still being the same, in essence, as in Tibetan Buddhism.