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Mergen S. Ulanov, Valeriy N. Badmaev and Edward C. Holland


Buddhism endorses a set of rules and standards of conduct set out in the religion’s canonical texts. The text of the 1640 Steppe Code, both a peace treaty among the Mongols and an attempt at alliance building vis-à-vis the Manchus, also reflects the adaptation of the ethical norms of Buddhism to secular law and political relations. Secular law among the Kalmyks further evolved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Toktols issued by Khan Donduk-Dashi in the eighteenth century addressed a wide range of religious and secular elements in Kalmyk life, while also serving to strengthen the moral authority of the Buddhist clergy. Further revisions to Kalmyk law and the position of Buddhism within the secular system were promulgated at the Jinjil assembly in 1822. The Kalmyks’ inclusion of religious provisions in secular law helped to strengthen the connection between Buddhism and Kalmyk society, consolidating the normative role of religion as the basis for secular conduct and action.

Benjamin Grant Purzycki and Edward C. Holland


For at least a century, scholars have argued about whether or not Buddha is considered a god. We treat this question empirically by conducting two ethnographic studies among residents of the Tyva Republic, one of the Buddhist republics in the Russian Federation. Using a mixed methods approach to interrogate the question, this report concludes that Buddha is, in fact, popularly represented as a punitive and moralistic supernatural agent in the republic and demographic factors co-vary with such beliefs. The paper addresses longstanding concerns and situates the results in contemporary social scientific inquiry that addresses questions of when, where, to what degree, and why he is represented as a deity.