Mongolia and Religious Policy of the Comintern in 1920–30s

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УДК 94 (517.3)

DOI 10.28995/2073-0101-2019-3-900-908

Tsymzhit P. Vanchikova

Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist, and Tibetan Studies of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation

Mongolia and Religious Policy of the Comintern in 1920–30s


The article addresses a tragic period in the history of Mongolia: the 1920-30s which were characterized by repressions against the Buddhist Church that led to its destruction. The anti-religious campaign in the country was carried out by the Mongolian government and the MPRP under the control of the party and state bodies of the USSR via the Comintern. The article attempts to identify and characterize stages and methods of the fight against Buddhism, Buddhist Church and monks who threatened political and economic security of the MPR; it draws on published archival documents of the Comintern kept in the Russian State Archive of Social and Political history (RSASPI), most of which were classified. It has been revealed that the struggle was multi-staged, gradually growing fiercer, and started with campaign aimed at destroying economic independence and welfare of the monasteries. Various methods and techniques were used, but primarily imposing of exorbitant taxes on property of lamas and monasteries, introducing a split up between lamas dividing them into three social groups, eliminating the institute of reincarnations, limiting the number of new novices, encouraging lamas to defrock, confiscating the property of higher monks. These measures were carried out by members of the Party and the Revsomol, poor herdsmen, and lower Buddhist clergy; in result armed rebellions began in many regions of Mongolia, but were severely suppressed. These uprisings gave a formal pretext for total repressive campaign against the Buddhist clergy which ended in mass repression and complete destruction of the monasteries. Nevertheless, thanks to the surviving lamas, the Buddhist tradition continued secretly among the population, which contributed to rapid revival and restoration of the Buddhism in Mongolia, when democratic reforms began in the country.


Historical sources, Mongolia, Comintern, RSASPH, anti-religious policy, Buddhist сhurch, repressions

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About author

Vanchikova Tsymzhit Purbueva, PhD in History, professor, Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan studies, Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Centre of Oriental Manuscripts and Xylographs, chief researcher, Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation, +7-924-775- 01-30, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Submitted 21.01.2019, published (for citation):

VANCHIKOVA, Ts. P. Mongoliya i religioznaya politika Kominterna 1920–1930-kh gg. [Mongolia and Religious Policy of the Comintern in 1920–30s. In Russ.]. IN: Vestnik arhivista / Herald of an Archivist, 2019, no. 3, pp. 900-908. doi 10.28995/2073-0101-2019-3-900-908

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