Datsan

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Datsan (Mongolian: Дацан, Russian: Дацан) is the term used for Buddhist university monasteries in the Tibetan tradition of Gelukpa located throughout Mongolia, Tibet and Siberia. As a rule, in a datsan there are two departments—philosophical and medical. Sometimes to them is added the department of the tantric practices where the monks study only after finishing education in the philosophical department.

In pre-revolutionary Russia, datsans traditionally existed only in the Buryat territories, most of those now included in Buryatia and Transbaikalia (a number of datsans there has been reconstructed or started since the early 1990s). There was a difference with Tibetan administrative idea: in Tibet, several datsans were education-centered parts of larger organizations, as Drepung, Ganden, and Sera Monastery in Gelugpa tradition. In Russia, datsans were not parts of a larger entity, but rather independent educational and religious centers. In Buryat Buddhism, terms "Buddhist monastery" and "Datsan" are interchangeable, as other monastery organization forms found in Tibetan Buddhism elsewhere, were not present.

List of datsans in Mongolia[edit]

List of datsans in Russia[edit]

Datsans were officially acknowledged in Imperial Russia in 1734. By statute of 1853 there were two recognized datsans in the Irkutsk government and others in the Zabaykalsky Government. The first datsan in Europe was Gunzechoyney datsan in St. Petersburg.

Between 1927 and 1938 all 47 datsans existed in Buryatia and Transbaikalia were closed or destroyed. In 1945 the Ivolginsky datsan was opened, and several years later the Aginsky datsan resumed operations. The following ten datsans were not opened until 1991.

An early 20th-century Saint Petersburg Datsan

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