Agvan Dorzhiev, or Agvaandorj, a Khory Buryat, developed the script in 1905 with the assistance of Tseveen Jamsrano as a means to cultural unification of the Buryats, naming it "Vagindra" for the Sanskrit version of his name. He based it primarily on the Classical Mongol script, expressing the hope that it would also help Buryats to read materials in the old script. Approximately ten books and pamphlets were published in the script until 1910, using a hybrid dialect primarily based on Western Buryat, but it was not used after that; there was discussion in 1917 of reviving it for use in native schools, but Classical Mongol was thought more likely to foster Mongol unity. Dorzhiev himself apparently lost interest in the project, and neither mentions it nor uses it in his autobiography. It was opposed by Mikhail Bogdanov, who advocated rapid assimilation through Russian, and it has been suggested that the hybrid language used presented problems for readers, although evidence suggests otherwise. Probably most importantly, the Tsarist government perceived Mongolian unification, and hence the Vagindra script, as a political threat and exiled some of its proponents.
The script is derived primarily from Classical Mongol on the analogy of the Clear script, and like it is written vertically. The version published by Nicolai Amagaev and "Alamzhi-Mergen" (Rinchingiin Elbegdorj) in 1910 consists of 7 vowels and 21 consonants. Diacritics are used to indicate long vowels (a vertical line), palatization (a circle), and letters for use in rendering Russian (a dot), including a letter representing the historical Russian double consonant /ʃt͡ʃ/ (corresponding to Cyrillic Щ). The alphabet can therefore also be represented as having 36 letters including 8 vowels. Unlike Classical Mongol, the letter forms are invariant regardless of position in the word, being based on the medial forms in Classical Mongol, with the exception of a, which is based on the Uighur script and has a reduced form in medial and final position.
- Otgonbayar Chuluunbaatar, Einführung in die mongolischen Schriften, Einführungen in fremde Schriften, Hamburg: Buske, 2008, ISBN 9783875485004, p. 55 (German)
- Yeshen-Khorlo Dugarova-Montgomery and Robert Montgomery, "The Buriat Alphabet of Agvan Dorzhiev", in Mongolia in the Twentieth Century: Landlocked Cosmopolitan, ed. Stephen Kotkin and Bruce A. Elleman, Armonck, New York: Sharpe, 1999, ISBN 9780765605368, pp. 79–98, p. 79.
- "Script, Vagindra", Allen J. K. Sanders, Historical Dictionary of Mongolia, Historical dictionaries of Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East 74, 3rd ed. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow, 2010, ISBN 9780810874527.
- Dugarova-Montgomery and Montgomery, p. 85.
- Dugarova-Montgomery and Montgomery, p. 86.
- Dugarova-Montgomery and Montgomery, p. 88.
- Chuluunbaatar, p. 57.
- BNMAU-yn Shinzhlėkh Ukhaany Akademi, Information Mongolia: The Comprehensive Reference Source of the People's Republic of Mongolia (MPR), Countries of the world information series, Oxford/New York: Pergamon, 1990, ISBN 9780080361932, p. 61.
- Nikolai Amagaev and Alamzhi-Mergen, Novyi mongolo-buriatskii alfavit, St. Petersburg: Tipografiia Imperatorskoi akademii nauk, 1910, cited in Dugarova-Montgomery and Montgomery, p. 86, Chart 1, p. 87.
- Chuluunbaatar, p. 56.
- Chart linked at Luigi Kapaj (in the SCA: Gülügjab Tangghudai), Mongol Scripts, The Silver Horde, Society for Creative Anachronism, 2003.
- L'écriture Buryat: L’alphabet, chart at Les écritures, Aleph2 (Spanish)
- Ëndonzhamt︠s︡yn Zhanchiv and Gonchigiĭn Gantogtokh (Sharaĭd). Vagindra u̇sgiĭn dursgaluud [Monuments in Vagindra script]. Corpus scriptorum VIII. Ulaanbaatar: Udam Soël, 2010. OCLC 773896142 (Mongolian)