THE KALMYKIANS AND THEIR TEMPLE IN MUNICH-LUDWIGSFELD
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The Kalmykians are part of the Western Mongolian people, who in the first half of the 17th century trotted from the Dsungarei (today known as Chinese province Sinkiang) westwards to resettle on the lower course of the River Wolga. When their initial independence from the Russians got more and more compromised, they planned to return to the Dsungarei and to set out in 1771. But as the Wolga did not freeze over due to the mild winter the Kalmykians west of the river were forced to spend the winter there. They then decided, however, to remain in this area, which offered plenty of space for their nomadic way of living.
After the October Revolution, enforced collectivization resulted in a state-dictated sedentariness. At the same time, a lot of their temples were destroyed. This eliminated one essential pillar of their culture, as the Kalmykians are devout followers of Tibetan Buddhism.
As a result of the ongoing suppression in 1942, the German troops were received as liberators. The Kalmykians fought on the side of the Germans and therefore also withdrew together with the German troops. Due to the collaboration with the Germans, the Kalmyk Republic was dissolved on Dec. 27, 1943. Almost the entire population was deported to Middle Asia and Siberia. Only a small group of the Kalmykians originally living at the river Wolga was left. It was only in 1958 under Chruschtschow that the Kalmyk Republic was restituted.
After the war, the Kalmykians, that had come to Germany together with the German troops, were regarded as homeless and were accommodated in so-called DP-camps (Displaced Persons). In the fifties, more than half of the roundabout 2,000 Kalmykians emigrated to the US. The rest stayed in Germany. That's how the temple in Munich got started. Today 4 Kalmykians live in and around Munich.
The Story of the Temple
During war and displacement, all cult objects of temples and monasteries got lost. During the withdrawal of the Kalmykians together with the German troops a few Lamas and monks managed to come to Germany. The highest Lama was Tilopa Hutuktu, who soon emigrated to America. But he left the monk Akchulow Nawang Senge as ‚spiritual advisor‘ for the Kalmykian community. Akchulow equipped his modest accommodation in Ludwigsfeld as a ‚Temple‘ and tried to give the children of the young families a sense of Buddhist ethics. He took care of the temple and of the Kalmykians until his death in 1973.
At Akchulow's request in 1967 H.H., the Dalai Lama sent the monk Lobsang Dargye as a spiritual teacher for the Kalmykians to Munich. He lived a few years in the temple. In 1968 Trijang Rinpoche, Junior-Teacher of the Dalai Lama visited the temple and gave it the name 'Thegchen Chöpel Ling‘. Shortly after Ling Rinpoche, the Senior-Teacher of His Holiness visited the temple and in 1973 and 1983 also H.H. the Dalai Lama.
After 1983 the support of the temple got kind of neglected and all efforts to invite a Geshe failed for formal and financial reasons.
On major religious holidays Ven. Dr. Panglung Rinpoche took care of the Kalmykian community, while the maintenance of the temple turned into a life's work for Mr. Daniel Bembejew. Since his death, his son Nimgir Bembejew looks after the temple.
The small temple, located in an apartment building, is the oldest one in Munich. For many years it was the only Buddhist temple following the Tibetan tradition in Germany. In the beginning, not only Tibetan Buddhist groups met there but also many high dignitaries from different Tibetan schools were guests - such as Kalu Rinpoche, Khamtul Rinpoche, Lati Rinpoche, Trogawa Rinpoche, and many other Masters.
At the moment the temple is used by different Buddhist groups, e.g. by Korean Buddhists and also by local Tibetan Buddhists.
For many years the temple was financially supported by the City of Munich. Since 1994 however, the temple is depending on charitable donations. Due to the constantly increasing maintenance costs for the temple, it is becoming more and more difficult to raise the required funding. Hence, we kindly ask you to assist us in preserving this little gem.
If you wish to donate, please transfer to our bank account. Reference: Temple Mü-Ludwigsfeld. You will receive a donation receipt!