Globe Trotting and New Beginnings

Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia

Posted on: October 22, 2009

During our short visit to Mongolia, we had the chance to visit a few Buddhist monasteries. The one we trekked to in the Terejl National Park had the usual spinning prayer wheels, Mongolian Buddhist architecture and generally serene atmosphere. However, on closer examination, we found some disturbing imagery painted on outer roof of the monastery depicting scenes that I do not associate with Buddhism. Here are a few of these images:

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Our “guide”, who happened to be a Mongolian and a Buddhist, informed us that these are images of the ten different spirits that punished humans for their sins. This could be an example of Buddhism adopting some of the existing Shamanistic ideas while spreading through Mongolia in the 13th century, or could be an interpretation of the concept of Nakara (The buddhist version of Purgatory, which I did not know existed until I saw these images and did some research).


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