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President Medvedev is a Buddhist goddess

August 31, 2009

His 'divinity' became apparent during a visit to a monastery in eastern Siberia
By Emma Hartley
The Telegraph
August 28, 2009

President Medvedev of Russia was hailed as a
goddess during an official visit to a Buddhist monastery in eastern Siberia.

During the first trip in 16 years to the remote
Ivolginsky monastery in Buryatia by a head of
state, he was shown a statue of the White Tara, a
seven-eyed, female figure in the Buddhist
pantheon, whose embodiment he is believed to be, it was reported.

The spiritual leader of the monastery, Pandito
Khambo Lama Damba Ayusheyev, said when asked
about the president’s spiritual significance:
“It’s very hard to understand this for
non-Buddhists and even for some Buddhists too.”

Speaking to the Interfax news agency, he added:
"The leader of the country is a man who bears
very serious responsibility for others. The
Buddhists must support him, identifying him as a deity.”

White Tara is the mother of all Buddhas and is
thought to embody compassion, long life, healing
and serenity. She is also known as "“the wish-fulfilling wheel”.

Russia’s Buddhists, of whom there are between
700,000 and a million constituting less than one
per cent of the population, consider the
country’s leaders to be an emanation of the
female Buddha. This belief dates back to the 18th
century, when the Empress Elizabeth officially recognised the religion.

The monastery at Buryatia is 30 kilometres from
the region’s capital, Ulan-Ude, and is the biggest Buddhist centre in Russia.

In addition to being hailed as a goddess,
President Medvedev promised financial support to
the Buddhist community while he was there and
announced that he will be introducing Buddhist
chaplains to the Russian Federation’s army.

Geoffrey Bamford of the Oxford Centre for
Buddhist Studies explained that understanding the
president’s divine nature is problematic for
non-Buddhists. “It’s a psychological thing that
doesn’t quite have a parallel in our language.
It’s philosophically based. Saying he is a goddess is a bad translation.

"For Buddhists he represents a bundle of
qualities on the contemporary political scene.
Identifying him as White Tara is a shorthand way
of visualising that bundle of qualities in order to summon them up in oneself.

"Medvedev’s thing is the rule of law -- he’s a
lawyer. He produced a remarkable state of the
nation address in November last year in which he
anatomised the difficulty of making a modern
state out of Russia. It was basically about being
a law-based society and this, I think, is the
characteristic that the Buryats and the Kalmyks
identify in him when contemplating the White Tara.”

Did he think that his godhead would have come as
a surprise to President Medvedev? "No. He would
have been briefed," said Mr Bamford.

The Russian embassy in London had no comment to make.
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