This paper explores the Buryat Bolsheviks’ efforts to replace the religious identity of fellow Buryats with a Soviet identity in the wake of the Russian Revolution, and analyses the ways in which the Buddhist community attempted to adapt to totalitarian rule. In addition to fostering a general atmosphere of intolerance to religion, considered an antagonistic worldview, the Bolsheviks set out to promote the cultural assimilation of this non-Russian population within the Russian ethnic majority. This entailed a programme of education in the spirit of Soviet patriotism and loyalty, designed to ensure the ideological unity of the nation. Over a short historical period from the early 1920s to the early 1930s, the attitude of the Soviet authorities towards Buddhist religion, clergy and believers shifted radically, from tolerance towards the religion of the ‘oppressed non-Russian masses’ to uncompromising antagonism and the targeting of religion as a class enemy that must be annihilated in the name of creating ‘a new man’.
Inner Asia – Brill
Published: Oct 23, 2018