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Lubsan-Samdan Tsydenov

This week’s History Reading Circle discusses Nikolay Tsyrempilov‘s paper:

The Constitutional Theocracy of Lubsan-Samdan Tsydenov: An Attempt to Establish a Buddhist State in Transbaikalia (1918–22)

This paper has already been published in State, Religion and Church, 3:2, 2016, pp. 26-52, but Dr Tsyrempilov wants to include part of this research in a book-length project.


The paper examines the causes and circumstances of the establish-ment of a Buddhist theocratic state by Lubsan-Samdan Tsydenov, an outstanding figure of Buriat Buddhism. Drawing upon some hither-to unedited Tibetan, Mongolian and Russian sources, the paper un-dertakes a detailed reconstruction of the events in Siberian Transbai-kalia in the period of the Russian Civil War. An analysis of personal notes by Tsydenov and the text of the constitution of the Kudun Bud-dhist state shows that “Kudun theocracy” was a syncretic fusion of the traditional Buddhist understanding of the Buddhist “Dharmic state” and modernist conceptions of republicanism and constitution-al democracy. The Kudun theocracy should also be interpreted as a response of Buddhist circles to attempts by Buriat secular national-ists to build Buriat statehood based upon the idea of national self-de-termination. The Kudun project shows that Buddhism could serve as a foundation for state-building at the time of the early twentieth-cen-tury Russian political crisis.

All those interested in this paper, please contact Dr Daniel Beben.