St Petersburg, Russia: On 13 May, Honorary representative Telo Tulku Rinpoche, Office of Tibet, Moscow arrived at St Petersburg for a three-day official visit. Representative was received by local Buddhists and Tibet Supporters at the Moskovski train station.
St Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia after Moscow. It is known as a culture capital of Russia. The historic center of St Petersburg and related groups of monuments constitutes a UNESCO World heritage sites. St Petersburg is home to the Hermitage Museum which holds large collection of Buddhist art and text books from Tibet, Mongolia and the Buddhist republics in Russia; some dating back to the 8th century and even earlier.
Representative Telo Tulku Rinpoche gave a talk titled ‘Buddhism & Tibet in the 21st Century’ at the St Petersburg Hotel. The talk was organized by local Buddhist community. Telo Tulku Rinpoche touched upon how Buddhism is relevant in the 21st century and also spoke about the current situation in Tibet.
“Tibet continues to be isolated to foreigners who wish to visit Tibet be it Journalist, simple tourist and also those who wish to visit on pilgrimage. 147 Tibetans have self-immolated with the cry for freedom and swift return of His Holiness the Dalia Lama. The Tibetans inside Tibet are deprived of their freedom of consciousness and freedom to protect and practice their religion.” He further encouraged “all people to be the voice of the voiceless.”
Approximately 130 locals attended the talk.
On 14 May, Telo Tulku Rinpoche paid visit to History of Religion and Hermitage Museum and received a private tour of the Buddhist art display section and the storage area where thousand of collections were kept.
Many of the art consist statues, paintings, ritual garments and ritual objects from Tibet and Mongolia and some dating back to the 8th century or earlier. There was some interesting objects and items that were presents sent to the Russian Tsar by the 13th Dalai Lama.
On 15 May, The Central Public Library of St Petersburg invited honorary representative to meet the Director Z.V.Chapova and staff of the Library to discuss further collaboration to establish “Central Eastern Culture” section in within the library. The Director mentioned that the Library has very limited books and information on Tibet’s culture, history and literature and requested the Tibet Culture and Information center (Office of Tibet Russia) to assist the library in enriching their collection.
Telo Tulku Rinpoche presented contemporary books on Buddhism and books by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Russian language and promised to send more books on Tibet in the nearest future.
In the afternoon Honorary representative was invited to the faculty of Oriental Studies and Department of Mongolian and Tibetan Studies at the St Petersburg State University. Representative met with Professor Pavel Grakovskii, Director and chair of the Mongolian and Tibetan Studies, Badma Narmaev, Vladimir Uspenski and Maria Petrovna, all of whom are leading specialists in Tibetan and Mongolian studies.
Telo Tulku Rinpoche spoke to the students about the opportunities to study in various Tibetan Institutions in India and affirmed to assist those interested to go the India for further studies, research and development in Buddhism and Tibetan language.
“It is important to keep this rich culture and heritage alive and it is only possible to do so by preparing the younger generation in the field of Educations and science,” Telo Tulku Rinpoche said.
The Director mentioned that prior to 2008 they were able to send student to Lhasa, Tibet for studies but since then, it had been impossible to do so. Telo Tulku Rinpoche assured that he would assist the St Petersburg university students who wished to go to India for further studies.
Both parties made a commitment to work on a agreement to be signed by Tibet Culture and Information center and the university and as well as the Central Public Library in St Petersburg for future collaboration.
-Report filed by Office of Tibet, Moscow-