Libmonster ID: MD-1035

Moscow: Vostochnaya litra Publ., 2006, 207 p.

The reviewed work is the first historiographical monograph on the history of more than two centuries of the Kalmyks ' Christianization process, which began with the migration of the Oirat tribes from Mongolia to the territory of the Russian State in the 17th century. The study ends with an analysis of the events that followed the 1917 revolution, which summed up the entire previous period in a peculiar way and closed this page in the history of the Christianization of the Kalmyk people for a certain time.

page 181

The work is devoted to proselytism, or the spread of religion among people with a different religion, a problem that has become one of the most pressing at the present time. Turning to the history of Kalmyks ' Christianization can help to understand many problems of proselytism in Russia, since this process was a typical phenomenon for the Russian state. The measures taken and legislative decrees adopted reflected Russia's internal policy towards the entire non-Russian population living in it. Despite the difference between the political, historical and cultural worldview of past centuries and that of the modern world, one can find certain analogies and parallels with the processes of our time, which can also contribute to understanding the proselytism of the XXI century. In particular, the so-called collapsed stages, which are practically absent in modern society due to new ways of communication, and therefore difficult to study, can be traced in detail on the examples of past centuries, when they, as if "stretched" in time, existed for a long time and represented explicit and full-fledged stages.

The monograph is devoted to a large completed historical period, which is clearly distinguished from the entire history of the Kalmyks. Its role is great both in political events and in the cultural life of the people.

K. V. Orlova examines the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) taking into account internal and external historical factors that influenced the situation in Russia itself and the change in the status of the Kalmyks. It connects the initial missionary activity with the political ambitions of the Russian Empire - with the "formation of Russian statehood", with Russia's solution of the problem of its state-territorial unity and expansion of territories. One of the greatest difficulties on this path was the "ethnic and religious heterogeneity of Russia." Ensuring religious uniformity was given an important role. Ideological subordination of the Kalmyk people was a reliable way to integrate them into the Russian state and social system.

The chronological framework of the study covers the period from the middle of the 17th century, i.e. from the moment the Kalmyks joined Russia, the formation of the Kalmyk Khanate and the beginning of Christianization, to the beginning of the 20th century, when the new Soviet government adopted the "Decree on the separation of the state and schools from the Church", according to which church religious societies were for a long time, it put an end to the functioning of the church in the state and the Christianization of the Kalmyks. Geographically, the study is limited to the main area of Kalmyks ' residence - the present Republic of Kalmykia, as well as the settlements of the Don, Orenburg, Chuguev, Stavropol, Terek and Ural Kalmyks.

The author divides the entire process of Kalmyks ' Christianization into two stages related to the change in the status of Kalmyks within Russia. The first period, from the middle of the 17th century until January 1771, was characterized by the relative political independence of the Kalmyk Khanate, non-interference of the Russian state in its internal affairs, non-conversion of Kalmyks to Orthodoxy on the territory of the Khanate proper, encouragement of the adoption of Christianity outside its borders (in settlements on the Don, the Urals), and the creation of the first Orthodox mission Ayuki Khan's grandson, Pyotr Taishin. The second stage, in which the author distinguishes two stages, began in 1771, with the migration of the bulk of the Kalmyks to Dzungaria, which led to the self-destruction of the Kalmyk Khanate. The first stage of this stage is characterized by a cautious religious policy, isolated cases of baptism of Kalmyks in the Astrakhan and Stavropol provinces. In 1847, the "Regulation on the administration of the Kalmyk people" was published, which completed the final subordination of the Kalmyks to the general imperial administration, and formalized the guardianship system. The Kalmyk Khanate was renamed the Kalmyk Steppe of Astrakhan Province. All this marked the transition to a new stage: the methods of work of the Russian Orthodox Church and the forms of Christianization were revised; the Astrakhan diocesan Committee of the Orthodox Missionary Society was established; the publication of translations of Orthodox spiritual books into Kalmyk was widely distributed; the teaching of the Kalmyk language in theological seminaries and colleges was introduced; the study of all spheres of Kalmyk life at the university and academic levels began.

This periodization of the Christianization process dictated the structure of the work. The monograph consists of four chapters: "Sources and historiography of the problem", " The policy of Christianization of the Kalmyks during the existence of the Kalmyk Khanate (the second half of the XVII century-1771)",

page 182

"Kalmyks in the system of state administration in Russia and changes in the policy of Christianization (1771-early XX century)", "Cultural and educational activities of the Orthodox Church among the Kalmyks". The work has a fundamental reference apparatus, which includes:: "Chronological index of major events and dates "(94 dates); "Dictionary of terms and names" (54 titles); "Personalities and institutions" (31 titles); "List of references" (204 titles); "Index of names "(352 surnames) with the type of activity or position and social affiliation of the mentioned person.

K. V. Orlova used both published research and archival materials, of which only a small part was previously introduced into scientific circulation. Collections from the collections of the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (AVPRI), the Russian State Historical Archive in St. Petersburg (RGIA), and the National Archive of the Republic of Kalmykia (NARC) are involved in the work. The researcher was most interested in the extensive correspondence between the Board of Foreign Affairs and the Astrakhan Chancellery, materials of the Synod Chancellery, the First Department of the Ministry of State Property, the Zemstvo Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Kalmyk Affairs Commission, the Council of the Astrakhan Kalmyk Administration, the Kalmyk Expedition under the Astrakhan Provincial Chancellery, and the N. N. Palmov Foundation. The paper makes extensive use of scientific works on the Kalmyks of the participants of academic expeditions: P. S. Pallas, I. I. Lepekhin, I. G. Gheorghi, I. P. Falk, P. I. Rychkov; Chief Secretary of the Senate I. K. Kirilov; Secretary of Kalmyk Affairs, translator from the Kalmyk language V. M. Bakunin; historian V. N. Tatishchev, ethnographer A. A. Kolesnikov. V. Tereshchenko, as well as missionaries: p. D. Shestakov, P. A. Smirnov, I. Belyaev, A. Vorontsov, Archimandrite Guriy (A. S. Stepanov), Hieromonk Methodius (N. Lvovsky), I. Levchenko, A. L. Krylov. Due place is given to the works of scientists-orientalists: N. Ya. Bichurin, A. A. Bobrovnikov, A.M. Pozdneev, N. I. Nikolsky and Soviet researchers: E. F. Grekulov, P. K. Kurochkin, S. S. Dmitriev, V. F. Milovidov, T. I. Belikov, G. Sh. Dordzhieva, S. S. Belousov. This work is the result of studying the problem of K. V. Orlova for a long time, many particular issues are reflected in her numerous articles.

The author considers the policy of Christianization of the Kalmyks by the Russian state, which was caused by the desire for their political and ideological subordination, in the context of the role of the church in the socio-economic development of the country. Quite rightly, the author sees among one of the main reasons for the inclusion of the church in the state apparatus the need to attract such a large landowner as the church was. After the reforms of Ivan the Terrible, the Russian Orthodox Church became a "kind of feudal entity within the state", it was a large landowner, with a strong administrative apparatus and large territories. The subordination of the Church to the State at that time contributed to the consolidation of the state itself. Thus, the state and the church were interested in subjugating the Kalmyks.

For the Russian Orthodox Church, this task was not easy for many reasons. It was also important that the Kalmyks migrated to the territory of Russia, being Buddhists. They joined this faith in Western Mongolia and preserved their religion in a new place. From the very first steps of the Kalmyks ' stay on Russian soil, Buddhism was given a central place in the ideology of the people. A hierarchical structure of the Buddhist clergy was established in the code of laws, the first Buddhist monasteries were quickly established, and contacts were established with the center of Buddhism - Tibet, from where preachers and religious figures came. The Mongol-Oirat laws, in which religion was given the main role, as well as canonical Buddhist works, were quickly translated into Oirat (Old Kalmyk). Kalmyks celebrated the Buddhist holidays "Wheel of Time"," Enlightenment of the Buddha"," Return of the Buddha from the heaven of the thirty - three gods"," Death of Tsonghava " - the founder of the northern branch of Buddhism, which became the main one for Mongols, Buryats and Kalmyks.

A Buddhist sees Christianity as a part of a doctrine that fits seamlessly into the Buddhist worldview. As you know, the main position of Buddhist philosophy is the recognition of the existence of a certain cosmic compassionate substance that materializes in the human world in the images of Buddhas. Buddhas operate on every level of the universe. On the fifth level, inhabited by humans, Buddhas help a person overcome self-centeredness, free himself from bad qualities, so that he can reach a higher level intended for heaven-

page 183

residents. Christian teaching did not contradict Buddhist cosmology. Its main idea is also to save a person from what causes misery and suffering. According to Buddhist beliefs, Christian saints, religious figures, and the founder of Christianity were nothing more than bodhisattvas who were sent by the Buddha into the human world to improve it. Thus, the difficulties faced by the leaders of Christianization were of an organizational and ideological nature.

K. V. Orlova dwells in sufficient detail on the policy of the Russian state, the time of the publication of the first decree of Ivan the Terrible, which prescribes baptizing peoples and teaching them the Christian law by peaceful means. She lists the large benefits given to baptized Kalmyks (exemption from yasak, payment of poll money, serfdom and recruitment dependence), and also draws attention to the fact that it was at this time that ways were found to create a social support for the management of the Kalmyk people. The law provided for the enrollment of baptized nobles in the noble class. Here it is appropriate to say that the first Kalmyk who was baptized (in 1724) was a representative of the Khan's family, the grandson of Ayuki Khan, Baksadai Dorji, who received the name Pyotr Petrovich Taishin. At the same time, the first Orthodox mission was formed. It was headed by Hieromonk Nikodim (Lenkeyevich). Its success was quite impressive: in 10 years 863 families, or about 6000 people, were baptized. Commenting on these figures, the author quite rightly points out the shallow level of assimilation of Orthodoxy by newly baptized Kalmyks.

With the arrival of Peter I, the tasks of the Russian Orthodox Church changed. The church itself turned into a part of the state apparatus. K. V. Orlova regards this period as "the onslaught of Christianity on foreigners". However, she notes that in comparison with the population of the south and south-east of European Russia and Southern Siberia, non-Russian peoples converted to Orthodoxy with caution, with the provision of benefits and awards as before. At this time, whole settlements of baptized Kalmyks appear - on the Don, in Chuguev, in Belyaev, in Stavropol-on-Volga, in the Churkin Desert, on the Yaik, Terek, and Tereshka rivers. The author provides detailed information on the history of each settlement, the creation of which, in her opinion, corresponded to the "fundamental interests" of the Russian state, which consisted in "protecting the southern and south-eastern borders", as well as contributing to "the outflow of Kalmyks from the Kalmyk Khanate, which weakened its forces". It can be added that such a policy of the Russian state was aimed at reducing the military forces diverted to settle border conflicts with the Kalmyk Khanate.

At the same time, a number of laws were passed prohibiting the conversion of Russian subjects to another faith. This situation, according to the author, changed in the middle of the XVIII century under Catherine II, when the vast territories of the Black Sea region and the North Caucasus (Kabarda, North Ossetia, Crimea) became part of Russia and the state was faced with the task of developing and settling these lands. Foreigners were invited. They were allowed to build their own churches, have their own parishes in them, observe their own traditions, follow rituals. Then the Jesuit Order "Moravian Brothers"was founded at the confluence of the Sarpa River with the Volga. The German colony in Sarepta lasted for more than 150 years (since 1765). The Gernguters, as the brothers called themselves, all this time did a lot of work on the oriented ideologization of the Kalmyk population and had great success in this field, leaving behind a good memory among the Kalmyks. Suffice it to say that the first Russian Mongol scholar, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was I. Ya. Schmidt, a native of the Gernguters, who wrote the first grammar of the Kalmyk language, the study of the heroic epic of the Mongolian peoples "Gesera "and the translation of the" Holy Scripture " into the Old Kalmyk language.

In the 18th century, as the author writes, the Kalmyks were deprived of territorial independence, subordinated to the Ministry of State Property, which was "their incorporation into the general imperial administration." Missionary activity is becoming widespread. A major role at this time was played by the first marching-ulus church, built in 1725, which lasted until 1892, and the first stationary churches, the construction of which emphasized the state's policy aimed at transferring Kalmyks to settlement. The baptized Kalmyks were planned to be settled together with the Russians. Co-educational schools for Russian and Kalmyk children were opened. With these actions, the government solved the problem of economic development of the steppe, reducing the trade routes connecting the central provinces with the southern regions. To these conclusions of the author, we can add that the concern for creating an ideologically homogeneous-

page 184

The idea of the settlement was reinforced by the hope that the alien Kalmyk tribes, which had previously represented certain difficulties in their management, would turn into a more obedient society of Russian subjects who were ready to defend the state of which they had become a part on the southern approaches.

The author analyzes the missionary activity of all Christian centers of the Kalmyk steppe: in the Astrakhan province, Ulan-Erg, Noin-Shire, Chilgir, Knyaz-Mikhailovsky missionary camp, on the Don, among the Kalmyks-Cossacks. The general conclusion about the Christianization of the Kalmyks in the second half of the 19th century was the author's opinion that, despite the administrative control over all spheres of Kalmyks ' life by the authorities and the great efforts made by the Russian state to Christianize them, the positions of Buddhism and the influence of the Buddhist clergy were very strong among the Kalmyks. It was Buddhism, not Christianity, that covered all spheres of life and all social strata of society.

In chapter IV, devoted to the cultural and educational activities of the Orthodox Church among the Kalmyks, K. V. Orlova naturally focuses on translation activities, without which, as she rightly notes, it was impossible to count on the success of solving either political or religious problems. Special attention is paid to translations of Christian literature into the Kalmyk language. The first translators who attempted to translate the prayers ("To the King of Heaven", "The Trisagion", "Our Father", "The Most Holy Trinity", "Glory and Now") were the Secretary of the Board of Foreign Affairs V. M. Bakunin, Hieromonk D. Skaluba, missionaries Ivan Kondakov, N. Lenkeevich. Later, in the 19th century, translations of the Holy Scriptures and liturgical books were made: "The Initial Foundations of the Christian Faith", "The Ten Commandments", "Sacred History", "The Lord's Prayer", "The Creed", and "Catechism".

K. V. Orlova uses rich archival materials that show the great organizational activity of various Christian brotherhoods in translating liturgical literature: the Brotherhood of St. Gurius in Kazan, the Sarepta Gernguters, the British Bible Society, and the Russian Bible Society. Noting the imperfection of the first translations, their "incomprehensibility", and "abundance of artificially created terms", she also draws attention to the positive aspects of translation experiments, which made it possible to solve many translation problems in the future and became the basis on which new generations of missionaries were able to rely.

The author dwells in detail on the activities of missionary theological schools (bishops', parochial, seminaries, academies), which trained clergymen, "guides of Christian truths among their own foreigners", tracing their development to the moment of transformation into public schools. It assesses the educational activities of Metropolitan Tikhon III, Metropolitan Ambrose (Podobedov), A. N. Golitsin, M. M. Speransky, N. I. Ilminsky, Priest P. A. Smirnov, N. I. Novikov, G. Surovtsev, and Hieromonk Nikodim (Lenkeevich). The greatest attention is paid to the most significant and widespread program of N. I. Ilminsky at that time, the essence of which was reduced to "the widespread use of non-native languages as the main means of planting and developing Orthodox-Christian and Russian ideas in the hearts of non-native people" (p.139). Noting the positive aspects of the activity of spiritual mission schools, the author says that they provided Kalmyks with education, basic literacy, the ability to read and write, and instilled skills in previously unknown crafts. I would also like to add that these schools mentally developed the masses of the non-Russian population, opening up wider prospects for them in life.

Like every serious scientific work, K. V. Orlova's monograph is thought-provoking, raises questions, and activates her own thoughts.

Speaking about the translation activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kalmykia, the author considers it a positive decision of the Astrakhan Gymnasium to translate Kalmyk translations of prayers and other sacred books into letters of the Russian alphabet. Such transcriptions were "useful" for priests who did not know the Kalmyk language, as they allowed Russian priests to "say prayers in the native language of the Kalmyks, explain Christian truths to unbaptized Kalmyks who did not know Russian" (p.127). However, such an activity cannot be considered positive: speaking words in a language unfamiliar to him, the priest could not convey either the meaning or the essence of the teachings he preached, since the sacred word will only be perceived if it is felt and understood by the speaker. And further history for now-

page 185

It is clear that the experience of the Astrakhan Diocesan Committee was fruitless. A similar attempt made in Irkutsk against another group of Mongol - speaking peoples, the Buryats, was also unsuccessful. In the entire history of the Christianization of Buryatia, the only service conducted by Russian priests in the Buryat language using Cyrillic transcriptions was held there. This happened in the 1860s. The event was extremely unsuccessful, and such attempts were no longer made.

The number of translations of the Holy Scriptures and liturgical books is not limited to the author's list. Thus, A. M. Pozdneev translated into Kalmyk not only the short "Sacred History of the New Testament", but also the two-volume "New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ", on which he worked together with the British Bible Society from 1887 to 1894. In 1892, the Orthodox Missionary Society published a book in Russian in Kazan. Colloquial Kalmyk language "Catechetical instruction to pagans preparing for Holy Baptism" by Veniamin, Archbishop of Irkutsk. In 1918, Khushin Toktalin Aryun Tuji ("The Sacred History of the Old Testament") was also published in the Kalmyk colloquial language in Kazan. "The Gospel of Matthew" was published in St. Petersburg not in 1815, but in 1819. In 1869, St. Petersburg published "The Bible of N. Z. The Gospel. Translation into Kalmyk of the eleven Sunday morning Gospels made by Priest Parmen Smirnov."

In Russian science, the organization of the Sarepta Hernguters is usually called the Jesuit Order "Moravian Brothers", and not the"Moravian Order of Hernguters". It did not belong to the Orthodox direction of Christianity, but was a Jesuit organization.

The author writes that B. Bergmann "Discovered and published one of the songs of the epic "Jangar "" (p. 129). In fact, he published a German translation of it. The original, from which the translation was made, has not yet been found either in Kalmykia or in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, which covered the territory of the Dzungarian Khanate at that time.

Such minor inaccuracies do not in any way detract from K.'s work. V. Orlova, made at the current level of historical and historiographical knowledge. The book clarified many questions of the history of the Kalmyks ' Christianization. It will be interesting not only for a narrow specialist, but also for anyone who is interested in the history of Russia, the Kalmyk people, religion and, more broadly, the spirituality of humanity.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LMoldova LWorld Y G


Maria GrosuContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

I. V. KULGANEK, K. B. ORLOVA. HISTORY OF THE KALMYKS ' CHRISTIANIZATION. MID-17TH-EARLY 20TH CENTURIES // Chisinau: Library of Moldova (LIBRARY.MD). Updated: 06.07.2024. URL: (date of access: 17.07.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - I. V. KULGANEK:

I. V. KULGANEK → other publications, search: Libmonster RussiaLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Maria Grosu
Komrat, Moldova
34 views rating
06.07.2024 (11 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
2 hours ago · From Maria Grosu
7 hours ago · From Maria Grosu
10 hours ago · From Maria Grosu
22 hours ago · From Maria Grosu
Yesterday · From Maria Grosu
Yesterday · From Maria Grosu
Yesterday · From Maria Grosu

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

LIBRARY.MD - Moldovian Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Libmonster Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: MD LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Moldovian Digital Library ® All rights reserved.
2019-2024, LIBRARY.MD is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of Moldova


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android