PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS
Buddhist Stupa in Moscow will be saved
The press briefing dedicated to the fate of the Stupa of the Enlightenment located in the courtyard of the Lopukhins’ estate, the monument of history and culture, was held at the State Museum of Oriental Art.The press briefing was attended by:
- Kirill Rybak, Counselor to the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation;
- Alexander Sedov, General Director of the State Museum of Oriental Art;
- Tigran Mkrtychev, Deputy Director of the State Museum of Oriental Art;
- Nadya Berkengeym, Vice President of Tibet House in Moscow;
- Valery Androsov, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences;
- Anton Ignatenko, Deputy Head of the Department for Relations with Religious Organizations, Moscow Government,
- Sanjay Lama, Permanent Representative of the Buddhist traditional Sangha of Russia.
Following the briefing, a lot of publications appeared in mass media. Unfortunately, practically all the publications have some inaccuracies. That’s why once again we would like to clarify the situation in order to prevent further speculations related to the Stupa of the Enlightenment.
In 2008 the International Center of the Roerichs has erected the Stupa, the Buddhist memorial structure, in the courtyard of the Lopukhins’ estate, the monument of history and culture. According to the plaque, the construction of the Stupa was funded by Tsewang Jangchub Gatselling, the monastery in Nepal, Tibet House in Moscow and private persons, and was given as a gift to the International Center of the Roerichs ”in honor of the 80th anniversary of N.K. Roerich’s Central Asia expedition to know realia thereof. According to P.M.Zhuravihin, one of the leaders of the International Center of the Roerichs, “the Stupa is a museum showpiece”.
Reason for Press Briefing
The Commission of the State Museum of Oriental Art to which three buildings of the Lopukhins’ estate were transferred in November 2015, requested the permits for construction of the basement adjoining to the main house of the estate located under the Stupa. Besides, in the territory of the estate there was a building the owner of which is unknown.
As the International Center of the Roerichs did not provide any title documents, the Ministry of Culture of Russia sent a request to Moscow Government to clarify the situation. This letter, which became available to journalists, has provoked many rumors in the Internet in which the Ministry of Culture of Russia and the State Museum of Oriental Art are accused of intention to demolish the Stupa of the Enlightenment.
On 21.06.2016 the press briefing was held in the State Museum of Oriental Art. The briefing participants were unanimous: nobody was going to demolish the Stupa. Itwas stated both by the representative of the Ministry of Culture of Russia and the leadership the State Museum of Oriental Art.
After Press Briefing
The publications appeared after the briefing in various mass media forced the Museum once again to raise a question about the Stupa of the Enlightenment and the role of the International Center of the Roerichs in the existing situation.
According to P.M. Zhuravihin, “As soon as the Commission members came, they said that our museum is a squatter settlement. They did not even ask us to produce any documents. Construction of the Stupa was documentary authorized: the Stupa is a showpiece of our museum and we have all documents certified by Moscow Cultural Heritage Committee.
P.M. Zhuravihin disorients journalists: before the Commission of the State Museum of Oriental Art started to work, the letter has been sent to A.V.Stetsenko, Vice President of the International Center of the Roerichs, with the request to provide the documents possessed by the International Center of the Roerichs concerning the buildings complex of the Lopukhins’ estate. Most of the requested documents including those permitting the construction of the Stupa were not provided by the International Center of the Roerichs.
Availability of the permission issued by the Moscow Cultural Heritage Committee, about which P.M. Zhuravihin says, would remove the issue of legality of construction of the Stupa. However, there is a letter of Moscow Government dated 05.21.2016 according to which there is no information on the legal owner of Stupa of the Enlightenment at the Complex of Economic Policy and Land and Property Regulations for Moscow.
Basement under the Stupa
The International Center of the Roerichs explained the presence of the basement under the Stupa at various times and in different ways including the following words: “there is soil under the Stupa”, “the basement is located in another place”, “this building No. 4a is under registration” (P.M.Zhuravihin). However, the management of the International Center of the Roerichs did not provide any permits for construction of the basement. In this regard the remark of “Izvestia” that “they camouflaged (and let us note - camouflage!) the illegal basement with the Buddhist Stupa” may be true.
The Stupa of the Enlightenment and Basement
“The Stupa is a showpiece, not a religious structure. It was impossible to erect this monument in the museum hall. That’s why we put it in the courtyard. The Nepalese monks wanted everyone to see which monuments Roerich met”, - Pavel Zhuravihin, the first Deputy General Director of Nicholas Roerich Museum said to the correspondent of “Evening Moscow”.
According to Pavel Mikhailovich, the Stupa is “not a religious structure”.
However, given the existing situation around the squatter settlement in the territory of the Lopukhins’ estate, the International Center of the Roerichs has apparently decided that it is the Buddhist believers who should defend “the right cause” including that related to construction of the basement above which the Stupa is located. So, P.M.Zhuravihin sends a letter to Mrs. Dulma Shadgarova, President of Moscow Buddhist Community, with a request to prevent destruction of the Stupa which is a cult object. On “Save Tibet” web portal there is a video built up from the materials provided by the International Center of the Roerichs in which the Ministry of Culture of Russia and the State Museum of Oriental Art are accused of intention to demolish the Stupa.
According T.K.Mkrtychev, “When our commission on verification of effectiveness of use and preservation of real estate properties visited the International Center of the Roerichs with the request to provide permit for construction, the Center did not produce any documents but asked us whether we are going to come with a bulldozer to demolish the Stupa.”
The result is the following: here we see substitution of concepts (a secular object is called as a religious one) and provision of false information (none of the Commission members mentioned about demolition of the Stupa). It is the very thing which they announced publicly at the press briefing: nobody is going to demolish the Stupa of the Enlightenment.
Do not allow further provocations
We fully share the position of Anton Ignatenko, Deputy Head of the Department for Relations with Religious Organizations at Moscow Department of National Policy, Interregional Relations and Tourism, who said that “we need to make sure that all believers feel comfortable. Besides, it is very important to create the conditions for them to study the religion they profess answering the call of the heart. It so happened that in recent times the issue of the Stupa of the Enlightenment at the International Center of the Roerich was highly-publicized.
We consider that first it is important to determine whether it is a cult monument from the Buddhist point of view or not. In any case, regardless of the decision made, the religious situation in Moscow should remain calm”.
We believe that those who incite the believers against the state and disorient the Buddhists concerning intention of the state to demolish the Stupa of the Enlightenment, should bear responsibility.
It is only when provocateurs are aware of responsibility for inciting religious conflict, we will get a confessional peace in our multinational country the citizens of which profess different religions.
The State Museum of Oriental Art in future
The State Museum of Oriental Art is always open for different exhibitions presenting confessional art including Buddhist art. The Museum offers a unique exhibition of the documents dated from 1-5 century A.D. from Kara-Tepe Buddhist Religious Center; there are the halls “Tibetan Art” and “Art of Buryatia” as a permanent exposition. The museum frequently became a place where Buddhist monks built the sand mandala, the representatives of the Buddhist community gathered to discuss the Buddhist teaching at schools and various events of the Buddhist community were carried out. The lectures on history of Buddhism and Buddhist art of different regions are regularly delivered at the museum.
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