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This research examines the specific features of Buddhist priests’ training in Kalmyk Cossack communities within the Ural Host, their ordination, and religious services. It is noted that isolation of the Ural Kalmyks from Buddhist religious centers adversely affected the level of religious education and resulted in monks’ simplified, rote understanding of Buddhist divine services and rituals. The ethnoconfessional group of Kalmyk Buddhists that took shape within the Ural Cossack Host by the early 20th century was the smallest part of its military population. Settlements of Kalmyk Cossacks were located in all three military districts. Due to the fact, Kalmyks were dispersed unevenly among settlements, the Ural Buddhists practiced two systems of teaching the fundamentals of religious doctrine. In case the believers were numerous enough, confessional schools were established. When the believers were few, one or two students were assigned to Gelongs who tutored them individually. As distinguished from the Buddhist clergy of the Astrakhan and Don Kalmyks, acquiring the official status of a Getsul (Sramaneri) or a Gelong (Bhikkhu) the Ural priests neither became monks nor went to seclusion. They continued to lead a secular life, fulfilled family obligations, brought up children, were engaged in fatigue duties and field works. The only responsibility the employed priests bore was to take part in divine services on certain days and read various prayers upon the requests of believers. The research is executed with the financial support of the of the Russian Science Foundation within the RSF research project «Imperial policy of acculturation and problem of colonialism», project No. 17-18-01008.

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Stepan Dzhundzhuzov 1032
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