Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: I hope more young Kalmyks will hear the call that draws them to great achievements

They asked me to write another column for the ‘Russian Pioneer’. The title was Call. Well, I wrote it and sent to them. But I still keep thinking about it, so I decided to share my thoughts with the readers of www.kirsan.today.

The largest in Russia and Europe grandiose temple, the Buddhist khurul Golden Abode of Shakyamuni Buddha stands in the very centre of Elista. I must say, without equivocation, that I am proud and happy to be related to its creation. When we started to build it, many were indignant: “Has all problems been solved in Kalmykia? Why did you undertake to build such a grand and expensive construction? ”


I headed Kalmykia at that time, and some of my opponents thought that Ilyumzhinov was just crazy. Others expressed themselves in a more tough way: “Kalmyk Khan is building a monument to himself in his lifetime”.

Yes, I really did everything in my power to make the temple appear on Kalmyk soil. But did I build it alone?
Shall we forget the thousands of people who donated their savings, family gold and Buddhist relics, passed from generation to generation, for construction of Khurul?
Throughout all ages and in all countries, in every generation there are people who are thought to be eccentrics and sometimes dangerous. It is all clear with Christopher Columbus or James Cook and other conquistadors: they deliberately subjected themselves to deprivation and mortal risk for the wealth, honour and glory.
Well, what about Galileo or Darwin, what did they risk for? What is the difference if the Earth orbits around the Sun or vice versa? Most contemporaries of Galileo were indifferent to it, however, because of his stubbornness, he spent the end of life under house arrest. And he still got off easy: some of his predecessors were burnt for such ideas.
Psychologists and educators have probably written tons of papers on human motivation in recent centuries. But did they manage to discover the main secret: why does one person hears the call of his dream and follows it, destroying obstacles and overcoming difficulties, and the second one just goes with the flow? Why there are periods in the history of almost every nation when the same idea captures everyone, and people begin to build pyramids or make giant drawings in the desert, although this is not at all easy?
I am not a psychologist or a teacher, and I, of course, have no definitive answer to this question. I can only tell a story from my life. And maybe it may somehow answer these questions.
To begin with, before the first class they used to call me Badma. It turned out this way: on the eve of my birth, my father dreamt of his uncle, the hero of the Civil War Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and my grandmother dreamt of her father Badma.
Both decided it was no accident. For Kalmyk, the ancestor’s request  is sacred, even if it is expressed in such an unusual way. Therefore, everyone insisted that the new-born should be named after his relative. The male word won, and the name Kirsan was written in the documents, but the stubborn grandmother called me Badma. And, since I lived mostly with her, because of the eternal employment of my parents, I didn’t even know that my name was somehow different.
But this is only a curiosity. Much more serious were those Kalmyk tales and legends that the grandmother told. It was from them that I realized that I belonged to an ancient and glorious people, who had spawned great heroes and great sages. It is the Kalmyks’ tradition to remember their ancestors to the seventh generation and to be proud of their deeds. It was this memory that ensured the unity of the clan and all Kalmyks and served as an unwritten law and a guiding star.
Much later, when at school I was awarded a ticket to Artek, I was struck by the fact: they taught us a little bit about life in Egypt and Ancient Rome at history lessons.
Taking with all seriousness the role of the representative of Kalmykia in the All-Union Young Pioneer Camp, I, as they say now, tried to prepare a presentation about the republic. It was simple enough where geography was concerned, but I had to work hard on the history and traditions of the people. In the library I buried myself in encyclopaedias and scientific works, and only then I learned that the Kalmyks were the only European people who professed Buddhism, that Kalmyk folklore was second only to Indian in its richness and that it was Kalmyk’s first cavalry that first entered Paris in the vanguard of Russian troops in 1814.
Why did they hide this information from us at the school? Was it done only in order to create a new thoroughly cleared of any signs of originality community — so called “Soviet people”? Well, the result of this experiment is now known to us.
Is this why the USSR, which at the beginning of the twentieth century showed the wonders of industrialization, won a terrible war, recovered fantastically quickly after it and almost immediately launched a man into space, failed nearly everywhere by the end of the century: in economics, science and technology?
A person deprived of family memory and cut off from folk traditions and customs, loses both a landmark and a motivation. And he no longer hears any call, except the call of his own stomach. That’s how they exchanges, as per perestroika times joke, the Soviet Union for jeans and three hundred varieties of sausage.
Fortunately, the people themselves kept in their memory both legends and traditions. When I was first elected to the post of the then President of Kalmykia, the old people in impoverished villages asked me mostly not about money, not about roads and other benefits of civilization.
They asked to return the Kalmyks' soul: to revive the khuruls, to help the revival of Buddhism. It was our common desire, our common call. Our golden temple is a symbol of the rebirth of the Kalmyk people, a symbol of its worthy past and its aspirations for a worthy future.
I hope that, having such an example before their eyes, more and more young Kalmyks will hear the call that draws them to great accomplishments. Over the past nearly thirty years, the peoples of Russia regained their history and traditions. So, they brought back the pride, guidance and motivation to the younger generation. Many will hear the call, which means our country has a great future.