Where are you, blessed Bumba?










Towards the end of the year, the readers, as far as I know, are most interested in analysis of past events and forecasts for the future. But I do not want to look back. The current year turned out to be not the best: a pandemic of the new coronavirus, mass demonstrations around the world, from the United States to Khabarovsk and economic crisis. Making plans for the future is also not so wise, especially since the following year, according to rumours, is not going to be not an easy one.
But on these winter days, for no reason at all, I suddenly remember episodes from a very distant past: childhood and those times when I just began to be aware of myself. Could it be that the subconscious is persistently seeking to suggest something?
Like many of my peers, having barely learned to walk, I was practically left to myself. Parents worked hard, and my grandmother, no matter how hard she tried, found it difficult to control the nimble grandson. So the first thing I met in this world was almost unlimited freedom.
Almost up to school age, I mostly grew up in the gang of a dozen of the reckless heads of various ages. We had to entertain ourselves having no TV or computer games. Well, we used our imagination. We searched for treasures and caught spies, staged chess championships and put on performances.
However, sometimes my grandmother managed to catch me. At home, she closed the door tightly, curtained the windows and opened her chest. Grandmother’s old chest seemed to be much more valuable than the treasure of the old pirate Flint! Here, under a heap of rags mixed with mothballs, the golden Buddha was carefully kept. My grandmother took him out and began to talk about his life and teachings and I repeated the words of the prayer after her.

Although the regime was much softer compared to the recent past, if someone found out that Sulda (that was my grandmother's name) stuffs his grandson with "opium for the people", my parents would be in trouble. At least, there would be problems at work. This was the reason for grandmother's conspiracy.
Grandma Sulda told me not only about Buddha. It was from her that I first heard about Khan Dzhangar and his knights and about the blessed country of Bumba that he ruled.
I will explain if you are not familiar with the Kalmyk epic. Bumba is a mythical fertile country, where there is neither frosty winter nor exhaustingly sultry summer, just tenderly warm spring and autumn. When local people reach the age of twenty-five, they eternally remain at this age, knowing neither disease, nor hard work, nor death. It is ruled by the brave and wise Khan Dzhangar, and the country flourishes under his just rule.
From grandmother's fairy tales, Dzhangar stepped into my life and stood on a par with heroes of those times: Chapaev, Pavka Korchagin, D’Artagnan and Schtirlitz. Since then, they have stayed with me forever.
And Bumba, happy, free and mysterious was still there. Use a little imagination and instead of the nearest construction site, you could see a mountainous country, countless treasures in caves, or even the surface of an alien planet. If you desire, your opponents appeared: a fire-breathing dragon or alien invaders, but most often not at all an imaginary angry watchman. Only the weather let us down. Imagination cannot control the change of seasons, but it could not stop us.


            However, years passed, I grew up against my will, and the country of Bumba moved further and further away from me. First, I lost my freedom. I went to school and could no longer, as before, rush around the streets and surroundings of Elista. Then a younger brother was born, and I became responsible not only for myself, but for him as well. No matter how happy the mythical country is, there is neither a goldfish nor a magic tablecloth in the Kalmyk epic. Happiness is always achieved through hard work.
And yet all those years the blessed Bumba and its heroes stayed with me: in the first street fight, when I, a six-year-old, got an opponent much larger and older than me; in the KGB cell, when they tried to convince me to confirm the slander, I could not afford to surrender. Khan Dzhangar would never have done that, and so won’t I.
Many years later, I was elected President of Kalmykia, and everything I did was done with an eye on the country of Bumba from my grandmother's tales. Therefore, the money earned in commerce were spent without hesitation on the needs of the republic. But can heaven be built on earth?
I don't really know the answer. But I understood something else. Almost all peoples, starting from the time of Gilgamesh, have a legend about a distant Graceland. Of course, today most of these epics are known only to scientists specializing in them, but they still live in the subconscious of every person. Which, by the way, is successfully used by global Hollywood, over and over again churning out stories about supermen and fairy-tale countries.
Paraphrasing Dostoevsky, who once said that a person is shaped by the impressions of childhood, we can say that our aspirations are also shaped by the ideals of the childhood times. That is why everyone strives to get to his own country of Bumba. But for some reason it turns out that everyone is trying to build it for himself, regardless of his close or distant people around.
It doesn't work that way. Buddhists know that any evil you have done will sooner or later come back on you. And if not on you, then on your children or grandchildren. Many of us have encountered this in real life. It turns out that everything that we are facing now are just echoes of the evil created in the past by each person and all of humanity as a whole.
If we all do not change our attitude to life, nature and to each other, we should not expect anything good or the next step would be towards an apocalypse.
It is no coincidence that one of my first initiatives as president of Kalmykia was adoption of the Steppe Code (Constitution) of the republic, which (again at my insistence) included an item on the responsibility of its every resident for everything that happens around. The Bumba country does not appear overnight out of nowhere, it can only be created by joint efforts and cooperation. However, we still take it apart piece by piece to build a personal paradise.