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History of Estonian Nyingma 1982 – 2007

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Taolased stuupa ehitusel -puhkus.jpg

The first Nyingma movement , Estonian Buddhist Brotherhood, was established by Vello Väärtnõu in 1982, in Tallinn.

They were also well-known in Estonia and Russia by the nickname Taola.

Väärtnõu had an idea to establish the Nyingma tradition and Buddhist brotherhood in Estonia already in the 1970s.

During that time Väärtnõu made contacts with Ivolga monastery in Buryat, which belonged to the Gelug sect, because Nyingma school did not exist in the territory of the Soviet Union.

The only way to approach Buddhism was through Gelukpa. Traditionally they started by building a stupa, which under the guidance of Vello Väärtnõu was built at Pangarehe.

The first Estonian Buddhist Brotherhood lived and operated in Tallinn and quickly became known as Taola (it means something like “Tao's place”) and Väärtnõu as their leader became known as VanemTaolane (ElderTao).

Taola operated as a self-funding, self-learning organization, the members worked as boiler men, which was very common among intellectuals during the Soviet time.

With the money earned, they made burhans, silk-screen printed thangkas and inscents.

Taola was a popular meeting place among cultural figures, Buddhists and also among guests from Russia and Siberia.

Many people who visited Taola helped in finding materials and in book-binding, copying and with other works. All those people contributed to establishing Estonian Buddhism

Dozens of books were translated and copied into hundreds of exemplars; also a remarkable library was founded, whereas most of the texts were from Buryat.

The relations with Ivolga monastery in Buryat were very intensive – they visited the monastery on several occasions and talked with elderly lamas, who in turn visited Estonia.

It can be said that the lamas from Ivolga monastery had great merits in the development of Estonian and also of all the Soviet countries' Buddhism.

In the years 1984 – 1985 three stupas were built in West Estonia.

The main activity was still studying and self-educating: Buddhist education was taught by Vello Väärtnõu, languages by Pent Nurmekund from University of Tartu, who at the same time established the Oriental studies department in Tartu University and taught them tibetan and Old–Mongolian languages.

Vello Väärtnõu and Taola also opened the door for freedom and independence in Estonia.

In 1987 Vello Väärtnõu came up with the idea and programme of creating Estonian National Independent Party,

So the Estonian Buddhist Brotherhood and Buddhist way of thinking can be considered a part of Estonian fight for independence, they were the first in soviet times to attack openly the foundations of communist country.

In January 1988, Väärtnõu organized a press-conference in Moscow for the accredited foreign newspapers.

From the newspapers New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and one Swedish magazines were represented, also US TV company ABC was there.

Väärtnõu made a public announcement to the international audience about the proposition of starting an opposition party – Estonian National Independence Party, which was an unheard event in that period of time.

Due to breaking of the communist system, Taola was under constant control by the KGB – the Buddhist library was "cleaned" on several occasions and large amounts of Tibetan texts, thangkas, slides and reels of Tibetan manuscripts were taken from Väärtnõu.

14 citizens signed under the initiative of Väärtnõu the proposition of creating ENIP and he also drew up the first program. This resulted in the deportation from the country by KGB and two of them were killed by the KGB.

Since 1989, the members of Taola and other new nyingmapas operated under the guidance of Väärtnõu and in 2007 this group of people were officially registrated as Estonian Nyingma.