The Father of Estonian Buddhism – Karl Tõnisson by Vello Vaartnou
The Father of Estonian Buddhism – Karl Tõnisson
By Vello Vaartnou
From the historical point the fdather of Estonian Buddhism is Karl Tõnisson.
He has also been called Brother Vahindra or Barefooted Tõnisson, Baltic Mahatma and Dharmaduta or according to his citizenship Karlis Tennisons.
To understand Tõnisson better, it is necessary to start with Buryatia, where he grew his Buddhist roots and with the conjuncture of that time that surrounded him and also keep in mind that every peddler of a new ideology is condemned by the public opinion.
As the dominant religion of the time when Karl Tõnisson was travelling through Estonia, was christianity, then he was crucified by society as it is common to christianity. Buddhism speaks about habbits that direct thinking and understanding and in estimating the activities of Brother Vahindra old traditional habit was still used.
But we should start from the beginning.
So, on 20th August 1873 Karl Tõnisson was born in Odratsi farm in Umbusi village near Põltsamaa. At the same year in Panadura, Sri Lanka a disputation took place – a disputation that has become well known in Buddhist Asia – where munk Mohottivatte Gunananda won christian missionary David de Silva and restored Hinayana tradition. It is interesting that our own Karl was later nuncupated as Bodhisattva specifically in Rangoon, in the Hinayana monastery and by Hinayanists.
On 27th May 1876 Dalai Lama XIII Lobsang Thubten Gjatso was born in Tibet and on 31st July 1879 he was put on throne in Potala. At that time buryat Agvan Lobsang Dorjiev, the future teacher of Karl, studied in Drepung Gomang, Lhasa and gained Buddhist wisdom from different famous teachers.
The nation of Buryat though small in number has given to the world many well known intellectuals, scientists, cultural activist and buddhists who have become famous for their ideas and activities. For example explorer Gonbozav Tsyibikov who made the first photoes of Lhasa and brought them to Europe, well known doctor and the peddler of tibetian medicine Pjotr Badmayev and of course Agvan Dorjiev, who met such great Buddhists from Buryatia like Itegilov, Choinzon Iroltuev, famous doctor-lama Dymshyk Norbojev etc.
Agvan Dorjiev who was later the teacher of Dalai Lama XIII and also his representative in Russian czar´s court was also in close contact with Karl Tõnisson, a Buddhist munk from Estonia. So the history of Estonian Buddhism has been directly conneted with Buryatia and its buddhists traditions. It can be asserted with certainty that the first buddhist tradition in Estonia was gelug and it came from Buryatia through Tõnisson who studied in Buryatian monasteries and brought this tradition here. Not only here, but so to Baltics, as Tõnisson didn´t talk about Dharma only in Estonia, but also in Latvia and Lithuania. Tõnisson was in the list of munks already before the temple of Sankt-Peterburg had been finished, so he was seen as a value and benefit to the temple and was appointed the head of Saint-Peterburg´s temple by Dorjiev in 1920.
Tõnisson was in connection both with Dorjiev and baron Ungern von Sternberg who was also related with Estonia as he had relatives in Estonia and he spent his childhood in Tallinn. So there´re already two religious heroes whose origins are in Estonia. All these persons mentioned before shared the same emancipative idea of pan-mongolism that they tried to popularise and put into life. As I asserted many years ago, Estonians have besides Karl Tõnisson another Buddhist religious hero – Ungern, who was in contact with Agvan Dorjiev, Dza lama and with the buddhist elite of Mongolia and Buryatia.
A little bit about Dza lama. In 1867 Kalmyk Amur Sanajev (also Amursan), Dza lama was sent to Mongolia with pilgrims to study there, and later he as a gifted boy was directed by lamas to the Drepung monastery in Tibet, where was already Agvan Dorjiev. This fact gives an opprtunity to understand better the nature of Dza lama and his actions in later years.
In Estonia little is still known about Tõnisson and thanks to the writings of Gerodnik and Remsu he is thought to have been a geek. Gennadi Gerodnik gave the version of Tõnisson as of a diddy, a societal laughingstock and an underdeveloped Buddhist preacher in his book that he wrote during soviet times, making of Tõnisson the fool of imperialists and the enemy of Estonian people who had wanted to enslave everybody around him with the help of Buddhism.
Tõnisson´s contemporaries knew nothing about Milarepa or Marpa and even Remsujev became a victim of this Baptist world and moral as he presented his case about the life and activity of Tõnisson while being uneducated in Buddhism, knowing nothing about mahasiddhas or yogis or Buddhism as such. Remsujev´s opinion about baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg was quite the same as that of communists.
A paragraph from Remsu´s writings: ”During the first half of his life Vahindra was a rantipole freak, who played unshod and hung aroung in fairs, excoriated in his writings women, state, jews and priests who were guilty that the world was going to an end.”
Linnart Mäll has supported the same view. The orientalists of Tartu University are known for their attitude, they kept themselves far away from Estonian Buddhists during soviet times. For more objective understanding of estonian buddhism where buddhism would be a strating point and not scientific communism, a new generation of historians and orientalists needs to grow up.
In estonia Karl Tõnisson gave lectures, published books and held lamamistic services in Kloostri Street, Tartu. In Riga he had a small temple-like building in one rented department, where he once a week held a buddhist service. Most of the audience were local thesophists. Sometimes there were also lamas who happened to visit Riga and to them Brother Vahindra played buccin and cherrystone and beat a big drum that could have been heard through many floors.
He also popularised exercise yoga (or Dummot as Tõnisson himself called it) and water procedures. The demonstrations of Dummo had such a peculiar effect that 80 % of the audience were women. Vahindra is told to have loved to jump naked into the tub of cold water in front of women and that he had done it many times during a lecture. To that feminine audience he told that it was better to be born as a man than as a tender girl, because women were more involved with sansara because of giving birth and therefore their karma was worse than that of men…
Agvan Dorjiev, Dza lama, Ungern von Sternberg and Karl Tõnisson were sharing the same idea and they tried to put it into life. How skillful they were or how close did they get to their mystic aim of Buddhist theocratic state, was seen later in history. Tõnisson came to Estonia to hide from Bolsheviki, and later moved to Asia where he spent the rest of his life. Agvan Dorjiev, Dza lama and Roman Ungern von Sternberg were executed by commissars and were trampled in the works of soviet historians.
And now some chronology to give a picture of that time – who, where, when and with whom was.
On 29th December 1885 baron Roman Ungern von Strenberg was born in Graz, Austria.
In 1887 Ungern family moved to Estonia and baron grew up in his stepfather Oscar von Hoyningen-Huene´s house. Young Roman Ungern von Sternberg went to school to Tallinn Aleksandri Gymnasium that nowdays is known as Tallinn University. Seems that Tallinn University has its own national hero who fought against communists and for Buddhists.
In 1890, three years after Ungern came to Estonia, Damba Dzjamtsan Lama or Dza lama arrived to Mongolia on two dirty camels, and became later the religious hero in Asia and the closest friend of Ungern untill the end of his life.
In 1892 Tõnisson started his studies in the department of philosophy in Sankt-Peterburg University and he lived in the house of E. E. Uhtomski as the head of the house and Tõnisson´s father had been good friends for years.
In 1893 Tõnisson travelled for the first time to Buryatia to study Buddhism.
In 1897 there were 75 Buddhist registered in Sankt-Peterburg.
In 1898 Dorjiev visited for the first time Sankt-Peterburg. He travelled in the company of mongols, buryats and tibetans. The visit of this company is considered to be the first visit of Tibetian embassy that started the negotiations with Russian czar about the diplomatic relations between these two countries. Actually it was a company of Buddhist who came to investigate the possibilitiess of ideological trade with Russia and Europe. The arrival of this company could mean only that Potala had sent out the first scout patrol who was supposed to analyse how and whether it was possible to introduce Buddhist teachings in this western Christian culture.
In 1900 Vahindra visited Kamchatka, Buryatia, Mongolia and Peking in China.
In 1903 from April till August Tõnisson stayed in Kamchatka and on the 1st September he travelled to Vladivostok by steamship.
Then moved Baltic Dharma Dhuta as Lustig called him to Manchuria where he met Russian officer whose life he saved. Lustig mentions that this officer was prince Vorontsov who later participated actively in the activities of Sankt-Peterburg´ datsan. In the biography it is said that Karlis had a longer communication with Russian militarian explorer and geographer Kozlov at that time.
Tõnisson knew many important and powerful person of that time personally, including some members of the government and the reprsentatives of Buddhism.
On 8th February 1904 Roman Ungern von Sternberg went to Japan War.
At the same time Karl Tõnisson happened to arrive to Urgaa. And also Dza lama travelled around Urgaa and met his old friends as well as found new ones. Dzaa lama knew XIII Dalai lama from times when he studied in Drepong, but in Urgaa he found a new friend with whom he later fought together against communists in Mongolia and Buryatia and who was called Bloody Baron already at the time when they met.
In 1905 Tõnisson was spending his time around Gobi and he was also often in Urgaa.
Karl Tõnisson spent the New Years Eve in Erden Dzuu monastery where he met Dorzijev and Dzaa lama. They discussed how to reform buddhist church, how to teach buddhism in the west and whether it was possible to build buddhist temple in Sankt-Peterburg. They also talked about reforms in Buddhist education and schools that should be introduced in the monasteries as well as about the future of buddhism generally.
In 1906 there were over 3000 munks in Erden Dzuu and most of them lived in yurtas.
In Urgaa our barefooted bodhisattva stayed with his Holiness Djebtsung Damba Hutukhta, who was the head of Mongolian Buddhists. The fact that the dalai of mongols sat with Tõnisson behind the same table implies that Djebtsung Damba Hutukhta must have had a great wish and need for it.
Baltic boddhisattva had many guardians in high places in Mongolia as well as in Buryatia and Kalmyk. The name of Dorjiev opened every buddhist door from Astrahan to Lhasa and this helped Karl a lot in his journeys.
From Urgaa Karl travelled through Altai and Sayaans visiting every temple and holy place that were on his way, but Lustig does not mantion what Tõnisson did there or whom he spoke to.
In 1907 Englishmen left Tibet. In February Baltic Dharma Dhuta rushed from Tuva to Orenburg where he arrived in March. Dharma Dhuta held a course of lections on Buddhism to the local peolple who happened to celebrates the Resurrection of the Christ at that time after the russian orthodox tradition. Lutig writes that many people came to listen boddhisattva Karlis and they asked very many questions and were actively interested in the teachings of Siddharta.
From Orenburg Karl travelled to the town of Samaara near Volga river where he tried to raise interest towards Buddha teachings among local people, but according to Lustig it was useless as these people were not at all interested in nirvana and wanted to continue to party in sansara. Disappointed Tõnisson continued his journey and travelled to Saraatov.
In the chronicle it is written that in Saraatov the university students were interested in Indian prince, his teachings and in Tibetian Dalai. Six students who were studing in Saraatov University had been serious vegetarians and there had even been a restaurant in the town for vegetarians where they used to go to eat.
From Saraatov Tõnisson travelled to Astrahan where the stepps were full of kalmyk Buddhist monasteries and temples and he was once again among Buddhists and the local head lama welcomed him warmly. The same lama happened to share the ideals as Agvan Lobsang Dorjiev and received money from kalmyks for building the temple in Sankt-Peterburg. So Vahindra was again with people who tried to make Russia more Buddhist at any costs.
It seems that Tõnisson was on some kind of mission when he travelled to Erden Dzuu where he met Dzaa lama, Ungern and Dorjiev. Tõnisson travelled through Russia and Asia and met often in his journeys Agvan Dorjiev, Dzaa lama and Roman Ungern von Sternberg. While living in Sankt-Peterburg in the home of Uhtomski family Karl often met Dorjiev. This house was also often visited by Ungern and Tundutov. When Karlis came to Kalmyk then a couple of days later arrived Dorzijev there. Lustid wrote down some of their conversation of that time:
/...the ambassador of His Holiness Dalai lama understood the mental state of a young buddhist cleric and said in a quiet friendly voice: ”Good Vahindra, I know your story well, I was lately in Transbaikalia and the munks there spoke a lot about you. I also received a letter from Urgaa where all your actions and travels in Mongolia were written down. His Holiness Djebtsung Damba Hutuhkta wrote in his letter a lot about you...”etc/ Hier Lustig mentions that Dorjiev told Tõnisson about the plans of building the Sankt-Peterburg temple and about the problems with it.
Then comes again a paragraph about Djebtsung Damba Hutuhkta writing personaly to Dorjiev about Tõnisson´s journeys in Mongolia etc. Djebtsung Damba wrote many times to Dorjiev to give an overview about Karl´s doings in Mongolia. In the same conversation that took place in Kalmyk, in Maloderbetskii uluss, Agvan Lobsang gave his thanks to Karl for his activities involving Tibet mentioning that Potala was very pleased with his doings, emphasizing his capabilities to communicate to people.
In 1908 Ungern von Sternberg graduated from Pavlov´s military school in Sankt-Peterburg.
In 1909 Tõnisson published his first book in russian „ Teaching about how a human becomes immortal“, in Riga by G. Budberg´s Printhouse.
In 1910 there were 184 buddhist registered in Sankt-Peterburg, 163 of them were men, and 21 women.
In 1910 Ungern von Sternberg stayed in Tshitaa. In February he was sent to serve in Asia.
In 1911 Ungern von Sternberg came from Transbaikalia to visit his relatives in Tallinn and he stayed three months in Estonia.
On 26th April 1912 (according to the new calender) Voldemar Friedrich Lustig was born, the second Buddhist in Estonian Buddhist history.
In 1912 Tõnisson stayed in Tartu and published his Buddhist verses in a book where he also presented for the first time his version of Pan-Baltoonia inspired by Pan-Mongolia.
In August 1912 Roman Ungern von Sternberg made his famous journey all on his own on a horse from Dauuria through wild taiga to Mongolia to join with Dzaa lama and his forces under the fortress of Kobdo. Baron gave an application to retire from the regiment of cossacks in Amuur as he wanted to fight together with Dzaa lama. He wrote another application to inform that he wanted to serve in the army of Mongolia for the freedom of buddhist and for their own theocratic state. Ungern had good reasons for that as he had met Dzaa lama before; they knew each other already well. They also shared the same ideas and religion. Long before meeting Dzaa lama had baron Ungern started mongolian studies and Burdukov mentions in his diary that baron asked day after day the meanings and pronounciation of mongolian words writing them up carefully in his notebook. Colonel Kazakov who stayed in the Russian consulate in Urgaa at that time forbid baron Ungern to leave the serveses of Russian Empire and sent him back to his old regiment in Transbaikalia. Dzaa lama planned to occupy the western part of Mongolia and to establish there a new small country. It was supposed to be a foundation of the future great buddhist state, in the same borders as was the empire of Genghis Khan.
At the beginning of 1913 Ungern von Sternberg visited Sankt-Peterburg to participate the jubilee of Romanov family and then travelled to Estonia to spend his vacation with his estonian relatives.
In 1914 Karlis Tõnisson was called to army and he served in the Fourth Caucasian regiment, participating in the battles in East Prussia.
On 2nd May 1914 Nikolai II affirmed the staff of Sankt-Peterburg temple, which at first it consisted of 9 munks, of which five had to be gelongs. That was czar´s decision, although Agvan Lobsang would have wanted more lamas among the staff.
From that moment on Tõnisson was officially in the list of staff of Sankt-Peterburg temple and he served his time in the army as a Buddhist cleric taking care of solders who were Buddhists, like kalmyks, buryats and tuvas. It seems that from the beginning of the building of the temple Dorjiev took care that Vahindra would be officially connected to the temple.
Aleksander Andreyev who studied the history of the Sankt-Peterburg temple describes in his study how Tõnisson arrived from Buryatia to revolutionary Petrograd in 1920 and found the temple to be despoiled by bolsheviks and how he met academician Sthserbatski who was in charge of guarding the buildings and treasure of the temple.
Karl himself was very fanatic about Sankt-Peterburg temple. All his life he carried with himself piles of papers and documents that proved his long tenure as a lama and temporary head of Sankt-Peterburg temple.
Valmar Adams has described how Tõnisson had demonstrated these papers together with russian, mongolian and tibetian papers to the local orientalists in Riga. One wall of the temple that Karl founded in Riga was covered with papers and pictures and he proudly presented them to the local theosophists. Elsa Silberg, a theosophist during that time, has spoken about this as she attended the serveses held by Tõnisson at that time. Later some of his archive and papers had also been in Rangoon. Tõnisson´s papers and manuscripts can´t be found anymore, although it can be sure that in the 70s these were still in Rangoon. At that time some people from Estonia visited Lustig in his monastery in Rangoon and Lustig showed them old photoes and newspaper cuts about Tõnisson. There was a suitcase full of documents.
It can be asked were are these documents now? One legend tells that Haldre from Tartu brought some of the papers with him and gave these to Gennadi Gerodnik who wrote pasquinade about Tõnisson as ordered by authorities. Durnig his trip to Burma Tiit Pruuli managed to get a hold of and to bring to Estonia documents and papers that belonged to Lustig – his diaries, Tõnisson´s biography, different petitions to official institutions, most of them to the consul of Foreign Estonia in New York.
It is amazing how dramatically different were the teacher and the disciple. In his expressions and performances Tõnisson acted as mahasiddha. Karl Tõnisson walked all his life barefooted even in Yakutia and Kamchatka, he participated in the marathon race while being over 50 years old and he demonstrated miraculous oriental exercises that were supposed to help people to live hundreds of years old. He was talented and witty in his doings.
Tõnisson needs to be treated as mahasiddha as he has deserved it for his colorful behaviour and lifestyle. He wrote and published many books in which he tried to introduce buddhism in his own interpretations. To undrestand Tõnisson´s sayings one needs to know Buddhism and the background of Tõnisson and his time.
In 1915 Tõnisson participated in the besieging and conquering of Przemysli castle as buddhist cleric. He was awarded with Georg Cross.
In March 1915 Karl Tõnisson left the army.
On 10th August 1915 Kalachakra temple in Sankt-Peterburg was officially and finally opened. A grand ceremony took place.
In 1915 after opening celebrations Karl Tõnisson hurried to Buryatia and from there to Mongolia and he returned only after two years.
In summer 1917 Agvan Dorjiev left Petrograd and travelled to Buryatia, leaving Brother Vahindra to guard the temple. Dorjiev went to Tamtshinsk´s datsan where all important lamas had gathered from all over Buryatia to discuss the future of Buddhism in Russia and Asia. As the Czar of Russia was overthrown, Buryats and Mongols were worried about their future and quite many of them hoped to establish an independent and united state. Dorzijev had a project that proposed an idea and program for uniting Mongolia as well as to declare Kalachakra´s datsan in Sankt-Peterburg the property of Buryat, Mongol and Kalmyk Buddhists. Uniting Mongolia had been a subject of a meeting that took place years earlier in Erden Dzuu monastery, where also Dzaa lama and Karl Tõnisson had participated.
In summer 1917 Provisional Government directed Ungern von Sternberg to Transbaikalia and Mongolia. Agvan Dorjiev left Sankt-Peterburg and a couple of weeks later left baron Ungern. Soviet historians tried later to convince Buddhists that everyone fought only for their own personal gain. It has always been more useful to show that the enemy is seperated and alone. It would have been ideologically dangerous to show that they acted and fought together against the soviet power.
These were difficult times in Sankt-Peterburg´s datsan as lamas who lived there received many letters that threated to bomb the temple. In spring lamas started to plan to leave the capital.
In 1918 Ungern von Sternberg received the rank of general major. In the same year Bloody Baron with his army fought in Transbaikalia, trying to establish the first buddhist theocratic empire in the world. With him was often his friend kalmyk Damba Dzjamtsan Lama. They both wanted to establish the Empire of Genghis Khan in Buddhist form.
This ideal was shared by Agvan Dorjiev, Dza lama and even by Karl Tõnisson who wrote in his books often about buddhist state of Pan-Baltoonia, that was supposed to extend to Himalayas. If to compare Tõnisson´s writings to Ungern´, Dorzijev´and Dzaa lama´ conceptions, it is clear that they all dreamt about the same aim – Buddhist theocratic state.
In 1920 Bogdo-gegen gave Ungern the title of tsin-van and the rank of khan. Usually was the title of khan given only to those with genghises origin. So not even all mongols could have that honor. Baron Ungern von Sternberg was a german, born in Austria, grown up in Estonia, had studied in Sankt-Peterburg, but he became an honored guest of genghis tribe.
In 1920 Dorzijev appointed Vahindra alias Karlis Tennisons the head of Sankt-Peterburg´s datsan, and he himself travelled to Bakuu where the Congress of Eastern Nations was taking place. In that congress the decision was made to apply for the autonomy of kalmyks, buryats and mongols.
In February 1920 baron Ungern freed Urgaa.
On 21st May 1921 Ungern ordered his army to move outside of Mongolia. In Transbaikalia Ungern was outnumbered by enemy, but still fighting. Finally he was betrayed and given over to the communists. On 15th September trial was held over Roman Ungern von Sternberg in Novo-Nikolajevski (nowdays Irkutski), that lasted five hours and after which Baron was executed.
In 1922 Estonian Embassy refused to give visa and permission to Karl Tõnisson for coming to Estonia.
It is necessary to mention that it can be noticed in Tõnisson´s case how his boddhisattva´s karma had left him without political vision and diplomacy. He made a mistake announcing in Estonian Embassy that he wanted to come to Estonia for convert Estonians into Buddhism. Embassy was informed about his activities in Sankt-Peterburg´s datsan, and refused to give him documents for travelling to Estonia. The reason was that Estonia was Lutheran and noone needed Buddhism or Buddhists in Estonia.
That was the official position about religion. New Estonian State accepted only christianity which showed how influencial was Christianity in the circles of power. Tõnisson went to Latvian Embassy and latvians gave him papers and citizenship, probably just for making political gesture. Karl Tõnisson became Latvian citizen and Buddhist cleric Karlis Tennissons and as such left a mark in the history of Asia.
In 1923 Tõnisson left from Sankt-Peterburg´s datsan after receiving a letter from Dorjiev who asked him to leave the town as staying in Sankt-Peterburg would have been dangerous.
In 1923 Agvan Dorjiev sent with the expedition of explorer Kozlov ten young lamas to Tibet to study. Three of the lamas were killed by communists near Ulan Baator, but the rest arrived to Tibet. All these „seven brave Buddhists” got a good education and became well-known lamas during their lifetime, but they never managed to come back to their homeland.
In 1923 Vahindra arrived from Russia to Tartu, but this time with Latvian citizenship.
In 1924 Karlis moved from Tartu to Riga where he organized the first Latvian Buddhist congregation.
In 1924 the first estonian Buddhist bishopric was also founded by Karlis, but authorities refused to register it.
In 1926 Tõnisson participated in marathon organized by sports society „Kalev” and he came on the third place. It took for him 3 hours, 31 minutes and 26 seconds to finish, which was a very good time for a person at his age.
In 1927 Lustig graduated from Narva Gymnasium.
In 1927 Lustig´s first poem was published in Narva newspaper.
In 1927 Tõnisson personally met Latvian president Gustavs Zemgals.
In 1928 Vahindra published his book ”Future great power Pan-Baltoonia”.
In 1930 Karlis published his book ”Me and my disciples believe” (Eduard Bergmann Sprinthouse in Tartu).
In summer 1930 while giving lectures on Buddhism in Narva Tõnisson first met Friedrich Voldemar Lustig who became his disciple and companion till the end of his life.
On 27th November 1930 Lustig became Buddhist munk.
In 1931 Tennissons and Lustig started their jouney through Europe to Asia, hoping to go to Tibet. During the Second World War they stayed in monasteries in Thai.
In November 1933 died XIII Dalai lama and from that time on the doors of many Buddhist temples were closed for decades in soviet Russia and Mongolia.
In 1935 still alive Buddhists all over soviet Russia, Mongolia, Kalmõkkia, Tuva and Burjaatia were prosecuted and prisoned. First to fall under attack was Sankt-Peterburg´s datsan.
In 1935-1936 Tõnisson and Lustig spent year and a half in China.
During one night in autumn 1937 Leningrad´s tsekists took over the temple founded by Dorjiev, they arrested all people who happened to be there at that time, both munks and visitors. They were taken to tsekaa and ”troika” decided over their fate. Everyone was executed, including well-known Mongolia investigator Baradijn.
On 13th November 1937 85-years old Agvan Lobsang Dorjiev was arrested by tsekists in Buryatia and on 29th January 1938 he died in Ulan-Ude prison. His death gave communists an opportunity to settle a score with the Buddhist temple that was situated in a revolutionary capital.
In 1941 Tõnisson and Lustig criticed openly in local newspapers politics of Thai government that was in favour of Japan and the renaming of Siam to Thai which they took as backing away from buddhist cultural inheritance.
In 1942 radiostation that belonged to army was located to datsan and it was in air until 60ties.
In 1949 Thai government sent Estonian monks out of the country to Burma´s border.
In 1956 Vahindra and Lustig participated in the IV International Buddhist Conference in Khatmandu in Nepal and they came into contact with lamas from Buryatia who were for the first time outside of Buryatia.
In Burma Lustig became the librarian of Rangoon monastery. He became famous for translating Burmian poetry into English. Teacher and his disciple spent their last days in Rangoon among Buddhists and monks who belonged to Hinayana tradition, although they both belonged to Mahayana tradition.
On 9th May 1962 Tõnisson died and he was nuncupated as Boddhisattva in Hinayana tradition - an occasion that has happened very rarely in Buddhist history. So Estonians already have their own Boddhisattva, that many other nations do not have.
Until their death they were officially the representatives of Baltic Buddhists for the western world. As Estonia, Latvia and Lietuva were occupied by Soviet Union they could not be in contact with people in their homeland. And there were no more Buddhists in Estonia as all religious propaganda was forbidden.
On 4th April 1989 Lustig died in Rangoon.
On 25th June 1989 a new Buddhist society was registered in Leningrad and they gave to the temple back his original function.
One coil on the time spiral is over and the world around us has changed compared to those times when Agvan datsan, Roman Ungern von Sternberg, Dzaa lama and Karl Tõnisson were still alive.
It happens often in our lives that into the plans that we have made Kalachakra itself makes a correction and for the human being it is impossible to perceive everything that takes place in time as his senses are imperfect.
Renata Sõukand opened a subject of ”Barefooted Tõnisson in the folklore of village people” in the folkloristic studies winter seminar of Estonian Literature Museum. She asked, how many people from Vahindras´s home village know about this legendary buddhist munk and what role if any does he play in the identity of this village.
It turned out that in his home village very little was known about Brother Vahindra and even fewer stories was possible collect about him. At the same time people are proud of their knowledge (although poor) and they are regretting that they had not payed enough attention to the stories of eldery people. Vahindra is recognized as a person of that village, but at the same time he is placed outside the village, as weird traveller from different religion.