Galina Goryaeva, The Diamond Sutra, a Coin, and How to Look After a Buddha’s Image

Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 

Change log

Galina talks about the Diamond Sutra that she keeps in her house, a coin that she heals sick children with, and about the significance of keeping a picture/statue of a Buddha at home. Galina: This is the Diamond Sutra, Dorzh Zhodva. This sutra protects the house where it is being kept. When a person reads this sutra out loud, it is very good. I sometimes also read it. This is Ochir Manla, the Buddha of Medicine. When you ask for a blessing from this Buddha, all illnesses get cured. This is an old copper coin. I had a silver ring, but over time it got worn out. This coin is still intact. I use it when I heal sick people. Mergen: How old is this coin? Galina: I cannot see which year it was minted. When you read prayers with this coin and touch a child who has fever with it, the child recovers. In the past, people used to bring their children, even toddlers, to me. Today the number of folk healers is growing each year, but people still bring their children to me. I cannot say ‘no’ to people who come for help. This Buddha of Medicine is the protector of our clan. It was with us in Siberia and returned with us to Kalmykia. In Siberia, at some point my niece used to wear it around her neck. In Kalmykia, it was kept by the elders. Before their death, the elders handed it over to me saying that I, as their daughter-in-law, can keep it. Other images that we had in our clan were big, but this one was small. That is why we took it with us to Siberia. It is the protector of our clan. Mergen: In Siberia, in which places was this protector? Galina: My husbands’ grandparents kept it. Back then I did not even see it. When I married my husband in 1956, his grandparents were already dead. They had four sons who all went into the army. Their oldest daughter-in-law looked after their three grandchildren. Later (when the family was deported to Siberia) she looked after them in Siberia. When the grandfather survived his wife, the oldest daughter-in-law looked after him. They are all gone now. Out of the four sons, two returned from the war, including my husband’s father. His younger brother returned wounded. The other two brothers never returned home, they went missing. When I was a member of an ensemble (later in Kalmykia), one day our ensemble was invited to Ketchenery village. When we arrived there, some of our singers went shopping, but I, along with two other old women went to the local temple. At that time Anzha lama was in the temple, and he gave us this Diamond Sutra, which was fresh out of print. Some of the women took the Sutra for their sons. I thought to myself: ‘My son is still young. He may not keep it correctly. Let me keep it for him for the time being. I’ll leave it later to my son’s family’. This Diamond Sutra suppresses sin and all the bad that may occur in one’s house. I keep the sutra clean. Sometimes, before Zul or Tsagan Sar, I open it and read it. It takes up to three hours to read the whole sutra. I cannot read it every day. Mergen: Could you open it now? Galina: Oh dear. One should not open the sutra while putting it on his/her knees. May the gods have mercy on me. Once you start to read it, you need to read it until the end. The Diamond Sutra is to be wrapped in red, white and yellow silk layers. If you do not have silk, you can use cloth. If a person decides to bring an image of a Buddha to his/her house, that person needs to keep it in cleanliness and light a candle in front of it at least three times a month. I myself light a candle on the 1st, 2nd and 8th days of the month, according to Kalmyk calendar. Tomorrow is the 8th day. I need to light a candle. The 15th day is the Day of the Buddha Shakyamuni. The 16th is the Day of White Tara. I light candles on these days as well. In the past, the elders used to say that an image of a Buddha should not be kept in a dark place. Today the young people bring Buddha’s images home, not fully understanding their significance. They put these images wherever they want. When such an image collects dust, this is not good. It is better not to have a statue at all. If you take an image, keep it in a clean place and periodically light candles in front of it. Before taking one, you should go to the temple and ask which Buddha corresponds with your birthday. When I heal sick people, I always ask about their date of birth and which Buddha they have as a protector. For example, I myself was born in the year of the sheep. I have White Tara as my protector. I pray to White Tara and Ochir Vani.

Family relics, coins, healing methods, Diamond Sutra, Buddhism
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.