The Beginning of Buddhism in Estonia: Karl Tõnisson’s actions

Karl Tõnisson’s actions in Estonia did not extend to the creation of practical Buddhism, because no buildings or objects (temples, stupas etc.) were established by him. Tõnisson mainly published books, and held lectures and lamaistic services in different places. With regards to Lustig as the student of Tõnisson, after meeting Tõnisson, Lustig left for Asia and he didn’t do any Buddhist activities in Estonia, so his contribution to Estonian Buddhism is indirect and only expressed in the anti-Soviet attitude that he occasionally demonstrated in Asia.

Tõnisson was extremely talented and witty in his actions and should be considered a Mahasiddha because of his colourful behaviour and lifestyle. Tõnisson’s contemporaries, uneducated in Buddhism, knew nothing about Mahasiddhas, yogis or Buddhism. So Tõnisson was considered to be a very strange individual. During the Soviet occupation, he was called a “rantipole freak” by the writers Remsujev and Gerodnik, who considered Tõnisson to be a tool of imperialists and an enemy of the Estonian people. The same view was held by Soviet orientalists.​

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