Religion in Mongolia – Learn All about the History, And it’s People

Mongolian religion has traditionally been dominated by two primary religions: Mongolian Buddhism and Mongolian shamanism, the Mongol ethnic religion. Historically, the Mongols have been noted for their tolerance of various religions. Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Confucians, Shamans, and other religious leaders are claimed to have sat at the Mongol Khans' court and exchanged views. All Mongolian religions were suppressed during the socialist period of the Mongolian People's Republic (1924-1992), and religious figures, academics, and anybody who posed a threat to the communist party were executed or banished to Siberia.

Religion in Mongolia

After the great fall of communism in Mongolia in the year of 1990, democracy brought back Mongolian religious freedom of the people which was taken away from the, and religion in Mongolia once again re-surged. Allowing people to be free and practice whatever they believe.

Divine Creatures – Gods and Spirits

The Mongols in their Mongolian religion believed in divine creatures' spiritual abilities and sacred sites. The powers of Heaven and Earth reigned supreme among the gods, despite the fact that they were unlikely to be imagined in any human-like shape. Etugen (aka Itugen), the goddess of the Earth or Mother Earth, was associated with fertility. Tengri (or Gok Monggke Tenggeri), the 'Blue Sky' or 'Eternal Heaven,' was the primary cult. The term Mongke Tenggiri-yin Kucun-dur, or 'By the Power of Eternal Heaven,' was frequently used in the opening lines of Mongol texts and other official papers to refer to this protector god, who was considered to have granted the Mongols their right to rule the entire world.

Prayers were made to these gods, but they were made in a simple way, without the elaborate structures and rites found in other faiths. Although mountaintops, hill peaks, or plain stone cairns (ovoo) were thought to be particularly good spots for prayer, merely standing in the open air and removing one's hat and belt before praying was enough to show one's submission to the all-powerful.

In Communication with the Spirits

The Mongols in their Mongolian religion valued directions, places, and natural characteristics because they believed they were points of communication with spirits. The doorway of a yurt tent, for example, was usually built to face south. Natural occurrences, particularly thunder and lightning, which are particularly stunning over the vast plains of the Asian steppe, were revered as divine creations. Earth and water spirits, in particular, worked as protectors; moving water, like as rivers, was supposed to be capable of preventing and even nullifying evil.

Certain rites and taboos were performed in order to ensure that the gods and spirits had a positive influence on human affairs.

Not losing royal blood (thought, together with a person's bones, to contain the soul), peeing or washing goods or one's self in rivers, standing on the threshold of a yurt tent, and placing a knife anywhere near a fire were all considered taboos. The conventions were taken seriously, and anyone who disobeyed them faced harsh penalties, including death in some circumstances. Offenders were cleaned by walking between two fires, a tactic that was also utilized with visiting ambassadors to the Mongol court to ensure that their motives were honorable and that they did not harbor any malice toward the khan rulers.


Shamans is a Mongolian religion and they were the Mongols' closest equivalent to priests, and they might be either males (bo'e) or women (rarely) (iduqan). Shamans frequently passed on their status and skills to their progeny, yet one may also become a shaman after having a near-death experience or demonstrating a special sensitivity to the spirit realm. They essentially served as a bridge between this world and the spirit realm for a tribe. Shamans' white robes often featured emblems such as a drum and a hobby horse, which represented the Mongol people's guardian and protector spirit.

Riding a white horse, a shaman might carry and possess an actual drum, wear a mirror around his or her neck or, when walking, use a staff, another symbol of their office.

Shamans were able to communicate with the spirit realm by entering trances while singing unique melodies. Shamans were thought to be capable of divining future occurrences by reading indications such as the cracks that emerged in sheep's shoulder blades and other bones after they had been ritually burned (tolgeci). Shamans occasionally enlisted the aid of animal spirits - particularly powerful creatures such as the bear and wolf - as they spiritually traversed the layers of the universe in search of lost or stolen possessions or even lost souls. Shamans were frequently called upon to perform exorcisms, which involved releasing a troubled or trapped spirit into the afterlife.

Shamans might also aid in Mongol combat by determining auspicious dates for the start of campaigns and offering advice on which attack techniques would yield the best outcomes.

Another shaman power in Mongolian religion was the capacity to change the weather, particularly as a rainmaker in the typically parched steppe. Shamans were thought to be able to aid with medical issues by reuniting troublesome spirits with their rightful bodies, and also blessed births, herds, and hunting parties. Shamans were even consulted when a new Great Khan or 'universal ruler' was to be chosen.

Those shamans who were successful in their varied predictions gained tremendous respect in the tribe, often rivalling the tribal chief, a post they occasionally possessed. A powerful shaman, on the other hand, can be considered as overly strong by some monarchs. This was the case with the problematic shaman Kokchu, who was executed by breaking his back to prevent spilling his blood, which would then seep into the ground and entrap his spirit, causing it to haunt this world rather than the next.

Their Belief in the Afterlife

The Mongols' in the Mongolian religion desire to bury their dead with their weapons and personal belongings suggests that they believe in an afterlife. The fact that leaders were buried in elaborate tombs, usually in a hidden site on a sacred mountain like Burkan Kuldun in Mongolia, together with a large sum of money and slaves, lends credence to this theory. Genghis Khan was treated similarly, with 40 of his concubines and 40 horses sacrificed to follow him to his tomb. This suggests that the Mongols saw the afterlife as a continuation of this life, with one's social status and even occupation remaining unchanged.

Mongols thought that ancestors (ongghot) were not unreachable in a distant afterlife, but were capable of watching the well-being of their offspring as they were sent on their path. At mealtimes, ancestors were often offered little food and drink offerings in appreciation for their protection. In addition, yurt interiors frequently included paintings or elaborately clothed effigies of the family's ancestors. When the camp was moved, all of the effigies were loaded into the same wagon and supervised by a shaman.

Budhism and Other Mongolian Religions

More peoples and Mongolian religions came under the sway of the Mongols as their spectacular dominion grew. Missionaries from China, Tibet, Persia, and Europe arrived in the world's largest empire to spread their faiths. In Mongol-controlled territory, Nestorian Christianity, Western Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism), Taoism, and Confucianism were all practised. With the exception of the Muslim-dominated Ilkhanate in the empire's western reaches, these religions and their adherents were mostly left to their own devices as long as they did not pose a threat to the state. Even Karakorum, the Mongol capital in the 13th century CE, was destroyed by the Mongols.

All subjects inside the empire were supposed to pray to whichever god they believed in for the khan's well-being, in addition to maintaining their own faith. In exchange, most priests and religious organisations were excused from taxation, either in kind or in the form of labour, and when the Mongols besieged cities, clerics were frequently allowed to flee before the attack began.

Some missionaries even converted Mongols, including rulers and their consorts. Thanks to the Tibetan monk Phags-pa Lama, Kublai Khan converted to Tibetan Buddhism (1235-1280 CE).

The shamanistic features of this style of Buddhism, such as tantric chanting and mystical references, no doubt drew people in. The Mongol Yuan Dynasty in China made Tibetan Buddhism the state religion. From the 1250s CE, the embrace of Lamaism in China resulted in the persecution of Taoists and the destruction of their sacred books for a brief period. However, Yuan rulers abandoned such attacks as deleterious to the country's economic and political stability, recognising the long history and great popularity of Taoism and Confucianism among the Chinese. Khans, emperors, and royal women, on the other hand, might be rich supporters of religions and organisations that they personally supported, particularly Buddhist temples.

The Mongols' general tolerance towards other religions, as well as their adoption and adaption of some of them while maintaining parts of their nomadic and shamanistic roots, is a unique element of religion inside their empire as it expanded. "The Mongols believed in taking as much cosmic insurance as possible," writes historian D. Morgan.