Buddhism was brought to Estonia by beginning of 20th century – Karl Tõnisson (1882-1962) and Friedrich Lustig alias Ashin Ananda (1912-1989).
Tõnisson was known among people as an exotic and colourful figure, and due to his lifestyle he earned the name "barefoot Tõnisson" (also known as brother Vahindra). Tõnisson was born in 1883 near Põltsamaa, travelled in Estonia and Russia until he reached Agaa convent in Buryat. He got letter for pilgrimage as he studied there and joined the other pilgrims who headed for Tibet. Thus, was Tõnisson the first Estonian who went to Lhasa, which was a very rare event in that time – many Europeans had tried that, but only devoted Buddhists were permitted into the city. Returning from the Himalayas, Tõnisson engaged in the life of Buddhist temple in St. Petersburg during the time of revolution, and in few years returned to Estonia. In the 1930s he found himself a companion and co-walker Friedrich Lustig. Together they travelled by foot through Europe to Asia until they reached Burma, where they settled and where later on Lustig became the elder of Rangoon library. Friedrich was also known as a Buddhist poet and translated poetry from local languages into English. Karl Tõnisson died in Burma and after his death he was declared as bodhisattva in Rangoon.
Today about 0.15% to 1.0% of Estonia is Buddhist.
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