Golden Urn

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Golden Urn
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese金瓶掣籤
Simplified Chinese金瓶掣签
Literal meaningDrawing Lots From a Golden Vase Ceremony
Tibetan name
Tibetanགསེར་བུམ་སྐྲུག་པ

The Golden Urn refers to a method introduced by the Qing Empire in the late-18th century to select rinpoches, lamas and other high offices within Tibetan Buddhism. It was institutionalized in the 29-Article Ordinance for the More Effective Governing of Tibet. The Qianlong Emperor also published the article The Discourse of Lama in 1792 to explain the history of lamas and the reincarnation system, while also explaining why he thought it would be a fair system of choosing them, as opposed to choosing the Lama based on the advice of only a few. [1][2][3].

In 1936, the Golden Urn system was also institutionalized in the Method of Reincarnation of Lamas《喇嘛轉世辦法[4]》 by the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission of the Central Government.

In 2007, the Golden Urn became institutionalized in the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 of the Central Government, Article 8 states that approval is required for request to exempt lot-drawing process using Golden Urn.[5]


History[edit]

The Golden Urn originated in a decree issued by the Qianlong Emperor in 1792, after the Qing victory in the Second Invasion of the Sino-Nepalese War. Article One of the decree, the 29-Article Ordinance for the More Effective Governing of Tibet, was designed to be used in the selection of rinpoches, lamas and other high offices within Tibetan Buddhism, including the Dalai Lamas, Panchen Lamas and Mongolian lamas.[6][7][8] In Qianlong Emperor's article The Discourse of Lama 《喇嘛说[9]》which was published also in 1792, he explained the history of lamas and the reincarnation system, he inferred that the reincarnation system is only man-made [10], and creating rules is only to facilitate those monks[11], and to eliminate drawbacks associated with the man-made reincarnation[12][13] Mike Dash argued that the Urn's real purpose was to allow the Qing Emperors of China to control the selection process.[14]

Two Golden Urns were issued by the Qianlong Emperor: one is enshrined in Jokhang Temple in Lhasa and is to be used for choosing Dalai and Panchen Lama reincarnations; the other is in Yonghe Temple in Beijing for choosing Mongolian Lama, known as Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, reincarnations.[15]

The specific ritual to be followed when using the Golden Urn was written by the 8th Dalai Lama, Jamphel Gyatso.[16] The names and dates of birth of each candidate were to be written in the Manchu, Han, and Tibetan languages on metal or ivory slips and placed in the golden urn.[17] After prayers before the statue of the Jowo in the Jokhang temple in Lhasa, a slip was drawn. The 7th Panchen Lama, Palden Tenpai Nyima, used the Golden Urn for the first time in 1822 to choose the 10th Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso.

According to the 14th and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, the urn was used in three Dalai Lama selections, those of the 10th, 11th, and 12th, and two Panchen Lama selections, the 8th and 9th. However, also according to the 14th Dalai Lama, only the 11th Dalai Lama was actually selected with this method, as the 10th and 12th Dalai Lamas had already been identified, and use of the Golden Urn in their cases was ceremonial to humor the Qing.[18] The 9th Dalai Lama, though recognized and enthroned after the decree was issued, was not chosen using the Golden Urn.

On January 26, 1940, the Regent Reting Rinpoche requested the Central Government to exempt Tenzin Gyatso from lot-drawing process using Golden Urn to become the 14th Dalai Lama.[19] [20] The request was approved by the Central Government.[21]


In 2018, historian Max Oidtmann compiled various sources and concluded that between 1793 and 1825 the Golden Urn was used for roughly half the major reincarnation searches in Tibet and Mongolia, and overall it was used 79 times for 52 different major lineages.[22]. Reviewing Oidtmann's book, Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne noted that his data show that most historical accounts of the Golden Urn have been politically constructed and are not completely accurate: Tibetan historians tend to downplay its use, while contemporary Chinese historians exaggerate it.[23]

Controversy[edit]

In November 1995 the Golden Urn was controversially used to name Qoigyijabu (Gyancain Norbu) as the 11th Panchen Lama. This action was approved by the Chinese government, but opposed by the Government of Tibet in Exile. In May of the same year, Tenzin Gyatso had named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama.[24]

In 2007, an order from the State Administration for Religious Affairs,[25] the People's Republic of China's agency charged with keeping religion under state control, titled the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 was issued regarding reincarnations in China. This order states that any tulkus (reincarnated teachers), which include the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, who plan to be claimed to be reincarnations of tulkus must get government approval.[26]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ https://zh.wikisource.org/zh-hant/%E5%96%87%E5%98%9B%E8%AF%B4
  2. ^ http://www.livingbuddha.cn/view-fff87444c9684e668c22f903876e76d4.html
  3. ^ https://www.douban.com/group/topic/90461890/
  4. ^ https://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E5%96%87%E5%98%9B%E8%BD%89%E4%B8%96%E8%BE%A6%E6%B3%95
  5. ^ 《藏传佛教活佛转世管理办法》第八条 历史上经金瓶掣签认定的活佛,其转世灵童认定实行金瓶掣签。请求免予金瓶掣签的,由省、自治区人民政府宗教事务部门报国家宗教事务局批准,有特别重大影响的,报国务院批准。
  6. ^ "Reincarnation". 14th Dalai Lama. September 24, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  7. ^ http://eng.tibet.cn/culture/tibetan_buddhism/1449128868125.shtml
  8. ^ Smith 1997, pg. 135
  9. ^ "喇嘛說 - 維基文庫,自由的圖書館". zh.wikisource.org.
  10. ^ 《喇嘛说》盖佛本无生,岂有转世?
  11. ^ 《喇嘛说》但使今无转世之呼图克图,则数万番僧,无所皈依,不得不如此耳。
  12. ^ 《喇嘛说》虽不能尽除其弊,较之从前各任私意指定者,大有间矣。
  13. ^ http://www.tibet.cn/cn/cloud/xszqkk/xzyj/1991/3/201710/t20171025_4604490.html
  14. ^ "Murder in Tibet's High Places". Smithsonian. April 10, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  15. ^ Foster 2008, pg. 171
  16. ^ https://www.dalailama.com/messages/retirement-and-reincarnation/reincarnation
  17. ^ http://eng.tibet.cn/culture/tibetan_buddhism/1449128868125.shtml
  18. ^ "Reincarnation". 14th Dalai Lama. September 24, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  19. ^ Melvyn C. Goldstein (18 June 1991). A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State. University of California Press. pp. 328–. ISBN 978-0-520-91176-5.
  20. ^ http://www.livingbuddha.us.com/view-d59c6c9eba6e4beb842b893f40fdec75.html
  21. ^ http://www.livingbuddha.us.com/view-a4a452dadc42426184aa073f08dd26fb.html
  22. ^ Max Oidtmann, Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet, New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.
  23. ^ Massimo Introvigne, The Golden Urn: Does the CCP Believe in Reincarnation?, Bitter Winter, January 3, 2019.
  24. ^ Goldstein 1997, pp. 102-9
  25. ^ 国家宗教事务局令(第5号)藏传佛教活佛转世管理办法 [State Religious Affairs Bureau Order (No. 5) Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas] (in Chinese). Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. n.d. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  26. ^ http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-08/04/content_5448242.htm

References[edit]

  • Goldstein, Melvyn C. The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama (1997) University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21951-1
  • Smith, Warren W., Jr. Tibetan Nation: A History Of Tibetan Nationalism And Sino-Tibetan Relations (1997) Westview press. ISBN 978-0-8133-3280-2
  • Foster, Simon. Adventure Guide China (2008) Hunter. ISBN 1-58843-641-1