Succession of the 14th Dalai Lama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The present 14th Dalai Lama has suggested different possibilities to identify the next (15th) Dalai Lama, but has not publicly specified the ritual qualifications and alleged mystical signs upon the method of rebirth would occur.[1][better source needed] On 5 February 1940, request to exempt Lhamo Thondup from lot-drawing Golden Urn process to become the 14th Dalai Lama was approved by the Central Government.[2][3]

The selection process remains controversial, as the atheist Chinese government has declared ownership on the selection process using the Golden Urn for the next Dalai Lama.[4][5]

After the Method of Reincarnation of Lamas (Chinese: 喇嘛轉世辦法)[6][7] was abolished in 2004, the Religious Affairs Regulations (Chinese: 宗教事务条例) [8] was published by the Central Government of China. Article 36 states that the process of reincarnation system must follow religious rituals and history custom, and approved by government.


Following the Buddhist belief in the principle of rebirth,[9][10] the Dalai Lama is believed by Buddhists to be able to choose the body into which he is reincarnated. That person, when found, will then become the next Dalai Lama. According to Buddhist scholars it is the responsibility of the High Lamas of the Gelugpa tradition and the Tibetan government to seek out and find the next Dalai Lama following the death of the incumbent. The process can take a long time. It took four years to find the 14th (current) Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. The search is generally limited to Tibet, although the current Dalai Lama has said that there is a chance that he will not be reborn, and that if he is, it would not be in a country under Chinese rule. To help them in their search, the High Lamas may have visions or dreams, and try to find signs. For example, if the previous Dalai Lama was cremated, they can watch the direction of the smoke to suggest where the rebirth will take place.

When these signs have been interpreted and a successor found, there is a series of tests believed to ensure that they are the genuine reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama. They assess the candidate against a set of criteria, and will present the child with various objects to see if they can identify those which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama. If a single candidate has been identified, the High Lamas will report their findings to eminent individuals and then to the Government. If more than one candidate is identified, the true successor is found by officials and monks drawing lots in a public ceremony. Once identified, the successful candidate and his family are taken to Lhasa (or Dharamsala) where the child will study the Buddhist scriptures in order to prepare for spiritual leadership.[11]

According to Tibetan Buddhism the Tulkus do not have to take rebirth in a continuous sequence of lives in this world.[12]

The first article of 29-Article Ordinance for the More Effective Governing of Tibet states that the purpose of Golden Urn is to ensure prosperity of Gelug, and to eliminate cheating and corruption in the selection process.[13] The Qianlong Emperor published 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 reincarnated lamas based on private designation, or based on one person's decision.[14] The edict was also claimed to reduce the influence of corrupt families acquiring influence by holding multiple religious positions.[15][16][17][18]

The Golden Urn became institutionalized in the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 of the Central Government. Article 7 states that no group or individual may carry out activities related to searching for and identifying the reincarnated soul boy of the Living Buddha without authorization.[19] Article 8 states that lot-drawing ceremony with Golden Urn is applicable to those rinpoches, or lamas who were reincarnated previously in history. Request of exemption is handled by State Administration for Religious Affairs, for those with great impact, request of exemption is handled by State Council.[20]

According to the 14th Dalai Lama[edit]

In a 2004 interview with Time, the current Dalai Lama stated:

The institution of the Dalai Lama, and whether it should continue or not, is up to the Tibetan people. If they feel it is not relevant, then it will cease and there will be no 15th Dalai Lama. But if I die today I think they will want another Dalai Lama. The purpose of reincarnation is to fulfil the previous [incarnation's] life task. My life is outside Tibet, therefore my reincarnation will logically be found outside. But then, the next question: Will the Chinese accept this or not? China will not accept. The Chinese government most probably will appoint another Dalai Lama, like it did with the Panchen Lama. Then there will be two Dalai Lamas: one, the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan heart, and one that is officially appointed.[21]

The Dalai Lama stated in 2007 that the next Dalai Lama could possibly be a woman, remarking, "If a woman reveals herself as more useful the lama could very well be reincarnated in this form".[22]

On 24 September 2011, the Dalai Lama issued a statement concerning his reincarnation giving exact signs on how the next one should be chosen, the place of rebirth and that the Chinese appointed Dalai Lama should not be trusted.[23]

In October 2019, the 14th Dalai Lama stated that because of the feudal origin of the Dalai Lama reincarnation system, the reincarnation system should end.[24][25][26]

According to the Chinese government[edit]

After the Dalai Lama title was created by Shunyi Wang in the Ming Dynasty, in 1578, based on the request of family of Shunyi Wang, in October of 1587, seal of authority was granted to the Dalai Lama in 1587 by the emperor of China. [27]

In 1793, the 29-Article Ordinance for the More Effective Governing of Tibet (Chinese: 欽定藏內善後章程二十九條[28]) was published, Article 1 states that the purpose of Golden Urn is to ensure prosperity of Gelug, and to eliminate cheating and corruption in the selection process.[29] Article 12 states that relatives of the Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama must not hold government positions, or participate in political affairs.[30]

In 1936, based on articles 2 and 7 of the Ordinance of Lama Temple Management (Chinese: 管理喇嘛寺廟條例), the Method of Reincarnation of Lamas (Chinese: 喇嘛轉世辦法)[31] was published by the Central Government. Article 3 states that Golden Urn ceremony should be held for reincarnated candidates. Article 7 states that soul boys should not be searched for from the current lama families.

On August 3, 2007, State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 was issued by China which states that all the reincarnations of tulkus of Tibetan Buddhism must get government approval, otherwise they are "illegal or invalid".[32] Rule 8 says approval for request is required if lot-drawing process using Golden Urn is exempted.[33][further explanation needed]

In 2015, the Chairman Padma Choling (白玛赤林) of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of Tibet said:

Whether [the Dalai Lama] wants to cease reincarnation or not ... this decision is not up to him. When he became the 14th Dalai Lama, it was not his decision. He was chosen following a strict system dictated by religious rules and historical tradition and also with the approval of the central government. Can he decide when to stop reincarnating? That is impossible.[34]

In October 2019, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated

The institution of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has been in existence for several hundred years. The 14th (present) Dalai Lama himself was found and recognised following rituals and conventions, and his succession was approved by the then central government. Therefore, the reincarnation must comply with Chinese laws and regulations, follow rituals and historic conventions. [35]


Some analysts opine that even if China uses Golden Urn to pick a future Dalai Lama, it will lack the legitimacy and popular support needed to be functional, as Tibetan Buddhists all over the world would not recognize it.[36] According to Tibetan scholar Robert Barnett "This is one of the chief indicators that China has failed in Tibet. It's failed to find consistent leadership in Tibet by any Tibetan lama who is really respected by Tibetan people, and who at the same time endorses Communist Party rule."[36] Lobsang Sangay, Sikyong (prime minister) of the Tibetan government-in-exile disparaged rules from the Qing Dynasty, said: "It's like Fidel Castro saying, 'I will select the next Pope and all the Catholics should follow'".[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pistono, Matteo (March 9, 2011). "China and the (Next) Dalai Lama". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  2. ^ 1940年2月5日,国民政府正式颁发命令:“青海灵童拉木登珠,慧性湛深,灵异特著,查系第十三辈达赖喇嘛转世,应即免予抽签,特准继任为第十四辈达赖喇嘛。此令。” [On February 5, 1940, the National Government formally issued an order: "The Qinghai soul boy, Lamu Dengzhu, has profound wisdom, and a special book. The reincarnation of the 13th generation of the Dalai Lama should be exempted from drawing lots and succeeded to the 14th generation of Dalai Lama. By order."]
  3. ^ "Executive Yuan's Report to the National Government Regarding the Request to Approve Lhamo Thondup to Succeed the Fourteenth Dalai lama and to Appropriate Expenditure for His Enthronement". The Reincarnation of Living Buddhas. Museum of Tibetan Culture of China Tibetology Research Center. 1940.
  4. ^ Lu, Kang. "Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on May 26, 2017".
  5. ^ O'Brien, Barbara (March 11, 2011). "The Dalai Lama steps back, but not down". The Guardian. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  6. ^ 管理喇嘛寺廟條例  [Regulations on the Management of Lama Temples] (in Chinese). 1935 – via Wikisource.
  7. ^ 廢 管理喇嘛寺廟條例 [(Abolished) The Regulations on Management of Lama Temples]. Laws & Regulations Database of The Republic of China. June 11, 1992.
  8. ^
  9. ^[bare URL PDF]
  10. ^ "Reincarnation, Rebirth, and Buddhism: Here We Go Again". 7 July 2013.
  11. ^ Dalai Lama: a spiritual leader who is found, not chosen, The Guardian, 27 August 2008
  12. ^ Rinpoche, Penor (1999). "Statement by H.H. Penor Rinpoche Regarding the Recognition of Steven Seagal as a Reincarnation of the Treasure Revealer Chungdrag Dorje of Palyul Monastery". Retrieved 13 December 2019. As for how these gaps come about, while tulkus are understood to have vowed to be continually reborn to help beings, it is not necessary for them to take rebirth in a continuous sequence of lives in this world.
  13. ^ 皇帝為了黃教的興隆,和不使護法弄假作弊
  14. ^ 虽不能尽除其弊,而较之从前,各任私意指定者,大有间矣。..一人之授意者,或略公矣。
  15. ^ 去转生一族之私
  16. ^ 乾隆帝 (1792). 喇嘛說  [Lama said] (in Chinese) – via Wikisource.
  17. ^ 御制《喇嘛说》碑 [The stele of "Lama Saying"]. The Reincarnation of Living Buddhas. Museum of Tibetan Culture of China Tibetology Research Center.
  18. ^ 宇の航 (2016-09-04). 乾隆皇帝的《喇嘛说》碑文 [The inscription of Emperor Qianlong's "Lama Saying"]. Douban.
  19. ^ 第七条 活佛转世申请获得批准后,根据活佛影响大小,由相应的佛教协会成立转世指导小组;由拟转世活佛僧籍所在寺庙管理组织或者相应的佛教协会组建转世灵童寻访小组,在指导小组的指导下实施寻访事宜。转世灵童由省、自治区佛教协会或者中国佛教协会根据宗教仪轨和历史定制认定。任何团体或者个人不得擅自开展有关活佛转世灵童的寻访及认定活动。 "Article 7: After the application for the reincarnation of a living Buddha is approved, according to the influence of the living Buddha, the corresponding Buddhist association will establish a reincarnation steering group; the management organization of the temple where the living Buddha is intended to be reincarnated or the corresponding Buddhist association will form a reincarnated soul child search group, and guide the group The implementation of the search matters. The reincarnated soul boy is recognized by the Buddhist Association of the Province, Autonomous Region or the Chinese Buddhist Association according to religious rituals and history. No group or individual may carry out activities related to searching for and identifying the reincarnated soul boy of the Living Buddha without authorization."
  20. ^ 《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。 [Administrative Measures for the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism], Article 8: For the living Buddhas recognized by the golden bottle lottery in history, the reincarnated soul boy is recognized as the golden bottle lottery. Requests for exemption from lottery drawing for the golden bottle shall be submitted to the State Administration of Religious Affairs for approval by the religious affairs department of the people's government of the province or autonomous region, and approved by the State Council if it has a particularly significant impact.
  21. ^ Perry, Alex (October 18, 2004). "A Conversation with the Dalai Lama". Time. Archived from the original on March 28, 2008. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  22. ^ Spencer, Richard (December 7, 2001). "Dalai Lama says successor could be a woman". London: Retrieved November 19, 2010.
  23. ^ Statement of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, on the Issue of His Reincarnation Website of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet September 24, 2011. Accessed December 26, 2014. Archived December 30, 2014.
  24. ^ "The Dalai Lama Calls the Dalai Lama Feudal – Buddha Buzz Weekly". 2 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Addressing Students from North Indian universities". His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. 2019-10-25. Archived from the original on 2019-11-06. Retrieved 19 August 2021. In seeking to balance preserving tradition and modern development, His Holiness suggested that the custom of recognising reincarnate lamas may have had its day. He remarked that no such custom existed in India. There is no reincarnation of the Buddha or Nagarjuna. He wondered what place this institution has in a democratic society.
  26. ^ Shri Puri. "Reincarnation feudal, should end now: Dalai Lama amid successor row with China". Times of India. Times of India. Archived from the original on 2019-10-26. Retrieved 19 August 2021. "The tradition should end now as reincarnation has some connection with the feudal system," the Dalai Lama, the 14th to hold this position, said in Dharamshala on Friday. The Dalai Lama was addressing a gathering of college students from Bhutan and India at his residence in McLeodganj when he was asked about keeping alive traditional values in modern times and passing them on to future generations. "Any culture needs to evolve over a period of time. Like the Buddhist community in India has no tradition of reincarnation or lama institution. It developed in Tibet. I think there is some feudal connection to it and it needs to change now," he told the students. "Institutions need to be owned by the people, not by an individual. Like my own institution, the Dalai Lama's office, I feel it is linked to a feudal system. In 1969, in one of my official statements, I had mentioned that it should continue... But now I feel, not necessarily. It should go. I feel it should not be concentrated in a few people only (Tibetans)," he said. Elaborating, he added, "The system should end, or at least change with the changing times. There have been cases of individual lamas who use reincarnation (to get their way) but never pay attention to study and wisdom," he said, adding that he feels there should be no institutions of lamas and no reincarnations now.
  27. ^ 《明实录》又载:“万历十五年(1587)十月丁卯……番僧答赖(即达赖)准升‘朵儿只唱名号,仍给敕命、图书……”
  28. ^ "欽定藏內善後章程/欽定藏內善後章程二十九條".
  29. ^ 皇帝為了黃教的興隆,和不使護法弄假作弊
  30. ^ 達賴喇嘛和班禪額爾德尼周圍的隨從官員,過去都是他們的親屬,如達賴喇嘛的叔父和班禪額爾德尼的父親班丹團主,都是私人升任,又如達賴喇嘛之胞兄洛桑格登主巴,依仗勢力多行不法。今後應依西藏各階層及扎什倫布僧俗人民之願望,在達賴喇嘛和班禪額爾德尼在世時,其親屬人員不准參預政事。達賴、班禪圓寂後,如果還有親屬,可以根據他們的技能給予適當的職務。
  31. ^ 廢 喇嘛轉世辦法 [(Abolished) The method of reincarnation]. Laws & Regulations Database of The Republic of China. February 20, 1993.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ 《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。
  34. ^ McDonell, Stephen (March 10, 2015). "China accuses Dalai Lama of profaning Buddhism by signalling end to reincarnation". Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  35. ^ "China Says Dalai Lama's Reincarnation 'Must Comply With Chinese Laws and Regulations'". 2019.
  36. ^ a b Wong, Edward (June 6, 2009). "China Creates Specter of Dueling Dalai Lamas". New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  37. ^ Beech, Hannah (Mar 12, 2015). "China Says It Will Decide Who the Dalai Lama Shall Be Reincarnated As". Retrieved 5 October 2017.