Unveiled as the third-most significant spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism is a youth of Mongolian and American descent.
The tenth manifestation of the Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoché, the third-highest ranking spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism, has been revealed to be a young American-Mongolian boy.
The child, who is thought to be around eight years old, was reportedly seen for the first time taking part in a ritual alongside the 87-year-old Dalai Lama earlier this month in Dharamshala, in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
The Dalai Lama revealed the discovery of the tenth manifestation of the Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoché to 5,000 monks and women and 600 Mongolian disciples during this event.
In Mongolia, the news “provoked intense excitement among Buddhists, contempt among secular nationalists, and alarm among those who fear that it will provoke the wrath of the country’s enormous and powerful neighbor, China,” according to the paper. The news went almost “unnoticed” outside Buddhist and diplomatic circles.
According to The Times, the kid is now “at the center of a tense geo-political chess game being played out between powerful governments in east Asia,” and “the survival of one of the leading religions in the world may depend upon the outcome.”
How do people find spiritual leaders?
The Jetsun Dhampa is regarded as the head of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia and is a highly esteemed person in that religion. After the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, the infant, who allegedly has a sibling, is now acknowledged as the third most significant spiritual figure in the faith.
According to The Times, Tibetan Buddhists think that after death, a lama, or spiritual leader, “is reincarnated in a child, who is identified after extensive rituals and divinations.”
But according to CNBC, “such recognitions have frequently been a source of tension between Tibet and China,” as China asserts its authority over Tibet and tries to regulate the acceptance of reborn leaders. China has previously declared that only Buddhist spiritual leaders appointed by its own government’s authorized nominees will be recognized.
Will the action incense China?
Utpal Kumar, the editorial director for First Post, claims that the acknowledgment of the tenth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche has left the Xi Jinping government “stumped.” Nobody would be “surprised,” he continued, if China tried to coordinate a media effort to make sure that the next Dalai Lama has Beijing’s approval while exerting pressure on nations like India and Mongolia to not indulge such “Tibetan ‘fancies'”.
Chinese rule over Tibetan Buddhism’s spiritual authorities has a lengthy past. The Panchen Lama, the second-highest Buddhist spiritual figure, was abducted by the government in 1995 when he was only six years old, according to The Washington Post. “He hasn’t been seen since, nor has his family.”
Tibetan Buddhism specialist Robbie Barnett of SOAS University of London told The Times that China might interpret the news of the new Jetsun Dhampa as a threat to their historical claim to unilateral discretion in selecting lamas. “These things can cascade into conflict with China, which could penalize Mongolia in harmful ways,” he continued.
The Dalai Lama traveled to Mongolia on several occasions in 2016. According to The Times, Beijing retaliated against the trips by “cancelling diplomatic meetings, delaying loans, and closing the border” with the nation. Subsequently, bowing to pressure, the Mongolian government declared that he would not be allowed to enter the nation once more.
Due in part to “fear of China, based on its responses in the past,” according to Barnett, who also emphasized “the extraordinary predicament of landlocked states that are completely vulnerable to powerful neighbors,” Mongolia’s government has not yet responded to the most recent events.
Who is going to succeed the Dalai Lama?
According to The Times, the debut of the new Jetsun Dhampa “may serve as a kind of practice run for an even more significant reincarnation: that of the Dalai Lama himself.”
According to The Washington Post, the replacement has historically been “chosen by a group of disciples close to the previous holder of the title, who seek the reborn person of the Dalai Lama after his death.” However, the Chinese government has hinted that it may choose its own Dalai Lama in an effort to censor his views and beliefs.
According to the Dalai Lama, his replacement may not come from land under Chinese rule but rather from one of the nations that practice Tibetan Buddhism, such as India, Nepal, Bhutan, or Mongolia. The Times reported that such a development “would breathe new life into the faith, but put the under consideration nation in the sights of China’s government.”
The Observer reported in 2021 that he believes “discussions of his death are premature” because he believes he will live to be 113 years old. However, there is already a “power struggle” going on over who gets to choose his rebirth.
According to Robert Barnett, a Tibetan scholar, “we are looking at the highly likely situation that when the 14th Dalai Lama dies, there will be two Dalai Lamas named in his place.” “One chosen in accordance with the directives left behind by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and one selected by the Chinese Communist party.”