Panchen Lama

The Panchen Lama (Tibetan: པཎ་ཆེན་བླ་མ།, Wylie: paN chen bla ma), is a tulku of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Panchen Lama is one of the most important figures in the Gelug tradition, with its spiritual authority second only to Dalai Lama.[1] "Panchen" is an abbreviation of "Pandita" and "Chenpo", meaning "Great scholar".

The recognition of Panchen Lamas began with Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen, tutor of the 5th Dalai Lama, who received the title "Panchen Bogd" from Altan Khan and the Dalai Lama in 1645.[2] "Bogd" is Mongolian, meaning "holy".[3] Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, Sönam Choklang and Ensapa Lobsang Döndrup were subsequently recognized as the first to third Panchen Lamas posthumously.

In 1713, the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty granted the title Panchen Erdeni (Chinese: 班禪額爾德尼; literally: 'Great Scholar the Treasure') to the 5th Panchen Lama. In 1792, the Qianlong Emperor issued a decree known as the 29-Article Imperial Decree for Better Governing in Tibet, and Article One of the decree 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.[4][5][6]

Traditionally, the Panchen Lama was the head of Tashilhunpo Monastery, and held religious and secular power over the Tsang region centered in Shigatse, independent of the Ganden Podrang authority led by Dalai Lama.[7][8] However, Dalai and Panchen Lamas are closely connected, and Panchen Lama is part of the process by which each new Dalai Lama is chosen.[9]

The identity of the current, 11th Panchen Lama is controversial. Under Chinese official support, Chökyi Gyalpo currently acts as the 11th Panchen Lama in Tibet. However, he has been rejected abroad. The Chinese government has been accused of kidnapping Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama.[10][11] In the Qianlong Emperor's essay "The Discourse of Lama" published in 1792, the emperor wrote that the Golden Urn system is a fairer mechanism than the method of identifying the reincarnation of the Lama using only one person. (虽不能尽去其弊,较之从前一人之授意者,或略公矣。).



Panchen Erdeni
(title since 1713)
Traditional Chinese班禪額爾德尼
Simplified Chinese班禅额尔德尼
Literal meaningPandita-Chenpo (Sanskrit-Tibetan Buddhist title, meaning "Great Scholar")
Erdeni (Manchu loanword from Mongolian, meaning "treasure")

The successive Panchen Lamas form a tulku reincarnation lineage which are said to be the incarnations of Amitābha. The title, meaning "Great Scholar", is a Tibetan contraction of the Sanskrit paṇḍita (scholar) and the Tibetan chenpo (great). The Panchen Lama traditionally lived in Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. From the name of this monastery, the Europeans referred to the Panchen Lama as the Tashi-Lama (or spelled Tesho-Lama or Teshu-Lama).[12][13][14][15][16]

3rd Panchen lama
3rd Panchen lama, b.1505 - d.1556

Other titles of Panchen Lama include "Panchen Bogd", the original title given by Altan Khan at the creation of the lineage. "Bogd" (Mongolian: ᠪᠣᠭᠳᠠ богд) is Mongolian, meaning "holy, saint".[2] In 1713, 5th Panchen Lama Lobsang Yeshe received the title "Panchen Erdeni" from Kangxi Emperor of Qing Empire, which is inherited by successive Panchen Lamas since then. "Erdeni", or "Erdini",[17] (Manchu: ᡝᡵᡩᡝᠨᡳ erdeni) is Manchu, meaning "treasure".[18][19]

First Panchen Lama

Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen (1570–1662), was the first Panchen Lama to be accorded this title during his lifetime. He was the tutor and a close ally of the 5th Dalai Lama,[20] "The Great Fifth", as he is known, pronounced the Panchen to be an incarnation of the celestial buddha Amitābha.[21][22]

The 5th Dalai Lama requested the Panchen to accept Tashilhunpo Monastery, built by the 1st Dalai Lama, as his multi-lifetime seat for future incarnations.[23] Since then, every incarnation of the Panchen Lama has been the master of Tashilhunpo Monastery[21] and it is there that they have all received their education and their mummified bodies were enshrined.[23]

When Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen died in 1662, the 5th Dalai Lama commenced the tradition of searching for his next incarnation.[24] He also reserved the traditional title of Panchen which had previously been a courtesy title for all exceptionally learned lamas - exclusively for his successors. Khedrub Je, Sönam Choklang and Ensapa Lobsang Döndrup were posthumously decided by the 5th Dalai Lama to have been a previous incarnation of Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen, 4th Panchen Lama (1570–1662). Traditionally, there were considered to be four Indian and three Tibetan incarnations before Khedrup, starting with Subhuti, one of the original disciples of Gautama Buddha. Gö Lotsawa is considered to be the first Tibetan incarnation of Amitabha in this line.[25][26] The recognition of Panchen Lamas has always been a matter involving the Dalai Lama.[27][28] Choekyi Gyaltsen, 10th Panchen Lama, himself declared, as cited by an official Chinese review that "according to Tibetan tradition, the confirmation of either the Dalai or Panchen must be mutually recognized."[29] The involvement of the government of China in this affair is seen by some as a political ploy to try to gain control over the recognition of the next Dalai Lama (see below), and to strengthen their hold over the future of Tibet and its governance. The government claims however, that their involvement does not break with tradition in that the final decision about the recognition of both the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama traditionally rested in the hands of the Chinese emperor. For instance, after 1792, the Golden Urn was thought to have been used in selecting the 10th, 11th and 12th Dalai Lamas;[30] but the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, has more recently said that this was only really used in selection of the 11th, and that in the other cases it was only used to humour the Chinese to confirm a selection that had already been made by traditional methods.[31]

Modern times

Thubten Choekyi Nyima, 9th Panchen Lama
9th Panchen Lama, Thubten Choekyi Nyima taken by Sven Hedin. Published in his 1922 book "Trans-himalaya"

In 1924, the thirteenth Dalai Lama prohibited the 9th Panchen Lama's followers from holding any office in the Central Tibetan government and imprisoned them in Lhasa, prompting the Panchen Lama to flee to Inner Mongolia, China.[32][33] The Dalai Lama was attempting to collect revenue from the Panchen Lama's estate to cover Tibet's military expenses, and to reduce the power of the Panchen Lama.[34] In China, the ninth Panchen Lama worked on plans to develop Tibet.[35] He also held a position in the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, and was considered extremely "pro Chinese".[36][37][38] There, he adopted the ideas of Sun Yatsen through revolutionary Pandatsang Rapga of the Tibet Improvement Party.[39][40]

Dalai and Panchen
Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, 1954.
Panchen Lama during the struggle (thamzing) session 1964
10th Panchen Lama during the "struggle session" (thamzing in Tibetan) 1964, before imprisonment by Communist Chinese

When the Ninth Panchen Lama died in 1937, two simultaneous searches for the tenth Panchen Lama produced two competing candidates, with the Dalai Lama's officials selecting a boy from Xikang and the Panchen Lama's officials picking Gonpo Tseten.[41] The Republic of China government, then embroiled in the Chinese Civil War, declared its support for Tseten on 3 June 1949.[42] Chinese Nationalist governor Ma Bufang allowed Kumbum Monastery to be totally self-governed by Gyaltsen.[43] The Dalai Lama refused to recognize Tseten, now called Gyaltsen.[44]

The 10th Panchen Lama sought revenge on the Dalai Lama by leading an army against him, and requested aid from Ma Bufang in September 1949.[45] However, the Chinese Nationalist government, facing defeat from the communists, requested the Panchen Lama's help instead, formulating a plan where 3 Khampa divisions would be led by him as a broad anti-Communist base in Southwest China,[41][46] but the Panchen Lama decided to defect to the Communists instead. The Panchen Lama, unlike the Dalai Lama, sought to exert control in decision making.[47][48]

Panchen Lama
10th Panchen Lama in 1959

The Panchen Lama initially supported the Communist reform policies for Tibet.[44] Radio Beijing broadcast the religious leader's call for Tibet to be "liberated" into the PRC, which created pressure on the Lhasa government to negotiate with the People's Republic.[41] In April, 1959 the 10th Panchen Lama sent a telegram to Beijing expressing his support for suppressing the 1959 rebellion. "He also called on Tibetans to support the Chinese government."[49]

However in 1962, he wrote the 70,000 Character Petition detailing abuses of power in Tibet and discussed it with Premier Zhou Enlai.[50] However, in 1964, he was imprisoned.[51] In October 1977, he was released but held under house arrest in 1982. In 1979, he married a Han Chinese woman and in 1983 they had a daughter.[52] In 1989, the 10th Panchen Lama died suddenly in Shigatse at the age of 51 shortly after giving a speech criticizing the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet but however praising the reform and opening up of the 1980s.[53] His daughter, now a young woman, is Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo, better known as "Renji".[54]

Sign about Panchen Lama, Manali
Sign referring to the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama chosen & recognized by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India

The Dalai Lama named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama on 14 May 1995,[55][56][57][58] but the search committee ignored the Dalai Lama's 14 May announcement and instead chose from a list of finalists which excluded Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. In selecting a name, lottery numbers were drawn from the Golden Urn.[59] Chinese authorities announced Gyancain Norbu as the search committee's choice on 11 November 1995.[60] It has been claimed that Gedhun had been taken into protective custody from those that would spirit him into exile and is now "in captivity against the wishes of the Tibetan people", whereas the Chinese government states that he is living a "normal private life".[61] Tibetans and human rights groups continue to campaign for his release.[62]

Relation to the Dalai Lama lineage

The Panchen Lama bears part of the responsibility or the monk-regent for finding the incarnation of the Dalai Lama, and vice versa.[63] This has been the tradition since the 5th Dalai Lama, recognized his teacher Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen as the Panchen Lama of Tashilhunpo. With this appointment, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen's three previous incarnations were posthumously recognised as Panchen Lamas. The "Great Fifth" also recognized Lobsang Yeshe, 5th Panchen Lama. The 7th Dalai Lama recognized Lobsang Palden Yeshe, 6th Panchen Lama, who in turn recognized the 8th Dalai Lama. Similarly, the Eighth Dalai Lama recognised Palden Tenpai Nyima, 7th Panchen Lama.[64] The current 14th Dalai Lama was first found by the 9th Panchen Lama when he was living in the Kumbum Monastery. In February 1937, the Panchen Lama informed his investigation to the Tibetan government's representatives, who would later confirm the new Dalai Lama's identity.[65][66][67] The request was approved by the Central Government.[68]

Political significance

Monastic figures had historically held important roles in the social makeup of Tibet, and though these roles have diminished since 1959, many Tibetans continue to regard the Panchen Lama as a significant political, as well as spiritual figure due to the role he traditionally plays in selecting the next Dalai Lama. The political significance of the role is also utilised by the Chinese state.[69] Tibetan support groups such as London-based Free Tibet have argued that the Chinese government seeks to install its own choice of Dalai Lama when Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, dies and that for this reason the Dalai Lama's choice of Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima went missing at the age of six, to be replaced by the Chinese state's choice, Gyaincain Norbu. It is suggested that the Chinese government may give the title of Dalai Lama to the son of a loyal ethnic Tibetan Communist party member and it will pressure Western governments to recognize its boy, and not the boy chosen by Lamas in India, as the head of Tibetan Buddhism.[70]

See also



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  2. ^ a b Chuluun, Sampildondov; Bulag, Uradyn E. (2013). The Thirteenth Dalai Lama on the Run (1904-1906): Archival Documents from Mongolia. BRILL. p. 17. ISBN 9004254552.
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  13. ^ Fort William-India House correspondence: In the index, "Tashi Lama. See Teshu Lama". and "Teshu Lama (Teshi Lama, Tesho Lama)".
  14. ^ "Definition for "Lama"". Oxford English Dictionary Online. The chief Lamas[…]of Mongolia [are called] Tesho- or Teshu-lama. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  15. ^ "The Institution of the Dalai Lama", by R. N. Rahul Sheel in The Tibet Journal, Vol. XIV No. 3. Autumn 1989, p. 32, n. 1
  16. ^ Richardson 1984, pp.54-55
  17. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010). The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin Books India. p. 279. ISBN 0143415174. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
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  19. ^ Tibetan People's Right of Self-determination: Report of the Workshop on Self-determination of the Tibetan People: Legitimacy of Tibet's Case 1994/1996, India. Delhi, India: Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre. 2008. p. 110.
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  22. ^ Richardson 1984, p. 54
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  30. ^ Goldstein 1989
  31. ^ Lama, The 14th Dalai (April 30, 2019). "Reincarnation". The 14th Dalai Lama.
  32. ^ Tuttle 2006
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  34. ^ Powers 2004, pg. 99
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  42. ^ Parshotam Mehra (2004). From conflict to conciliation: Tibetan polity revisited : a brief historical conspectus of the Dalai Lama-Panchen Lama Standoff, ca. 1904–1989. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 87. ISBN 3-447-04914-6. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
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External links

11th Panchen Lama controversy

The 11th Panchen Lama controversy is a dispute about the current legitimate holder of the Panchen Lama title, a political and religious leadership position in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. After the death of the 10th Panchen Lama, a dispute between the Chinese leadership and the exiled 14th Dalai Lama resulted in two competing candidates. The search committee process involving monks in Tibet under the strict supervision of the Chinese communist regime was disrupted when the Dalai Lama, according to the Tibetan tradition, unilaterally announced his selection of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. The leadership in China spirited Nyima away to prevent his being taken to India by the Dalai Lama's supporters and reverted to the Qing Dynasty's Golden Urn process to select Gyaincain Norbu.

70,000 Character Petition

The 70,000 Character Petition (Tibetan: ཡིག་འབྲུ་ཁྲི་བདུན་གྱི་སྙན་ཞུ, romanized: Yig 'bru khri bdun gyi snyan zhu (Wylie) (Chinese: 七万言书) is a document, dated 18 May 1962, written by the Tenth Panchen Lama and addressed to the Chinese government, denouncing abusive policies and actions of the People's Republic of China in Tibet. It remains the "most detailed and informed attack on China's policies in Tibet that would ever be written."For decades, the content of this report remained hidden from all but the very highest levels of the Chinese leadership, until one copy was obtained by the Tibet Information Network (TIN) in 1996. In January 1998 upon the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the birth of the Tenth Panchen Lama, a translation by Tibet expert Robert Barnett entitled A Poisoned Arrow: The Secret Report of the 10th Panchen Lama was published by Tibet Information Network.The document was initially known as the Report on the sufferings of the masses in Tibet and other Tibetan regions and suggestions for future work to the central authorities through the respected Premier Zhou Enlai but took on the shorter sobriquet because of its length in Chinese characters. When published, its authenticity could not be independently confirmed and Chinese authorities refrained from commenting. Several months later, however, Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, a retired ex-director who exercised political functions in Tibet from 1964 to 1993, officially criticized the petition without calling into question its authenticity nor criticizing its publication.

Choekyi Gyaltsen, 10th Panchen Lama

Lobsang Trinley Lhündrub Chökyi Gyaltsen, born Gönbo Cêdän (19 February 1938 – 28 January 1989), was the tenth Panchen Lama, officially the 10th Panchen Erdeni (Chinese: 第十世班禅额尔德尼; literally: 'Number-10-lifetime Great Scholar the Treasure'), of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. He was often referred to simply as Choekyi Gyaltsen (which can be Choekyi Gyaltse, Choskyi Gyantsen, etc.), although this is also the name of several other notable figures in Tibetan history.

Ensapa Lobsang Döndrup, 3rd Panchen Lama

Ensapa Lobsang Döndrup (1505–1568) was a Tibetan Buddhist religious leader. He was posthumously recognised as the third Panchen Lama.

Ensapa was known to have spent more than 20 years meditating in isolated caves near the Himalayan mountains.

When he was a young boy Gyalwa Ensäpa received many visions of Buddha Shakyamuni. He also possessed natural clairvoyance and was able to know that people were about to visit his family even when they were still many days' journey away. Later, when he ordained as a monk, he was able to recite the entire Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in Eight Thousand Lines from memory, both in Tibetan and in Sanskrit. His fellow monks,who had never heard Sanskrit spoken, thought that he was possessed by spirits!

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (born on April 25, 1989, in Lhari County, Tibet) is the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism. He was declared the 11th Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama on 14 May 1995. He was rejected by the search team appointed by the State Council of the People's Republic of China. He was born in Lhari County, Tibet Autonomous Region. After his selection, he was taken into what the PRC government described as protective custody and has not been acknowledged in public since 17 May 1995.

Gyaincain Norbu

Chökyi Gyalpo, also referred to by his secular name Gyaincain Norbu, is the 11th Panchen Lama installed by the government of the People's Republic of China. He is also the vice president of the Buddhist Association of China. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama, and Chadrel Rinpoche, the then-incumbent abbott of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, have been detained in a series of unknown locations by the Chinese Government since the Dalai Lama selected him. Neither the Chinese nor the Tibetan exile governments recognize each other's selection for the Panchen Lama.

Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, 1st Panchen Lama

Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, 1st Panchen Lama (1385–1438 CE) – better known as Khedrup Je – was one of the main disciples of Je Tsongkhapa, whose reforms to Atiśa's Kadam tradition are considered the beginnings of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Khedrub Je is considered to be an emanation of Manjusri, the Buddha of Wisdom.


Lama (Tibetan: བླ་མ་, Wylie: bla-ma; "chief" or "high priest") is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru and in use it is similar, but not identical to the western monastic rank of abbot.Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters or heads of monasteries. Today the title can be used as an honorific title conferred on a monk, nun or (in the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya schools) advanced tantric practitioner to designate a level of spiritual attainment and authority to teach, or may be part of a title such as Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama applied to a lineage of reincarnate lamas (Tulkus).

Perhaps due to misunderstandings by early western scholars attempting to understand Tibetan Buddhism, the term lama has historically been erroneously applied to Tibetan monks in general. Similarly, Tibetan Buddhism was referred to as "Lamaism" by early western scholars and travelers who perhaps did not understand that what they were witnessing was a form of Buddhism; they may also have been unaware of the distinction between Tibetan Buddhism and Bön. The term Lamaism is now considered by some to be derogatory.In the Vajrayana path of Tibetan Buddhism, the lama is often the tantric spiritual guide, the guru to the aspiring Buddhist yogi or yogini. As such, the lama will then appear as one of the Three Roots (a variant of the Three Jewels), alongside the yidam and protector (who may be a dakini, dharmapala or other Buddhist deity figure).

Lhari County

Lhari County (Chinese: 嘉黎县; pinyin: Jiālí Xiàn; Tibetan: ལྷ་རི་རྫོང་།, Wylie: lha ri rdzong, ZYPY: Lhari Zong) is a small county within the prefecture-level city of Nagqu in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The 11th Dalai Lama was born in Lhari County, as were both of the rival candidates for the position of the current Panchen Lama.

List of Panchen Lamas

This is a list of Panchen Lamas of Tibet. There are currently 10 recognised incarnations of the Panchen Lama; the 11th Panchen Lama is disputed however.

Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen, 4th Panchen Lama

Losang Chö kyi Gyaltsen (Tibetan: བློ་བཟང་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་མཚན་, Wylie: blo bzang chos kyi rgyal mtshan) (1570–1662) was the fourth Panchen Lama of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and the first to be accorded this title during his lifetime.

Losang Chö kyi Gyaltsen was the teacher and close ally of the 5th Dalai Lama, called "the Great". The "Great Fifth" gave him Tashilhunpo Monastery as a living place and declared him to be an incarnation of Amitābha, and since then, every Panchen Lama has been the master of Tashilhunpo.When Losang Chö kyi Gyaltsen died in 1662, aged 91 or 92, the Fifth Dalai Lama began the tradition of recognising his reincarnation. He composed a special prayer asking his master to return and ordered the monks of the great monasteries to recite it. He also reserved the title of Panchen (short for Pandita chen po or 'Great Scholar'), which had previously been a courtesy title for all learned lamas, exclusively for him, and this title has continued to be given to his successors and, posthumously, to his predecessors starting with Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, 1st Panchen Lama.

The 4th Panchen Lama was a prolific writer and teacher, composing more than three hundred works.

Lobsang Palden Yeshe, 6th Panchen Lama

Lobsang Palden Yeshe (1738–1780) (Tibetan: བློ་བཟང་དཔལ་ལྡན་ཡེ་ཤེས་་, Wylie: Blo-bzang Gpal-ldan Ye-shes, ZYPY: Lobsang Baidain Yêxê) was the sixth Panchen Lama of Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet. He was the elder stepbrother of the 10th Shamarpa, Mipam Chödrup Gyamtso (1742–1793).

The Panchen Lama was distinguished by his writings and interest in the world. In 1762 he gave the Eighth Dalai Lama his pre-novice ordination at the Potala Palace and named him Jamphel Gyatso.He befriended George Bogle, a Scottish adventurer and diplomat who had made an expedition to Tibet and stayed at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse from 1774-1775. He negotiated with Warren Hastings, the Governor of India, through Bogle. The Rājā of Bhutan invaded Cooch Behar (in the plains of Bengal - neighboring British India), in 1772 and Palden Yelde, tutor to the young Dalai Lama at the time, helped arbitrate the negotiations.He also had dealings with Lama Changkya Hutukhtu, Counsellor of the Emperor of China and chief advisor on Tibetan affairs, about speculations that the Chinese god of war and patron of the Chinese dynasty, Guandi (Kuan-ti), was identical with Gesar, the hero of Tibet's main epic story, who was prophesied to return from Shambhala to Tibet to help it when the country and Buddhism were in difficulties. Others believed Guandi/Gesar was an incarnation of the Panchen Lama. Palden Yeshe wrote a half-mystical book about the road to Shambhala, the Prayer of Shambhala, incorporating real geographical features.In 1778, the Qianlong Emperor invited Palden Yeshe to Beijing to celebrate his 70th birthday. He left with a huge retinue in 1780 and was greeted along the way by Chinese representatives. To mark the occasion, Qianlong ordered the construction of Xumi Fushou Temple, based on the design of Tashilhunpo Monastery, at the Chengde Mountain Resort. When Palden Yeshe reached Beijing, he was showered with riches and shown the honour normally given to the Dalai Lama. However, he contracted smallpox and died in Beijing on November 2, 1780.Palden Yeshe's stepbrother, the 10th Shamarpa Mipam Chödrup Gyamtso, had hoped to inherit some of the riches given to his brother in Beijing after his death. When this didn't happen, he conspired with the Nepalese who sent a Gurkha army in 1788 which took control of Shigatse. The Shamarpa, however, did not keep his side of the bargain and the Gurkha army returned three years later to claim their spoils, but the Chinese sent an army to support the Tibetans and drove them back to Nepal in 1792.The tombs from the Fifth to the Ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been rebuilt by the 10th Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.

Lobsang Yeshe, 5th Panchen Lama

Lobsang Yeshe (Tibetan: བློ་བཟང་ཡེ་ཤེས་, Wylie: Blo-bzang Ye-shes, ZYPY: Lobsang Yêxê; also written Lobsang Yeshi) (1663–1737) was the fifth Panchen Lama of Tibet.

He was born of a well-known and noble family in the province of Tsang. His father's name was De-chhen-gyalpo and his mother's Serab-Drolma. He was soon recognised as the true incarnation of Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen, (1570–1662), the Fourth Panchen Lama of Tibet, and was installed with great ceremony at Tashilhunpo Monastery.

He received novice vows when he was 8 (9 by Western reckoning) in Lhasa from Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama (1617 – 1682), when he was given the name of Lobsang Yeshe. At the age of twenty [21] he was ordained by Kon-chhog Gyal-tsan.When he was thirty-two (in 1696 or 1697), he sent a congratulatory deputation to Beijing. The Kangxi Emperor (1662-1723) invited him to Beijing, but he asked to be excused for fear of smallpox.The Regent, Sangye Gyatso (Sangs-rgyas rgya-mtsho), invited the Fifth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Yeshi to administer the vows of a novice monk on the 6th Dalai Lama, at the town of Nangartse on Lake Yamdrok Yamtso, and named him Tsang Gyatso. In October 1697, Tsangyang Gyatso was enthroned as the Sixth Dalai Lama.In 1701 Lhasang Khan, a Mongol king and ally of the Chinese, had the Regent, Sangye Gyatso, killed. This greatly upset the young Dalai Lama who left his studies who even visited Lobsang Yeshe, the 5th Panchen Lama in Shigatse and renounced his novice monk vows.In 1713 he received a letter written in three different languages, Tibetan, Mongol and Manchu in gold from the Kangxi Emperor, who sent him a large tangka with his title on it.The 7th Dalai Lama was enthroned in the Potala Palace in 1720. He took the novice vows of monk-hood from the 5th Panchen Lama Lobsang Yeshi, who gave him the name Kelzang Gyatso. He took the Gelong vows (full ordination) from Lobsang Yeshi in 1726.In 1728 the Yongzheng Emperor (1723-1736) sent Aliha Ampan to settle the border between the provinces of U and Tsang. There was a civil war at this time, and the Chinese asked the Panchen Lama if he would rule all the territories between Khambala and Mount Kailash. The Panchen Lama refused a few times on the grounds of old age but was finally convinced to take control of the whole of Tibet lying to the west of Panam, and relinquished possession of Phari, Gyantse, and Yardosho and other places to the government in Lhasa.He wrote eighteen volumes of hymns and precepts and died at the age of 75 (74 by Western reckoning), in 1737.

A gilt copper domed tomb, like that of his predecessor, only larger was built for him. Unfortunately, all the tombs from the Fifth to the Ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been replaced by the 10th Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.

Palden Tenpai Nyima, 7th Panchen Lama

Palden Tenpai Nyima (1782–1853) was the seventh Panchen Lama of Tibet.

Lobsang Palden Yeshe, the previous Panchen Lama, died from smallpox in Beijing in 1780. The brother of Lobsang Palden Yeshe, Shamarpa, who was acting as Regent, wrote to the British Governor of India, Warren Hastings, in 1782 to say that a new incarnation had been found.Shamarpa had hoped to inherit some of the riches given to his brother in Beijing after his death. When this didn't eventuate, he conspired with the Nepalese who sent a Gurkha army in 1788 which took control of Shigatse. Shamarpa, however, did not keep his side of the bargain and the Gurkha army returned three years later to claim their spoils, but the Chinese sent an army to support the Tibetans and drove them back to Nepal in 1792.In 1810 (or 1811) Palden Tenpai Nyima gave the pre-novice ordination to the 9th Dalai Lama at the Potala Palace, and gave him the name Lungtok Gyatso.After Lungtok Gyatso died in 1815, eight years passed before a new Dalai Lama was chosen. The political events in this period are murky, but finally Palden Tenpai Nyima intervened and used the Golden Urn (from which names of candidates were picked) for the first time as part of the tests for the choice of the new Dalai Lama. In 1822 the 10th Dalai Lama was placed upon the Golden Throne and soon after his enthronement received his pre-novice ordination from Palden Tenpai Nyima, who gave him the name of Tsultrim Gyatso. He administered the Gelong vows (full ordination) to Tsultrin Gyatso in 1831.In 1842, Palden Tenpai Nyima recognised the new Dalai Lama cut his hair and administered the pre-novice vows, giving him the name of Khedrup Gyatso, who was then enthroned as the Eleventh Dalai Lama.In 1844, Palden Tenpai Nyima had a summer palace for the Panchen Lamas built about 1 km south of Tashilhunpo Monastery containing 2 chapels in walled gardens. The 10th Panchen Lama added sumptuous sitting rooms and audience room. It is now a popular picnic spot described in a tourist guide.In 1844 Gyatso left to travel to Eastern Tibet. Monks from Sera Monastery kidnapped three secretaries from the Regent's government to guarantee his welfare, which resulted in the declaration of a national emergency. Palden Tenpai Nyima was invited to return to Lhasa from Tsang Province and, in the 8th month of that year, was placed on the throne as the new regent. However, he only accepted that role for a short period, handing over the regency to Rva-dreng Nga-wang Ye-she Tsul-trim on the 4th month of the following year (1845).In 1846 Palden Tenpai Nyima administered the full novice ordination on Khedrup Gyatso.According to R. A. Stein, Tenpai Nyima "enjoyed great prestige at the Chinese court."Unfortunately, all the tombs from the Fifth to the Ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been rebuilt by the 10th Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.

Sönam Choklang, 2nd Panchen Lama

Sönam Choklang (1439–1504) was a Tibetan Buddhist religious leader. He was from Tsang Province. He was posthumously recognised as the second Panchen Lama.He founded Wensa Monastery in Tsang, a Gelug hermitage known for the Wensa Nyengyu teachings.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (Tibetan: བཀྲ་ཤིས་ལྷུན་པོ་), founded in 1447 by the 1st Dalai Lama, is a historic and culturally important monastery in Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet.

The monastery was sacked when the Gorkha Kingdom invaded Tibet and captured Shigatse in 1791 before a combined Tibetan and Chinese army drove them back as far as the outskirts of Kathmandu, when they were forced to agree to keep the peace in the future, pay tribute every five years, and return what they had looted from Tashi Lhunpo.The monastery is the traditional seat of successive Panchen Lamas, the second highest ranking tulku lineage in the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The "Tashi" or Panchen Lama had temporal power over three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by a dzongpön (prefect) appointed from Lhasa.Located on a hill in the center of the city, the full name in Tibetan of the monastery means "all fortune and happiness gathered here" or "heap of glory". Captain Samuel Turner, a British officer with the East India Company who visited the monastery in the late 18th century, described it in the following terms:

"If the magnificence of the place was to be increased by any external cause, none could more superbly have adorned its numerous gilded canopies and turrets than the sun rising in full splendour directly opposite. It presented a view wonderfully beautiful and brilliant; the effect was little short of magic, and it made an impression which no time will ever efface from my mind."

Pilgrims circumambulate the monastery on the lingkhor (sacred path) outside the walls.

Although two-thirds of the buildings were destroyed during the excesses of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, they were mainly the residences for the 4,000 monks and the monastery itself was not as extensively damaged as most other religious structures in Tibet, for it was the seat of the Panchen Lama who remained in Chinese-controlled territory.

However, during 1966 Red Guards led a crowd to break statues, burn scriptures and open the stupas containing the relics of the 5th to 9th Panchen Lamas, and throw them in the river. Some remains, though, were saved by locals, and in 1985, Choekyi Gyaltsen, 10th Panchen Lama, began the construction of a new stupa to house them and honour his predecessors. It was finally consecrated on 22 January 1989, just six days before he died aged fifty-one at Tashi Lhunpo. "It was as if he was saying now he could rest."

Tenpai Wangchuk, 8th Panchen Lama

Tenpai Wangchuk (1855–1882) was the eighth Panchen Lama of Tibet.

8th Panchen Lama, Tenpai Wangchuk, also known as Namgyal Wangdui Gyaltsen, was born in 1855 in Namling County (རྣམ་གླིང་རྫོང་། 南木林), Shigatse prefecture, western Tibet. He was born into an aristocratic family of Nyingma school. One member of his family was an incarnation of Nyingma school. The fact that the new Panchen Lama came from a different tradition created a discontent among the Tashilhunpo Monastery monks (who profess the Gelug tradition). His father's name was Tenzin Wangjia and his mother's name was Zhaxila (Chinese transcription).

In 1857 Tenpai Wangchuk was identified as the eighth incarnation of the Panchen Lama. He was the first Panchen Lama to be identified by drawing a lot from the Golden Urn. In 1860 Tenpai Wangchuk (aged 5), in the presence of Reting Rinpoche Hutukthu, was finally enthroned as the 8th incarnation of Panchen Lama in the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

In 1877 (or 1878) Tenpai Wangchuk along with regent Tenzin Hutukthu identified the 13th Dalai Lama using the Golden Urn. The 8th Panchen Lama died in 1882 in the age of 27.

All the tombs from the Fifth to the Ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been rebuilt by the 10th Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.

Thubten Choekyi Nyima, 9th Panchen Lama

Thubten Choekyi Nyima (Tibetan: ཐུབ་བསྟན་ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཉི་མ་, Wylie: Thub-bstan Chos-kyi Nyi-ma, ZYPY: Tubdain Qoigyi Nyima) (1883–1937), often referred to as Choekyi Nyima, was the ninth Panchen Lama of Tibet.

Thubten Choekyi Nyima is the 9th in his lineage, as recognized by Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of Panchen Lamas. To call Choekyi Nyima the 9th Panchen Lama is a misnomer, while in exile in China he signed pictures the 16th Panchen Lama and the Tibetans regarded him as the 6th Panchen Lama Hugh Richardson "It is the habit of Chinese writers to describe the late Panchen Lama as the IXth. To the mass of Tibetans it is beyond question that he was the VIth in succession from Lobzang Chokyi Gyaltsen, the teacher whom the Vth Dalai Lama created Ist Panchen Lama." In the Historical Introduction of "The secret report of the 10th Panchen Lama" Professor Dawa Norbu writes "The 10th Panchen Lama (actually the 7th of his line)". Charles Bell, on page 35 "The young fifth Dalai Lama made his old teacher, named 'The banner of Religion's Victory,' who was abbot first at Ta-shi Lhun-po..." Jagou "Thus the incarnation the Tibetans refer to as the Sixth Panchen Lama is known as the ninth Panchen Lama by the Chinese." When the Chinese Government forced the Tibetans to sign the 17 Point Agreement, they insisted on calling Choekyi Nyima the 9th Panchen Lama and this numbering was brought back to the west in the late 1980s until which time no such numbering had been used, outside of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and Peking.In 1901, Choekyi Nyima was visited by the Mongolian Lama, Agvan Dorzhiev. Although he only stayed for two days at Tashilhunpo, Dorzhiev received some secret teachings from the Panchen Lama, as well as readings of the Prayer of Shambhala, written by Lobsang Palden Yeshe, the sixth (or third) Panchen Lama, concerning the Buddhist kingdom of Shambhala, which were of great importance to Dorzhiev's developing understanding of the Kalachakra ('Wheel of Time') tantric teachings. Choekyi Nyima also gave Dorzhiev gifts including some golden statues.In 1906, Sir Charles Alfred Bell, was invited to visit the 9th Panchen Lama at Tashilhunpo, where they had friendly discussions on the political situation.He fled to Inner Mongolia, China in 1924 after a dispute with the thirteenth Dalai Lama when he sensed that he might face threat after his own monastery’s monks were prohibited from holding any office in the Central Tibetan government and his officials were locked up in Lhasa. Among the Mongols, the 9th Panchen Lama became a well liked figure. At the same time, study of documents did not confirm widespread claims that rebellions in the 1930s Mongolia were inspired or supported by the 9th Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama was attempting to collect revenue from the Panchen Lama's estate to cover a fourth of Tibet's military expenses, and to reduce the power of the Panchen Lama, who at the time enjoyed rule over an effectively autonomous region around Shigatse.In China, the ninth Panchen Lama worked on plans to develop Tibet along modern lines. He also held a position in the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.

The Panchen Lama was considered extremely "pro Chinese", according to official Chinese sources.Choekyi adopted the ideas of Sun Yatsen like the Kham revolutionary Pandatsang Rapga. It has been suggested he read the works of Sun Yatsen which were translated by Rapga.In 1936, a team of monks from Lhasa were on the way to north-eastern Tibet to search for the new reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, who had died in 1933. First, because of the historical close relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, they visited the Panchen Lama in Kham, eastern Tibet, to seek his advice. He was staying in Jyekundo, a district of eastern Kham that had been annexed from Tibetan government control by the Chinese "during their invasion". The Panchen Lama, being under Chinese power, was being held up there in his attempt to return to Central Tibet due to Chinese interference and insistence that he must be accompanied by a force of 500 armed Chinese soldiers; naturally this condition was not at all acceptable to the Tibetan Government in Lhasa. While negotiations were going on between the Lhasa Government, the Panchen Lama and the Chinese authorities about this escort issue, he was stuck in Jyekundo. He had therefore been busy investigating reports of unusual children born in the area, who might be the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama; the deep spiritual link between the two Lamas had never wavered despite apparent political difficulties and attempted Chinese interference.In fact, when the search team arrived to see him, the Panchen Lama had already identified three potential candidates. He gave their details to the search party leader, Kewtsang Rinpoche, who then investigated further. One of these three candidates was already dead and another ran away crying when shown the objects belonging to the late Dalai Lama. The third candidate, who lived in Taktser, was characterised as "fearless" and he was indeed found to be the true incarnation. Thus, it was this Panchen Lama Thubten Choekyi Nyima who first discovered and identified the 14th Dalai Lama.In 1937, the Panchen Lama died in Gyêgu (Tibetan: Jyekundo; Chinese: Yushu) in Qinghai Province without being able to return to Tsang.The tombs of the fifth through the ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been rebuilt by the tenth Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.

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