Successor to next Dalai Lama needs Beijing’s nod: China

Chinese government says successor of present Dalai Lama and grand living Buddhas cannot be chosen by them or their followers while the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 gives the former powers to take decisions on reincarnation

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The successor to the current Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, needs to be approved by China and not by the former or his followers, said an official white paper issued by the Chinese government on Friday.

The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other grand Living Buddhas has been subjected to approval by the central government since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the official statement said.

The document made the point by asserting that Tibet has been an integral part of China since ancient times. “In 1793, after dispelling Gurkha invaders, the Qing government restored order in Tibet and promulgated the Imperially Approved Ordinance for better governance of Tibet, improving systems by which the central government-administered Tibet,” the white paper titled Tibet Since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity” said.

It said that the selection of the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other grand Living Buddhas, will need

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“drawing lots from the golden urn” following which the selected candidate will need a final seal of approval from the central government of China.

The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a Chinese crackdown on an uprising by the local population in Tibet. India granted him political asylum and the Tibetan government-in-exile has been based in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then. The Dalai Lama is 85 years old now and the issue of his successor has gained prominence in the last couple of years due to his advanced age.

The Dalai Lama’s succession issue was in the limelight, especially in the last few years after the US has stepped up campaign that the right relating to the reincarnation of the spiritual leader’s successor should be within the exclusive authority of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.

The Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 (TPSA) passed by the US Congress makes it official United States policy that decisions regarding the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama are exclusively within the authority of the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and the Tibetan people.

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have been asserting that while 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 religious rituals and historic conventions, and his succession was approved by China’s central government.

The white paper said by 2020, a total of 92 reincarnated Living Buddhas had been identified and approved through traditional religious rituals and historical conventions for temples in Tibet. Traditional religious activities are carried out regularly in accordance with the law and examination on scriptures and subsequent promotion in academic degrees are also held in monasteries on a regular basis, it said. The white paper termed the demand for Tibetan independence as a product of imperialist aggression against China.

(With inputs from agencies)

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