Libmonster ID: SE-325
Author(s) of the publication: A. M. STRELKOV


(St. Perterburg) Candidate of Historical Sciences

Tibet Keywords:, reborn saintsBeijing and Tibetan Buddhism

The belief in rebirth, the idea that a living being lives not one but many lives, is one of the cornerstones of Buddhist teaching.1 A unique feature of northern Buddhism, which is practiced by Tibetan, Mongolian and a number of Turkic peoples, is the institution of reborn saints. For believers, they have unquestionable authority in all matters of religion and life. Before the complete incorporation of the Tibetan territories into the administrative system of the PRC (1959), the reborn saints had great political and economic power in these territories, and a number of them were theocratic rulers.

What is the institution of reborn saints, and what is its place in the life of modern Tibet? On September 1, 2007, the document "Guidelines on the Rebirth of Living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism", adopted shortly before, became legally binding in the People's Republic of China.


According to this document, the search for and approval of new rebirths-tulku (Tib. "body of incarnation") - are under the jurisdiction of the government bodies of the People's Republic of China up to the State Council. Rebirths of Panchen Lamas, Dalai Lamas, and possibly a number of other top Tulkus are approved directly by the State Council of the People's Republic of China. At the same time, it is forbidden for any organizations and individuals to engage in search and approval of tulku. According to the procedure defined by the document, it is necessary to submit an "application" for approval of rebirth and a "characteristic" drawn up in a certain way.

The Institute of Reborn Saints was founded in Tibet in the 13th century. The first Tulku was Karma Bakshi (1204-1283), who was recognized as a rebirth of Karma Duisum Shenba (1110-1193), the founder of the Karma - Karjud 2 school. To date, about 5 - 6 thousand lines of rebirth have been established in Tibet, some with more than 20 tribes.

The Institute of rebirths, similar to the Tibetan one, also exists in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. In Chinese, the term ho fo (Chinese for "living Buddha") is used to refer to a reborn saint. Inaccurate from the point of view of Buddhist dogma, from a mundane, everyday point of view, it is quite acceptable and is widely used in Tibet itself not only by the Chinese, but also by Tibetans, Mongols and Turks.

The Tibetan term tulku is a literal translation of the Sanskrit term nirmanakai, which means in its basic meaning the manifestation of Buddha 3 in this world. More often than the term tulku, its substitute is used - rinpoche (Tib. "jewel")

The search for Rinpoche's rebirth is a complex process. Students of the deceased Rinpoche seek out the next birth of a saint through various divinations and identification of the deceased's belongings by boy applicants (usually at the age of 3). A Mongol native of Ordos, Shabdrun Rinpoche Lobsan Tsultim (born 1966) is one of the rinpoches of Gumbum Monastery in Northeastern Tibet. He told me that he was discovered in this capacity at the age of 9. The object by which he was identified was a porcelain snuff bottle (which is also used by monks in Tibet) that belonged to the previous Rinpoche. Lobsan Tsultim showed me this precious relic, carefully preserved by him.

As a rule, each rinpoche has his own small monastery, but they live mainly in large monasteries-universities, where they receive a systematic Buddhist education in their youth. As a rule, several dozen people live in large monasteries.

page 63

rinpoche who have their own homestead attached to the monastery. The Rinpochas have maintained the highest level of Buddhist education in their circle, which makes it possible to speak about the preservation of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in its entirety.


The most revered Rinpoche and the most important political figures in Tibet are the Panchen Lamas and the Dalai Lamas.

(pan Panchen Lama - from pandit-skt. "sage" and chen-tib. "great") are supposed to be incarnations of Amitabha Buddha, whose world-Sukhavati-is located on the western side of the world from our world. This title is most often used in the form of Panchen Rinpoche, or Panchen Lama. Panchen Lama I Haidub Galag Balsan (1385-1438), a disciple of Tsonghava (1357-1419) 4, and the following 9 saints were prominent scholars, yogis, and mentors. The Panchen Lamas have a special relationship with the sacred land of Shambhala.5

The Dalai Lama Institute was founded in 1578. This phrase appeared as part of the title bestowed that year by the Mongol ruler Altan Khan to the Tibetan teacher Sodnam Gyatso (1543-1588), abbot of Braibun Monastery near Lhasa. At that time, the Mongol rulers had a great influence on Tibet. The Mongolian word dalai ("sea"), corresponding to the Tibetan gyatso, entered the title as a translation of the second part of the name of Abbot Braybun. Lama (Tib. "supreme") is the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit term guru. Over time, Sodnam Gyatso became revered as the Dalai Lama III, and the famous Tibetan saint and scholar Gendong dubh (1391 - 1474) was declared the first.

All Dalai Lamas are believed to be incarnations of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, an emanation of Amitabha Buddha. Tibetans consider Avalokiteshvara to be the guardian of their country. This belief was the main argument in the Dalai Lamas ' claim to secular (as well as spiritual) power in Tibet. More than once the Panchen Lamas and the Dalai Lamas became each other's gurus, and once they were related (Dalai Lama VIII is the nephew of Panchen Lama VI). It is believed that they will become related in the future, when the Panchen Lama is born as King Raudra Kalki of Shambhala (reigned in 2327.6), and the Dalai Lama is born as his youngest son Suresha.

Before the creation of the Tibet Autonomous Region as part of the PRC, the Panchen Lamas and Dalai Lamas were theocratic rulers of vast territories in Tibet. A number of other Rinpochas also held theocratic power, but in small areas. As the Dalai Lamas rose in political prominence, they fell into a vassal or semi-vassal position with respect to the former.


Since 1950. Beijing has begun the process of including the Tibetan territories in its territory. After the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso (born in 1935) to India in 1959 (since that time he has no real influence on the situation in Tibet), the attention of the PRC authorities focused on the Panchen Lama X Shoi Zhiy Zhaltsan (1938-1989). Refusing to move to Lhasa, relying on his religious authority and positions in the Chinese government, Panchen Lama X made efforts to normalize the situation in Tibet.

As Dashi Jamtso, a monk from Lavran monastery in Northeastern Tibet, told me, the Chinese authorities, in order to destroy the authority of the remaining Rinpochas in Tibet, forced them - including Panchen Lama X-to marry. In most Tibetan schools of Buddhism, Rinpochas are monks. However, to the surprise of Chinese ideologues, the married Rinpoche fully retained his authority in the eyes of believers. They usually live in the vicinity of their monasteries, still performing their duties there.

The Chinese authorities counted on the loyalty of the Panchen Lama by arranging a demonstration trip to Tibet in 1962. However, following the meeting, Panchen Lama X sent a report to the CPC Central Committee describing the plight of the Tibetan people and demanding a change in the government's policy towards Tibet. As a result, he was placed under house arrest. In total, the restriction of his freedom lasted until 1978, and he spent part of that time in prison. Even while under arrest, the Panchen Lama headed the Buddhist Association of the People's Republic of China, and before his arrest and after his release, he held a number of high positions in the state bodies of the People's Republic of China.

In 1981, through the efforts of the Panchen Lama and his associates, the revival of Buddhism in Tibet began. Monasteries opened, in-

page 64

classes at their faculties were renewed. The Rinpochas got the authorities to remove obstacles to finding and approving rebirths. In 1987, he opened the Tibetan Buddhist Institute in Beijing.

On January 28, 1989, Panchen Lama X's heart stopped beating. He was joined by many Rinpochas who also stayed in their country and fought with him for the religious and other freedoms of their people.

The period from 1981 to the mid-1990s in relations between the Tulku Institute and the Chinese authorities can be called a period of dialogue based on constructive compromise.

Rinpochas in China have lost almost all of their previous income items, with the exception of donations from parishioners. A number of them entered the civil service, often in minor official positions. Influential Rinpochas have joined the Chinese authorities at the central and regional levels and headed the central and regional Buddhist associations. With the opening of the monasteries, the Rinpochas returned to their leadership.

The statement of Panchen Lama XI opened a new page in relations between the Tulku Institute and the Chinese authorities. In December 1995, the Chinese authorities announced that the Panchen Lama of XI recognized 22-year-old Tibetan Zhaltsan Norbu. They supported this candidate in opposition to his Tibetan peer, Gendong Shoi Zhii Nima, whom the Dalai Lama had previously proclaimed Panchen Lama XI in absentia from India. Gendong Shoi and his family went missing in China.

Tibetans still do not accept Zhaltsan Norba as a Panchen Lama. Even the temple altars still contain photographic and sculptural portraits of Panchen Lama X. If images of the Boy Norbu appear here at the request of the authorities, they quickly disappear.


Rinpoche's private life, and from a very young age, is well known to me from the home of the current Ji-yag Rinpoche, Lob-san Baldan Shoi zhii Wanchuga (born in 1992, I have known him since 1996).

It has the highest status among the Rinpoche of Gum-bum Monastery. Born as the first-born in a simple peasant family, since 1996 he has been living in Gumbum in a specially built estate for him. Its compound is a complex of buildings built in the traditional Tibetan style. The main place in the ensemble belongs to the palace-temple. On the 1st and 2nd floors of its central part, there are rooms for divine services with thrones for the owner of the estate. On the 2nd floor in the right wing of the palace there are living quarters. There are three rooms: a spacious guest room with a table and chairs, and two very small ones-an altar room and a bedroom. These rooms are the only rooms equipped with steam heating, while the rest of the living areas have iron stoves that are heated with coal. However, during my month of living in the manor, I have never seen the boiler heated (although in April it is usually below zero at night).

Tibetans are very hardy and extremely unpretentious.

The boy has been gradually separated from his parents since being recognized as Rinpoche. Already in 4-5 years, he meets with them no more than once a month, and then even less often. Women do not live in his house all the time, although they can visit there; his peers should not be in it either (so as not to involve them in games). From the age of 4, his systematic training begins. Virtually deprived of childhood, initiated as a monk from the age of 6 to 7, growing up in the midst of the fabulous riches inherited from his predecessor in ascetic conditions, Rinpoche is brought up from a very early age in the Buddhist spirit - the spirit of compassion and activity for the benefit of living beings.

Any rinpoche is a spiritual teacher of a large number of people, and this duty begins to be fulfilled from the very moment of recognition. This happens without any pomposity, since Tibetan Buddhism is organically characterized by lively humor.

I've seen such scenes before. Usually the boy played nearby (all his toys were yellow-the color of religion), when the family and I talked and drank tea. As soon as a group of Tibetan or Chinese people came in

page 65

When there were usually 2 or 3 groups of Mongol pilgrims a day, one of the monks would stop them at the entrance, and the other would grab the boy in his arms and run with him to the throne. Here he would sit him down, put on his cap, and put attributes in his hands. As soon as the pilgrims left the manor after receiving the blessing, the boy jumped down from the throne and ran headlong towards us. With the arrival of the next group of pilgrims, everything was repeated...

One day, Rinpoche's aunt and daughter came to visit 6-year-old Rinpoche. A boy and his cousin (two years older) they played catch-up with gusto. Sure enough, his older sister was starting to catch up with him. Seeing that there was nowhere else to go, Rinpoche ran into the throne room and sat down on the throne. His sister could only bow to him.

Rinpoche's parents visit him occasionally. Simple peasants, a very nice young couple, who, after recognizing their first child as a reborn Rinpoche, instantly became part of the elite of Tibetan society.

Rinpoche's systematic training began when he was barely 4 years old. In the year of his enthronement (1998), he took his first monastic vows. Almost all of his day (starting at 5

morning to 9 pm) is dedicated to studying - in the monastery or at home. Only 2 to 3 hours of rest are allowed in the afternoon. According to Buddhist rules, a student cannot sit higher than the teacher. Although the boy is now taught by a simple (non-Tulku) monk, Rinpoche sits on the floor during classes, just like his mentor.

The youngest Tulku Gumbuma is now Chechoi Rinpoche V Lobsan Yeshey Galag Jamtso, a Tibetan native of Northeastern Tibet. He was barely 7 years old. His predecessor, Chechoi Rinpoche IV Lobsan Lunrig Jamtso (1935-2000), was a close associate of Panchen Lama X. The new rebirth of Chechoi Rinpoche was determined in 2007. When I first met young Checha Rinpoche in 2008, I was granted an official audience. He has not yet taken his vows as a monk, and he wears the usual clothes of a boy of his own age. His mentor, the Phuntsog Lama, an old friend of mine, helped Rinpoche sit down properly in the audience room and placed the sacred text wrapped in cloth in his hands. To them, after I presented my gifts, Rinpoche blessed me by placing a book on the top of my head. After the official presentation, we communicate quite easily.

* * *

What is the fate of Rinpoche Lobsan Baldan Shoi zhiy Wanchuga and Lobsan Yeshey Galag Zhamtso-these boys who are recognized as "living Buddhas" in a rapidly - changing Tibet? One thing is certain now : in the next 10 to 15 years, they will not only remain the mainstay of Tibetan believers, but will also be the focus of active attention of the Chinese authorities, who have made a bet on using the institution of reborn saints to strengthen the central government.

1 Such ideas are typical for most traditional Indian systems of worldview (with the exception of the materialistic charvaka school), but the essence of this phenomenon is understood by them in different ways. Buddhism denies the existence of a" soul " - a kind of eternal substance that is consistently embodied, according to Hindus, in different bodies. In Buddhism, both living beings and their world of objects are considered only as a set of dharmas-special elements-qualities. When a being dies, its set of dharmas "crumbles" and, according to karma (intentional acts performed) - both accumulated in past births and accumulated in this one, is collected in a new combination, giving a new being and its corresponding world of objects.

2 Tshe tan zhabs drung la sogs. Bod rgya tshig mdzod chen mo. Pe cin, 1993, p. 10 (Cetan shabdrun et al. Large Tibetan-Chinese dictionary. Beijing, 1993, p. 10).

3 The Buddha (skt. "The Awakened One") is the source, ideal, and ultimate goal of Buddhist teaching. This goal can be called in different ways: the cessation of suffering (getting out of the cycle of rebirth), the extinction of desires, the calming of consciousness, nirvana. Most generally, it can be described as the attainment of Buddhahood. One who has attained liberation is called "Awakened" in the sense that all living entities are dormant. The semantic pair-sleep-wakefulness-here symbolizes a pair: a clouded, uncontrolled consciousness - a clear, active consciousness that has fully revealed its nature.

4 Founder of the Gelugpa school, which has dominated Tibetan Buddhism since the 17th century.

5 About the country of Shambhala, see: Strelkov A.M. Mythical history and eschatology of the Kalachakra doctrine in the Buddhist legend of Shambhala / / Vostok, 2008, No. 5, pp. 5-19.

6 With ser. The traditional Tibetan chronology (including future events about which there are prophecies) is unified by Tibetan scholars, and its dates are compared with those according to the European chronology system.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LSweden LWorld Y G


Alex HirshmanContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

A. M. STRELKOV, "LIVING BUDDHAS" OF MODERN TIBET // Stockholm: Swedish Digital Library (LIBRARY.SE). Updated: 09.08.2023. URL: (date of access: 20.04.2024).

Found source (search robot):

Publication author(s) - A. M. STRELKOV:

A. M. STRELKOV → other publications, search: Libmonster SwedenLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Alex Hirshman
Geteborg, Sweden
114 views rating
09.08.2023 (255 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
Catalog: Military science 
149 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Cultural studies 
156 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Economics 
226 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Economics 
226 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Theology 
251 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Political science 
251 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Science 
251 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Literature study 
251 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Literature study 
251 days ago · From Alex Hirshman
Catalog: Economics 
251 days ago · From Alex Hirshman

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

LIBRARY.SE - Swedish Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: SE LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Swedish Digital Library ® All rights reserved.
2014-2024, LIBRARY.SE is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of Serbia


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android