Living Buddhas Reincarnation System
As the main point distinguishing Tibetan Buddhism from other forms of Buddhism, the reincarnation system for the Living Buddhas has a long history.
The word "Living Buddhas" first appeared in the early Yuan Dynasty. Pagba, head of the Sagya Sect was entitled as the "Buddha of the Western Paradise" by emperor Kublai Khan. Form then on, the term was adopted to refer to distinguished monks who are excellent in the practice of Buddhism. At that time, the term was not used as the title of the successor of the deceaed leader of a monastery.
Tibet living Buddha Sakya Changhg
Pagba and Garma Pakshi, an eminent monk with the Garma Gagyu Sect, was granted an audience by Kublai Khan in 1252. He further sought the patronage of Monge Khan and got a gold-rimmed black hat and a golden seal of authority. Before his death, Garma Paksli announced a will to ensure the established interests of his sect. In his will, he called his followers to locate a boy to inherit the black hat, telling them the concept of reincarnation: the eternal Buddha would be reincarnated to complete the missions he had initiated. The followers of Garma Pakshi obeyed his will and found a boy as the reincarnation of their master. This is the first time in Tibetan history appeared the Living Buddha reincarnation system for the Black-Hat Line of Tibetan Buddhism. Later in the Ming Dynasty, the Black-Hat Living Buddha Garmaba was honoured as the ''Great Treasure Prince of Dharma", the first of the three "Princes of Dharma'', by emperor Yongle. This is the Living Buddha reincarnation system which still remains today. On September 27, 1992, a grand ceremony took place in the Curpu Monastery in Doilungdeqen County, Lhasa to mark the enthronement of the 16th Living Buddha Garmaba, which opens a new page for the the Garma Gagye Sect.
The Living Buddha reincarnation system was acted by various sects of Tibetan Buddhism and they created a number of other similar systems. Totally 148 Grand Living Buddhas registered for reincarnation with the Board for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, and by the end of the dynasty, the number rose to 160 . However, the Dalai and Bainqen Lama systems remain the most influential ones.
11th Panchen Lama
The reincarnation system for the Dalai Lama was introduced in the 16th century, when the 5th Dalai Lama paid homage to Emperor Shunzhi in Beijing. The Lama was honoured as "the Dalai Lama, Overseer of the Buddhist Faith on Earth Under the Great Benevolent Self-subsisting Buddha of the Western Paradise", marking the beginning of Dalai Lama and it is still used today. The current Dalai Lama was enthroned in the Potala Palace on February 22, 1940, with the presence of Wu Zhongxin, minister of the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs of the nationalist government of the Republic of China. He was appointed by the nationalist government without drawing lot from the golden urn, which is the traditional ceremony of choosing the Dalai Lama.
In 1713, the reincarnatin system for the Bainqen Lama was established as the 5th Bainqen was granted the honorific title as "Bainqen Erdeni"(Erdeni meaning "great treasure" in Manchu). During the period of the Republic of China, the 9th Bainqen Erdeni and the 13th Dalai Lama were at odds and as a result, the 9th Bainqen Erdeni departing for China's hinterland and soon passed away in Qinghai Province. Then the Tashilhungpo Monastery chose a boy named Gongbo Cidain as his reincarnated soul. As all signs suggesting the authenticity of the boy, Li Zongren, the acting president of the Republic of China, issued a special order that the boy "be excuses from the lot-drawing method and given the special permission to succeed as the 10th Bainqen Erdeni." Then on August 10, 1949, the enthronment ceremony held in the Tar Monastery, with the presence of Guan Jieyu, minister of the Commission for Mongolian and Tibean Affairs of the nationalist government of the Republic of China.
From the seventh century, when the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism took power in Tibet, the Living Buddha reincarnation system became the focus of intension with the upper class in Tibet. In 1793, in order to win his score by overcoming drawbacks characteristic of soul boys nominated from the same tribes, the Qing government declared the 29-Article Ordinance for the More Efficient Governing of Tibet. Article one of the Ordinance says: In order to ensure the Yellow Sect continues to flourish, the Grand Emperor bestows it with a golden urn and ivory slips for use in confirming the reincarnated soul boy of a deceased Living Buddha. Four major Buddhist Guardians will be summoned; the names and birthdays of candidates will be written on the ivory slips in three languages(Manchu, Han chinese and Tibetan); the ivory slips will be put into the golden urn; experienced Living Buddhas will pray for seven days before various Hotogtu Living Buddhas and High Commisioners stationed in Tibet; and finally, in front of the statue of Sakyamuni in the Jokhang Monastery, the Central Government will draw a lot from the golden urn to confirm the reincarnated soul boy.
The Living Buddha reincarnation system of Tibetan Buddhism was then fully established by drawing lot from the golden urn. The High Commissioners and leaders of the soul boy search group were required to report the result to the Central Government following the lot-drawing ceremony to gain approval of the Central Government.
The Qing court ordered artisans to create two golden urns: one is to confirm reincarnations of the Dalai Lama and Bainqen Erdeni and now is situated in the Potala Palace in Lhasa; the other is for the reincarnations of Mongolian and Tibetan Grand Living Buddhas and hotogtu Living Buddhas and is now in the Yonghegong Lamasery in Beijing.
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