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Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and reincarnation of Living Buddha

The Ta'er temple in Qinghai ProvinceZang people believe in Tibetan Buddhism, which is also called Tibetan language family Buddhism (because its classics belong to the Tibetan system) and commonly called Lamaism (because its religious practitioners are called "Lama"). It belongs to a branch in the Mahayana Buddhism propagated to the north, and it came into being in the Tibetan region of China at the end of the 10th century, which is a localized form of Buddhism in Tibetan region. It was founded on the basis of doctrines of Buddhism, and it absorbed some gods and ceremonies of Bon Religion. Its doctrines are mainly Great Vehicle doctrines incorporating doctrines of Hinayana Buddhism. The Mahayana Buddhism has both mysticism and tradition of sutras, emphasizes the tradition of sutras first and then mysticism, and regards the supreme yoga mysticism as the highest level in practicing, which becomes Tibetan mysticism. Many important denominations were formed in history, such as Ningma, Gadang, Saja, Gaju, and Gelu, and strict temple organizations and Classics learning system were formed. It has completely Threefold Canon translated into Tibetan, and it mainly spreads in Tibetans, Mongolians, Tus and Yugurs in China, and over Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, Mongolia and Siberia.

Pagoda with thousands of Buddhas in Jiangzi

Dalai Lama is one of the titles for the highest leader and Living Buddha of the Gelu Denomination of Tibetan Buddhism, and he is regarded as incarnation of the Bodhisattva Guanyin. "Dalai" is transliterated from Mongolian, which means "sea". "Lama" is transliteration of Tibetan, which means "great master". "Dalai Lama" means "a great master who transcends worldliness and attains holiness, and has broad and profound sea of knowledge". This title started in the sixth year of the Wanli period in Ming Dynasty (1587), and it originated from the honorific title "Dalai Lama Wachi'edala with broad and profound knowledge" to the leader Suonanjiacuo of the Gelu Denomination by leader Anda Khan of the Tumote Mongolian. Suonanjiacuo was the Third Dalai Lama (the two before him were admitted posthumously by later generations). In the tenth year of the Shunzhi period in Qing Dynasty (1653), the Qing government conferred officially a title upon the Fifth Dalai Lama Awangluosangjiacuo, which is "His holiness the Dalai Lama Wachiladala who leads Buddhist people all over the land". The title and Dalai Lama's leading position in Tibetan Buddhism were fixed since then, and it became world-famous. Since then, it became an established rule that the incarnation of every generation of Living Buddha should be conferred by the central government. In the 16th year of the Qianlong period (1751), the Qing government authorized the Seventh Dalai to administer the local Tibet political power, and Dalai Lama became the most powerful political and religious leader of Tibet. In 1959, after the democratic reform, bound of politics and religion was strictly distinguished, and Dalai Lama's feudal privilege in politics was abolished. The Dalai Lama now is the 14th.

Status of the Bodhisattva Guanyin with eleven faces and eight armsPanchen E'erdeni is also one of the titles of the highest leader and Living Buddha of the Gelu Denomination in Tibetan Buddhism, which is called incarnation of Buddha of Infinite Light. "Pan" is abbreviation of Sanskirt "Panzhda" (scholar). "Chen" means "great" in Tibetan, and "panchen" is "great scholar". "E'erdeni" is Manchu language, and it means "treasure". In the second year of the Shunzhi period in Qing Dynasty (1654), the leader Gushi Khan of the Mongolian Heshuote tribe, who ruled the central Tibet (the former and latter Tibetan), respectfully addressed Zpngkaba's forth disciple Luosangquejijianzan the title of "Panchen Bokeduo"("Bokeduo" is Mongolian which is an honorific title for wise and heroic person), asked him to manage the Zhashilunbu Temple, and delimited a part of the Latter Tibetan in to his administration. So the title "Panchen" comes from this.

Luosangquejijianzan was the Forth Panchen (the former three Panchens were admitted posthumously by later generations). In 1731, Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty conferred the title "Panchen E'erdeni" upon the Fifth Panchen Luosangyixi, granted him gold book and gold seal, and confirmed Panchen's position in the Gelu Denomination. From then on, it became an established rule that the incarnation of every Panchen E'erdeni should be conferred by the central government. In the sixth year of the Yongzheng period (1728), the Qing government followed the old case of Gushi Khan, and delimited again the jurisdiction area of Panchen in the latter Tibet, which made Panchen become political and religious leader of Tibet as Dalai. After the democratic reform in 1959, bound of politics and religion was strictly distinguished, and Panchen's feudal privilege in politics was abolished. The Panchen now is the 11th.

The Tenth Panchen E'erdeni QuejijianzanIncarnation of Living Buddha is a system set up by the Tibetan Buddhism temple groups to solve the problem of succession of leader and to keep their vested interest. It stems from the statement of soul reincarnation and transmigration of life and death in Buddhism. "Living Buddha" is called "Zhugu" in Tibetan, which means "god and Buddha transform into mortal body". The incarnation system of Living Buddha started from the Gamagaju Denomination of the Tibetan Buddhism. After the rising of the Gelu Denomination, monks were not allowed to get married, so they also adopted the incarnation system to solve the problem of inheritance of religious leader, which started from the Third Dalai Suonanjiacuo. Details are: after the passing away of the Living Buddha, according to indication of the Living Buddha before his death, clues provided in the will, and rites such as divination, vanquishing gods and observing holy lakes, members of the upper level of the temple find a number of babies who was born at the time when the Living Buddha died (called "incarnated boy"), and select one from them as the "incarnation". Because the person selected was always manipulated by the upper level groups, in the 57th year of the Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty (1792), they stipulated that the method of "drawing lot from gold urn" was used to decide on the incarnation of the Living Buddha who was registered by the Court of Colonial Affairs, so as to prevent cheating. Lama in other middle-sized or small temple who enjoys prestige can find the child as incarnation by himself. 

For example, the Tenth Panchen E'erdeni Quejijianzan passed away in Rikeze in 1989, and they started the work of looking for the incarnation child at the same year. The State Council decided that the inquiring team was assumed by the democratic managing meeting of Zhashilunbu temple. The work was done strictly according to religious rites and procedure. The procedure includes such activities as chanting sutra and praying, observing reflections on lake, visiting clever and spiritual children secretly, and identifying things left behind by the Tenth Panchen. After careful selection by the inquiring team, three boys became candidates to take part in the lot drawing in gold urn, and the team earnestly required the government of the Xizang Autonomous Region to verity it and submitted a report asking for the ratification of the Stage Council. In 1995, the lot drawing from the gold urn decided that the six-year-old incarnated living Buddha Jianzannuobu in the Jiali County in the northern Tibet was the incarnation of the Tenth Panchen, and he was ratified by the Central People's Government as the Eleventh Panchen E'erdeni.

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