China to choose next Dalai Lama by draw of lots
Apr 11, 2017 Sutirtho Patranobis Hindustan Times, Beijing
The successor to the Dharamshala-based 14th Dalai Lama will be chosen in the traditional way of drawing lots from a sacred urn at the Jokhang monastery in Lhasa followed by the mandatory approval from the ruling Communist Party of China, Beijing has said.
When required, the succession rules will follow traditional Buddhist religious rituals to be performed at the Jokhang temple, Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest temple, and regulations set by the CPC, the Chinese foreign ministry told Hindustan Times in a written response.
“The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be conducted according to religious rituals and historical conventions including drawing of lots from the Golden Urn in front of the Shakyamuni (Buddha) statue at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, which embodies the Buddhist spirit,” the ministry said “(and) not by what the 14th Dalai Lama has said.”
“Finally the result must be reported to the central government for approval. This rule was established early in 1793,” said the ministry, referring to the 29-Article Ordinance for More Effective Governance of Tibet, passed by the Qing dynasty, which had ruled that future Dalai Lamas would be chosen through a draw of lots of names inside the urn at the temple.
The primary rules of naming the successor will follow the “Regulation on Religious Affairs and Management Rules of Tibetan Buddhism Reincarnation,” the ministry said.
The emphatic statement from the Chinese government comes amid the ongoing Sino-India diplomatic spat over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims is part of southern Tibet with historical and religious links to Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
On Tuesday, the Dalai Lama, 81, is learnt to have left Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang, leaving in his trail crowds of praying and chanting Buddhists and a seething controversy between India and China.
Last week, the Dalai Lama had said it was up to the Tibetan people whether the “institution of Dalai Lama should continue or not” and that he wanted to start “some sort of preliminary discussion” on his succession this year.
It is believed in Tibetan Buddhism that Dalai Lama is reincarnated as a child.
For China, it is important that the 15th Dalai Lama is chosen from a Tibetan area within the country so as to nip in the bud any future for the movement for greater Tibetan autonomy.
“The reincarnation of Living Buddha is a unique way of inheritance of Tibetan Buddhism. China has adopted policy of religious freedom, which includes respect and protection of this Tibetan Buddhism tradition,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.
Calling the Dalai Lama a “political exile” who has had a “disgraceful” influence on the India-China border dispute, the ministry said he is not a “purely religious person” and has been engaged in anti-China separatist activities for years.
“He is active in disputed area in Sino-Indian border which itself is a major political event,” the ministry said about the visit.
It emphasised that “no matter what the Indian government has arranged in disputed areas, and no matter what the Dalai Lama’s speech in “Arunachal Pradesh”, it will never change the fact that there is a great controversy in eastern part of the Sino-Indian border, nor it will change China’s position on this issue.”