China to set up online database of ‘living Buddhas’

Tibetan child monk in monestry, Litang, Kham, TIbet. (Photo courtesy: Alex Saurel)
Tibetan child monk in monestry, Litang, Kham, TIbet. (Photo courtesy: Alex Saurel)

(, Dec09, 2015) – China says it will set up a database of what it calls “legitimate Living Buddhas in China” in order to expose “fake ones”. And the information will be published online to enable followers of Tibetan Buddhism to distinguish between real Living Buddhas and fake ones, reported China’s official Dec 8 in a series of reports and commentaries, citing Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Legitimate or real Living Buddhas refer to reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist masters whose recognitions had been carried out under the supervision of the atheist Chinese government and who have been approved by it.

In Sep 2007, the State Administration for Religious Affairs issued regulations saying all reincarnations of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism must receive approval of the Chinese government. A white paper on Tibet released by the Information Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, in Sep 2015 said there were currently 358 living Buddhas in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Zhu Weiqun, speaking on China Central Television during the weekend, has claimed that some fake Living Buddhas had posed threats to national security, as they use money they collect to sponsor illegal or even separatist activities in Tibet. He has not cited any example.

He has also said there had been reports of fake Living Buddhas cheating people out of their savings or luring them into sexual activities using religious practice as an excuse.

Zhu’s comments followed a video footage of Baima Aose, 39, described as a self-proclaimed Living Buddha, ordaining actor Zhang Tielin as a Living Buddha at a ceremony in Hong Kong in October. The footage has gone viral on the Internet. A commentary cited Baima Aose as saying he became a Living Buddha after a Living Buddha at Katuo Monastery in Sichuan province’s Garze (or Ganzi, Tibetan: Karze) prefecture ordained him in Hong Kong in 2012.

The commentary said Baima Aose was from Quanzhou, Fujian province; that his original name was Wu Darong. He had moved to Hong Kong at 8. He is now chairman of the World Trade United Foundation, registered in Hong Kong, and Zhang, the actor, is the first vice-chairman.


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