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China’s Panchen stated to have earned his top religious degree

(TibetanReview.net, Oct27’21) – In what may contribute to his enhanced role in Beijing’s public relations move on Tibetan affairs, China said Oct 27 that Gyaincain Norbu, whom it appointed as Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama back in 1995, had earned his Kachen degree after nearly 26 years of sutras study. China appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama after kidnapping six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who had already been recognized by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as the reincarnation of the late 10th Panchen Lama just months earlier.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, earned the Kachen degree, which is “equivalent to a doctoral degree in modern education”, after completing a two-hour debate Oct 26 at the Tashilhunpo Monastery in the city of Xigaze (Tibetan: Shigatse), Tibet Autonomous Region, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Oct 27.

It said the important occasion was witnessed by about 800 people, including revered Buddhists from major monasteries and temples in Tibet, as well as monks and pilgrims.

Born in Feb 1990 in Lhari County of northern Tibet’s Nagchu City, Gyaincain Norbu began studying the Five Major Treatises in 1996 and had passed two related examinations in 2002 and 2020, respectively, the report said.

He was stated to have been “approved by the central government as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama” and enthroned in 1995.

“The living Buddha (Panchen Lama) is intelligent and compassionate,” Salung Phunla, 78, a guru and the first director of the monastery’s management committee, was quoted as saying.

The apparently China-patriotic guru was further quoted as saying: “I hope that he will continue to study and practice Buddhist classics, inherit and carry forward the glorious tradition of patriotism and love for Buddhism of the Panchen Lamas, and make greater contribution to world peace and the well-being of all.”

Gyaincain Norbu is already a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China top but powerless political advisory body. He is also a vice president of the Buddhist Association of China and president of the association’s Tibet branch.

Meanwhile the fate or whereabouts of the Dalai Lama -recognized 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima continues to remain unknown.

The Panchen Lama is Tibet’s second most influential religious figure.

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