(TibetanReview.net, Apr27, 2018) – The Dalai Lama has, on Apr 25, confirmed what Chinese leaders have been saying, most recently in 2014, that the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima recognized by him in 1995, is alive and pursuing normal education. The 11th Panchen Lama, “according to reliable source, is alive and carrying normal education,” he was quoted as saying, speaking to reporters on his return from New Delhi at Gaggal Airport.
He has also indicated that the existence of two 11th Panchen Lamas may not be all that unusual in Tibetan Buddhism. He was cited as having commented that there were instances in Tibetan Buddhist tradition where a reincarnate lama appeared as more than one person.
“One century ago, one very famous Khyentse Wangpo, his manifested five incarnations (Body, Speech, Mind, Quality, and Activity). Of course holding of the seat is just one, but something like, manifestation of the previous incarnation could be more,” the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)-run Tibet.net Apr 25 quoted him as saying.
“I hope, the official Panchen Lama also study quite well under the guidance of one good teacher. Then the Panchen Lama, which I recognised, sometime back [there were] no news, but then according to reliable information, he is still alive and carrying normal education. So we will see,” Tibet.net quoted him as telling reporters.
The Panchen Lama is Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure after the Dalai Lama. Following the passing away of the 10th Panchen Lama Choekyi Gyaltsen in Jan 1989, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader formally proclaimed six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima born in Tibet as his undisputed reincarnation on May 14, 1995. Three days later, the Chinese government took him and his family away to be never seen or heard from again.
Later in Nov 1995, atheist China declared another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, as the real reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama and had him enthroned. He has lived in Beijing ever since, becoming, in Feb 2010, a member of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference as well as a vice president of the Buddhist Association of China.
On Apr 25, 2018, exile Tibetans marked Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s 29th birthday. The CTA released a video titled “Panchen Lama’s 29th Birthday: Birthday Wishes in 29 languages”. It features 29 birthday wishes written to the Panchen Lama on his 29th birthday.
In Washington, DC, the International Campaign for Tibet President Matteo Mecacci met with United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and discussed with him the important role his government could play in securing the Panchen Lama’s release.
The Ambassador was stated to have reaffirmed his government’s commitment to call on the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and to provide the truth on his wellbeing and whereabouts, as well as ensuring respect for religious freedom of the Tibetan people.