Monks Prayer Tibet Gyantse Buddhism Monastery

China Publishes “Verified Living Buddha” List.

The maiden list stating the names of “authentic living Buddhas” was published on the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs website. The list contains all relevant reincarnation matters including names and photographs of 870 individuals along with their locations. The move is clearly a try to grab power from Dalai Lama -the head of Tibetan Buddhism. Verified living Buddhas are known as Tulkus in the local language.

The official aim of such a list is to inform Chinese and other countries' citizens about “authentic” teachers and High Lamas. The list is uploaded to the website Rinpoche. The site, at last count, had 870 authentic Rinpoches. The term Rinpoche means precious one and the title is given to Tulkus.

The announcement of the database comes after the Chinese government issued white paper which reiterates that Beijing should endorse the reincarnation system applicable to living Buddhas. According to Chinese state media, the online list will prevent unscrupulous false living Buddhas luring followers with the intention to make a quick buck without the proper religious credentials. This can be matter of concern as significant numbers of Han Chinese are rapidly adopting Tibetan Buddhism. They are attracted by the religious purity of Tibetan high plateau.

The insistence of the Chinese government to pick and choose living Buddhas even includes the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's spiritual leader. The present Dalai Lama is regarded as 14th reincarnation of the revered 15th century abbot. The Dalai Lama now spends his days in exile post a failed 1959 uprising against the rule of China over Tibet. Even though the 80 year old spiritual head now calls for Tibet to be an autonomous province- as opposed to earlier calls of complete independence, the Chinese government continues to view him as a dangerous separatist. Beijing accuses him of stoking the 2008 protests which convulsed the Tibetan plateau. It also points a finger towards him in blaming 130 self immolation deaths and tries by Tibetans in recent years. The Dalai Lama has rejected all charges.

If one follows tradition, the Dalai Lama reincarnation is selected by a coterie consisting of high lamas or senior Buddhist monks. The Chinese communist party now have other ideas and consider reincarnation as part of its official duties. Nicholas Bequelin of Amnesty International said that these efforts are part of the Chinese government's plan to tackle the religion after the present Dalai Lama passes away. They want to be ready for the event.  

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