Disclaimer: Originally published in June 2017. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today. 

China has forcibly occupied Tibet. That is not an old news. But what non-Tibetans never get to hear is the numerous struggles of Tibetan people to resist the iron fist of the Chinese.

Tibet, for Indians, is an issue which will only appear in the newspaper when another monk decides to self-immolate himself.

The Chinese government is officially atheistic while Tibet was a Buddhist nation. Chinese government had always concentrated on driving away superstitions from their regime, and religion is one such issue. To integrate Tibet into the Regime, it is important to annihilate Buddhism.

The Chinese government carried out this venture by selectively eradicating any trace of Buddhist religious leaders since Buddhist leaders occupy a sacred pedestal.

For China, once Buddhist leaders are removed, making Tibetans abide by the Chinese policy will be easier since it will drown any voice of resistance.

China had partially succeeded in its venture.

One such leader is a six-year-old kid.

Also read: When Even Winners Face Defeat: The Dalai Lama Story

What is the Panchen Lama?

Not “what”, but “who”.

“Panchen” means a great scholar.

Tibetan Buddhism is not homogeneous. It comprises of different sects. One such sect is Gelug. One of the major philosophies the sect follows is that of sunyata, which means “openness and understanding nonexistence“. In a more crude sense, it means “emptiness“.

The Panchen Lama is the most important leader of the Gelug sect. The spiritual authority of the Panchen Lama is next to Dalai Lama.

Why is the figure of Panchen Lama important?

The life Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama are closely intertwined with the Tibetan society. They are known to not only act as political and religious figures but are also the bearers of the culture, tradition and language of the Tibetan society. The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are often studied in conjunction as “the Sun and the Moon”.

What happened to the last Panchen Lama?

Now, we are coming to the real topic of the conversation.

The Panchen Lama is generally treated as the incarnation of previous Panchen Lamas, and the title is conferred by the Dalai Lama.

Gendun Cheokyi Nyima (born 25 April 1989) is considered the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Thinley Choekyi Gyaltsen. He was recognized so by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on 14th May, 1995.

Three days after the recognition of Lobsang Gendun Cheokyi Nyima, Chinese authority abducted the Panchen Lama and his family. The whereabouts are still unknown.

Instead, the Chinese authorities installed their own Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, in 1995.

What does the Chinese government say?

Panchen Lama

The Chinese government has always refused to leak any information about the Panchen Lama to Tibetan people. The only excuse that the Chinese government seems to come up with is, he “does not want to be disturbed”, which is obviously very unsettling.

1. The Panchen Lama is considered a religious figure of the people, and people are the main occupation of the Panchen Lama. Why would he not want the same people to know his whereabouts?

2. It is also speculated that the Panchen Lama is under solitary confinement somewhere in the outskirts of Beijing where he is receiving “Chinese education” and has been brainwashed completely.

3. China says that the Panchen Lama is leading a normal Chinese life and his parents are employed in the offices of the Chinese government. The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) also claims that Gendun Cheokyi Nyima has no intentions of going back to his people.

The Panchen Lama would be 29 years old now. Many believe him to be the longest serving political prisoner in the world. Numerous organisations run by Tibetan students around the globe have the release of Panchen Lama as their primary demand.

China is just another brutal dictatorial government, the ugliest face of fascism. China wants the Tibetans to believe that Panchen Lama is not interested in the very population it is culturally supposed to involve with, and in the process, the Panchen Lama will be forgotten.

The need for Panchen Lama to its Tibetan population is the need of the hour. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has declared that he might be the last Dalai Lama.

With no Dalai Lama or the Panchen Lama, who will then lead the Tibetan people? Who will then preserve their culture and language and customs?

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: Wikipedia, Asia Times, The Guardian

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