By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, May 9: The Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, currently in Japan on a six day tour, has reiterated that the Tibetan people will have the final say in determining the future of the Dalai Lama institution, not the Chinese government which claims authority over the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama.
In an interview with NHK broadcasting Agency, the Dalai Lama said, “I find it baffling because the Chinese government’s interest in the issue is solely political, not religious. During the Manchu dynasty, Chinese involvement in the issue is understandable because of religious connection emanating from the priest-patron relationship. However, modern Communist China calls itself atheist. So, they have no business in the issue. That’s why I often joke that the Chinese government should first announce the reincarnation of Mao Zedong and others if they really believe in reincarnation.”
Asserting that the Tibetan people have the say in the matter, the Tibetan leader said, “As far back as 1969, I have stated that it is up to the Tibetan people to decide whether the institution of Dalai Lama should remain or not. However, these days the Chinese government seems more interested in the issue than myself. ”
The issue of the Dalai Lama has had Beijing on their toes for quite some time now. Chinese leader Zhu Weiquin, head of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Nov. 2015 claimed the CCP has the “decision-making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and over the end or survival of this lineage.”
The stark remarks have since invited ridicule and censure from Tibetans, Tibet-observers and the Dalai Lama himself. The Tibetan PM Lobsang Sangay in a guest column in the Time Magazine
last year retorted in more ways than one, challenged the core notion of the issue likening it to “Fidel Castro picking the Pope”.
Sangay wrote, “How incredible, then, that China now claims the right to locate the next reincarnation of the spiritual leader whom they call “the devil.” How incredible, too, that the Communist leaders whose ideology regards religion as the opium of the people, and whose founding figure, Mao Zedong, famously told His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Beijing that “religion is poison,” now orders the Dalai Lama to reincarnate on the Chinese government’s terms.”
The Chinese government went as far to spin a legitimacy over the reincarnation of tulkus (reincarnate Tibetan lamas) by making a “data base of living Buddhas” who are recognized by the government to be real tulkus (even issuing them identity cards) and deeming others who are not on the list to be fake ones. In the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) alone, 358 Living Buddhas were registered.