By Tenzin Dharpo
Sonam Norbu Dagpo, Secretary for International relations and Spokesperson of the CTA. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 14: China’s state administration for religious affairs (SARA) has reportedly approved and provided training to 60 'Living Buddhas' in a bid to counter the influence over monastic community by the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.
Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee said, "The rule has successfully prevented the Dalai Lama from using the reincarnation of Living Buddha to conduct activities that threaten Tibetan Buddhism and national unity,"
"Some Buddhist temples from some random area often appoint so-called Living Buddhas to serve their own purposes, and some people have been found to be using the guise of Living Buddha to swindle followers," Zhu added.
China had issued an official decree making it mandatory for Tibetan reincarnate lamas to get the seal of approval from the government citing concerns to curb fake lamas that dupe people. However, the development has been severely criticized and mocked by Tibetans who feel that such measures are purely intent on gaining control over the reincarnation system in the Tibetan Buddhism and over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama down the line.
“Interfering with Tibetan people’s faith for political gains has been an age-old practice of China’s political game. During the cultural revolution, they destroyed Tibetan monasteries and cultural relics in the name of modernization, and disrobed and disbanded monks and nuns from monasteries in an effort to brainwash Tibetans with socialist propaganda,” Sonam Norbu Dagpo, Secretary for International Relations and spokesperson of the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration said.
“They are now manipulating people’s faith in Tibetan Buddhism particularly the millennia–old tradition of reincarnation to control Tibet. It’s obvious that their ultimate goal is to grab Tibet’s institution of the Dalai Lama and use it as a political tool to legitimize their occupation,” he added.
In the beginning of 2016, China launched an online database consisting of 870 names, pictures and locations of their ‘legal living Buddhas’ approved by the state. The numbers have since been reported to be up to 1300 lamas.