The Dalai Lama has named a US-born Mongolian boy as the tenth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, the head of the Janang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the Buddhist spiritual head of Mongolia, a report by the Times said.

Janang Tradition

  • The Janang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Its origins in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century .
  • It became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, a monk originally trained in the Sakya school.
  • The Jonang school’s main practice comes from the Kalachakra cycle.

Tibetan Buddhism

  • Buddhism became the predominant religion in Tibet by the 9th century AD.
  • It evolved from the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Buddhism, incorporating many tantric and shamanic practices of both post-Gupta period Buddhism in India as well as the Bon religion which was spread across Tibet prior to Buddhism’s arrival.

Tibetan Buddhism has four major schools:

  1. Nyingma (8th century),
  2. Kagyu (11th century),
  3. Sakya (1073), and
  4. Gelug (1409).
  5. The Janang school (12th century) is one of the smaller schools that grew as an offshoot of the Sakya school.
  6. Since 1640, the Gelug school has been the predominant school of Tibetan Buddhism.
  7. The Dalai Lama belongs to this school.

Hierarchy and Reincarnation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

  • The cycle of birth, death and rebirth is one of Buddhism’s key beliefs.
  • Tibet’s hierarchical system seemingly emerged in the 13th century.
  • It was also around this time that the first instances of formally recognizing the reincarnations of lamas can be found.
  • In 1417, Jé Tsongkhapa founded the Gelug school.
  • The fifth grand lama of the school, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, was conferred the title of Dalai Lama (‘Dalai’ being the Mongol word for ‘ocean’).
  • To consolidate his rule, he instituted the tradition of succession through reincarnation in the Gelug school.
  • He himself claiming to be the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, one of the most important Bodhisattvas in Mahayana traditions.
  • A number of procedures are followed in order to recognise Tulkus (recognised reincarnations).
  • The Dalai Lama is found rather than chosen.
  • Following the Buddhist belief in the principle of reincarnation, the Dalai Lama is believed by Buddhists to be able to choose the body into which he is reincarnated.
  • That person, when found, will then become the next Dalai Lama.
  • The predecessor himself leaves guidance regarding his reincarnation.
  • The prospective child then has to undergo multiple ‘tests’.

Chinese interference

  • The Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s exile has raised significant complications in the established traditions of reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism.
  • For years, the Chinese government has attempted to discredit the Dalai Lama
  • According to an order passed by the Chinese government in 2007, a reincarnation application must be filed by all Buddhist temples in that country before they are allowed to recognise individuals as tulkus.


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