Posted on August 19, 2021.
Today the 25th of April, 2020, marks the 31st Birth Anniversary of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama Jetsun Tenzin Gedun Yeshi Thrinley Phuntsok Palsangpo, a spiritual teacher of renown for all sentient beings. On this blissful day, we the monks and devotees of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, both within and without Tibet, offer our deepest respects and heartfelt TASHI DELEK to all.
Since 1996, every year on 25th of April, the Abbot, incarnate lamas and the monks of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery have been celebrating the Birth Anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama in a befitting manner. But this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic afflicting the world, resulting in lockdowns and social distancing, we are left with no choice but to celebrate this year’s Panchen Lama’s Birth Anniversary online. Through this medium, therefore, we wish all the devotees celebrating this singular Birthday with happiness, and may we all, one day be blessed with his holy presence in our midst!
Needless to say, the successive throne holders of the Panchen Lama lineage have contributed immensely to the great spiritual tradition of Tibet, and to the welfare of all sentient beings. In Tibetan history, the unique relationship of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama is well known. The popular saying has been: As the Sun and the Moon in the sky, so is the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama on earth! These two great spiritual figures have entered the human realm as teacher-disciple relationship in Tibet’s history, and recognized each other’s reincarnation through the purity of their wisdom, down the ages.
The 10th Panchen Lama has a special place in recent Tibet’s tragic history. From a young age, he was a steadfast advocate of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. He worked tirelessly to preserve the rich Tibetan linguistic tradition in various ways including starting new schools. He also contributed immensely to the health and welfare of the Tibetan people. He created awareness in science and politics among the people and fought for their rights to self-governance. In sum, he devoted his entire life for the cause of the Tibetan people until his untimely demise in 1989.
In view of the pressing supplications and prayers of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, both inside and outside Tibet, the Dalai Lama, as per the unique tradition of recognizing each other’s reincarnation found Gedun Choekyi Nyima from Nagchu, Lhari province, Tibet, the most promising child. Therefore, after due consultations with signs and prophecies, the Dalai Lama, formerly announced Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995.
But, to our utter shock, on the third day of the announcement on 17th May, 1995, the recognized Panchen Lama disappeared at the tender age of 6 under the orders of the Chinese government. Along with him and his entire family, Jhadrel Rinpoche, the Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, who was also the head of the search committee for the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in Tibet, were all arrested and imprisoned. Even after 25 years of his disappearance, we still have no idea of their whereabouts!
Even after vigorous and continuous pressure on China by the devotees of the Panchen Lama, governments sensitive to human rights, NGOs and concerned individuals, the Chinese Government has turned a deaf ear. To the leaders around the world, NGO representatives and individuals who have met Chinese leaders to demand the release of the Panchen lama, the Chinese government always parrots that he is well and living comfortably. But to this day, even after 25 years, they have failed to produce a single photograph of the Panchen Lama!
Due to this stonewalling of the truth for such a long time, today it is a pertinent question whether the Panchen Lama is still alive or not? This is a matter of deep concern to the monks of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, to the Tibetan people and to the world at large. Therefore, there is an added urgency to give a clarion call for the immediate release of the Panchen Lama! The CTA, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and sympathetic governments and NGOs have all collectively intensified their demands for the same. And, we will not rest until the issue is resolved!
It is clear that the Chinese policy over Tibet and Uyghur is a sinister and deliberate attempt to remove from the face of the earth our racial and cultural identity. This is clearly seen in the way they interfere and intervene in the functioning of the monastic education system, and in the way they impose restrictions on our monks and nuns. Even in schools, we see this sinister design to wipe out our racial and cultural identity in the form of re-structuring the curriculum and banning the learning of the mother tongue. At the environmental level, there is utter disregard and irreverence for life and ecology of Tibet and Uyghur. In a nutshell, there is continuous and systematic destruction of culture, religion, language and environment in these regions, which is now well known across the world.
But, today there is a synergic dissatisfaction among the educated and many Chinese citizens of the mis-governance of the CCP. This gradual awareness and disapproval is percolating across various sections of Chinese society – especially the educated and youth who prefer freedom, democracy and transparency in their lives. Given this growing discontent, we hope that positive changes will take place in Tibet.
On this auspicious occasion of the 31st Birth Anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama, we have invited dignitaries from different places to take part in a Live Online Panel Discussion on the tragic issue of the 11th Panchen Lama. At the same time, we take this opportunity to deeply thank all the kind and concerned governments, NGOs and individuals for your unwavering support for the immediate release of the 11th Panchen Lama. And, we pledge to continue the struggle until the issue is resolved!
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis that has gripped the world; we cannot celebrate the Birth Anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama in a befitting manner at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. Nevertheless, in the name of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery has contributed to the Covid-19 Relief Fund of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Dharamsala, H.P. INDIA, the sum of Rs.3,10,000/- (Three lacs ten thousand rupees). In addition, we’d like to share with you all that we have decided to hold an Online Photo Exhibition on two themes. First, we have photos depicting the unique relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. The second depicts the life story and achievements of the 10th Panchen Lama. We have provided briefs of the photos in three languages – Tibetan, Chinese and English. We hope that the viewers will enjoy our Online Photo Exhibition.
Finally, we offer our heartfelt prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. May all his wishes to benefit sentient beings be fulfilled! At the same time, we pray for the swift release of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima from the clutches of the Chinese Government at the earliest. And, we hope for a peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue.
Office of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Central Association for the Panchen Lama
25th of April, 2020