After years of searching and swirling rumors, the 14th Dalai Lama has officially revealed the identity of the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa: an 8-year-old U.S.-born Mongolian boy who will head Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia.
The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 87, revealed the new Tibetan Buddhism leader in Mongolia during a ceremony held in Dharamshala, a city in India’s Himachal Pradesh state where the Dalai Lama is living in exile, on March 8.
We have the reincarnation of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoché of Mongolia with us today. His predecessors had a close association with the Krishnacharya lineage of Chakrasamvara. One of them established a monastery in Mongolia dedicated to its practice. So, his being here today is quite auspicious.
The seat for the 10th reincarnation has been vacant since the death of the boy’s predecessor on March 1, 2012, in Mongolia.
The boy, pictured for the first time alongside the Dalai Lama as they performed the ceremony in India, will be recognized by his formal title as the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoché, the third most important spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism.
Besides the title, the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa will also be tasked with the crucial role of recognizing the next Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, the second-highest authority in the faith.
Though his exact identity was not revealed over the fear of being targeted by the Chinese government, reports suggest that he is one of a pair of twin boys named Aguidai and Achiltai Altannar who were born in the United States.
The twin’s parents are reportedly identified as Altannar Chinchuluun, a university mathematics professor, and their mother, Monkhnasan Narmandakh, a national resources conglomerate executive. Their grandmother, Garamjav Tseden, is reportedly a former member of the Mongolian Parliament.
China has been trying to find a way to seat a pro-Chinese government Dalai Lama for some time now. In 2011, the Chinese Communist Party, through the foreign ministry, said the next His Holiness would only be appointed by Beijing, while the other candidate would receive no recognition.
Since the Panchen Lama holds one of the crucial roles of recognizing the next Dalai Lama, the CCP tried to install their own after the mysterious disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a 6-year-old boy who was named the second-highest spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism, in May 1995.
Six months after the arrest, Beijing revealed the “real” reincarnation of the Panchen Lama named Gyaltsen Norbu, who was born in Tibet to two Communist Party members.
The Dalai Lama first revealed during a visit to Mongolia’s Ulan Bator in 2016 that the forthcoming head of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia had been born and that the search was already in progress for the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa.
China retaliated following the Dalai Lama’s visit, imposing fees on commodity imports from Mongolia and placing additional transit costs for deliveries passing through China’s Inner Mongolia.
“The Dalai Lama’s furtive visit to Mongolia brought a negative impact to China-Mongolia relations,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Mongolian counterpart Tsend Munkh-Orgil. “We hope that Mongolia has taken this lesson to heart.”