Dalai Lama Named U.S.-Born Boy as Reincarnated Spiritual Leader  

The Dalai Lama named an 8-year-old U.S.-born boy from Mongolia as the reincarnation of the third most significant spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism. News reports in Mongolia indicated that the child is one of the twin sons of Altannar Chinchuluun, a Mongolian university mathematics professor, and Nasaa Narmandakh, a mineral exploration and land rehabilitation corporate executive in Mongolia.

Dalai Lama in Prague, Czech Republic in October, 2016 (Photo by  Nadezda Murmakova, Shutterstock.com)
(Photo by Nadezda Murmakova, Shutterstock.com)

The Dalai Lama was photographed with the boy at a holy ceremony in Dharamshala, the Himalayan town in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, where the 88-year-old Tibetan leader has lived in exile since fleeing Tibet in 1959.

The Dalai Lama, who received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful activism on behalf of Tibet, recognized the boy as the 10th reincarnation of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche, the spiritual head in Mongolia of Jonang, a distinct tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Jetsun Dhampa, who also fled Tibet for India in 1959, died in Dharamshala in 2012 at age 80.

During a 2016 visit to Mongolia, the Dalai Lama announced that Jetsun Dhampa had been reincarnated and that a search to find his reincarnation was underway. His visit at that time outraged Chinese authorities, who threatened Mongolia with diplomatic repercussions if the Tibetan leader was allowed to return.

The Dalai Lama’s confirmatied the child in March 2023 despite anticipated Chinese anger. China occupied Tibet in 1950 and has long maintained that only the Chinese government may recognize Buddhist leaders from among select government-appointed individuals. In 1995, when the Dalai Lama named a 6-year-old boy as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s second-highest authority, Beijing arrested the child and “replaced” him with a 5-year-old candidate of its own choosing.

Mongolians reacted to the Dalai Lama’s announcement with elation but also a sense of trepidation stemming from the rancor likely to be aroused in China’s corridors of power. 


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China Dalai Lama Tibet Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche Mongolia