Interviewee Profile

Name: Arjia Rinpoche
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 62

Date of Birth: 1950

Birthplace: Dhashae, Amdo, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1988

Profession: Rinpoche

Monk/Nun: Currently

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 7C/24B - Part 2

Date: 2013-12-24

Language: English

Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India

Categories: Chinese Invasion and Occupation

Keywords: Chinese rule -- life under, escape experiences, Panchen Lama


Arjia Rinpoche explains the selection of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama. The Chinese Government required a group of high Buddhist lamas including Arjia Rinpoche to assemble in Beijing for a meeting. They were intimidated to ensure that they all appeared in agreement with the government. There was going to be a selection ceremony, to "choose" the name of the next Panchen Lama. The government refused to allow Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was selected by the Dalai Lama's as the Panchen Lama's reincarnation, to be included in this process.

The same group was then sent to Lhasa for the Golden Urn Ceremony. The government facilitated the ceremony in the middle of the night in order to stage everything. Three names were attached to ivory sticks, inserted into a large urn, and the head of the Buddhist Association of Lhasa pulled one stick out with the name of Gyaltsen Norbu. Arjia Rinpoche later overheard a Chinese official admitting that one stick was longer than the others in order for the pre-determined winner to be easily chosen from the urn.

The Chinese Government later selected Arjia Rinpoche to be the President of the Chinese Buddhist Association and the tutor for the new Panchen Lama. He decided to leave Tibet because he refused to further collaborate with the government. He escaped to Guatemala, and eventually was granted asylum in the United States, where he published his autobiography.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Pema Tashi (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Arjia Rinpoche on 12/24/2013

Length: 01:21:07

© 2009-2018 Tibet Oral History Project. These translations and transcripts are provided for individual research purposes only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: Tibet Oral History Project, P.O. Box 6464, Moraga, CA 94570-6464. Privacy Policy