Name: Arjia Rinpoche
Interview Age: 62
Date of Birth: 1950
Birthplace: Dhashae, Amdo, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1988
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 7C/24B - Part 2
Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India
Categories: Chinese Invasion and Occupation
Keywords: escape experiences, Chinese rule -- life under, 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.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)