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14:56 Apr 09 2009

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Sitting-in-the-bed of the 11th Panchen Erdeni (21)
12:58, April 09, 2009  

III. Li Tieying oversaw the enthronement ceremony for the 11th Panchen Lama

On December 8, 1995, an auspicious day in the Tibetan calendar, Xigaze was in the light of morning glow. The Tashilhunpo Monastery took on an entirely new look, with colorful cloth on the golden roof swinging in the wind.

Luo Gan, representative of the State Council, State Councilor and secretary-general of the State Council, went back to Beijing after presiding over the lots-drawing ceremony in Lhasa. On December 6, Li Tieying, representative of the State Council, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and State Councilor, made a special trip to Tibet to oversee and preside over the enthronement ceremony for the 11th Panchen Lama.

Having alighted from the plane at the Lhasa Gonggar Airport, he took a car with Chen Kuiyuan, secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the CPC and other government and Party leaders to Xigaze. Tens of thousands of Tibetan people, lamas, and government officials held a grand welcoming ceremony for Li Tieying, a central government official coming to Tibet most frequently over the years. At the 40th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet, Li went to Tibet as the head of a delegation of the central government officials. As the honorary team leader of the "Leading Group of Renovation of the Potala Palace", Li went to Tibet twice between 1990 and 1994. This was the fourth time that he came to Tibet.

That afternoon, the 11th Panchen Lama in his capacity as the host, accompanied by eminent monks of the Tashilhunpo Monastery and leading officials of Xigaze Prefecure, went to Xigaze Hotel to visit Li Tieying and presented hada to him.

Sitting on the same big sofa, Li Tieying said to the 11th Panchen Lama, "I extend the warm greetings to you on behalf of President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng.I also extend the congratulations to you on behalf of the State Council as you have been verified as the reincarnated soul boy of the 10th Panchen Lama and succeed as the 11th Panchen Erdeni.

The 10th Panchen Lama was both a great leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a patriot, supported and loved by both religious and secular people. I hope you will inherit and carry forward the fine tradition of previous Panchen's love for the country and Buddhism, make contributions to safeguarding national unification, strengthening ethnic harmony and promoting Tibet's progress and prosperity, and immerse yourself in learning to become a master of both modern science and culture as well as Tibetan Buddhist doctrines."

Li also asked the eminent monks of the Tashilhunpo Monastery and the sutra chanters of the 11th Panchen Lama to spare no effort to train up the 11th Panchen to be a patriotic religious leader loved by the general public. He said that the central government and local people's governments at all levels paid special attention to the 11th Panchen Lama and would create all kinds of favorable conditions for his healthy growth.

Since the Qing Government instituted the draw-lots-from-a-gold-urn system in the 58th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign, the reincarnated soul boys of the 7th to the 9th Panchen Lamas and the 9th to the 13th Dalai Lamas had been determined and enthroned, presided over by the representatives of the central government.

Li Tieying was the fourth central official who went in person to Xigaze to preside over the enthronement ceremony for the Panchen Lama after the lots-drawing system was instituted. In front of the holy stupa of the 10th Panchen Lama was the Jiala Lakang Hall, which meant Han Buddhist Hall. Enshrined inside the hall were a portrait of Emperor Qianlong and a memorial tablet of Emperor Daoguang.

The religious center of the Tashilhunpo Monastery was the Cuoqin Hall, where the Buddhist events of the monastery were held. The hall was partitioned into an inner hall and an outer hall, with the former being a Buddha-hall of Sakyamuni and the latter a place for sutra chanting. The remains of the 10th Panchen Lama were placed in front of the Sakyamuni statue for a while before being worshipped in the monastery. Likewise, the 11th Panchen Lama would pay homage to the Sakyamuni statue according to the convention before he entered the monaster0y for the first time.

The center of political activities and the palace of repose for all previous Panchen Lamas was Laburang. All previous Dalai Lamas lived in the Potala Palace in winter and Norbu Linkar in summer, with the former called winter palace and latter summer palace. This was also true to all previous Panchen Lamas, who lived in Deqing Gesang Phodrang in summer and Laburang of the Tashilhunpo Monastery in winter. The sitting-in-the-bed ritual of the 11th Panchen Lama was held in the Yige Quzeng Hall on the second floor of Laburang. Only by sitting in the bed at Yige Quzeng could the Panchen Lamas be qualified, since the bed of all previous Panchen Lamas was there. The 10th Panchen Lama, who was enthroned in the Tar-er Monastery in Qinghai Province due to historical reasons, made up the enthronement ritual in the Yige Quzeng Hall after he came back to Xigaze.

At 8 a.m., Li Tieying came to the corridor outside the Yige Quzeng Hall in the company of Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, Chen Kuiyuan, Gyaltsen Norbu, and Ye Xiaowen. The 11th Panchen Lama and Li Tieying exchanged hada with each other, and then came into the hall hand in hand.

Yige Quzeng means "taking charge of the Buddhism happily" in the Tibetan language. The small hall was about 20 sq meters, with all the walls and the ceiling decorated with yellow silk cloth. The four wooden pillars were wrapped with red flannel.

In the niche for Buddha statue were worshipped statues of Sakyamuni and Amitabha Buddha, and dozens of Tibetan scriptures. On the walls were hung six precious Thangka on which embroidered with Amitabha Buddha. Two thrones were placed face to face near the window.

The one facing the east was the fundamental bed of all previous Panchan Lamas. Facing the east was to pay respect to the emperor and the central government in Beijing. The other facing the west, which was a little bit higher, was set up for the central government official presiding over the ceremony.

According to historical customs and rituals, four silk cushions were put on Panchen's throne, while five were put on the seat for the central government official. Placed on each side of and between the two seats were several silk cushions, on which were seated Chen Kuiyuan, Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, the parents of the 11th Panchen Lama, chief chanter Bumi Qambalozhub, and assistant chanter Mima Sida, etc. Gyaltsen Norbu dressed in a traditional Tibetan costume stood aside to preside over the ritual.

Li Tieying and Gyaltsen Norbu respectively read out in Han and Tibetan languages the document of the State Council's approval of a report submitted by the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Government entitled Report for Instructions on Holding the Enthronement Ceremony for the 11th Panchen Erdeni.

Eight eminent monks of the Tashilhunpo Monastery chanted three times The Scripture of Sitting in the Bed. Amid the booming sound of chanting, squire lama Tsring held up the 11the Panchen Lama, and then Li Tieying took him over and put him in the holy bed. The 11th Panchen Lama sat down steadily and clapped his hands cheerfully.

Several days earlier, there had been a rumor that the Dalai Lama had chanted a curse scripture, alleging that Gyantsen Norpo was a bogus soul boy and could never sit in the fundamental bed of all previous Panchen Lamas, if ever, he would fall off. Facts showed that Dalai's curse failed and Gyantsen Norpo was the true reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. Then, lama representatives of the Tashilhunpo Monastery presented "Manzha" (a kind of sacred vessel) to the 11th Panchen sitting in the sacred bed. Following that, eminent monks of Tibetan Buddhism came in one by one and paid religious homage by kowtowing three times to the 11th Panchen, who inclined toward them to give his blessings by touching their heads.

After the sitting-in-the-bed ritual ended in the Yige Quzeng Hall, a grand enthronement ceremony was held in the Sunshine Hall on the fourth floor of Laburang.

Guests from all walks of life gathered in the hall covering 200 sq meters. Put at the door to the oblong east-west hall was a table, on which were placed sacrificial offerings, including Kasai, konfyts, brown sugar, dried peaches, cheese, whole packs of ghee, and two whole lambs. On the north wall were a row of thousand-Buddha cabinet and an Amitabha Buddha statue, while on the south wall was a Buddha-niche for Tsongkhapa and many other Buddha statues.

Playing Buddhist music and holding the incense-pot, the guard of honor of the Tashilhunpo Monastery led Li Tieying and the 11th Panchen Lama to their seats, with Gyaltsen Norbu and Ye Xiaowen sitting on each side. Above the two seats were hung a large color photo of the 10th Panchen Lama. A gold seal of authority and a golden certificate of appointment were placed on the table between Li Tieying and the 11th Panchen. Two porcelain vases as tall as half a man stood on each side of the sacred seats. On one side of the two seats were seated leading officials of the central government and Tibet's local government, while on the other side were seated eminent monks of Tibetan Buddhism. Then Tsring poured buttered tea for Li Tieying and the 11th Panchen Lama. The porcelain bowls serving the buttered tea were made during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty and would be used on grand ceremonies only.

In line with religious customs, Gyaltsen Norbu, special commissioner of the State Council and chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, declared aloud the opening of the enthronement ceremony after the lamas chanted sutras three times.

On behalf of the State Council, Li Tieying granted the gold seal of authority and golden certificate of appointment to the 11th Panchen Erdeni. Then he read out the full text of the golden certificate.

At that time, the guard of honor played Buddhist music again and the hall was filled with cheers and applause.

Li Tieying and the 11th Panchen Lama stood on either side of the table on which was placed the golden certificate. With a smile on his face, Li Tieying granted the certificate to the 11th Panchen, who took it over with the help of Tsring and bowed in namaste to show his gratitude.

At the enthronement ceremony, Li Tieying also conferred the inscription of President Jiang Zemin to the 11th Panchen Lama. In April 1996, relevant departments in Beijing made the inscription into a golden plaque. The plaque was later escorted to Xigeze by officials assigned by the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee and suspended on the lintel of the main gate to Laburang.

After Ye Xiaowen read out the content of the list of gifts given to the 11th Panchen Lama and the Tashilhunpo Monastery by the State Council, six lamas carried a tapestry featuring the panorama of the Tashilhunpo Monastery to present to the State Council. The tapestry, weaved by hand by established craftsmen in Xigaze, represented the exquisite handicraft techniques and embodied the gratitude of the Tibetan people to the central government.

At 11 a.m. in the spacious Duojia chanting yard, a grand celebration was held and attended by 1,500 representatives of Xigaze and other Tibetan-inhabited areas and all the monks of the Tashilhunpo Monastery. Guided by Shengqin Losang Gyeltshen and Lama Tsring, the 11th Panchen Lama walked through the crowd and sat on the holy seat in the center of the corridor in the east of the yard. After presiding over the consecration ceremony for the funerary stupa of the 5th to the 9th Panchen Lamas on this seat six years before, the 10th Panchen Lama sat on the holy seat again in his reincarnation.

The path walked over by the 11th Panchen Lama was covered by a narrow yellow cloth. I learned from a lama that this was to keep the Living Buddha clean and prevent him from being polluted by the fug. I found that the parents of the 11th Panchen took their eldest son there. Having arrived at Xigaze, the six-year-old Panchen often said to his squire, "I am missing my elder brother and I want to play with him." During the enthronement ceremony, the Tashilhunpo Monastery sent people to Lhari County in North Tibet to bring back the elder brother of the 11th Panchen Lama to Xigaze.

Amid the drum music, five prestigious monks of the Tashilhunpo Monastery presented Manzha to the 11th Panchen Lama. Then, the assistant chanter Mima Sida chanted sutras to extol the immeasurable merits of Living Buddha Panchen.

Before the end of the celebration, representatives of all Tibetan-inhabited areas queued up to present gifts to the 11th Panchen Lama, such as antler, marten, fox skin, ghee, and silk, etc. The 11th Panchen Lama touched their heads one by one, and his squire lama distributed a piece of red silk to each as an auspicious amulet.

By Liu Wei Co-trans: Fang Yinong, Jiang Yuxia, Zhang Mingyu, Han Jingjing, Yang Lina

Source: Xinhua

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