Panchen Lama

Khedrup Je, 1st Panchen Lama

The Panchen Lama (Tibetan: ; Wylie: Pan-chen Bla-ma, simplified Chinese: 班禅喇嘛/班禅额尔德尼; traditional Chinese: 班禪喇嘛/班禪額爾德尼) is the highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama in the Gelugpa (Dge-lugs-pa) sect of Tibetan Buddhism (the sect which controlled western Tibet from the 16th century until the imposition of Chinese sovereignty in 1951). The successive Panchen lamas form a tulku reincarnation lineage which are said to be the incarnations of Amitabha Buddha. The name, meaning "great scholar", is a Tibetan contraction of the Sanskrit paita (scholar) and the Tibetan chenpo (great).

The Panchen Lama traditionally lived in Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse.

The recognition of Panchen Lamas has always been a matter involving the Dalai Lama. The 10th Panchen Lama himself declared, as cited by an official Chinese review that "according to Tibetan tradition, the confirmation of either the Dalai or Panchen must be mutually recognized." China claims however, that their involvement does not break with tradition in that the final decision about the recognition of both the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama traditionally rested in the hands of the Chinese emperor. For instance, after 1792, the Golden Urn was used in selecting the 10th, 11th and 12th Dalai Lamas.

Relation to the Dalai Lama Lineage

The Panchen Lama bears part of the responsibility or the monk-regent for finding the incarnation of the Dalai Lama and vice versa. Furthermore, the search for the late Panchen Lama's reincarnation, or any reincarnation, is a philosophic matter. In the case of the Panchen Lama, the procedures traditionally involve a final selection process by the Dalai Lama. This has been the tradition since the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang, recognized his teacher Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen as the Panchen (Great Scholar) Lama of Tashilhunpo Monastery (Bkra-shis Lhung-po) in Shigatse (Gzhis-ka rtse). With this appointment, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen's three previous incarnations were posthumously recognised as Panchen Lamas. The Fifth Dalai Lama also recognized Panchen Lobsang Yeshe (Blo-bzang Ye-shes) as the Fifth Panchen Lama. The Seventh Dalai Lama recognized the Sixth Panchen Lama, who in turn recognized the Eighth Dalai Lama. Similarly, the Eighth Dalai Lama recognised the Seventh Panchen Lama.

Lineage of the Panchen Lamas

In the lineage of the Tibetan Panchen Lamas there were considered to be four Indian and three Tibetan incarnations of Amitabha Buddha before Khedrup Gelek Pelzang, who is recognised as the 1st Panchen Lama. The lineage starts with Subhuti, one of the original disciples of Gautama Buddha. Gö Lotsawa is considered to be the first Tibetan incarnation of Amitabha Buddha in this line.

List of Panchen Lamas

  Name Life span Tibetan/Wylie PRC transcription Other transliterations
1. Khedrup Je 1385–1438 མཁས་གྲུབ་
Mkhas-grub Rje,་
Mkhas-grub Dge-legs Dpal-bzang-po
Kaichub Gêlêg Baisangbo Khädrup Je, Khedrup Gelek Pelsang, Kedrup Geleg Pelzang, Khedup Gelek Palsang, Khedrup Gelek Pal Sangpo
2. Sönam Choklang 1438–1505 བསོད་ནམས་ཕྱོག་ཀྱི་གླང་པོ་་
Bsod-nams Phyogs-glang,་
Bsod-nams Phyogs-kyi Glang-po
Soinam Qoilang,
Soinam Qoigyi Langbo
Sonam Choglang, Soenam Choklang
3. Ensapa Lobsang Döndrup 1505–1568 དབེན་ས་པ་བློ་བཟང་དོན་དྲུཔ་་
Dben-sa-pa Blo-bzang Don-grub
Wênsaba Lobsang Toinchub Gyalwa Ensapa, Ensapa Lozang Döndrup, Ensapa Losang Dhodrub
4. Lobsang Chökyi Gyalsten 1570–1662 བློ་བཟང་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་མཚན་་
Blo-bzang Chos-kyi Rgyal-mtshan
Lobsang Qoigyi Gyaicain Losang Chökyi Gyältsän, Lozang Chökyi Gyeltsen, Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, Lobsang Choegyal, Losang Chögyan
5. Lobsang Yeshe 1663–1737 བློ་བཟང་ཡེ་ཤེས་་
Blo-bzang Ye-shes
Lobsang Yêxê Lobsang Yeshi, Losang Yeshe
6. Lobsang Palden Yeshe 1738–1780 བློ་བཟང་གྤལ་ལྡན་ཡེ་ཤེས་་
Blo-bzang Gpal-ldan Ye-shes
Lobsang Baidain Yêxê Palden Yeshe, Palden Yeshi
7. Gedun Choekyi Nyima 1782–1853 དགེ་འདུན་ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཉི་མ།
Gpal-ldan Bstan-pa'i Nyi-ma
Dainbai Nyima Tänpä Nyima, Tenpé Nyima, Tempai Nyima, Tenpey Nyima
8. Tenpai Wangchuk 1855?–1882 བསྟན་པའི་དབང་ཕྱུག་་
Bstan-pa'i Dbang-phyug
Dainbai Wangqug Tänpä Wangchug, Tenpé Wangchuk, Tempai Wangchuk, Tenpey Wangchuk
9. Thubten Chökyi Nyima 1883–1937 ཐུབ་བསྟན་ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཉི་མ་་
Thub-bstan Chos-kyi Nyi-ma
Tubdain Qoigyi Nyima Choekyi Nyima, Thubtän Chökyi Nyima
10. Lobsang Trinley Lhündrub Chökyi Gyaltsen 1938–1989 བློབཟང་ཕྲིན་ལས་ལྷུན་གྲུབ་
Blo-bzang Phrin-las Lhun-grub Chos-kyi Rgyal-mtshan
Lobsang Chinlai Lhünchub Qoigyi Gyaicain Choekyi Gyaltsen, Chökyi Gyeltsen, Choekyi Gyaltse, Trinley Choekyi Gyaltsen, Lozang Trinlä Lhündrup Chökyi Gyältsän
11. Gyancain Norbu 1990– ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ་་
Chos-kyi Rgyal-po
Qoigyijabu Choekyi Gyalpo, Chökyi Gyälbo, Gyaincain Norbu, Gyaltsen Norbu