Dalai Lama appoints eight year old as Third in Command of Tibetan Buddhism


Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Baily Hacker, Staff Reporter

On March 8, the Dalai Lama recognized an eight year old, US-raised, Mongolian boy as the reincarnation of the Rinpoche. Rinpoche is the third highest ranking official in Tibetan Buddhism. A ceremony that officially recognized the boy as the Rinpoche took place at Dharamshala with close to 600 buddhist followers in attendance. This religious rite of passage includes the shaving of the head, being given official robes, and formally becoming a monk. Over the decades, Buddhists have believed that the spirit of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoch has been reincarnated ten times. 

It is speculated that one of the Altannar twins, Aguidai or Achiltai, holds the title of Rinpoche. The Dalai Lama has not yet confirmed which one of the eight year old twins has been deemed the reincarnation. He is concerned that the Chinese government will target him because of his age. The former Rinpoche reincarnation was a four year-old named Nawang Tashi Rapten. He took part in the religious ceremony in November of 2022. However, his reign as Rinpoche did not last long because the Chinese government replaced him with an official of their choosing. 

The Chinese government has officially said that it will not acknowledge any Buddhist representatives that are not government approved. That has been a point of conflict between the Buddhist religious body and the government over the years. Mongolia is now torn between excitement for their new spiritual official and worry for the fear that the Chinese government will act out of rage.