Is the Threat of Religious War Real in Asia?
Our writer takes a look at the possibility of a religious war erupting over the next Dalai Lama, as China aims to tighten its grip on Tibetan Buddhism.
Tenzen Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama fears the outbreak of a religious war after his death between Buddhists and the Chinese Communist Regime. Gyatso is nearly 86 years old now, which leaves many to worry about his succession. In Buddhism when the Dalai Lama (the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism) dies, a group of Buddhist monks gather and start searching for the newly reincarnated Dalai Lama. So far, most Dalai Lamas were found in Tibet, which is under the control and authority of the Chinese Government. Of course, not all Dalai Lamas were found in Tibet, including the exceptional case of the current Dalai Lama, who was found in Mongolia, while the VI. was found in India.
Tensions rise as it is common knowledge that the Chinese Regime will try to find the new reincarnation of the Dalai Lama themselves and want to bring him under their control. They have already done something similar with Buddhism´s second most important religious leader, the Panchen Lama. When Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was named the 11th Panchen Lama by Tenzen Gyatso in 1995, he was kidnapped five days later and was never seen again. After the mysterious kidnapping, the Chinese Government announced a new Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, who lives under strict surveillance in Tibet to this day. Tibetan Buddhists have always questioned his authority by calling him a proxy.
How will Buddhism look like after Gyatso´s death? Gyatso himself said that he will decide after his 90th birthday if he even wants to reincarnate in this world again. He also stated that if he decides to be reborn again, he will certainly not do so in Tibet. A possible place for him remains India, where he currently lives. A possible outcome of the incoming crisis is the announcing of two Dalai Lamas, one by the Tibetan Buddhists and one by the Chinese Communist Party. Will this lead to a religious war between the two parties? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure; tensions will only keep rising, and a solution is far from happening.