The following article is from the Autumn, 1989 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Panchen Lama Passes Away in Tibet

Tibetan Buddhism, 10th Panchen Lamaimage

The Tenth Panchen Lama, Tenzin Tinlay Jigme Choekyi Wangchuk (1938-1989)


The Tenth Panchen Lama, Tenzin Tinlay Jigme Choekyi Wangchuk, suddenly passed away on the evening of 28th January 1989, at Tashi Lhunpo, his traditional seat in Tibet. Fifty-one years old, cause of death undetermined.

The Panchen Lamas are widely regarded as human emanations of Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light, just as the Dalai Lamas are regarded as emanations of Avalokiteshvara. The Panchen Lamas have a long-standing, close relationship with the Dalai Lamas in working for the welfare of all living beings in general, and the people of Tibet in particular. The fact that the Tenth Panchen Lama stayed behind to suffer and struggle for the well-being of the people and culture of Tibet, while the Dalai Lama exerted his efforts from the outside is a contemporary example of their common purpose.

Tibetan Buddhism, The Tenth Panchen Lama and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama circa 1954 or 1955 in China

The Tenth Panchen Lama and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama circa 1954 in China.

The Panchen Lama's faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama remained unflinching throughout his life. For instance, during a large organised public gathering before the Jokhang Temple at which, in 1964, he was supposed to denounce the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama is known to have said:

I must pronounce my firm belief that Tibet will soon regain her independence and that His Holiness the Dalai Lama will return to the Golden Throne. Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Tibetan Buddhism, Panchen Lama and Dalai Lama China circa 1955

He was soon denounced and spent fourteen years in prison in China, where he was tortured like an ordinary Tibetan and even reported dead in 1969. It was not until 1978 that he re-emerged and resumed an active role in Tibetan affairs. In his last speech at a high-level meeting in Shigatse, while criticizing some of the high Chinese officials in Tibet, the Panchen Lama is reported to have said that what Tibet had lost far outweighed what it had gained so far in its recent relations with China.

Tibetan Buddhist Panchen Lama & Dalai Lama vote on People's Republic of China's constitution circa 1954

Tibetan Buddhists the Tenth Panchen Lama & the Fourteenth Dalai Lama vote on People's Republic of China's constitution circa 1954.

For more information:

The Lineage of the Panchen Lamas

For more information:

For the Benefit of All Beings Dalai LamaHis Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is considered the foremost Buddhist leader of our time. The exiled spiritual head of the Tibetan people, he is a Nobel Peace Laureate, a Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and a remarkable teacher and scholar who has authored over one hundred books.

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