The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation

The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation

Peter Schwieger

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0231168527

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A major new work in modern Tibetan history, this book follows the evolution of Tibetan Buddhism's trülku (reincarnation) tradition from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, along with the Emperor of China's efforts to control its development. By illuminating the political aspects of the trülku institution, Schwieger shapes a broader history of the relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China, as well as a richer understanding of the Qing Dynasty as an Inner Asian empire, the modern fate of the Mongols, and current Sino-Tibetan relations.

Unlike other pre-twentieth-century Tibetan histories, this volume rejects hagiographic texts in favor of diplomatic, legal, and social sources held in the private, monastic, and bureaucratic archives of old Tibet. This approach draws a unique portrait of Tibet's rule by reincarnation while shading in peripheral tensions in the Himalayas, eastern Tibet, and China. Its perspective fully captures the extent to which the emperors of China controlled the institution of the Dalai Lamas, making a groundbreaking contribution to the past and present history of East Asia.



















the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339), as the actual initiator of the concept of reincarnation, adding it to the already existing idea of incarnation or emanation.4 Wylie localized the conceptualization of the idea of reincarnation within Tibetan-Mongolian political relations and consequently assumed “that ‘reincarnation’ developed in Tibetan Buddhism primarily for political reasons, and that its immediate purpose was to provide the Black-hat-Karma-pa hierarchs with a metaphysical lineage

solely in the right size. Apart from that, it is not allowed with regard to the clothing of the people and the saddles of the horses to adopt admiration for any kind of new customs spreading from abroad, et cetera, for example running around wearing any stylish clothes and riding so-called bicycles and motorcycles, which is the basis of conflict in view and behavior and of commotion. It was decided by decree that the various district governors and stewards of estates have to personally go [to

97. Note that due to an incorrect conversion the year of his death is in the literature frequently given as 1616. Yönten Gyatso died in the Fire Dragon year on the 15th day of the 12th Tibetan month, which corresponds to January 21, 1617. 98. Smith 2001, 303. 99. Chen 2005, 31–33; Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz, “‘Religionslos ist das Land’: Das Mongolenbild der Tibeter,” Asiatische Studien. Études Asiatiques 54, 4 (2000): 903f; Kollmar-Paulenz 2005, 60f; van der Kuijp 2005, 18f; Giuseppe Tucci,

Ibid., 154–158. 43. Ishihama Yumiko, “The Notion of ‘Buddhist Government’ (chos srid) Shared by Tibet, Mongol, and Manchu in the Early Seventeenth Century,” in The Relationship Between Religion and State (chos srid zung ’brel) in Traditional Tibet, ed. Christoph Cüppers (Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute, 2004), 22. 44. Kam Tak-Sing, “Manchu-Tibetan Relations in the Early Seventeenth Century: A Reappraisal” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1994), 82. 45. Ahmad 1970, 158, 160,

Tibetan Buddhism. However, there are magical aspects involved as well. The transcendent bodhisattvas are classified as “divinities who have gone beyond this world.” Thus they are able to pacify and control the “mundane gods.” This ability is also ascribed to their earthly emanations, the trülkus. As a result, the image of the trülku as having magical power at his disposal was widespread—even beyond the Tibetan areas. Within the technical terminology of Tibetan Buddhism, the term for “subduing,”

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