On the occasion of the 31st birthday of the Panchen Lama, the Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo monastery – the traditional seat of the successive Panchen Lamas – Zeekgyab Rinpoche sends a special message to ICT supporters.
Watch the message from Zeekgyab Rinpoche:
English translation of the message by the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo, Zeekgyab Rinpoche
To the President, Board members, and membership of the International Campaign for Tibet,
On the occasion of the 31st birthday [falling on April 25, 2020] of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Rinpoche Jetsun Tenzin Gedun Yeshi Thinley Phuntsok Palsangpo [this is the full formal name], I offer my Tashi Delek and greetings. You have been working on the Tibetan issue as a whole, and in particular on the case of the 11th Panchen Lama since his abrupt disappearance nearly 25 years ago. On behalf of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery, both in Tibet and in exile, I would like to commend and rejoice in all the activities that you have undertaken on his behalf.
The issue of the Panchen Rinpoche is important not just to Tibetan Buddhists in Tibet and the Himalayan region, but to the world as a whole. This is so because we have a Tibetan saying, “In the sky, there is the sun and the moon, on the Earth there is the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama”. Accordingly, if we look at their past biographies, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama have sometimes been referred to as the King and the Minister, and sometimes as elder and younger brothers.
In particular, Yonten Gyatso [the fourth Dalai Lama] came to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and sought Panchen Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen [the fourth Panchen Lama] as his tutor, receiving very many empowerments, oral transmissions and instructions. The Panchen Lobsang Choegyen officiated over the search for and recognition of the fifth Dalai Lama and named him, and since then to the current 14th Dalai Lama, who through great compassion and loving consideration recognized the 11th Panchen Lama and named him, there has been a special Lama and disciple relationship and an uncommon relationship of granting recognition to each other. That is why the issue of the Panchen Lama is very important.
Secondly, the 10th Panchen Lama took birth at a very critical period in Tibetan history. From a young age, he undertook activities on spiritual and mundane affairs, protecting both the living beings and the resources of Tibet. In particular, he strove to protect Tibetan religion and culture, including language and writing, which are world treasures, and established many schools providing both traditional and modern education, as well as looked after health and economic development. Similarly, he made all-round efforts to fulfil His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision and aspiration of the Tibetan people for genuine autonomy.
On account of such activities, he had to spend many years in prison. Ultimately, he even had to sacrifice his very life for the cause of Tibetan religion, politics, and people. These great activities of his made him significant.
Speaking from another perspective, as is generally said, from among the four main seats [monasteries] in central Tibet, Tashi Lhunpo had, prior to Chinese arrival, over 5,000 monks from different places, from the three provinces of Tibet, as well as from Mongolia, Ladakh, Spiti, and Kinnaur in the Himalayan region of India. It had four colleges and over sixty Khangtsen [monastic fraternities].
In terms of curriculum of study, the monks studied the five major traditional Tibetan fields of knowledge in general and philosophy in particular.
In exile, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, with great kindness, established the Tashi Lhunpo, and it has had around 1,000 monks since then.
Tashi Lhunpo, both in Tibet and in exile, has strived to preserve and promote Tibetan religion and culture, including language and writing, which are world treasures. Since the abrupt disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, Tashi Lhunpo, both in Tibet and in exile, and all concerned people have been awaiting the time when they can see him again, like waiting for daylight during the middle of the night.
The sources of refuge for Tashi Lhunpo and its millions of disciples throughout the world are the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. At this critical time when we don’t know the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama, I appeal to the members of the International Campaign for Tibet to continue your good works for the Panchen Lama and to strengthen them further, so that there can be good news to the world of the Panchen Lama returning and taking his golden throne at his monastic seat of Tashi Lhunpo.
We also urge you to strive to get evidence about the Panchen Lama’s present status and whereabouts.
Above all, as desired by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we would like to request you to continue your support and campaigns until the the Panchen Lama is released and gets his necessary religious education so that he can undertake his greatly beneficial activities on the world stage.
In conclusion, may the Father and Son [a reference to the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama] may live long and may their aspirations be speedily fulfilled. May the Panchen Lama be released soon. May the sun of the meeting together of Tibetans in exile and in Tibet rise and may peace prevail throughout the world. Thukje Che (Thank You)