Choekyi Gyaltsen
10th Panchen Lama
Choekyi Gyaltsen, 10th Panchen Lama of Tibet
Reign 3 June 1949–28 January 1989
Coronation 11 June 1949
Full name Lobsang Trinley Lhündrub Chökyi Gyaltsen
Tibetan བློ་བཟང་ཕྲིན་ལས་ལྷུན་ཆོས་ཀྱི་རྒྱལ་མཚན།
Wylie translit. blo bzang phrin las lhun grub chos kyi rgyal mtshan
transcription (PRC) Lobsang Chinlai Lhünzhub Qoigyi Gyaincain
THDL Lozang Trinlé Lhündrup Chökyi Gyeltsen
Born 19 February 1938 (1938-02-19)
Birthplace Xunhua Salar Autonomous County, Qinghai
Died Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "{"., Expression error: Unrecognised word "january". (age 51)
Place of death Shigatse
Predecessor Thubten Chökyi Nyima, 9th Panchen Lama
Successor Gedhun Choekyi Nyima or Qoigyijabu (China supported)
Offspring Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo
Royal House Panchen Lama
Father Gonpo Tseten
Mother Sonam Drolma

Lobsang Trinley Lhündrub Chökyi Gyaltsen (February 19, 1938 – January 28, 1989) was the 10th Panchen Lama of Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. He was often referred to simply as Choekyi Gyaltsen (which can be Choekyi Gyaltse, Choskyi Gyantsen, etc.), although this is also the name of several other notable figures in Tibetan history.


He was born on February 19, 1938 in today's Xunhua Salar Autonomous County of Qinghai, to Gonpo Tseten and Sonam Drolma and given the name Gonpo Tseten, the same as his father. He was recognized by officials of the Ninth Panchen Lama the tenth incarnation of the Panchen Lama. He was enthroned on June 11, 1949 in Amdo (Qinghai) under the auspice of Chinese officials after the Kuomintang administration approved the selection. (He was not recognized by the Dalai Lama, because the Panchen's retinue refused to bring him to Lhasa and submit him to traditional tests.)[1] At this time, he supported China's claim of sovereignty over Tibet, and China's reform policies for Tibet.[1] In 1951, he was invited to Beijing at the time of the arrival a Tibetan delegation which was finally forced to sign the 17-Point Agreement and was forced to send a telegram requesting the Dalai Lama, to implement the Agreement.[2]. He was recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso when they met in 1952. In 1844, the Palden Tenpai Nyima, had had a summer palace for the Panchen Lamas built about 1 km south of Tashilhunpo Monastery containing 2 chapels in walled gardens. Chökyi Gyaltsen, the 10th Panchen Lama, added sumptuous sitting rooms and audience room to this summer palace. It is now a popular picnic spot described in a touristic guide.[3] In September 1954, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama went to Beijing to attend the first session of the first National People's Congress, meeting Mao Zedong and other leaders[4][5]. The Panchen Lama was soon selected as a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and in December 1954 he became the deputy chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.[6] In 1956, the Panchen Lama went to India on a pilgrimage together with the Dalai Lama. When the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, the Panchen Lama publicly supported the Chinese government, and the Chinese brought him to Lhasa and made him chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region.[7] After a tour through Tibet, in May 1962, he met Zhou Enlai to discuss a petition he had written, criticizing the situation in Tibet. The petition was a 70,000 character document that dealt with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan people during and after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. The initial reaction was positive, but in October 1962, the PRC authorities dealing with the population criticized the petition. Chairman Mao called the petition "... a poisoned arrow shot at the Party by reactionary feudal overlords." In 1964, he was publicly humiliated at Politburo meetings, dismissed from all posts of authority, declared 'an enemy of the Tibetan people', had his dream journal confiscated and used against him, [8] and then imprisoned. He was 24 years old at the time. [9] The Panchen's situation worsened when the Cultural Revolution began. The Chinese dissident and former Red Guard Wei Jingsheng published in March 1979 a letter under his name but written by another anonymous author, denouncing the inhuman conditions of the Chinese Qincheng Prison where the 10th Panchen Lama was imprisoned.[10] In October 1977, he was released but held under house arrest in Beijing until 1982. After his release, he was considered by the PRC authorities to be politically rehabilitated and he then rose to important positions. He served as Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress. In 1979, he married a Han Chinese woman and in 1983 they had a daughter, Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo,[11] which was considered controversial for a Gelug lama, as members of the Buddhist clergy undertake a vow of celibacy according to the Vinaya, the governing body of rules and conduct for Buddhist monks.

Early in 1989, the 10th Panchen Lama returned to Tibet for the first time in nearly three decades to reinter some of the recovered bones from the graves of the previous Panchen Lamas, graves that had been destroyed during the destruction of Tashilhunpo in 1959. [8] He suddenly and unexpectedly died in Shigatse at the age of 51, on 28th January.The official cause of death was from a heart attack. His death led to new disputes between the Chinese government and supporters of the Dalai Lama.[12]

A vivid symbol of Tibetan aspirations

About 20 years after his death, the large public demonstration to commemorate the 70th birthday of the late Panchen Lama suggests he remains a vivid symbol of Tibetan aspirations.[13]

Internal links

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Melvyn C. Goldstein, in McKay 2003, pg. 222
  2. The Tenth Panchen Lama
  3. Mayhew, Bradley and Kohn, Michael. (2005). Tibet, p. 177. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 1-74059-523-8.
  4. Ngapoi recalls the founding of the TAR, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, China View, 30 August 2005.
  5. Selected Foreign Dignitaries Met From Year 1954 to 1989
  6. Goldstein, M.C., A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 2 - The Calm before the Storm: 1951-1955, p.496
  7. Feigon 1996, pg. 163
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hilton 2000
  9. Exploring Chinese History :: East Asian Region :: Tibet
  10. Excerpts from Qincheng: A Twentieth Century Bastille, published in Exploration, March 1979
  12. Kapstein 2006, p. 295
  13. Thousands in China pay tribute to late Tibetan lama


  • Feigon, Lee. Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows (1996) Ivan R. Dee, Publisher. ISBN 1566630894
  • Hilton, Elizabeth. The Search for the Panchen Lama (2000) W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393049698
  • Kapstein, Matthew T. The Tibetans (2006) Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-631-22574-4
  • McKay, Alex (ed.). Tibet and Her Neighbours: A History (2003) Walther Konig. ISBN 3883757187
Chop of Panchen Lama

The Republic of China awarded Panchen Lama the Guarding the National Master

Preceded by
Thubten Chökyi Nyima
Reincarnation of the Panchen Lama
Succeeded by
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima
(Government of Tibet in Exile interpretation)
(People's Republic of China interpretation)
Preceded by
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
Chief of Tibet Autonomous Region
1959 – 1964
Succeeded by
Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme

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