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Dalai Lama names Mongolian boy as 3rd highest leader in Buddhism

  • Published
    29th Mar, 2023

Over 600 Mongolian Buddhists gathered in the Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh for the anointing of the next Jebtsundamba Khutuktu which has brought back attention to the intrigues of the Buddhist world.

  • In 2012, the 9th‘Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche’ passed away in Ulaanbaatar after leading the Mongolian Buddhists for years from the Himalayan town of Dharamshala.
  • US-born boy was anointed as the ‘10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche’ or the 10th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu of Gelug lineage of Khalka Mongols.
  • Jebtsundamba Khutuktu of Mongolia is no ordinary monk. The monks’ lineage was declared theocratic rulers after northern Mongolians declared independence in 1911.
  • The Jetsun Rinpoche is the third highest monk in the Buddhist world.

Hirearchy in Vajrayana Buddhism:

Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, also known as the Bogdo Gegen is ranked third in the ecclesiastical hierarchy after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

Mongolia and Buddhism:

  • The main religion of Mongolia is the tantric Buddhism ( Vajrayana) of Tibetan lineage (Gelugpa). The links between the Mongolian Buddhism and the Tibetan Buddhism are very ancient, and very narrow.
  • Buddhism in Mongolia began with the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) emperors' conversion to Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The Mongols returned to shamanic traditions after the collapse of the Mongol Empire, but Buddhism re-emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Buddhism is the main religion of Mongolia with a long and unique history that shaped the tradition and lifestyle of the nomads of Mongolia.


  • Anointing of US-born boy will rattle Beijing as it looks to influence Mongolia in a contested space of geopolitics in Asia.
  • In 1995, the Dalai Lama named the new Panchen Lama, and the Chinese authorities imprisoned the child and appointed their own Panchen Lama.
  • Dharamshala may have feared a similar kind of fate falling on the boy.
  • Mongolia is maintaining silence on the appointment of the Rinpoche as it concerns Beijing’s response to an official acknowledgement.

Schools in Buddhism:

  • Theravada School of Buddhism: It was popularized in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China and other Asian countries.
    • According to the doctrine of Theravada Buddhism, an individual needs to abide by the basic principles of Buddhism strictly.
  • Mahayana School of Buddhism: The main idea behind Mahayana Buddhism is that anyone can reach the stature of the Buddha by following Buddha Marga.  Mahasanghika sect is believed to be the source of the Mahayana Buddhism.
    • This school of Buddhism had a huge impact on China, Korea and Japan.
  • Vajrayana School of Buddhism: This is the tantric school of Buddhism. It is believed that by practicing Vajrayana, a Buddhist follower can achieve enlightenment easily.
    • It is more popularly used in Tibetan Buddhism. When considered on a larger aspect, it is a part of the Mahayana school of Buddhism.
    • It is also commonly referred to as ‘Lamaism’ because at the center of the school lies the Lama.



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