Feature: 11th Panchen Lama in Nagqu (I)

Days ago, the 11th Panchen Lama returned to his home village in Nagqu. What did he say and do when he was faced with numerous devout followers, including local village cadres, monks and nuns, impoverished nomads, handicapped children, and women assisting the old who came to pay homage to him?

Initiation for followers

From July 29 to August 9 in Nagqu, where the average elevation is 4,500 meters, the Panchen Lama visited Shabten Monastery, venerating the Buddha and blessing the heads of followers at Lhari Monastery and Azha Temple in Lhari County, and holding a longevity initiation on the grassland in front of Lhari Monastery.

At Shabten Monastery, each time the Panchen Lama entered a Buddha hall, he clasped his hands together in prayer. After venerating the Buddha, he ascended a high dais to lead the monks in chanting scriptures.

During this time, monks and nuns successively prostrated themselves before the Panchen Lama and offered gifts. Then rinpoches and high lamas saluted him, piously holding Mantra and Buddha statues in their hands, offering Buddhist sutras and pagodas to the Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama smiled as he accepted these offerings, blessing their heads and distributing alms.

The Panchen Lama holds a longevity initiation for monks and followers.

Lhari Monastery is located 64 kilometers out of the county town, of which nearly 46 kilometers are dirt road. Despite getting tossed about on the bumpy ride, after venerating the Buddha image in Lhari Monastery, the Panchen Lama held a longevity initiation for his followers.

Since he was 9 years old he has held initiations, chanted incantations, handled dharma instruments, and chanted sutras for his followers, so he has understood each religious ritual for a long time. At the grassy embankment selected for this initiation, the Panchen Lama sat upright under a canopy. Although there were no loudspeakers, the Panchen Lama’s deep and resounding voice chanting scriptures could be heard from far away.

Clearly happy after receiving the Panchen Lama’s blessing.

When they learned the great Rinpoche was coming, the grassland’s nomads brought out their finest clothes. Beeswax, dzi beads, coral, anything they could wear, they did.

After receiving the head blessing, the followers received red protection threads and Buddha image photos. Nearly everyone got a photo of the Panchen Lama, touching it with their foreheads, to receive the blessing. When getting the blessing, some followers asked the Panchen Lama to blow on their eyes, some asked him to bless their prayer beads, and others asked him to rub places where they have pain. The Panchen Lama always tried to satisfy every request.

Research discussion

When the Panchen Lama arrived in Nagqu, he organized two discussion forums.

At the first one, on the afternoon of August 1, the Panchen Lama had an informal discussion with different ethnic representatives from around Nagqu, listening to introductions on the economic and social development conditions of the Nagqu area, and a discussion with older Party members, model workers, and representatives of the private economy and non-Party members.

For the second forum, on the afternoon of August 3, the Panchen Lama went to Lhari County, meeting with Lhari County Party committee members and county government members, listening to introductions on the county’s recent economic and social developments.

The Panchen Lama takes earnest notes during the discussion forum.