The 10th Panchen Erdeni has been gone from us for eight sharp years. His smiles and what he did for the Tibetans are so fresh in my mind that I miss him very much.
I first met the Buddhist master in the late-1970s when China, having experienced the 10-year ordeal during the chaotic "cultural revolution", was busy resuming implementation of the state policies on nationalities and religious freedom.
The master told me that he had "four loves"-love the Communist Party of China, love the socialist motherland,love the Tibetan nationality and love Tibetan Buddhism.
In the 40 years from the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 to hic death in 1989, he remained a good firend of the Communist Party of China. In 1982, he said:“I grew up under the loving care and education of the old generation of proletarian revolutionaries, including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, LiuShaoqi and Zhu De. I am inseparable from the Party's care. I cherish special felling for the Party and the old generation of proletarian revolutionaries. Over the past 30 years, I followed the teachings of the Party and did my best to do something beneficial to Tibet, to strengthened fraternity between the Han and the Tibetan peoples, and to the reunification of the motherland."
As a result of this feeling, the master was referred to as a faithful friend of the Party.
Defending the reunification of the motherland and promoting national unity are in the fundamental interests of various nationalities in China.They are closely associated with the future and fate of Tibetans.
The 10th Panchen held a clear-cut stand in this regard. He was staunch in this fighting those who worked to split the motherland and undermine national unity. I maintain the stand for the reunification of the motherland, a stand which is rock firm. I opposed in the past, oppose now and will oppose in the future any act geared to split the motherland. I am willing to sacrifice myself for the great cause of the reunification of the motherland," he said.
When Lhasa reeled under the riots incited by an extremely small handful of separatists in October 1987,the 10th Panchen, who was on an inspection tour of Qinghai, issued a stern statement:
"Tibet is an inseparable part of Chinese territory, which is the objective historical fact in existence since the Yuan Dynasty. Tibet is on the map of the People's Republic of China. This fact conforms with the fundamental and long-term interests of the Tibetan people, and is unalterable."
In January 1988, I accompanied the 10th Panchen to Lhasa for the Grand Summons Ceremony. At a meeting of lamas from the three major monasteries in Lhasa, one lama preached the 14th Dalai's theory on “Tibetan independence". Flying into a rage, the 10th Panchen delivered a speech against the theory, which lasted for two hours. Using historical facts and by making comparisons between
yesterday and today, the10th Panchen refuted the theory down to the last point. The master's speech was broadcast in various monasteries, to a warm response of lamas. During the one-month stay with the master, I deeply felt his feeling for the socialist motherland and deep hatred for Tibetan separatists.
The 10th Panchen cherished a deep love for the Tibetan race and showed much concern for the future and fate of the Tibet. From 1980 to 1989, he made many visits to Tibet as well as Tibetan-inhabited areas in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. He painstakingly explained the Communist Party's policies for nationalities and religious freedom, and informed people of achievements made since the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee. He also made suggestions concerning economic and cultural undertakings in Tibetan areas.
In January 1988, when the 10th Panchen was busy with the Grand Summons Ceremony, he didn't forget to take time to talk to leaders of the Tibet Autonomous Region on matters concerning economic and cultural construction. As an outstanding leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the 10th Panchen assisted the Party and the Central Government in implementing the policy for religious freedom. He was devoted to the spreading of Tibetan Buddhism. In early January 1989, he flew to Tibet for theconsecration of the holy stupa for the 5th-9th Panchen Lamas in the Tashilhungpo Monastery in Shigatse. On his invitation, I went with him.
The master worked from morning till night. On the second day of the successful consecration of the holy stupa, he met almost 100 eminent monks from various monasteries, discussing ways and means for the spread of Tibetan Buddhism under socialist conditions. He proposed efforts to integrate the spread of Buddhist doctrines with socialist material and cultural construction, and integrating the Buddhist tenet of "saving all living beings" with the Communist call for "serving the people".
It was at this meeting when the 10th Panchen said that the reincarnation of the Living Buddhas should follow the religious rituals and historical precedence. He also called for efforts to repair
monasteries in a proper way. “No monasteries should be renovated to be very luxurious. Monasteries should carry forward Buddhist doctrines and become sites for encouraging people to work for the interest of others," he preached.
The 10th Panchen had always cherished such ideas. At the 1987 opening ceremony of China's Tibetan Language High Institute of Buddhism, which he created after discussions with Zhao Puchu, president of the Buddhist Association of China and with loving care from the State Council, he declared “Training highly educated Buddhists is a major course of Tibetan Buddhism. The institute is to cultivate religious personages who love the motherland, love socialism, abide by state law, follow Buddhist rules, and have a good command of Buddhist knowledge." The master served as the first president of the institute.
On January 7, 1989, he met with teachers and students of the institute right before he left for Shigatse. He encouraged them to be far-sighted and study hard to become Buddhists who can safeguard the
reunification of the motherland, promote national unity and develop construction in nationality areas.
“The institute should evolve into a Tibetan Buddhist study center,"he said. All the teachers and students listened attentively. None of them could have anticipated he would leave them for ever in 20 days.
To the great relief of Tibetan Buddhists, the 10th Panchen has reincarnated. His soul boy was determined through the method of drawing lot from the golden urn in front of the statue of Sakyamuni. The 11th Panchen is growing healthily.