The young Aguidai being named a “reincarnation” by the Dalai Lama invoked mixed emotions among different groups in Mongolia.

The Dalai Lama has named a US-born 8-year-old Mongolian boy Aguidai as the tenth Khakha Jestun Dhampa Rinpoche, the third-highest leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Dalai Lama and the eight-year-old kid were photographed together at a ceremony in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India on March 8. A place where the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 87, currently lives in exile.

“We have the reincarnation of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoché of Mongolia with us today,” Dalai Lama told his community of 600 followers present at the ceremony.

Not being known earlier, the boy now has turned into the centre of a geopolitical “chess game” played between China and Mongolia, said a Mongolian Buddhism expert, Sue Byrne. 

The news since then has invoked excitement among Buddhists in Mongolia, contempt among secular nationalists and worry among those in fear of the rage of neighbouring country China. 

Since Mongolia has had friendly ties with China for several decades, with Beijing being its largest trading partner, the Dalai Lama’s latest move is likely to rub China the wrong way.  

Who is the Mongolian boy?

According to local media reports, he is one of a pair of twin boys named Aguidai and Achiltai Altannar. Born in the US in 2015, he has dual nationality, and at least two other siblings. 

The family of Aguidia is considered to be one of Ulan Bator’s wealthiest business and political dynasties. His father, Altannar Chinchuluum, is a mathematics professor at the National University of Mongolia. 

His mother, Monkhnasan Narmandakh, is chairman and CEO of a large business that is centred on construction and mining. 

His grandmother, on the other hand, Garamjav Tseden, was a former member of the parliament.

The family for a long time have been patrons of the Gandan Tegchinlen, one of Mongolia’s greatest monasteries in Ulan Bator. 

The boy’s predecessors were closely connected to the Chakrasamvara Krishnacharya tradition mentioned by the Dalai Lama during the ceremony. “His being here today is quite auspicious,” stated the Dalai Lama during the ceremony.

However, neither the government nor anyone from the Buddhist hierarchy has talked about the representation of the 8-year-old due to its challenging nature concerning Mongolia’s foreign policy.

READ MORE: Exiled Dalai Lama marks 80 years as Tibet’s spiritual leader

‘A challenge to China?’

The Chinese government has historically been wary of any religious or political figures who could be seen as promoting Tibetan independence or autonomy, and they have taken a hardline stance against the Dalai Lama and his supporters. Therefore, the Dalai Lama naming a new spiritual leader, especially one from a region that has a history of tension with China, could be seen as a provocative move by the Chinese government.

In 1995, when the Panchen Lama was appointed as the second-most significant Buddhist leader by the Dalai Lama, the Chinese officials quickly detained the child and replaced him with one of their own candidates.

The Buddhist community is concerned that a similar incident might take place following the present Dalai Lama’s death.

The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who was born in 1935 and was recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of two, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese authorities. 

The Dalai Lama is not only a spiritual but also an important political figure, as he was the head of the Tibetan government in exile until 2011 when he relinquished his political authority to an elected leader.

He has been a vocal advocate for the preservation of Tibetan culture and autonomy and has faced political opposition from the Chinese government, which views him as a separatist and a threat to Chinese sovereignty.

In case there is another Dalai Lama chosen by Chinese authorities in the future, besides the one chosen in a “free country”, the chances of people respecting and trusting the latter are slim to none, said the Dalai Lama following the ceremony.

“So that is an additional problem for the Chinese! It’s possible, it can happen,” he added.

Who is the Dalai Lama?

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, which is a form of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in Tibet. The title “Dalai Lama” means “ocean of wisdom” and is given to the person who is considered to be the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies