By Yi Duo
BEIJING, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The reincarnation of the
Living Buddha is a succession system, which distinguishes Tibetan Buddhism from
other religions or other forms of Buddhism.
Based on ancient Tibetan beliefs in the nature of the soul
and the unique incarnation theory of Buddhism, it was established to solve the
problem of leadership succession in various Tibetan Buddhist sects and
The term "Living Buddha" emerged in the Yuan Dynasty
(1271-1368). It was called sprul-sku in Tibetan, which was the abbreviation of
sprul-pavi-sku, meaning "magical change" or "incarnation".
In the 13th century, Tibet became an administrative
district under the central government of the Yuan Dynasty. Emperor Kublai Khan
(1215-1294) honored Phags-pa, head of the Sa-skya-pa Sect, by granting him the
title "Buddha of the Western Paradise". Thereafter, eminent Tibetan monks were
referred to as "Living Buddhas."
In the mid 13th century, Yuan Emperor Monge Khan
(1209-1259) honored Karma-pag-shi, leader of the bKav-brgyud-pa Sect in Tibet,
as "State Tutor" and bestowed upon him a gold-rimmed black hat and a gold seal
of authority, which helped the bKav-brgyud-pa Sect become a powerful religious
sect with great influence.
In 1283, Karma-pag-shi passed away. Monks of the
bKav-brgyud-pa Sect were not allowed to take wives, nor have children. As a
result, leaders of the bKav-brgyud-pa Sect could not pass over the religious
power to his blood disciples. To prevent power succession from masters to
apprentices, which could lead to the malpractice of each sect establishing its
own school of thought and the decentralization of power, Karma-pag-shi decided,
prior to his death, to adopt the principle of reincarnation in solving the
problem of leadership transmission and continuation in his own sect.
His disciples followed his order and located a boy who was
determined the reincarnated soul boy of Karma-pag-shi, marking the starting
point of the Living Buddha reincarnation system in Tibetan Buddhism. Thereafter,
various sects of Tibetan Buddhism reacted to the Living Buddha reincarnation
system by creating nearly one thousand similar systems.
After several centuries of practice, a relatively complete
set of standards and procedures in searching for and confirming the identity of
the reincarnated soul boy had taken shape.