9th Panchen Lama

Thubten Choekyi Nyima - Tibetan spiritual leader

Thubten Choekyi Nyima was the 9th Panchen Lama and head of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, southern Tibet. In the early years of the 20th century, the Panchen Lama was courted by the British Indian government. Having been rebuffed by the Dalai Lama, it was felt that the Panchen Lama could be a potential ally to the British. The Panchen Lama was treated as an alternative to the Lhasa government and was invited to India in 1905, where he visited the Viceroy, at Hastings House in Calcutta.

British India officials, including Charles Bell visited the Panchen Lama in 1906 and several gifts were exchanged.

Following the unexpected arrival of the Dalai Lama in 1910 and the friendly relationship that developed between the Lhasa government and British India following his exile, the Panchen Lama was increasingly side-lined. During the Dalai Lama's absence from Lhasa between 1910-12 the Chinese forces had strongly advised the Panchen Lama to travel to Lhasa in the hope that he would fill the power vacuum. However, the Panchen Lama returned to Tashi Lhunpo.

The relationship between the Dalai and the Panchen Lama's officials and advisors became increasingly strained and following tax impositions on Tashi Lhunpo made by Lhasa (to fund developments in the military), the Panchen Lama fled to Mongolia and then to China. Despite discussions with the Tibetan government, and then a possible move to return to Tashi Lhunpo, the Panchen Lama died in exile in 1937. Written by Emma Martin
  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Nationality
  • Born
  • Place of birth
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]
  • Died
  • Place of death
    Asia: Eastern Asia: China: Qinghai: Jyekundo [Yushu]
  • Cause of death
    Unknown or unrecorded
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