China Launches “Official” Living Buddha Database and Leaves Out Key Figure

The Dalai Lama never made it to the Chinese government’s official public database of “verified” living Buddhas, which it launched on Saturday.

Among the ranks are 870 state-approved members.

According to a statement by China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs, anyone who claims the holy title and is not on the list should be considered a fraud.

The database offers living Buddhas’ secular names, religious names, religious divisions, temple locations, birthdates, phone numbers, and even “living Buddha license numbers.”

Since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Chinese officials have been trying to control and legitimize the selection of the four most influential living Buddhas in Tibet including the Dalai Lama.

Beijing maintains that the Dalai Lama is a dangerous separatists bent on splitting China. The spiritual leader rejects this notion and says he only wants stronger autonomy for Tibet—a sentiment echoed by several Tibetans who are calling for more civil rights and religious freedoms.

Tibet in an autonomous region within China incorporated by Beijing in 1950. The Dalai Lama went into exile following a failed rebellion against Beijing’s rule in 1959. In 2008, tension between Tibetans and the Chinese government intensified when Tibetan-led protests escalated into deadly riots.

Living Buddhas are worshipped by Tibetan Buddhists who believe in the reincarnation of their spiritual leaders..

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