Where Is The Panchen Lama?

“I am a simple Buddhist monk — no more, no less.” —Dalai Lama

In A Nutshell

In 1995, the Chinese government abducted the six-year-old Panchen Lama, an important figure in Tibetan Buddhism recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of his predecessors. China then installed their own puppet figurehead in his place. Over 18 years later, the fate of the “youngest political prisoner in the world” remains unknown.

The Whole Bushel

After the Dalai Lama, the highest-ranking lama (high priest) in Tibetan Buddhism is the Panchen Lama. He is said to be the reincarnation of Amitabha, an ancient monk. Some Tibetans even believe the Panchen Lama, who symbolizes Buddha’s mind, is superior to the Dalai Lama, who symbolizes Buddha’s body. Lamas are said to have delayed the last step in the enlightenment called nirvana to continue to be of assistance to mankind. In 1989, the 10th Panchen Lama, Choeyki Gyaltsen, died at age 51 under suspicious circumstances. The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, and other high-ranking Buddhist leaders named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (who was born just under three months later) as his reincarnation in 1995.

In response, the Chinese government, which controls Tibet, abducted the six-year-old boy and immediately installed their own Panchen Lama, another child named Gyaltsen Norbu. With the elderly Dalai Lama living in exile, China soon hopes to install Norbu as the head of Buddhism in Tibet, a role which can have heavy political and religious influence. Most traditional Tibetan Buddhists see the boy as a puppet of the Chinese government, a pretender to the role.

But then where is Gedhun Nyima, the Dalai Lama’s recognized Panchen? Described as the “youngest political prisoner in the world,” the boy hasn’t been seen in over 18 years. By now, he would be 24. Continued pressure from human rights organizations around the globe, including those helmed by the United Nations, obligated the traditionally mum Chinese government to give the following statement regarding Nyima’s whereabouts in 2007: “Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a perfectly ordinary Tibetan boy, in an excellent state of health, leading a normal, happy life and receiving a good education and cultural upbringing. He is currently in upper secondary school, he measures 1 m 65 cm in height and is easy-going by nature. He studies hard and his school results are very good. He likes Chinese traditional culture and has recently taken up calligraphy. His parents are both State employees, and his brothers and sisters are either already working or at university. The allegation that he disappeared together with his parents and that his whereabouts remain unknown is simply not true.”

If that statement sounds bogus to you, you’re not alone. The true fate of Gedhun Nyima remains one of China’s most closely guarded state secrets. Whether the boy was outfitted with an adoptive family, imprisoned, or simply executed is a mystery that may never be solved.

Show Me The Proof

China In Tibet – Panchen Lama
The World’s Youngest Political Prisoner
China Fails to Respond to UN Rights Expert’s Question on Panchen Lama

  • Rijul Ballal

    What has the Dalai Lama done about his? Does anyone know.

    • philipmarie

      What can he do really?

    • Ian Moone

      Well the Chinese government doesn’t tend to listen to him so he can’t really do anything.

  • Hillyard

    Why are the Chinese so afraid of a priest? Would an independent Tibet really hurt them so much?

    • Russia

      they just want to take over the world

      • MRlC

        coming from russia…..America already owns the world, back off.

    • EdouardM

      Tibet possibly has the largest uranium reserves in the world. An independent Tibet would refuse using that uranium to create death devices, so yes an independent Tibet would hurt their imperialistic goals.


    • xiy

      it provides a strategic area from which to defend or attack India. It also is the major water source for most of the country.

    • inconspicuous detective

      why? the same reason anyone who has control fears someone with a large amount of influence: loss of power. of all the people on this site and listverse, i’d expect you to know that (no offense, you just come off as slightly perceptive and seem to beg the question for no greater reason than to beg the question.).

  • killchinamen

    China should be eradicated and all its people should be made as slaves or pets for the subhumans that they are.

    • Limesy

      *For being. In my mind, racist jackasses who do not have a basic knowledge of their own language, yet still belittle others simply because of their own ignorance, should be kept as slaves. Actually, just go die; it would be more beneficial to human kind than your forced servitude.

    • EdouardM

      Subhumans? They may not have any regards for human life, but their country (unification of the seven kingdoms) has been around since Emperor Qin 2000 years ago, and look where they’re at now.

      Please tell me how great European, American, or African countries have become in those last 2000 years. The truth is they were able to stick together and create a civilization before Jesus’ time and still be around today.

      Every country in the world has their faults, but it is your type of attitude of intolerance towards trying to understand other cultures which will perpetually create tensions around the world.

      The irrationality of your comment makes me think you’re american, so let me remind a principle on which our country was founded: “All men are created equal.” It doesn’t specify “American” citizens, but ALL men.

      • Valkyrie

        and women …

        • EdouardM

          Of course. I said man as that is how it is written, but I meant it as the whole of humanity.

          • Valkyrie

            I know… i’m just a huge Monty Python fan though .. couldn’t resist 🙂

          • EdouardM


            LOL..I just re-watched it. I had completely forgotten about it. it was great laughing like the first time I saw it.

    • philipmarie

      Go and screw yourself senseless.

    • Exiled Phoenix

      While I agree they are followers, they are still people. Hope your family dies out first… You are useless trash!

    • Everybody is equal

      your racist

  • Exiled Phoenix

    Chinese people are nothing but followers. Might as well breed sheep.

    • Valkyrie

      If it is all you have known though as a people and a nation they can hardly be blamed, as it looks like every individual that stands out from the crowd there mysteriously disappears….

      I feel like a stalker lately I always seem to respond to your posts 😛

      • Exiled Phoenix

        That may be true Valkyrie. Lol, I never have issue with people posting their opinions after me as it gives me different perspective. 🙂