His Holiness the Dalai Lama has recognized an eight-year-old American boy as the third most important leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. The young boy, Jampel Gyatso, was revealed as the 10th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa (also known as Jebtsundamba Khutughtu), continuing a line of rebirths that dates back to 1635 CE with the birth of Öndör Gegeen Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba Khutughtu . The line also holds the title Bogd Gegeen, noting their status as the most senior lamas in Mongolia.
Jampel Gyatso was born in the United States and holds dual American and Mongolian citizenship. His parents are Altannar Chinchuluun, a university professor of mathematics, and Monkhnasan Narmandakh, a national resources conglomerate executive. One of the boy's grandmothers, Garamjav Tseden, is a former Mongolian MP.
The Dalai Lama, 87, recognized Jampel Gyatso during a ceremony in Dharamsala, India, on March 8.
"We have the reincarnation of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpoche of Mongolia with us today," the Dalai Lama said at the ceremony, which was attended by 5 monks and nuns and 000 Mongolians, according to media reports. “His predecessors had a close association with the Krishnacharya lineage of Chakrasamvara. One of them established a monastery in Mongolia dedicated to his practice. So his presence here today is a good omen. (times now, The independent)
Prior to the ceremony, lineage had remained uncertain after the previous Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, Dorjee Chang Jampel Namdrol Choekyi Gyaltsen passed away on March 1, 2012 at the age of 80.
Gyaltsen was born in Lhasa in 1932 and educated at Drepung Monastery and Gomang College. In his twenties, he joined the tens of thousands of Tibetans who fled Tibet for India. There he stayed in Darjeeling and Mysore with his family before serving as a community lama for almost 10 years in Madhya Pradesh.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the return of religious freedom to Mongolia, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognized Gyaltsen as the spiritual leader of the Gelug school in Mongolia. While he remained based in Dharamsala near the Dalai Lama, Gyaltsen visited Mongolia, where in 1999 he was awarded the title "Protector of the Northern Beings and Head of All Buddhist Schools", and was enthroned at Ertini Jowo Monastery in a grand ceremony. He has also visited other countries including Canada, Japan, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States in his role as the spiritual leader of Gelug Buddhists in Mongolia.
The 10th and current Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa is expected to follow a similar trajectory, including extensive study and practice before undertaking most of his duties as a spiritual leader. Buddhism is the most widespread religion and the official religion of Mongolia, practiced by about 53% of the population, according to 2010 census data.