The story surrounding the selection of the Panchen Lama is a fascinating one--full of political intrigue, mystical ritual omens, visions, chants, dreams, divinations, and claims by the People's Republic of China (PRC) that it is more "religiously correct" and faithful to Tibetan Buddhism than is the Dalai Lama.
The tenth Panchen Lama died in 1989 under "mysterious" circumstances.
The communist, nonreligious PRC therefore decided, after the death of the tenth Panchen Lama, that it would commence a process, following religious tradition, to find the body in which the soul of the Panchen had lodged.
After each visit to the lake, the monks returned to the embalmed Panchen Lama in the monastery to recite more prayers.
Whether Rinpoche suggested to the Dalai Lama the candidate he thought to be the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama is somewhat unclear.
One thousand Chinese soldiers armed with assault rifles reportedly surrounded the Tashilunpo monastery to restrict any celebration of the Dalai Lama's naming of the eleventh Panchen Lama.
And although a comprehension of Buddhism has proven quite difficult for many mature people, don't worry about this six-year-old; according to Chinese officials, "The eleventh Panchen Lama has grasped the basic knowledge of Buddhism and is able to display to religious believers his great wisdom and extraordinary serenity.
The supporters of the Dalai Lama branded the Chinese government's designated Panchen Lama a "pretender," to which Chinese officials responded in kind.
Today, monks who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the PRC's choice of the eleventh Panchen Lama are expelled from the monasteries.
The recent clash over the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama has proved to be a setback to a productive dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's Government-in-Exile.
The Chinese government realizes it is no easy undertaking to win support throughout Tibet for its choice of the Panchen Lama.
The Dalai Lama is now sixty-four years old, and the Chinese government certainly hopes that, upon his death, the PRC designated Panchen Lama will become the religious leader of Tibet.