The Golden Urn – Part 1

Max Oidtmann

The Golden Urn refers to an urn made at the instruction of Emperor Chian Lung when he was in his Summer Palace in Chengde.

He sent the urn to be used to select the reincarnated lamas of prominent lamas in Tibet and Mongolia that have died. Contrary to received wisdom, it is not confined to the selection of Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas.

The method involved putting in names in the urn. A high-ranking officer would put his hand in the urn to pick the anointed person.

In the case of Tibet, the head of the Geluk school of Buddhism would be the person who pick the name for the reincarnated lama.

It was first used in the 18th century as Chian Lung had received information that the selections based on “signs” by prominent lamas were affected by family ties and corruption.

Chian Lung had the idea for this method from the ritual used by the Ming emperors to select high ranking officials from the civil service and the war department to serve the empire. The Ming emperors had started this “lottery” to curb family ties and corruption.

Lwh @ Danna Langkawi

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