The Ninth Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso

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The Ninth Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso b.1805 - d.1815

Name Variants: Dalai Lama 09 Lungtok Gyatso; Lobzang Tenpai Wangchuk Lungtok Gyatso ; Lungtok Gyatso

The Ninth Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 09 rgyal ba lung rtogs rgya mtsho) was born with several auspicious signs in a small village located near the Denchokor Monastery (ldan chos 'khor dgon) in Kham in 1805, on the first day of the twelfth month of the wood-ox year in the thirteenth sexagenary cycle. Most sources have him as an orphan, but others give the names of his father and mother as Tendzin Chokyong (bstan 'dzin chos skyong) and Dondrub Dolma (don grub sgrol ma), and the family name as Chokor Pontsang (chos 'khor dpon tshang).

One of two potential candidates for recognition as the reincarnation of the Eighth Dalai Lama, Jampel Gyatso (ta la'i bla ma 08 'jam dpal rgya mtsho, 1758-1804), the boy was brought to Gungtang (gung thang) monastery near Lhasa, where he was examined by Tibetan officials, including the Qing representatives, the ambans. He was the favored choice of the Eighth Dalai Lama's attendants. He was ultimately selected by the Seventh Paṇchen Lama, Lobzang Tenpai Nyima (paN chen bla ma 04 blo bzang dpal ldan bstan pa'i nyi ma, 1782-1853), who, in 1808, performed the tonsure ceremony and gave him the name Lobzang Tenpai Wangchuk Lungtok Gyatso (blo bzang bstan pa'i dbang phyug lung rtogs rgya mtsho). He was enthroned at the end of that year.

The identification occurred in the midst of a struggle between the Tibetan government of aristocrats and Geluk hierarchy and the Qing court in China. During the life of the Eighth Dalai Lama the Qianlong Emperor had mandated that all high incarnations be chosen by drawing lots from a Golden Urn provided by the Emperor, in a ceremony overseen by the Qing representative, the amban. Such a process would effectively place the Qing in control of the selection of lamas, and it was strongly resisted by the Tibetan leadership, although some scholars have suggested that the Tibetan resistance to the method was by no means universal. In order to avoid using the Urn in the confirmation of the Ninth Dalai Lama, the Tibetans capitalized on the retirement of the Qianlong Emperor, in 1795, and the disinterest of his successor, the Jiaqing Emperor (r. 1796-1820) to push the enthronement ceremony before the Urn could be used. Derek Maher notes that although the Tibetans publicly disregarded the Golden Urn, the Qing ambans attempted to save face by asserting that the Emperor had officiall granted permission to forgo using it.

The Eighth Demo, Tubten Jigme Gyatso (de mo 08 ngag dbang thub bstan 'jigs med rgya mtsho 1778-1819) and Won Tulku of Gyelse Tulpa ('on rgyal sras sprul pa'i sprul sku, d.u.) were appointed as the boy's tutors.

In 1811 the young Ninth Dalai Lama met the British trade representative Thomas Manning, who opened a medical clinic in the city. This was the first meeting between a Dalai Lama and a British citizen, and Manning wrote a glowing description of the young man; his "beautiful and interesting face engrossed all my attention. He had the simple, unaffected manners of a well-educated princely child. His face was, I thought, affectingly beautiful. He was of a gay and cheerful disposition. I was extremely affected by this interview with the lama. I could have wept through strangeness of sensation."

The Seventh Paṇchen Lama gave the boy the vows of novice monk (śrāmaṇera) in Lhasa in 1812, on the twenty-second day of the ninth month of the water-bird year. Lungtok Gyatso is said to have had a great interest in dharma and sharp intellect, memorizing lengthy prayer texts, root-texts of Abhisamayālaṃkāra, Madhyamaka, and Abhidharmakośa. The Sixty-sixth Ganden Tripa, Ngawang Nyendrak (dga' ldan khri pa 66 ngag dbang snyan grags, 1746-1824), Jangchub Chopel, who later became the Sixty-ninth Ganden Tripa (dga' lhan kri pa 69 byang chub chos 'phel, 1756-1838), and Yeshe Gyatso (ye shes rgya mtsho, d.u.) were also among his teachers.

At the age of nine, in 1815, the young Dalai Lama came down with a cold at the annual Lhasa Monlam, and passed away. His body was installed in a golden reliquary in the Potala Palace called Serdung Sasum Ngonga (po ta la'i gser gdung sa gsum mngon dga').

Tsultrim Gyatso (tshul khrims rgya mtsho), born in Litang in 1816, was recognized as his reincarnation, the Tenth Dalai Lama.




Anon. 1977. Rgyal dbang thams cad mkhyen pa lung rtogs rgya mtsho'i rnam thar. In 'Phags pa 'jig rten dbang phyug gi rnam sprul rim byon gyi 'khrungs rabs deb ther nor bu'i 'phreng ba, vol. 3, pp. 627-759. Dharamsala: Sku sger yig tshang, 1977. TBRC W22095.

De mo ho thog thu blo bzang thub bstan 'jigs med rgya mtsho. 1979 (1806). Rgyal ba'i dbang po thams cad mkhyen pa blo bzang bstan pa'i 'byung gnas ngag dbang lung rtogs rgya mtsho dpal bzang po'i zhal snga nas kyi rnam par thar pa mdor mtshon pa dad pa'i yid 'phrog. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.

Don rdor and Bstan 'dzin chos grags. 1993. Gangs ljongs lo rgyus thog gi grags can mi sna. Lhasa: Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, pp. 894-896.

Grags pa 'byung gnas and Rgyal ba blo bzang mkhas grub. 1992. Gangs can mkhas grub rim byon ming mdzod. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp. 401.

'Jigs med bsam gtan. 2000. Rgyal ba sku phreng dgu pa lung rtogs rgya mtsho'i chos srid mdzad rnam. In Gong sa tA la'i bla ma sku phreng rim byon gyi chos srid mdzad rnam gsal bar bshad pa nges don gtam gyi snying po, pp. 604-613. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang.

Maher, Derek. 2005. "The Ninth Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso." In Brauen, Martin, ed. The Dalai Lamas: A Visual History. London: Serindia, pp. 129-131.

Rin chen nor bu. 1996. Rgya bal khyim mtshes rgyal khab la 'brel ba btsugs te gzhan gyi rig gnas slob sbyong dang nang 'dren byas pa. In Bod kyi lo rgyus slob gzhi blo gsar 'jug pa'i 'bab stegs, pp. 125-133. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang.

Rockhill, William Woodville. 1910. "The Dalai Lamas of Lhasa and their relations with the Manchu emperors of China, 1644-1908." T'oung Pao 11, pp. 1-104.


Samten Chhosphel
February 2011