Jebtsundamba

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The Khalkha Jebtsundamba Khutughtu (also known as Javzandamba Hutagt in Khalkha Mongolian; also as Rje Btsun Dam Pa or Jetsun Dampa in Tibetan — all meaning lit. Holy Venerable Lord) is the spiritual head of the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. He also holds the title of Bogd Gegeen, making him the top-ranked lama in Mongolia.

The first Jebtsundamba, also known as Zanabazar (1635-1723), was identified as the reincarnation of the scholar Taranatha of the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism. Zanabazar was the son of Prince Tosiyetu Khan, ruler of the Khan Uula district of Mongolia, and himself became the head of the Khalkha Mongols and the spiritual leader of northern Mongolia.

The first two Jebtsundambas were direct descendants of Genghis Khan. On the intervation of the Qing Dynasty, which was afraid of Mongol reunification, the rest were chosen from among the population of Tibet.

When northern Mongolia began its independence movement, the eighth Jebtsundamba (1869-1924) assumed the title of Emperor of Mongolia, calling himself Boghda Khan (Bogd Khan). He was the head of state until his death in 1924. The Communist government declared the end of his reincarnation.

The present Jebtsundamba Khutughtu is Jampal Namdol Chokye Gyaltsen, born in Lhasa, Tibet. At the age of four, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 8th Jebtsundamba. In 1959 he fled to Dharamsala in India where he now lives in exile.

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