All the reincarnations of living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism must get government approval, otherwise they are "illegal or invalid," China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said Friday.
The SARA has issued a set of regulations on reincarnation of Tibetan living Buddhas, which will take effect as of September 1.
"It is an important move to institutionalize management on reincarnation of living Buddhas," the SARA said in a statement issued Friday.
The regulations require that a temple which applies for reincarnation of a living Buddha must be "legally-registered venues for Tibetan Buddhism activities and are capable of fostering and offering proper means of support for the living Buddha."
All the reincarnation applications must be submitted to the religious affairs department of the provincial-level government, the provincial-level government, SARA, and the State Council, respectively, for approval in accordance with the fame and influence of the living Buddhas in the religious circle, the regulations said.
"The selection of reincarnates must preserve national unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups and the selection process cannot be influenced by any group or individual from outside the country, " SARA said.
Tibet became an administrative district directly under the central authorities of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) in the 13th century. Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty conferred the title of living Buddha on Vphag-pa, a religious leader in Tibet at that time. Since then, people began to call eminent monks in Tibet living Buddhas.
SARA said the regulations are favor of guaranteeing normal religious activities of Tibetan Buddhism and protecting the religious belief of Tibetan Buddhism followers according to law.
"The government only administrate religious affairs related to state and the public interests and will not interfere in the pure internal religious affairs," SARA says.
The regulations are composed of 14 articles, including the principle, conditions, approval procedures, the duties and responsibilities of religious groups for reincarnation as well as punishment for those violating the regulations.