5th Dalai Lama - Death and Succession

Death and Succession

The death of the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1682 at the age of 65 was kept hidden until 1696, by Desi Sangye Gyatso, his Prime Minister and, according to persistent rumours, his son, whom he had appointed in 1679. This was done so that the Potala Palace could be finished and to prevent Tibet's neighbors taking advantage of an interregnum in the succession of the Dalai Lamas. Desi Sangay Gyatso also served as regent until the assumption of power by the Sixth Dalai Lama.

"In order to complete the Potala Palace, Desi Sangye Gyatso carried out the wishes of the Fifth Dalai Lama and kept his death a secret for fifteen years. People were told that the Great Fifth was continuing his long retreat. Meals were taken to his chamber and on important occasions the Dalai Lama's ceremonial gown was placed on the throne. However, when Mongol princes insisted on having an audience, an old monk called Depa Deyab of Namgyal monastery, who resembled the Dalai Lama, was hired to pose in his place. He wore a hat and an eye shade to conceal the fact that he lacked the Dalai Lama's piercing eyes. The Desi managed to maintain this charade till he heard that a boy in Mon exhibited remarkable abilities. He sent his trusted attendants to the area and, in 1688, the boy was brought to Nankartse, a place near Lhasa. There he was educated by teachers appointed by the Desi until 1697...."

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