Bogdo Khan

For the mountain, see Bogd Khan Mountain.
Bogd Khan
Marzan Sharav
Born 1869
Litang, Sichuan
Died 1924 (aged 54–55)
Occupation Spiritual head and monarch of Mongolia
Spouse(s) Tsendiin Dondogdulam

The Bogd Khan (Mongolian: Богд хаан; 1869–1924) was enthroned as the Great Khan (Emperor) of Mongolia on 29 December 1911, when Outer Mongolia declared independence from the Qing Dynasty after the Xinhai Revolution. He was born in the Kham region of eastern Tibet, today's Sichuan province of the People's Republic of China. As the eighth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu (Mongolian: Жавзандамба хутагт), he was the third most important person in the Tibetan Buddhism hierarchy, below only the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, and therefore also known as the Bogdo Lama. He was the spiritual leader of Outer Mongolia's Tibetan Buddhism. His wife Tsendiin Dondogdulam, the Ekh Dagina ("Dakini mother"), was believed to be a manifestation of the bodhisattva White Tara.


The future Bogd Khan was born in 1869 in the family of a Tibetan official.[1] The boy was officially recognized as the new incarnation of the Bogd Gegen in Potala in the presence of the 13th Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.[2] The new Bogd Gegen arrived in Urga, the capital of Outer Mongolia, in 1874. After this he lived only in Mongolia.

According to one eyewitness,"...he did not become a puppet in the hands of the lamas but, on the contrary, took them in hand. Since his young years he wanted to restore the great Mongolian kingdom of Genghis Khan or, at least, to liberate Mongolia from the Chinese and make it self-dependent. Local princes feared him, but the masses liked him... An independent and clever first hierarch and ruler was unacceptable neither for Tibet, nor for the Chinese".[3]

As a result, from his young years the 8th Bogd Gegeen was the subject of intrigues of Qing officials in Urga. Later he became the subject of propaganda campaigns organised by Mongolian Communists, which attacked him by alleging that he was a prolific poisoner, a paedophile, and a libertine, which was later repeated in belles-lettres and other non-scientific literature (e.g. James Palmer). However, analysis of documents stored in Mongolian and Russian archives does not confirm these statements.[4][5]

As a monk, the Bogd had limited access to physical means of imposing power, though some enemies were executed for blasphemy. The Polish traveller Ferdinand Ossendowski recorded that he knew "every thought, every movement of the Princes and Khans, the slightest conspiracy against him, and the offender is usually kindly invited to Urga, from where he does not return alive.[6] It should be noted, however, that Ossendovsky's claims for his acquaintance with the Bogd Gegen were not confirmed by comparative analysis of his book and manuscripts.[7]

The Bogd Gegen lost his power when Chinese troops occupied the country in 1919. When Baron Ungern's forces failed to seize Urga in late 1920, the Bogd was placed under house arrest; then he was freed and reinstated by Ungern shortly before he took Urga in 1921.[8] After the revolution in 1921 led by Damdin Sükhbaatar, the Bogd Khan was allowed to stay on the throne in a limited monarchy until his death in 1924, a year after that of his wife.

After his death, the Mongolian Revolutionary government, led by followers of the Russian Communists, declared that no more reincarnations were to be found and established the Mongolian People's Republic. However, rumors about a reincarnation of the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu appeared in northern Mongolia in that same year.[9] No traditional determination of the supposed incarnation was conducted. Another rumor appeared in 1925. In November 1926 the 3rd Great Khural of Mongolian People's Republic approved a special resolution that searches for reincarnations of the Bogd Gegen should not be allowed.[10] A final prohibition was approved by the 7th Congress of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and the 5th Great People's Khural in 1928.[11]

Nevertheless, the next reincarnation of Bogd Gegen was found in Tibet as a boy born in 1932 in Lhasa. This was not announced until the collapse of the USSR and democratic revolution in Mongolia. The Ninth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu was formally enthroned in Dharamsala by the fourteenth Dalai Lama in 1991, and in Ulan Bator in 1999.

The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan has been preserved and is a tourist attraction in Ulan Bator.

Bogd Khan
Born: 1869 (in Tibet) Died: 1924
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Xuāntǒng Emperor

as Emperor of China
Khan of Mongolia
Succeeded by
People's Republic declared
Political offices
Preceded by
Xuāntǒng Emperor

as Emperor of China
Head of State of Mongolia
as Khan of Mongolia

Succeeded by
Navaandorjiin Jadambaa
as President of the Mongolian People's Republic



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