Tibetan name Tibetan: Wylie transliteration: taa la’i bla ma pronunciation in IPA: [taːlɛː lama] official transcription (PRC): Dalai Lama THDL: Dalai Lama other transcriptions: — Chinese name traditional: 達賴喇嘛 simplified: 达赖喇嘛 Pinyin: Dálài Lǎmā
In Tibetan Buddhism, the successive Dalai Lamas form a lineage of allegedly reborn (tulku) magistrates which traces back to 1391. They are of the Gelug sect of Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhists believe the Dalai Lama to be one of innumerable incarnations of Avalokiteśvara ("Chenrezig" [spyan ras gzigs] in Tibetan), the bodhisattva of compassion. Between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan government, administering a large portion of the country from the capital Lhasa. He is often styled "His Holiness" (HH) before his title.
The Dalai Lama is often thought to be the head of the Gelug sect, but this position officially belongs to the Ganden Tripa (Wylie: Dga'-ldan Khri-pa). Tibetans call the Dalai Lama Gyalwa Rinpoche (Tibetan: རྒྱལ་བ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ; Wylie: Rgyal-ba Rin-po-che) meaning "Precious Victor," or Yishin Norbu (Tibetan: ་ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུ; Wylie: Yid-bzhin Nor-bu) meaning "Wish-fulfilling Jewel".
"Dalai" means "Ocean" in Mongolian, and "Lama" (bla ma) is the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit word "guru", and is commonly translated to mean "spiritual teacher". The actual title was first bestowed by the Mongolian ruler Altan Khan upon Sonam Gyatso in 1578. Gyatso was an abbot at the Drepung monastery who was widely considered the most eminent lama of his time. Although Sonam Gyatso became the first lama to hold the title "Dalai Lama", due to the fact that he was the third member of his lineage, he became known as the "3rd Dalai Lama". The previous two titles were conferred posthumously upon his earlier incarnations. Five Dalai Lamas were murdered by their Buddhist courtiers within 170 years.[unreliable source?]
The 5th Dalai Lama, with the support of Gushri Khan, a Mongol ruler of Khökh Nuur, united Tibet. The Dalai Lamas continued to partially rule in Tibet with, to some extent, autonomous power given by contemporary Chinese governments, until the People's Republic of China invaded the region in 1949 and then took full control in 1959. The 14th Dalai Lama then fled to India and has since ceded temporal power to an elected government-in-exile. The current 14th Dalai Lama seeks greater autonomy for Tibet.
Succession of reborn Dalai Lamas
The title "Dalai Lama" is presently granted to each of the spiritual leader's successive incarnations (for example, The 14th Dalai Lama's next incarnation will hold the title "the 15th Dalai Lama").
Upon the death of the Dalai Lama, his monks institute a search for the Lama's reincarnation, or yangsi (yang srid), a small child. Familiarity with the possessions of the previous Dalai Lama is considered the main sign of the reincarnation. The search for the reincarnation typically requires a few years. The reincarnation is then brought to Lhasa to be trained by the other Lamas.
List of Dalai Lamas
There have been 14 Dalai Lamas:
Name Lifespan Reign Tibetan/Wylie PRC transcription Other English spelling(s) 1. Gendun Drup 1391–1474 ? དྒེ་འདུན་འགྲུབ་
dge ‘dun ‘grub
Gêdün Chub Gedun Drub, Gedün Drup, Gendun Drup 2. Gendun Gyatso 1475–1541 ? དགེ་འདུན་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
dge ‘dun rgya mtsho
Gêdün Gyaco Gedün Gyatso, Gendün Gyatso 3. Sonam Gyatso 1543–1588 1578–1588 བསོད་ནམས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
bsod nams rgya mtsho
Soinam Gyaco Sönam Gyatso 4. Yonten Gyatso 1589–1616 ? ཡོན་ཏན་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
yon tan rgya mtsho
Yoindain Gyaco Yontan Gyatso 5. Lobsang Gyatso 1617–1682 1642–1682 བློ་བཟང་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
blo bzang rgya mtsho
Lobsang Gyaco Lobzang Gyatso, Lopsang Gyatso 6. Tsangyang Gyatso 1683–1706 ?–1706 ཚང་དབྱངས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
tshang dbyangs rgya mtsho
Cangyang Gyaco 7. Kelzang Gyatso 1708–1757 1751–1757 བསྐལ་བཟང་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
bskal bzang rgya mtsho
Gaisang Gyaco Kelsang Gyatso, Kalsang Gyatso 8. Jamphel Gyatso 1758–1804 1786–1804 བྱམས་སྤེལ་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
byams spel rgya mtsho
Qambê Gyaco Jampel Gyatso, Jampal Gyatso 9. Lungtok Gyatso 1806–1815 (1808–1815) ལུང་རྟོགས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
lung rtogs rgya mtsho
Lungdog Gyaco Lungtog Gyatso 10. Tsultrim Gyatso 1816–1837 ? ཚུལ་ཁྲིམ་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
tshul khrim rgya mtsho
Cüchim Gyaco Tshültrim Gyatso 11. Khendrup Gyatso 1838–1856 1844–1856 མཁས་གྲུབ་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
mkhas grub rgya mtsho
Kaichub Gyaco Kedrub Gyatso 12. Trinley Gyatso 1857–1875 ? འཕྲིན་ལས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
‘phrin las rgya mtsho
Chinlai Gyaco Trinle Gyatso 13. Thubten Gyatso 1876–1933 ? ཐུབ་བསྟན་རྒྱ་མཚོ་
thub bstan rgya mtsho
Tubdain Gyaco Thubtan Gyatso, Thupten Gyatso 14. Tenzin Gyatso 1935–present 1950–present
(currently in exile)
bstan ‘dzin rgya mtsho
2nd Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso 1475-1541
3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso 1543–1588
4th Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso, 1589-1616
5th Dalai Lama, Lozang Gyatso 1617-1682
6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso 1683-1706
7th Dalai Lama,Kelzang Gyatso, 1708-1757.
8th Dalai Lama, Jamphel Gyatso 1758-1804
9th Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso 1806-1815
10th Dalai Lama , Tsultrim Gyatso 1816-1837
11th Dalai Lama , Khendrup Gyatso 1838–1856
12th Dalai Lama, Trinley Gyatso 1857–1875
13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso 1876-1933
14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso 1935-
Starting with the 5th Dalai Lama and until the 14th Dalai Lama's flight into exile in 1959, the Dalai Lamas resided during winter at the Potala Palace, and in the summer at the Norbulingka palace and park. Both residences are located in Lhasa, Tibet, approximately 3 km apart. In 1959, subsequent to the then ongoing Chinese occupation of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama sought refuge within India. The then Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru was instrumental in granting safe refuge to the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetans. The Dalai Lama has since been in refuge in Dharamsala, in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India, where the Central Tibetan Administration (The Tibetan Government in Exile) is also established. Tibetan refugees have constructed and opened many schools and Buddhist temples in Dharamsala.
The future of the Dalai Lama
Despite its officially secular stance, the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) has claimed the power to approve the naming of high reincarnations in Tibet. This decision cites a precedent set by the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, who instituted a system of selecting the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama by means of a lottery which utilised a golden urn with names wrapped in barley balls. Controversially, this precedent was called upon by the PRC to name their own Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama and the majority of Tibetan Buddhists in exile do not regard this to be the legitimate Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama has recognized a different child, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, as the reincarnated Panchen Lama. This child and his family have been taken into 'protective custody' according to the PRC, and all attempts by members of the EU parliament and US government to garner guarantees of the family's safety have been denied by the PRC. There is some speculation that with the death of the current Dalai Lama, the People's Republic of China will attempt to direct the selection of a successor, using the authority of their chosen Panchen Lama.
The current Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that he will never be reborn inside territory controlled by the People's Republic of China, and has occasionally suggested that he might choose to be the last Dalai Lama by not being reborn at all. However, he has also stated that the purpose of his repeated incarnations is to continue unfinished work and, as such, if the situation in Tibet remains unchanged, it is very likely that he will be reborn to finish his work. Additionally, in the draft constitution of future Tibet, the institution of the Dalai Lama can be revoked at any time by a democratic majority vote of two-thirds of the Assembly. The 14th Dalai Lama has stated, "Personally, I feel the institution of the Dalai Lama has served its purpose."
- Central Tibetan Administration
- International Tibet Independence Movement
- ^ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition.
- ^ Art Hughes. "The Thirteen Previous Dalai Lamas", Part of MPR's special report, Ocean of Wisdom: The Dalai Lama's Visit, Minnesota Public Radio, May 7, 2001.
- ^ Parenti, Michael (2003). Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth.
- ^ a b c The title "Dalai Lama" was conferred posthumously to the first and second Dalai Lamas. The 9th Dalai Lama was officially enthroned, but never reigned.
- ^ "Dalai's reincarnation will not be found under Chinese control", The Indian Express, Tibetan Government in Exile, 1999-07-06. Retrieved on 2007-01-27.
- ^ a b Questions & Answers, The Website of The Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
- Yá Hánzhāng 牙含章: The Biographies of the Dalai Lamas (Dálài Lǎmá chuán 达赖喇嘛传; Beijing, Foreign Languages Press 1993); ISBN 7-119-01267-3.
- Diki Tsering, edited & introduced by Khedroob Thondop. (2000). Dalai Lama, My Son: A Mother's Story. Virgin Publishing Company, London. ISBN 0-7535-0571-1.
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