Dalai Lama

Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teacher

The Dalai Lama /ˈdɑːl ˈlɑːmə/[3][4] is a religious figure in Tibetan Buddhism. He is its highest spiritual teacher of the Gelugpa school. A new Dalai Lama is said to be the reborn old Dalai Lama. This line goes back to 1391. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.

His Holiness
Tenzin Gyatso
The 14th Dalai Lama
Gyatso dressed in robes raising his hands
Gyatso in 2012
14th Dalai Lama
Reign22 February 1940 – present
PredecessorThubten Gyatso
RegentLobsang Sangay as Sikyong (political functions)
previously Kalön Tripas
Head of state of the Central Tibetan Administration
In office1959–2012
PredecessorNew creation
SuccessorLobsang Sangay (as Sikyong)
Director of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region
In office1956–1959
PredecessorNew creation
Successor10th Panchen Lama (acting)
1st, 2nd Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress
In office15 September 1954–21 December 1964
Exile to India in March 1959
BornLhamo Thondup
(1935-07-06) 6 July 1935 (age 88)
Taktser, Amdo, Tibet[1][2]
FatherChoekyong Tsering
MotherDiki Tsering
ReligionTibetan Buddhism (Gelug school)
SignatureHis Holiness Tenzin Gyatso's signature
Dalai Lama with Bishop Desmond Tutu, 2005
Potala palace


Basic terms




Between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lama was the head of the Tibetan government. During the winter, the Dalai Lamas stayed in the Potala palace. In the summer they lived in the Norbulingka palace. These two palaces are both in Lhasa, Tibet. In 1959, the Dalai Lama had to escape from Tibet to Dharamsala, India. This is still his base to this day.

Dalai Lama is the title of the Tibetan Buddhism leader. "Dalai" is originally from Mongolian which means "ocean" and "Lama" is original from Tibetan which means "the highest principle". In 1653, during the Qing Dynasty, this title was authorized to Dalai Lama V by the Chinese Emperor for the first time.

Modern history


The 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, expelled all Chinese civilians from the country, and instituted many measures to modernise Tibet.[5] These included rules to curb excessive demands on peasants and tax evasion by the nobles. He sett up an independent police force, abolished the death penalty, extended secular education, and brought electricity tto the city of Lhasa in the 1920s.[6] Thubten Gyatso died in 1933.

The 14th Dalai Lama was not formally enthroned until 17 November 1950, during the People's Republic of China invasion of Tibet (1950–1951). Fearing for his life, he fled to India where he has led a government-in-exile since.[7][8] With the aim of launching guerrilla operations against the Chinese, the Central Intelligence Agency funded the Dalai Lama $1.7 million a year in the 1960s.[9] In 2001, he gave up his absolute power over the government to an elected parliament of selected Tibetan exiles. His original goal was full independence for Tibet, but by the late 1980s, he was seeking high-level autonomy instead.[10] He is still seeking greater autonomy from China, although Dolma Gyari, deputy speaker of the parliament-in-exile has stated "If the middle path fails in the short term, we will be forced to opt for complete independence or selfdetermination as per the UN charter".[11]


  1. "Brief Biography". DalaiLama.com. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  2. "A Brief Biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama". fmpt.org. Archived from the original on 2020-06-30. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  3. "Define Dalai lama". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
  4. "definition of Dalai Lama". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
  5. Sheel, R N. Rahul. 1989. The Institution of the Dalai Lama. The Tibet Journal. XIV, 3, p20.
  6. Norbu, Thubten Jigme and Turnbull, Colin M. 1968. Tibet: an account of the history, the religion and the people of Tibet. Touchstone Books. New York, 317–318. ISBN 0-671-20559-5
  7. Tibet in Exile, CTA Official website, retrieved 2010-12-15.
  8. Dalai Lama intends to retire as head of Tibetan state in exile Archived 2013-07-27 at the Wayback Machine by Mihai-Silviu Chirila 2010. Metrolic, retrieved 2010-12-15.
  9. "Dalai Lama group says it got money from C.I.A." The New York Times. 1998-10-02.
  10. Burke, Denis (2008-11-27). "Tibetans stick to the 'middle way'". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  11. Saxena, Shobhan (2009-10-31). "The burden of being Dalai Lama". The Times of India. Retrieved 2010-08-06. If the middle path fails in the short term, we will be forced to opt for complete independence or selfdetermination as per the UN charter