Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

[dah-lahy lah-muh]
Dalai Lama [Tibetan,=oceanic teacher], title of the leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Believed like his predecessors to be the incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, 1935-, was installed in 1940. In 1959, following a Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule (see Tibet), he fled into exile. He has traveled widely, pleading the Tibetan cause. Recipient of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, he wrote an autobiography, Freedom in Exile (1990).

See P. Iyer, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dali Lama (2008).

Head of the dominant Dge-lugs-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The first of the line was Dge-'dun-grub-pa (1391–1475), founder of a monastery in central Tibet. His successors were regarded as his reincarnations and, like himself, manifestations of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. The second head of the order established the 'Brasspungs monastery near Lhasa as its base, and the third received the h1 Dalai (“Ocean”) from Altan Khan. The fifth, Ngag-dbang-rgya-mtsho (1617–82), established the supremacy of the Dge-lugs-pa over other orders. The 13th Dalai Lama, Thub-bstan-rgya-mtsho (1875–1933), held temporal and spiritual power after the Chinese were expelled in 1912. The 14th and current Dalai Lama, Bstan-'dzin-rgya-mtsho (b. 1935), was enthroned in 1940 but fled to India in 1959 with a large contingent of followers after a failed revolt against the central government, which had gained control of Tibet in 1950–51. He now lives in exile in Dharmsala, India. He was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his proposals for solving world problems.

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