Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

#GS-01 Buddhism

For Prelims

Dalai Lama

  • Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, which is the largest and most influential tradition in Tibet.
  • Dalai Lamas are believed to be the manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion who is the patron saint of Tibet by Tibetan Buddhists.
  • The 14th and current Dalai Lama is named Tenzin Gyatso.
  • Until China’s annexation of Tibet in the 1950s, the Dalai Lamas were the head of the Tibetan government.
  • The current Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
  • Former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru granted him permission to form the ‘Tibetan government in exile’ in Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh).
  • This is believed to be one of the reasons for the 1962 Indo-China War.

Selection of Successor:

  • Tibetan Buddhism believes in the principle of reincarnation.
  • Hence, they believe that the current Dalai Lama has the ability to choose the body into which he is reincarnated.
  • Buddhist scholars believe that it is the responsibility of High Lamas of the Gelugpa tradition and the Tibetan government to find the next Dalai Lama.
  • If more than 1 candidate is identified, the true successor is determined through a public drawing of lots by officials and monks.

Tibetan Buddhism

  • Buddhism became the principal religion of Tibet towards the end of the 8th century CE.
  • The Tibetan king, Trisong Detsen, invited two Buddhist masters named, Shantarakshita and Padmasambhava to Tibet from India.
  • Shantarakshita was the abbot of Nalanda in India and built the first monastery in Tibet.
  • Padmasambhava was a mahasiddha (master of miraculous powers) of Buddhism.
  • These two masters helped to translate important Buddhist texts into Tibetan.
  • Tibetan Buddhism is the combination of the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism with Tantric and Shamanic, and teachings of Bon, an ancient Tibetan religion.
  • Although Tibetan Buddhism is often considered to be the same as Vajrayana Buddhism, they are not identical.
  • Vajrayana is taught in Tibetan Buddhism together with the other schools of thoughts.