- 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.
- 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.