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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Dalai Lama

A title of the head of the Dge-lugs-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The line began in 1391 with Dge-’dungrub-pa who was the founder and abbot of the important Tashilhumpo (Bkra-shis lhun-po), at Shigatse, a monastery which housed up to 3,300 monks before the Communist Chinese invasion. According to the principle of REINCARNATION Dge-’dungrub-pa has returned to the physical body of each successive Dalai-Lama. Tibetans believe that the rebirth is a physical form of the BODHISATTVA. There are a number of reincarnations of lamas, but the Dalai Lama is the highest ranking one because of his position as temporal ruler which has been the custom since the 17th century.

Mode of Identifying of Lamas. During his life any significant remarks made by the Lama are noted; perhaps regarding some preferred place of rebirth or time and any unusual signs at the time of death are taken into account. The birth of an unusually gifted child will be advised to the interim government and the child will be subjected to rigorous testing which will include the ability to distinguish between objects used by the former Lama and some irrelevant items.

The current Dalai Lama, the 14th, Tenzin Gyatsho, was installed in 1940. In 1959, following the Tibetan Revolt against the Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet, he fled into exile in Dharmsala, India. Since then, he has toured around the world as an ambassador for Buddhism and world peace, often delivering talks in English as well as Tibetan. He has been a guest speaker for The Theosophical Society (TS) on several occasions. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in1989.

See also TIBETAN BUDDHISM.

P.S.H.

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