Who Is The Dalai Lama?

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The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is the highest spiritual leader and head of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered to be a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara who is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Moreover, the Dalai Lama is seen as a living example of wisdom and compassion. Additionally, there have been fourteen Dalai Lamas throughout history, with the 14th and current Dalai Lama being Tenzin Gyatso. Read on to learn more about the Dalai Lama’s Biography. 

Overview of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
Birth Name Lhamo Thondup
Date of Birth6th of July, 1935
Mother Diki Tsering 
Father Choekyong Tsering
Place of Birth Taktser, Amdo, Tibet
Reign Since the 22nd of February, 1940 and is the current Dalai Lama 

Biography of Dalai Lama

Furthermore, the life of the current Dalai Lama has been nothing short of a tumultuous journey. However, one still manages to see him with a smile always. 

What was the Early Life of the Dalai Lama?

The current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso. He was born as Lhamo Thondup on the 6th of July 1935, to a farming family in a remote village in northeastern Tibet. 

  • At the age of two, he was recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama who was Thubten Gyatso. 
  • Moreover, the process of recognition involves identifying objects chosen by the previous Dalai Lama and observing the child’s behaviour around them. 
  • In 1937, a formal enthronement ceremony took place, and Tenzin Gyatso started his stringent religious education.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Education of Dalai Lama

Furthermore, the education of the Dalai Lama included Buddhist philosophy, logic, metaphysics, and Tibetan history. 

  • Additionally, he was great in his studies and was awarded the highest-level Geshe degree. Moreover, the degree is equal to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy at the age of 23. 
  • After the death of the 12th regent, who was the head of state while the Dalai Lama was young, Tenzin Gyatso took full political power as both the spiritual and secular leader of Tibet in 1950.
The Dalai Lama as a child
The Dalai Lama as a child. Source: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Chinese Forceful Occupation of Tibet

Sadly, in 1950 China also began occupying Tibet. At first, he sought a peaceful solution and the Dalai Lama kept a meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing. However, China tightened its control over Tibet and started suppressing Tibetan culture and religion and thereafter tensions escalated. In 1959 there was a Tibetan uprising and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet into exile in India.

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama

Timeline of the 14th Dalai Lama’s Life 
17th of December, 1933The 13th Dalai Lama passes away in Lhasa at the age of 57. 
6th of July, 1935Lhamo Thondup, the 14th Dalai Lama is born in the country of Tibet. 
1939Public Declaration of the Official Recognition of the 14th Dalai Lama. 
22nd of February, 1940Enthronement Ceremony of the 14th Dalai Lama. 
1940At the age of 5, he begins his monastic education.
17th of November, 1950He assumes full temporal (political) power after China invades Tibet in 1949. 
16th of December, 1950He leaves for Dromo from Lhasa due to the Chinese threat.
23rd of May, 1951A 17-point agreement was signed by the Tibetan delegation in Peking forcefully. 
16th of July, 1951A newly appointed Commissioner and Administrator of Civil and Military Affairs of Tibet, General Chiang Chin-wu along with his delegation meets with Dalai Lama. 
July 1954 to June 1955He visits China for peace talks and meets with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, such as Chu Teh, Chou En-Lai and Deng Xiaopin.
November 1956 to March 1957For the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations he comes to India.  
10th of March, 1959The rebellion of the Tibetan people began in Lhasa as they did not want the Dalai Lama to visit the Chinese Army Camp. 
15th of March, 1959Outside the Norbulingka Palace in Lhasa, there were artillery shells fired by Chinese troops. 
17th of March, 1959The Dalai Lama escapes from the Norbulingka Palace in Lhasa. 
31st of March, 1959The Dalai Lama escapes from Tibet and enters India after 14 days. 
20th of April, 1959 He arrives in Mussoorie and resides at Birla House. 
30th of April, 1959Thereafter, he reaches Dharamshala to reside in Swarg Ashram. 
1963The first exile Tibetan Parliament (Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies) was established in Dharamsala.
1968He moves his residence from Swarg Ashram to present-day Thekchen Choeling (Byrne Estate)
1979Since his exile in 1959, the first contact with the Government of the People’s Republic of China was set up. 
June, 1988He delivers the historic Strasbourg Proposal for Tibet in Strasbourg, France, to members of the European Parliament.
10th of December, 1989His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is given the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. 
2001The first direct democratic elections were held by the Tibetan people for the post of Kalon Tripa (Senior Minister) in the history of Tibet. 
14th of March, 2011The Dalai Lama sends a letter to the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament in exile) requesting them to transfer his temporal power.
29th of May, 2011He formally transfers his temporal power to the democratically elected leader. Hence, bringing to an end the 368-year-old tradition of the Dalai Lamas being both the spiritual as well as temporal head of Tibet.

Dalai Lama’s Life in Exile and Advocacy for Tibet

Ever since his exile from Tibet, the Dalai Lama has lived in Dharamshala, India. In addition, here he set up the Tibetan government in exile. 

  • Additionally, he is a vocal advocate for the Tibetan people and their right to self-determination. 
  • Moreover, he has been the forerunner of non-violent resistance and advocates for a peaceful resolution between Tibet and China. 
  • The Dalai Lama has also been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his efforts.

Also Read: How to Make a Career in Peace and Conflict Resolution?

What is the Future of the Dalai Lama Lineage?

When it comes to the selection of the next Dalai Lama, the Chinese government wants to be a part of the selection process. However, this is in conflict and disagreement with the Tibetan government in exile. The current Dalai Lama himself said that the continuation of the institution of the Dalai Lama is up to the decision of the Tibetan people.


What is the Dalai Lama famous for?

The Dalai Lama is famous for voicing Buddhist teachings of compassion and peace throughout our world. 

Where is Dalai Lama right now?

Currently, the Dalai Lama is in Dharamshala, India. 

Who is the founder of Buddhism?

Siddhartha Gautama is the founder of Buddhism. 

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This was all about the Dalai Lama. If you want to know more about other Famous Personalities then visit our General Knowledge page! 

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