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The Dalai Lama: An Influential Icon

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Since the late 1300’s essentially the same reincarnated figure has been controlling, teaching, and leading the Tibetan Buddhism religion and government (Gale). The Dalai Lama is thought to be the reincarnated spiritual and political icon presiding over the land of Tibet for over 14 lifetimes. His Holiness’ obligation to the Buddhist people and birthright is described as, “a teacher whose wisdom is as deep as the ocean” (Ganeri 28). For centuries the Dalai Lama has been one of the world’s most influential leaders and teachers, passing along his wisdoms to disciples all over the globe.

The origins of the Dalai Lama date back to the start of the Gelukpa School, a monastery opened near Lhasa in Tibet by a man named Tsongkhapa in the 15th century (Chiu). When the Gelukpa School started in 1438 it was considered the “dominant school in Tibetan Buddhism” (Wangu 67) as well as the monastery of the yellow hats (Gale). The Gelupka or “yellow hats” founded the lineages of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama (Chiu). This group started chains of sacred schools and temples near, in, and around Lhasa, such as the Jokhand Temple (Ganeri). Tsongkhapa’s successors continued on without a title until the official label of Dalai Lama was first given to the third successor by Alton Khan, a Mongol leader. The first and second Dalai Lamas both founded monasteries, one at Tashilhundpo and another called Drepung, founded near Lhasa. With the “use of Mongol and Manchu support, [it] helped the Dalai Lama gain power over Tibet”, and finally the 5th Dalai Lama expanded Gelukpa rule to all of Tibet (Gale). In 1642 the Dalai Lama was placed as the political and religious leader of Tibet until 1959 when the Chinese took over Tibet and stripped him of his political...

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Works Cited

"Dalai Lama." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detriot: Gale, 1998. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. .

Gach, Gary. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha, 2002. Print.

Ganeri, Anita. What Do We Know about Buddhism? New York: P. Bedrick, 1997. Print.

"Lamaism in China." Chinese Culture. About.com. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. .

Wangu, Madhu Bazaz. Buddhism. New York: Facts on File, 1993. Print.

Wangu, Madhu Bazaz. Buddhism. New York: Facts On File, 2006. Print.
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