1. Who Is the Dalai Lama?
The name Dalai Lama is a combination of Mongolic word Dalai – which means “ocean” or “big” and the Tibetan word Bla-ma which translates to “master” or “guru”. Put together, the Dalai Lama essentially means “Ocean of Wisdom”.
The title was created by the Ming Dynasty in the year 1578 to refer to the successors of the line of tulkus, who is considered a reincarnate of the custodian of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. They are also believed to be the manifestations of Avalokiteśvara, a Bodhisattva of Compassion, and the patron saint of Tibet. They have functioned as both the political and spiritual leaders of Tibet for 369 years since 1642.
However, it was only in 1950, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, that he was called upon to assume full political power. Almost a decade later, following suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, the Dalai Lama escaped the country and went into exile.