The Seventh Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpochhe
His Eminence the Seventh Namkhai Nyingpo was born in 1966 in the holy valley of Tongzhang Thrichu Geonpa in Eastern Bhutan to Yab Tshering Gyaltshen and Yum Sherabmo. His birth was accompanied by many auspicious and wonderful signs. The drinking water stream of the house turned milky, spectacular rainbows appeared in the sky and a shower of exquisite flowers fell. "Kharchhu", "Kharchhu" were the very first words he uttered referring to his monastery in Tibet. He also remembered the names of old attendants and related vividly many incidents from his previous life
The child was recognised as the Seventh Namkhai Nyingpo by His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, who had clearly predicted the rebirth describing the names of the parents and other such details. However, in order to further confirm the recognition, disciples examined the child in the traditional manner. The child was shown various rosaries, reliquaries, bells and vajras amongst which were some belonging to the previous Namkhai Nyinpo Rinpochhe. Witnessed by his predecessor's senior disciples and a representative of the Royal Government of Bhutan, the child unerringly chose only the objects belonging to his predecessor and was thus hailed as the rightful incarnation.

Consequently, in 1972, at the age of six, he ascended to his predecessor's throne at the Pema Shedrup Chholing or the second Kharchu Monastery in Bumthang.

His Eminence's formal education began in 1970 and he instantly picked up the basic reading and writing skills. He had a natural ability to effortlessly read, write and memorise essential prayers. At the age of eight, His Eminence received the Refuge Ordination and on two occasions the Long Life Empowerment from His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. In the same year, His Eminence received the Kalachakra Empowerment, teachings on the Bodhicharyavatra and many other major teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In accordance with the instructions of His Holiness Dilgo Khentse Dorji Chang, His Eminence studied the complete thirteen great texts and commentaries from Khen Rinpochhe Kunga Wanghcuk. He also received the teachings on bLabTue; the entire three parts of Kamala Shila's meditational practice, Bimalai Rigmi Ba-dang Chigcharwa; Dakpo Thargyen and Drubthab Kintue. Thus, making him one of the greatest sutra masters of our time.

His Eminence Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpochhe continued his intensive study of Buddhist philosophy with many masters and in the spirit of non-sectarianism has received teachings and transmissions from the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He has also transmitted his own special lineage JangTer (Northern Treasure) teachings to many other Lamas and Rinpochhes.

His Eminence has mainly concentrated on the care and training of the monks and nuns at his monasteries in Bhutan and on his own study and practice. He has given numerous teachings, empowerments and oral transmissions at his own monastery and at other places in Bhutan and India. 

Namkahi Nyingpo Lineage

Ugyen Guru Rinpochhe prophesized that Namkhai Nyingpo and his successive reincarnates will bring immeasurable benefit to the sentient beings. As prophesized, Namkhai Nyingpo travelled and hid many valuable dharma treasures throughout Tibet and lived for over two hundred years. After displaying numerous miracles for two hundred years, Namkhai Nyingpo left the earthly world and disappeared into space along with the physical body.
There were many successive reincarnations of Namkhai Nyingpo such as Treasure Revealers Jangchub Lingpa Palgi Gyaltsen and Dawa Gyaltsen. Most of his incarnates were born in the province of Lhodrak in the south of Tibet, where there are many holy places and caves connected with Guru Rinpochhe and other great Masters.
The first Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the close five heart sons and one of the twenty five principal disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. He was an accomplished Yangdag master and was among the first seven to receive the ordination of Gelong (monk) in the eighth century. He received empowerments and pith instructions from both Guru Rinpochhe and Khenchhen Bodhisattva. He was also the root Lama of the great Dharma King Trisong Detsen.
Although there was an interregnum in which there were no reincarnations, Namkhai Nyingpo, however, took rebirth in 1670 in a place close to the seat of Guru Chowang called Lhodrak in Southern Tibet to benefit the sentient beings of a degenerate period.
At the age of eight, the Fifth Dalai Lama officially recognised Rigzin Lobzang Lhachog as the reincarnate of Namkhai Nyinpo and installed him as the abbot of Lhodrak Kharchu monastery. Since then, Lhodrak Kharchu Dudjomling has been the seat of the Namkhai Nyinpo reincarnates. 


His Holiness the 11th Mindrolling Trichen

The Birth of His Holiness

The 11th Mindrolling throne holder, Trichen Jurme Kunzang Wangyal was born to the 10th Mindrolling Trichen Jurme Dondrub Wangyal and Yum Dawa Drolma (his mother), on the eighteenth day of the first lunar month of the iron sheep year.

Education, Empowerments & Root Guru

His Holiness The 11th Mindrolling Trichen RinpocheHis Holiness received extensive teachings and empowerments from many exceptional Tibetan masters. Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodro, Sechen Kongtrul the great, Minling Chung Rinpoche, Minling Khen Rinpoche, Sechen Rabjam Rinpoche, Dordzin Namdrol Gyatso, Dordzin Dechen Choedzin and Gelong Kunzangla are some of the renowned masters with whom he studied.

His Holiness’ root guru was Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö from whom he received the precious instructions on the Guhyagarbhatantra and its various commentaries. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche proclaimed His Holiness as having greatly excelled in the understanding and practice of these precious teachings and instructed him to teach it eleven times to fortunate and worthy students in future.

Retreats, Writing, and Terma Discoveries

After studying many years with great Tibetan Buddhist masters, Rinpoche spent more than 14 years in retreats, accomplishing many practices. Among wondrous signs he composed many teachings and discovered the terma of Jigten Wangchuk Pema Garwang, the Great Compassionate One.

1959: Escape from Tibet

The parinirvana of the 10th Mindrolling Trichen took place when Rinpoche was only seven years of age. During the years which followed, Rinpoche continued his studies and began fulfilling his responsibilities as the next throne holder. The Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 and its consequent circumstances obstructed his official enthronement. At the request of his sangha and family members, His Holiness Mindrolling Trichen escaped from Tibet at the age of 29.

Rinpoche spent some time in Bhutan and then traveled on to India. He met and lived with the great master His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, who had been a friend to the 10th Mindrolling Trichen.

Enthronement of the XIth Mindrolling Trichen

In 1962, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche performed the formal enthronement ceremony of His Holiness as the XIth Mindrolling Trichen in the presence of many renowned teachers and dignitaries at the Zangdok Palri Monastery in Kalimpong. In Kalimpong, while working closely with H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, H.H. the 16th Karmapa, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and others, Rinpoche actively participated in establishing the Dharma in India. He organized many great assemblies, initiations and teachings.

Establishment of Mindrolling Monastery in India

In 1976 Rinpoche moved to Dehra Dun, India and took his seat as the head of the Mindrolling Monastery in exile where he continued to benefit sentient beings by turning the wheel of Dharma. His presence in the world has inspired others to maintain the selfless and compassionate pure path. His efforts mostly concentrated on propagating the vision and advice of the great Dharma King Chögyal Terdag Lingpa: to ensure the purity of the teachings and to maintain the samaya.
Renowned within the Tibetan community as an emanation of Padmasambhava, His Holiness the XIth Mindrolling Trichen has been revered and respected throughout the Buddhist world as a great Mahasiddha and one of the great accomplished masters of this century.

Trichen Dorje Chang, as he is known to many, lived with his family and the Mindrolling Sangha in Dehra Dun until his parinirvana.

The Parinirvana of His Holiness

At 7:00 in the evening of the 3rd day of the 1st month of Miracles in the year of the Earth Mouse (9 February 2008), without even the slightest discomfort, with a face even more radiant than before, and with a smiling countenance, His Holiness the 11th Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche gazed lovingly at all those surrounding him. Then, with the aspect of resting, Kyabje Mindrolling Trichen Jurme Kunzang Wangyal displayed the final activity of transferring his enlightened intention to another realm, in order to turn the minds of those to be tamed towards the dharma.


 A Biography Of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche
His Holiness Pema Norbu ("Penor") Rinpoche spent his life practicing and realizing the teachings of the Buddha, insuring that the teachings would not only not be lost, but that they would expand to the farthest corners of the world. What follows is information gathered from first-hand sources and many Ngagyur Nyingma Institute books. We pray this biography will continue to preserve, propagate and expand the teachings, just as His Holiness wished!
The Third Drubwang Pema Norbu ("Penor") Rinpoche was born in the Powo region of Kham, East Tibet to Sonam Gyurme (father) and Dzom Kyi (mother) during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar the year of the Water Monkey (1932). His birth took place during the most bitter, cold, bleak and dry part of the winter season, a time when nothing grows and the land is blanketed with thick, deep, heavy snow. Yet at the time of his birth, sweetly-scented flowers burst into blossoms all around the home of the infant tulku. Moreover, two search parties for the new tulku, one sent by Dzogchen Rinpoche and one sent by Khenchen Ngagi Wangpo, met each other at the same time at this same house, thus confirming the recognition without doubt. Communications and travel in the high mountains of Eastern Tibet were not as speedy as today so this was considered to be a very auspicious sign.
Khenchen Ngagi Wangpo Rinpoche foresaw the exceptional destiny of the new incarnation. In 1936, Khenpo Ngaga the year of the Fire Mouse, the young Pema Norbu ("Penor") Rinpoche was invited to the Palyul monastery where he took refuge with the great and learned Khenpo. Khenchen Ngagi Wangpo Rinpoche performed the traditional hair-cutting ceremony and gave him the name "Dhongag Shedrup Tenzin." Khen Rinpoche then granted him the long life empowerment of Amitayus and composed the long-life prayer which was chanted daily by thousands of Penor Rinpoche's followers all over the world through until the time of his parinirvana.
Rinpoche was formally enthroned by his master Thubten Chökyi Dawa (1894-1959) [the second Chögtrul Rinpoche], and Karma Thekchok Nyingpo (1908-1958) [the fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche]. In time, Penor Rinpoche would become the Eleventh Throneholder of Palyul Monastery with its more than four hundred branch monasteries. He spent many years at Palyul, studying and receiving teachings from numerous masters and scholars. He received mind-to-mind transmission from Lungtrul Rinpoche Shedrup Tenpai Nyima. He also received training and instructions from the Fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, the Tenth Throneholder, who carefully prepared him as his successor. In turn, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche trained the Fifth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche.
There are many instances demonstrating Penor Rinpoche's extraordinary Choktrul Rinpochepowers even as a young child. On one occasion he was playing with an old and precious vajra when it suddenly slipped through his fingers and dropped to the ground, breaking in two. Fearing a reprimand from his teacher, he quickly glued it back together with his own saliva, making the vajra stronger than ever before. A similar incident occurred later on when, during the Chasum ceremony, he accidentally dropped his ritual bell onto the stone floor. Everyone assumed that the bell had shattered, but when Penor Rinpoche picked it up, it was unbroken and rang even more sweetly than before. At the age of 15, Penor Rinpoche left his footprint in stone near Dago retreat monastery above Palyul where it can still be seen today.
Once while he was still young, Rinpoche was approached by an old man who insisted that he practice Phowa for him. Innocently he complied with the request. At the end of the practice, he shocked to see that the old man had passed away - the Phowa had worked only too well! Immediately he started to practice again, to revive the corpse lying there in front of him. To his immense relief, the old man came back to life, but instead of thanking him, he shouted, "For heaven's sake, why did you bring me back? I was already in the Pure Land of the Buddha Amitabha!"
For many years following, the old man's great grandson worked at Namdroling Monastery in India.  

Penor Rinpoche studied with many lamas, benefiting most deeply from the warm and close relationship he enjoyed with his great master, the Second Chögtrul Rinpoche. At his lay ordination, Chögtrul Rinpoche gave him the name Thubten Lekshe Chökyi Drayang, "Upholder of Buddha's Teaching with the Eloquent Speech of Melodious Dharma." At Dago retreat monastery, he received and engaged in the Namchö Dzogchen preliminary practice teachings of Sangye Lakchang, "Buddha in the Palm of the Hand." He also learned general subjects, including writing, poetry, astrology and medicine, and went on to study the sutras with Khenpo Nuden, Khenpo Sonam Dondrup and Khenpo Gondrup.
At the age of twelve, in the water sheep year 1944, Penor Rinpoche began to receive the most important transmissions and empowerments of the Nyingma School. From Chögtrul Rinpoche he received the Great Empowerment of the Kagyé and the Rinchen Terdzö empowerments, transmissions and secret sealed protector empowerments. From Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, he received the Namchö, the terma revelations of Ratna Lingpa and the major empowerments of the cycles of Kagye and Lama Gongdu.
At the age of thirteen, he received novice (getsul) ordination and with it the name "Dongak Shedrup Tendzin Chokle Namgyal" (All-Victorious Holder of the Teachings of Study and Practice of the Sutras and Tantras). At twenty-one he took full (gelong) ordination with his master at Tarthang Monastery and received a vast number of teachings covering all the essential instructions and empowerments of the Nyingma tradition. This lineage of the vinaya is a very pure one, transmitted to Tibet by Shantarakshita during the time of Padmasambhava.
At the time of his ordination, Chögtrul Rinpoche offered Penor Rinpoche the yellow robe that had been treasured and handed down by generations of lineage holders. Despite the tremendous difficulties of escaping from Tibet, Penor Rinpoche was to carry this robe with him all the way to India while leaving behind many other precious possessions. As a direct result, during his life in exile he was able to ordain more than 10,000 monks and nuns, so making a priceless contribution towards the stability of the vinaya vows and Vajrayana practice during this age of degeneration.
From the great Khenpo of Kathok monastery, Khenpo Lekshe Jorden, Penor Rinpoche received many transmissions. One special one was the Kham tradition of the Anuyoga empowerment of the Do Gongpa Dup through Mokton Dorje Palzang's famous empowerment ceremony "The River of Honey." Penor Rinpoche also received the ancient tradition of Kathok monastery and at the same time the empowerments, transmissions and teachings of Jamgon Kongtrul's "Treasury of Essential Instruction;" Tertön Dorje Lingpa's "Condensed Utterance of the Lama;" the Dorje Lingpa terma "Hung Kor Nyingtik;" Ngari's Complete Condensation of Kagye; and Lerab Lingpa's great terma revelation, the cycle of Tendrel Nyesel. The transmissions he received from Karma Kuchen Rinpoche included Nyelpa Delek's Anu Yoga empowerment from the Rinchen Trengwa tradition.
Another of his teachers was Khenpo Khyentse Lodrö, also known as Khenpo Nuden, from Kathok. In a forest above the Dago retreat centre, Khenpo Khyentse Lodrö performed the Drupchen of the Anuyoga Dupa Do, at the same time giving the very first transmission of his newly written four volumes on Anuyoga. Khenpo told the following story. Before the second Drubwang Pema Norbu had passed away, he had given the Khenpo a small knife. At the time he had not given it much thought, but now he realized what this had really meant. The knife represented the sword of wisdom, and when he handed it to him, it was as if Pema Norbu was granting the Khenpo his blessing to finish writing these important new treatises, so as to be able to transmit them to his next incarnation.
From Khenpo Pema Jigme, a learned Khenpo from the Palyul tradition in Golok, Penor Rinpoche received the nine volumes of Jigme Lingpa's collected works, the thirteen chapters of Karma Chagme's "Ah Cho" and the collected works of So Wangdrak Gyatso. While he was receiving this transmission, Penor Rinpoche began to make intricately woven knots in blessing cords with his tongue, something which is done only by the most highly accomplished masters. He continued to make these special blessing cords until 1958. They were renowned for affording powerful protection when worn. One such cord is kept and treasured by one of his attendants today.
Around this same time, Penor Rinpoche happened to write the syllable Ah on a white conch shell. Once the ink had worn away, the syllable remained embossed on the shell. This shell is still kept as a object of veneration in Palyul monastery in Tibet.
Having received all the transmissions of the Kangyur and Tengyur, as well as completing a Vajrakilaya retreat, Penor Rinpoche entered into retreat with his master Chögtrul Rinpoche. To go into retreat with one's own teacher is a rare privilege enjoyed by very few. Penor Rinpoche spent four consecutive years in retreat at Tarthang Monastery in the same room as his master. Already elderly and with failing eyesight, Chögtrul Rinpoche endured great personal hardship in order to give Penor Rinpoche virtually all the transmissions practiced in the Palyul tradition emphasizing the empowerments, transmissions and secret oral instructions of Tertön Migyur Dorje's Namchö and the terma revelations of Ratna Lingpa.
Beginning with Ngöndro, up to the most profound innermost teachings of Dzogchen, he stressed every practice until the naked truth was revealed to his young disciple. He said, "If I am not able to transmit all the empowerments, transmissions and teachings to the third Pema Norbu Rinpoche before I leave this world, then this precious human life of mine will have been wasted." With the constant guidance of his master, Penor Rinpoche successfully completed all the stages of the practice, accomplishing the root recitations of the Three Roots (lama, yidam, and khandro), the Namchö preliminary practices, tummo and tsalung, and the actual foundation practice of the Dzogchen "Buddha in the Palm of the Hand", including trekchö, clear light tögal, inner tögal practice, darkness practice, and training in the dream state, the nature of sound and the pure realms.
HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche once said, "Penor Rinpoche is a saint who has transcended the boundary of samaya." By this, he meant that Penor Rinpoche had actualized the experience of inner wisdom, and so realized the state in which there is nothing to grasp and nothing to release. 

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born on 6 July 1935, and named Lhamo Thondup, to a poor family in the small village of Taktser in the province of Amdo. The name, Lhamo Thondup, literally means Wish-Fulfilling Goddess. Taktser (Roaring Tiger) was a small and poor settlement that stood on a hill overlooking a broad valley. Its pastures had not been settled or farmed for long, only grazed by nomads. The reason for this was the unpredictability of the weather in that area, His Holiness writes in his autobiography Freedom in Exile. During my early childhood, my family was one of twenty or so making a precarious living from the land there.
His Holiness' parents were small farmers who mostly grew barley, buckwheat and potatoes. His father was a man of medium height with a very quick temper. I remember pulling at his moustache once and being hit hard for my trouble, recalls His Holiness. Yet he was a kind man too and he never bore grudges. His Holiness recalls his mother as undoubtedly one of the kindest people I have ever known. She had a total of sixteen children, of whom seven lived.
His Holiness had two sisters and four brothers who survived their infancy. Tsering Dolma, the eldest child, was eighteen years older than His Holiness. At the time of my birth she helped my mother run the house and acted as my midwife. When she delivered me, she noticed that one of my eyes was not properly open. Without hesitation she put her thumb on the reluctant lid and forced it wide fortunately without any ill effect, His Holiness writes. His Holiness' three elder brothers were Thupten Jigme Norbu - the eldest, who was recognised as the reincarnation of a high lama, Taktser Rinpoche - Gyalo Thondup and Lobsang Samten. The youngest brother, Tenzin Cheogyal was also recognised as the reincarnation of another high lama, Ngari Rinpoche.
Of course, no one had any idea that I might be anything other than an ordinary baby. It was almost unthinkable that more than one tulku (reincarnation) could be born into the same family and certainly my parents had no idea that I would be proclaimed Dalai Lama, His Holiness writes. Though the remarkable recovery made by His Holiness' father from his critical illness at the time of His Holiness' birth was auspicious, it was not taken to be of great significance. I myself likewise had no particular intimation of what lay ahead. My earliest memories are very ordinary. His Holiness recollects his earliest memory, among others, of observing a group of children fighting and running to join in with the weaker side.
One thing that I remember enjoying particularly as a very young boy was going into the chicken coop to collect the eggs with my mother and then staying behind. I liked to sit in the hens' nest and make clucking noises. Another favourite occupation of mine as an infant was to pack things in a bag as if I was about to go on a long journey. I'm going to Lhasa, I'm going to Lhasa, I would say. This, coupled with my insistence that I be allowed always to sit at the head of the table, was later said to be an indication that I must have known that I was destined for greater things.
His Holiness is held to be the reincarnation of each of the previous thirteen Dalai Lamas of Tibet (the first having been born in 1391 AD), who are in turn considered to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig, Bodhisattva of Compassion, holder of the White Lotus. Thus His Holiness is also believed to be a manifestation of Chenrezig, in fact the seventy-fourth in a lineage that can be traced back to a Brahmin boy who lived in the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. I am often asked whether I truly believe this. The answer is not simple to give. But as a fifty-six year old, when I consider my experience during this present life, and given my Buddhist beliefs, I have no difficulty accepting that I am spiritually connected both to the thirteen previous Dalai Lamas, to Chenrezig and to the Buddha himself.
Discovery as Dalai Lama
When Lhamo Thondup was barely three years old, a search party that had been sent out by the Tibetan government to find the new incarnation of the Dalai Lama arrived at Kumbum monastery. It had been led there by a number of signs. One of these concerned the embalmed body of his predecessor, Thupten Gyatso, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who had died aged fifty-seven in 1933. During its period of sitting in state, the head was discovered to have turned from facing south to northeast. Shortly after that the Regent, himself a senior lama, had a vision. Looking into the waters of the sacred lake, Lhamo Lhatso, in southern Tibet, he clearly saw the Tibetan letters Ah, Ka and Ma float into view. These were followed by the image of a three-storied monastery with a turquoise and gold roof and a path running from it to a hill. Finally, he saw a small house with strangely shaped guttering. He was sure that the letter Ah referred to Amdo, the northeastern province, so it was there that the search party was sent.
By the time they reached Kumbum, the members of the search party felt that they were on the right track. It seemed likely that if the letter Ah referred to Amdo, then Ka must indicate the monastery at Kumbum, which was indeed three-storied and turquoise-roofed. They now only needed to locate a hill and a house with peculiar guttering. So they began to search the neighbouring villages. When they saw the gnarled branches of juniper wood on the roof of the His Holiness' parent's house, they were certain that the new Dalai Lama would not be far away. Nevertheless, rather than reveal the purpose of their visit, the group asked only to stay the night. The leader of the party, Kewtsang Rinpoche, then pretended to be a servant and spent much of the evening observing and playing with the youngest child in the house.
The child recognised him and called out 'Sera lama, Sera lama'. Sera was Kewtsang Rinpoche's monastery. The next day they left only to return a few days later as a formal deputation. This time they brought with them a number of things that had belonged to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, together with several similar items that did not. In every case, the infant correctly identified those belonging to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama saying, It's mine. It's mine. This more or less convinced the search party that they had found the new incarnation. It was not long before the boy from Taktser was acknowledged to be the new Dalai Lama. The boy Lhamo Thondup was first taken to Kumbum monastery. There now began a somewhat unhappy period of my life, His Holiness was to write later, reflecting on his separation from his parents and the unfamiliar surroundings. However, there were two consolations to life at the monastery. First, His Holiness' immediate elder brother Lobsang Samten was already there. The second consolation was the fact that his teacher was a very kind old monk, who often held his young disciple inside his gown.
Lhamo Thondup was eventually to be reunited with his parents and together they were to journey to Lhasa. This did not come about for some eighteen months, however, because Ma Bufeng, the local Chinese Muslim warlord, refused to let the boy-incarnate be taken to Lhasa without payment of a large ransom. It was not until the summer of 1939 that he left for the capital, Lhasa, in a large party consisting of his parents, his brother Lobsang Samten, members of the search party and other pilgrims.
The journey to Lhasa took three months. I remember very little detail apart from a great sense of wonder at everything I saw: the vast herds of drong (wild yaks) ranging across the plains, the smaller groups of kyang (wild asses) and occasionally a shimmer of gowa and nawa, small deer which were so light and fast they might have been ghosts. I also loved the huge flocks of hooting geese we saw from time to time.
Lhamo Thondup's party was received by a group of senior government officials and escorted to Doeguthang plain, two miles outside the gates of the capital. The next day, a ceremony was held in which Lhamo Thondup was conferred the spiritual leadership of his people. Following this, he was taken off with Lobsang Samten to the Norbulingka, the summer palace of His Holiness, which lay just to the west of Lhasa.
During the winter of 1940, Lhamo Thondup was taken to the Potala Palace, where he was officially installed as the spiritual leader of Tibet. Soon after, the newly recognised Dalai Lama was taken to Jokhang temple where His Holiness was inducted as a novice monk in a ceremony known as taphue, meaning cutting of the hair. From now on, I was to be shaven-headed and attired in maroon monk's robes. In accordance with ancient custom, His Holiness forfeited his name Lhamo Thondup and assumed his new name, Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso.
His Holiness then began to receive his primary education. The curriculum - same as that for all monks pursuing a doctorate in Buddhist studies - included logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine and Buddhist philosophy. The last and the most important (and most difficult) was subdivided into further five categories: Prajnaparamita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the Middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology.
Dalai Lama in His Youth

On the day before the opera festival in the summer of 1950, His Holiness was just coming out of the bathroom at the Norbulingka when he felt the earth beneath begin to move. As the scale of this natural phenomenon began to sink in, people naturally began to say that this was more than a simple earthquake: it was an omen.
Two days later, Regent Tathag received a telegram from the Governor of Kham, based in Chamdo, reporting a raid on a Tibetan post by Chinese soldiers. Already the previous autumn there had been cross-border incursions by Chinese Communists, who stated their intention of liberating Tibet from the hands of imperialist aggressors. It now looked as if the Chinese were making good their threat. If that were so, I was well aware that Tibet was in grave danger for our army mustered no more than 8,500 officers and men. It would be no match for the recently victorious People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Two months later, in October, news reached Lhasa that an army of 80,000 soldiers of the PLA had crossed the Drichu river east of Chamdo. So the axe had fallen. And soon, Lhasa must fall. As the winter drew on and the news got worse, people began to advocate that His Holiness be given his majority, his full temporal power. The Government consulted the Nechung Oracle, a very tense moment, who came over to where His Holiness was seated and laid a kata, a white offering scarf, on His Holiness's lap with the words 'Thu-la bap', His time has come. At the young age of fifteen, His Holiness was on 17 November 1950 officially enthroned as the temporal leader of Tibet in a ceremony held at the Norbulingka Palace.
At the beginning of November, about a fortnight before the day of His Holiness's investiture, his eldest brother arrived in Lhasa. As soon as I set eyes on him, I knew that he had suffered greatly. Because Amdo, the province where we were both born, and in which Kumbum is situated, lies so close to China, it had quickly fallen under control of the Communists. He himself was kept virtual prisoner in his monastery. At the same time, the Chinese endeavoured to indoctrinate him in the new Communist way of thinking and try to subvert him. They had a plan whereby they would set him free to go to Lhasa if he would undertake to persuade me to accept Chinese rule. If I resisted, he was to kill me. They would then reward him.
To mark the occasion of his ascension to power, His Holiness granted general amnesty whereby all the prisoners were set free. I was pleased to have this opportunity, although there were times that I regretted it. When I trained my telescope on the compound, it was empty save for a few dogs scavenging for scraps. It was as if something was missing from my life.
Shortly after the 15-year-old Dalai Lama found himself the undisputed leader of six million people facing the threat of a full-scale war, His Holiness appointed two new Prime Ministers. Lobsang Tashi became the monk Prime Minister and an experienced lay administrator, Lukhangwa, the lay Prime Minister.
That done, I decided in consultation with them and the Kashag to send delegations abroad to America, Great Britain and Nepal in the hope of persuading these countries to intervene on our behalf. Another was to go to China in the hope of negotiating a withdrawal. These missions left towards the end of the year. Shortly afterwards, with the Chinese consolidating their forces in the east, we decided that I should move to southern Tibet with the most senior members of the Government. That way, if the situation deteriorated, I could easily seek exile across the border with India. Meanwhile, Lobsang Tashi and Lunkhangwa were to remain in an acting capacity.
While His Holiness was in Dromo, which lay just inside the border with Sikkim, His Holiness received the news that while the delegation to China had reached its destination, each of the others had been turned back. So it was almost impossible to believe that the British Government was now agreeing that China had some claim to authority over Tibet. His Holiness was equally saddened by America's reluctance to help. I remember feeling great sorrow when I realised what this really meant: Tibet must expect to face the entire might of Communist China alone.
Frustrated by the indifference showed to Tibet's case by Great Britain and America, His Holiness, in his last bid to avoid a full-scale Chinese invasion, sent Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, governor of Kham, to Beijing to open a dialogue with the Chinese. The delegation hadn't been given the power to reach at any settlement, apart from its entrusted task of convincing the Chinese leadership against invading Tibet. However, one evening, as I sat alone A harsh, crackling voice announced that a Seventeen-Point 'Agreement' for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet had that day (May 23, 1951) been signed by representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China and what they called the Local Government of Tibet. As it turned out, the Chinese who even forged the Tibetan seal had forced the delegation headed by Ngabo into signing the agreement. The Chinese had in effect secured a major coup by winning Tibetan compliance, albeit at gunpoint, to their terms of returning Tibet to the fold of the motherland. His Holiness returned to Lhasa in the middle of August 1951
Countdown to Escape
The next nine years saw His Holiness trying to evade a full-scale military takeover of Tibet by China on one hand and placating the growing resentment among Tibetan resistance fighters against the Chinese aggressors on the other. His Holiness made a historic visit to China from July 1954 to June 1955 for peace talks and met with Mao Zadong and other Chinese leaders, including Chou En-lai, Chu Teh and Deng Xiaoping. From November 1956 to March 1957 His Holiness visited India to participate in the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations. But disheartening reports of increasing brutality towards his own people continued to pour in when the young Dalai Lama was giving his final monastic examinations in Lhasa in the winter of 1958/59.
Escape into Exile
One winter day of 1959 (March 10) General Chiang Chin-wu of Communist China extended a seemingly innocent invitation to the Tibetan leader to attend a theatrical show by a Chinese dance troupe. When the invitation was repeated with new conditions that no Tibetan soldiers was to accompany the Dalai Lama and that his bodyguards be unarmed, an acute anxiety befell the Lhasa populace. Soon a crowd of tens of thousands of Tibetans gathered around the Norbulingka Palace, determined to thwart any threat to their young leader's life.
On 17 March 1959 during a consultation with Nechung Oracle, His Holiness was given an explicit instruction to leave the country. The Oracle's decision was further confirmed when a divinity performed by His Holiness produced the same answer, even though the odds against making a successful break seemed terrifyingly high.
A few minutes before ten o'clock His Holiness, now disguised as a common soldier, slipped past the massive throng of people along with a small escort and proceeded towards Kyichu river, where He was joined by the rest of the entourage, including his immediate family members.  
In Exile
Three weeks after leaving Lhasa, His Holiness and his entourage reached the Indian border from where they were escorted by Indian guards to Bomdila. The Indian government had already agreed to provide asylum to His Holiness and his followers in India. It was in Mussoorie that His Holiness met with the Indian Prime Minister and the two talked about rehabilitating the Tibetan refugees.
Realising the importance of modern education for the children of Tibetan refugees, His Holiness impressed upon Nehru to undertake the formation of an independent Society for Tibetan Education within the Indian Ministry of Education. The Indian Government was to bear all the expenses for setting up the schools for the Tibetan children.
Thinking the time is ripe for me to break my elected silence', His Holiness called a press conference on 20 June 1959 when His Holiness formally repudiated the Seventeen-Point Agreement. In the field of administration, too, I was able to make radical changes. For example, His Holiness saw the creation of various new Tibetan government departments. These included Departments of Information, Education, Home, Security, Religious Affairs and Economic Affairs. Most of the Tibetan refugees, whose number had grown to almost 30,000, were moved to road camps in the hills of northern India.
On 10 March 1960 just before leaving for Dharamsala with the eighty or so officials who comprised the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, His Holiness began what is now a tradition by making a statement on the anniversary of the Tibetan People's Uprising. On this first occasion, I stressed the need for my people to take a long-term view of the situation in Tibet. For those of us in exile, I said that our priority must be resettlement and the continuity of our cultural traditions. As to the future, I stated my belief that, with Truth, Justice and Courage as our weapons, we Tibetans would eventually prevail in regaining freedom for Tibet. 

The Dalai Lamas

Birth Place 
Gedun Drupa (1391-1474)
Shabtod (U-tsang)
Gedun Gyatso (1475 - 1542)
Tanag Segme (U-tsang)
Sonam Gyatso (1543 - 1588)
Tolung (U-tsang)
Yonten Gyatso (1589 - 1617)
Lobsang Gyatso (1617 - 1682)
Chingwar Taktse (U-tsang)
Tsangyang Gyatso (1682 - 1706)
Mon Tawang, India
Kelsang Gyatso (1708 - 1757)
Lithang (Kham)
Jamphel Gyatso (1758 - 1804)
Thobgyal (U-tsang)
Lungtok Gyatso (1805 - 1815)
Dan Chokhor (Kham)
Tsultrim Gyatso (1816 - 1837)
Lithang (Kham
Khedrup Gyatso (1838 - 1856)
Gathar (Kham)
Trinley Gyatso (1856 - 1875)
Lhoka (U-tsang)
Thupten Gyatso (1876 - 1933)
Dagpo Langdun (U-tsang)
Tenzin Gyatso (1935 - )
Taktser, Kumbum (Amdo)
The First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa
The First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa, was born in 1391 in Gyurmey Rupa, near Sakya in the Tsang region of central Tibet to Gonpo Dorjee and Jomo Namkha Kyi, a nomadic family. His given name was Pema Dorjee.
He did his primary studies of reading and writing Tibetan script with Gya-Ton Tsenda Pa-La, and then at the age of fourteen, he took his novice vows from Khenchen Drupa Sherab, abbot of Narthang monastery, who gave him the religious name of Gedun Drupa. Latter, in the year 1411, he took the Gelong vows (full ordination) from the abbot.
The young Gedun Drupa was aware of the fame of the Great Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa School and he became his disciple in 1416. His loyalty and devotion to Tsongkhapa persuaded the great master to make Gedun Drupa his principal disciple. Tsongkhapa handed Gedun Drupa a brand new set of robes as a sign that he would spread the Buddhist teachings all over Tibet. In 1447, Gedun Drupa founded the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, one of the biggest monastic Universities of the Gelugpa School.
The First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa was a great person of immense scholarship, famous for combining study and practice, and wrote more than eight voluminous books on his insight into the Buddha's teachings and philosophy. In 1474, at the age of eighty-four, he died while in meditation at Tashi Lhunpo monastery.

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The Second Dalai Lama, Gedun Gyatso
The Second Dalai Lama, Gedun Gyatso was born in 1475 in Tanag Sekme, near Shigatse in the Tsang region of central Tibet to Kunga Gyaltso and Machik Kunga Pemo, a farming family.
His father was a well-known tantric practitioner belonging to the Nyingmapa sect. When Gedun Gyatso was able to speak, he was reported to have told his parents that his name was Pema Dorjee, the birth name of the First Dalai Lama and that he would like to live in Tashi Lhunpo monastery. When he was conceived, his father had a dream in which someone dressed in white appeared and told him to name his son Gendun Drupa and also said that his son would be a person with the ability to recollect his past lives. However, his father named him Sangye Phel.
He received his primary education from his father and at the age of eleven he was recognized as the reincarnation of Gendun Drupa, the First Dalai Lama and was enthroned at Tashi Lhunpo monastery. In 1486, he took his novice vows from Panchen Lungrig Gyatso and his vows of Gelong (full ordination) from Choje Choekyi Gyaltsen, who gave him the ordained name of Gedun Gyatso. He studied at Tashi Lhunpo and Drepung monasteries.
In 1517, Gedun Gyatso became the abbot of Drepung monastery and in the following year, he revived the Monlam Chenmo, the Great Prayer Festival and presided over the events with monks from Sera, Drepung and Gaden, the three great monastic Universities of the Gelugpa Sect. In 1525, he became the abbot of Sera monastery. He died at the age of sixty-seven in 1542.

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The Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso
The Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso was born in 1543 at Tolung, near Lhasa, to Namgyal Drakpa and Pelzom Bhuti, a rich family.
His parents had already had many children, but they had all died and to ward off any misfortune that might take away this newborn child from them, they fed him on the milk of a white goat and named him Ranu Sicho Pelzang - The prosperous one saved by goat's milk.
In 1546, at the age of three, Sonam Dakpa Gyaltsen, the ruler of Tibet, and Panchen Sonam Dakpa recognized him as the reincarnation of Gedun Gyatso. He was escorted to Drepung monastery in a great procession and was enthroned and his hair was cut, symbolizing his renunciation of the world. He took novice vows from Sonam Dakpa at the age of seven and assumed the name of Sonam Gyatso. At the age of twenty-two, he took the Gelong vows (full ordination) of Bhiksu from Gelek Palsang.
In 1552, Sonam Gyatso became the abbot of Drepung monastery and in 1558, the abbot of Sera monastery. In 1574, he established the Phende Lekshe Ling in order to assist him in carrying out his religious activities, which is now known as Namgyal monastery and still serves as the Dalai Lama's personal monastery. It was during his time, the Mongolian King Altan Khan offered him the title of Dalai Lama which literally means Ocean of Wisdom and in return, the Dalai Lama conferred on Altan Khan the title of Brahma, the king of religion. The Third Dalai Lama also founded Kumbum monastery in Tsongkhapa's birthplace and Lithang monastery in Kham. In 1588, he died while teaching in Mongolia.

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The Fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso

The Fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten Gyatso, was born in 1589 in Mongolia to the Chokar tribal chieftain Tsultrim Choeje, who was the grandson of Altan Khan, and his second wife PhaKhen Nula.
With predictions from the state oracles and auspicious signs at his birth, the abbot of Gaden monastery recognized him as the true reincarnation of the Third Dalai Lama and he was given the name of Yonten Gyatso. His parents, however, refused to part with their son until he was older, so he received his primary religious education in Mongolia from Tibetan Lamas.
In 1601, at the age of twelve, Yonten Gyatso was escorted to Tibet accompanied by his father and the former Gaden throne holder, Sangya Rinchen, who bestowed the vows of novice monk on him. In 1614, at the age of twenty-six, he took the Gelong vows (full ordination) from the Fourth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Choegyal.  He later became the abbot of Drepung monastery and then Sera monastery. In 1617, at the age of twenty-seven he died at Drepung monastery.

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The Fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso

The Fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, was born in 1617 in Lhoka Chingwar Taktse, south of Lhasa to Dudul Rabten and Kunga Lhanzi.

When Sonam Choephel, the chief attendant of the Fourth Dalai Lama heard of the exceptional abilities of the Chong-Gya boy, he paid a visit to the child and showed him articles belonging to the previous Dalai Lama. The boy at once said those belonged to him. Sonam Choephel kept the discovery of the Fifth Dalai Lama a secret because of the turbulent political situation. When things settled down, the Fifth Dalai Lama was taken to Drepung monastery where he was ordained into monkhood by the Third Panchen Lama, Lobsang Chogyal, and was given the name Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.
The Fifth Dalai Lama was recognized at a time when Tibet was in political turmoil. However, all this uncertainty was laid to rest by Gushir Khan, the chief of the Qoshot Mongols and in 1642, the Dalai Lama was enthroned in the main hall of Shigatse as both the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. In 1645, the Dalai Lama held a meeting with high officials of Gaden Phodrang on the construction of the Potala Palace on the Red Hill, where the 33rd King of Tibet Songtsen Gampo had built a red fort. In the same year, the construction started and it took almost forty-three years to complete.
In 1649, Sunzhi, the Manchu emperor, invited the Dalai Lama to Peking. When he reached the Chinese province of Ningxia, he was greeted by the emperor's minister and military commander who came with three thousand cavalry to escort the Tibetan leader. The emperor himself traveled from Peking and greeted him at a place called Kothor. In the Chinese capital, the Dalai Lama stayed at the Yellow Palace, built for him by the emperor.  When the emperor officially met the Dalai Lama, the two of then exchanged titles. In 1653, the Dalai Lama returned to Tibet.
Gushir Khan died in 1655, as did Sonam Choephel, the Desi. The Dalai Lama appointed Gushir Khan's son Tenzin Dorjee as the new Mongol king, and Drong Mey-Pa Thinley Gyatso succeeded the latter to the post of Desi. When the Manchu Emperor died in 1662, his son, K'ang-si, ascended the Manchu throne. In the same year the Panchen Lama died at the age of ninety-one. In 1665, after a petition from Tashilhunpo monastery, the Dalai Lama recognized a boy from Tsang region as the reincarnation of the late Panchen Lama and gave the boy the name of Lobsang Yeshi.
The Fifth Dalai Lama was a great scholar, well versed in Sanskrit. He wrote many books, including one on poetry. He also established two educational institutions, one for lay officials and another for monk officials, where they were taught Mongolian, Sanskrit, astrology, poetry, and administration. He was a man of few words, but what he said carried conviction and influenced rulers beyond the borders of Tibet. In 1682, at the age of sixty-five he died before completing the construction of the Potala Palace, however, not before entrusting the responsibility of the construction to Sangya Gyatso, the new Desi with the advice to keep his death secret for the time being.

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The Sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso

The Sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in 1682 in the region of Mon Tawang in present-day Arunachal Pradesh, India to Tashi Tenzin and Tsewang Lhamo.
In order to complete the Potala Palace, Desi Sangye Gyatso carried out the wishes of the Fifth Dalai Lama and kept his death a secret for fifteen years. People were told that the Great Fifth was continuing his long retreat. On important occasions the Dalai Lama's ceremonial gown was placed on the throne. However, when Mongol princes insisted on having an audience, an old monk called Depa Deyrab of Namgyal Monastery, who resembled the Dalai Lama, was hired to pose in his place. He wore a hat and eyeshadow to conceal the fact that he lacked the Dalai Lama's piercing eyes. The Desi managed to maintain this charade till he heard that a boy in Mon exhibited remarkable abilities. He sent his trusted attendants to the area and in 1688, the boy was brought to Nankartse, a place near Lhasa. There he was educated by teachers appointed by the Desi until 1697, when the Desi sent his trusted minister, Shabdrung Ngawang Shonu to the Manchu court to inform Emperor K'ang-si of the death of the Fifth and discovery of the Sixth Dalai Lama. He announced the fact to the people of Tibet, who greeted the news with gratitude and joy and thanked the Desi for saving them from lamenting the setting of the sun and, instead, making them rejoice in its rising.
The Desi invited the Fifth Pachen Lama, Lobsang Yeshi, to Nankartse, where Tibet[s second highest religious leader administered the vows of a novice monk to the youth and named him Tsangyang Gyatso. In 1697, the fourteen-year old was enthroned as the Sixth Dalai Lama in a ceremony attended by Tibetan government officials representing the three major monasteries - Sera, Gaden, and Drepung - Mongol princes, representatives of Emperor K'ang-si and the Lhasa populace.
In 1701 there was a conflict between the Desi and Lhasang Khan, the descendant of Gushir Khan, and the latter killed the Desi Sangya Gyatso, which disturbed the young Dalai Lama. He left his monastic study and chose the outdoor life, he had no plans to take the fully ordained vows. In fact, he visited the Panchen Lama in Shigatse and requested his forgiveness, and renounced even the vows of a novice monk. Though he continued to live in the Potala Palace, he roamed around Lhasa and other outlying villages, spending his days with his friends in the park behind the Potala Palace and nights in taverns in Lhasa and Shol (an area below the Potala) drinking chang and singing songs. He was known to be a great poet and writer and he wrote several poems. In 1706, he was invited to China and died on the way.

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The Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso

In retrospect, the Tibetan believed that Tsangyang Gyatso predicted his own rebirth at Lithang in Kham when he wrote this song:
White crane, lend me your wings,
I go no farther than Lithang,
And thence, return again.
Sure enough, the Seventh Dalai Lama was born in 1708 to Sonam Dargya and Lobsang Chotso in Lithang, two years after the disappearance of the Sixth.
Thupten Jampaling Monastery, which was founded in Lithang by the Third Dalai Lama, was astonished by the wonders of the child and also the state oracles of Lithang had predicted that the newborn child would be the reincarnation of the late Dalai Lama. However due to the turbulent political situation, they could not escort the new Dalai Lama to Lhasa, and he was taken to Kumbum monastery, where he was ordained by Ngawang Lobsang Tenpai Gyaltsen.
In 1720, he was enthroned in the Potala Palace and he took the novice vows of monkhood from Panchen Lobsang Yeshi, who gave him the name Kelsang Gyatso. In 1726, during the auspicious month of Saka Dawa, he took the Gelong vows (full ordination) from Panchen Rinpoche. He sought the tutor of Panchen Lobsang Yeshi, the Abbot of Gyumey monastery and the Abbot of Shalu monastery, Ngawang Yonten, from whom he studied the entire major Buddhist philosophical treatises and became a master in both the sutra and tantra.
In 1751, at the age of forty-three, he constituted the 'Kashag' or council of ministers to administer the Tibetan government and then abolished the post of Desi, as it placed too much power in one man's hand. The Dalai Lama became the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. At the age of forty-five, he founded the Tse-School in the Potala Palace and built the new palace of Norling Kalsang Phodrang. The Seventh Dalai Lama was a great scholar and wrote many books, especially on the tantra. He was also a great poet who, unlike Tsangyang Gyatso, dwelt on spiritual themes. His simple and unblemished life won him the hearts of all Tibetans. He died in 1757.

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The Eighth Dalai Lama, Jamphel Gyatso
The Eighth Dalai Lama, Jamphel Gyatso, was born in 1758 at Thobgyal, Lhari Gang in the Tsang region of southwestern Tibet. His father, Sonam Dhargye, and mother, Phuntsok Wangmo, were originally from Kham and traced their ancestry to Dhrala Tsegyal, one of the legendary heroes of the Gesar epic.
As soon as Jamphel Gyatso was conceived, Lhari Gang was blessed with a bumper harvest with each stalk of barley bearing three, four and five ears - something unprecedented. When the mother and a relative were having their supper in the garden, a huge rainbow appeared, one end of which touched the mother's shoulder. (This is regarded to be a very auspicious omen, associated with the birth of a holy being.) Not long after his birth, Jamphel Gyatso was frequently observed to be looking heavenward with a smile on his face. He was also seen to be attempting to sit in a meditative, lotus posture. When Palden Yeshi, the Sixth Panchen Lama, heard about this boy, he pronounced: This is the authentic reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
As the child began to speak, he said: "I will go to Lhasa at the age of three". Now the whole of Tibet was convinced that this child was the Eighth Dalai Lama. Darkpa Thaye, the chief attendent of the Seventh Dalai Lama, came to Lhasa with a large contingent of lamas and Tibetan government officials. They took the boy, then two and a half years old, to Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, performed the recognition ceremony and the Panchen Lama gave the boy the name Jamphel Gyatso.
In 1762, the boy was escorted to Lhasa and enthroned in the Potala Palace. The enthronement ceremony was presided over by Demo Tulku Jamphel Yeshi, who was the first Regent to represent the Dalai Lamas when they were minors. At the age of seven, he took the novice vows of monkhood from the Panchen Lama and then he was fully ordained in 1777. In addition to his remarkable spiritual legacy, it was the Eighth Dalai Lama who built the famous Norbulingka Park and Summer Palace on the outskirts of Lhasa. In 1804, he died at the age of forty-seven.

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The Ninth Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso

The Ninth Dalai Lama, Lungtok Gyatso was born in 1805 in Dan Chokhor, a small village in Kham to Tenzin Choekyong and Dhondup Dolma.
In 1807, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Eighth Dalai Lama and was escorted to Lhasa with great ceremony. In 1810, he was enthroned at the Potala Palace. He took his novice vows from the Pachen Lama, who gave him the name Lungtok Gyatso. Unfortunately, he died in 1815 at the very young age of nine.

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The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso

The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso The Tenth Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso, was born in 1816 in Lithang in Kham to Lobsang Dakpa and Namgyal Bhuti.
In 1822, he was recognized and enthroned in the Potala Palace and in the same year, he took his novice vows of monkhood from the Panchen Lama, Tenpai Nyima who gave him the name Tsultrim Gyatso. In 1826, at the age of ten, he was enrolled in Drepung monastery where he studied various Buddhist philosophical texts and mastered both the sutra and tantra. In 1831, he reconstructed the Potala Palace and at the age of nineteen, he took the Gelong vows (full ordination) from the Panchen Lama. However, he was constantly in poor health and died in 1837.
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The Eleventh Dalai Lama, Khedrup Gyatso

The Eleventh Dalai Lama, Khedrup Gyatso, was born in 1838 at Gathar in Kham Minyak to Tsetan Dhondup and Yungdrung Bhuti.
In 1841 he was recognized as the new Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, Tenpai Nyipa, cut his hair and gave him the name Khedrup Gyatso. In 1842, he was enthroned in the Potala Palace and at the age of eleven, he took the novice vows of monkhood from the Panchen Lama. Despite his young age, he assumed the responsibility of Tibetan spiritual and political leader at the request of the Tibetan people. However, he suddenly died in 1856 in the Potala Palace.

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The Twelfth Dalai Lama, Trinley Gyatso

The Twelfth Dalai Lama, Trinley Gyatso was born in 1856 in Lhoka, a place near Lhasa to Phuntsok Tsewang and Tsering Yudon.
In 1858, the young boy as Dalai Lama was escorted to Lhasa where Reting Ngawang Yeshi Tsultrim Gyaltsen, the regent gave him the name Thupten Gyatso. In 1860, at the age of five he took the novice vows of monkhood from the Gaden Throne Holder Lobsang Khenrab and he was enthroned in the Potala Palace. In 1873, at the age of eighteen, he took on full responsibility as both spiritual and political leader of Tibet. In 1875, he died at the age of twenty in the Potala Palace.

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The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thupten Gyatso

The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thupten Gyatso, was born in the Fire Mouse year of 1876 at Langdun in Dagpo, central Thakpo Tibet to Kunga Rinchen and Lobsang Dolma, a peasant couple.
In 1877, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 12th Dalai Lama following predictions from the State Oracle Nechung and other auspicious signs at his birthplace. He was then escorted to Lhasa. In 1878 the Eighth Panchen Lama, Tenpai Wangchuk, performed the hair-cutting ceremony and gave him the name Ngawang Lobsang Thupten Gyatso Jigdral Chokley Namgyal. In 1879, he was enthroned in the Grand Reception Hall at the Potala Palace. Later that year, he received the Upasaka (Tib.: ge-nyen) vows from the Regent Tatsak Rinpoche, Ngawang Palden Yeshi. In 1882, at age six, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was formally ordained as a novice monk (Tib.: ge-tsul) by the same Regent.
And in 1895 he took the full monk ordination (Tib.: ge-long) from his tutor, Phurchok Ngawang Jampa Rinpoche, in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, who served as both the Preceptor and Procedural Master of the ceremony. Phurbuchok was assisted by many eminent Buddhist masters of Tibet at that time, including Ling Rinpoche Lobsang Lungtok Tenzn Thinley and the Gaden Throne Holder, who served as the Secret Inquiry Master and so forth required by the ordination ceremony. On 27 September 1895 he finally assumed the political and spiritual authority of Tibet and was thrown into the thick of the Great Game played out by Czarist Russia and British India on the fringes of their sprawling empires. He went through the British invasion of Tibet in 1904 and the Chinese invasion of his country in 1909/10 but survived the ordeals of both experiences, with his authority enormously enhanced.
When the news spread in 1910 that Lu Chan, a Chinese General of the Manchu force, arrived in Lhasa, the Dalai Lama and some of the most important officials fled Lhasa and headed to India. The group crossed Dromo and held a negotiation with the Chinese invaders at the Jelep-la Pass, which separates Tibet and Sikkim.
In 1911, the Manchu Dynasty was overthrown and the Tibetans took this opportunity to expel the remnant Manchu forces from Tibet. The Dalai Lama returned to Tibet and went on to exercise an unprecedented political authority not seen since the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Besides attempting to modernize Tibet, the Dalai Lama also tried to eliminate some of the more oppressive features of the Tibetan monastic system. During his exile in India, the Dalai Lama was fascinated by the modern world and he introduced the first Tibetan currency notes and coins. On 13 February 1913, he made public the five-point statement reasserting Tibet's Independence. Also, in 1913 he established the first post office in Tibet and sent four young Tibetans to study engineering in England.
In 1914, he strengthened Tibet's military force by organizing special training for the Tibetan army. In 1917 he established the Men-Tsee-Khang (Tibetan Medical and Astrology Institute) in Lhasa to preserve the unique traditional Tibetan medical and astrological systems. For that reason, he selected about a hundred young and intelligent students to train in Men-Tse-Khang. In 1923, he established a Police Headquarter in Lhasa for the security and welfare of the Tibetan people. In the same year he established the first English school of Tibet in Gyaltse. Sadly, he died in 1933 at the age of fifty-eight before accomplishing his goal for Tibet's modernization.

A Brief Biography

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet.  At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.  The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet.  Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.

Education in Tibet
His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six.  The curriculum consisted of five major and five minor subjects.  The major subjects were logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy which was further divided into a further five categories: Prajnaparimita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology.  The five minor subjects were poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing, and synonyms.  At 23 he sat for his final examination in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, during the annual Monlam (prayer) Festival in 1959.  He passed with honours and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest-level degree equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy. Leadership Responsibilities
In 1950 His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power after China's invasion of Tibet in 1949.  In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Chou Enlai.  But finally, in 1959, with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, His Holiness was forced to escape into exile.  Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, northern India, the seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile.

Since the Chinese invasion, His Holiness has appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet. The General Assembly adopted three resolutions on Tibet in 1959, 1961 and 1965.

Democratisation Process
In 1963 His Holiness presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet that was followed by a number of reforms to democratise our administrative set-up.  The new democratic constitution promulgated as a result of this reform was named "The Charter of Tibetans in Exile".  The charter enshrines freedom of speech, belief, assembly and movement.  It also provides detailed guidelines on the functioning of the Tibetan government with respect to those living in exile.
In 1992 His Holiness issued guidelines for the constitution of a future, free Tibet.  He announced that when Tibet becomes free the immediate task would be to set up an interim government whose first responsibility will be to elect a constitutional assembly to frame and adopt Tibet's democratic constitution.  On that day His Holiness would transfer all his historical and political authority to the Interim President and live as an ordinary citizen.  His Holiness also stated that he hoped that Tibet, comprising of the three traditional provinces of U-Tsang, Amdo and Kham, would be federal and democratic.

In May 1990, the reforms called for by His Holiness saw the realisation of a truly democratic administration in exile for the Tibetan community.  The Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), which till then had been appointed by His Holiness, was dissolved along with the Tenth Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (Tibetan parliament in exile).  In the same year, exile Tibetans on the Indian sub-continent and in more than 33 other countries elected 46 members to the expanded Eleventh Tibetan Assembly on a one-man one-vote basis.  The Assembly, in its turn, elected the new members of the cabinet.  In September 2001, a further major step in democratisation was taken when the Tibetan electorate directly elected the Kalon Tripa, the senior-most minister of the Cabinet.  The Kalon Tripa in turn appointed his own cabinet who had to be approved by the Tibetan Assembly.  In Tibet's long history, this was the first time that the people elected the political leadership of Tibet.

Peace Initiatives
In September 1987 His Holiness proposed the Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet as the first step towards a peaceful solution to the worsening situation in Tibet.  He envisaged that Tibet would become a sanctuary; a zone of peace at the heart of Asia, where all sentient beings can exist in harmony and the delicate environment can be preserved. China has so far failed to respond positively to the various peace proposals put forward by His Holiness
The Five Point Peace Plan
In his address to members of the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. on 21 September 1987, His Holiness proposed the following peace plan, which contains five basic components:
  1. Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace.
  2. Abandonment of China's population transfer policy that threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people.
  3. Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms.
  4. Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste.
  5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
Strasbourg Proposal
In his address to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 June 1988, His Holiness made another detailed proposal elaborating on the last point of the Five Point Peace Plan.  He proposed talks between the Chinese and Tibetans leading to a self-governing democratic political entity for all three provinces of Tibet.  This entity would be in association with the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Government would continue to remain responsible for Tibet's foreign policy and defence.

Universal Recognition
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace.  In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet.  He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.

His Holiness has travelled to more than 62 countries spanning 6 continents.  He has met with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major nations.  He has held dialogues with the heads of different religions and many well-known scientists.

Since 1959 His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion.  His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books.

His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.